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The Fair Maid of Perth
by Sir Walter Scott
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"Where is your companion, young woman?" said Ramorny, in a tone of austere gravity.

"I have no companion here," answered Catharine.

"Trifle not," replied the knight; "I mean the glee maiden, who lately dwelt in this chamber with you."

"She is gone, they tell me," said Catharine—"gone about an hour since."

"And whither?" said Dwining.

"How," answered Catharine, "should I know which way a professed wanderer may choose to travel? She was tired no doubt of a solitary life, so different from the scenes of feasting and dancing which her trade leads her to frequent. She is gone, and the only wonder is that she should have stayed so long."

"This, then," said Ramorny, "is all you have to tell us?"

"All that I have to tell you, Sir John," answered Catharine, firmly; "and if the Prince himself inquire, I can tell him no more."

"There is little danger of his again doing you the honour to speak to you in person," said Ramorny, "even if Scotland should escape being rendered miserable by the sad event of his decease."

"Is the Duke of Rothsay so very ill?" asked Catharine.

"No help, save in Heaven," answered Ramorny, looking upward.

"Then may there yet be help there," said Catharine, "if human aid prove unavailing!"

"Amen!" said Ramorny, with the most determined gravity; while Dwining adopted a face fit to echo the feeling, though it seemed to cost him a painful struggle to suppress his sneering yet soft laugh of triumph, which was peculiarly excited by anything having a religious tendency.

"And it is men—earthly men, and not incarnate devils, who thus appeal to Heaven, while they are devouring by inches the life blood of their hapless master!" muttered Catharine, as her two baffled inquisitors left the apartment. "Why sleeps the thunder? But it will roll ere long, and oh! may it be to preserve as well as to punish!"

The hour of dinner alone afforded a space when, all in the castle being occupied with that meal, Catharine thought she had the best opportunity of venturing to the breach in the wall, with the least chance of being observed. In waiting for the hour, she observed some stir in the castle, which had been silent as the grave ever since the seclusion of the Duke of Rothsay. The portcullis was lowered and raised, and the creaking of the machinery was intermingled with the tramp of horse, as men at arms went out and returned with steeds hard ridden and covered with foam. She observed, too, that such domestics as she casually saw from her window were in arms. All this made her heart throb high, for it augured the approach of rescue; and besides, the bustle left the little garden more lonely than ever. At length the hour of noon arrived; she had taken care to provide, under pretence of her own wishes, which the pantler seemed disposed to indulge, such articles of food as could be the most easily conveyed to the unhappy captive. She whispered to intimate her presence; there was no answer; she spoke louder, still there was silence.

"He sleeps," she muttered these words half aloud, and with a shuddering which was succeeded by a start and a scream, when a voice replied behind her:

"Yes, he sleeps; but it is for ever."

She looked round. Sir John Ramorny stood behind her in complete armour, but the visor of his helmet was up, and displayed a countenance more resembling one about to die than to fight. He spoke with a grave tone, something between that of a calm observer of an interesting event and of one who is an agent and partaker in it.

"Catharine," he said, "all is true which I tell you. He is dead. You have done your best for him; you can do no more."

"I will not—I cannot believe it," said Catharine. "Heaven be merciful to me! it would make one doubt of Providence, to think so great a crime has been accomplished."

"Doubt not of Providence, Catharine, though it has suffered the profligate to fall by his own devices. Follow me; I have that to say which concerns you. I say follow (for she hesitated), unless you prefer being left to the mercies of the brute Bonthron and the mediciner Henbane Dwining."

"I will follow you," said Catharine. "You cannot do more to me than you are permitted."

He led the way into the tower, and mounted staircase after staircase and ladder after ladder.

Catharine's resolution failed her. "I will follow no farther," she said. "Whither would you lead me? If to my death, I can die here."

"Only to the battlements of the castle, fool," said Ramorny, throwing wide a barred door which opened upon the vaulted roof of the castle, where men were bending mangonels, as they called them (military engines, that is, for throwing arrows or stones), getting ready crossbows, and piling stones together. But the defenders did not exceed twenty in number, and Catharine thought she could observe doubt and irresolution amongst them.

"Catharine," said Ramorny, "I must not quit this station, which is necessary for my defence; but I can speak with you here as well as elsewhere."

"Say on," answered Catharine, "I am prepared to hear you."

"You have thrust yourself, Catharine, into a bloody secret. Have you the firmness to keep it?"

"I do not understand you, Sir John," answered the maiden.

"Look you. I have slain—murdered, if you will—my late master, the Duke of Rothsay. The spark of life which your kindness would have fed was easily smothered. His last words called on his father. You are faint—bear up—you have more to hear. You know the crime, but you know not the provocation. See! this gauntlet is empty; I lost my right hand in his cause, and when I was no longer fit to serve him, I was cast off like a worn out hound, my loss ridiculed, and a cloister recommended, instead of the halls and palaces in which I had my natural sphere! Think on this—pity and assist me."

"In what manner can you require my assistance?" said the trembling maiden; "I can neither repair your loss nor cancel your crime."

"Thou canst be silent, Catharine, on what thou hast seen and heard in yonder thicket. It is but a brief oblivion I ask of you, whose word will, I know, be listened to, whether you say such things were or were not. That of your mountebank companion, the foreigner, none will hold to be of a pin point's value. If you grant me this, I will take your promise for my security, and throw the gate open to those who now approach it. If you will not promise silence, I defend this castle till every one perishes, and I fling you headlong from these battlements. Ay, look at them—it is not a leap to be rashly braved. Seven courses of stairs brought you up hither with fatigue and shortened breath; but you shall go from the top to the bottom in briefer time than you can breathe a sigh! Speak the word, fair maid; for you speak to one unwilling to harm you, but determined in his purpose."

Catharine stood terrified, and without power of answering a man who seemed so desperate; but she was saved the necessity of reply by the approach of Dwining. He spoke with the same humble conges which at all times distinguished his manner, and with his usual suppressed ironical sneer, which gave that manner the lie.

"I do you wrong, noble sir, to intrude on your valiancie when engaged with a fair damsel. But I come to ask a trifling question."

"Speak, tormentor!" said Ramorny; "ill news are sport to thee even when they affect thyself, so that they concern others also."

"Hem!—he, he!—I only desired to know if your knighthood proposed the chivalrous task of defending the castle with your single hand—I crave pardon, I meant your single arm? The question is worth asking, for I am good for little to aid the defence, unless you could prevail on the besiegers to take physic—he, he, he!—and Bonthron is as drunk as ale and strong waters can make him; and you, he, and I make up the whole garrison who are disposed for resistance."

"How! Will the other dogs not fight?" said Ramorny.

"Never saw men who showed less stomach to the work," answered Dwining—"never. But here come a brace of them. Venit extrema dies. He, he, he!"

Eviot and his companion Buncle now approached, with sullen resolution in their faces, like men who had made their minds up to resist that authority which they had so long obeyed.

"How now!" said Ramorny, stepping forward to meet them. "Wherefore from your posts? Why have you left the barbican, Eviot? And you other fellow, did I not charge you to look to the mangonels?"

"We have something to tell you, Sir John Ramorny," answered Eviot. "We will not fight in this quarrel."

"How—my own squires control me?" exclaimed Ramorny.

"We were your squires and pages, my lord, while you were master of the Duke of Rothsay's household. It is bruited about the Duke no longer lives; we desire to know the truth."

"What traitor dares spread such falsehoods?" said Ramorny.

"All who have gone out to skirt the forest, my lord, and I myself among others, bring back the same news. The minstrel woman who left the castle yesterday has spread the report everywhere that the Duke of Rothsay is murdered, or at death's door. The Douglas comes on us with a strong force—"

"And you, cowards, take advantage of an idle report to forsake your master?" said Ramorny, indignantly.

"My lord," said Eviot, "let Buncle and myself see the Duke of Rothsay, and receive his personal orders for defence of this castle, and if we do not fight to the death in that quarrel, I will consent to be hanged on its highest turret. But if he be gone by natural disease, we will yield up the castle to the Earl of Douglas, who is, they say, the King's lieutenant. Or if—which Heaven forefend!—the noble Prince has had foul play, we will not involve ourselves in the guilt of using arms in defence of the murderers, be they who they will."

"Eviot," said Ramorny, raising his mutilated arm, "had not that glove been empty, thou hadst not lived to utter two words of this insolence."

"It is as it is," answered Evict, "and we do but our duty. I have followed you long, my lord, but here I draw bridle."

"Farewell, then, and a curse light on all of you!" exclaimed the incensed baron. "Let my horse be brought forth!"

"Our valiancie is about to run away," said the mediciner, who had crept close to Catharine's side before she was aware. "Catharine, thou art a superstitious fool, like most women; nevertheless thou hast some mind, and I speak to thee as one of more understanding than the buffaloes which are herding about us. These haughty barons who overstride the world, what are they in the day of adversity? Chaff before the wind. Let their sledge hammer hands or their column resembling legs have injury, and bah! the men at arms are gone. Heart and courage is nothing to them, lith and limb everything: give them animal strength, what are they better than furious bulls; take that away, and your hero of chivalry lies grovelling like the brute when he is hamstrung. Not so the sage; while a grain of sense remains in a crushed or mutilated frame, his mind shall be strong as ever. Catharine, this morning I was practising your death; but methinks I now rejoice that you may survive to tell how the poor mediciner, the pill gilder, the mortar pounder, the poison vender, met his fate, in company with the gallant Knight of Ramorny, Baron in possession and Earl of Lindores in expectation—God save his lordship!"

"Old man," said Catharine, "if thou be indeed so near the day of thy deserved doom, other thoughts were far wholesomer than the vainglorious ravings of a vain philosophy. Ask to see a holy man—"

"Yes," said Dwining, scornfully, "refer myself to a greasy monk, who does not—he! he! he!—understand the barbarous Latin he repeats by rote. Such would be a fitting counsellor to one who has studied both in Spain and Arabia! No, Catharine, I will choose a confessor that is pleasant to look upon, and you shall be honoured with the office. Now, look yonder at his valiancie, his eyebrow drops with moisture, his lip trembles with agony; for his valiancie—he! he! he!—is pleading for his life with his late domestics, and has not eloquence enough to persuade them to let him slip. See how the fibres of his face work as he implores the ungrateful brutes, whom he has heaped with obligations, to permit him to get such a start for his life as the hare has from the greyhounds when men course her fairly. Look also at the sullen, downcast, dogged faces with which, fluctuating between fear and shame, the domestic traitors deny their lord this poor chance for his life. These things thought themselves the superior of a man like me! and you, foolish wench, think so meanly of your Deity as to suppose wretches like them are the work of Omnipotence!"

"No! man of evil—no!" said Catharine, warmly; "the God I worship created these men with the attributes to know and adore Him, to guard and defend their fellow creatures, to practise holiness and virtue. Their own vices, and the temptations of the Evil One, have made them such as they now are. Oh, take the lesson home to thine own heart of adamant! Heaven made thee wiser than thy fellows, gave thee eyes to look into the secrets of nature, a sagacious heart, and a skilful hand; but thy pride has poisoned all these fair gifts, and made an ungodly atheist of one who might have been a Christian sage!"

"Atheist, say'st thou?" answered Dwining. "Perhaps I have doubts on that matter—but they will be soon solved. Yonder comes one who will send me, as he has done thousands, to the place where all mysteries shall be cleared."

Catharine followed the mediciner's eye up one of the forest glades, and beheld it occupied by a body of horsemen advancing at full gallop. In the midst was a pennon displayed, which, though its bearings were not visible to Catharine, was, by a murmur around, acknowledged as that of the Black Douglas. They halted within arrow shot of the castle, and a herald with two trumpets advanced up to the main portal, where, after a loud flourish, he demanded admittance for the high and dreaded Archibald Earl of Douglas, Lord Lieutenant of the King, and acting for the time with the plenary authority of his Majesty; commanding, at the same time, that the inmates of the castle should lay down their arms, all under penalty of high treason.

"You hear?" said Eviot to Ramorny, who stood sullen and undecided. "Will you give orders to render the castle, or must I?"

"No, villain!" interrupted the knight, "to the last I will command you. Open the gates, drop the bridge, and render the castle to the Douglas."

"Now, that's what may be called a gallant exertion of free will," said Dwining. "Just as if the pieces of brass that were screaming a minute since should pretend to call those notes their own which are breathed through them by a frowsy trumpeter."

"Wretched man!" said Catharine, "either be silent or turn thy thoughts to the eternity on the brink of which thou art standing."

"And what is that to thee?" answered Dwining. "Thou canst not, wench, help hearing what I say to thee, and thou wilt tell it again, for thy sex cannot help that either. Perth and all Scotland shall know what a man they have lost in Henbane Dwining!"

The clash of armour now announced that the newcomers had dismounted and entered the castle, and were in the act of disarming the small garrison. Earl Douglas himself appeared on the battlements, with a few of his followers, and signed to them to take Ramorny and Dwining into custody. Others dragged from some nook the stupefied Bonthron.

"It was to these three that the custody of the Prince was solely committed daring his alleged illness?" said the Douglas, prosecuting an inquiry which he had commenced in the hall of the castle.

"No other saw him, my lord," said Eviot, "though I offered my services."

"Conduct us to the Duke's apartment, and bring the prisoners with us. Also should there be a female in the castle, if she hath not been murdered or spirited away—the companion of the glee maiden who brought the first alarm."

"She is here, my lord," said Eviot, bringing Catharine forward.

Her beauty and her agitation made some impression even upon the impassible Earl.

"Fear nothing, maiden," he said; "thou hast deserved both praise and reward. Tell to me, as thou wouldst confess to Heaven, the things thou hast witnessed in this castle."

Few words served Catharine to unfold the dreadful story.

"It agrees," said the Douglas, "with the tale of the glee maiden, from point to point. Now show us the Prince's apartment."

They passed to the room which the unhappy Duke of Rothsay had been supposed to inhabit; but the key was not to be found, and the Earl could only obtain entrance by forcing the door. On entering, the wasted and squalid remains of the unhappy Prince were discovered, flung on the bed as if in haste. The intention of the murderers had apparently been to arrange the dead body so as to resemble a timely parted corpse, but they had been disconcerted by the alarm occasioned by the escape of Louise. Douglas looked on the body of the misguided youth, whose wild passions and caprices had brought him to this fatal and premature catastrophe.

"I had wrongs to be redressed," he said; "but to see such a sight as this banishes all remembrance of injury!"

"He! he! It should have been arranged," said Dwining, "more to your omnipotence's pleasure; but you came suddenly on us, and hasty masters make slovenly service."

Douglas seemed not to hear what his prisoner said, so closely did he examine the wan and wasted features, and stiffened limbs, of the dead body before him. Catharine, overcome by sickness and fainting, at length obtained permission to retire from the dreadful scene, and, through confusion of every description, found her way to her former apartment, where she was locked in the arms of Louise, who had returned in the interval.

The investigations of Douglas proceeded. The dying hand of the Prince was found to be clenched upon a lock of hair, resembling, in colour and texture, the coal black bristles of Bonthron. Thus, though famine had begun the work, it would seem that Rothsay's death had been finally accomplished by violence. The private stair to the dungeon, the keys of which were found at the subaltern assassin's belt, the situation of the vault, its communication with the external air by the fissure in the walls, and the wretched lair of straw, with the fetters which remained there, fully confirmed the story of Catharine and of the glee woman.

"We will not hesitate an instant," said the Douglas to his near kinsman, the Lord Balveny, as soon as they returned from the dungeon. "Away with the murderers! hang them over the battlements."

"But, my lord, some trial may be fitting," answered Balveny.

"To what purpose?" answered, Douglas. "I have taken them red hand; my authority will stretch to instant execution. Yet stay—have we not some Jedwood men in our troop?"

"Plenty of Turnbulls, Rutherfords, Ainslies, and so forth," said Balveny.

"Call me an inquest of these together; they are all good men and true, saving a little shifting for their living. Do you see to the execution of these felons, while I hold a court in the great hall, and we'll try whether the jury or the provost marshal do their work first; we will have Jedwood justice—hang in haste and try at leisure."

"Yet stay, my lord," said Ramorny, "you may rue your haste—will you grant me a word out of earshot?"

"Not for worlds!" said Douglas; "speak out what thou hast to say before all that are here present."

"Know all; then," said Ramorny, aloud, "that this noble Earl had letters from the Duke of Albany and myself, sent him by the hand of yon cowardly deserter, Buncle—let him deny it if he dare—counselling the removal of the Duke for a space from court, and his seclusion in this Castle of Falkland."

"But not a word," replied Douglas, sternly smiling, "of his being flung into a dungeon—famished—strangled. Away with the wretches, Balveny, they pollute God's air too long!"

The prisoners were dragged off to the battlements. But while the means of execution were in the act of being prepared, the apothecary expressed so ardent a desire to see Catharine once more, and, as he said, for the good of his soul, that the maiden, in hopes his obduracy might have undergone some change even at the last hour, consented again to go to the battlements, and face a scene which her heart recoiled from. A single glance showed her Bonthron, sunk in total and drunken insensibility; Ramorny, stripped of his armour, endeavouring in vain to conceal fear, while he spoke with a priest, whose good offices he had solicited; and Dwining, the same humble, obsequious looking, crouching individual she had always known him. He held in his hand a little silver pen, with which he had been writing on a scrap of parchment.

"Catharine," he said—"he, he, he!—I wish to speak to thee on the nature of my religious faith."

"If such be thy intention, why lose time with me? Speak with this good father."

"The good father," said Dwining, "is—he, he!—already a worshipper of the deity whom I have served. I therefore prefer to give the altar of mine idol a new worshipper in thee, Catharine. This scrap of parchment will tell thee how to make your way into my chapel, where I have worshipped so often in safety. I leave the images which it contains to thee as a legacy, simply because I hate and contemn thee something less than any of the absurd wretches whom I have hitherto been obliged to call fellow creatures. And now away—or remain and see if the end of the quacksalver belies his life."

"Our Lady forbid!" said Catharine.

"Nay," said the mediciner, "I have but a single word to say, and yonder nobleman's valiancie may hear it if he will."

Lord Balveny approached, with some curiosity; for the undaunted resolution of a man who never wielded sword or bore armour and was in person a poor dwindled dwarf, had to him an air of something resembling sorcery."

"You see this trifling implement," said the criminal, showing the silver pen. "By means of this I can escape the power even of the Black Douglas."

"Give him no ink nor paper," said Balveny, hastily, "he will draw a spell."

"Not so, please your wisdom and valiancie—he, he, he!" said Dwining with his usual chuckle, as he unscrewed the top of the pen, within which was a piece of sponge or some such substance, no bigger than a pea.

"Now, mark this—" said the prisoner, and drew it between his lips. The effect was instantaneous. He lay a dead corpse before them, the contemptuous sneer still on his countenance.

Catharine shrieked and fled, seeking, by a hasty descent, an escape from a sight so appalling. Lord Balveny was for a moment stupified, and then exclaimed, "This may be glamour! hang him over the battlements, quick or dead. If his foul spirit hath only withdrawn for a space, it shall return to a body with a dislocated neck."

His commands were obeyed. Ramorny and Bonthron were then ordered for execution. The last was hanged before he seemed quite to comprehend what was designed to be done with him. Ramorny, pale as death, yet with the same spirit of pride which had occasioned his ruin, pleaded his knighthood, and demanded the privilege of dying by decapitation by the sword, and not by the noose.

"The Douglas never alters his doom," said Balveny. "But thou shalt have all thy rights. Send the cook hither with a cleaver."

The menial whom he called appeared at his summons.

"What shakest thou for, fellow?" said Balveny; "here, strike me this man's gilt spurs from his heels with thy cleaver. And now, John Ramorny, thou art no longer a knight, but a knave. To the halter with him, provost marshal! hang him betwixt his companions, and higher than them if it may be."

In a quarter of an hour afterwards, Balveny descended to tell the Douglas that the criminals were executed.

"Then there is no further use in the trial," said the Earl. "How say you, good men of inquest, were these men guilty of high treason—ay or no?"

"Guilty," exclaimed the obsequious inquest, with edifying unanimity, "we need no farther evidence."

"Sound trumpets, and to horse then, with our own train only; and let each man keep silence on what has chanced here, until the proceedings shall be laid before the King, which cannot conveniently be till the battle of Palm Sunday shall be fought and ended. Select our attendants, and tell each man who either goes with us or remains behind that he who prates dies."

In a few minutes the Douglas was on horseback, with the followers selected to attend his person. Expresses were sent to his daughter, the widowed Duchess of Rothsay, directing her to take her course to Perth, by the shores of Lochleven, without approaching Falkland, and committing to her charge Catharine Glover and the glee woman, as persons whose safety he tendered.

As they rode through the forest, they looked back, and beheld the three bodies hanging, like specks darkening the walls of the old castle.

"The hand is punished," said Douglas, "but who shall arraign the head by whose direction the act was done?"

"You mean the Duke of Albany?" said Balveny.

"I do, kinsman; and were I to listen to the dictates of my heart, I would charge him with the deed, which I am certain he has authorised. But there is no proof of it beyond strong suspicion, and Albany has attached to himself the numerous friends of the house of Stuart, to whom, indeed, the imbecility of the King and the ill regulated habits of Rothsay left no other choice of a leader. Were I, therefore, to break the bond which I have so lately formed with Albany, the consequence must be civil war, an event ruinous to poor Scotland while threatened by invasion from the activity of the Percy, backed by the treachery of March. No, Balveny, the punishment of Albany must rest with Heaven, which, in its own good time, will execute judgment on him and on his house."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

The hour is nigh: now hearts beat high; Each sword is sharpen'd well; And who dares die, who stoops to fly, Tomorrow's light shall tell.

Sir Edwald.

We are now to recall to our reader's recollection, that Simon Glover and his fair daughter had been hurried from their residence without having time to announce to Henry Smith either their departure or the alarming cause of it. When, therefore, the lover appeared in Curfew Street, on the morning of their flight, instead of the hearty welcome of the honest burgher, and the April reception, half joy half censure, which he had been promised on the part of his lovely daughter, he received only the astounding intelligence, that her father and she had set off early, on the summons of a stranger, who had kept himself carefully muffled from observation. To this, Dorothy, whose talents for forestalling evil, and communicating her views of it, are known to the reader, chose to add, that she had no doubt her master and young mistress were bound for the Highlands, to avoid a visit which had been made since their departure by two or three apparitors, who, in the name of a Commission appointed by the King, had searched the house, put seals upon such places as were supposed to contain papers, and left citations for father and daughter to appear before the Court of Commission, on a day certain, under pain of outlawry. All these alarming particulars Dorothy took care to state in the gloomiest colours, and the only consolation which she afforded the alarmed lover was, that her master had charged her to tell him to reside quietly at Perth, and that he should soon hear news of them. This checked the smith's first resolve, which was to follow them instantly to the Highlands, and partake the fate which they might encounter.

But when he recollected his repeated feuds with divers of the Clan Quhele, and particularly his personal quarrel with Conachar, who was now raised to be a high chief, he could not but think, on reflection, that his intrusion on their place of retirement was more likely to disturb the safety which they might otherwise enjoy there than be of any service to them. He was well acquainted with Simon's habitual intimacy with the chief of the Clan Quhele, and justly augured that the glover would obtain protection, which his own arrival might be likely to disturb, while his personal prowess could little avail him in a quarrel with a whole tribe of vindictive mountaineers. At the same time his heart throbbed with indignation, when he thought of Catharine being within the absolute power of young Conachar, whose rivalry he could not doubt, and who had now so many means of urging his suit. What if the young chief should make the safety of the father depend on the favour of the daughter? He distrusted not Catharine's affections, but then her mode of thinking was so disinterested, and her attachment to her father so tender, that, if the love she bore her suitor was weighed against his security, or perhaps his life, it was matter of deep and awful doubt whether it might not be found light in the balance. Tormented by thoughts on which we need not dwell, he resolved nevertheless to remain at home, stifle his anxiety as he might, and await the promised intelligence from the old man. It came, but it did not relieve his concern.

Sir Patrick Charteris had not forgotten his promise to communicate to the smith the plans of the fugitives. But, amid the bustle occasioned by the movement of troops, he could not himself convey the intelligence. He therefore entrusted to his agent, Kitt Henshaw, the task of making it known. But this worthy person, as the reader knows, was in the interest of Ramorny, whose business it was to conceal from every one, but especially from a lover so active and daring as Henry, the real place of Catharine's residence. Henshaw therefore announced to the anxious smith that his friend the glover was secure in the Highlands; and though he affected to be more reserved on the subject of Catharine, he said little to contradict the belief that she as well as Simon shared the protection of the Clan Quhele. But he reiterated, in the name of Sir Patrick, assurances that father and daughter were both well, and that Henry would best consult his own interest and their safety by remaining quiet and waiting the course of events.

With an agonized heart, therefore, Henry Gow determined to remain quiet till he had more certain intelligence, and employed himself in finishing a shirt of mail, which he intended should be the best tempered and the most finely polished that his skilful hands had ever executed. This exercise of his craft pleased him better than any other occupation which he could have adopted, and served as an apology for secluding himself in his workshop, and shunning society, where the idle reports which were daily circulated served only to perplex and disturb him. He resolved to trust in the warm regard of Simon, the faith of his daughter, and the friendship of the provost, who, having so highly commended his valour in the combat with Bonthron, would never, he thought, desert him at this extremity of his fortunes. Time, however, passed on day by day; and it was not till Palm Sunday was near approaching, that Sir Patrick Charteris, having entered the city to make some arrangements for the ensuing combat, bethought himself of making a visit to the Smith of the Wynd.

He entered his workshop with an air of sympathy unusual to him, and which made Henry instantly augur that he brought bad news. The smith caught the alarm, and the uplifted hammer was arrested in its descent upon the heated iron, while the agitated arm that wielded it, strong before as that of a giant, became so powerless, that it was with difficulty Henry was able to place the weapon on the ground, instead of dropping it from his hand.

"My poor Henry," said Sir Patrick, "I bring you but cold news; they are uncertain, however, and, if true, they are such as a brave man like you should not take too deeply to heart."

"In God's name, my lord," said Henry, "I trust you bring no evil news of Simon Glover or his daughter?"

"Touching themselves," said Sir Patrick, "no: they are safe and well. But as to thee, Henry, my tidings are more cold. Kitt Henshaw has, I think, apprised thee that I had endeavoured to provide Catharine Glover with a safe protection in the house of an honourable lady, the Duchess of Rothsay. But she hath declined the charge, and Catharine hath been sent to her father in the Highlands. What is worst is to come. Thou mayest have heard that Gilchrist MacIan is dead, and that his son Eachin, who was known in Perth as the apprentice of old Simon, by the name of Conachar, is now the chief of Clan Quhele; and I heard from one of my domestics that there is a strong rumour among the MacIans that the young chief seeks the hand of Catharine in marriage. My domestic learned this—as a secret, however—while in the Breadalbane country, on some arrangements touching the ensuing combat. The thing is uncertain but, Henry, it wears a face of likelihood."

"Did your lordship's servant see Simon Glover and his daughter?" said Henry, struggling for breath, and coughing, to conceal from the provost the excess of his agitation.

"He did not," said Sir Patrick; "the Highlanders seemed jealous, and refused to permit him to speak to the old man, and he feared to alarm them by asking to see Catharine. Besides, he talks no Gaelic, nor had his informer much English, so there may be some mistake in the matter. Nevertheless, there is such a report, and I thought it best to tell it you. But you may be well assured that the wedding cannot go on till the affair of Palm Sunday be over; and I advise you to take no step till we learn the circumstances of the matter, for certainty is most desirable, even when it is painful. Go you to the council house," he added, after a pause, "to speak about the preparations for the lists in the North Inch? You will be welcome there."

"No, my good lord."

"Well, Smith, I judge by your brief answer that you are discomposed with this matter; but, after all, women are weathercocks, that is the truth on't. Solomon and others have proved it before you."

And so Sir Patrick Charteris retired, fully convinced he had discharged the office of a comforter in the most satisfactory manner.

With very different impressions did the unfortunate lover regard the tidings and listen to the consoling commentary.

"The provost," he said bitterly to himself, "is an excellent man; marry, he holds his knighthood so high, that, if he speaks nonsense, a poor man must hold it sense, as he must praise dead ale if it be handed to him in his lordship's silver flagon. How would all this sound in another situation? Suppose I were rolling down the steep descent of the Corrichie Dhu, and before I came to the edge of the rock, comes my Lord Provost, and cries: 'Henry, there is a deep precipice, and I grieve to say you are in the fair way of rolling over it. But be not downcast, for Heaven may send a stone or a bush to stop your progress. However, I thought it would be comfort to you to know the worst, which you will be presently aware of. I do not know how many hundred feet deep the precipice descends, but you may form a judgment when you are at the bottom, for certainty is certainty. And hark ye! when come you to take a game at bowls?' And this gossip is to serve instead of any friendly attempt to save the poor wight's neck! When I think of this, I could go mad, seize my hammer, and break and destroy all around me. But I will be calm; and if this Highland kite, who calls himself a falcon, should stoop at my turtle dove, he shall know whether a burgess of Perth can draw a bow or not."

It was now the Thursday before the fated Palm Sunday, and the champions on either side were expected to arrive the next day, that they might have the interval of Saturday to rest, refresh themselves, and prepare for the combat. Two or three of each of the contending parties were detached to receive directions about the encampment of their little band, and such other instructions as might be necessary to the proper ordering of the field. Henry was not, therefore, surprised at seeing a tall and powerful Highlander peering anxiously about the wynd in which he lived, in the manner in which the natives of a wild country examine the curiosities of one that is more civilized. The smith's heart rose against the man on account of his country, to which our Perth burgher bore a natural prejudice, and more especially as he observed the individual wear the plaid peculiar to the Clan Quhele. The sprig of oak leaves, worked in silk, intimated also that the individual was one of those personal guards of young Eachin, upon whose exertions in the future battle so much reliance was placed by those of their clan.

Having observed so much, Henry withdrew into his smithy, for the sight of the man raised his passion; and, knowing that the Highlander came plighted to a solemn combat, and could not be the subject of any inferior quarrel, he was resolved at least to avoid friendly intercourse with him. In a few minutes, however, the door of the smithy flew open, and flattering in his tartans, which greatly magnified his actual size, the Gael entered with the haughty step of a man conscious of a personal dignity superior to anything which he is likely to meet with. He stood looking around him, and seemed to expect to be received with courtesy and regarded with wonder. But Henry had no sort of inclination to indulge his vanity and kept hammering away at a breastplate which was lying upon his anvil as if he were not aware of his visitor's presence.

"You are the Gow Chrom?" (the bandy legged smith), said the Highlander.

"Those that wish to be crook backed call me so," answered Henry.

"No offence meant," said the Highlander; "but her own self comes to buy an armour."

"Her own self's bare shanks may trot hence with her," answered Henry; "I have none to sell."

"If it was not within two days of Palm Sunday, herself would make you sing another song," retorted the Gael.

"And being the day it is," said Henry, with the same contemptuous indifference, "I pray you to stand out of my light."

"You are an uncivil person; but her own self is fir nan ord too; and she knows the smith is fiery when the iron is hot."

"If her nainsell be hammer man herself, her nainsell may make her nain harness," replied Henry.

"And so her nainsell would, and never fash you for the matter; but it is said, Gow Chrom, that you sing and whistle tunes over the swords and harnishes that you work, that have power to make the blades cut steel links as if they were paper, and the plate and mail turn back steel lances as if they were boddle prins?"

"They tell your ignorance any nonsense that Christian men refuse to believe," said Henry. "I whistle at my work whatever comes uppermost, like an honest craftsman, and commonly it is the Highlandman's 'Och hone for Houghman stares!' My hammer goes naturally to that tune."

"Friend, it is but idle to spur a horse when his legs are ham shackled," said the Highlander, haughtily. "Her own self cannot fight even now, and there is little gallantry in taunting her thus."

"By nails and hammer, you are right there," said the smith, altering his tone. "But speak out at once, friend, what is it thou wouldst have of me? I am in no humour for dallying."

"A hauberk for her chief, Eachin MacIan," said the Highlander.

"You are a hammer man, you say? Are you a judge of this?" said our smith, producing from a chest the mail shirt on which he had been lately employed.

The Gael handled it with a degree of admiration which had something of envy in it. He looked curiously at every part of its texture, and at length declared it the very best piece of armour that he had ever seen.

"A hundred cows and bullocks and a good drift of sheep would be e'en ower cheap an offer," said the Highlandman, by way of tentative; "but her nainsell will never bid thee less, come by them how she can."

"It is a fair proffer," replied Henry; "but gold nor gear will never buy that harness. I want to try my own sword on my own armour, and I will not give that mail coat to any one but who will face me for the best of three blows and a thrust in the fair field; and it is your chief's upon these terms."

"Hut, prut, man—take a drink and go to bed," said the Highlander, in great scorn. "Are ye mad? Think ye the captain of the Clan Quhele will be brawling and battling with a bit Perth burgess body like you? Whisht, man, and hearken. Her nainsell will do ye mair credit than ever belonged to your kin. She will fight you for the fair harness hersell."

"She must first show that she is my match," said Henry, with a grim smile.

"How! I, one of Eachin MacIan's leichtach, and not your match!"

"You may try me, if you will. You say you are a fir nan ord. Do you know how to cast a sledge hammer?"

"Ay, truly—ask the eagle if he can fly over Farragon."

"But before you strive with me, you must first try a cast with one of my leichtach. Here, Dunter, stand forth for the honour of Perth! And now, Highlandman, there stands a row of hammers; choose which you will, and let us to the garden."

The Highlander whose name was Norman nan Ord, or Norman of the Hammer, showed his title to the epithet by selecting the largest hammer of the set, at which Henry smiled. Dunter, the stout journeyman of the smith, made what was called a prodigious cast; but the Highlander, making a desperate effort, threw beyond it by two or three feet, and looked with an air of triumph to Henry, who again smiled in reply.

"Will you mend that?" said the Gael, offering our smith the hammer.

"Not with that child's toy," said Henry, "which has scarce weight to fly against the wind. Jannekin, fetch me Sampson; or one of you help the boy, for Sampson is somewhat ponderous."

The hammer now produced was half as heavy again as that which the Highlander had selected as one of unusual weight. Norman stood astonished; but he was still more so when Henry, taking his position, swung the ponderous implement far behind his right haunch joint, and dismissed it from his hand as if it had flown from a warlike engine. The air groaned and whistled as the mass flew through it. Down at length it came, and the iron head sunk a foot into the earth, a full yard beyond the cast of Norman.

The Highlander, defeated and mortified, went to the spot where the weapon lay, lifted it, poised it in his hand with great wonder, and examined it closely, as if he expected to discover more in it than a common hammer. He at length returned it to the owner with a melancholy smile, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head as the smith asked him whether he would not mend his cast.

"Norman has lost too much at the sport already," he replied. "She has lost her own name of the Hammerer. But does her own self, the Gow Chrom, work at the anvil with that horse's load of iron?"

"You shall see, brother," said Henry, leading the way to the smithy. "Dunter," he said, "rax me that bar from the furnace"; and uplifting Sampson, as he called the monstrous hammer, he plied the metal with a hundred strokes from right to left—now with the right hand, now with the left, now with both, with so much strength at once and dexterity, that he worked off a small but beautifully proportioned horseshoe in half the time that an ordinary smith would have taken for the same purpose, using a more manageable implement.

"Oigh—oigh!" said the Highlander, "and what for would you be fighting with our young chief, who is far above your standard, though you were the best smith ever wrought with wind and fire?"

"Hark you!" said Henry; "you seem a good fellow, and I'll tell you the truth. Your master has wronged me, and I give him this harness freely for the chance of fighting him myself."

"Nay, if he hath wronged you he must meet you," said the life guardsman. "To do a man wrong takes the eagle's feather out of the chief's bonnet; and were he the first in the Highlands, and to be sure so is Eachin, he must fight the man he has wronged, or else a rose falls from his chaplet."

"Will you move him to this," said Henry, "after the fight on Sunday?"

"Oh, her nainsell will do her best, if the hawks have not got her nainsell's bones to pick; for you must know, brother, that Clan Chattan's claws pierce rather deep."

"The armour is your chief's on that condition," said Henry; "but I will disgrace him before king and court if he does not pay me the price."

"Deil a fear—deil a fear; I will bring him in to the barrace myself," said Norman, "assuredly."

"You will do me a pleasure," replied Henry; "and that you may remember your promise, I will bestow on you this dirk. Look—if you hold it truly, and can strike between the mail hood and the collar of your enemy, the surgeon will be needless."

The Highlander was lavish in his expressions of gratitude, and took his leave.

"I have given him the best mail harness I ever wrought," said the smith to himself, rather repenting his liberality, "for the poor chance that he will bring his chief into a fair field with me; and then let Catharine be his who can win her fairly. But much I dread the youth will find some evasion, unless he have such luck on Palm Sunday as may induce him to try another combat. That is some hope, however; for I have often, ere now, seen a raw young fellow shoot up after his first fight from a dwarf into a giant queller."

Thus, with little hope, but with the most determined resolution, Henry Smith awaited the time that should decide his fate. What made him augur the worst was the silence both of the glover and of his daughter.

"They are ashamed," he said, "to confess the truth to me, and therefore they are silent."

Upon the Friday at noon, the two bands of thirty men each, representing the contending clans, arrived at the several points where they were to halt for refreshments.

The Clan Quhele was entertained hospitably at the rich abbey of Scone, while the provost regaled their rivals at his Castle of Kinfauns, the utmost care being taken to treat both parties with the most punctilious attention, and to afford neither an opportunity of complaining of partiality. All points of etiquette were, in the mean while, discussed and settled by the Lord High Constable Errol and the young Earl of Crawford, the former acting on the part of the Clan Chattan and the latter patronising the Clan Quhele. Messengers were passing continually from the one earl to the other, and they held more than: six meetings within thirty hours, before the ceremonial of the field could be exactly arranged.

Meanwhile, in case of revival of ancient quarrel, many seeds of which existed betwixt the burghers and their mountain neighbours, a proclamation commanded the citizens not to approach within half a mile of the place where the Highlanders were quartered; while on their part the intended combatants were prohibited from approaching Perth without special license. Troops were stationed to enforce this order, who did their charge so scrupulously as to prevent Simon Glover himself, burgess and citizen of Perth, from approaching the town, because he owned having come thither at the same time with the champions of Eachin MacIan, and wore a plaid around him of their check or pattern. This interruption prevented Simon from seeking out Henry Wynd and possessing him with a true knowledge of all that had happened since their separation, which intercourse, had it taken place, must have materially altered the catastrophe of our narrative.

On Saturday afternoon another arrival took place, which interested the city almost as much as the preparations for the expected combat. This was the approach of the Earl Douglas, who rode through the town with a troop of only thirty horse, but all of whom were knights and gentlemen of the first consequence. Men's eyes followed this dreaded peer as they pursue the flight of an eagle through the clouds, unable to ken the course of the bird of Jove yet silent, attentive, and as earnest in observing him as if they could guess the object for which he sweeps through the firmament; He rode slowly through the city, and passed out at the northern gate. He next alighted at the Dominican convent and desired to see the Duke of Albany. The Earl was introduced instantly, and received by the Duke with a manner which was meant to be graceful and conciliatory, but which could not conceal both art and inquietude. When the first greetings were over, the Earl said with great gravity: "I bring you melancholy news. Your Grace's royal nephew, the Duke of Rothsay, is no more, and I fear hath perished by some foul practices."

"Practices!" said the Duke' in confusion—"what practices? Who dared practise on the heir of the Scottish throne?"

"'Tis not for me to state how these doubts arise," said Douglas; "but men say the eagle was killed with an arrow fledged from his own wing, and the oak trunk rent by a wedge of the same wood."

"Earl of Douglas," said the Duke of Albany, "I am no reader of riddles."

"Nor am I a propounder of them," said Douglas, haughtily, "Your Grace will find particulars in these papers worthy of perusal. I will go for half an hour to the cloister garden, and then rejoin you."

"You go not to the King, my lord?" said Albany.

"No," answered Douglas; "I trust your Grace will agree with me that we should conceal this great family misfortune from our sovereign till the business of tomorrow be decided."

"I willingly agree," said Albany. "If the King heard of this loss, he could not witness the combat; and if he appear not in person, these men are likely to refuse to fight, and the whole work is cast loose. But I pray you sit down, my lord, while I read these melancholy papers respecting poor Rothsay."

He passed the papers through his hands, turning some over with a hasty glance, and dwelling on others as if their contents had been of the last importance. When he had spent nearly a quarter of an hour in this manner, he raised his eyes, and said very gravely: "My lord, in these most melancholy documents, it is yet a comfort to see nothing which can renew the divisions in the King's councils, which were settled by the last solemn agreement between your lordship and myself. My unhappy nephew was by that agreement to be set aside, until time should send him a graver judgment. He is now removed by Fate, and our purpose in that matter is anticipated and rendered unnecessary."

"If your Grace," replied the Earl, "sees nothing to disturb the good understanding which the tranquillity and safety of Scotland require should exist between us, I am not so ill a friend of my country as to look closely for such."

"I understand you, my Lord of Douglas," said Albany, eagerly. "You hastily judged that I should be offended with your lordship for exercising your powers of lieutenancy, and punishing the detestable murderers within my territory of Falkland. Credit me, on the contrary, I am obliged to your lordship for taking out of my hands the punishment of these wretches, as it would have broken my heart even to have looked on them. The Scottish Parliament will inquire, doubtless, into this sacrilegious deed; and happy am I that the avenging sword has been in the hand of a man so important as your lordship. Our communication together, as your lordship must well recollect, bore only concerning a proposed restraint of my unfortunate nephew until the advance of a year or two had taught him discretion?"

"Such was certainly your Grace's purpose, as expressed to me," said the Earl; "I can safely avouch it."

"Why, then, noble earl, we cannot be censured because villains, for their own revengeful ends, appear to have engrafted a bloody termination on our honest purpose?"

"The Parliament will judge it after their wisdom," said Douglas. "For my part, my conscience acquits me."

"And mine assoilzies me," said the Duke with solemnity. "Now, my lord, touching the custody of the boy James, who succeeds to his father's claims of inheritance?"

"The King must decide it," said Douglas, impatient of the conference. "I will consent to his residence anywhere save at Stirling, Doune, or Falkland."

With that he left the apartment abruptly.

"He is gone," muttered the crafty Albany, "and he must be my ally, yet feels himself disposed to be my mortal foe. No matter, Rothsay sleeps with his fathers, James may follow in time, and then—a crown is the recompense of my perplexities."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

Thretty for thretty faucht in barreris, At Sanct Johnstoun on a day besyde the black freris.

WYNTOUN.

Palm Sunday now dawned. At an earlier period of the Christian Church, the use of any of the days of Passion Week for the purpose of combat would have been accounted a profanity worthy of excommunication. The Church of Rome, to her infinite honour, had decided that during the holy season of Easter, when the redemption of man from his fallen state was accomplished, the sword of war should be sheathed, and angry monarchs should respect the season termed the Truce of God. The ferocious violence of the latter wars betwixt Scotland and England had destroyed all observance of this decent and religious Ordinance. Very often the most solemn occasions were chosen by one party for an attack, because they hoped to find the other engaged in religious duties and unprovided for defence. Thus the truce, once considered as proper to the season, had been discontinued; and it became not unusual even to select the sacred festivals of the church for decision of the trial by combat, to which this intended contest bore a considerable resemblance.

On the present occasion, however, the duties of the day were observed with the usual solemnity, and the combatants themselves took share in them. Bearing branches of yew in their hands, as the readiest substitute for palm boughs, they marched respectively to the Dominican and Carthusian convents, to hear High Mass, and, by a show at least of devotion, to prepare themselves for the bloody strife of the day. Great care had of course been taken that, during this march, they should not even come within the sound of each other's bagpipes; for it was certain that, like game cocks exchanging mutual notes of defiance, they would have sought out and attacked each other before they arrived at the place of combat.

The citizens of Perth crowded to see the unusual procession on the streets, and thronged the churches where the two clans attended their devotions, to witness their behaviour, and to form a judgment from their appearance which was most likely to obtain the advantage in the approaching conflict. Their demeanour in the church, although not habitual frequenters of places of devotion, was perfectly decorous; and, notwithstanding their wild and untamed dispositions, there were few of the mountaineers who seemed affected either with curiosity or wonder. They appeared to think it beneath their dignity of character to testify either curiosity or surprise at many things which were probably then presented to them for the first time.

On the issue of the combat, few even of the most competent judges dared venture a prediction; although the great size of Torquil and his eight stalwart sons induced some who professed themselves judges of the thewes and sinews of men to incline to ascribe the advantage to the party of the Clan Quhele. The opinion of the female sex was much decided by the handsome form, noble countenance, and gallant demeanour of Eachin MacIan. There were more than one who imagined they had recollection of his features, but his splendid military attire rendered the humble glover's apprentice unrecognisable in the young Highland chief, saving by one person.

That person, as may well be supposed, was the Smith of the Wynd, who had been the foremost in the crowd that thronged to see the gallant champions of Clan Quhele. It was with mingled feelings of dislike, jealousy, and something approaching to admiration that he saw the glover's apprentice stripped of his mean slough, and blazing forth as a chieftain, who, by his quick eye and gallant demeanour, the noble shape of his brow and throat, his splendid arms and well proportioned limbs, seemed well worthy to hold the foremost rank among men selected to live or die for the honour of their race. The smith could hardly think that he looked upon the same passionate boy whom he had brushed off as he might a wasp that stung him, and, in mere compassion, forebore to despatch by treading on him.

"He looks it gallantly with my noble hauberk," thus muttered Henry to himself, "the best I ever wrought. Yet, if he and I stood together where there was neither hand to help nor eye to see, by all that is blessed in this holy church, the good harness should return to its owner! All that I am worth would I give for three fair blows on his shoulders to undo my own best work; but such happiness will never be mine. If he escape from the conflict, it will be with so high a character for courage, that he may well disdain to put his fortune, in its freshness, to the risk of an encounter with a poor burgess like myself. He will fight by his champion, and turn me over to my fellow craftsman the hammerer, when all I can reap will be the pleasure of knocking a Highland bullock on the head. If I could but see Simon Glover! I will to the other church in quest of him, since for sure he must have come down from the Highlands."

The congregation was moving from the church of the Dominicans when the smith formed this determination, which he endeavoured to carry into speedy execution, by thrusting through the crowd as hastily as the solemnity of the place and occasion would permit. In making his way through the press, he was at one instant carried so close to Eachin that their eyes encountered. The smith's hardy and embrowned countenance coloured up like the heated iron on which he wrought, and retained its dark red hue for several minutes. Eachin's features glowed with a brighter blush of indignation, and a glance of fiery hatred was shot from his eyes. But the sudden flush died away in ashy paleness, and his gaze instantly avoided the unfriendly but steady look with which it was encountered.

Torquil, whose eye never quitted his foster son, saw his emotion, and looked anxiously around to discover the cause. But Henry was already at a distance, and hastening on his way to the Carthusian convent. Here also the religious service of the day was ended; and those who had so lately borne palms in honour of the great event which brought peace on earth and goodwill to the children of men were now streaming to the place of combat—some prepared to take the lives of their fellow creatures or to lose their own, others to view the deadly strife with the savage delight which the heathens took in the contests of their gladiators.

The crowd was so great that any other person might well have despaired of making way through it. But the general deference entertained for Henry of the Wynd, as the champion of Perth, and the universal sense of his ability to force a passage, induced all to unite in yielding room for him, so that he was presently quite close to the warriors of the Clan Chattan. Their pipers marched at the head of their column. Next followed the well known banner, displaying a mountain cat rampant, with the appropriate caution, "Touch not the cat, but (i.e. without) the glove." The chief followed with his two handed sword advanced, as if to protect the emblem of the tribe. He was a man of middle stature, more than fifty years old, but betraying neither in features nor form any decay of strength or symptoms of age. His dark red close curled locks were in part chequered by a few grizzled hairs, but his step and gesture were as light in the dance, in the chase, or in the battle as if he had not passed his thirtieth year. His grey eye gleamed with a wild light expressive of valour and ferocity mingled; but wisdom and experience dwelt on the expression of his forehead, eyebrows, and lips. The chosen champions followed by two and two. There was a cast of anxiety on several of their faces, for they had that morning discovered the absence of one of their appointed number; and, in a contest so desperate as was expected, the loss seemed a matter of importance to all save to their high mettled chief, MacGillie Chattanach.

"Say nothing to the Saxons of his absence," said this bold leader, when the diminution of his force was reported to him. "The false Lowland tongues might say that one of Clan Chattan was a coward, and perhaps that the rest favoured his escape, in order to have a pretence to avoid the battle. I am sure that Ferquhard Day will be found in the ranks ere we are ready for battle; or, if he should not, am not I man enough for two of the Clan Quhele? or would we not fight them fifteen to thirty, rather than lose the renown that this day will bring us?"

The tribe received the brave speech of their leader with applause, yet there were anxious looks thrown out in hopes of espying the return of the deserter; and perhaps the chief himself was the only one of the determined band who was totally indifferent on the subject.

They marched on through the streets without seeing anything of Ferquhard Day, who, many a mile beyond the mountains, was busied in receiving such indemnification as successful love could bestow for the loss of honour. MacGillie Chattanach marched on without seeming to observe the absence of the deserter, and entered upon the North Inch, a beautiful and level plain, closely adjacent to the city, and appropriated to the martial exercises of the inhabitants.

The plain is washed on one side by the deep and swelling Tay. There was erected within it a strong palisade, inclosing on three sides a space of one hundred and fifty yards in length and seventy-four yards in width. The fourth side of the lists was considered as sufficiently fenced by the river. An amphitheatre for the accommodation of spectators surrounded the palisade, leaving a large space free to be occupied by armed men on foot and horseback, and for the more ordinary class of spectators. At the extremity of the lists which was nearest to the city, there was a range of elevated galleries for the King and his courtiers, so highly decorated with rustic treillage, intermingled with gilded ornaments, that the spot retains to this day the name of the Golden, or Gilded, Arbour.

The mountain minstrelsy, which sounded the appropriate pibrochs or battle tunes of the rival confederacies, was silent when they entered on the Inch, for such was the order which had been given. Two stately but aged warriors, each bearing the banner of his tribe, advanced to the opposite extremities of the lists, and, pitching their standards into the earth, prepared to be spectators of a fight in which they were not to join. The pipers, who were also to be neutral in the strife, took their places by their respective brattachs.

The multitude received both bands with the same general shout with which on similar occasions they welcome those from whose exertion they expect amusement, or what they term sport. The destined combatants returned no answer to this greeting, but each party advanced to the opposite extremities of the lists, where were entrances by which they were to be admitted to the interior. A strong body of men at arms guarded either access; and the Earl Marshal at the one and the Lord High Constable at the other carefully examined each individual, to see whether he had the appropriate arms, being steel cap, mail shirt, two handed sword, and dagger. They also examined the numbers of each party; and great was the alarm among the multitude when the Earl of Errol held up his hand and cried: "Ho! The combat cannot proceed, for the Clan Chattan lack one of their number."

"What reek of that?" said the young Earl of Crawford; "they should have counted better ere they left home."

The Earl Marshal, however, agreed with the Constable that the fight could not proceed until the inequality should be removed; and a general apprehension was excited in the assembled multitude that, after all the preparation, there would be no battle.

Of all present there were only two perhaps who rejoiced at the prospect of the combat being adjourned, and these were the captain of the Clan Quhele and the tender hearted King Robert. Meanwhile the two chiefs, each attended by a special friend and adviser, met in the midst of the lists, having, to assist them in determining what was to be done, the Earl Marshal, the Lord High Constable, the Earl of Crawford, and Sir Patrick Charteris. The chief of the Clan Chattan declared himself willing and desirous of fighting upon the spot, without regard to the disparity of numbers.

"That," said Torquil of the Oak, "Clan Quhele will never consent to. You can never win honour from us with the sword, and you seek but a subterfuge, that you may say when you are defeated, as you know you will be, that it was for want of the number of your band fully counted out. But I make a proposal: Ferquhard Day was the youngest of your band, Eachin MacIan is the youngest of ours; we will set him aside in place of the man who has fled from the combat."

"A most unjust and unequal proposal," exclaimed Toshach Beg, the second, as he might be termed, of MacGillie Chattanach. "The life of the chief is to the clan the breath of our nostrils, nor will we ever consent that our chief shall be exposed to dangers which the captain of Clan Quhele does not share."

Torquil saw with deep anxiety that his plan was about to fail when the objection was made to Hector's being withdrawn from the battle, and he was meditating how to support his proposal, when Eachin himself interfered. His timidity, it must be observed, was not of that sordid and selfish nature which induces those who are infected by it calmly to submit to dishonour rather than risk danger. On the contrary, he was morally brave, though constitutionally timid, and the shame of avoiding the combat became at the moment more powerful than the fear of facing it.

"I will not hear," he said, "of a scheme which will leave my sword sheathed during this day's glorious combat. If I am young in arms, there are enough of brave men around me whom I may imitate if I cannot equal."

He spoke these words in a spirit which imposed on Torquil, and perhaps on the young chief himself.

"Now, God bless his noble heart!" said the foster father to himself. "I was sure the foul spell would be broken through, and that the tardy spirit which besieged him would fly at the sound of the pipe and the first flutter of the brattach!"

"Hear me, Lord Marshal," said the Constable. "The hour of combat may not be much longer postponed, for the day approaches to high noon. Let the chief of Clan Chattan take the half hour which remains, to find, if he can, a substitute for this deserter; if he cannot, let them fight as they stand."

"Content I am," said the Marshal, "though, as none of his own clan are nearer than fifty miles, I see not how MacGillis Chattanach is to find an auxiliary."

"That is his business," said the High Constable; "but, if he offers a high reward, there are enough of stout yeomen surrounding the lists, who will be glad enough to stretch their limbs in such a game as is expected. I myself, did my quality and charge permit, would blythely take a turn of work amongst these wild fellows, and think it fame won."

They communicated their decision to the Highlanders, and the chief of the Clan Chattan replied: "You have judged unpartially and nobly, my lords, and I deem myself obliged to follow your direction. So make proclamation, heralds, that, if any one will take his share with Clan Chattan of the honours and chances of this day, he shall have present payment of a gold crown, and liberty to fight to the death in my ranks."

"You are something chary of your treasure, chief," said the Earl Marshal: "a gold crown is poor payment for such a campaign as is before you."

"If there be any man willing to fight for honour," replied MacGillis Chattanach, "the price will be enough; and I want not the service of a fellow who draws his sword for gold alone."

The heralds had made their progress, moving half way round the lists, stopping from time to time to make proclamation as they had been directed, without the least apparent disposition on the part of any one to accept of the proffered enlistment. Some sneered at the poverty of the Highlanders, who set so mean a price upon such a desperate service. Others affected resentment, that they should esteem the blood of citizens so lightly. None showed the slightest intention to undertake the task proposed, until the sound of the proclamation reached Henry of the Wynd, as he stood without the barrier, speaking from time to time with Baillie Craigdallie, or rather listening vaguely to what the magistrate was saying to him.

"Ha! what proclaim they?" he cried out.

"A liberal offer on the part of MacGillie Chattanach," said the host of the Griffin, "who proposes a gold crown to any one who will turn wildcat for the day, and be killed a little in his service! That's all."

"How!" exclaimed the smith, eagerly, "do they make proclamation for a man to fight against the Clan Quhele?"

"Ay, marry do they," said Griffin; "but I think they will find no such fools in Perth."

He had hardly said the word, when he beheld the smith clear the barriers at a single bound and alight in the lists, saying: "Here am I, sir herald, Henry of the Wynd, willing to battle on the part of the Clan Chattan."

A cry of admiration ran through the multitude, while the grave burghers, not being able to conceive the slightest reason for Henry's behaviour, concluded that his head must be absolutely turned with the love of fighting. The provost was especially shocked.

"Thou art mad," he said, "Henry! Thou hast neither two handed sword nor shirt of mail."

"Truly no," said Henry, "for I parted with a mail shirt, which I had made for myself, to yonder gay chief of the Clan Quhele, who will soon find on his shoulders with what sort of blows I clink my rivets! As for two handed sword, why, this boy's brand will serve my turn till I can master a heavier one."

"This must not be," said Errol. "Hark thee, armourer, by St. Mary, thou shalt have my Milan hauberk and good Spanish sword."

"I thank your noble earlship, Sir Gilbert Hay, but the yoke with which your brave ancestor turned the battle at Loncarty would serve my turn well enough. I am little used to sword or harness that I have not wrought myself, because I do not well know what blows the one will bear out without being cracked or the other lay on without snapping."

The cry had in the mean while run through the multitude and passed into the town, that the dauntless smith was about to fight without armour, when, just as the fated hour was approaching, the shrill voice of a female was heard screaming for passage through the crowd. The multitude gave place to her importunity, and she advanced, breathless with haste under the burden of a mail hauberk and a large two handed sword. The widow of Oliver Proudfute was soon recognised, and the arms which she bore were those of the smith himself, which, occupied by her husband on the fatal evening when he was murdered, had been naturally conveyed to his house with the dead body, and were now, by the exertions of his grateful widow, brought to the lists at a moment when such proved weapons were of the last consequence to their owner. Henry joyfully received the well known arms, and the widow with trembling haste assisted in putting them on, and then took leave of him, saying: "God for the champion of the widow and orphan, and ill luck to all who come before him!"

Confident at feeling himself in his well proved armour, Henry shook himself as if to settle the steel shirt around him, and, unsheathing the two handed sword, made it flourish over his head, cutting the air through which it whistled in the form of the figure eight with an ease and sleight of hand that proved how powerfully and skilfully he could wield the ponderous weapon. The champions were now ordered to march in their turns around the lists, crossing so as to avoid meeting each other, and making obeisance as they passed the Golden Arbour where the King was seated.

While this course was performing, most of the spectators were again curiously comparing the stature, limbs, and sinews of the two parties, and endeavouring to form a conjecture an to the probable issue of the combat. The feud of a hundred years, with all its acts of aggression and retaliation, was concentrated in the bosom of each combatant. Their countenances seemed fiercely writhen into the wildest expression of pride, hate, and a desperate purpose of fighting to the very last.

The spectators murmured a joyful applause, in high wrought expectation of the bloody game. Wagers were offered and accepted both on the general issue of the conflict and on the feats of particular champions. The clear, frank, and elated look of Henry Smith rendered him a general favourite among the spectators, and odds, to use the modern expression, were taken that he would kill three of his opponents before he himself fell.

Scarcely was the smith equipped for the combat, when the commands of the chiefs ordered the champions into their places; and at the same moment Henry heard the voice of Simon Glover issuing from the crowd, who were now silent with expectation, and calling on him: "Harry Smith—Harry Smith, what madness hath possessed thee?"

"Ay, he wishes to save his hopeful son in law that is, or is to be, from the smith's handling," was Henry's first thought; his second was to turn and speak with him; and his third, that he could on no pretext desert the band which he had joined, or even seem desirous to delay the fight, consistently with honour.

He turned himself, therefore, to the business of the hour. Both parties were disposed by the respective chiefs in three lines, each containing ten men. They were arranged with such intervals between each individual as offered him scope to wield his sword, the blade of which was five feet long, not including the handle. The second and third lines were to come up as reserves, in case the first experienced disaster. On the right of the array of Clan Quhele, the chief, Eachin MacIan, placed himself in the second line betwixt two of his foster brothers. Four of them occupied the right of the first line, whilst the father and two others protected the rear of the beloved chieftain. Torquil, in particular, kept close behind, for the purpose of covering him. Thus Eachin stood in the centre of nine of the strongest men of his band, having four especial defenders in front, one on each hand, and three in his rear.

The line of the Clan Chattan was arranged in precisely the same order, only that the chief occupied the centre of the middle rank, instead of being on the extreme right. This induced Henry Smith, who saw in the opposing bands only one enemy, and that was the unhappy Eachin, to propose placing himself on the left of the front rank of the Clan Chattan. But the leader disapproved of this arrangement; and having reminded Henry that he owed him obedience, as having taken wages at his hand, he commanded him to occupy the space in the third line immediately behind himself—a post of honour, certainly, which Henry could not decline, though he accepted of it with reluctance.

When the clans were thus drawn up opposed to each other, they intimated their feudal animosity and their eagerness to engage by a wild scream, which, uttered by the Clan Quhele, was answered and echoed back by the Clan Chattan, the whole at the same time shaking their swords and menacing each other, as if they meant to conquer the imagination of their opponents ere they mingled in the actual strife.

At this trying moment, Torquil, who had never feared for himself, was agitated with alarm on the part of his dault, yet consoled by observing that he kept a determined posture, and that the few words which he spoke to his clan were delivered boldly, and well calculated to animate them to combat, as expressing his resolution to partake their fate in death or victory. But there was no time for further observation. The trumpets of the King sounded a charge, the bagpipes blew up their screaming and maddening notes, and the combatants, starting forward in regular order, and increasing their pace till they came to a smart run, met together in the centre of the ground, as a furious land torrent encounters an advancing tide.

For an instant or two the front lines, hewing at each other with their long swords, seemed engaged in a succession of single combats; but the second and third ranks soon came up on either side, actuated alike by the eagerness of hatred and the thirst of honour, pressed through the intervals, and rendered the scene a tumultuous chaos, over which the huge swords rose and sunk, some still glittering, others streaming with blood, appearing, from the wild rapidity with which they were swayed, rather to be put in motion by some complicated machinery than to be wielded by human hands. Some of the combatants, too much crowded together to use those long weapons, had already betaken themselves to their poniards, and endeavoured to get within the sword sweep of those opposed to them. In the mean time, blood flowed fast, and the groans of those who fell began to mingle with the cries of those who fought; for, according to the manner of the Highlanders at all times, they could hardly be said to shout, but to yell. Those of the spectators whose eyes were best accustomed to such scenes of blood and confusion could nevertheless discover no advantage yet acquired by either party. The conflict swayed, indeed, at different intervals forwards or backwards, but it was only in momentary superiority, which the party who acquired it almost instantly lost by a corresponding exertion on the other side. The wild notes of the pipers were still heard above the tumult, and stimulated to farther exertions the fury of the combatants.

At once, however, and as if by mutual agreement, the instruments sounded a retreat; it was expressed in wailing notes, which seemed to imply a dirge for the fallen. The two parties disengaged themselves from each other, to take breath for a few minutes. The eyes of the spectators greedily surveyed the shattered array of the combatants as they drew off from the contest, but found it still impossible to decide which had sustained the greater loss. It seemed as if the Clan Chattan had lost rather fewer men than their antagonists; but in compensation, the bloody plaids and skirts of their party (for several on both sides had thrown their mantles away) showed more wounded men than the Clan Quhele. About twenty of both sides lay on the field dead or dying; and arms and legs lopped off, heads cleft to the chin, slashes deep through the shoulder into the breast, showed at once the fury of the combat, the ghastly character of the weapons used, and the fatal strength of the arms which wielded them. The chief of the Clan Chattan had behaved himself with the most determined courage, and was slightly wounded. Eachin also had fought with spirit, surrounded by his bodyguard. His sword was bloody, his bearing bold and warlike; and he smiled when old Torquil, folding him in his arms, loaded him with praises and with blessings.

The two chiefs, after allowing their followers to breathe for the space of about ten minutes, again drew up in their files, diminished by nearly one third of their original number. They now chose their ground nearer to the river than that on which they had formerly encountered, which was encumbered with the wounded and the slain. Some of the former were observed, from time to time, to raise themselves to gain a glimpse of the field, and sink back, most of them to die from the effusion of blood which poured from the terrific gashes inflicted by the claymore.

Harry Smith was easily distinguished by his Lowland habit, as well as his remaining on the spot where they had first encountered, where he stood leaning on a sword beside a corpse, whose bonneted head, carried to ten yards' distance from the body by the force of the blow which had swept it off, exhibited the oak leaf, the appropriate ornament of the bodyguard of Eachin MacIan. Since he slew this man, Henry had not struck a blow, but had contented himself with warding off many that were dealt at himself, and some which were aimed at the chief. MacGillie Chattanach became alarmed, when, having given the signal that his men should again draw together, he observed that his powerful recruit remained at a distance from the ranks, and showed little disposition to join them.

"What ails thee, man?" said the chief. "Can so strong a body have a mean and cowardly spirit? Come, and make in to the combat."

"You as good as called me hireling but now," replied Henry. "If I am such," pointing to the headless corpse, "I have done enough for my day's wage."

"He that serves me without counting his hours," replied the chief, "I reward him without reckoning wages."

"Then," said the smith, "I fight as a volunteer, and in the post which best likes me."

"All that is at your own discretion," replied MacGillis Chattanach, who saw the prudence of humouring an auxiliary of such promise.

"It is enough," said Henry; and, shouldering his heavy weapon, he joined the rest of the combatants with alacrity, and placed himself opposite to the chief of the Clan Quhele.

It was then, for the first time, that Eachin showed some uncertainty. He had long looked up to Henry as the best combatant which Perth and its neighbourhood could bring into the lists. His hatred to him as a rival was mingled with recollection of the ease with which he had once, though unarmed, foiled his own sudden and desperate attack; and when he beheld him with his eyes fixed in his direction, the dripping sword in his hand, and obviously meditating an attack on him individually, his courage fell, and he gave symptoms of wavering, which did not escape his foster father.

It was lucky for Eachin that Torquil was incapable, from the formation of his own temper, and that of those with whom he had lived, to conceive the idea of one of his own tribe, much less of his chief and foster son, being deficient in animal courage. Could he have imagined this, his grief and rage might have driven him to the fierce extremity of taking Eachin's life, to save him from staining his honour. But his mind rejected the idea that his dault was a personal coward, as something which was monstrous and unnatural. That he was under the influence of enchantment was a solution which superstition had suggested, and he now anxiously, but in a whisper, demanded of Hector: "Does the spell now darken thy spirit, Eachin?"

"Yes, wretch that I am," answered the unhappy youth; "and yonder stands the fell enchanter!"

"What!" exclaimed Torquil, "and you wear harness of his making? Norman, miserable boy, why brought you that accursed mail?"

"If my arrow has flown astray, I can but shoot my life after it," answered Norman nan Ord. "Stand firm, you shall see me break the spell."

"Yes, stand firm," said Torquil. "He may be a fell enchanter; but my own ear has heard, and my own tongue has told, that Eachin shall leave the battle whole, free, and unwounded; let us see the Saxon wizard who can gainsay that. He may be a strong man, but the fair forest of the oak shall fall, stock and bough, ere he lay a finger on my dault. Ring around him, my sons; bas air son Eachin!"

The sons of Torquil shouted back the words, which signify, "Death for Hector."

Encouraged by their devotion, Eachin renewed his spirit, and called boldly to the minstrels of his clan, "Seid suas" that is, "Strike up."

The wild pibroch again sounded the onset; but the two parties approached each other more slowly than at first, as men who knew and respected each other's valour. Henry Wynd, in his impatience to begin the contest, advanced before the Clan Chattan and signed to Eachin to come on. Norman, however, sprang forward to cover his foster brother, and there was a general, though momentary, pause, as if both parties were willing to obtain an omen of the fate of the day from the event of this duel. The Highlander advanced, with his large sword uplifted, as in act to strike; but, just as he came within sword's length, he dropt the long and cumbrous weapon, leapt lightly over the smith's sword, as he fetched a cut at him, drew his dagger, and, being thus within Henry's guard, struck him with the weapon (his own gift) on the side of the throat, directing the blow downwards into the chest, and calling aloud, at the same time, "You taught me the stab!"

But Henry Wynd wore his own good hauberk, doubly defended with a lining of tempered steel. Had he been less surely armed, his combats had been ended for ever. Even as it was, he was slightly wounded.

"Fool!" he replied, striking Norman a blow with the pommel of his long sword, which made him stagger backwards, "you were taught the thrust, but not the parry"; and, fetching a blow at his antagonist, which cleft his skull through the steel cap, he strode over the lifeless body to engage the young chief, who now stood open before him.

But the sonorous voice of Torquil thundered out, "Far eil air son Eachin!" (Another for Hector!) and the two brethren who flanked their chief on each side thrust forward upon Henry, and, striking both at once, compelled him to keep the defensive.

"Forward, race of the tiger cat!" cried MacGillie Chattanach. "Save the brave Saxon; let these kites feel your talons!"

Already much wounded, the chief dragged himself up to the smith's assistance, and cut down one of the leichtach, by whom he was assailed. Henry's own good sword rid him of the other.

"Reist air son Eachin!" (Again for Hector!) shouted the faithful foster father.

"Bas air son Eachin!" (Death for Hector!) answered two more of his devoted sons, and opposed themselves to the fury of the smith and those who had come to his aid; while Eachin, moving towards the left wing of the battle, sought less formidable adversaries, and again, by some show of valour, revived the sinking hopes of his followers. The two children of the oak, who had covered, this movement, shared the fate of their brethren; for the cry of the Clan Chattan chief had drawn to that part of the field some of his bravest warriors. The sons of Torquil did not fall unavenged, but left dreadful marks of their swords on the persons of the dead and living. But the necessity of keeping their most distinguished soldiers around the person of their chief told to disadvantage on the general event of the combat; and so few were now the number who remained fighting, that it was easy to see that the Clan Chattan had fifteen of their number left, though most of them wounded, and that of the Clan Quhele only about ten remained, of whom there were four of the chief's bodyguard, including Torquil himself.

They fought and struggled on, however, and as their strength decayed, their fury seemed to increase. Henry Wynd, now wounded in many places, was still bent on breaking through, or exterminating, the band of bold hearts who continued to fight around the object of his animosity. But still the father's shout of "Another for Hector!" was cheerfully answered by the fatal countersign, "Death for Hector!" and though the Clan Quhele were now outnumbered, the combat seemed still dubious. It was bodily lassitude alone that again compelled them to another pause.

The Clan Chattan were then observed to be twelve in number, but two or three were scarce able to stand without leaning on their swords. Five were left of the Clan Quhele; Torquil and his youngest son were of the number, both slightly wounded. Eachin alone had, from the vigilance used to intercept all blows levelled against his person, escaped without injury. The rage of both parties had sunk, through exhaustion, into sullen desperation. They walked staggering, as if in their sleep, through the carcasses of the slain, and gazed on them, as if again to animate their hatred towards their surviving enemies by viewing the friends they had lost.

The multitude soon after beheld the survivors of the desperate conflict drawing together to renew the exterminating feud on the banks of the river, as the spot least slippery with blood, and less encumbered with the bodies of the slain.

"For God's sake—for the sake of the mercy which we daily pray for," said the kind hearted old King to the Duke of Albany, "let this be ended! Wherefore should these wretched rags and remnants of humanity be suffered to complete their butchery? Surely they will now be ruled, and accept of peace on moderate terms?"

"Compose yourself, my liege," said his brother. "These men are the pest of the Lowlands. Both chiefs are still living; if they go back unharmed, the whole day's work is cast away. Remember your promise to the council, that you would not cry 'hold.'"

"You compel me to a great crime, Albany, both as a king, who should protect his subjects, and as a Christian man, who respects the brother of his faith."

"You judge wrong, my lord," said the Duke: "these are not loving subjects, but disobedient rebels, as my Lord of Crawford can bear witness; and they are still less Christian men, for the prior of the Dominicans will vouch for me that they are more than half heathen."

The King sighed deeply. "You must work your pleasure, and are too wise for me to contend with. I can but turn away and shut my eyes from the sights and sounds of a carnage which makes me sicken. But well I know that God will punish me even for witnessing this waste of human life."

"Sound, trumpets," said Albany; "their wounds will stiffen if they dally longer."

While this was passing, Torquil was embracing and encouraging his young chief.

"Resist the witchcraft but a few minutes longer! Be of good cheer, you will come off without either scar or scratch, wem or wound. Be of good cheer!"

"How can I be of good cheer," said Eachin, "while my brave kinsmen have one by one died at my feet—died all for me, who could never deserve the least of their kindness?"

"And for what were they born, save to die for their chief?" said Torquil, composedly. "Why lament that the arrow returns not to the quiver, providing it hit the mark? Cheer up yet. Here are Tormot and I but little hurt, while the wildcats drag themselves through the plain as if they were half throttled by the terriers. Yet one brave stand, and the day shall be your own, though it may well be that you alone remain alive. Minstrels, sound the gathering."

The pipers on both sides blew their charge, and the combatants again mingled in battle, not indeed with the same strength, but with unabated inveteracy. They were joined by those whose duty it was to have remained neuter, but who now found themselves unable to do so. The two old champions who bore the standards had gradually advanced from the extremity of the lists, and now approached close to the immediate scene of action. When they beheld the carnage more nearly, they were mutually impelled by the desire to revenge their brethren, or not to survive them. They attacked each other furiously with the lances to which the standards were attached, closed after exchanging several deadly thrusts, then grappled in close strife, still holding their banners, until at length, in the eagerness of their conflict, they fell together into the Tay, and were found drowned after the combat, closely locked in each other's arms. The fury of battle, the frenzy of rage and despair, infected next the minstrels. The two pipers, who, during the conflict, had done their utmost to keep up the spirits of their brethren, now saw the dispute well nigh terminated for want of men to support it. They threw down their instruments, rushed desperately upon each other with their daggers, and each being more intent on despatching his opponent than in defending himself, the piper of Clan Quhele was almost instantly slain and he of Clan Chattan mortally wounded. The last, nevertheless, again grasped his instrument, and the pibroch of the clan yet poured its expiring notes over the Clan Chattan, while the dying minstrel had breath to inspire it. The instrument which he used, or at least that part of it called the chanter, is preserved in the family of a Highland chief to this day, and is much honoured under the name of the federan dhu, or, "black chanter."'

Meanwhile, in the final charge, young Tormot, devoted, like his brethren, by his father Torquil to the protection of his chief, had been mortally wounded by the unsparing sword of the smith. The other two remaining of the Clan Quhele had also fallen, and Torquil, with his foster son and the wounded Tormot, forced to retreat before eight or ten of the Clan Chattan, made a stand on the bank of the river, while their enemies were making such exertions as their wounds would permit to come up with them. Torquil had just reached the spot where he had resolved to make the stand, when the young Tormot dropped and expired. His death drew from his father the first and only sigh which he had breathed throughout the eventful day.

"My son Tormot!" he said, "my youngest and dearest! But if I save Hector, I save all. Now, my darling dault, I have done for thee all that man may, excepting the last. Let me undo the clasps of that ill omened armour, and do thou put on that of Tormot; it is light, and will fit thee well. While you do so, I will rush on these crippled men, and make what play with them I can. I trust I shall have but little to do, for they are following each other like disabled steers. At least, darling of my soul, if I am unable to save thee, I can show thee how a man should die."

While Torquil thus spoke, he unloosed the clasps of the young chief's hauberk, in the simple belief that he could thus break the meshes which fear and necromancy had twined about his heart.

"My father—my father—my more than parent," said the unhappy Eachin, "stay with me! With you by my side, I feel I can fight to the last."

"It is impossible," said Torquil. "I will stop them coming up, while you put on the hauberk. God eternally bless thee, beloved of my soul!"

And then, brandishing his sword, Torquil of the Oak rushed forward with the same fatal war cry which had so often sounded over that bloody field, "Bas air son Eachin!" The words rung three times in a voice of thunder; and each time that he cried his war shout he struck down one of the Clan Chattan as he met them successively straggling towards him.

"Brave battle, hawk—well flown, falcon!" exclaimed the multitude, as they witnessed exertions which seemed, even at this last hour, to threaten a change of the fortunes of the day. Suddenly these cries were hushed into silence, and succeeded by a clashing of swords so dreadful, as if the whole conflict had recommenced in the person of Henry Wynd and Torquil of the Oak. They cut, foined, hewed, and thrust as if they had drawn their blades for the first time that day; and their inveteracy was mutual, for Torquil recognised the foul wizard who, as he supposed, had cast a spell over his child; and Henry saw before him the giant who, during the whole conflict, had interrupted the purpose for which alone he had joined the combatants—that of engaging in single combat with Hector. They fought with an equality which, perhaps, would not have existed, had not Henry, more wounded than his antagonist, been somewhat deprived of his usual agility.

Meanwhile Eachin, finding himself alone, after a disorderly and vain attempt to put on his foster brother's harness, became animated by an emotion of shame and despair, and hurried forward to support his foster father in the terrible struggle, ere some other of the Clan Chattan should come up. When he was within five yards, and sternly determined to take his share in the death fight, his foster father fell, cleft from the collarbone well nigh to the heart, and murmuring with his last breath, "Bas air son Eachin!" The unfortunate youth saw the fall of his last friend, and at the same moment beheld the deadly enemy who had hunted him through the whole field standing within sword's point of him, and brandishing the huge weapon which had hewed its way to his life through so many obstacles. Perhaps this was enough to bring his constitutional timidity to its highest point; or perhaps he recollected at the same moment that he was without defensive armour, and that a line of enemies, halting indeed and crippled, but eager for revenge and blood, were closely approaching. It is enough to say, that his heart sickened, his eyes darkened, his ears tingled, his brain turned giddy, all other considerations were lost in the apprehension of instant death; and, drawing one ineffectual blow at the smith, he avoided that which was aimed at him in return by bounding backward; and, ere the former could recover his weapon, Eachin had plunged into the stream of the Tay. A roar of contumely pursued him as he swam across the river, although, perhaps, not a dozen of those who joined in it would have behaved otherwise in the like circumstances. Henry looked after the fugitive in silence and surprise, but could not speculate on the consequences of his flight, on account of the faintness which seemed to overpower him as soon as the animation of the contest had subsided. He sat down on the grassy bank, and endeavoured to stanch such of his wounds as were pouring fastest.

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