The Spaewife - Volume 3
IN the meantime, the King, after returning from the solemnities, being much content with the pageantries of the day, entered into light and urbane discourse with the Queen and her gentlewoman, wherein the Lady Sibilla reminded him of his promise to see Glenfruin himself; - and in consequence thereof, his Majesty, upon the instant, directed Straiton his page to send for the chieftain, to the end that he might hear his story before the meeting of the privy-council, which was then about to assemble.
Glenfruin, from the time of his arrival at
Scone, was held in ward by the herald's men; but, when thus summoned before the King in person, Keith himself went with him to the anti-chamber, where the Chancellor, with the Lord Treasurer bearing his silver baton, were waiting for others of the council, seemingly engaged in very earnest and weighty discourse.
" I think," the Chancellor was saying, as Glenfruin and the herald entered, "I think that the young Countess of Angus was not dressed with her wonted discreet skill, her neck and bosom were so unkerchiefed."
"Nay, I differ from you," replied the Lord Treasurer: "in my opinion she never looked better; besides, her neck is a very fine one, and her bust is so beautiful that one cannot see enough of it."
"But it was such an example to the people; I doubt not that good Bishop Wardlaw has by this time rebuked her for being so indecorous."
"I dare say he has," replied the Lord Treasurer; "for I observed that he never kept his eyes off her."
"How much more becoming were the three daughters of the Lord Seaton, who sat behind her," said the Chancellor.
"Gorgons!" replied the Lord Treasurer; "I was afraid to look at them. The less that's seen of them the better."
"I protest," my Lord, said the Chancellor, "you take great liberties with those young ladies - they are not only modest, staid, and sensible, but withal passing comely."
"King's herald," said Glenfruin in a whisper to Keith, who had told him who the statesmen were ; "they will pe counselling to make a war wi te English - a praw ting tat for the porders."
At that moment Straiton came forth from the presence-chamber, to see if Glenfruin was yet come, and beholding him at the far end of
the room, he beckoned to him with his finger, and the herald conducted him in.
Both the Chancellor and the Lord Treasurer were in much amaze at this, for neither of them knew Glenfruin; and they followed him with their eyes until he had passed into the presence-royal, and then they looked at each other, marvelling, and somewhat alarmed.
"Who is that?" said the Lord Chancellor; "know ye who it is?"
"And to be thus called in while we are kept waiting here," replied the Lord Treasurer very seriously.
"His Majesty has of late several times intimated, that he thought the rigour of government might now be abated," rejoined the Chancellor.
"That surely may be done without any change in the administration," said the Lord Treasurer. "But I confess that I do not well understand why the King, so very lately after
ordering the Earl of Athol to his castle, called him so suddenly back."
"Now that you speak of him," replied the Chancellor, "I have remarked something strange and altered towards me in his manner."
While they were thus speaking, the King and Queen, in the inner chamber, had taken their stools of state, with the ladies standing on the right and left of their Majesties.
The King looked for some space of time at Glenfruin, who stood before him with his bonnet in his hand, and his head bowed into a very lowly posture. He was, however, plainly less overawed by the dignity of the presence-royal than he affected to be; for it was observed, that from time to time he stole a glance from under his brows at his Majesty, and also peered with the tail of his eye to the ladies around, and more than once to the Lady Sibilla in particular, when he had observed her among them.
"Well, Glenfruin," said his Majesty, "what have you to say for yourself touching the matter of those heavy offences which have been charged against you?"
The chieftain, without raising his head, or in any manner changing his posture, replied -
"King's Majesty, Glenfruin is te honest man, and a petter loyaltee than a very few."
The King pondered for some time; and having divined what was meant, smiled, and, then resumed -
"So I have heard, - and that during the rebellion in Lennox you acted the part of a good subject; but to put an offending priest to death, or, if he did offend you, to be judge, jury, and executioner in your own cause, cannot be tolerated in any well-governed kingdom."
Glenfruin looked up with some degree of surprise, and said -
"And is't a to-be-surely, tat King's Majesty will pe calling te Highlands a well-governament kingdom? - Oomph."
"I fear," replied the King, "that little can be said as yet for the Highlands in that respect, but it is by the chiefs acting so rashly in the manner alleged of you, that the misrule there has continued so long. However, what say you for having hang'd the harmless friar?"
"Sowlls and podies! King's Majesty, Faider Mungo was never hangt at al."
"No! is the accusation then false? Did you not put him to death?"
"He was down in te hole, and caz, you see, King's Majesty, he would pe sitting tere al day for a tribulation; te laads flung in te stones, and Faider Mungo was kilt, and tat was te cause he was no more."
"Was it by accident that your men threw in the stones? Did they know he was in the pit?"
"Is't a swear and a true, tat Glenfruin never saw tem look in."
"Did you know he was there?"
"Ooh aye! And mi Laidie Sebella too; she was an art and part, according to laa, for we'll no mak a perjuree - Oomph."
The King turned round to the Lady Sibilla and said, "What does this mean?" But, before she could answer, Glenfruin again addressed him, -
"Will King's Majestie pe pleasured; - tat Faider Mungo, he was te wolf, tat's a to-be-surely, and a temptation too; and was na he in te poat wi' Anneeple tat comes from Tumplane, and he has a jealousee tat she was te Laidie Sibeela al py herselph, and alone too; and so you see, King's Majestie, tat was a shame and a fye - oomph! And te judification was a rewart tat he deservt very smal; for te Laidie Sebeela, is na she of a pedigree? - Oomph."
The King remained some time ruminating
on this story, and then inquired of the Lady Sibilla, if she could in any way explain what it implied; whereupon she recounted how Anniple had made her dread to go with Father Mungo, and went in her place.
"I shall be glad, Glenfruin," said his Majesty, "to find that you have had as good reason for making the Duchess of Albany a prisoner, as I think there may have been for the punishment of the monk, of whose holiness there can be no doubt."
Glenfruin's countenance brightened at hearing the King speak in this manner, and he resumed, -
"Och! Te Laidie Tooches, tat was a falt to be sure; put ten she would pe coming to Lennox when te Macdonald was in te repellion - oomph. And you see, King's Majestie, tat was a wonderful al, caz you know very well tat her Crace pe te she-shild o' te traitor man, and -
"I see how it was," interrupted the King;
"you had some suspicion of the motives of her appearance at that time in Lennox, and so took her into custody."
"But al wi' a congee, for she was te Queen's Majesty in te sheiling of Glenfruin - and her oold laidie matam, she was te lamb on te hill, and a kid tat is skipping apout, for te penalty in her pack, tat was her own proportee, and wasn't Glenfruin's at al - Oomph."
"In all this," said his Majesty, addressing himself to the Lady Sibilla, "though there has been much irregularity, and something to blame, I am yet glad to find that your client has such a good defence; and for your sake, if he will send twenty head of cattle to the Blackfriars at Dumbarton, we shall endeavour to appease the church, and order his name to be supplemented to the general pardon."
"Sowlls and podies! King's Majestie! Have we a head in our ear, tat ye will pe talking of twenty cattles? - Oomph. Aye, and will tat
pe a glorification and rewart for te loyaltee? - Oomph. Sowlls and podies! when te Macfarlanes' she-shild got her man it was no so pad py a two. Twenty cattles! - Oomph."
"What do you mean by the Macfarlanes' daughter?" said the King.
"She had te light o' te Michaelmas moon for a towrie; and te clan, tey lifted te nine and te two and te six cows, and te black stot, te pest tat were al in Glenfruin. Sowlls and podies! King's Majestie! And will ye pe saying twenty cattles? Glenfruin's te traitor man - he'll pe a repellion himselph - twenty cattles! My Got! King's Majestie! Tat's moving - twenty cattles - tat's a judification as pad as te string on te tree - twenty cattles! - Oomph."
The King rose and walked across the room, in expectation that Glenfruin would retire; but, instead of moving from the spot where he stood, he followed his Majesty
with his eye, muttering, "Twenty cattles - Oomph."
The Lady Sibilla compassionating his situation, went to him, and whispered that he should retire.
"Sowlls and podies ! and will we pe going away ? Twenty cattles! - Oomph!"
"I beseech you," replied the Lady Sibilla, softly, but very earnestly, "to withdraw; his Majesty has done you great honour." ,
"Twenty cattles!" exclaimed Glenfruin.
The King, who was desirous neither to observe, nor to hear what passed, would have himself retired, but the singularity of the delinquent's deportment allured him to linger ; and, accordingly, without seeming to notice that the chieftain was still in the room, he began to talk facetiously with the Lady Katherine Douglas, inquiring if some of her ancestors were not kith and kin to the Glenfruins.
Meanwhile the Lady Sibilla still supplicated,
and even took Glenfruin by the arm to lead him to the door. Suddenly, however, he broke from her, and going up to the King with his mouth pursed with resolute valour, said -
"And tid King's Majestie say twenty cattles ?"
"Yes," replied the King, without turning round.
Glenfruin instantly put on his bonnet with a flourish, and scowling defiance on all around, exclaimed -
"Twenty cattles! Oomph!" and strode with stately strides towards the door, which that moment was opened, and the Earl of Athol entered, who seeing Glenfruin covered, and thereby not thinking the King present, began to speak to him; but "Twenty cattles" was all that the indignant chieftain could utter.
The King, hearing the Earl's voice, as soon as Glenfruin had quitted the room, said
laughingly, "Follow the old man, my Lord, and try to pacify him, lest he fall into some fault that must be more sharply noticed;" and the Earl thereupon retired.
IT is now expedient to recite, that it chanced, while the King and those around him were busy in the ceremonials of laying the foundation-stone, an officer of the court discovered Sir Robert Graeme through his disguise, and set espial upon him, by -which he was tracked to the chamber of the Earl of Athol. There, as already rehearsed, that same officer with soldiers came to seize him, even in the very hatching of his treason; but he was none daunted by their appearance, - on the contrary, he turned to the Earl, who was smitten with great amazement and terror at the sight of the guard, and began in very bitter terms to accuse him of treachery.
"He invited me to come hither," said the undismayed outlaw addressing himself to the
officer, "promising to intercede for some mitigation of the cruelty by which I am driven desperate, and assured me, that on the occasion of to-day's ceremony there was some hope that the King might be inclined to relent in his enmity. But, though at such imminent hazard I have ventured hither, instead of consenting to speak in my behalf, he not only has refused to present my petition, but has held me here in vain parlance till you have come. I am, however, not a man to be so trifled with. This is a consecrated abbey - a sanctuary where even notour criminals may find refuge, and I claim the privilege of the place."
Stuart, who at the first entrance of the guard was scarcely less appalled than the Earl, recovered courage during this bold device of Graeme, and was thereby enabled to say, when he had made an end -
"Sir Robert Graeme, it is not discreet so to chide Lord Athol; for, though he did
promise to speak in your favour to the King, he gave you but little heartening to venture hither in person."
The Earl had also in the meantime like-wise rallied, and he rejoined -
"I was not less amazed at finding him here, than I am at the bravery with which he has accused me of treachery."
"Indeed, Sir Robert," said the officer, "in this the Earl has had no part. I did myself discover you in the crowd; but not being willing to cause any molestation during the solemnity, I had you watched hither. No deceit has been practised against you by the Earl of Athol."
"Then why, after feeding me with hopes of procuring to-day some abatement of the rigour afoot for my destruction, does he now refuse to present my petition?"
"I have been forbidden by the King to speak to him of you," said the Earl.
"In what way then could you work in the
solicitation of what you led me to expect ? But not to waste the time with idle words," continued the traitor, turning to the officer, taking at the same time a memorial from his bosom, which he had provided against mischance, - "I beseech you to give this into the hands of Sir William Chrichton the Chancellor. But it is hard to be deserted by my own kinsmen, and compelled to ask the help of a stranger."
"Nay," cried Stuart, "let it not be so; I will take your paper, and, if I cannot myself give it into the King's hands, I will entreat for you the mediation of some other of more weight."
Thus was the officer and those with him deluded; and Graeme, claiming the privilege of sanctuary, passed forth from the Earl of Athol's chamber into the cloisters belonging to the canons and other ecclesiastics of the Abbey.
While the officer went to report to his
superior what had come to pass, the Earl went straight to the King; and passing the Chancellor, the Lord Treasurer, and others of the council, who had by that time assembled in the antechamber, he proceeded on into the royal presence; but meeting with Glenfruin, as set forth, coming away very wroth at the condition which the King had imposed as a commutation of his offences, he followed him, agreeably to his Majesty's request; and with what effect he appeased him will appear in the sequel. Let it suffice for the present to record, that-the same evening Glenfruin departed from Scone for his own castle, and though there was still a grudge in his breast, he wore no cloud on his brow.
In the meanwhile Celestine, with the Knight of Kincardine, after landing Sir Duncan Campbell and his attendants, with Father Donich, the Duchess and Leddy Glenjuckie, at the bower in Inch-murrin, had steared towards that part of the eastern shore of Lochlomond
where Anniple had disembarked; and it chanced that the mariners who were with them, seeing the boat drift along the margent of the lake, and knowing it to belong to Glenfruin, expressed great wonderment thereat ; in so much, that the Knight of Kincardine, pondering on all he heard and saw, began to suspect that Nigel had not told him the truth, and that the Lord James was still concealed somewhere in the vicinage. Whereupon, instead of going on towards Perth, he ordered the boatmen to steer for the mouth of the Leven, being minded to proceed forthwith to Dumbarton, there to learn whether the Lord James had indeed been taken; and if the fact proved otherwise, then to raise the country, as he was empowered to do.
This determination greatly grieved the heart of Celestine Campbell. He thought, that now to a certainty his unfortunate kinsman must be taken; and he would have returned to Kilchurn Castle, to deplore with his
mother a doom that seemed inevitable; but he durst not express any such inclination to the Knight of Kincardine, lest he should himself fall under suspicion. He, however, objected to go to Dumbarton, and, in answer to the importunate request, almost amounting to a command, of which the other, in virtue of his warrant, several times made for his aid and company, he so urged the will of his father that he should proceed to Perth, in order there personally to evince his fealty, that he was in the end excused; for the Knight of Kincardine being knit in firm and true amity with Sir Duncan Campbell, was loth that any detriment should come to the son of his friend, by too strict an enforcement, on his part, of any authority wherewith he happened to be invested.
Thus it came to pass that Celestine, finding himself environed with difficulties, on reaching the ferry of Balloch, quitted the Knight, and went with but three followers on towards
Perth, where he arrived shortly after the events whereof recital has been made. And it so fell out, that there being then in the town a great assemblage of nobles and other persons of high birth, Celestine found among them many of his own kinsmen, to whom, with a discreet brevity, he related the occasion of his being there at that time with so little exhibition befitting his rank and pedigree. His story, and the adventure of the Duchess of Albany, together with the appearance of Glenfruin at court, caused so much discourse concerning the same, that the arrival of Celestine was speedily known at Scone, and soon reached the King.
Celestine, by his mother, being of the bloodroyal, and withal a comely youth, of a very noble aspect, his Majesty, on hearing of him, gave orders that he should be invited to the banquet in the evening; and he went thither accordingly; where, after a very gracious welcome, the King commended him in so special a
manner to the Lady Sibilla, that he was not tardy in availing himself of the freedom which he thereby acquired with her to speak of his unfortunate cousin. The concern which he so plainly took in the fate of the Lord James, soon begat more and more confidence between them, in so much that he related how her rumoured inconstancy had wounded the heart of her betrothed lover, more than had the shipwreck of his fortunes; - and thence, finding her affections still remained unchanged, he informed her of all that had taken place from the time of the meeting on Craig Phatric.
So quick a growth of confidence between them, and, as the burden of their matter required, a disposition so manifest on both sides to discourse apart from all observers, and in secrecy and whispers, was soon remarked. The most experienced matrons condemned it as unprecedented lightness on the Lady Sibilla's part; for they foresaw in their sapience, that Celestine would soon be a declared and [sic]
accepted lover; and many marvelled that she, who had so long withstood the preferable match and rich temptation of Stuart, should, as it were, at once renounce her vows and stifle her scruples. Her fair and young companions eyed her askance, and murmured to one another at the dishonour of such unexampled caprice in their sex, and said, "But to be sure, Celestine Campbell is very handsome."
SIR DUNCAN CAMPBELL having conveyed the Duchess of Albany in safety to the bower on Inchmurrin, remained there with her for some time, aiding her, according as the King had desired, to draw together the ancient servants of her father's house, and to remove such household gear from the castle of Balloch as might be required for her use, it being thenceforth resolved to raze that fortalice to the ground, in order that it might never again be formidable as a place of strength in Lennox. And when he had fulfilled his instructions and accomplished these things, he bade her adieu, and departed with his train for Perth.
Then it was that the anxiety which she had suffered for her son, the Lord James, and
which she had, with her wonted fortitude, concealed while Sir Duncan was with her, broke out with great violence, and she became as one that is forgone in spirit; - her eyes grew eager and restless with alarm - she started at the slightest noise - she often sighed, and suddenly shed tears - sleep fled her pillow - the live-long night she walked her chamber, wringing her hands; and her hair, which was only before beginning to be grey, changed in the course of a few days, and was altogether hoary. Her countenance too assumed a wild earnestness, more withered and woful than the appearance of eild, even when shattered by long malady; and her hands, which were fair and delicate, almost as suddenly withered and lost their hue, seemingly as if they had been wasted by famine, and stained with a mortal yellowness.
Those of her household, who witnessed these mournful alterations, were touched with sympathetic apprehension, thinking that she
could not long sustain so terrible a struggle; and being unable to devise any other mean' s of consolation, they sent to Inchtavannach, and entreated father Kessog to come, in order to try the efficacy of that divine elixir which alone confers imperishable happiness and immortal life. He had, however, as he told the messengers, made that morning a vow not to leave the solitude of his island for the space of forty days, nor to hold any converse or intercourse with more than a single mortal creature for that time, and therefore he could not go with them.
The odour of his great sanctity was spread far and wide around, and the servants of the Duchess venerated him even more than all the other inhabitants of those parts, on account of the piety with which he had accompanied their aged master to the scaffold. But seeing that even for their afflicted mistress he stood not within the scope of entreaty, they returned
to Inchmurrin, and deplored his inexhorable vow.
In the meantime Father Kessog went back to his cell, and raising the Lord James from out the tomb, into which he had retired for concealment on seeing the boat approaching the shore, related to him what had passed.
"Though," said he, "till I spoke with them I had made no vow; yet, I doubt not, it was at the inspiration of Heaven that I so declared myself, and took upon me that vow; for I feel assured, when they report to your lady mother that I am here, and so fixed by piety, she will herself speedily come hither."
Nor was he in this mistaken; for, in the course of the day, Chambers, her chamberlain, took occasion to mention to her Grace, in one of her calmer moods, that Father Kessog was still I alive, and devoted to solitary worship in one of the neighbouring islands.
The name of the old and venerable man
was to the Duchess as the wizard's word of conjuration, which recalls the shadows of the dead; and for a season the terrible scene on Stirling hill was as it were renewed before her, in so much, that she sank down in silence overwhelmed with horror.
Still, however, her spirit retained so much of its original masterdom, that she soon broke through that awful incantation of memory.
"Though it will be to me," said her Grace, "a dreadful thing to see that holy man again, yet I would he were brought hither."
"That cannot be," replied Chambers; "for he has made a vow which for forty days will not permit him to leave his island or to hold communion with more than one person."
"How long a time has his penance yet to endure?"
"All the forty days, as I understand," replied Chambers.
The Duchess appeared to be somewhat moved on hearing this; for it seemed to her passing strange, that he should, when perhaps he had but heard of her arrival, have so chanced to take upon him such a vow.
"He may have done so," she thought, "to spare himself and me the grief of meeting; yet it is not in accord with the wonted charities of his nature. Could he have imposed on himself the penance only to draw me to his cell? Why should he have done that ?"
Chambers, who still continued before her, and knew not what was passing in her mind, was surprised to see her rise from her seat with a joyful animation, which, however, she in a moment controlled; and, after a brief pause, ordered a boat to be forthwith prepared to convey her to Inchtavannach, saying - " Since it is so that Father Kessog may not come here, I will visit him in his
cell." And a boat being forthwith put in readiness, she accordingly went thither.
As she approached the shore of the island, the old man was seen coming quickly towards the rock where visitors were wont to land; and he gained the place in time to say aloud, before they reached the shore, that, save her Grace, none else should speak with him, nor should any other land.
He then withdrew to some distance, and the Duchess having been assisted by her servants out of the boat, they re-embarked, and retired some few yards from off the strand, there to abide her return.
For some time, after she had footing on the mossy and broidered turf of that calm solitude, she bore herself with a firm step, and a sad but solemn dignity, while Father Kessog was so melted by the sight of the mournful, though majestic ruin which sorrow and anxiety had made, that his aged limbs shook, and were unable to bear him forward.
'It should not be thus," said the Duchess as she drew near; "it should not be thus, Holy Father; we have bowed our heads to such dispensations, that there ought now to be little in this world able to disturb our resignation."
"But I was not prepared to behold your Grace so changed, "replied the hermit; "years have passed since I have seen you."
He saw the tear rush into her eye, and he could say no more; but she wiped it away, and then observed -
"I doubt not, Father Kessog, that since we have met, I have become no longer like what I was, for I have not seen you since the King was brought home."
These words escaped her unconsciously; and no sooner had she uttered them, than she clasped her hands wildly together, exclaiming, "0 that he had never, never come!"
The hermit could only weep; - but she soon again resumed her fortitude, and said,
with a smile that was more awful than the look of any sorrow, "It is weak, Holy Father, to think of so mean a change as that which time or grief imposes on the perishable shell of humanity."
"It is so," replied the old man, with reverence of her singular fortitude; "it is so; life is but as the green of the leaf that droppeth, and the goodly structure of the body, but as the substance of the evening cloud that melteth away; yea, the world is a sentenced thing, and motion shall stop, and sound become dumb - even the beauteous heavens must close all their eyes of light, and be no more. Yet, in such mutations, there is no cause of sadness, but rather of great joy ; for with the general vanishing of the elements shall not the dross of man depart from him, as he comes forth again purified from that alloy which adapted him to the earth?"
In such and similar discourse they remained for some time together, and the passion of
their grief becoming more and more subdued into the habitude of their melancholy, Father Kessog led the way to his solitary dwelling; gradually, as they walked thither, preparing her Grace for the meeting with her son, whose concealment with him she had from the first suspected to be the hidden cause of his vow.
WHEN the Knight of Kincardine parted from Celestine Campbell at the ferry of Balloch, he straightway proceeded to Dumbarton, to learn there what had been heard of the Lord James ; and finding, on his arrival, that it could not be doubted he had been deceived by Nigel, he waxed very wroth against that youth, and bitterly regretted that he had accompanied Sir Duncan Campbell to Glenfruin, or had at all mixed the concerns of his mission, which was one of rigour, pursuit, and penalty, with the grace that the King was pleased to vouchsafe to the Duchess of Albany, and he forthwith determined to redeem the indiscretion of the past with all imaginable speed. For that purpose, in virtue of his warrant, he issued orders for all true and
leal subjects in Lennox, and the parts adjacent, to hold themselves in readiness to attend him whensoever and wheresoever it might be thought expedient to make search for the published traitor, in so much, that the doom of the Lord James could scarcely be considered otherwise than as finally sealed. But the things of adversity take the hue and character of the condition ; and, as in prosperity those promises which bud and bloom the fairest are often the first blighted, so does it come to pass with the clouds and floods of adversity, which, when they menace the most, in like manner pass away, leaving the skies clear and sunny, and the meadows which they seemed to ruin, enriched with renovated fertility.
The means and measures, whereto the Knight of Kincardine was thus led to have recourse by the stratagem of Nigel, took time and much riding to concert; but it happened that, before they were matured to be effectual, a great event had elsewhere come to pass,
the which, for a season, superseded all lesser public cares and anxieties.
The stout Earl of Northumberland, in a manner unlooked for, and without provocation of any national quarrel, suddenly passed from Alnwick Castle with a great train of knights and squires, to the number of a thousand men, and coming across the border, hunted the Cheviot deer with so manifest an arrogance, as plainly showed a proud defiance of the power of the Lord Douglas, then warden of the marches. But as soon as the Scottish Earl, who was no pricket in battle, heard of this foray, he roused his vassals far and near, and set himself forward in all his power to chastise the English insolence of the Percy.
Now the King of Scots, when he was told of these things, was grieved and in much sorrow, repining that the feuds personal of those contentious barons should thus, before the task of calming the realm was half finished,
endanger the very being of his kingdom; and he laid his interdict on all his nobles, to refrain from taking any part in the controversy, ordering, that the war should be held to be but between the Percy and the Douglas.
On the third day after the entrance of the English into Scotland, the baronial armies met at Piperden, where ensued such an heroic emulation between the gentlemen opposed to each other, as had never before fallen out in the rivalry of the youthful courage of any two warlike nations. They began to fight with the dawning of the morning, and when the evening bell was rung, the victory being still doubtful, they, like good reapers anxious for a harvest of glory, continued to ply their warrior-sickles beneath the moon; and it were hard to say, when, for very weariness, they retired from their toil, which had the greater share of fame in the field, so thickly on both sides lay the rich sheaves which were that day gathered. The report, however, was, that
the Northumberland men had gone home, and it was justly apprehended that they would not fail to return soon with redoubled power.
"The tidings of this battle," said the King, when he heard in what manner it had ended, "will fire the very English air. No man in the land but will henceforth make this quarrel his own; for I know the race - a noble race - somewhat too headstrong, and over ready to give the first blow; but in fight ever most fair and just to the victorious, be the honour on which side it may. Their faults and virtues are alike fathered by their pride. It is in verity the nature of the English climate, to bring forth only things of an arrogant temperament. The very dog there, is, in courage, fierceness, and jealousy, a creature singular throughout the whole world; the horse too partakes of the insolence of the groom by whom he is pampered; and the man is of a character congenial to the knotted
oak of the land; the which flourishes the more, in his stern sublimity by the rooting that he takes in wrestling with the tempest. We have no choice, but only forthwith to prepare for war; not that it shall be sought by us, but we must stand ready on our defence, for war will assuredly come."
Soon indeed it was as the King had augured, and it caused him to suspend for a time all homeward and domestic enterprises, to the end that he might the better draw together a sufficient puissance for defence of the realm. The Knight of Kincardine was accordingly, before the execution of his warrant, summoned from Dumbarton to collect his own vassals, in order that he might attend the King to the borders; while his Majesty, with all the array of Angus, passed south the Forth to Edinburgh, leaving the Queen and her ladies at Scone under the care and ward of the Earl of Athol, who still continued the greatest in his favour.
In the meantime, Sir Robert Graeme having claimed the privilege of sanctuary in Scone, was thereby safe from arrest in the very house which the King himself inhabited, and enabled to find means to confer with Stuart, and to form with him a scheme for the gratification of their ambition and revenge. But, before it was ripened, the tidings of the battle of Piperden arrived and frustrated their contrivance; for the King having by many courtesies endeavoured to wean Stuart from the resentment, which he had so innocently conjured, that vindictive youth found himself constrained to assent with the seemingly readiest compliance, when his Majesty requested him to be of his particular equipage.
But no sooner had the King departed from Scone to Edinburgh, than, with the connivance of the Earl of Athol, Graeme secretly effected his escape from the Abbey, and retired again into the Highlands, where, availing
himself of the warlike stir then general through the country, he set himself to league together, among the Earl's vassals, certain bold and devoted men, in whom, by knowledge imparted of them both by Stuart and their master, he knew might be trusted. They, at his suggestion, banded themselves under the pretext of joining Stuart with the royal army; but they made no movement to follow their clansmen that went thither.
The strength of the traitors was also gathering and growing elsewhere. Glenfruin had returned home, and though he told Nigel on his arrival a bitter tale of the twenty head of cattle, he nevertheless still professed himself to be a good subject, and in token thereof he ordered the cattle, as the King had commanded, to be driven to Dumbarton. There was, however, something about him which his son could not fathom. On divers occasions he seemed inclined to make his shrift of some solemn secret wherewith he had been trusted;
but ever and anon he looked at Nigel, and saying - "te Lord Hamies - Oomph!" turned away his head and withheld his communication.
Nigel could not dive into this mystery and taciturnity; but he thought that his father suspected he had the Lord James somewhere still concealed, and was in consequence displeased at not being admitted to his confidence. From the time, however, that the ill-fated prince went away in the boat, neither he nor Anniple had been heard of among the Glenfruins; and Nigel, on different occasions, expressed his sincere belief that the Lord James had passed into some foreign country.
These operations made, however, no impression on the old chieftain; on the contrary, he admitted his turbulent nephew, Roderic MacNigel, to his councils, sending him to the King's armoury at Stirling to buy arms, at each new mission saying, with a particularity of look as his reason for so doing - "Caz,
you know, Nigel, tat Glenfruin will pe te goot subject, and al te Glenfruins will pe te tog to te King for a fideeleetie."
The money required, for such a store of weapons as his father was gathering, so far exceeded all that Nigel had ever heard of his wealth, that he began to admire whence it could arise, and to marvel what was intended by forming such a magazine of arms. But to every question on the subject the answer was, - "Caz, you know, Nigel, tat Glenfruin will pe te goot subject. - Aye, aye - twenty cattles - put he'll no pe te traitor man - Oomph."
In brevity, it may be here told without farther overture, that the Earl of Athol had secretly given Glenfruin a large sum of money to indemnify him for the fine; and, to secure him still farther to his interest, had made him great promises if he would hold himself and his vassals ready at his bidding, or that of his nephew Stuart, - at the same time cautioning him not to put too much confidence in Nigel, of
whom, both from Glenfruin himself, and the general rumour about the court, he had some suspicion, believing him more closely interwoven with the interests of the house of Albany than accorded with the views which induced him so to tamper with the sordid simplicity of the old chieftain.
IN the meantime, all the young nobles about the court had, in the preparations for the war with the English, departed for their respective countries to bring forward the levies of their fathers' vassals and clansmen. And Celestine Campbell, on his way to Argyle, resolved to pass, for speed, by the waters of Lochlomond; not, however, altogether for speed either; for, being still in deep concern of heart for the outcast condition of the Lord James, he was partly moved to take that course in order that he might learn, in passing, whether any tidings of him had reached the Duchess.
Accordingly, after having taken boat, instead of proceeding straightways up the lake, he went to Inch-murrin, where he found the
Duchess with her gentlewoman employed in needlework and other household thrift, so little in accordance with her Grace's dignity, that he could not but remark and marvel at the same.
Having passed some time in discourse with her Grace concerning the events of the time, and the dangers wherewith the kingdom was then menaced, he signified by a sign, as he moved to retire, that he was anxious to confer with her in private. Whereupon she led him into a turret-chamber, and he there related, with his wonted freedom, the sincerity of the affection which he bore towards his cousin; and how he had learnt from the Lady Sibilla herself, that nothing had shaken her betrothed love, but, on the contrary, that the misfortunes of the Lord James had only served to endear him the more to her remembrance.
The Duchess for some time was diffident to give him full credence for all he said. Her own sufferings had taught her to be distrustful of
the world, and the recital in Father Kessog's cell, of the hardships, griefs, and treacheries which her son had endured, had made her question the integrity of Celestine. But his frank countenance, free air, and the generous sound of his voice, together with the gentleness of that sympathy which moved him to search the affections of the Lady Sibilla, with her own natural predilection for one that bore a strong similitude to her children, soon subdued her scruples, and she confided to him not only the secret of the place where the Lord James was concealed, but entreated his aid to help her to facilitate his cousin's escape either to France or to Ireland.
"This homely work," said her Grace, "in which you see me engaged with my women, are for disguises; but as yet I have found no one that may be trusted to procure him a vessel."
Celestine lamented that he could not, without dishonour to himself, disloyalty to the
King, and faithlessness to his father's trust, stay himself to serve his cousin. "But," said he, "young Nigel of Glenfruin is a youth singularly observant and adroit - prompt, and naturally so ready and rich in expedients - withal so true, that I know not one, whom in any emergency of danger, or adventure requiring dexterity, that I would sooner put faith in.''
"I have," replied the Duchess, "myself noted his good qualities, and I have more than once bethought myself of him ; but how can I call him here, or whom can I send to him without the hazard of awakening his father's suspicions."
Celestine paused, and ruminated for a time, then he said - "I will myself take the castle of Glenfruin in my way, and speak with Nigel. In the meantime, commend me with all imaginable kind words to my cousin, and assure him of my unfeigned and unchanged regard."
So saying, he departed; and the Duchess having called in Chambers, her chamberlain, briefly rehearsed to him what had passed between her and Celestine Campbell, desiring him to pass over to Inchtavannach, and relate to Father Kessog what she had heard respecting the Lady Sibilla, and to crave his advice and counsel. For as yet she had trusted no one in the house with the secret of her son's concealment, but assigned some motive of piety for the daily visits which, from the first interview, she had continued to pay to the hermit's island.
Chambers accordingly, about the close of the day, embarked in her Grace's barge for Inchtavannach, and chancing to arrive at the time when the Lord James took his accustomed walk for exercise, he found the hermit sitting alone, on the corner of a rock, overhung with birch and hazel, and sat down beside him.
It happened that the Lord James discovered
the boat as it came towards the island, and not knowing whom it might be bringing at that hour in the evening, hid himself in the copse behind the rock, and heard all that Chambers rehearsed; but the delight wherewith he listened to the long unshaken constancy of his betrothed bride, it were a vain thing here to descant concerning. Forgetting all he had endured, and the peril in which he still stood, he hastily rushed forward, and bade Chambers to tell the Duchess, that be would never quit the strand of Scotland, happen whatever might, unless he carried with him so peerless a paragon of truth and love.
When the surprise with which Chambers beheld his young lord so suddenly before him had in some degree abated, Father Kessog, in performance of his vow, left them and went apart, while they continued discoursing together - more especially of the ways and means that might be adopted to bring the Lady Sibilla again to her lover; the result of all which
was, that Chambers should leave the service of the Duchess and go to court.
"I have lately heard," said he, "that the Earl of Athol has shown much favour towards the old officers of your father's household, and allowed many of them not only entertainment in his hall, but procured for them preferment among his friends. But whether he may prove inclined to show the like courtesy to me, the solicitation will be a fair pretext for my appearance at Scone, where I may not long be without finding suitable time and place to assure the Lady Sibilla of all that you would wish me to tell."
This being so covenanted, Chambers returned to Inchmurrin, and related to the Duchess the ardour and the resolution of the Lord James; but when he spoke of quitting her service, and of going to solicit the patronage of the Earl of Athol, she shuddered with an inward horror that even her august fortitude could not conceal.
"Is there no other but the Earl of Athol," said she, "of whom so true a servant of my house may ask so small a favour to serve my ill-fated boy."
Chambers replied - "There is no other whom, in such a business, it is so expedient to solicit."
"He alone," exclaimed the Duchess, "has been advanced by the ruin of my family. I cannot but sometimes think - Heaven forgive me if I do so uncharitably - that he has had some secret hand in the tragedies of my house. He often seems, as it were, to stand before me, supplicating mercy, and as often, methinks, I hear a solemn voice, which says - your avenger will yet come."
All her household had remarked, from the time of her altered appearance, that occasional gleams of lunacy flitted along the dark and heaving billows of her boundless melancholy, but she had never indulged in the expression of any such fantasy as this before.
"It hath ever been reported, to the advantage of Lord Athol," replied her chamberlain, with a sorrowful voice, "that to the very last he withstood the will of the King."
"I do not believe it, for there never was sincerity in that man. I have known him all my miserable life, and never saw in him aught of wisdom, but only a cunning, tempered by cowardice. His very virtues have more in them of malice than of benevolence, and I feel often a heavenly impulse urging me to warn the King."
"The King!" exclaimed Chambers, as he gazed at the wild and piteous frenzy of her bright and dry eye; "that merciless King who - ."
"Are we not enjoined," cried the Duchess fervently, "not only to forgive, but to love those that do us wrong?"
"But of what would your Grace warn the King?" said Chambers, almost weeping.
"Of the hollowness of Athol," replied the
Duchess; and then she added querulously, "But, Chambers, do not combat with me in this manner, I fear that my brain begins to be unbalanced. Nevertheless, I have such persuasion of something ill about that man as hath the eye of sights and the ear of sounds ; neither can tell aught of them, nor wherefore they are themselves so impressed. Often, often has his weeping lady, - we were bred in the same convent, and, like two happy birds in one cage, sung all the day together; - our friendship outlived that suspicionless innocence, and often has she told me, with what sorceries, horoscopes, and divinations, he was wont to question destiny concerning his fortunes, - and yet none mocked more at the tales of legendary oracles. To think of him is to feel the presence of a mystery. - But only last night I dreamt that I saw him seated on a throne of state, and the brightness of the kingly crown on his head, and my heart repined at his greatness; but as I
looked, the phantom withered, the fangs of some dreadful thing clothed his shoulders with a mortcloth ; and then I beheld as it were three seraphs sitting on a cloud, smiling, and looking down. One, I thought, was like the Duke, as I first saw him in the prime of youth ; and the other two like my two pretty boys, when they were innocent and playing at my knee. - But I do think, Chambers, that thou art the fee'd servant of Athol. Go to him if thou wilt, and when thou may'st. - Alas! alas! I have no more tears left to cool the fire that begins to kindle here."
With these words she pressed her temples with her hands, and rushing into another room, gave herself up to those wild and fantastical wanderings, which neither medicine, melody, nor patient meekness, can for a season charm into repose.
CELESTINE CAMPBELL, after parting from the Duchess of Albany, having again embarked in the boat which carried him to Inchmurrin, directed the mariners to make for the head of the lake, which they accordingly did, sometimes with oar and sometimes with sail; for the wind came by fits in flans from the hills, and here and there in the lea of the mountains the water lay glassy calm. In this he was minded to lead the men who were with him to think that he was only impatient to reach Kilchurn castle; but as they were passing the lowering precipice that fronts Benlomond, to the north of Luss, and under which the voyager seldom sails without feeling a strange and pleasing dread of a danger that may only be, he feigned a sudden recollection
as of something which he had forgotten, and directed them to return with all speed of oar and sail to the foot of Glenfruin water, where he landed alone, and walked straight towards the tower.
As he ascended the hill he saw a great number of the Glenfruins assembled round the castle; this, however, he at first little noted, thinking they were doubtless preparing to join the King's army; but, on going nearer, he was surprised to observe Nigel standing apart by himself, thoughtful and downcast, while his father and his kinsman Roderick were busy marshalling and talking with the men.
This singular thing made him pause, and wonder from what cause it could be; and he soon discerned that there was some sedition among them whereby Nigel was thrust from his right. The suspicion of this was confirmed when, as he was pondering thereof, he saw Hector MacAllisner of Glenmallochan go towards
Nigel, and seemingly speak to him in an admonitory manner.
After a time, Nigel, with evident reluctance, went with Hector to the clansmen; and Celestine remarked, that no sooner had he joined his father than the old man, with vehement gestures and a loud voice, the sound only of which reached to where he was standing, appeared to chide and reproach him. Then there was a gathering around them of the clansmen, who were plainly moved by what was passing; but still Nigel continued to listen to his father without making any reply.
Glenfruin having made an end of his reproaches, Roderick MacNigel then also went with a haughty carriage towards Nigel, and seemingly began to address him in the same strain; but he had not said many words, when there arose an evident commotion among the on-lookers, and Nigel laying his hand on his sword, answered him with a menace.
Then Hector MacAllisner rushed in between them, and pushing them apart from each other, Glenfruin seized his son by the breast, and raising a staff whereon he leant, shook it over his head, speaking to him as if he was still but a froward boy.
Nigel, however, appeared to make no answer to the anger of his father; but stood under his threats, and the indignity of his menace, with the quiet reverence that befits a son who is yet resolved not to be moved from a good purpose by the prejudices or intemperance of his parent.
In the meantime, several of the clansmen retired apart, and were conferring together while this controversy lasted. Then they beckoned Hector MacAllisner towards them, and conferred with him; after which, he returned to where Glenfruin, Nigel, and Roderick, were sullenly standing together, and appeared to report something from the clansmen, the hearing of which made the old man
stamp with his foot, and look round to those who had missioned Hector, with a growl, that made the echoes grumble in their caves like the sound of the coming torrent in the glen, when in the dark silence of the summer calm the black cloud dissolves on the hill. Roderick also appeared to be indignant; but Celestine, who was now advancing towards them, observed that Nigel assumed a more determined air.
As soon, however, as the approach of Celestine was discovered, all the Glenfruins seemed suddenly to forego their divisions, and to stand as if innocently idling at the castle gate, while the chieftain himself came to greet the stranger with a smile, and the seeming hearty bearing of hospitality.
Celestine being of a discreet and urbane disposition, made no remark on what he had observed, but said that he was on his way home, to bring his father's levies to the King's camp, and had landed in passing up the lake,
to partake of the good cheer of Glenfruin, and to seek reconciliation with Nigel, for the misunderstanding which had arisen between them when he was last there.
The reception which Glenfruin gave him, he soon remarked, was overgrown with politesse, even to rankness, which taught him to suspect that there was either design, danger, or deception lurking beneath it; and he was the more led to this suspicion by the perplexed demeanour of Roderick; but Nigel met him with a brotherly warmth and gratulation; and while Celestine significantly pressed his hand, to intimate that he had some occult purpose for him in his visit, the other returned the pressure, in a manner which showed that he understood the token.
Celestine being led into the hall, the board was soon spread with such fare as the frugal amouries of Glenfruin could supply; and having heartily partaken thereof, he rose to return to his boat, notwithstanding the solicitations
of the chieftain that he should abide with them for the night. He pleaded, however, the King's strict orders, and the dishonour that would fall upon him, were the Campbells to be exposed to the blame of any backwardness when the kingdom was so menaced by all the potency of their ancient enemies. And he said many commendatory things to Glenfruin on the state of readiness and preparation wherein his clansmen appeared to be; to all which the old chieftain replied -
"Aye, aye, Glenfruin will pe te goot subject, and te loyaltee, caz you see, Celestine Campbell, tat's te King's laa, and according to - Oomph."
Celestine then parted from him, and, in a free and light manner, as if without intent or purpose, on leaving the hall, requested Nigel to walk with him to the boat ; but he remarked, that the old man, on hearing this, exchanged looks with Roderick, who, thereupon,
offered to go likewise, even before Nigel could make any reply.
Celestine was somewhat disconcerted by this over-readiness, but could make no denial. Nigel, however, said with his wonted apparent simplicity -
"You can do no less, Roderick, for truly when he was last here we failed in our civilities," and then he added, turning to Celestine, "Is it not very extraordinary, that in all the time which has since passed, we have never heard any thing of the Lord James ? That he escaped by our boat is without question, for it was found on the other side of the loch, but whither he went, and where he is now, we have never heard."
"It is supposed at court," replied Celestine, "that he has returned into Ireland, whence some think he will pass to Palestine."
This was all the discourse that arose between them in the hall; but after they had left the castle, Celestine inquired of Roderick
when he had been at Inchmurrin to see the Duchess; and being answered that he had never yet been there, nor Glenfruin, nor Nigel, he feigned to marvel much thereat, and to remonstrate with them for being so slack in the performance of a courtesy, which was the more necessary on their part, considering how long her Grace had been an inmate with them."
"I trust," said he, again addressing himself to Roderick, "that you will speedily supply this great deficiency. I could not pass the island without stopping to tender the grace of my homage. I pray you, gentlemen, to correct your fault with all expedition."
We have indeed been to blame," said Nigel, looking at Celestine, to intimate that he comprehended the aim and jet of his exhortation. "We have no extenuation for so great a lack in breeding; and I will this very day go thither, that the fault may not be the more increased. But think you, Celestine Campbell, that her Grace will accept our visitation, considering
that when with us she esteemed herself in the constraint of custody
"That I cannot decide; but were I in your place the doubt should not weigh a feather's weight with me. I would make the trial. And you should persuade your father to go with you. Roderick, here, will go of course."
"That he will not," said Roderick; "I will not expose myself to the hazard of being denied admission."
"There can be no such risk," rejoined Nigel, who well knew that the reluctance of his cousin would become obstinacy if controverted; "there can be no such risk. You ought to go with me. Nay, I think you will do wrong to us all if you do not. In my opinion you judge not discreetly in refusing."
"I am not, however, to be ruled by you," replied Roderick sharply.
"0, then, I can go myself; but I hope you will not use your influence to prevent my father -"
"Glenfruin will be allowed to do as he thinks fit for me," said Roderick; "I am, however, much mistaken if he will ever go uninvited to Inchmurrin."
Thus, so discoursing, they walked to the boat; and after Celestine had embarked, Nigel and Roderick returned to the castle, where the proposal to visit the Duchess begat a new controversy with Glenfruin, the end of which was, that Nigel alone, with, however, a becoming equipage of the clansmen, went that some [sic] afternoon to Inchmurrin, where it was soon covenanted between him and the Duchess, that he should endeavour to provide a vessel to carry the Lord James secretly to Ireland.
CHAMBERS, after parting from the Duchess of Albany in the manner rehearsed, went straight to Scone, where the Queen, with her ladies, together with the Earl of Athol and other staid and aged nobles, held her court during the King's absence; and he, the better to conceal the real purpose of his going thither, having, as had been concerted, proffered his service to the Earl, by whom he was well known, there ensued much discourse between them concerning the Duchess and the misfortunes of her family, wherein Chambers was more than once surprised by the extraordinary condescension which so high and proud a nobleman as the Earl of Athol was commonly accounted, vouchsafed towards him.
"I have ever," said the Earl, "been much
content to distribute among the old and faithful servants of Duke Murdoch's house a share of the small patronage which falls within my gift. You cannot, however, but know, Chambers, that things are now no longer ruled in this realm as they were in times past. In sooth to say, if the King continues to pluck the wings of his nobles in the manner done of late, we shall not have wherewithal left to raise ourselves above the grovelling commonalty. But I need not tell you, that for me to complain would be to draw down ruin upon my own head, such as befell your unfortunate master; - for though the King says nothing, he cannot but often ruminate on the violated birth-right of my mother's children."
Chambers being a gentleman of singular prudence and wariness, marvelled to hear the Earl speak to him in this free manner, and wist not well what answer to make; he, however, replied -
"Doubtless, as that injustice is a thing still
in the mouths and minds of the common people, the King cannot but often think of it. He must, however, esteem himself fortunate that you, my Lord, have with such passing moderation submitted to let the law take its course without once endeavouring to molest the peace of the realm, by any enterprise for the recovery of that whereof you were so unjustly deprived."
"Of what would it have availed me to set up any pretence to the crown, however rightful," said the Earl, "while the kingdom at large approved of the King's government? But now - and he paused, and, looking earnestly at Chambers, then added - " but now, when the King has gone to the war in person, should any mischance befall him there, many friends of mine will not be slack in chiding my submission to that which they have ever regarded as a most grievous wrong;" and he added, with a sharp and fathoming look," I doubt not the old friends of the house
of Albany will be quick to abet any purpose that will open to them a way to satisfy their revenge."
Chambers was still more surprised at hearing the Earl speak after this manner, and bearing in mind how much he had ever been in the King's confidence, began to suspect that he was so leading on the discourse, to draw from him some opinion concerning the then inclinations of the friends of Duke Murdoch's family; whereupon he placed a guard upon his lips, and replied -
"The King has no better subjects than the servants of the house of Albany."
"True," said the Earl, "they are so reputed, and I believe it; but were the King to fall in the war, whom, think you, would they expect to be made Regent, seeing that the Lord James is fugitive, and a proclaimed traitor?"
"That," replied Chambers, "I am in no condition to answer. According to ancient
wont, doubtless, were the Lord James here and free, he would, under such an accident, naturally succeed during the minority of the Prince, he being the next of blood, and of a mature age. But the King, in his wisdom, will provide for the consequence of any such misadventure."
"I applaud your prudence," said the Earl, "but I dare say you would consider yourself bound to stand up for the Lord James, in the event of the King making no such providence."
"I am no longer in his service," replied Chambers, quickened into some degree of suspicion by the Earl's manner.
"By that answer, am I to think, were you in my service - ?"
"Chambers waited, in expectation that the Earl would complete what he so plainly intended to say; but instead of proceeding, he only added, after pausing sometime, "You have ever been esteemed a gentleman of
unblemished honour, and I know that Duke Murdoch had great faith in your integrity."
To this Chambers made no answer, but respectfully bowed his head, and the Earl continued, "I am therefore well content to have your service, and from this day you will account yourself of my household - and now I will be frank with you - I have some cause to think that Sir William Chrichton, the chancellor, looks towards the regency, in the event of any mischance befalling the King; and it is therefore expedient that I should in a secret manner provide for the event ; for the Lord James being under sentence of forfeiture, I become natural successor to any right that else might have been his."
So far, and to this extent only, did the Earl of Athol at that time make Chambers privy to his purpose, being right well pleased to obtain the fee'd service of a person whose discreet prudence he knew might be safely trusted; and Chambers, on his side, was no
less content to enter into the Earl's household, as he was thereby the better enabled, without risk of question, to further the secret purpose of his seeking employment at court. For although his sole object was to communicate the earnest suit of the Lord James to the Lady Sibilla, and to obtain her consent to go with him to parts beyond the seas, it was yet needful to proceed warily in the business, both on account of the outlawed condition of the Prince, and the opposition of her proud and potent kinsmen, who still entertained the hope that she would yet be persuaded to accept the proffered affections of Stuart. Accordingly, for several days after he had entered into the Earl's service, he made no endeavour to see the Lady, trusting that chance might throw himself with more advantage in her way, than if he purposely sought her; but in that time he heard from the other retainers of the preparations which their master was making among his vassals, not, as was given out,
to aid the King's power, but to provide against some misfortune that might befall his Majesty, the which was so spoken of as a thing probable to be, that it began to make him wakeful and suspicious; yet he more than once marvelled at himself why he should be so haunted with suspicion, for there was nothing seemingly of any dark design in the craft of the Earl's policy. An accident, however, which fell out one day when a letter came from the King, who was then laying siege to Roxburgh, confirmed him in his jealousy.
In that letter, his Majesty required the Earl to hasten forward the Athol-men, saying - "Hitherto they have joined the camp but in very small numbers, the which causes me to be the more surprised, as I hear there has been no sloth among them in mustering."
Observing the Earl somewhat disturbed by the peremptory terms in which he was exhorted, Chambers, to whom he gave the letter,
after reading it aloud, said, without any particular motive or significance -
"It would seem by this that the King has spies in Athol."
The Earl started at the remark, and recoiled, shrinking as if from the menace of some terrible stroke, exclaiming "Heaven forbid!" In a moment, however, he mastered his alarm, and said, as if in continuation - "Heaven forbid that my enemies sow sedition in his Majesty's breast against me."
This was all which then passed; but from that moment Chambers was convinced there was more in the depths of the Earl's machinations than what he had so frankly seemed to reveal to him, and he resolved to search out what it was, in the hope that he might deduce therefrom something which might be turned to the advantage of his true master - the forlorn outcast and outlawed Lord James.
IN the meantime, the ladies of the Queen's court, being often much molested in their pastime of hawking, and deterred from their wonted free exercises by the dread of the Highlanders that daily passed from the north to join the King's army, beseeched her Majesty to remove from Scone into the West Country during the war; and accordingly, on conferring with the Earl of Athol, it was resolved that the court should be changed to the royal castle of the Inch at Renfrew. The ladies would rather that it had been to Rothsay ; but there were certain powerful partizans of the house of Albany in the vicinage of Renfrew, and it had been for some time a part of the Earl's forecasting policy, to conciliate to himself, by all imaginable means, the malcontents of that scattered faction. He,
however, alleged, that Rothsay was exposed to sudden inroads from the ships and vessels of the English, and thereby made the thing, which was for his own advantage, appear so plainly a discreet precaution of state, that the Queen was in no condition to maintain the controversy.
Renfrew lying near to Lennox, within less than half a day's journey of the place where the Lord James lay concealed, and being moreover commodious for any sudden conveyance away by sea, this determination for the removal of the court gave great secret satisfaction to Chambers, who, in the course of the riding thither, found an opportunity to let the Lady Sibilla know the occult purpose of his being then in the service of the Earl of Athol. This, however, was not effected without difficulty; for she having no previous knowledge that he had ever been in the household of the Duchess of Albany, saw him without heeding, notwithstanding divers
endeavours which he made, during the journey, to draw her particular attention. It happened, however, that in passing the water of Kelvin in their way to the ferry on the Clyde, her horse chanced to stumble, and he being near at hand, for he always rode as close to her as possible, leapt to her assistance ; and in the act of so doing, observing no one within hearing, he briefly whispered that he was charged with a message to her from the Lord James.
The surprise into which she was thrown by such an unlooked-for communication agitated her whole frame; and many of the cavalcade, who had observed the accident, gathering around, her emotion was ascribed by them to the alarm she had suffered. Thus fortunately was the ice broken in a manner that tended to prevent the favour with which she afterwards distinguished him from being thought remarkable ; for, when she recovered from her agitation, she was so abundant in her thanks
and remercies, that it was thought by all present he must have rendered her some very signal service.
"I know not," said she, when, having rejoined her Majesty, "in what manner I shall requite the service of yon brave gentleman.
The Lady Catherine Douglas had however seen the accident, and being somewhat perplexed by hearing her thus extol an assistance which seemed no way so exceeding, began to jeer at her terrors.
"Were he," said she, "a knight or gallant, young and noble, as he is but a staid and hard-favoured plain elderly gentleman, I should be in some anxiety for poor Celestine Campbell. Who is he?"
"I think of the Earl of Athol's train," replied the Queen; whereupon the Lady Catherine, pricking her jennet, rode up to the Earl, and inquired more particularly concerning him.
"He was an officer in great esteem with
Duke Murdoch," said the Earl, and has been lately in the service of the Duchess."
She inquired no farther, but turning her horse, rode slowly back towards the Queen, plainly wrapt in the matter of some grave and serious conjecture.
There had never been between her and the Lady Sibilla any particular friendship; - like many others, she had supposed, from the time of her last return to the court, that the Lord James was renounced, and she had herself remarked the seeming partiality with which Celestine Campbell had been treated. But the singularity of an old and esteemed officer of the Duchess of Albany entering so recently the train of the Earl of Athol, and obtaining, for so slender a service, such excessive laud and commendation, made her suspect that there was more of purpose and art than the sense of gratitude in the warmth of Sibilla's expressions. And she resolved to watch with vigilance what might ensue between them.
The Lady Sibilla had marked the manner of her going to the Earl, the impression which his answer evidently made, and being thereat troubled, went to her and said-
"What have you learnt concerning my deliverer ?"
"Deliverer!" replied the Lady Catherine; "is he a deliverer?" And seeing that the word deepened her bloom, she added with a penetrating look - "Know you not that he is lately from the household of the Duchess of Albany ?"
The Lady Sibilla having recovered from her embarrassment, replied - "Indeed I do not, but if it be so, I shall not account his claim the less upon me."
The disengaged air with which this was expressed would have deceived any common observer; but the Lady Catherine was at the moment animated by a shrewd and jealous curiosity, and the answer, instead of allaying her suspicions, made her only admire that
address, the peculiar quality whereof she had scarcely before particularly noted.
The Lady Sibilla, on her part, saw that there was already a spy upon her, and was seized with apprehension lest Chambers, before she could give him warning, might by any inadvertency betray to observation the understanding between them. Little more, however, then passed.
In the course of the afternoon, the court arrived at the castle of Renfrew, where a great concourse of people was assembled to greet the Queen. Among others, Nigel, with his cousin Roderick, were there, the latter being missioned from Glenfruin with some secret intimation for the Earl of Athol; and the former, though apparently led thither by curiosity, really for the intent of bespeaking a bark among the traders, in furtherance of the plan concerted between him and the Duchess for the escape and conveyance of the Lord James. Thus it chanced, that on
reaching the castle-gate, Sibilla observed Nigel in the crowd, and calling him to her, said, in presence of the Lady Catherine Douglas, who was nigh at hand, "this is another of my deliverers;" and mentioning who he was, reminded her of what she had formerly heard concerning her adventures on the night of the burning of Dumbarton. But this device, intended to quench the suspicion with which Sibilla perceived she was regarded, only served to increase it ; for although it was natural that Nigel should have been among the multitude, it nevertheless appeared to the Lady Catherine Douglas as something not then accidental, especially as she had heard something of the story of the Lord James having been seen lurking in Lennox, and particularly in the neighbourhood of Glenfruin.
In the same evening after the court arrived at the castle of the Inch at Renfrew, as Chambers, according to his office in the household of the Earl of Athol, was engaged
in certain domestic duties, he was informed by a menial that two Lennox gentlemen were desirous of seeing him relative to business of great moment with the Earl.
The hour at which this request was made, and the circumstance of the visitors being from Lennox, surprised Chambers; but, as the policy of his adventure required, he suppressed all particular expression of what he felt, and ordered them to be admitted, that he might inquire their business to report the same to his master, the Earl being then at supper with the Queen. The strangers were accordingly brought in, and they proved to be Nigel and Roderick of Glenfruin.
As soon as they were come into the room, Chambers observed, by a sign from Nigel, that he was desirous of conferring with himself alone. Roderick, however, said haughtily, that his business being with the Earl, he wished to see himself; whereupon, after some discourse, in which the visitors explained who
they were, Chambers went and procured leave from the Earl to take Roderick into his own particular room, there to abide his coming; and having left him alone, he returned to Nigel, with whom his conversation was brief though important.
Nigel told him, that he had been instructed of the secret purpose wherefore he was then in the service of the Earl of Athol, as a token that he was himself in the confidence both of the Duchess and of the Lord James; and he then informed him that he had accorded an agreement with the skipper of a French vessel, to carry the Lord James at a moment's notice away. "The bark," said he, "in consideration of the mischances that may arise from tides, is, this night, to go down to the bay of Ardmore, where, on pretence of having sustained damage on the shallows of the river, she will lie at repair till we are ready. But I fear that, until the Lord James has procured the Lady Sibilla's consent
to go with him, he will not move from his concealment; for all his misfortunes have not yet taught him to bear with the counselling of his friends, nay, not even to yield from his own will to the solicitations of his mother."
Chambers could not doubt, from this relation, that Nigel was trusted as he had set forth, but he knew him not; and the simplicity of his air and countenance made him inclined to question if it was possible that one apparently so unpractised in the ways of the world and the devices of mankind, could be a principal in such an enterprise; without, therefore, expressing any distrust of what he had heard, he merely said -
"But how is it that your kinsman has, at this time, business of such secrecy with the Earl of Athol, that even you may not be privy to it ? You cannot but know that the Lord James alone stands now between the Earl and the regency, were any mischance to befall the King, and that even more than
the King himself he is interested in the seizure of that ill-fated prince."
Nigel made no immediate answer; but, after ruminating some time, said -
"My father, Glenfruin, owes much to the favour of the Earl, and has missioned my kinsman Roderick to bear to him the expression and testimonies of his gratitude."
"And why were not you rather employed in that office?" said Chambers, puzzled by the simplicity of Nigel's look, and the singular discretion from such a youth, of so cautious yet candid an answer.
"We are not," replied Nigel, "content at present with each other; but that is a matter which touches the Glenfruins among themselves; my business with you concerns but the cause of the Lord James and the Lady Sibilla. I have told you where, after this night, the French bark that I have hired will be found. The word by which any one coming from you will be received aboard is - .
At that moment the door of the chamber was opened, when Roderick returned, saying, with that vivacity of irritation which those who are not accustomed to languish for the ears of the great feel at their first appointment of solicited audience, -
"I fear the Earl is not coming."
"It is needful," replied Chambers, "that you return and await his coming; and "he moved to go with him into the inner room. In parting, however, from Nigel, he looked at him significantly, and with his finger on the boards of the door, made as it were a heedless seeming of writing.
As soon as the door was shut, Nigel, who had narrowly observed him, scratched with the point of his dirk the word that was to be the pass, and then went into the remotest corner of the room and sat down, as if he had no concern, portion, nor interest in any thing at that time.
Meanwhile Chambers having conducted
Roderick back again into the room where he was to abide the Earl's coming, spoke to him in a light and free manner of many things devised to win his confidence, saying, among others, as matter commendatory of his ostensible Lord -
"There is no nobleman of the time who can command such potency of friends and vassals as the Earl, and he judges wisely in not calling them out too rifely; for in the chances and events of war who can foretell what may happen?"
"I do not know the Earl," replied Roderick, intending to be on his guard against any freedom with one whom he accounted but as a servant; "none, however, can doubt his great wisdom."
"Nor his liberality," said Chambers. "He hath the spirit, would he had the treasure too, of a king. That, however, is not his fault. The supple servitors of his father, King Robert the Second, are to be thanked that so wise and
so generous a prince is not upon the throne. But every one may yet get his right; for if the King should fall in battle, or be taken by the enemy, the Earl, my master, will assuredly be Regent, and then he may remedy the injustice by which he and all his mother's children were defrauded of their inheritance. It will be well then for those who have linked themselves to his patronage like the Glenfruins -the Glenfruins are indeed fortunate in having such a chief at present as you."
"I am not yet chief," replied Roderick.
"Then I am sure," said Chambers, "it would be well for them that you were; but it may not perhaps be agreeable to you that I should speak in this frank manner. You may be of those who have lent themselves to uphold the iniquitous settlement of the crown on King Robert's bastards. Be that, however, as it may, there is not a gentleman, no, not a menial in the household, nor in the train
of the Earl of Athol, who will not as freely tell you his mind."
The Celtic dignity of Roderick was somewhat shaken by this speech; but his temper was rather ruffled than cowed by the insinuation.
"No," said he, "I am not any such; the Earl has no better friends than the Glenfruins - we hold ourselves at his bidding."
"You will speedily, I hope," replied Chambers, "reap all the advantage of that affection. But if it be as you say, I trust you intend not to weaken his influence in the realm by joining the King's power?"
"I have come," said Roderick, "to know his pleasure. The Glenfruins are ready at a beck, and we begin to wonder why he has not required our attendance."
While they were thus speaking, the Earl himself came to them; and having motioned to Chambers to withdraw, Roderick, when they were by themselves, requested his
instructions. Instead, however, of giving him any reply, the Earl simply desired him to bear his kind wishes to Glenfruin, and to say, he would hear from him anon. Their interview lasting for so short a space, Roderick came back into the room where Chambers and Nigel were together, before they had well renewed their conversation.
"I am glad, however "' said Chambers, as he entered, seemingly in continuation of something which he had been previously saying, - "I am glad, however, to find that your clansmen attend the Earl's orders;" and he saw plainly by the manner in which both Nigel and Roderick glanced their eyes towards him, that if it was so, the former was no party to the compact. He thereupon held them a little longer in discourse, and drew from Roderick, that the Glenfruins were divided because of their chieftain wishing them, on account of his own age, to obey Roderick as their leader rather than Nigel.
This discovery, after they parted from him, made him consider with himself whether it might not be possible to turn the divisions among the Glenfruins to the advantage of the Lord James, but in what way he could not then see; and in consequence, after some cogitation thereon, he resolved simply to pursue the original object he had in view, namely, the solicitation of the Lady Sibilla to go with that prince out of Scotland.
BUT not the least remarkable event in the mingling and commixing of accidents and influences which bore onward to their issues, alike the occult and the open enterprises of the time, was a determination, on the part of the sorrow-stricken Duchess of Albany, when she heard of the Queen's coming to the castle of Renfrew, to proceed herself thither, there to entreat the mediation of her Majesty with the King for her outlawed and fugitive son.
It was plain, by this sad resolution, how much the majestic fortitude of that great lady had suffered; for the notion was so wild and fantastical, - a thing so strange and out of all nature, when compared with her wonted dignity, as manifestly to have its rooting in her ruin, like the ivy implanted by the random
winds in the refts of some stately tower which the storm and the battle have shattered. Indeed, that it was so no one who witnessed the heat and the haste with which she was bent on the journey, could in any manner doubt; for she would hearken to no counsel, but eagerly and hurriedly set forward, - and when she came to the castle, she sent no solicitation of audience, but ascended straight to the room of state where she expected to find the Queen; and the officers that saw her pass, knowing her of old, stood apart as she went forward, none venturing to inquire her business.
It chanced, however, when she was come into the gallery looking to the royal chamber, that she was met by the Earl of Athol, who not having seen her for many years, knew her not, through the disguise which grief and mourning had cast over her; and fearing, by the haste of her gestures, that she was some frantic creature who had, unobserved, obtained admission, he attempted to intercept
her. She spoke not, however, to him, but waved her hand for him to stand aside.
"It is not, madam," said he, "permitted, that at this time you should seek the Queen's presence."
Still she made him no answer, but loftily again signified with her hand that he should allow her to advance.
"Who are you?" said the Earl, somewhat awed by the majesty of her silence. "What is your business ?"
She made him no answer, but a third time waved her hand, as if she had been an avenging spirit that was come to execute some terrible intent.
He looked at her with alarm; but the gallery in which they stood being but dimly lighted with lozens of a yellow hue, he could not clearly discern who she was, though he saw, by her glittering eyes and the stern energy of her countenance, that there was something wild in her purpose.
The Queen, and the Lady Catherine Douglas, who happened to be then with her, overhearing something of what was passing, opened the door, and her Majesty, surprised to behold a lady of so noble a presence denied admittance, desired the Earl to give her leave to come in, whereupon she stepped forward, and he followed. No sooner, however, did he see her in the free light of the room, than he knew her, exclaiming, in great amaze and consternation, -
"Have I been smitten with blindness?"
But the Duchess heeded him not; she stood in the middle of the room as if unconscious of any person being then present, and looking around with a solemn eye, she gazed for a moment at the throne under the cloth of state at the upper end, and then began to weep.
"Who is she?" said the Queen softly and piteously to the Earl. But the Duchess prevented him from making any answer, by saying herself to her Majesty, -
"When I was last in this room, my husband sat on that throne, and at his right hand stood my first-born in the bloom and glory of his youthful beauty. On the left there also stood my second pride. Lord Athol's place was not then, alas! for me and mine, so near the throne."
The Queen by this knew that it was the Duchess, and, full of sadness and tearful wonderment, folded her hands together, and the Lady Catherine Douglas also began to weep. "I beseech your Grace," cried the Earl; he would have added more, but the Duchess cast on him a withering look that made him recoil from the terrors of her eye.
"You would deny me admittance," said she proudly; "it was meet you should; for you have prospered by my sorrows, and cannot but dread that I should ask reparation."
The Queen, seeing the scorn with which the Duchess overwhelmed the Earl, here interposed, saying, -
"Alas! madam, none more befriended those for whom we have all mourned than this good man. I have known his grief - I have heard his importunities."
The Duchess made no answer, but with a maniac haste rushed towards him, and laid her hand on his bosom.
"Why do you this?" said the Earl fearfully.
She looked at him steadily for a time, and then said with a slow and solemn voice, -
"I would feel if he has a heart;" and then pushing him indignantly from her, she said to the Queen, - "He is not what he appears to be. He has ever been too uniformly good to have been always honest. That he did ask the King for mercy to mine I never questioned. But did ever his importunity exceed the cold plea of some poor advantage to the state? Did it ever rise beyond the license of a sordid spirit longing for the thing which his tongue, I doubt not, plausibly
enough deprecated? Look there, Lord Athol, look to these, and answer me?"
The Earl, with the Queen and the lady, turned involuntarily towards the throne.
"See you not these ?" said the Duchess wofully.
"What?" cried the Earl, shuddering.
"These four - my father, my husband, and my two sons, all mine, - all in their bloody winding-sheets; dare you confront them, and say you wished not for their death ?"
"It was reported," replied the Earl, scarcely knowing what he said, "it was reported that even you yourself, madam, acquiesced in the justness of their doom."
"Traitor! traitor against humanity!" cried the Duchess; "could ever true daughter, wife, and mother, approve such slaughter-house justice? I thought, I thought not, 0 never, never, of their faults! - I but remembered my father's fondness in my young years. If
my husband erred in his great office, he was ever most kind to me. - And my brave and gallant boys - Oh! grows not a mother's love from her pains? No, Heaven and Nature, no ! - the heart you gave me was never guilty of so great a crime. This hair, untimely grey, - these hands, untimely withered, bear witness to the triple grief that was laid upon me. I came not, however, here to rail, but only to tell that the measure of my misery is not yet full. I have a son yet left, Lord Athol, - he stands still between you and the throne; is there no way by which your importunity can procure also his destruction ?"
"Sweet Lady," said the Queen, "I implore you to restrain these vehement reproaches - they are indeed most unmerited."
"Madam," exclaimed the Duchess, "you are yourself a wife and a mother. If you heed not what I have said of that man, assuredly you will weep tears as bitter as mine - no, not so bitter - no, you have but a husband
and only one son to lose, and your old kind father lies hallowed in the monument of his honoured ancestors. Being not so rich as my heart was, yours can never know what it is to be so poor."
The Earl, during this speech, walked hastily to and fro, in so strange and visible a perturbation that the Queen looked at him, and then said to the Duchess -
"This is too dreadful - it is the fantasy of phrensy."
"Lord Athol," cried the Duchess with a voice that made him stand and shiver, "is it not true that you desire the King's death ? Look at him, madam - look at him there: see how he trembles - how pale the convicted guilt of his treasonable heart shows upon his check. Hence, false and miserable old man!"
The Earl, no longer master of himself, smote his forehead wildly with his hand, and rushed from the room. The Duchess pursued him with the lightning of her eye, and
the Queen and the Lady Catherine Douglas stood in sorrowful consternation, neither able to speak.
"Often," said the Duchess calmly, after he was some time away, "often in the depths of my spirit I have heard as it were an oracle, commanding me to accuse the hidden and inexplicable guilt of his simular [sic] virtues, and now that I have done the bidding, I feel a fearful pressure graciously removed."
The Queen, who could no longer control the agitation into which she had been cast, retired to a seat and began to weep, saying -
"Alas! if a man so long tried may not be trusted, whom shall we account a friend?" But the Lady Catherine Douglas remained on the floor - she had marked how much the Earl was shaken; and many thoughts and jealousies, that had but only before floated through her mind, suddenly returned upon her, and found something of form and substance in the accusations of the Duchess. In the meantime
her Grace subsiding from the whirlwind by which she had been so borne away, paused to collect her scattered thoughts, and to hush her feelings, that she might calmly implore the mediation she had come to seek. Before, however, she was in any condition to begin her entreaty, a voice was heard under the windows chanting in the court of the castle, as one lamenting with the passion of a mystical sorrow -
A wo, wo - and it soon shall be,
"It is the prophetical woman of Dunblane," said the Lady Catherine Douglas.
"She hath ever been considered," added the Duchess, "as a creature possessed of some miraculous discernment. Many years ago she told the Earl of Athol that he would be a King."
The Queen looked up and listened to them with so visible a horror of alarm in her countenance, that the Lady Catherine Douglas said-
"It is thought, that in her wandering life, and free access alike to hall and bower, she gathers strange shreds of knowledge, and compounds of them her predictions, - for amidst her witlessness there is a singular instinct of cunning."
"She may then have heard," replied the Queen, "of some machinations afoot. Is not Sir Robert Graeme still abroad, and - "
She would have added the Lord James of Albany, but the presence of the Duchess
caused her to stifle the word. Her Grace, however, completed the sentence, by saying -
"And my son, he too is abroad; is he not admonished by all the inclement elements which rage around the defenseless outlaw that he has no mercy to expect from the King? Think, madam, what desperation may instigate."
"A wo, wo, and it soon shall be."
Anniple again began to sing wildly under the window, and her Majesty was so touched by the bodement, that she rose hastily and quitted the room, followed by her lady. The Duchess would also have gone with them, - but to be so abruptly left, albeit the cause and the occasion were so plain, affected her as with the blight of neglect, for never in her life had she been less before than the first in consideration and dignity wheresoever she went. Instead, therefore, of remaining to ask
the Queen's advocacy, she wiped away the transitory tear of feminine infirmity, and with a proud step, but a heavy heart, straightways returned down into the court of the castle, where her train was awaiting her return, with Nigel Glenfruin and his kinsman Roderick, together with Chambers, and many other officers of the court, who had assembled to tender her their homage. Anniple was also there, and as soon as she beheld the Duchess coming from the portal of the hall, she fell on her knees, and folding her hands on her breast, bowed her head, and remained in that posture of downcast and lowly reverence till her Grace had passed by.
"Why knelt you in that manner?" said an officer to her, as those who were around followed the Duchess to the castle-gate, but Anniple only answered him with an uncouth rhapsody -
"I saw a light aroun' her,
CHAMBERS, in going with his ancient mistress to the ferry where she was to pass from Renfrew over to Lennox, found an opportunity to inform her, that while she was with the Queen he had procured a time to speak with the Lady Sibilla, and that he had found her willing to partake the fortunes of the Lord James, wheresoever it might stand with his pleasure to carry her. But that fear for his safety made her desire he would not hazard himself in any danger on her account; on the contrary, she earnestly prayed that he would proceed either to France or Ireland with all speed, lest, by mischance, it should be discovered by any of her kinsmen that she was so induced to follow him; and when
opportunity came she would not fail to keep rendezvous with one to whom she was entirely devoted.
"I told her, however," said Chambers, "that it was a vain expectation to think he would ever, after such assurances of her unchangeable affection, consent to leave her behind; that his honour as a knight, and his truth as a lover, and, above all, his fixed mind when he had resolved on any purpose, would never permit him to do so ungallant and ungrateful a thing; whereby she was so moved, that as soon as some slender preparation of female attire can be provided, she has consented to be prompt for the voyage."
In this, though there was something that spoke of comfort and consolation to the desolate heart of the Duchess, it yet implied that the time was coming when she must part with the last of her children for ever ; and the sad thought of that weighed upon her spirit all the way of her journey to the ferry
of Balloch, where her barge lay to carry her back to Inch-murrin.
But, though the issue of Chambers' adventure was thus speedily brought to a prosperous crisis, and though Nigel Glenfruin had been no less successful in what he had undertaken to provide, yet the whole design was suddenly brought to nought at that time, by the Queen on the same day resolving to proceed to the royal camp before Roxburgh.
Alarmed by what had passed with the Duchess, and still more by certain kithings which the Lady Catherine Douglas had afterwards recounted to her of things she had herself seen and noted, her Majesty thought there was no one who could be confided in to warn the King of so many symptoms and omens of danger, - the signs and indexes whereof were not of such palpable evidence as to be easily made positive by any writing. Accordingly it was that she forthwith gave orders for her journey; the which sudden
determination greatly perplexed the Earl of Athol: for though he took no part personal in the machinations which he knew Stuart and Sir Robert Graeme were then devising, he yet was aware that some of their schemes might perhaps by that time be well ripened.
It was indeed so; for Graeme had gathered together a band of three hundred desperate men in Athol and Badenoch, and had by emissaries concerted with Stuart, even in the royal camp, that on a certain day these men should arrive therein, as a reinforcement from the vassals of the Earl, and that Stuart should procure them, by the King's grace, to be stationed round the royal tent, to the end that they might be ready, when chance served, to environ it on all sides. This effected, Graeme was then to be duly apprised, and a time fixed for him to come under cover of the night to the camp, and, with the aid of the Athol and Badenoch freebooters, there to consummate the conspiracy.
To this extent was their dark and bloody purpose
matured, when the Queen, in her feminine and conjugal anxieties, resolved to visit the camp. The men whom Graeme had so gathered were on their way thither, and he himself, in the disguise of a friar of Scone, passing on pretences of piety to Kelso, was moodily winding his solitary way, by trackless moors and unfrequented paths, from Perth towards the borders.
Disturbed, however, and perplexed as the Earl was by the Queen's sudden resolution, and quaking at the heart on the rack of conscious guilt, to which his equivocal abstinence from the enterprise of the conspiracy afforded no alleviation, he was yet stirred on to make such providence for the journey as would not lead to frustrate any scheme which the other traitors might, as he thought by that time, have formed. With this view, he endeavoured to persuade her Majesty to delay her departure till a suitable escort could be drawn together, and he would have sent Roderick
hastily home, that he might bring forward the Glenfruins, whom he had, by bribe and promise, so wedded to his will.
But still the merciful Heavens showed how willing they were, in their goodness, to spare him from his meditated crimes, by the passing, that same night, of Celestine Campbell with his clansmen from Loch Aw, of which circumstance, when the Queen was informed, she resolved not to wait the coming of any other guard, but to go forward with them next morning. Accordingly, orders were sent to Celestine, as he was leading his men along the northern bank of the Clyde towards Glasgow, requiring him to halt them; and the Queen, by break of day, with her ladies, attended by the Earl, with many others of the court, proceeded to Roxburgh escorted by the Campbells.
So speedy was this decision, and so swift the speed of their journey, that it was deemed unnecessary to send forward a messenger to inform
the King of her Majesty's approach. The Earl indeed, by whom all things were appointed and set in progress, had, it was thought, purposely omitted this, in order that there might not arise in the camp any marvelling to occasion conjecture or suspicion as to the cause of so rash and heady an undertaking, as he chose it should be reported, anticipating, as was afterwards thought, that the blow would be struck before she could reach the army.
But as they drew nearer and nearer to Roxburgh, his fears and guilty anxieties began to grow stronger and stronger. The very innocency of ignorance in which he had kept himself ministered to his alarms. He knew not the state and circumstances of the plot, - he had a misgiving in his mind that the Duchess had gained some knowledge of the machinations, - he dreaded that she had infected the Queen with her suspicions, - he thought that he beheld a strange and altered
coldness towards him, - he wondered at the particular courtesy with which he had more than once observed the Lady Sibilla distinguish Chambers, - and he remarked, too, that the Lady Catherine Douglas also watched them, and yet seemed to keep aloof from him. Fears and jealousies beset him in all things and on all sides, in so much, that by the time the cavalcade reached Edinburgh, he feigned to be so overcome with the fatigues of the journey, that he sought and obtained her Majesty's leave to remain behind to refresh himself. But no sooner had she proceeded forward, than, with a haste that might well have begot suspicion, he turned his horses towards the north, taking Chambers with him, and, without remission of speed, halted not till he arrived at his own castle, where, putting on the semblance of a great inward malady, he continued as one that is demented by the malice and burning of a tertian, so much did apprehension and simulation work and contend
within him, - so much did fear barb the sting of guilt, and hypocrisy tremble lest her cloak had not been sufficient to conceal her deformities.
MEANWHILE, Sir Robert Graeme, dreadless as he was of arm in fight, or the blade of any adversary, was following in his stealthy course close behind the freebooters whom he had provided for his auxiliaries, and being arrived within a short journey of the camp, he retired into the skirts of a wood, and amidst a heap of withered leaves, which the winds had swept together, he laid himself down, wrapt in his friars garb, to wait the return of an emissary which he had sent forward to Stuart.
It was then far in the year, and the sun was low on the hills. The leaves were falling, but the trees, not yet all bare, rustled as it were with a dry and tinkling sound of witheredness, like the fluttering shreds of escutcheons and other emblazonries of heraldry
over the tombs of those who were the gayest or the lordliest of their time. The pageantry of summer had however all gone by. The skies were that day oppressed as with the languor of decay; and the streams, swollen and drumly, murmured with a hoarse and sullen voice of Desolation busy in the uplands.
The time and the scene accorded well with the gloomy energies of the sworn conspirator; and as he lay on the ground he often raised himself on his elbow, and scowled with a feeling of sullenness on nature, as if there had been some moral indignity in the trees from time to time dropping their rags upon him.
While in that moody and recumbent posture, he heard the sound of horsemen and of many persons coming along the road, and hastening into a thicket to watch who should pass, he beheld, with a sense of dismay new to his spirit, the Queen, with her guards and retinue, riding towards the camp; and he remarked too that there was an unusual solemnity
in every face. None spoke save when need was; and the Earl of Athol nor any of his train, were among them.
Such an occurrence, at that time, filled him with awe, and a consternation in which there was so much of alarm that it almost amounted to a sentiment of fear.
He dreaded that some discovery had taken place, and the thought made him clench his hands and grind his teeth, and curse his destiny that he ever should have sought fellowship in his revenge. At one moment, considering all frustrated, he resolved to return into the Highlands; at another, divining reasons for the Queen's visit, he determined to abide the return of his emissary. The Earl of Athol might be unwell, or might craftily have contrived to absent himself. Had any mischance arisen in the camp Stuart would have assuredly sent to let him know ; and therefore, till he could learn some explanation of things so unforeseen and so
little anticipated, he resolved to continue at his post in the wood.
But after remaining there till the twilight had darkened every object, and the expected messenger not appearing, he resolved to approach the camp, which was but ten miles off. He had not, however, proceeded far, when he heard at some distance before him the trampling of the cavalry with the Queen; and, on going nearer, he discovered that she had halted, and, with her ladies, was resting on mats, which had been spread for them on the ground. From this circumstance, he guessed that the journey, as indeed it was, had been performed with great haste, they having come that day from Edinburgh; and he marvelled the more; but hearing voices familiar to his ear among the courtiers, he durst not venture, even in the obscurity of the twilight, to approach near enough to make any inquiry.
Standing thus listening, alarmed, and
conjecturing he heard Celtic instruments of sound coming up behind, and he knew by their strain that it was the Campbells. It was Celestine with his band: they had been left behind, while the Queen and her immediate equipage had pressed forward, in order that they might repose themselves a little, to enable them the more commodiously to reach the camp that night.
Stuart had by this time concerted all which had been predetermined, as his part in the menaced tragedy. The band of Graeme, consisting of vassals of a member of the blood royal, was stationed round the King's tent, by the special order of his Majesty, at the solicitation of that fraudulent and vindictive knight. His emissary was sent to apprise Graeme that this was effected; and the better to draw away all specialty of remark from the royal tent, Stuart had in his prepared a costly supper, to which were invited many of the nobles then with the army, and who were
wont to spend the evening with the King. Thus was the mine dug, the train laid, and the match lighted.
It chanced, however, that about sunset Sir William Chrichton, the chancellor, came to the camp to confer with his Majesty anent certain matters of moment touching wards of the crown; and he continued so long with the King discoursing of them, and of other civil controversies of the nobles, that his Majesty commanded him to abide supper, his wonted company in that free time being, as set forth, banqueting with Stuart. Thus it came to pass, that having finished their immediate business, and the pertinences thereunto appertaining, they fell to speak of the manners and characters of divers noblemen, and among others, of the King's uncle, the Earl of Athol.
"I think him of late," said his Majesty, "much changed and infected with the absence of a strange melancholy. He is no
longer what he was, and seems willing to eschew the slightest courtesy from me, notwithstanding the pleasure I take in showing how much I confide in his affection, honour, and loyalty."
"He is altered," replied the Chancellor, "at least it has been so noticed of him by many, but I cannot say he appears to me in any manner or measure deteriorated from what I ever thought of him."
"I know, Chrichton," said the King, "that he never stood high in your esteem, and I have often marvelled at your jealousy."
"It is an old saying," replied the Chancellor, "that men fated to honour or ignominy are long distrusted by their earliest companions. But Lord Athol has lived to an age when he might by this time have extinguished my prejudice. However, something, I doubt not, will soon be seen and heard of him; for I am told he is storing up money; some think for an
expedition to the Holy Land, wherein Stuart and Graeme are to bear a part."
"What Graeme? Sir Robert Graeme! Not possible," exclaimed his Majesty; "Athol can have no communion with that man, though I have heard him say that he is often secretly beset with his importunity, to procure some remission of his sentence."
In this sort of free and leisurely discourse they passed the night; but the Chancellor observed, that from the time Sir Robert Graeme had been spoken of, there was a shade upon his Majesty's countenance, and that twice or thrice he rose and looked out from the opening of the tent, and seemed to listen thoughtfully to the buzz and churme of the camp.
In coming back to his seat on the last of these occasions, just as the Chancellor prepared to go away, he said, - "I know not how it is with you, Chrichton, to-night; but I feel as if I were closely environed with
some strange fatality, - there is a weight and heaviness upon me that I cannot throw off."
"I have at times suffered from the same feeling," replied Chrichton; "it comes of some vapour in the air, and the wind to-night is bleak and easterly."
"I rather think it is of the spirit," said the King; "not that I am much given to the influences of phantasma, but there are times, and to-night is one of I them, when I feel disposed to indulge fancies which philosophy would not easily subdue. - I remember, when a youth at Windsor, that there was a man, a native of Nuremburgh, who lived by himself under the castle; his house was next the bridge, and had no windows to the street, but one overlooked the river, and it was lozened with parchment for glass, all curiously intersected with strange diagrams. It drew my observation one day as I was riding with my guard, and I caused the alchemist, for such he was, to be brought to
me. He was a little yellow wretch, and his red Barbarisco cap was changed by the mephytics of his laboratory into a dingy green. In that thing, which had more of the semblance of imp than of man about him, there was much recondite knowledge. I had him brought to my apartment in the castle, and among other things of his occult philosophy, he told me of a science that was not altogether Astrology, though somewhat akin thereto."'
"Did he expound it to your Majesty?" said the Chancellor.
"No," replied the King, "nor was I then in the vein to have given much heed to it; but he told me, that at the birth of every creature a star of fate predominates, and that those who can discover their natal star may learn, by the changes of its lustre, whenever their good or evil genius will be the true lord of the ascendant. I have sometimes since thought, when, in the stillness of the night, wakeful
and eerie, I contemplated the aspect of the heavens, that this mystical imagination, for such in soberness it must be considered, had more in it than invention; and I have once or twice fancied that I had discovered the star of my own destiny. To-night I have watched and looked for it, but the skies are overcast."
"And which star is it?" said the Chancellor seriously.
The King smiled to observe him ask so like one disposed to give credence to the Nuremburgher's philosophy, and said, - "Come to the door of the tent, and I will show you where it should be, if my evil genius has not the ascendancy."
Whereupon the Chancellor rose; but as they went to the door of the tent, the sound of a beagle-horn was heard rolling away the silence of the night with a sweet and melodious mellowness, which made them both pause. Presently there was a great stir and
noise heard throughout the camp, and the King drew his sword and stepped forth to demand the cause of the challenge No sooner, however, was he without the tent, than, from all the encampment, lights and torches came flaring abroad - trumpets sounded, and shouts and clamours - all the might and magnificence of a royal army welcomed the arrival of the Queen.
WHEN Nigel found, by the sudden departure of the court, that the scheme which he had concerted for bringing away the Lady Sibilla could not be brought to pass, he resolved to proceed straight to Inch-murrin, to confer with the Duchess, and to exhort the Lord James to avail himself of the French bark which had been provided, and which by this time was moored down in the bay of Ardmore. But his kinsman Roderick, who was a young man of a gnarled and knotty disposition, not easily governed by persuasion, being still with him, he was for some time in great perplexity for a feasible reason to excuse to him a second visit to her Grace. It chanced, however, that Roderick having observed the homage wherewith the Duchess had been attended by the officers of the court, felt towards her a sense
of veneration, with which she had never inspired him in the simplicity of her captive estate in the tower of Glenfruin; and this moved him, as he was returning homeward, to propose that they should together go to Inchmurrin. Thus, when Nigel was in a manner divested of his wonted dexterity of mind, was the way unexpectedly opened, without the risk of jealousy, to confer in freedom with her Grace.
On his arrival at Inch-murrin, he repeated to the Duchess, as if it had been an event in which he had no concern, the hasty departure of the Queen for the camp, thinking she would discern by his manner the restraint which he felt in the presence of Roderick.
But that noble Lady, from her youth upward, and through all the vicissitudes and violences of her unparalleled misfortunes, had never known what it was to practise the sleights of evasion. Though grief had shaken the buttresses of her equanimity, she yet bore
herself so loftily, that the decay of her marvellous fortitude only served to add a sentiment of awe to the respect with which she was ever regarded. Accordingly, without consideration for the presence of Roderick, whose ignoble qualities she had observed when detained at Glenfruin, she said, as it were to herself, after listening to the recital of Nigel, -
"I am surely contesting some recorded doom and sentence of destiny. I have gone against my own nature to ask any mitigation of that vial which is pouring upon my house. Wheresoever I move, whatsoever I do, there is a voice in all events that tells me I struggle in vain. I stand in a thoroughfare of woes, and the raging wheels that have crushed so many of those I loved, are surely driven by the avengers of some ancient ancestral crime; for I have done nothing myself to deserve such misery. I can sigh, and I can weep, and I can feel that my heart is breaking;
but I can endure no more. Oh ye irresponsible and tremendous Heavens! is it a crime that the poor humiliated creature whom ye have so oppressed begins at last to complain !"
Roderick, hearing her speak in this manner, stood before her with such looks of amazement and awe, as the pale and trembling votary of old listened to the deep and dreadful response of the oracle. He perceived that some secret purpose had been frustrated; he could not divine what it was; her despair betrayed its importance, and he looked towards Nigel wondering if he knew. But the downcast eye, gentle look, and pensive simplicity of that singular youth, charmed away the suspicion that was beginning to arise.
"I pray you, madam," said Nigel, after a short pause, "be not so cast down; perchance it might have served some cause of your affection had the Queen tarried a little longer in this country-side ; but I doubt not you will
find it has been better that she has departed, even for what you would have solicited."
"What would I have solicited?" exclaimed the Duchess; but the look with which he replied to the question, told her how needful it was to be then guarded, and she felt with a keener pang the evasion she was forced to practise, than even the humiliation of being so forsaken in that chamber of state where her pride and pomp had once been greatest. She now perceived that the dignity and consideration which she had formerly enjoyed were but the fallacies of outward ceremony; and she was beginning to say again, that ruin being the destiny of her family, she would abstain from all further endeavour; when suddenly there arose a shout and a noise among the servitors in the hall, and a moment after the Lord James entered the room.
"I have heard," said he, "by strangers passing Inchtavannach in a boat, that the Queen has received some secret intimation of
a plot against the King's life, and has, suddenly gone to the army. I have therefore resolved no longer to remain like a silly deer with Father Kessog, but to seize the chance of the time to make conditions for the removal of my attainder. The King, perplexed by the war and by this conspiracy, will be the more ready to listen to reason, - Nigel of Glenfruin, I am glad you are here, - I count on your clansmen for my first friends."
Roderick, astonished to find himself thus entangled with an adventure to which he had the less liking, by perceiving how much Nigel was already in the secret, and his aid counted on, said, -
"The Glenfruins are the King's men; you may, my Lord, not reckon on them."
"Are they so?" replied Nigel, with a look that made the visage of Roderick redden with ire, - and then he said to the Lord James, "but we have no time for much talk."
In that moment Roderick moved hastily to
the door, evidently to make his escape. The Duchess, however, stepped in between him and it, and Nigel seized him by the right arm.
"No," said he, "you shall not quit this house. The Glenfruins are not King's men; but fee'd vassals to the Earl of Athol. You shall not betray the Lord James into his hands, nor into any man's." He then addressed the Duchess, -
"Madam, he must for a time be your prisoner. - The men in the boat, who are with me, are true to my purpose, and we shall be able, with some tale, to satisfy my father for his absence, till the Lord James can be removed from the jeopardy into which he is placed by this sudden disclosure."
Roderick thereupon began to revile Nigel, and twice endeavoured to draw his dirk, but the Lord James interposed, and, with the assistance of Nigel, took away his weapon, and carried him into a turret-chamber, where they
left him to ruminate, and returned to the Duchess.
"I doubt not," said Nigel, "when they were again with her, that there is something in this story of a conspiracy; for, ever since my father was taken to Scone, I have thought that the Lord of Athol has been embarked in some secret enterprise."
"Ah!" said the Duchess, addressing her son, "if it be so, as I doubt not it is, now may you, without offence, procure some remission of your sentence. If we can gain proof of the plot, and make it known to the King - "
"What!" exclaimed the Lord James, - "would you have me, after all we have borne from the tyrant, take aught from him as favour, or do him any grace? - no, let Athol or any other traitor thrive in their treasons, - they have my prayers!"
To this, however, her Grace made no reply; but, sitting down, and covering her face
with her hands, she began to weep, which the Lord James observing, went towards her, and spoke to her softly and tenderly, beseeching her to be comforted, and assuring her that all hopes and circumstances in his condition were brightening with a new dawn.
WHEN Sir Robert Graeme, as related, heard the approach of the Campbells, he discerned that the arrival of the Queen in the camp would that night frustrate the stratagems devised between him and Stuart, whereupon there arose such a tempest in his spirit, that he became as it were carried away in a storm, from the wonted constancy of his character.
Sometimes he rushed forward, as if to outstrip in speed the courtly equipage, and to strike the meditated blow before the Queen could arrive; at others he stood like a demented man, and shook his clenched right hand at the stars, as if he menaced them for so fighting against his purpose. Then he would stoop, and with soft and stealthy steps skulk towards those who were gathered around the
Queen, to listen if he could discover from their discourse the cause or intent of her unexpected visitation. Anon he swiftly passed away from them, and, abandoning himself for a moment to a wrathful despair, would half unsheath the dirk that he wore under his friar's cloak, and resolve to commit the inexpiable sin.
In this manner did the gloomy homicide go forward to the camp, hovering and flitting on the skirts of the cavalcade, like the raven that followeth the armies to battle; or the foul vulture of the sea, tracking the infected ship ; or the pestilence that saileth in the cloud, and hath not yet put forth his hand to strew death on the nations; or that still more dark and dreadful thing which is seen but from heaven moving along on the earth, as with the blackness of a shadow, to wither in the execution the holy intents of peace and charity. But when the horn was sounded that announced the approach of the Queen,
and when he beheld the lights and the torches that were kindled, as it were, by its invocation, shining out from all the tents, and heard the stir and the preparation that ensued, a change came over the spirit of his thoughts, and he stood, as it were, amazed that he should ever have undertaken so vast an enterprise as the destruction of a King. This transitory awe, wherein contrition had no part, soon, however, passed away, and he retired to a distance, and laid himself down in the lea of a house which had been sacked by the soldiery, there to rest for a short time, previous to going back to the wood in which he had trysted himself to await the coming of his emissary from Stuart.
It happened, however, while he was following those who were around the Queen and her ladies, that some of Celestine Campbell's men had observed him, and, surprised to see a friar dogging them in the manner he was doing, pointed him out to their leader, who ordered
them to mark which way he took, and if not content with his deportment, to bring him in. They accordingly, soon after he had thrown himself on the ground in the lea of the ruins, came up and spoke with him, demanding to know his designs and his business in that place at such a time.
None daunted by this occurrence, he briefly rehearsed to them the story by which he had made his way from Badenoch to Tweeddale, namely, that he was of the brotherhood of Scone, travelling on affairs of the monastery to the abbey of Kelso; and being tired with his day's journey, had cast himself there to rest for a short time.
This answer did not satisfy the Campbells, and they accordingly requested him to rise and come with them.
"What I have told you," said he, "is true; but if you distrust me, let one of you go to the Lord Robert Stuart, and inquire whether he knows Father Gabriel of
Scone. The rest may remain with me till he return. By this you will learn that I speak what is, and, at the same time, give me leave to rest, which is a charity that I greatly need, having come this day a long journey, and truly my limbs and feet ache with very weariness."
To a request so reasonable, and spoken without apparent molestation, they could not but acquiesce.
In the meantime, Celestine having conveyed the Queen to the royal tent, was there met by Stuart, and those who had been with him at supper, for they had all come forth to receive her Majesty, and he was earnestly invited to partake of their good cheer. And while they were speaking, the King gave orders that the soldiers who had come with the Queen should that night have the honour to be his guard, by which the whole treasonable machination, at that time, was frustrated. Stuart, however, evinced no outward show of disappointment;
the contrary, affected a more joyful satisfaction therewith than seemed germaine to the occasion, in so much, that it was noticed by some of those who were around him, making them suspect the sincerity of his declarations. However, they all proceeded towards his tent; but on the way thither, the messenger came from the Campbells who had surrounded Sir Robert Graeme, and having communicated to Celestine what had passed, he immediately reported the same to Stuart.
"Father Gabriel of Scone!" replied Stuart, "I know not any such person." Whereupon Celestine, on the instant, said to his man, "Bring him hither," and the man ran nimbly back to the wastage.
Scarcely, however, had he so departed, when suddenly it flashed upon the mind of Stuart, that the alleged monk might be no other than Sir Robert Graeme; and he became greatly moved, and smitten with apprehension and unspeakable alarm, saying, under the influence
of his panic, with an indiscretion that
betrayed a correspondence between them - "0, now I do remember Father Gabriel - a stout and stalwart fellow he is, more like a pillager than a priest. How should I have forgotten him, for he is singularly dextrous at the pawm, and I have often played with him? He never had his match but in Sir Robert Graeme."
"I wonder not," replied Celestine, "that he has presumed a little on old companionship. But I fear, Stuart, he will say you have a short memory for your friends."
"That," replied Stuart, affecting to laugh, having somewhat mastered his alarm, - "that, you know, is said to be a failing of all our family; but on this occasion the monk shall not have cause to complain. Go you into the tent, and I will wait for him here. I am sorry that the poor fellow, after being so tired, should have been so troubled."
The proposal of such condescension on the
part of Stuart struck them with surprise ; but they walked on as bidden, without speaking, each marvelling in his own mind at something not easily fathomed in the adventure.
No sooner had they, however, parted from him, than he went briskly several paces in the direction whence he expected Graeme would be brought; but in going forward he was startled by the noise of some disturbance in that quarter, and instantly there was a shout and the sound of a quarrel and of struggling; almost immediately thereupon several of Celestine's men, breathless and discomfited, came in quest of their leader. Stuart demanded what had happened, and they told him that the monk had, with a rafter of the ruinous house, felled two of their companions.
"Has he got away?" said Stuart; and their answer, "He has," nearly transported him out of his propriety, in so much that he bounded to his tent with so buoyant a step, that many who saw him passing in the glimpse of
the camp-fires noted his wonted gestures, especially Sir William Chrichton, who at that time was coming away from the royal tent attended by his servants. Stuart, however, before going into his guests, moderated his speed, and considering that the affair might afterwards come into discourse, on making his appearance among them, he affected to laugh as he described the sturdy valour of Father Gabriel.
THE Queen having come to the camp in the manner rehearsed, and the Chancellor being also there, much discourse and controversy, unheard by the common ear, arose next morning between them, concerning what the King should then do.
Her Majesty, full of feminine fears and bodements of the heart, was earnest and eager that he should forthwith return with her to Edinburgh, giving no other reasons for that counsel but her apprehensions and womanly dreads. The Chancellor, a wise, thoughtful, and foreseeing man, sifted her as to the cause of her terrors; and, mingling, with what he deduced therefrom, certain commentaries of his own, both with respect to opinions formed
and rumours gathered, also advised his Majesty to prosecute no longer the war in person, but to cement the broken peace with England, and resume the honourable task of bringing his realm back to a sense of equity and good order.
"For," said he, "though it stands not with such reasons as would govern any arbiter in a contested matter that there is a conspiracy against your Majessy [sic], yet is there an evidence of it in the probability of things, such as no discreet counsellor should neglect. Sir Robert Graeme still lurks somewhere in the kingdom, - the Lord James of Albany, another outlaw, scarcely less adventurous, is also free to attempt any enterprise; and albeit your Majesty chide me for so saying, there are not a few, and those persons well deserving of all reasonable heed, who have never ceased to wonder at the strange bearing which hath, from time to time, been noticed in the conduct of the Earl of Athol. To say
nothing of that mystical conjecture about the store and preparation which it is said he is making for a crusade, - making as your Majesty will not fail to call to mind, at a time when the kingdom is at war, and when there is an immediate need for the presence of his warlike vassals in this your royal camp."
The King pondered for some time before he made any answer to this representation; and then, before replying thereto, he said to the Queen in a soft and affectionate voice, in which there was something of the accent of entreaty, -
"It has ever been accounted at best a great weakness in any man to live in the dread of death. In a king it were dishonour. From the first hour of my restorations I have ever deemed myself a glittering mark placed on high, and exposed alike to the secret shafts of malice and the arrows of open war. I shall not, therefore, swerve from any purpose, merely because in the execution I may
be demanded to render payment of that debt which, sooner or later, I must pay. The true man thinks not of dying, but only of living to good effect; as for myself, I hold death but as a task before which every other, whether of business, affection, or of honour, should be first attempted; and I do persuade myself that he will die best who lives not in the reverence of so common a custom of our nature as death. Therefore, sweetest love, I beseech you not to speak to me of dangers to a doublet, for so I would call the body, the which is of so perishable a texture, that this breast-plate of brass will outlast it a thousand years.
"But, Sir William Chrichton, if there be, as you say, cause even to imagine that such enmity is hatching to a conspiracy against us, - not of myself I speak, but of you and of all good men whose hearts are inclined to justice and the common weal, - if such a thing may be, then I have no scruple in following your counsel;
for of such wicked machinations evil only can arise, and we must do all within our power to arrest it."
"Whether," replied Sir William Chrichton, "there yet be in earnest and contrivance any such treason, or that the rumour be but a vapour of the commonalty, I beseech your Majesty to consider that nothing comes without cause, and therefore it were of me an offence meriting great indigne were I to suppress what I think thereon; yet, setting aside all considerations of the inward spirit, I would humbly submit, that as the English have their hands filled with war enough in France, and seem in no ways minded to prosecute their Scottish quarrel, it consisteth with some abatement of your Majesty's dignity to lie here with an army royal, opposed by no warrior of note or renown."
"Now you speak as a wise man, Sir William Chrichton," exclaimed the King. "Before this morning I have more than once bethought
myself of that; and it shall be as you advise."
"Then," replied the Chancellor, "let it so be given out as the cause of your Majesty's return to Edinburgh; for to publish that apprehension of plot or of domestic levy were the motive, would be to encourage the seditious into treason, by leading them to think conspiracy more ripened than it is."
Accordingly, after some farther discourse, all hanging upon the same reasons, the King resolved to return, with part of his power, that day to Edinburgh, and did so, with the Queen and her train of ladies in his company. There they resided some time in the pleasant Abbey of the Holyrood, and, by the discreet handling of Sir William Chrichton and others of the council, a truce was soon after procured with England.
Meanwhile the Earl of Athol was suffering great horror. The treason had grown to such a head that he durst not venture to declare
neither what he knew nor what he suspected. He sent out messengers to bring his nephew to him, that he might exhort him to desist; but speedily these were followed by others calling them back. He sat for hours in deep abstraction and wild rumination; at other times he was goaded as it were with haste and fear, and talked to his disconsolate lady of passing to a foreign country, in so much that she began to fear some disastrous malady had infected his brain, and she prayed him to take counsel of a physician.
"I have more need," said he, "of shrift than of drugs; and then, alarmed at betraying himself so far, he added, "I begin of late to think much of Duke Murdoch and his unhappy sons; methinks I should have been safer had they yet lived, and I blame myself for not having more earnestly opposed their doom."
"Why safer?" replied his lady; "why should you not be safe? No man in all the
land stands so bright in the King's favour. But wherefore do you stay away from him? You give leave to your enemies to work to your prejudice."
"Enemies! have I enemies?"
"Doubt it not. I have heard you say that Sir William Chrichton has for some time questioned you concerning Sir Robert Graeme. Oh, why was that man ever brought to this house, that you should be so subjected to suspicion!"
"Suspicion!" exclaimed the Earl, "Who suspects me? Of what am I suspected ? But you say truly; I am weak and wrong towards myself in remaining so long here. I will this very day return to the Court, and abide the issue of whatever may come to pass.
"Is there aught expected to come to pass?" said the Countess timidly, dreading a sharp answer, but instead thereof he only replied -
"I have stood long in the sunshine - the
summer does not always last - I cannot but fear that a storm will arise - and I have, to the danger of my better part, pursued - "
"Oh, what? sure nothing ill to cause such grief. What have you pursued?" cried the Countess."
"A phantom - an iris - a thing of as little requital in the possession as the substance of the rainbow," was his impassioned answer.
"Then let it go; take no farther heed of any thing so fraught with disappointment," replied his lady.
"Margaret de Barcley," said he, taking her hand with tenderness almost elevated into solemnity - "Margaret de Barcley, I have ever found you a true wife;" - he added, however, no more, but casting her hand away from him, he left the chamber, and, ordering horses to be forthwith saddled, set out the same day to join the court at the Abbey of the Holyrood, taking with him Chambers, in
whom, though he put much confidence, he had not yet ventured to trust with the depth and extent of the conspiracy.
WHILE those who had so wickedly banded themselves together were perplexed and thwarted by their own fears, as much as by the mutations of circumstances, it had been concerted in Lennox that Nigel, with such of the Glenfruins as he could trust, should warily proceed to Edinburgh, and thence, without much heed to persuasion, bring away the Lady Sibilla; there appearing to the absolute mind of the Lord James no other way of fulfilling the only purpose that detained him among the perils to which he was exposed in Scotland. Before this scheme, however, could be brought into bearing, the Earl of Athol arrived at Edinburgh, where he was informed by his nephew of what had taken place in the camp.
"But," said Stuart, "our next attempt
will be more successful. Graeme has abstained from all adventure at present till suspicion has become quieted - he is not, however, the less prepared - only some means must be devised to cause the King to remove the Court to Scone; for it lies not within almost the scope of chance, that Graeme should bring his men to Edinburgh without discovery, now that it is so rare a thing to see armed men traversing the country. In Perth or Scone, however, we should be near the hills both for friends or flight."
"Say no more! say no more !" interrupted the Earl. "I have no part in your plot, I forbid you to proceed. If I am disobeyed, I will inform the King of all I dread and know."
At that moment a firm and fierce grasp seized him by the collar of his surcoat and turned him round. It was Graeme in the garb of a physician, so disguised with a venerable beard, and his hair changed from its
natural red to grey, that but for the fierceness of his eye, the Earl should not have known him. He had been with Stuart before the Earl entered, and on hearing him at the door had retired into an inner room.
"You shall not threaten us, my Lord," said Graeme. "You shall serve us, that we may be the sooner ready to do you homage."
The Earl for some time made no answer; but looking more firmly in the face of Graeme than he had ever done before, he replied -
"I will no longer submit to this."
"What will you do?" cried Graeme with a scowl.
"Take a part in your iniquity ! I have no other way left," he added, with a sigh, "to repress your insolence." And in saying these words he walked with haughty strides towards the upper end of the chamber.
Graeme followed him with his eye, and, after
a brief pause, said in a whisper to Stuart, "I am more afraid of him now than ever I was before."
"You forget what is due to his condition," replied Stuart. "I entreat you to consider him with more deference."
To this Graeme made no answer; but, walking up to the Earl, said - "My Lord, I have been to blame; but all my life I never could endure the contumely of a threat."
The Earl took no notice of his apology, but said, with a proud air, - "It is thought that our work - ours - may be better done were the court moved across the Forth either to Perth or Scone: I will endeavour to effect that."
Graeme put forth his hand to take the Earl heartily by his; but he had touched his pride as a man, in a moment when he was more collected than he affected to be; and in consequence, though evidently subsiding from the
temporary dignity into which he had so unexpectedly dilated, he turned coldly away, and said to Stuart -
"Notwithstanding the ingenuity of these guises, you hazard too much in permitting Graeme to come here. Do you forget how once before we were surprised ? A repetition of the stratagem then played will not serve."
"You are in the right, my Lord," interposed Graeme; "for although this house of the Holyrood is a sanctuary as well as Scone, I should not wonder, were I again constrained to claim privilege, that Sir William Chrichton, in his subtlety, might cause the abbey to be fired to smother me in the burning ; at least, were I in his place, and he in mine, I would not hesitate to do so, and prove, to the satisfaction of Holy Church, that it was all an accident."
"But," said the Earl, "since you, Sir Robert, think only of the King's death, why
wait for assistance? - why not do it here? - when it is done, you will then have all that you desire."
"No: I shall but satisfy my revenge; but you have undertaken to restore my lands: I would escape unknown from the action, that I may have leave to enjoy them."
While they were thus speaking, the door which the Earl, in coming in, had left unbolted, was suddenly opened by Chambers, who came thither in quest of him to attend the King. Transported for a moment out of the character of his disguise, Graeme seized Chambers by the throat, and would have rushed past him, for he knew him at sight; but the other was a cool and brave man, and though somewhat startled by the suddenness of the assault, he recoiled with his back to the door, and eyeing the seeming physician steadily, said -
"Sir Robert Graeme!" - he then looked at the Earl, and added, - "My Lord, I have
for some time suspected this; but your secret is safe with me."
"Is he in your service, my Lord?" rejoined Graeme, addressing the Earl, who was shaking with agitation.
"I have been for some time, Sir Robert Graeme," replied Chambers; "and though not altogether in my Lord's confidence, I have seen enough to guess much of that which has bred such marvelling among others. But, my Lord, you are importunately asked for by the King. I beseech you to go, else some other may be likewise sent hither."
Whereupon the Earl, scarcely witting which way he went, left them together; and being come into the King's presence, his Majesty said, lightly, but with more earnestness in his look than accorded with the voice he had assumed, -
"Do you remember, as we were walking once in the meadows of Scone, - the very day
when it was resolved that Duke Murdoch, with his sons and associates, should be brought to trial, - a wild and maniac creature suddenly came upon us?"
I do remember something of the occurrence," replied the Earl; "but I forget what passed."
"Nay, say not so, my Lord," replied the King, "for it was a thing never to be forgotten by either of us. Did she not prophecy that I was to die with eight-and-twenty wounds?"
"The poor natural," said the Earl, endeavouring to be calm, "delights to indulge in fantastical predictions. I do not altogether recollect what she said."
"Do not treat me so simply, cried the King, with his wonted briskness of manner when in any matter controverted: "you do recollect it, and must recollect it ; for did she not seize you by the wrist, and, pretending to see the visionary hands that were to inflict the
wounds, - did she not compare your's with them."
"She saw not mine among them," replied the Earl; and his Majesty seeing him pale, said-
"I do not wonder that you desire to forget the occurrence, for to many a mind, even though the semblance of your hand was not seen, it was a thing to breed jealousy. But when I spoke of that adventure it was to make no comment thereon farther than to say, that the same creature has been all this day, I am informed, going about the streets of Edinburgh chanting an oracular ditty, which has caused such an ominous sentiment to spread among the commonalty, that those Solomons, the bailies, in their wisdom, have sent to the Chancellor to know what should be done with her; and he, honest man, on this occasion not less a Solomon than the worthiest of them, would, but for me, have had her brought before the privy-council."
"And to what does her chant relate?" inquired the Earl.
"Here is the copy," replied his Majesty, "of the words as they were taken down by one of the city assessors:
'A wo, wo, and it soon shall be,
"There is something musical in the rhythm of this. I think it is the same rhyme that frightened the Queen at Renfrew - what follows is, however, better as to sound, though I cannot say so much for the sense:
'There's the king of love.'
"Is not Sir Alexander Crawford called the king of love? I have heard so.
'There's the king of love,
"That is of course the majesty of our royal
self, as the magistrates have it in their memorial;
'And the king that had been
"Now that, my Lord, can be no other but you; and verily the Bailies and Chancellor have some reason, for it does look a little like sedition to bring up King Robert the Second's sins in this way. But the matter in question is this - whether should Sir Alexander Crawford, the king of love, or I, the King with the crown, or you, the king but for lord and loon, - which of us should bring the sybil to the stocks?"
But though the King spoke with this light and free gayety, he yet twice or thrice, while he was so speaking, darted into the Earl a sharp and searching look; he added, however gravely, -
"There have been cunning libellers, who have not scrupled to have recourse to such
rhapsodies. Have you, my Lord, any adversary who could have wound up the witless prophetess to this malignity ? for I will be plain with you, it hath bred prejudices to your detriment."
The Earl was unable to make any answer; he looked at the King, and his head for a moment vibrated as with palsy: with a trembling hand he took the paper from his Majesty; he threw upon it a bewildered eye, and then a second time looked at the King.
"I am grieved," said his Majesty, "to distress you with this phrenzy, but I trust you will take my freedom as a proof of my confidence and regard. I shall not, however, stay longer in this place. The meddling spirit of the towns does not accord with my humour; and here there is such an intemperance of ceremony, such an over-zeal in the demonstrations of loyalty, that I languish for the peacefulness of the fields, and the unflattering salutations of the breeze from the hills. I am resolved forthwith to pass straight to the castle
of Renfrew, the house of our fathers : the time has been unblest to us all since it was left for a greater. There I can do my part as well as amidst those cumbrous pageantries which the kingly condition requires in the populous city."
"Why to Renfrew?" said the Earl; "your Majesty was ever pleased with the rural skirts of Perth and Scone, and they lie more in the heart of your kingdom."
"I have no particular affection for Renfrew," replied the King, "but merely as the homely dwelling where our ancestors must have tasted of much happiness, else had they never had heart to climb to the royal eminence, - eminence! a cold bleak mountain top, where birds of prey build their nests, and the storm rages fiercest. - But I will go no more to Scone; for ever since the traitor Graeme took sanctuary there, I have had an inward horror of the place. It hath to me something in common with the tomb, where deadly foes meet and
may not harm each other. I will never again reside in that house."
"Falkland hath a pleasant and a sylvan vicinage," said the Earl.
"What? famishing Falkland! where my brother was starved to death; bid me go at once to Icolmkill. But this is weak; I know not why it should be that I yield to these bodements. Besides, our kinsman, the Lord James, has of late caused no disturbance; he may deserve in time pardon and restoration. I will go to Perth; my abbey there hath surely by this time lodging enough to harbour me. Are you content that I should go to Perth ?"
"If it stands with your Majesty's pleasure, I am content, but I do not advise it. Why, indeed, should your Majesty seek advice in what concerns your own liking, and in such a thing, too, as the choice of a residence? Certainly there is no sweeter place for all manner of active exercise and field
pastimes, such as your Majesty so much affects."
"Come, come, my Lord," replied the King, "you are too dainty in this; I see you would have us to Perth; for then we shall be so much the nearer yourself than at Renfrew - and Perth it shall be - when shall we set out?"
"When you think fit; but should it be found hereafter, that Perth proves not so pleasant as your Majesty expected, let it be remembered, that I did but acquiesce in the choice. I have not advised your Majesty to go thither."
"Why!" exclaimed the King, somewhat impetuously, "if I do not like the place, it is but to change again;" and, he added gayly, "Shall I then have your leave, my Lord?"
The Earl shuddered, and the King looking with some degree of surprise at his emotion, said,
"Truly, my dear Lord, I meant no offence. I do not, be assured, regard myself as at all in your holding, so let the foolish jibe be forgotten - we shall set forward to Perth without delay. Do me the kindness to see that the needful orders are forthwith given."
Whereupon the Earl took his leave; and on the morning of the third day after, the court, with all due equipage and tendance of honourable ward, set out from Holyrood.
SIR ROBERT GRAEME remained concealed in the apartment of Stuart till the morning; when, being informed that the court was to be moved from Edinburgh to Perth, he set out for Athol and Badenoch to muster his men again, who, by that time, were gone back into their own country. And next morning Chambers was sent by the Earl to Glenfruin, with instructions that he should, without delay, but in a secret manner, by twos and threes, bring the best of his clan to the vicinage of Perth, there to abide until elsewhere ordered.
But though Chambers thus became art and part in the treason, he yet thought only of serving the cause of the Lord James, whom alone he regarded as his rightful master;
and his intention at the time of his departure from the Abbey of the Holyrood, was to inform him of the plot, in order that he might turn the disclosure to his own advantage with the King. Instead, therefore, of proceeding straight to Glenfruin, he went first to Inchmurrin, and did all that in him lay to move the Lord James to that course.
The Prince, however, was so wedded to his resentments, that he only rejoiced to hear of the conspiracy; by which Chambers was so disappointed and disturbed, that he more than once resolved to divulge the secret to the Duchess, to the end that she might work with it for the pardon of her son. But some unaccountable diffidence restrained him; whether springing from the dread of her Grace's reproaches, that he should have so involved her in the suspicions that could not fail to arise, on the discovery, from the part he had undertaken, or from that mysterious restraint of fatality which so often withholds men from doing
those things which they ought to do, it were a vain thing now to seek the solution. Suffice it, therefore, to be here noted, that seeing he could not serve the Lord James in the way he had hopefully expected, he parted from him and went to Glenfruin.
Fortunately, on arriving at the gate of the castle, he was met by Nigel, who informed him, that, in concert with his friend and kinsman, Hector MacAllisner, he had provided ten of the best and bravest of their clansmen to go with them that night, unknown to his father, to bring off the Lady Sibilla, and to bear her to the French bark, which was still lying ready in the bay of Ardmore.
Chambers, on hearing this, told him that the court would not be found at Edinburgh, but Perth, and that he had himself been missioned by the Earl of Athol to his father, to request, according to their covenant, that he would secretly come to the vicinage of that town with his clansmen, saying, for the purpose
of fathoming how far the Glenfruins were engaged in the plot, -
"Know you for what purpose it is that the Earl hath required this service?"
Nigel, without heeding the question, thought for some time, and then said, in his wonted slow and quiet manner, -
"It will serve us. Hector MacAllisner and myself, together with those whom we have provided, will go with my father, and when we are at Perth, you will devise the time and means with the Lady Sibilla when we shall be ready to bring her away."
"But," replied Chambers, "may not that frustrate some greater object, for which the Earl requires your father's aid ?"
"I am pledged to the cause of the Lord James," said Nigel thoughtfully; "and I think but of it."
"Then you do know the purpose for which the Earl has sent me hither?"
Nigel, whose eye was generally downcast,
darted a quick glance at Chambers, and said -
"You are trusted by the Earl, else had you not been sent hither."
"But might it not redound greatly to your advancement and profit," replied Chambers, "were you to divulge what you suspect?"
Nigel threw at him a look of alarm mingled with indignation.
"I am satisfied," said Chambers, "you are worthy of the trust. Let us work together with the single and honest intent of our first purpose, and taint ourselves no further in the dark designs of others."
The manner in which this was said renewed the cordiality between them, and Nigel replied, - " but I will save my father and the clan; to effect which we must yet seem to go in with the Earl's designs."
They then went in quest of Glenfruin himself, to whom Chambers delivered his message. Whereupon the old chieftain broke
out into vehement wrath against the indiscretion of Roderick in being from home at that time; for Nigel, to account for his absence, had, on his return from Inch-murrin, after the incarceration there of Roderick, pretended to suspect that he was gone with the Queen's train to the camp.
"It can be but a matter of small moment," said Chambers, "whether he is with you or not, when you have in your son so brave and worthy a second."
Glenfruin to this made no answer, but looked fiercely at Nigel. That youth, however, without affecting to observe the menace of his scowl, replied -
"Father, you shall no longer have to reproach me for opposing your will. I am ready now to go wheresoever you choose to lead the clan, and I will speak to Hector MacAllisner, and smooth him also to your will."
The countenance of Glenfruin brightened
at this filial acquiescence, and he lauded his son, interspersing his approbation with many a malediction on Roderick. Soon thereafter it was agreed, that the clan should, that evening, according to the Earl's request, set out towards Perth; Nigel, and his friend and kinsman, Hector, being of the same mind in their intentions as to what they should do to prevent the old man from rushing into any treasonable danger.
In the meanwhile Roderick, in his confinement, had, for some time after his incarceration, fluttered like an eagle when first caged; but, finding his fury unavailing, he became at last more calm and tame, in so much that the Lord James permitted him occasionally to walk for exercise in the apartment adjoining the turret-chamber where he was immured. Thus it happened, in the afternoon of the same day on which Chambers had been at Inch-murrin, that while the maidens and gentlewomen of the Duchess were sitting at their
seamstress-work in a room below, they heard his footsteps on the floor above, and fell into discourse concerning him; wherein the Leddy Glenjuckie affirmed, with many tokens of admiration, that she had seen him often during her doleful captivity in the dismal dungeons of Glenfruin, and that he was, both for comeliness of countenance and stature of person, a marvellous proper youth. The which to hear so moved them, that they began to long with a vehement curiosity to see him, in so much, that at last it was agreed they should slip up to the door, and softly drawing the bolts, which were fastened on the outside, gratify their eyes with a cunning inspection.
Accordingly they rose, and proceeded up the stair; but, in ascending, the Leddy's sciatica caused her to utter an interjection, which the prisoner hearing, paused for a moment. Then he began to walk again, and the damsels and gentlewoman, who had held their breaths while he stopped, moved slowly and
gently to the door, and, in a stealthy manner, having drawn the bars, they each, one by one, spied round the edge of the door, and were all much delighted with the sight.
In this, however, there was not such silence and discretion as the adventure required; and it chanced that Roderick, without affecting to notice the circumstance, had observed the door unbolted, and guessing, from the sounds he heard, the sex of the inquisitors, he took the tongs from the fire-lodge, and began to poise them in his hand as he paced the room, moving, unconsciously as it seemed, nearer and nearer to the door, till, being close thereat, he forced it open with such vigour that some of the women were stunned, and Leddy Glenjuckie was cast down the stair headlong, whereby he obtained for himself free egress to the hall, through which, with only the tongs for his weapon, he made good a passage, and escaping to where the Duchess' barge lay on the shore, he leaped on
board, pushed off from the land, and was soon beyond the reach of the arrows shot to arrest him - for there was no other boat then at the island by which he could be pursued.
THE King and the Queen, and their lords and ladies, having departed with all befitting pomp and pageantry from the Abbey of the Holyrood at Edinburgh, came in due time to the South Ferry, where many boats, barges, and mariners were convened to carry them across the Forth. And it happened, while they were standing on the shore, in the bustle and controversy of embarkation - the gallants talking loudly - the gentlewoman fearful - and the mariners and servitors making a great noise with much loquacity, that Anniple of Dunblane was seen coming rushing wildly down the hill - her dishevelled hair and tattered mantle fluttering and streaming behind - her arms outspread, and in her right hand
the uncouth sapling which served her for a staff, making altogether the apparition of a creature rather of some fantastical element, than of the solidity of this world.
The young and the light-headed, who saw her first, began to laugh at so strange an advent, wondering and marvelling by what insane rapture she was so driven and borne; but as she drew near, every one became silent; for without heed or hinderance of any impediment, she came on like an arrow from a bow towards the King, and so very oraculous was her whole air, gesture, and delirious straightforwardness, that those who should have stood between her and his Majesty recoiled backward to the right and to the left, and stood aghast and subdued as if she had been indeed some messenger of dooms and destinies.
When she was come close to the King, she fell on her knees, and took hold of him by the surcoat, panting and breathless; being, by reason of her headlong haste, unable to speak.
His Majesty, seeing the condition in which she was, moved not from her hold, but waited compassionately till she had utterance, when he said to her familiarly -
"What wouldst thou with me ? What tidings have caused thee to come with such speed, that it would seem as if thou hadst almost left thy breath behind?"
To this, however, she made no prompt answer; but, after a time, rising from her kneeling, she looked fearfully around, as if in quest of some person that she thought was present; and then she suddenly pointed to the barge prepared for the King and Queen, and said, - "I thought it was here, but it's yonder, yonder!"
"What didst thou think was here?" said his Majesty curiously, and somewhat awed by the air of visionary horror with which she gazed towards the boat.
"Yon, Yon," was her answer, stretching forward her hand and keeping her eye fixed
upon the thing which she saw. Then she added, still gazing earnestly and awfully, - See you it not ? a man in a winding-sheet with eight-and-twenty stains of blood, and he has a black banner in his hand. He's no meet company for a king; I redde you no to gang in the boat with him."
"It is the same woman," said his Majesty to the Earl of Athol, who stood behind him, anxious to avoid the eye of Anniple; and he added, addressing himself to her,
"But what wouldst thou by eight-and twenty wounds?"
Instead, however, of making him any answer, she turned quickly round, and fixing her eye on the Earl, cried -
" Lord Athol, wha's that beside you?"
The Earl grew pale, and looked to the right and to the left, and was much confused, for every eye was directed towards him.
"I see no one nearer than myself," said the King.
"But I see another," replied Anniple - "a king too - an auld, auld, auld ane -
His face is wrinkled, his eyne are young,
Do ye no see him there, at the Earl's right side ? In his hand he has a chain, and that chain fastened deep, deep in the Earl's heart. My Lord, ye're his - when he gets the righthand side and the left-hand grip -
There's no a power by land nor by sea,
The King, notwithstanding the awe and dread with which this rhapsody visibly affected the Earl, smiled and said to him, -
"This is worse than my eight-and-twenty wounds." But his levity was in a moment checked by the utterance of a wild and frightful
scream from the rapt and frantic creature.
"How now, Anniple," said Stuart, "what see you now?"
She made him, however, no answer, but going up to the Lady Catherine Douglas, who was standing between the Queen and the Lady Sibilla, she touched her on the right hand.
"What is this for?' said that lady, who had observed with much wonderment the whole scene.
"Nothing, nothing," replied Anniple, "I saw nothing - but, bonny as ye be, ye'll be married with the left hand."
"That is to tell me," said the Lady Catherine, endeavouring to laugh, "I shall not be married at all."
"And have you nothing to spae to me ?" cried the Lady Sibilla, in a still gayer tone, to remove the solemnity which the prophetical phantasies of Anniple had yet plainly
bred in the bosom of her royal mistress. It had, however, been well for her that she had said nothing; for Anniple took hold of her right hand with her left, and holding up her own right hand between her and the Lady Sibilla, as if to screen her eyes from a dazzling splendour, she looked at her for some time, and then dropped her hand and turned away.
"You tell me nothing," said the Lady Sibilla.
"Do you wish that I would?" replied Anniple sharply, and with a look that covered the face and bosom of the lady with the crimson of a blush.
By this time the boats and barges were prepared, and the King and Queen were on the point of going to the shore to embark, when Anniple again seized him by the skirts.
"Let the poor woman be taken hence," said the King. "Stuart, pray see that she is conveyed to some meeter place."
In saying this, his Majesty endeavoured to
disengage his surcoat from her grip, but she clung to it, crying -
"I'm a leal subject, and I'll no part wi' you. The yett's barred, if ye cross that water: once o'er, and there's nae coming back."
Stuart, at this, came forward and seized her roughly by the arm to draw her away, but the King chided him for being so rude.
"Harm her not," said he, "it is but an innocent phrenzy."
His Majesty then took hold of her by the arm and said to her smilingly -
"I pray thee, let me go, - it is not wise of one with such wisdom as thine to hold me here in this condition, - do, - take thy hand away, - the tide and the wind now serve, and we shall lose the favour of both, if I must longer abide thy pleasure. It were kind, and as a loving subject, to let me go."
"I would be as false as," - she cried, looking wildly round, " - as Lord Athol there, were I to let you go."
"She bears the Earl no good-will," said the Lady Catherine Douglas.
"And what for should she?" exclaimed Anniple, heedlessly dropping the King's skirt, and going erectly towards that lady, who shrunk away at her coming.
"And what's in Lord Athol, that I should bear him any good-will ? A fozy heart, and a cheatrie man; though I travelled three times three, and thrice that of weary miles, to spae that he was to be a crowned King, he grudged to pay me the courtesie of a meet largess."
The King laughed lightly at this speech; and said to the Earl, moving, with the Queen leaning on his arm, towards the shore, "I no longer marvel that she bodes such ill to you. Gifts were always thought requisite to propitiate the oracles. I pray you, bespeak a better prediction."
The Earl, who had all this time stood in trouble and perplexity, scarcely witting what
he did, pulled his purse from his girdle, and taking from it several pieces of silver, threw them towards her; the which moved the King's mirth still more, and he looked round to Anniple, as she hastily gathered the money from the ground, saying, "But I know not wherefore it is that thou hast been so cruel in thy prophecy to me, as to deal me no less than eight-and-twenty wounds, - what shall I give thee to spae me a happier destiny?"
Anniple looked up, and smiling, said,
"Nothing to me, but gi'e a crown to your son."
The King was observed to start at this; and the Earl of Athol and Stuart exchanged looks of alarm and anxiety. The Queen, who had all the while witnessed, with a cold and thrilling terror, what was passing, dropped her hold of the King's arm, and returning back two paces towards Anniple, said, -
"I beseech thee to be plain with me; and say what it is that moves thee to speak in this
mysterious manner, as if thou wast privy to some coming sorrow."
Anniple at first looked as if she would have answered; but suddenly she waved her hand, as if to bid her Majesty not inquire; and turning round towards Stuart, cast her eyes wildly for a moment upon him, and then began to laugh with so frightful a vehemence, intermingled, as it were, with yells and howls so very terrible to hear, that all present hastened towards the boats, and left her standing alone.
THE court, on arriving at Perth, was domiciled in the King's new abbey of the Charteraris, and his Majesty was content and jocund to find the buildings so far advanced, and the site and town so happily accordant with his free nature; but the Queen had become timid and full of an anxious spirit, in so much, that many pastimes and pleasant exercises were devised to cheer her; but all without effect. It was also noted by divers sedate and observant men, that amidst the festivities of the time, there was a manifest restraint which kept the hearts of the participants from breaking out into that hilarity which springs from a cordial spirit, while there was no less a plain endeavour to be joyful far
beyond what the mirth of the moment in sincerity required.
In the meantime, Sir Robert Graeme was mustering his freebooters again, - some he sent down into Perth, there to abide in the hostels as wayfaring men, till he needed their service, - others he directed to be, by a certain day, in the vicinage of the town, ready to enter it when they should see a fire lighted on the hill of Moncrieff, - and his trusted emissary was missioned to apprise Stuart of what he had in this manner concerted.
Glenfruin, with Nigel and their power, were also moving by circuitous tracks towards the same quarter; for before Roderick returned to the castle after his escape from Inch-murrin, they had set out on their expedition leaving Hector as warder in their absence.
It was at first settled that Hector should go with them; but Nigel, considering what had passed on Inch-murrin, and the possibility
of Roderick escaping therefrom, thought it would be prudent to make a providence for such a mishap; accordingly it was secretly devised that Hector should stay behind, and that, if by any chance Roderick found his way to the castle, he should make him prisoner, and hold him in durance till the accomplishment of their adventure. This, however, was frustrated by an event which they had not foreseen.
Old Norah, in her manifold household cares, happened, soon after the departure of the clansmen, to take a fardel of her dyed worsted to rinse it in the water of Glenfruin; and while she was busy at the work, standing in the water with her legs bared above the knees, and her petticoat kilted, swinging the many-coloured yarn to and fro in the running stream, Roderick chanced to come by from the margent of the lake where he had landed, and seeing her there, he began to speak, with many oaths and threats of his imprisonment,
inquiring what had come to pass in his absence.
With Norah he had ever been more favoured than Nigel, and she speedily told him of all she knew, which, however, was not much. But when she mentioned that Hector MacAllisner was left with a ward in the castle, he divined that it boded him no good, and thereupon resolved not to go thither, but to proceed to the court, justly considering that the departure of Glenfruin was the sequence of instructions from the Earl of Athol, whom he was resolved forthwith to apprise of the peril that might arise from Nigel, who had neither heart nor mind to the sinister alliance which his father had pactioned with that nobleman.
Thus, while all things at a distance were coming to their confluence, Chambers returned to the court, and repeated to the Earl what he had done in his mission: - to the Lady Sibilla he likewise communicated so much as it was needful for her to know.
"When I hear," said he to her, "that the Glenfruins are come, you will hold yourself in readiness; and at the time of night when all is quiet in the abbey, you will come from your chamber prepared for a journey, and it will be hard if, with the fleet horse I have provided, you are not, before morning, far beyond the reach of pursuit."
"But when the hour serves for me to come, how shall I pass the doors?" replied the lady, "for my chamber is near to their Majesties', and you know, that there are many others between it and the gallery, all of which must be passed. How may that be effected? for, by the Queen's special orders, the doors are nightly locked, and cannot be forced without great noise."
I must then endeavour to possess myself of the keys," said Chambers.
"Impossible ! they are brought in by Straiton, the page, and laid on the Queen's table."
Chambers thought some time, and then
said, - "It will prove no impediment - I will speak to Lord Athol."
"Lord Athol!" exclaimed the Lady Sibilla, smitten as it were with alarm; "is not he the natural enemy of the Lord James ? For him to guess of our intent would be to cause such espial to be set as should assuredly ruin all."
The Earl's name had unguardedly escaped from Chambers, and he soon perceived the fault he had committed.
"I meant," said he , "but to ask him to let me send to Stirling for one of the King's armourers, a skilful craftsman whom I know, and by his help it will not be hard so to crush the wards of the locks as that the keys shall seem to do their office and yet leave the bolts undriven."
"But how will you excuse such a request to the Earl?" replied the Lady Sibilla.
Chambers was for a moment confused, and unable to answer, but he soon after said -
"I shall find some pretext that will easily satisfy him."
"But when the doors are opened, and I have passed down into the cloisters, how shall I escape the questioning of the guard at the gate ?-The Lord Robert Stuart, you know, is master of the ward here, and of all men he is the last that I could abide to have any hand, even unknown to himself, in aught that concerns my happiness. I know not how it is, but I have always felt a strange repugnance against that man, and could never so act towards him without being sensible, as it were, of the force of a fatality obliging me to equivocate with my own heart."
Chambers was dismayed at hearing her speak in that manner; for the thought of the meditated treason, in which he was himself so implicated, was ever present with him, darkened with apprehension and dread.
"I fear," said the Lady, observing his perplexity, "that my escape is not to be
effected in the night - it must be earlier; and yet, if it be so, I may too soon be missed; for when those who sup with their Majesties retire, the King often spends half an hour discoursing of indifferent things with the Queen and some of her ladies, and more than once, after I have gone to my chamber, they have sent for me to bear a part in their riddles."
Chambers stood some time ruminating before he made any reply. It seemed to him that there was an irresistible necessity linking the fortunes of the Lord James and this beautiful and intrepid gentlewoman to the machinations of the conspiracy, and he felt an inward tremour pass over his spirit, as if he was so entangled as to be deprived of all power to work in the cause of those for whom alone he was in sincerity engaged, unless he plunged deeper and deeper into guilt.
The Lady Sibilla saw that he was suffering from some perturbation of spirit, and said -
"Alas Chambers! this enterprise is not, I fear, to be accomplished without sin."
The sweet and gentle accent with which this was said passed into his heart like the freshening sense of the west wind on the hectical cheek of the invalid, and he could only answer with a sigh.
"Chambers," said she, "then if it be so, let us proceed no farther, - I should esteem myself unworthy of all good fortune hereafter, were I to sanction the commission of any crime for my own poor advantage."
Chambers shuddered, - he looked round as if he apprehended that some third person was present, - he thought to make her mistress of the secret, - he went hastily to the door of the chamber and looked out, - he came slowly back, and his hands, which were slightly raised, trembled.
"In the name of the merciful Heavens," cried the Lady - "into what jeopardy of guilt and blood are you betraying me, - for I cannot
think that aught less than the perpetration of some monstrous crime is now involved in the work you have undertaken?"
"He shook his head, and looked at her with a face so full of sadness and contrition, that she became still more alarmed."
"What is it? What would you tell me?" she exclaimed, going eagerly towards him; - but at that moment a menial knocked on the door, to request the attendance of Chambers on the Earl of Athol, and he hastily left her, saying, "We shall speak more of this another time."
WHEN Norah had finished the household thrift, of rinsing her tartan yarns in the water of Glenfruin, the which was not done till some time after Roderick had parted from her, she went back to the castle for the aid of one of the clansmen to help her up the steep with her burden, which, by reason of being wet, was become heavier than in her infirmity she could herself carry. The boat in which Roderick had come, having been seen from the castle to arrive at the foot of the water, Hector M'Allisner inquired if she had observed who came with it, or knew whence it had come; whereupon, being a simple creature, and none cautioned to the contrary, she related what Roderick had told her.
Hector, who had been informed by Nigel
of the incarceration of Roderick in the bower of Inch-murrin, was not a little disturbed and amazed by what he heard; and fearing from what he knew of his kinsman, that he would alarm the country with the news of the Lord James' concealment with the Duchess, he saw that there was no time to lose, - accordingly, taking two men with him, he hastened down to the foot of the water, where Norah told him her Graces boat had been left, and finding it there, proceeded straight to the island; on approaching the shores whereof, he found all the servants of the Duchess arrayed to resist the landing of any stranger.
He soon, however, convinced them, by having only two men with him, that he was no enemy, and he was in consequence allowed to go on shore, and was straightways conducted to her Grace, whom he found sitting in her chamber, with a calm but resolved countenance, waiting, as it were, for the messenger of the doom that she deemed inevitable. The Lord
James was with her, walking to and fro; sometimes trying to cheer her with exhortations that he himself stood more in need of, and sometimes abandoning himself to the ecstasies of youthful distress, in a thraldom from which there is no escaping.
Hector was a man blunt in humour, and brief of speech; neither chance nor condition had instructed him in those expedients of manners by which the thing necessary is tempered to the acceptance of those who must submit to it; but he was nevertheless shrewd, bold, and faithful; and the consciousness of possessing these virtues made him, perhaps, think less of the graces of courtesy. But, even though he had been trained to more breeding, and his nature of a more urbane temperament, there was such need for expedition in his visit, that it would have been unwise to have wasted time in ceremonious parlance. Accordingly, no sooner was he come into the presence of the disconsolate
Duchess and her harassed son, than he told them that the Lord James must come away with him, and rather run the risks of the wider mainland, than the precarious chance of escaping any longer by concealment among the islands of the lake.
To this reasonable suggestion the Duchess joined her earnest entreaty, that he would proceed to the bark which had been provided to carry him away.
"Sibilla," said she, "is not the thrall of any sentence, and may, when time and occasion serves, easily be conveyed after you. I will go with her myself, if you will but consent to lessen my terrors and anxieties, by quitting the land at once."
But the Lord James, stubborn and self-willed beyond the power of adversity to supple, albeit a youth of many gallant and noble qualities, repeated his resolution to abide, at all hazards, till Sibilla was with him.
"I do wrong," he said, "to my own heart,
in consenting to the mediation of any agency in this business; for the worth, the love, and the constancy which she has preserved for me deserve more than all I might undertake to obtain her, - it is for your Grace alone that I abstain from the risk of going myself, to bring her from the slavery to which she has lent herself, in returning to her tendance on the tyrant's wife. Slavery to her it must be, though motived by the hope of obtaining, sooner or later, some mitigation in the sentence of her father, or of mine."
"But," said Hector MacAllisner, "all that, my Lord, suits not the present alarm. My kinsman Roderick is your foe - he knows you are here - he is free - and he has gone, I know not whither, doubtless to raise the country ; therefore, without farther controversy, come with me, and when we are on the mainland, we may find a fit time and place to talk of lighter matters."
"Lighter matters!" exclaimed the Lord
James; "who are you that so presumes to speak, as if you had any portion in my fortunes without my letting."
"An honest man," replied Hector coolly, "who, for the affection which your forlorn condition has awakened in some of his kith and kin, would rescue you from very imminent and manifest jeopardy. My Lord, you think too much of yourself, and set too little value on those who may be brought to skaith by the pity that they have felt for you."
The Lord James was so astonished at this plainness and reproof, that he looked for some time at Hector as if he questioned the veracity of his own hearing.
Before he could make any answer, the Duchess again interposed, and, with tears in her eyes, supplicated him to go.
"Madam," said Hector, "the time will not allow us to debate with him, and so, with your permission, we will carry him at once to the boat."
The Lord James was so roused by the bravery of this freedom, that, after a moment, he smiled and held out his hand to Hector, saying - "Truly I should not contend with one so resolute in his honesty. Whether for your friends or for my sake you have come hither, the path of my duty lies plainly as you advise, and I am ready to go with you."
And they forthwith hastened to the boat, and departed with all possible speed of oar, little being said till they were at some distance from the island, when silence was first broke by the Lord James, inquiring if there was no house where he might pass the night - a wish at the time dictated by the coldness with which the evening was setting in; for it was then the austere month of Februar, and the woods, in the leafless beggary of their wintry desolation, could afford no sufficient shelter. All, indeed, around was dark, lowering, and dismal. The hills were not only capt with snow, but their sides streaked and striped
with broad and scattered wreaths almost to the bottom. The mountain torrents were not frozen, but where the waterfalls lent freshness, in the summer, to the birch and the hazel that embowered their mossy hollows, a hoary drapery of frozen spray hung heavily on the boughs; and the rocks around, even where the trees had their rooting, were still encrusted with sharp icicles and jaggy fragments of the iron frosts of a merciless Epiphany. Here and there, along the skirts of the lake, an oak might be seen with still a few brown and withered leaves, like some war-worn veteran in his rusty armour, the better part of which he had been fain to cast away in some contest; and many a broken fir showed how little able his lofty pride was to bear the fardels which the unrespecting winter had laid upon him. - It was, therefore, no marvel that the homeless outlaw, when he looked around, as he felt the cold creeping into his blood, should have asked if he might
not hope to find some house or hovel for the night, especially when, by the stillness of the air and the gathering clouds, there was cause to dread another layer of snow.
Hector, whose mountain habitudes were familiar with all inclemencies of the weather, had not reflected of this. His whole care was to rescue the Prince from the danger of being taken; but he soon saw it would be needful to seek some bield or shielling, for that the Lord James was manifestly ill able to abide the cold and the freezing. He thereupon conferred with the two clansmen; and after some consideration, it was resolved that they should make for a lowly dwelling near the hostel of Rhue-Ardenan, at the bottom of Benlomond, which, being on the side of the loch opposite to Glenfruin, was the less likely to be alarmed that night by any stir or skirring which Roderick might have raised. It was also thought that the hostel of Rhue-Ardenan being a ferry-house, they might, from some
chance or wayfaring traveller, learn what was afoot in the country, so as to govern their future adventures. Accordingly the oars were plied with increased vigour, and they reached the point of Rhue-Ardenan just as the snow began to fall.
As the house where it was proposed to lodge the Prince belonged to friends of Hector MacAllisner, it was covenanted, that while the Lord James remained there, Hector should go for the night to the ferry-house, as if he had come from Stirling, and that the clansmen should return straightways with the boat to Luss, and letting her adrift away, go thence to Glenfruin.
The probable issues of all this were discreetly weighed and considered, and Hector, with the Lord James, having landed, the boat left the shore; and they walked towards the house where the Prince was to pass the night as a kinsman of Glenfruin; for although it was a thing not to be questioned, that the poor Highlander
in that lowly dwelling would, being trusted, keep the secret as closely locked up in the coffer of honour, as in the custody of any belted knight in the realm, it was yet feared that, out of reverence for the rank of his guest, he might be moved to demonstrations of homage, whereof the detriment could not be measured. But, in the way thither, they were perplexed how to frame an excuse for the gorgeous and princely garb which the Lord James then chanced to wear, he having assumed his right apparel in Inchmurrin, and which, in costly ornament, far excelled the utmost power of the revenues even of the chieftain to attain. And, after some time spent in great tribulation of thought, it was at last notioned by Hector, that the Prince should be reported as the son of a Glasgow magistrate, come in his warlike trim for the pastime of hunting on Lochlomond side; and accordingly, this being so settled, he was taken thither, and made known to
Ivan MacBuquhanaghan, as the son of the then Provost Mucklewame of that very creditable town.
WHEN Chambers went from the Lady Sibilla to the Earl of Athol, he found him sitting alone with a taper before him, and the ashes of a paper that he had just burnt scattered on the floor.
"I wish to speak earnestly with you, Chambers," said the Earl; "if Sir Robert Graeme thrive in his intent, it will make well for you."
"The advantage of my patron and master cannot fail to make well for me," replied Chambers.
"I desire, however, again to tell you," resumed the Earl, "that my consent was neither asked nor given to his undertaking, though I have been constrained into it I neither know how nor wherefore."
"It has been so with me," said Chambers with a sigh; "but I hope it will succeed to the utmost of all I wish."
"That can hardly now fail to be, if all concerned stand true to one another," replied the Earl; - "when think you Glenfruin may arrive?"
"He may to-night, considering the time that has passed, - certainly to-morrow; for although there has been a new snow on the hills, it is not deep."
After a short pause, the Earl said, looking steadfastly, -
"To-morrow is the twenty-seventh of Februar."
"It is, my Lord," replied Chambers thoughtfully.
The Earl again looked at him; and blowing out the candle, which was still burning, cast his eyes towards the ashes on the floor, and then said, -
"What time does the moon rise to-morrow night?'
"I know not," replied Chambers, "for I give little heed to her courses; but I will inquire."
The Earl started up, and laying his hand upon his arm, said, -
"Not for the world. It would cause wonder, and might hereafter be of terrible account, were it remembered that you made any such inquiry."
"Is the night then fixt ?" said Chambers with emotion, looking eagerly at the Earl, who turned his head aside, saying hurriedly,
"Sir Robert Graeme purposes to be here before the moon rises."
"To-morrow night?" inquired Chambers.
"The moon, I think, rises not till ten, - and the King sups at nine," said the Earl.
"Nothing surely will be attempted till the Glenfruins arrive," exclaimed Chambers, with
a hollow and hoarse voice, as if his throat had been parched with alarm."
"If all things else serve," said the Earl collectedly, "it would be unwise to risk any delay."
"I can trust the Glenfruins," replied Chambers, after a pause; and he added firmly, "but unless they are here, I shall take no part in the business of the night. There is a rash haste in this sudden determination; much has yet to be done. Graeme cannot think of entering the house till those who sup with the King have retired, and the doors, by the Queen's orders, are then all locked and barred. Before they could be forced, the town may be alarmed."
The Earl was much shaken when he heard this; but he so far mastered his agitation as to say, -
"I have always been of opinion that it should not be so daring a work, more secret
ways would seem better, but Graeme is not to be ruled."
While they were thus speaking, Stuart, for whom the Earl had also sent, entered the room.
Chambers was moved to observe a sudden and singular alteration which had taken place in the appearance of that youth who, on other occasions, was ruddy and blooming. His visage was of a ghastly paleness, his lips livid, and his eyes sparkled with a fearful and febrile brightness.
On entering the room, he looked quickly around, and, scenting the smell of the paper, said eagerly, but with some tremour in his voice -
"What! have you heard from Graeme?"
Whereupon the Earl briefly, not altogether entirely calm, repeated, that Graeme was to be in Perth on the following night between nine and ten o' the clock; and he also told him what Chambers said, both with respect to the
Glenfruins, and the doors that would require to be forced.
"For the doors, however," added Chambers, "that may be deftly managed, were there more time." He then told them of the man in the King's armoury at Stirling, of whom he had spoken to the Lady Sibilla, adding, - "But, till the Glenfruins arrive, I pray you, let nothing be attempted."
"How is it," said Stuart sharply, "that you set such store by them ? It is well enough to have them for us ; but I have never been able to divine why they should have been hazarded so near to Perth. Graeme has power enough for all that can be wanted, if we succeed."
"But if you fail," replied the Earl, "the Glenfruins will - " - he could add no more, so much was he overcome by the trepidation which the apprehension of failing ever caused him to suffer.
"There is no time now" exclaimed Stuart,
"for deliberation; we must act or fall - and each must take his several part. Be you, my Lord, constantly with the King, - seek not to know what may elsewhere be done, but mark well the looks of those who approach him, lest there should be any betrayal. The signal for Graeme's approach is, you know, a fire on the hill of Moncrieff, - and I have sent faithful servants to Athol, Badenoch, and Stratherne, to warn your vassals there to watch for that light, and to hasten hither when they see the flame. Chambers, be your business to see to the doors. Trouble yourself not about the locks and bars, but get the hinges unfastened, so that they may be easily forced. For my own part, being still master of the ward, I will take care that the guard shall be with us."
Scarcely, however, had he said this much, when an officer in his confidence came hastily into the room, to say that Celestine Campbell, with his brother Colin, a youth of
singular prowess and hardihood for his years, had arrived in the town, and that it was rumoured his Majesty intended to make Celestine master of the ward.
"I have heard so much long ago," replied Stuart calmly; "and I doubt not it is to be; for the King has twice of late, in speaking of conferring honours on some of his friends personal, promised to include me in the number. I have also to-day had an assurance of some speedy elevation from Anniple of Dunblane."
"What said she?" asked the Earl unguardedly; for at all times he affected to deride oraculous intelligence.
"That I should soon be raised above all the people, in the presence of a great multitude, and greeted with shouts and acclamations."
The countenance of the Earl brightened when he heard this; but Chambers and the officer exchanged looks of alarm and awe, as
if they thought there was some juggle in the bodement. Stuart, however, added, addressing the officer, - "I will go straight to the king and get the change in the guard deferred."
So saying, he left them together, and went to the King, with whom he found Sir Duncan Campbell and his two sons, to whom his Majesty was speaking with his wonted graciousness, being much pleased with the heroic bearing of his kinsman Colin.
"I am glad, Stuart, that you have come at this time," said his Majesty; "for I have been just telling Celestine Campbell that I had intended to advance him, in your room, to be master of the ward, having designed you for preferment."
"I am at all times obedient to your Majesty's pleasure," replied Stuart; "but I pray that it may be consistent therewith not to make any chance till the end of the month,
because - "
"But the change is already made," said the
King somewhat impatiently ; "not, however, as I had at first intended. Instead of Celestine, our kinsman Colin is to be your successor; and Celestine shall, with yourself, be more of our company."
To this Stuart made no answer, but submissively bowed.
"How is that ?" cried the King eagerly; "you appear to be disappointed. What of late, Stuart, makes you so froward when I would do you any kindness ? Beshrew me, I shall grow malcontent if you do not abate of such peevishness. Gentlemen, being all kinsmen, I do not wish to set the dignity-royal higher among ourselves than is recommended by the gentle custom of good manners - but this churl, chiefly, I suspect, because he is king in the tennis-court, grudges to see me exercise any authority even to his own advantage. Before the spring, however, is over, Stuart, we shall be equal."
"I trust we shall," replied Stuart, with a moody endeavour to affect content; so remarkable, that his Majesty looked at him for a moment as if he would have chided him; but instead of doing so, he turned to Colin Campbell, and said -
"He will, to-morrow morning, give you up his baton and his fidelity-"
Stuart started at the word ; which the King observing, added - "And his fidelity you need not, being, I am persuaded, if you take after the heart of your father, rich enough in that virtue to be worthy of the trust."
His Majesty then withdrew, and Stuart, in coming away with the others, was very lavish in his praises of the King. "I often, however," said he, "marvel why he takes such pleasure in chafing me, as if I were not sensible of the kind offices with which he daily loads me."
"I marvel, in my turn," replied Colin
Campbell, "that you dare to deport yourself so sullenly to the King."
"Dare!" said Stuart.
"Come, come, Colin," interrupted Sir Duncan Campbell, "you are green in the world. His Majesty has always considered Stuart as a brother, and affection begets familiarity.
"Dare!" repeated Stuart fiercely, aside to Colin.
"It was my word," replied the youth proudly; "and after to-morrow I will repeat it, if you think fit."
"After to-morrow, if you dare," said Stuart, and hastily parted from them.
"I like not the looks of that young man," said Colin.
"You must not think of such things as likes and dislikes here," said his father; "but if you would prosper, be all in all with all men."
"In what is honourable only," said Colin;
and in this sort of free commenting on what had passed, the knight of Loch Aw, with his two sons, returned to their lodgings.
NEXT morning, when Celestine Campbell and his brother Colin, accompanied by their father Sir Duncan, went betimes to the abbey of the Blackfriars, or the Charteraris, as it was then called, where the court was domiciled, they were met by Stuart, who came with all courtesy and conciliation towards them. He affected to laugh and blame himself for the sullenness of his mood with the king, and pretended divers plausible reasons for the inconstancy of his temper, but plainly, as he himself perceived, without obtaining from them any cordiality. There was indeed an altogetherness of alarm and ecstasy about him, which made them wonder to one another, and feel his seeming mirth as something ominous and ill-timed, though there was not in the apparent
time aught that should have made them think so.
He delivered over to Colin the silver baton of his office, and he commended to his patronage the different officers of the ward, one by one, lauding each for some notable and peculiar virtue; but in the whole process there was a timorarious anxiety - a distempered heat, and eagerness of zeal and instruction, so much beyond the propriety of so ordinary an occasion, that it was noted both by Celestine and his father. Colin, however, in the anxiety of his inexperience, felt it all as a solemn proof of the greatness of his office, though, once or twice, even in his young simplicity, the exordium seemed beyond the importance of the lesson.
Meanwhile Sir Robert Graeme's men had, in twos and threes, come to the town, and, being Highlanders, without traffic or calling, though warily, as instructed, keeping aloof from one another, yet were they soon remarked
of the burghers; for although they walked the links and the streets with an endeavour to seem unconcerned, indeed with a visible essay of the gallant air of the courtiers, it was yet noticed of them, that they were uncouth and wild, and stood marvelling at things of very common usage. In passing through the Water-gate, two of them chanced to see an aged carlin spinning lint with a wheel of Ghent, the which labour mechanical was so new to them, that they halted to look at it, and thinking the wheel itself a living creature of a wonderful docility, they remained gazing at the same, but remembering their orders, they went not near to examine it. Still, however, it was to them so new and miraculous a thing, that they could not refrain from telling their friends, as they passed, seemingly as strangers, of what they had seen, in so much, that, towards the afternoon, so great a concourse of them had assembled in the Water-gate, congregated by curiosity,
to look at the wheel, that some of the burghers became alarmed, and shut up their shops an hour earlier than their wont.
About sunset, the Glenfruins arrived within less than two miles of the town, and Glenfruin himself, and Nigel, with those of their clansmen who were of Nigel's party, came into the town, leaving the others on the hill. The old man went to let the Earl of Athol know he was come, and Nigel accompanied him, seemingly in compliance with his will, but in order to see Chambers ; and it happened, as they were proceeding to the Abbey, where the Earl was lodged with the King, that they fell in with Celestine Campbell, whom Glenfruin would fain, by his manner, have passed without speaking, but the other recognising him, he presently exclaimed, on finding himself discovered -
"Sowlls and podies! Celestine Campbell, and is it a to-be-surely tat you will be here al py yourself?"
Celestine perceived, by the look which Nigel gave him, not to lose time with his father, he therefore simply inquired of the old man the cause of his being then at Perth.
"Caz, you see, Celestine Campbell," was the reply, "tat Glenfruin pe te goot subject, and he will pe coming to King's Majesty wi' a congee. Glenfruin's no te traitor man, put te sword o' te loyalty al to te hilt - oomph."
Whereupon, after some farther discourse, Celestine showed them the way to the Earl of Athol's lodgings; but while the old chieftain went in, Nigel remained with Celestine.
There was not time for much discourse between them. Nigel told him that his errand in Perth was to bear away the Lady Sibilla to the Lord James, a bark being in readiness to convey them to Ireland.
In this there was nothing to which, in his loyalty, Celestine could object, - on the contrary, he readily promised all his aid, and carried Nigel to his brother, who was scarcely
less than himself attached by his mother to their cousin the Lord James. Thus, while Glenfruin was with the Earl of Athol, it was brought to pass by Nigel, through the means and agency of Celestine, that about the time of the rising of the guests from the supper table of their Majesties, Nigel should have leave to bring away the Lady Sibilla.
In so far, therefore, as concerned the part which Nigel had in the terrible business of that night, every thing was soon arranged; but he had no opportunity of seeing Chambers, and refrained from inquiring concerning him, lest he should engender suspicion that might draw attention to his father.
Chambers, in the meantime, had not been remiss in his office. Trusting that, by the change in the mastership of the guard, the machinations of the Earl, Graeme, and Stuart, would be prevented, he had gone forward with the task assigned to him; and accordingly, long before the evening, he had procured all the doors to
be so loosed in their hinges, that a slight assault would force them. And thus it happened, that when towards night Nigel had contrived to let him know of the arrival of the Glenfruins, he was enabled to inform the Lady Sibilla to be in readiness.
Nigel, however, was still suspicious of the purpose for which the Earl of Athol had drawn over his father to his will; he was anxious also for the safety of his kinsmen and clansmen, and this anxiety became so great after what he had arranged with Colin Campbell, and particularly with Chambers, that he continued at a loss what to do, the more so as his father had intimated, when he came back from the Earl, that the Glenfruins were to remain without the town till the signal was lighted on the hill of Moncrieff. That intimation made it plain to Nigel, that some enterprise of danger and difficulty was planned for the same night, the scope of which he could only partly divine.
While he was in this state of anxiety and expectation, his kinsman, Roderick, arrived in the town, and was seen by one of the clansmen of Nigel's party without being observed.
Instantly on hearing this, Nigel discerned the jeopardy they might be
placed in by an occurrence so little expected; and it occurred to him, that the first, thing he ought to do was to save the men who were innocently the instruments of Roderick and his father's treason. Accordingly he forthwith sent the man who had brought him this information, to desire the main body of the clansmen to hasten to Stirling with all possible speed, there to abide the coming of their chief.
Meanwhile the evening had closed in, - and the Earl of Athol, save in the short time that Glenfruin had been with him, was constantly with the King, - every thing to the happiest of his anticipations seemed to go well; no jealous nor distrustful countenance all that day approached his Majesty; even Sir William
Chrichton, the Chancellor, appeared disrobed of his wonted prejudices, and the Earl thought he bore himself towards him with the warmth of an ancient friend.
It went not, however, so well with Stuart. Chambers informed him that he had loosened the hinges of the door, and that every thing within the Abbey was fitted to his wishes; but Colin Campbell, having the ward of the guard, and vigilant by his newness to office, it seemed not within the scope of possibility, that aught that night should be attempted.
"It however must be," cried Stuart wildly; "the day's too far spent, - we can make no change. In a little while Sir Robert Graeme will be in the town, many of his men have already come, - their appearance is observed, - as soon as dark the fire on the hill of Moncrieff will be lighted, - it will raise Stratherne and Athol, - all will be alarmed. To-morrow there will be talk, questioning, and examination, - something making against us will
assuredly by that time be discovered, - the state of the doors will be detected, - we have no chance, but to get men into the Abbey without delay, and if it must be so, cut down the guard. To-night we must finish, or tomorrow.-But I need say no more.
Accordingly, it was concerted between them, that among the servants of the nobles expected at supper with the King and Queen, Graeme should, with as many of his men as possible, get into the cloisters and garden of the Abbey, and that Chambers, when the time served, should give the signal for them to force the doors.
IT chanced that night, about an hour before the wonted time of supper, that certain minstrels and musicants were called in for the special solace, with their harpings and madrigals, of the Queen's Majesty, while the guests invited to the honour of the banquet were assembling. The King, in the meantime, had sat down to chess with that comely knight, Sir Alexander Crawford, commonly styled the King of Love, because of his wonderful sovereignty among the ladies of the court. Around them were standing several nobles, together with the Earl of Athol and Stuart, partaking, from time to time, of the pleasantries of the King's discourse, who, having the advantage of Sir Alexander in the game, was mightily content and jocund withal,
even beyond the general habitude of his gayety.
It came, however, to pass, and was noted and remembered as a very singular thing, that twice or thrice, when the minstrels and musicants began to tune their harps and voices to those sweet and melancholious airs which breathe voluptuous sadness into the contented bosom, that his Majesty smote the table with his hand, and bade them choose springs of a merrier key. On the last occasion when he did so, he looked round to the Earl of Athol, and said, -
"How is it, my Lord, that they will gall me with discords ? My spirit to-night is tuned but for notes of ecstasy and joy, and I cannot abide their dirges; - pray, chide them from me, and say that I will have but jocund airs. Let me hear the brisk viol, with some old quickening lilt that jirks up the dancer's heel. There is no accent in our Scottish melodies that pleases me so much as that gladdening
touch so like the happy shriekings of a gambolling child wild with playfulness."
While his Majesty was thus speaking over his shoulder, Sir Alexander Crawford made a move in the game, and triumphantly cried check-mate; upon which his Majesty looked round, and seeing the table so unexpectedly turned against him, said laughingly - "Here are three kings, and one of them in peril."
The Earl of Athol having, in the meantime, been with the minstrels, was coming back towards the table at this juncture, and his Majesty seeing him, cried, - "My Lord, did not you find the mad sybil's prophecy run, that there are three kings among the Scots ? Look here, there sits the King of Love, and this poor King Log of mine stands in jeopardy; now, which of us - we three monarchs - is doomed to die to-night ? - nay, be not offended with me, I did forget that, in dunning you for her debt, the sybil gave you in charge to another potentate, the prince of the powers
of the pagans, as Bishop Wardlaw calls him."
But the Earl was so daunted that he could make no reply, which so surprised and disturbed the King, that he rose from the table, saying, - "I will play no more to-night;" and going to the Earl, took him familiarly by the arm, and walked with him to the supper-table, the banquet being then proclaimed.
The Queen, who sat beside the King at table, remarked the disorder in the Earl's appearance, and also bade his Majesty observe the thoughtful sadness of the Lady Sibilla's countenance. "She hath all the night," said the Queen, "been ever lapsing into strange fits of rumination and absence. Let us not sit long, that they may have leave the sooner to retire."
Accordingly, some time earlier than their custom, the King and Queen rose and withdrew into their privy chambers, followed by the Lady Catherine Douglas. The Lady Sibilla
would also have gone with them, but her Majesty said to her, -
"Good night - come not with us at this time, but go to thine own room, sweet Sibilla, for I am discomposed to see thee looking so ill at ease."
Wherewith she pressed her hand kindly, but Sibilla could make no answer. The King also said good night with more softness in his voice than usual, for he was ever gay in his discourse with her; to him also she made her reply by her eyes, and hastily retired.
"I hope," said his Majesty, leading the Queen into the inner room, "that no harm hangs over her; but she looked, for all the world, as if she was bidding us a long and last farewell."
In this compassionate mood, having led the Queen into their privy-chamber, where there was a crackling and sociable fire, bespeaking light-hearted freedom, he laid his elbow on the chimney-piece, and began to talk with the ladies
of the petty gossipry of the court. While he was thus standing in the negligence of pleasantry, Straiton, his page, came in to know if he should remain in attendance.
"Where dost thou want to go, boy, at this time of night?"
"Please your Majesty, no farther than the street."
"A bad place. What wouldst thou there?"
"There's a bonfire lighted on the hill of Moncrieff, and, they say, rare company dancing round it."
"I am glad to hear that there is such a holiday-spirit at last in the land. Thou shalt go presently; but first bring us in a flagon of wine. It is ill husbandry to mulet our supper to such a spare enough as we have had to-night; and the Lady Catherine Douglas will, I am sure, pledge me in a cup to the health of the dancers on the hill."
Whereupon the unfortunate page retired o [sic] bring the wine, and his Majesty going to
the window, opened the casement, and said, - "Shall we see the fire here? I am somehow strangely delighted with Straiton's news. I feel as if I were myself on the tip-toe of a new joyfulness, ready, as it were, to fly away I know not whither."
The window, however, looked not in the direction of Moncrieff-hill, but towards the dark summits of Kinnoul, over which the moon was then rising in the solemnity of her beauty.
"Look!" said the King, after contemplating the scene in silence; "look how mild and majestical the moon is ascending from behind the hills. Truly she appears worthy to govern the tides of the poet's fancy. She rises like a glorious spirit that hath just thrown off its earthly vesture, and is mounting to heaven; and the stars, - do they not seem like the bright angels coming from out all the skies to welcome the refulgent stranger?"
"Hark hush!" exclaimed the Queen.
"What has happened?" said the King, turning calmly round.
"Hush!" was repeated by all the ladies, startled and listening.
"It is but some quarrel among the serving-men," said the King, closing the window.
In the same moment a loud and struggling noise was heard within the house, and the shrill young voice of the page crying wildly, "Treason! treason!"
The King looked around, but he saw no arms. His weapons had been removed by Stuart.
"Treason! treason!" was heard resounding through all the house - without, too, as well as within. The dreadful sound of heavy feet, and the clank of arms, and the bursting of doors, for a moment amazed all.
The Lady Catherine Douglas ran into the ante-chamber to shut and bolt the door, which Straiton had left open; but before she was
half-way through the room, Sir Robert Graeme and Stuart, followed by several Highlanders with bloody swords, had forced their way into the apartment beyond. Seeing them enter she came flying back, and shut the door, exclaiming, "A bolt! - a bar!" But the one which belonged to the staples was carried away. The spirit of her fathers was, however, with that courageous lady, and she thrust her right arm into the staples, and held it there.
MEANWHILE the Lady Sibilla, on returning from the presence-royal, flew to her own chamber, and was speedily arrayed for the journey. Chambers, who was in readiness to accompany her, led her to the gate of the abbey, and intended to go out with her himself; but Colin Campbell being young in office, was very strait and particular, and though he permitted her to pass, in consequence of a previous concert with his brother Celestine, yet would he allow none other at that hour ; the more especially as it had chanced, that, a short time before, Anniple had come in a fantastical manner to the gate, mysteriously demanding to see the King, with
the import of dreadful tidings. Colin, who was little acquainted with the privileges that she took and was permitted, wheresoever she went, refused to give her leave to enter, bidding her come on the morrow, which made her raise such a clamour against him, telling the soldiery that to-morrow was a day which never came, in so much, that for peace, he had ordered the gates to be shut. But the steed was stolen; for with the serving-men of the guests at the royal supper, Sir Robert Graeme and many of his men had already entered within the cloisters and gardens of the building.
The Lady Sibilla, finding that Chambers was not to be permitted to go with her, became alarmed, and wist not what to do; for she perceived great signs of perturbation and terror about him, and she began to entreat the master of the ward to let him come; at that moment, however, a noise was heard in the galleries leading to the royal
apartments, whereupon the gates were suddenly shut upon her, and she was left alone on the outside.
But she was not long left there; for Nigel, who was waiting near at hand, in the shadow of the buildings, came to her, and taking her by the arm, hurried her along the street, and through the West-port of the town, a little way beyond which they found four of his clansmen, and four fleet horses, which had been provided by Chambers.
They mounted, and the four men who were in attendance also mounted the other two in pairs, and without a word having yet passed, they all galloped off.
Scarcely were they issued from the town when they heard the cry of alarm, and shouts, and wild sounds of tumult, and the rushing of many persons.
The Lady Sibilla for a moment drew her bridle and looked back.
"On, Lady, on!" cried Nigel.
A turn of the road brought the town in view, and they beheld lights borne along and flaring at many windows, and shapes and shadows of hurrying men gliding on the walls of the houses.
"On, Lady, on!" cried Nigel.
The sounds of panic and consternation rose louder and wilder. Belles rung as with a frantic vehemence, and drums were beating to arms, and trumpets clamouring the alarum.
"On, Lady, on!" cried Nigel.
"I cannot proceed," exclaimed the Lady Sibilla, almost sinking from the saddle.
"On, Lady, on!' was all that Nigel could reply.
Reckless of what she did in that moment of terror, she slackened the reins, and her horse spouted out at full speed, in so much, that Nigel and those who were behind were some time of overtaking her - not, indeed, till she had reached the brow of a hill, where
the horse, of his own accord, stopped to breathe.
She looked back, and the sounds were still heard murmuring and mingling; the lights were still seen rushing to and fro like the white of the waves when the winds are blowing roughly.
Suddenly the lights were all seen to stop. Nigel and his clansmen were come up; they also halted to breathe their horses, and, as they looked, the sounds in the town too all stopped.
"What can it be?" cried the Lady Sibilla, in fearful amaze and breathless trepidation.
In a moment, however, the lights were again seen rushing to and fro like meteors in the storm, or the glimmering of the lightnings over the face of the ocean; and anon a wail, dismal though so distant, broke on the silence, and was answered by a moan from all the hills.
"On, Lady, on!" cried Nigel, with a voice of terror. "In Heaven's name, let us ride!"
She lashed her steed, and slacking her bridle, hurried forward, and could give no utterance to what she felt.
Nigel was now riding furiously before, ever and anon looking back; and behind the Lady Sibilla came the clansmen.
"I can ride no more at this rate," cried the Lady.
"On, let us on!" cried Nigel.
"On, let us on !" cried those also who were behind.
"For Heaven's mercy, stop!" exclaimed the Lady. "It is not possible that all yon alarm is for me, and on my account."
"On, let us on, Lady!" cried Nigel, sparing not his whip.
"On, Lady, on!" cried the clansmen, pressing furiously forward behind.
And onward they went, till they met a
band of the Earl of Athol's vassals from Stratherne hastening to the town.
"What has chanced?" cried the vassals as they passed.
"On, let us on!" cried Nigel to the Lady Sibilla, returning them no answer.
At last they reached the ford of the Erne, the banks whereof were all hoary and crusted with ice; but the clear river was running like glittering jet in the moonshine.
When they had passed the ford, Nigel tightened his reins, and alighted, - his men also alighted.
The Lady Sibilla, almost dead with alarm, and the dread of something to which she could give no name, was lifted from her horse.
"What has happened ? what do you fear?" she cried, after having tasted of the river stream, which, by Nigel's orders, one of the clansmen had supplied in his bonnet.
But Nigel said only, "Lady, Lady, mount, and be on!"
Their speed, however, now was less wild and desperate. - The moon shone clear and high, - the hills were capt with snow; and, although afar off, was here and there heard the barking of a shepherd's dog, - there was light on the mountains, and beauty in the heavens, and a holy silence in the air.
But wherefore should it be told in what manner those affrightened fugitives proceeded on their journey, when such cause for the tears of nations was working to effect at Perth? Alas! what pen, even were the endeavour willing, can depict the horrors of that night ? Sudden images of guilt and blood are all whereof the imagination hath grasp.
It might be told, that a shriek was heard from that heroic gentlewoman, the Lady Catherine Douglas, when the door was forced, and her arm crushed; that the terrified Queen and her helpless ladies gathered over the King, with hands upraised, and visages beseeching mercy, looking at the uplifted daggers of the
regicides. There was Sir Robert Graeme - and nine times had he driven his dirk to the hilt. But him the King heeded not - he looked only at Stuart - his look for a moment withered the blow - but again Stuart raised his arm, and soon his sleeve was dyed with blood - all thereafter was tumult and confusion and death.
With eight-and-twenty wounds, the least of them a death, the King's body was found, and good men covered their faces with their hands, when they heard that Athol and Stuart were principals in the crime.
But what ensued when the conspirators were taken - how Stuart, and Chambers, and Sir Robert Graeme, were tortured and torn - and how a red-hot crown was placed on the hoary head of the Earl, and with what solemn mockery of the hangman's heraldry he was proclaimed a king - the king of traitors - are all things whereof the adamantine page of history bears the unparalleled record, and require no
recital here, save only that the predictions of the Spaewife were to the syllable accomplished; but in one point or particular of the sense wherein they were so fatally understood.
THE fugitives having continued their flight of terror for the space of fifteen miles, saw before them, by the light of the moon, two horsemen, with six followers on foot.
"It is them," said Nigel to his clansmen, and slackened his speed as he rode forward, - and the Lady Sibilla soon discovered that the two horsemen were Glenfruin and Roderick, and that their hands were tied behind, and their horses led by two of their clansmen.
When Nigel drew near, the old man glancing round to see who was coming, cried, hoarse with rage, on observing his son,
"Nigel ! - ah ! - oomph!" -
But Roderick broke out into such loud and terrible imprecations, that the Lady Sibilla entreated him to forbear.
"Sowlls and podies!" Laidie Sebeela, and will tat pe yourselph in an agonie too? - Oomph."
Nigel, however, interposed, and said that it was needful to make haste, for that some very dreadful work had come to pass at Perth, and that it would be well for them all to be as far from it as possible.
Whereupon there ensued a violent controversy between Glenfruin, Roderick, and Nigel, in which, however, the latter but repeated, "that it was well for them all they were not in Perth," - adding, "that if, when what had chanced there was known, they were not grateful to him for the manner in which he had forced them away, he would then be content to go into a foreign land, and never trouble them any more." And having said this much, he ordered the cords wherewith his father and Roderick's arms were bound to be untied, and telling them that they would find the clansmen at Stirling, whither
he had sent them, as if by orders from the Earl of Athol.
"But," exclaimed Glenfruin, "if my Lord pe te King's Regencie, where will al pe ten ? - Oomph."
The Lady Sibilla clasped her hands when she heard this, and fell in a swoon from her horse, out of which she was not recovered till they had carried her to a farm-stead at some distance across the fields. There she lay till the morning in a state of great grief of heart and anguish of spirit, not venturing to ask any questions.
While she was in that sad and desolate condition, the goodman of the house went for that break of day to his field-labours; but he had not been long abroad till he returned with amaze and horror in his countenance, telling that he had seen horsemen flying along the roads with the dreadful tidings of the King's murder, and the discovery of the conspirators.
Glenfruin, who was sitting beyond the fire,
which burnt in the middle of the floor, rose as the panic-struck hind finished his tale of terrors, and said, looking at Nigel -
"We will pe going home, my very goot laad and loving shild, - and te King's kilt - Oomph - and mi Lord and Eerl he is te traitor man - oomph - we will pe going home wi' al te skin on our podies, tat's te plessing and tankful too - oomph."
Roderick knew not what to say; but, rising from his seat, went with his uncle to the door.
"Nigel," cried the old man, as he was mounting his horse again, "Nigel, you will pe making a message to Stirling, and tel te laads tere, tat Roderick and me will pe going home py way o' te hill - Oomph! And will te cattles o' horse pe al te rewart and te spoil - Oomph!" said he, with a significant look to Roderick as they rode off together. By the time they reached Glenfruin, the rest of the men who were sent to Stirling had returned home.
Towards the afternoon, the Lady Sibilla was so far recovered that, of her own accord, she proposed to Nigel that they should again proceed on their journey. But the whole country being by this time alarmed and amazed, they were as fearful as ever of pursuit; for which reason they chose bye-paths and unfrequented roads, and instead of coming to Lochlomond side by Balloch, they arrived at Rhue-Ardenan, where Nigel ordered the ferry-boat to carry them to Inch-murrin, expecting to find the Lord James there. Greatly, however, to the joy of all, while the ferry-boat was getting her tackle in order to carry him and the Lady to the bower of the Duchess, Hector MacAllisner came from the house where the Prince was, to see who the strangers were; and, with quick and bounding steps, he hastened back to the Lord James, who soon, regardless of discovery, came rushing out.
But brief now must be the narration of
what ensued. When the boat was ready, they all embarked for Inch-murrin, - and the Duchess, after a few minutes spent in gratulation, the first taste of pleasure that she had enjoyed for a long time, sent for Father Kessog, and the marriage of the Lord James, to the Lady Sibilla was performed ; then they forthwith embarked with the Duchess, - and sailing down the Leven, passed Dumbarton unquestioned, and arrived the same afternoon in the bay of Ardmore, where the French bark still lay.
It were, however, a grief that may be well spared to describe the parting of the Duchess with her son and the Lady Sibilla. She saw them go aboard, and Nigel with them. She heard the mariners draw up the anchor, and she beheld the sail loosened. She looked around to see if there was any boat in pursuit, or horsemen on the hill. The gale was favouring, - and when she turned her eyes again to the boat, the wind had swelled the sail,
and the water was rising at her prow. She saw the Lady Sibilla wave her napkin, and the Lord James his bonnet, - and falling on her knees, folded her hands, and rose not from her kneeling till all particular in the vessel was lost in the generality of distance. Then she returned home, and spent the remainder of her days on Inch-murrin with the sequestration and piety of a nun. - Of the Lord James and the Lady Sibilla little after was known in Scotland. In Ireland they lived many years in conjugal felicity, and begat sons and daughters; and wishing no less happiness to all fair and courteous readers who have travelled through the veracious and eventful pages of this tale, the time hath come when the aged chronicler may soothly say - Good night.
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