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The Fair Maid of Perth
by Sir Walter Scott
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"Fie, my son—fie; now you are jealous," said Simon, "of a poor young fellow who, to tell you the truth, resides here because he may not so well live on the other side of the hill."

"Ay—ay, father Simon," retorted the smith, who had all the narrow minded feelings of the burghers of his time, "an it were not for fear of offence, I would say that you have even too much packing and peiling with yonder loons out of burgh."

"I must get my deer hides, buckskins, kidskins, and so forth somewhere, my good Harry, and Highlandmen give good bargains."

"They can afford them," replied Henry, drily, "for they sell nothing but stolen gear."

"Well—well, be that as it may, it is not my business where they get the bestial, so I get the hides. But as I was saying, there are certain considerations why I am willing to oblige the father of this young man, by keeping him here. And he is but half a Highlander neither, and wants a thought of the dour spirit of a 'glune amie' after all, I have seldom seen him so fierce as he showed himself but now."

"You could not, unless he had killed his man," replied the smith, in the same dry tone.

"Nevertheless, if you wish it, Harry, I'll set all other respects aside, and send the landlouper to seek other quarters tomorrow morning."

"Nay, father," said the smith, "you cannot suppose that Harry Gow cares the value of a smithy dander for such a cub as yonder cat-a-mountain? I care little, I promise you, though all his clan were coming down the Shoegate with slogan crying and pipes playing: I would find fifty blades and bucklers would send them back faster than they came. But, to speak truth, though it is a fool's speech too, I care not to see the fellow so much with Catharine. Remember, father Glover, your trade keeps your eyes and hands close employed, and must have your heedful care, even if this lazy lurdane wrought at it, which you know yourself he seldom does."

"And that is true," said Simon: "he cuts all his gloves out for the right hand, and never could finish a pair in his life."

"No doubt, his notions of skin cutting are rather different," said Henry. "But with your leave, father, I would only say that, work he or be he idle, he has no bleared eyes, no hands seared with the hot iron, and welked by the use of the fore hammer, no hair rusted in the smoke, and singed in the furnace, like the hide of a badger, rather than what is fit to be covered with a Christian bonnet. Now, let Catharine be as good a wench as ever lived, and I will uphold her to be the best in Perth, yet she must see and know that these things make a difference betwixt man and man, and that the difference is not in my favour."

"Here is to thee, with all my heart, son Harry," said the old man, filling a brimmer to his companion and another to himself; "I see that, good smith as thou art, thou ken'st not the mettle that women are made of. Thou must be bold, Henry; and bear thyself not as if thou wert going to the gallows lee, but like a gay young fellow, who knows his own worth and will not be slighted by the best grandchild Eve ever had. Catharine is a woman like her mother, and thou thinkest foolishly to suppose they are all set on what pleases the eye. Their ear must be pleased too, man: they must know that he whom they favour is bold and buxom, and might have the love of twenty, though he is suing for theirs. Believe an old man, woman walk more by what others think than by what they think themselves, and when she asks for the boldest man in Perth whom can she hear named but Harry Burn-the-wind? The best armourer that ever fashioned weapon on anvil? Why, Harry Smith again. The tightest dancer at the maypole? Why, the lusty smith. The gayest troller of ballads? Why, who but Harry Gow? The best wrestler, sword and buckler player, the king of the weapon shawing, the breaker of mad horses, the tamer of wild Highlandmen? Evermore it is thee—thee—no one but thee. And shall Catharine prefer yonder slip of a Highland boy to thee? Pshaw! she might as well make a steel gauntlet out of kid's leather. I tell thee, Conachar is nothing to her, but so far as she would fain prevent the devil having his due of him, as of other Highlandmen. God bless her, poor thing, she would bring all mankind to better thoughts if she could."

"In which she will fail to a certainty," said the smith, who, as the reader may have noticed, had no goodwill to the Highland race. "I will wager on Old Nick, of whom I should know something, he being indeed a worker in the same element with myself, against Catharine on that debate: the devil will have the tartan, that is sure enough."

"Ay, but Catharine," replied the glover, "hath a second thou knowest little of: Father Clement has taken the young reiver in hand, and he fears a hundred devils as little as I do a flock of geese."

"Father Clement!" said the smith. "You are always making some new saint in this godly city of St. Johnston. Pray, who, for a devil's drubber, may he be? One of your hermits that is trained for the work like a wrestler for the ring, and brings himself to trim by fasting and penance, is he not?"

"No, that is the marvel of it," said Simon: "Father Clement eats, drinks, and lives much like other folks—all the rules of the church, nevertheless, strictly observed."

"Oh, I comprehend!—a buxom priest that thinks more of good living than of good life, tipples a can on Fastern's Eve, to enable him to face Lent, has a pleasant in principio, and confesses all the prettiest women about the town?"

"You are on the bow hand still, smith. I tell you, my daughter and I could nose out either a fasting hypocrite or a full one. But Father Clement is neither the one nor the other."

"But what is he then, in Heaven's name?"

"One who is either greatly better than half his brethren of St. Johnston put together, or so much worse than the worst of them, that it is sin and shame that he is suffered to abide in the country."

"Methinks it were easy to tell whether he be the one or the other," said the smith.

"Content you, my friend," said Simon, "with knowing that, if you judge Father Clement by what you see him do and hear him say, you will think of him as the best and kindest man in the world, with a comfort for every man's grief, a counsel for every man's difficulty, the rich man's surest guide, and the poor man's best friend. But if you listen to what the Dominicans say of him, he is—Benedicite!—(here the glover crossed himself on brow and bosom)—a foul heretic, who ought by means of earthly flames to be sent to those which burn eternally."

The smith also crossed himself, and exclaimed: "St. Mary! father Simon, and do you, who are so good and prudent that you have been called the Wise Glover of Perth, let your daughter attend the ministry of one who—the saints preserve us!—may be in league with the foul fiend himself! Why, was it not a priest who raised the devil in the Meal Vennel, when Hodge Jackson's house was blown down in the great wind? Did not the devil appear in the midst of the Tay, dressed in a priest's scapular, gambolling like a pellack amongst the waves, the morning when our stately bridge was swept away?"

"I cannot tell whether he did or no," said the glover; "I only know I saw him not. As to Catharine, she cannot be said to use Father Clement's ministry, seeing her confessor is old Father Francis the Dominican, from whom she had her shrift today. But women will sometimes be wilful, and sure enough she consults with Father Clement more than I could wish; and yet when I have spoken with him myself, I have thought him so good and holy a man that I could have trusted my own salvation with him. There are bad reports of him among the Dominicans, that is certain. But what have we laymen to do with such things, my son? Let us pay Mother Church her dues, give our alms, confess and do our penances duly, and the saints will bear us out."

"Ay, truly; and they will have consideration," said the smith, "for any rash and unhappy blow that a man may deal in a fight, when his party was on defence, and standing up to him; and that's the only creed a man can live upon in Scotland, let your daughter think what she pleases. Marry, a man must know his fence, or have a short lease of his life, in any place where blows are going so rife. Five nobles to our altar have cleared me for the best man I ever had misfortune with."

"Let us finish our flask, then," said the old glover; "for I reckon the Dominican tower is tolling midnight. And hark thee, son Henry; be at the lattice window on our east gable by the very peep of dawn, and make me aware thou art come by whistling the smith's call gently. I will contrive that Catharine shall look out at the window, and thus thou wilt have all the privileges of being a gallant Valentine through the rest of the year; which, if thou canst not use to thine own advantage, I shall be led to think that, for all thou be'st covered with the lion's hide, nature has left on thee the long ears of the ass."

"Amen, father," said the armourer, "a hearty goodnight to you; and God's blessing on your roof tree, and those whom it covers. You shall hear the smith's call sound by cock crowing; I warrant I put sir chanticleer to shame."

So saying, he took his leave; and, though completely undaunted, moved through the deserted streets like one upon his guard, to his own dwelling, which was situated in the Mill Wynd, at the western end of Perth.



CHAPTER IV.

What's all this turmoil crammed into our parts? Faith, but the pit-a-pat of poor young hearts.

DRYDEN.

The sturdy armourer was not, it may be believed, slack in keeping the appointment assigned by his intended father in law. He went through the process of his toilet with more than ordinary care, throwing, as far as he could, those points which had a military air into the shade. He was far too noted a person to venture to go entirely unarmed in a town where he had indeed many friends, but also, from the character of many of his former exploits, several deadly enemies, at whose hands, should they take him at advantage, he knew he had little mercy to expect. He therefore wore under his jerkin a "secret," or coat of chain mail, made so light and flexible that it interfered as little with his movements as a modern under waistcoat, yet of such proof as he might safely depend upon, every ring of it having been wrought and joined by his own hands. Above this he wore, like others of his age and degree, the Flemish hose and doublet, which, in honour of the holy tide, were of the best superfine English broadcloth, light blue in colour, slashed out with black satin, and passamented (laced, that is) with embroidery of black silk. His walking boots were of cordovan leather; his cloak of good Scottish grey, which served to conceal a whinger, or couteau de chasse, that hung at his belt, and was his only offensive weapon, for he carried in his hand but a rod of holly. His black velvet bonnet was lined with steel, quilted between the metal and his head, and thus constituted a means of defence which might safely be trusted to.

Upon the whole, Henry had the appearance, to which he was well entitled, of a burgher of wealth and consideration, assuming, in his dress, as much consequence as he could display without stepping beyond his own rank, and encroaching on that of the gentry. Neither did his frank and manly deportment, though indicating a total indifference to danger, bear the least resemblance to that of the bravoes or swashbucklers of the day, amongst whom Henry was sometimes unjustly ranked by those who imputed the frays in which he was so often engaged to a quarrelsome and violent temper, resting upon a consciousness of his personal strength and knowledge of his weapon. On the contrary, every feature bore the easy and good-humoured expression of one who neither thought of inflicting mischief nor dreaded it from others.

Having attired himself in his best, the honest armourer next placed nearest to his heart (which throbbed at its touch) a little gift which he had long provided for Catharine Glover, and which his quality of Valentine would presently give him the title to present, and her to receive, without regard to maidenly scruples. It was a small ruby cut into the form of a heart, transfixed with a golden arrow, and was inclosed in a small purse made of links of the finest work in steel, as if it had been designed for a hauberk to a king. Round the verge of the purse were these words:

Loves darts Cleave hearts Through mail shirts.

This device had cost the armourer some thought, and he was much satisfied with his composition, because it seemed to imply that his skill could defend all hearts saving his own.

He wrapped himself in his cloak, and hastened through the still silent streets, determined to appear at the window appointed a little before dawn.

With this purpose he passed up the High Street, and turned down the opening where St. John's Church now stands, in order to proceed to Curfew Street; when it occurred to him, from the appearance of the sky, that he was at least an hour too early for his purpose, and that it would be better not to appear at the place of rendezvous till nearer the time assigned. Other gallants were not unlikely to be on the watch as well as himself about the house of the Fair Maid of Perth; and he knew his own foible so well as to be sensible of the great chance of a scuffle arising betwixt them.

"I have the advantage," he thought, "by my father Simon's friendship; and why should I stain my fingers with the blood of the poor creatures that are not worthy my notice, since they are so much less fortunate than myself? No—no, I will be wise for once, and keep at a distance from all temptation to a broil. They shall have no more time to quarrel with me than just what it may require for me to give the signal, and for my father Simon to answer it. I wonder how the old man will contrive to bring her to the window? I fear, if she knew his purpose, he would find it difficult to carry it into execution."

While these lover-like thoughts were passing through his brain, the armourer loitered in his pace, often turning his eyes eastward, and eyeing the firmament, in which no slight shades of grey were beginning to flicker, to announce the approach of dawn, however distant, which, to the impatience of the stout armourer, seemed on that morning to abstain longer than usual from occupying her eastern barbican. He was now passing slowly under the wall of St. Anne's Chapel (not failing to cross himself and say an ace, as he trode the consecrated ground), when a voice, which seemed to come from behind one of the flying buttresses of the chapel, said, "He lingers that has need to run."

"Who speaks?" said the armourer, looking around him, somewhat startled at an address so unexpected, both in its tone and tenor.

"No matter who speaks," answered the same voice. "Do thou make great speed, or thou wilt scarce make good speed. Bandy not words, but begone."

"Saint or sinner, angel or devil," said Henry, crossing himself, "your advice touches me but too dearly to be neglected. St. Valentine be my speed!"

So saying, he instantly changed his loitering pace to one with which few people could have kept up, and in an instant was in Couvrefew Street. He had not made three steps towards Simon Glover's, which stood in the midst of the narrow street, when two men started from under the houses on different sides, and advanced, as it were by concert, to intercept his passage. The imperfect light only permitted him to discern that they wore the Highland mantle.

"Clear the way, cateran," said the armourer, in the deep stern voice which corresponded with the breadth of his chest.

They did not answer, at least intelligibly; but he could see that they drew their swords, with the purpose of withstanding him by violence. Conjecturing some evil, but of what kind he could not anticipate, Henry instantly determined to make his way through whatever odds, and defend his mistress, or at least die at her feet. He cast his cloak over his left arm as a buckler, and advanced rapidly and steadily to the two men. The nearest made a thrust at him, but Henry Smith, parrying the blow with his cloak, dashed his arm in the man's face, and tripping him at the same time, gave him a severe fall on the causeway; while almost at the same instant he struck a blow with his whinger at the fellow who was upon his right hand, so severely applied, that he also lay prostrate by his associate. Meanwhile, the armourer pushed forward in alarm, for which the circumstance of the street being guarded or defended by strangers who conducted themselves with such violence afforded sufficient reason. He heard a suppressed whisper and a bustle under the glover's windows—those very windows from which he had expected to be hailed by Catharine as her Valentine. He kept to the opposite side of the street, that he might reconnoitre their number and purpose. But one of the party who were beneath the window, observing or hearing him, crossed the street also, and taking him doubtless for one of the sentinels, asked, in a whisper, "What noise was yonder, Kenneth? why gave you not the signal?"

"Villain," said Henry, "you are discovered, and you shall die the death."

As he spoke thus, he dealt the stranger a blow with his weapon, which would probably have made his words good, had not the man, raising his arm, received on his hand the blow meant for his head. The wound must have been a severe one, for he staggered and fell with a deep groan.

Without noticing him farther, Henry Smith sprung forward upon a party of men who seemed engaged in placing a ladder against the lattice window in the gable. Henry did not stop ether to count their numbers or to ascertain their purpose. But, crying the alarm word of the town, and giving the signal at which the burghers were wont to collect, he rushed on the night walkers, one of whom was in the act of ascending the ladder. The smith seized it by the rounds, threw it down on the pavement, and placing his foot on the body of the man who had been mounting, prevented him from regaining his feet. His accomplices struck fiercely at Henry, to extricate their companion. But his mail coat stood him in good stead, and he repaid their blows with interest, shouting aloud, "Help—help, for bonny St. Johnston! Bows and blades, brave citizens! bows and blades! they break into our houses under cloud of night."

These words, which resounded far through the streets, were accompanied by as many fierce blows, dealt with good effect among those whom the armourer assailed. In the mean time, the inhabitants of the district began to awaken and appear on the street in their shirts, with swords and targets, and some of them with torches. The assailants now endeavoured to make their escape, which all of them effected excepting the man who had been thrown down along with the ladder. Him the intrepid armourer had caught by the throat in the scuffle, and held as fast as the greyhound holds the hare. The other wounded men were borne off by their comrades.

"Here are a sort of knaves breaking peace within burgh," said Henry to the neighbours who began to assemble; "make after the rogues. They cannot all get off, for I have maimed some of them: the blood will guide you to them."

"Some Highland caterans," said the citizens; "up and chase, neighbours!"

"Ay, chase—chase! leave me to manage this fellow," continued the armourer.

The assistants dispersed in different directions, their lights flashing and their cries resounding through the whole adjacent district.

In the mean time the armourer's captive entreated for freedom, using both promises and threats to obtain it. "As thou art a gentleman," he said, "let me go, and what is past shall be forgiven."

"I am no gentleman," said Henry—"I am Hal of the Wynd, a burgess of Perth; and I have done nothing to need forgiveness."

"Villain, then hast done thou knowest not what! But let me go, and I will fill thy bonnet with gold pieces."

"I shall fill thy bonnet with a cloven head presently," said the armourer, "unless thou stand still as a true prisoner."

"What is the matter, my son Harry?" said Simon, who now appeared at the window. "I hear thy voice in another tone than I expected. What is all this noise; and why are the neighbours gathering to the affray?"

"There have been a proper set of limmers about to scale your windows, father Simon; but I am like to prove godfather to one of them, whom I hold here, as fast as ever vice held iron."

"Hear me, Simon Glover," said the prisoner; "let me but speak one word with you in private, and rescue me from the gripe of this iron fisted and leaden pated clown, and I will show thee that no harm was designed to thee or thine, and, moreover, tell thee what will much advantage thee."

"I should know that voice," said Simon Glover, who now came to the door with a dark lantern in his hand. "Son Smith, let this young man speak with me. There is no danger in him, I promise you. Stay but an instant where you are, and let no one enter the house, either to attack or defend. I will be answerable that this galliard meant but some St. Valentine's jest."

So saying, the old man pulled in the prisoner and shut the door, leaving Henry a little surprised at the unexpected light in which his father-in-law had viewed the affray.

"A jest!" he said; "it might have been a strange jest, if they had got into the maiden's sleeping room! And they would have done so, had it not been for the honest friendly voice from betwixt the buttresses, which, if it were not that of the blessed saint—though what am I that the holy person should speak to me?—could not sound in that place without her permission and assent, and for which I will promise her a wax candle at her shrine, as long as my whinger; and I would I had had my two handed broadsword instead, both for the sake of St. Johnston and of the rogues, for of a certain those whingers are pretty toys, but more fit for a boy's hand than a man's. Oh, my old two handed Trojan, hadst thou been in my hands, as thou hang'st presently at the tester of my bed, the legs of those rogues had not carried their bodies so clean off the field. But there come lighted torches and drawn swords. So ho—stand! Are you for St. Johnston? If friends to the bonny burgh, you are well come."

"We have been but bootless hunters," said the townsmen. "We followed by the tracks of the blood into the Dominican burial ground, and we started two fellows from amongst the tombs, supporting betwixt them a third, who had probably got some of your marks about him, Harry. They got to the postern gate before we could overtake them, and rang the sanctuary bell; the gate opened, and in went they. So they are safe in girth and sanctuary, and we may go to our cold beds and warm us."

"Ay," said one of the party, "the good Dominicans have always some devout brother of their convent sitting up to open the gate of the sanctuary to any poor soul that is in trouble, and desires shelter in the church."

"Yes, if the poor hunted soul can pay for it," said another "but, truly, if he be poor in purse as well as in spirit, he may stand on the outside till the hounds come up with him."

A third, who had been poring for a few minutes upon the ground by advantage of his torch, now looked upwards and spoke. He was a brisk, forward, rather corpulent little man, called Oliver Proudfute, reasonably wealthy, and a leading man in his craft, which was that of bonnet makers; he, therefore, spoke as one in authority.

"Canst tell us, jolly smith"—for they recognised each other by the lights which were brought into the streets—"what manner of fellows they were who raised up this fray within burgh?"

"The two that I first saw," answered the armourer, "seemed to me, as well as I could observe them, to have Highland plaids about them."

"Like enough—like enough," answered another citizen, shaking his head. "It's a shame the breaches in our walls are not repaired, and that these landlouping Highland scoundrels are left at liberty to take honest men and women out of their beds any night that is dark enough."

"But look here, neighbours," said Oliver Proudfute, showing a bloody hand which he had picked up from the ground; "when did such a hand as this tie a Highlandman's brogues? It is large, indeed, and bony, but as fine as a lady's, with a ring that sparkles like a gleaming candle. Simon Glover has made gloves for this hand before now, if I am not much mistaken, for he works for all the courtiers."

The spectators here began to gaze on the bloody token with various comments.

"If that is the case," said one, "Harry Smith had best show a clean pair of heels for it, since the justiciar will scarce think the protecting a burgess's house an excuse for cutting off a gentleman's hand. There be hard laws against mutilation."

"Fie upon you, that you will say so, Michael Webster," answered the bonnet maker; "are we not representatives and successors of the stout old Romans, who built Perth as like to their own city as they could? And have we not charters from all our noble kings and progenitors, as being their loving liegemen? And would you have us now yield up our rights, privileges, and immunities, our outfang and infang, our handhaband, our back bearand, and our blood suits, and amerciaments, escheats, and commodities, and suffer an honest burgess's house to be assaulted without seeking for redress? No, brave citizens, craftsmen, and burgesses, the Tay shall flow back to Dunkeld before we submit to such injustice!"

"And how can we help it?" said a grave old man, who stood leaning on a two handed sword. "What would you have us do?"

"Marry, Bailie Craigdallie, I wonder that you, of all men, ask the question. I would have you pass like true men from this very place to the King's Grace's presence, raise him from his royal rest, and presenting to him the piteous case of our being called forth from our beds at this season, with little better covering than these shirts, I would show him this bloody token, and know from his Grace's own royal lips whether it is just and honest that his loving lieges should be thus treated by the knights and nobles of his deboshed court. And this I call pushing our cause warmly."

"Warmly, sayst thou?" replied the old burgess; "why, so warmly, that we shall all die of cold, man, before the porter turn a key to let us into the royal presence. Come, friends, the night is bitter, we have kept our watch and ward like men, and our jolly smith hath given a warning to those that would wrong us, which shall be worth twenty proclamations of the king. Tomorrow is a new day; we will consult on this matter on this self same spot, and consider what measures should be taken for discovery and pursuit of the villains. And therefore let us dismiss before the heart's blood freeze in our veins."

"Bravo—bravo, neighbour Craigdallie! St. Johnston for ever!"

Oliver Proudfute would still have spoken; for he was one of those pitiless orators who think that their eloquence can overcome all inconveniences in time, place, and circumstances. But no one would listen, and the citizens dispersed to their own houses by the light of the dawn, which began now to streak the horizon.

They were scarce gone ere the door of the glover's house opened, and seizing the smith by the hand, the old man pulled him in.

"Where is the prisoner?" demanded the armourer.

"He is gone—escaped—fled—what do I know of him?" said the glover. "He got out at the back door, and so through the little garden. Think not of him, but come and see the Valentine whose honour and life you have saved this morning."

"Let me but sheathe my weapon," said the smith, "let me but wash my hands."

"There is not an instant to lose, she is up and almost dressed. Come on, man. She shall see thee with thy good weapon in thy hand, and with villain's blood on thy fingers, that she may know what is the value of a true man's service. She has stopped my mouth overlong with her pruderies and her scruples. I will have her know what a brave man's love is worth, and a bold burgess's to boot."



CHAPTER V.

Up! lady fair, and braid thy hair, And rouse thee in the breezy air, Up! quit thy bower, late wears the hour, Long have the rooks caw'd round the tower.

JOANNA BAILLIE.

Startled from her repose by the noise of the affray, the Fair Maid of Perth had listened in breathless terror to the sounds of violence and outcry which arose from the street. She had sunk on her knees to pray for assistance, and when she distinguished the voices of neighbours and friends collected for her protection, she remained in the same posture to return thanks. She was still kneeling when her father almost thrust her champion, Henry Smith, into her apartment; the bashful lover hanging back at first, as if afraid to give offence, and, on observing her posture, from respect to her devotion.

"Father," said the armourer, "she prays; I dare no more speak to her than to a bishop when he says mass."

"Now, go thy ways, for a right valiant and courageous blockhead," said her father—and then speaking to his daughter, he added, "Heaven is best thanked, my daughter, by gratitude shown to our fellow creatures. Here comes the instrument by whom God has rescued thee from death, or perhaps from dishonour worse than death. Receive him, Catharine, as thy true Valentine, and him whom I desire to see my affectionate son."

"Not thus—father," replied Catharine. "I can see—can speak to no one now. I am not ungrateful—perhaps I am too thankful to the instrument of our safety; but let me thank the guardian saint who sent me this timely relief, and give me but a moment to don my kirtle."

"Nay, God-a-mercy, wench, it were hard to deny thee time to busk thy body clothes, since the request is the only words like a woman that thou hast uttered for these ten days. Truly, son Harry, I would my daughter would put off being entirely a saint till the time comes for her being canonised for St. Catherine the Second."

"Nay, jest not, father; for I will swear she has at least one sincere adorer already, who hath devoted himself to her pleasure, so far as sinful man may. Fare thee well, then, for the moment, fair maiden," he concluded, raising his voice, "and Heaven send thee dreams as peaceful as thy waking thoughts. I go to watch thy slumbers, and woe with him that shall intrude on them!"

"Nay, good and brave Henry, whose warm heart is at such variance with thy reckless hand, thrust thyself into no farther quarrels tonight; but take the kindest thanks, and with these, try to assume the peaceful thoughts which you assign to me. Tomorrow we will meet, that I may assure you of my gratitude. Farewell."

"And farewell, lady and light of my heart!" said the armourer, and, descending the stair which led to Catharine's apartment, was about to sally forth into the street, when the glover caught him by the arm.

"I shall like the ruffle of tonight," said he, "better than I ever thought to do the clashing of steel, if it brings my daughter to her senses, Harry, and teaches her what thou art worth. By St. Macgrider! I even love these roysterers, and am sorry for that poor lover who will never wear left handed chevron again. Ay! he has lost that which he will miss all the days of his life, especially when he goes to pull on his gloves; ay, he will pay but half a fee to my craft in future. Nay, not a step from this house tonight," he continued "Thou dost not leave us, I promise thee, my son."

"I do not mean it. But I will, with your permission, watch in the street. The attack may be renewed."

"And if it be," said Simon, "thou wilt have better access to drive them back, having the vantage of the house. It is the way of fighting which suits us burghers best—that of resisting from behind stone walls. Our duty of watch and ward teaches us that trick; besides, enough are awake and astir to ensure us peace and quiet till morning. So come in this way."

So saying, he drew Henry, nothing loth, into the same apartment where they had supped, and where the old woman, who was on foot, disturbed as others had been by the nocturnal affray, soon roused up the fire.

"And now, my doughty son," said the glover, "what liquor wilt thou pledge thy father in?"

Henry Smith had suffered himself to sink mechanically upon a seat of old black oak, and now gazed on the fire, that flashed back a ruddy light over his manly features. He muttered to himself half audibly: "Good Henry—brave Henry. Ah! had she but said, dear Henry!"

"What liquors be these?" said the old glover, laughing. "My cellar holds none such; but if sack, or Rhenish, or wine of Gascony can serve, why, say the word and the flagon foams, that is all."

"The kindest thanks," said the armourer, still musing, "that's more than she ever said to me before—the kindest thanks—what may not that stretch to?"

"It shall stretch like kid's leather, man," said the glover, "if thou wilt but be ruled, and say what thou wilt take for thy morning's draught."

"Whatever thou wilt, father," answered the armourer, carelessly, and relapsed into the analysis of Catharine's speech to him. "She spoke of my warm heart; but she also spoke of my reckless hand. What earthly thing can I do to get rid of this fighting fancy? Certainly I were best strike my right hand off, and nail it to the door of a church, that it may never do me discredit more."

"You have chopped off hands enough for one night," said his friend, setting a flagon of wine on the table. "Why dost thou vex thyself, man? She would love thee twice as well did she not see how thou doatest upon her. But it becomes serious now. I am not to have the risk of my booth being broken and my house plundered by the hell raking followers of the nobles, because she is called the Fair Maid of Perth, an't please ye. No, she shall know I am her father, and will have that obedience to which law and gospel give me right. I will have her thy wife, Henry, my heart of gold—thy wife, my man of mettle, and that before many weeks are over. Come—come, here is to thy merry bridal, jolly smith."

The father quaffed a large cup, and filled it to his adopted son, who raised it slowly to his head; then, ere it had reached his lips, replaced it suddenly on the table and shook his head.

"Nay, if thou wilt not pledge me to such a health, I know no one who will," said Simon. "What canst thou mean, thou foolish lad? Here has a chance happened, which in a manner places her in thy power, since from one end of the city to the other all would cry fie on her if she should say thee nay. Here am I, her father, not only consenting to the cutting out of the match, but willing to see you two as closely united together as ever needle stitched buckskin. And with all this on thy side—fortune, father, and all—thou lookest like a distracted lover in a ballad, more like to pitch thyself into the Tay than to woo a lass that may be had for the asking, if you can but choose the lucky minute."

"Ay, but that lucky minute, father? I question much if Catharine ever has such a moment to glance on earth and its inhabitants as might lead her to listen to a coarse ignorant borrel man like me. I cannot tell how it is, father; elsewhere I can hold up my head like another man, but with your saintly daughter I lose heart and courage, and I cannot help thinking that it would be well nigh robbing a holy shrine if I could succeed in surprising her affections. Her thoughts are too much fitted for Heaven to be wasted on such a one as I am."

"E'en as you like, Henry," answered the glover. "My daughter is not courting you any more than I am—a fair offer is no cause offend; only if you think that I will give in to her foolish notions of a convent, take it with you that I will never listen to them. I love and honour the church," he said, crossing himself, "I pay her rights duly and cheerfully—tithes and alms, wine and wax, I pay them as justly, I say, as any man in Perth of my means doth—but I cannot afford the church my only and single ewe lamb that I have in the world. Her mother was dear to me on earth, and is now an angel in Heaven. Catharine is all I have to remind me of her I have lost; and if she goes to the cloister, it shall be when these old eyes are closed for ever, and not sooner. But as for you, friend Gow, I pray you will act according to your own best liking, I want to force no wife on you, I promise you."

"Nay, now you beat the iron twice over," said Henry. "It is thus we always end, father, by your being testy with me for not doing that thing in the world which would make me happiest, were I to have it in my power. Why, father, I would the keenest dirk I ever forged were sticking in my heart at this moment if there is one single particle in it that is not more your daughter's property than my own. But what can I do? I cannot think less of her, or more of myself, than we both deserve; and what seems to you so easy and certain is to me as difficult as it would be to work a steel hauberk out of bards of flax. But here is to you, father," he added, in a more cheerful tone; "and here is to my fair saint and Valentine, as I hope your Catharine will be mine for the season. And let me not keep your old head longer from the pillow, but make interest with your featherbed till daybreak; and then you must be my guide to your daughter's chamber door, and my apology for entering it, to bid her good morrow, for the brightest that the sun will awaken, in the city or for miles round."

"No bad advice, my son," said the honest glover, "But you, what will you do? Will you lie down beside me, or take a part of Conachar's bed?"

"Neither," answered Harry Gow; "I should but prevent your rest, and for me this easy chair is worth a down bed, and I will sleep like a sentinel, with my graith about me." As he spoke, he laid his hand on his sword.

"Nay, Heaven send us no more need of weapons. Goodnight, or rather good morrow, till day peep; and the first who wakes calls up the other."

Thus parted the two burghers. The glover retired to his bed, and, it is to be supposed, to rest. The lover was not so fortunate. His bodily frame easily bore the fatigue which he had encountered in the course of the night, but his mind was of a different and more delicate mould. In one point of view, he was but the stout burgher of his period, proud alike of his art in making weapons and wielding them when made; his professional jealousy, personal strength, and skill in the use of arms brought him into many quarrels, which had made him generally feared, and in some instances disliked. But with these qualities were united the simple good nature of a child, and at the same time an imaginative and enthusiastic temper, which seemed little to correspond with his labours at the forge or his combats in the field. Perhaps a little of the hare brained and ardent feeling which he had picked out of old ballads, or from the metrical romances, which were his sole source of information or knowledge, may have been the means of pricking him on to some of his achievements, which had often a rude strain of chivalry in them; at least, it was certain that his love to the fair Catharine had in it a delicacy such as might have become the squire of low degree, who was honoured, if song speaks truth, with the smiles of the King of Hungary's daughter. His sentiments towards her were certainly as exalted as if they had been fixed upon an actual angel, which made old Simon, and others who watched his conduct, think that his passion was too high and devotional to be successful with maiden of mortal mould. They were mistaken, however. Catharine, coy and reserved as she was, had a heart which could feel and understand the nature and depth of the armourer's passion; and whether she was able to repay it or not, she had as much secret pride in the attachment of the redoubted Henry Gow as a lady of romance may be supposed to have in the company of a tame lion, who follows to provide for and defend her. It was with sentiments of the most sincere gratitude that she recollected, as she awoke at dawn, the services of Henry during the course of the eventful night, and the first thought which she dwelt upon was the means of making him understand her feelings.

Arising hastily from bed, and half blushing at her own purpose—"I have been cold to him, and perhaps unjust; I will not be ungrateful," she said to herself, "though I cannot yield to his suit. I will not wait till my father compels me to receive him as my Valentine for the year: I will seek him out, and choose him myself. I have thought other girls bold when they did something like this; but I shall thus best please my father, and but discharge the rites due to good St. Valentine by showing my gratitude to this brave man."

Hastily slipping on her dress, which, nevertheless, was left a good deal more disordered than usual, she tripped downstairs and opened the door of the chamber, in which, as she had guessed, her lover had passed the hours after the fray. Catharine paused at the door, and became half afraid of executing her purpose, which not only permitted but enjoined the Valentines of the year to begin their connexion with a kiss of affection. It was looked upon as a peculiarly propitious omen if the one party could find the other asleep, and awaken him or her by performance of this interesting ceremony.

Never was a fairer opportunity offered for commencing this mystic tie than that which now presented itself to Catharine. After many and various thoughts, sleep had at length overcome the stout armourer in the chair in which he had deposited himself. His features, in repose, had a more firm and manly cast than Catharine had thought, who, having generally seen them fluctuating between shamefacedness and apprehension of her displeasure, had been used to connect with them some idea of imbecility.

"He looks very stern," she said; "if he should be angry? And then when he awakes—we are alone—if I should call Dorothy—if I should wake my father? But no! it is a thing of custom, and done in all maidenly and sisterly love and honour. I will not suppose that Henry can misconstrue it, and I will not let a childish bashfulness put my gratitude to sleep."

So saying, she tripped along the floor of the apartment with a light, though hesitating, step; and a cheek crimsoned at her own purpose; and gliding to the chair of the sleeper, dropped a kiss upon his lips as light as if a rose leaf had fallen on them. The slumbers must have been slight which such a touch could dispel, and the dreams of the sleeper must needs have been connected with the cause of the interruption, since Henry, instantly starting up, caught the maiden in his arms, and attempted to return in ecstasy the salute which had broken his repose. But Catharine struggled in his embrace; and as her efforts implied alarmed modesty rather than maidenly coyness, her bashful lover suffered her to escape a grasp from which twenty times her strength could not have extricated her.

"Nay, be not angry, good Henry," said Catharine, in the kindest tone, to her surprised lover. "I have paid my vows to St. Valentine, to show how I value the mate which he has sent me for the year. Let but my father be present, and I will not dare to refuse thee the revenge you may claim for a broken sleep."

"Let not that be a hinderance," said the old glover, rushing in ecstasy into the room; "to her, smith—to her: strike while the iron is hot, and teach her what it is not to let sleeping dogs lie still."

Thus encouraged, Henry, though perhaps with less alarming vivacity, again seized the blushing maiden in his arms, who submitted with a tolerable grace to receive repayment of her salute, a dozen times repeated, and with an energy very different from that which had provoked such severe retaliation. At length she again extricated herself from her lover's arms, and, as if frightened and repenting what she had done, threw herself into a seat, and covered her face with her hands.

"Cheer up, thou silly girl," said her father, "and be not ashamed that thou hast made the two happiest men in Perth, since thy old father is one of them. Never was kiss so well bestowed, and meet it is that it should be suitably returned. Look up, my darling! look up, and let me see thee give but one smile. By my honest word, the sun that now rises over our fair city shows no sight that can give me greater pleasure. What," he continued, in a jocose tone, "thou thoughtst thou hadst Jamie Keddie's ring, and couldst walk invisible? but not so, my fairy of the dawning. Just as I was about to rise, I heard thy chamber door open, and watched thee downstairs, not to protect thee against this sleepy headed Henry, but to see with my own delighted eyes my beloved girl do that which her father most wished. Come, put down these foolish hands, and though thou blushest a little, it will only the better grace St. Valentine's morn, when blushes best become a maiden's cheek."

As Simon Glover spoke, he pulled away, with gentle violence, the hands which hid his daughter's face. She blushed deeply indeed, but there was more than maiden's shame in her face, and her eyes were fast filling with tears.

"What! weeping, love?" continued her father; "nay—nay, this is more than need. Henry, help me to comfort this little fool."

Catharine made an effort to collect herself and to smile, but the smile was of a melancholy and serious cast.

"I only meant to say, father," said the Fair Maid of Perth, with continued exertion, "that in choosing Henry Gow for my Valentine, and rendering to him the rights and greeting of the morning, according to wonted custom, I meant but to show my gratitude to him for his manly and faithful service, and my obedience to you. But do not lead him to think—and, oh, dearest father, do not yourself entertain an idea—that I meant more than what the promise to be his faithful and affectionate Valentine through the year requires of me."

"Ay—ay——ay—ay, we understand it all," said Simon, in the soothing tone which nurses apply to children. "We understand what the meaning is; enough for once—enough for once. Thou shalt not be frightened or hurried. Loving, true, and faithful Valentines are ye, and the rest as Heaven and opportunity shall permit. Come, prithee, have done: wring not thy tiny hands, nor fear farther persecution now. Thou hast done bravely, excellently. And now, away to Dorothy, and call up the old sluggard; we must have a substantial breakfast, after a night of confusion and a morning of joy, and thy hand will be needed to prepare for us some of these delicate cakes which no one can make but thyself; and well hast thou a right to the secret, seeing who taught it thee. Ah! health to the soul of thy dearest mother," he added, with a sigh; "how blythe would she have been to see this happy St. Valentine's morning!"

Catharine took the opportunity of escape which was thus given her, and glided from the room. To Henry it seemed as if the sun had disappeared from the heaven at midday, and left the world in sudden obscurity. Even the high swelled hopes with which the late incident had filled him began to quail, as he reflected upon her altered demeanour—the tears in her eyes, the obvious fear which occupied her features, and the pains she had taken to show, as plainly as delicacy would permit, that the advances which she had made to him were limited to the character with which the rites of the day had invested him. Her father looked on his fallen countenance with something like surprise and displeasure.

"In the name of good St. John, what has befallen you, that makes you look as grave as an owl, when a lad of your spirit, having really such a fancy for this poor girl as you pretend, ought to be as lively as a lark?"

"Alas, father!" replied the crestfallen lover, "there is that written on her brow which says she loves me well enough to be my Valentine, especially since you wish it, but not well enough to be my wife."

"Now, a plague on thee for a cold, downhearted goosecap," answered the father. "I can read a woman's brow as well, and better, than thou, and I can see no such matter on hers. What, the foul fiend, man! there thou wast lying like a lord in thy elbow chair, as sound asleep as a judge, when, hadst thou been a lover of any spirit, thou wouldst have been watching the east for the first ray of the sun. But there thou layest, snoring I warrant, thinking nought about her, or anything else; and the poor girl rises at peep of day, lest any one else should pick up her most precious and vigilant Valentine, and wakes thee with a grace which—so help me, St. Macgrider!—would have put life in an anvil; and thou awakest to hone, and pine, and moan, as if she had drawn a hot iron across thy lips! I would to St. John she had sent old Dorothy on the errand, and bound thee for thy Valentine service to that bundle of dry bones, with never a tooth in her head. She were fittest Valentine in Perth for so craven a wooer."

"As to craven, father," answered the smith, "there are twenty good cocks, whose combs I have plucked, can tell thee if I am craven or no. And Heaven knows that I would give my good land, held by burgess' tenure, with smithy, bellows, tongs, anvil, and all, providing it would make your view of the matter the true one. But it is not of her coyness or her blushes that I speak; it is of the paleness which so soon followed the red, and chased it from her cheeks; and it is of the tears which succeeded. It was like the April showers stealing upon and obscuring the fairest dawning that ever beamed over the Tay."

"Tutti taitti," replied the glover; "neither Rome nor Perth were built in a day. Thou hast fished salmon a thousand times, and mightst have taken a lesson. When the fish has taken the fly, to pull a hard strain on the line would snap the tackle to pieces, were it made of wire. Ease your hand, man, and let him rise; take leisure, and in half an hour thou layest him on the bank. There is a beginning as fair as you could wish, unless you expect the poor wench to come to thy bedside as she did to thy chair; and that is not the fashion of modest maidens. But observe me; after we have had our breakfast, I will take care thou hast an opportunity to speak thy mind; only beware thou be neither too backward nor press her too hard. Give her line enough, but do not slack too fast, and my life for yours upon the issue."

"Do what I can, father," answered Henry, "you will always lay the blame on me—either that I give too much head or that I strain the tackle. I would give the best habergeon I ever wrought, that the difficulty in truth rested with me, for there were then the better chance of its being removed. I own, however, I am but an ass in the trick of bringing about such discourse as is to the purpose for the occasion."

"Come into the booth with me, my son, and I will furnish thee with a fitting theme. Thou knowest the maiden who ventures to kiss a sleeping man wins of him a pair of gloves. Come to my booth; thou shalt have a pair of delicate kid skin that will exactly suit her hand and arm. I was thinking of her poor mother when I shaped them," added honest Simon, with a sigh; "and except Catharine, I know not the woman in Scotland whom they would fit, though I have measured most of the high beauties of the court. Come with me, I say, and thou shalt be provided with a theme to wag thy tongue upon, providing thou hast courage and caution to stand by thee in thy wooing."



CHAPTER VI.

Never to man shall Catharine give her hand.

Taming of the Shrew.

The breakfast was served, and the thin soft cakes, made of flour and honey according to the family receipt, were not only commended with all the partiality of a father and a lover, but done liberal justice to in the mode which is best proof of cake as well as pudding. They talked, jested, and laughed. Catharine, too, had recovered her equanimity where the dames and damsels of the period were apt to lose theirs—in the kitchen, namely, and in the superintendence of household affairs, in which she was an adept. I question much if the perusal of Seneca for as long a period would have had equal effect in composing her mind.

Old Dorothy sat down at the board end, as was the homespun fashion of the period; and so much were the two men amused with their own conversation, and Catharine occupied either in attending to them or with her own reflections, that the old woman was the first who observed the absence of the boy Conachar.

"It is true," said the master glover; "go call him, the idle Highland loon. He was not seen last night during the fray neither, at least I saw him not. Did any of you observe him?"

The reply was negative; and Henry's observation followed:

"There are times when Highlanders can couch like their own deer—ay, and run from danger too as fast. I have seen them do so myself, for the matter of that."

"And there are times," replied Simon, "when King Arthur and his Round Table could not make stand against them. I wish, Henry, you would speak more reverently of the Highlanders. They are often in Perth, both alone and in numbers, and you ought to keep peace with them so long as they will keep peace with you."

An answer of defiance rose to Henry's lips, but he prudently suppressed it. "Why, thou knowest, father," he said, smiling, "that we handicrafts best love the folks we live by; now, my craft provides for valiant and noble knights, gentle squires and pages, stout men at arms, and others that wear the weapons which we make. It is natural I should like the Ruthvens, the Lindsays, the Ogilvys, the Oliphants, and so many others of our brave and noble neighbours, who are sheathed in steel of my making, like so many paladins, better than those naked, snatching mountaineers, who are ever doing us wrong, especially since no five of each clan have a rusty shirt of mail as old as their brattach; and that is but the work of the clumsy clan smith after all, who is no member of our honourable mystery, but simply works at the anvil, where his father wrought before him. I say, such people can have no favour in the eyes of an honest craftsman."

"Well—well," answered Simon; "I prithee let the matter rest even now, for here comes the loitering boy, and, though it is a holyday morn, I want no more bloody puddings."

The youth entered accordingly. His face was pale, his eyes red, and there was an air of discomposure about his whole person. He sat down at the lower end of the table, opposite to Dorothy, and crossed himself, as if preparing for his morning's meal. As he did not help himself to any food, Catharine offered him a platter containing some of the cakes which had met with such general approbation. At first he rejected her offered kindness rather sullenly; but on her repeating the offer with a smile of goodwill, he took a cake in his hand, broke it, and was about to eat a morsel, when the effort to swallow seemed almost too much for him; and though he succeeded, he did not repeat it.

"You have a bad appetite for St. Valentine's morning, Conachar," said his good humoured master; "and yet I think you must have slept soundly the night before, since I conclude you were not disturbed by the noise of the scuffle. Why, I thought a lively glune amie would have been at his master's side, dirk in hand, at the first sound of danger which arose within a mile of us."

"I heard but an indistinct noise," said the youth, his face glowing suddenly like a heated coal, "which I took for the shout of some merry revellers; and you are wont to bid me never open door or window, or alarm the house, on the score of such folly."

"Well—well," said Simon; "I thought a Highlander would have known better the difference betwixt the clash of swords and the twanging on harps, the wild war cry and the merry hunt's up. But let it pass, boy; I am glad thou art losing thy quarrelsome fashions. Eat thy breakfast, any way, as I have that to employ thee which requires haste."

"I have breakfasted already, and am in haste myself. I am for the hills. Have you any message to my father?"

"None," replied the glover, in some surprise; "but art thou beside thyself, boy? or what a vengeance takes thee from the city, like the wing of the whirlwind?"

"My warning has been sudden," said Conachar, speaking with difficulty; but whether arising from the hesitation incidental to the use of a foreign language, or whether from some other cause, could not easily be distinguished. "There is to be a meeting—a great hunting—" Here he stopped.

"And when are you to return from this blessed hunting?" said the master; "that is, if I may make so bold as to ask."

"I cannot exactly answer," replied the apprentice. "Perhaps never, if such be my father's pleasure," continued Conachar, with assumed indifference.

"I thought," said Simon Glover, rather seriously, "that all this was to be laid aside, when at earnest intercession I took you under my roof. I thought that when I undertook, being very loth to do so, to teach you an honest trade, we were to hear no more of hunting, or hosting, or clan gatherings, or any matters of the kind?"

"I was not consulted when I was sent hither," said the lad, haughtily. "I cannot tell what the terms were."

"But I can tell you, sir Conachar," said the glover, angrily, "that there is no fashion of honesty in binding yourself to an honest craftsman, and spoiling more hides than your own is worth; and now, when you are of age to be of some service, in taking up the disposal of your time at your pleasure, as if it were your own property, not your master's."

"Reckon with my father about that," answered Conachar; "he will pay you gallantly—a French mutton for every hide I have spoiled, and a fat cow or bullock for each day I have been absent."

"Close with him, friend Glover—close with him," said the armourer, drily. "Thou wilt be paid gallantly at least, if not honestly. Methinks I would like to know how many purses have been emptied to fill the goat skin sporran that is to be so free to you of its gold, and whose pastures the bullocks have been calved in that are to be sent down to you from the Grampian passes."

"You remind me, friend," said the Highland youth, turning haughtily towards the smith, "that I have also a reckoning to hold with you."

"Keep at arm's length, then," said Henry, extending his brawny arm: "I will have no more close hugs—no more bodkin work, like last night. I care little for a wasp's sting, yet I will not allow the insect to come near me if I have warning."

Conachar smiled contemptuously. "I meant thee no harm," he said. "My father's son did thee but too much honour to spill such churl's blood. I will pay you for it by the drop, that it may be dried up, and no longer soil my fingers."

"Peace, thou bragging ape!" said the smith: "the blood of a true man cannot be valued in gold. The only expiation would be that thou shouldst come a mile into the Low Country with two of the strongest galloglasses of thy clan; and while I dealt with them, I would leave thee to the correction of my apprentice, little Jankin."

Here Catharine interposed. "Peace," she said, "my trusty Valentine, whom I have a right to command; and peace you, Conachar, who ought to obey me as your master's daughter. It is ill done to awaken again on the morrow the evil which has been laid to sleep at night."

"Farewell, then, master," said Conachar, after another look of scorn at the smith, which he only answered with a laugh—"farewell! and I thank you for your kindness, which has been more than I deserve. If I have at times seemed less than thankful, it was the fault of circumstances, and not of my will. Catharine—" He cast upon the maiden a look of strong emotion, in which various feelings were blended. He hesitated, as if to say something, and at length turned away with the single word "farewell."

Five minutes afterwards, with Highland buskins on his feet and a small bundle in his hand, he passed through the north gate of Perth, and directed his course to the Highlands.

"There goes enough of beggary and of pride for a whole Highland clan," said Henry. "He talks as familiarly of gold pieces as I would of silver pennies, and yet I will be sworn that the thumb of his mother's worsted glove might hold the treasure of the whole clan."

"Like enough," said the glover, laughing at the idea; "his mother was a large boned woman, especially in the fingers and wrist."

"And as for cattle," continued Henry, "I reckon his father and brothers steal sheep by one at a time."

"The less we say of them the better," said the glover, becoming again grave. "Brothers he hath none; his father is a powerful man—hath long hands—reaches as far as he can, and hears farther than it is necessary to talk of him."

"And yet he hath bound his only son apprentice to a glover in Perth?" said Henry. "Why, I should have thought the gentle craft, as it is called, of St. Crispin would have suited him best; and that, if the son of some great Mac or O was to become an artisan, it could only be in the craft where princes set him the example."

This remark, though ironical, seemed to awaken our friend Simon's sense of professional dignity, which was a prevailing feeling that marked the manners of the artisans of the time.

"You err, son Henry," he replied, with much gravity: "the glovers' are the more honourable craft of the two, in regard they provide for the accommodation of the hands, whereas the shoemakers and cordwainers do but work for the feet."

"Both equally necessary members of the body corporate," said Henry, whose father had been a cordwainer.

"It may be so, my son," said the glover; "but not both alike honourable. Bethink you, that we employ the hands as pledges of friendship and good faith, and the feet have no such privilege. Brave men fight with their hands; cowards employ their feet in flight. A glove is borne aloft; a shoe is trampled in the mire. A man greets a friend with his open hand; he spurns a dog, or one whom he holds as mean as a dog, with his advanced foot. A glove on the point of a spear is a sign and pledge of faith all the wide world over, as a gauntlet flung down is a gage of knightly battle; while I know no other emblem belonging to an old shoe, except that some crones will fling them after a man by way of good luck, in which practice I avow myself to entertain no confidence."

"Nay," said the smith, amused with his friend's eloquent pleading for the dignity of the art he practised, "I am not the man, I promise you, to disparage the glover's mystery. Bethink you, I am myself a maker of gauntlets. But the dignity of your ancient craft removes not my wonder, that the father of this Conachar suffered his son to learn a trade of any kind from a Lowland craftsman, holding us, as they do, altogether beneath their magnificent degree, and a race of contemptible drudges, unworthy of any other fate than to be ill used and plundered, as often as these bare breeched dunnie wassals see safety and convenience for doing so."

"Ay," answered the glover, "but there were powerful reasons for—for—" he withheld something which seemed upon his lips, and went on: "for Conachar's father acting as he did. Well, I have played fair with him, and I do not doubt but he will act honourably by me. But Conachar's sudden leave taking has put me to some inconvenience. He had things under his charge. I must look through the booth."

"Can I help you, father?" said Henry Gow, deceived by the earnestness of his manner.

"You!—no," said Simon, with a dryness which made Henry so sensible of the simplicity of his proposal, that he blushed to the eyes at his own dulness of comprehension, in a matter where love ought to have induced him to take his cue easily up.

"You, Catharine," said the glover, as he left the room, "entertain your Valentine for five minutes, and see he departs not till my return. Come hither with me, old Dorothy, and bestir thy limbs in my behalf."

He left the room, followed by the old woman; and Henry Smith remained with Catharine, almost for the first time in his life, entirely alone. There was embarrassment on the maiden's part, and awkwardness on that of the lover, for about a minute; when Henry, calling up his courage, pulled the gloves out of his pocket with which Simon had supplied him, and asked her to permit one who had been so highly graced that morning to pay the usual penalty for being asleep at the moment when he would have given the slumbers of a whole twelvemonth to be awake for a single minute.

"Nay, but," said Catharine, "the fulfilment of my homage to St. Valentine infers no such penalty as you desire to pay, and I cannot therefore think of accepting them."

"These gloves," said Henry, advancing his seat insidiously towards Catharine as he spoke, "were wrought by the hands that are dearest to you; and see—they are shaped for your own."

He extended them as he spoke, and taking her arm in his robust hand, spread the gloves beside it to show how well they fitted.

"Look at that taper arm," he said, "look at these small fingers; think who sewed these seams of silk and gold, and think whether the glove and the arm which alone the glove can fit ought to remain separate, because the poor glove has had the misfortune to be for a passing minute in the keeping of a hand so swart and rough as mine."

"They are welcome as coming from my father," said Catharine; "and surely not less so as coming from my friend (and there was an emphasis on the word), as well as my Valentine and preserver."

"Let me aid to do them on," said the smith, bringing himself yet closer to her side; "they may seem a little over tight at first, and you may require some assistance."

"You are skilful in such service, good Henry Gow," said the maiden, smiling, but at the same time drawing farther from her lover.

"In good faith, no," said Henry, shaking his head: "my experience has been in donning steel gauntlets on mailed knights, more than in fitting embroidered gloves upon maidens."

"I will trouble you then no further, and Dorothy shall aid me, though there needs no assistance; my father's eye and fingers are faithful to his craft: what work he puts through his hands is always true to the measure."

"Let me be convinced of it," said the smith—"let me see that these slender gloves actually match the hands they were made for."

"Some other time, good Henry," answered the maiden, "I will wear the gloves in honour of St. Valentine, and the mate he has sent me for the season. I would to Heaven I could pleasure my father as well in weightier matters; at present the perfume of the leather harms the headache I have had since morning."

"Headache, dearest maiden!" echoed her lover.

"If you call it heartache, you will not misname it," said Catharine, with a sigh, and proceeded to speak in a very serious tone.

"Henry," she said, "I am going perhaps to be as bold as I gave you reason to think me this morning; for I am about to speak the first upon a subject on which, it may well be, I ought to wait till I had to answer you. But I cannot, after what has happened this morning, suffer my feelings towards you to remain unexplained, without the possibility of my being greatly misconceived. Nay, do not answer till you have heard me out. You are brave, Henry, beyond most men, honest and true as the steel you work upon—"

"Stop—stop, Catharine, for mercy's sake! You never said so much that was good concerning me, save to introduce some bitter censure, of which your praises were the harbingers. I am honest, and so forth, you would say, but a hot brained brawler, and common sworder or stabber."

"I should injure both myself and you in calling you such. No, Henry, to no common stabber, had he worn a plume in his bonnet and gold spurs on his heels, would Catharine Glover have offered the little grace she has this day voluntarily done to you. If I have at times dwelt severely upon the proneness of your spirit to anger, and of your hand to strife, it is because I would have you, if I could so persuade you, hate in yourself the sins of vanity and wrath by which you are most easily beset. I have spoken on the topic more to alarm your own conscience than to express my opinion. I know as well as my father that, in these forlorn and desperate days, the whole customs of our nation, nay, of every Christian nation, may be quoted in favour of bloody quarrels for trifling causes, of the taking deadly and deep revenge for slight offences, and the slaughter of each other for emulation of honour, or often in mere sport. But I knew that for all these things we shall one day be called into judgment; and fain would I convince thee, my brave and generous friend, to listen oftener to the dictates of thy good heart, and take less pride in the strength and dexterity of thy unsparing arm."

"I am—I am convinced, Catharine" exclaimed Henry: "thy words shall henceforward be a law to me. I have done enough, far too much, indeed, for proof of my bodily strength and courage; but it is only from you, Catharine, that I can learn a better way of thinking. Remember, my fair Valentine, that my ambition of distinction in arms, and my love of strife, if it can be called such, do not fight even handed with my reason and my milder dispositions, but have their patrons and sticklers to egg them on. Is there a quarrel, and suppose that I, thinking on your counsels, am something loth to engage in it, believe you I am left to decide between peace or war at my own choosing? Not so, by St. Mary! there are a hundred round me to stir me on. 'Why, how now, Smith, is thy mainspring rusted?' says one. 'Jolly Henry is deaf on the quarrelling ear this morning!' says another. 'Stand to it, for the honour of Perth,' says my lord the Provost. 'Harry against them for a gold noble,' cries your father, perhaps. Now, what can a poor fellow do, Catharine, when all are hallooing him on in the devil's name, and not a soul putting in a word on the other side?"

"Nay, I know the devil has factors enough to utter his wares," said Catharine; "but it is our duty to despise such idle arguments, though they may be pleaded even by those to whom we owe much love and honour."

"Then there are the minstrels, with their romaunts and ballads, which place all a man's praise in receiving and repaying hard blows. It is sad to tell, Catharine, how many of my sins that Blind Harry the Minstrel hath to answer for. When I hit a downright blow, it is not—so save me—to do any man injury, but only to strike as William Wallace struck."

The minstrel's namesake spoke this in such a tone of rueful seriousness, that Catharine could scarce forbear smiling; but nevertheless she assured him that the danger of his own and other men's lives ought not for a moment to be weighed against such simple toys.

"Ay, but," replied Henry, emboldened by her smiles, "methinks now the good cause of peace would thrive all the better for an advocate. Suppose, for example, that, when I am pressed and urged to lay hand on my weapon, I could have cause to recollect that there was a gentle and guardian angel at home, whose image would seem to whisper, 'Henry, do no violence; it is my hand which you crimson with blood. Henry, rush upon no idle danger; it is my breast which you expose to injury;' such thoughts would do more to restrain my mood than if every monk in Perth should cry, 'Hold thy hand, on pain of bell, book, and candle.'"

"If such a warning as could be given by the voice of sisterly affection can have weight in the debate," said Catharine, "do think that, in striking, you empurple this hand, that in receiving wounds you harm this heart."

The smith took courage at the sincerely affectionate tone in which these words were delivered.

"And wherefore not stretch your regard a degree beyond these cold limits? Why, since you are so kind and generous as to own some interest in the poor ignorant sinner before you, should you not at once adopt him as your scholar and your husband? Your father desires it, the town expects it, glovers and smiths are preparing their rejoicings, and you, only you, whose words are so fair and so kind, you will not give your consent."

"Henry," said Catharine, in a low and tremulous voice, "believe me I should hold it my duty to comply with my father's commands, were there not obstacles invincible to the match which he proposes."

"Yet think—think but for a moment. I have little to say for myself in comparison of you, who can both read and write. But then I wish to hear reading, and could listen to your sweet voice for ever. You love music, and I have been taught to play and sing as well as some minstrels. You love to be charitable, I have enough to give, and enough to keep, as large a daily alms as a deacon gives would never be missed by me. Your father gets old for daily toil; he would live with us, as I should truly hold him for my father also. I would be as chary of mixing in causeless strife as of thrusting my hand into my own furnace; and if there came on us unlawful violence, its wares would be brought to an ill chosen market."

"May you experience all the domestic happiness which you can conceive, Henry, but with some one more happy than I am!"

So spoke, or rather so sobbed, the Fair Maiden of Perth, who seemed choking in the attempt to restrain her tears.

"You hate me, then?" said the lover, after a pause.

"Heaven is my witness, no."

"Or you love some other better?"

"It is cruel to ask what it cannot avail you to know. But you are entirely mistaken."

"Yon wildcat, Conachar, perhaps?" said Henry. "I have marked his looks—"

"You avail yourself of this painful situation to insult me, Henry, though I have little deserved it. Conachar is nothing to me, more than the trying to tame his wild spirit by instruction might lead me to take some interest in a mind abandoned to prejudices and passions, and therein, Henry, not unlike your own."

"It must then be some of these flaunting silkworm sirs about the court," said the armourer, his natural heat of temper kindling from disappointment and vexation—"some of those who think they carry it off through the height of their plumed bonnets and the jingle of their spurs. I would I knew which it was that, leaving his natural mates, the painted and perfumed dames of the court, comes to take his prey among the simple maidens of the burgher craft. I would I knew but his name and surname!"

"Henry Smith," said Catharine, shaking off the weakness which seemed to threaten to overpower her a moment before, "this is the language of an ungrateful fool, or rather of a frantic madman. I have told you already, there was no one who stood, at the beginning of this conference, more high in my opinion than he who is now losing ground with every word he utters in the tone of unjust suspicion and senseless anger. You had no title to know even what I have told you, which, I pray you to observe, implies no preference to you over others, though it disowns any preference of another to you. It is enough you should be aware that there is as insuperable an objection to what you desire as if an enchanter had a spell over my destiny."

"Spells may be broken by true men," said, the smith. "I would it were come to that. Thorbiorn, the Danish armourer, spoke of a spell he had for making breastplates, by singing a certain song while the iron was heating. I told him that his runic rhymes were no proof against the weapons which fought at Loncarty—what farther came of it it is needless to tell, but the corselet and the wearer, and the leech who salved his wound, know if Henry Gow can break a spell or no."

Catharine looked at him as if about to return an answer little approving of the exploit he had vaunted, which the downright smith had not recollected was of a kind that exposed him to her frequent censure. But ere she had given words to her thoughts, her father thrust his head in at the door.

"Henry," he said, "I must interrupt your more pleasing affairs, and request you to come into my working room in all speed, to consult about certain matters deeply affecting the weal of the burgh."

Henry, making his obeisance to Catharine, left the apartment upon her father's summons. Indeed, it was probably in favour of their future friendly intercourse, that they were parted on this occasion at the turn which the conversation seemed likely to take. For, as the wooer had begun to hold the refusal of the damsel as somewhat capricious and inexplicable after the degree of encouragement which, in his opinion, she had afforded; Catharine, on the other hand, considered him rather as an encroacher upon the grace which she had shown him than one whose delicacy rendered him deserving of such favour. But there was living in their bosoms towards each other a reciprocal kindness, which, on the termination of the dispute, was sure to revive, inducing the maiden to forget her offended delicacy, and the lover his slighted warmth of passion.



CHAPTER VII.

This quarrel may draw blood another day.

Henry IV. Part I.

The conclave of citizens appointed to meet for investigating the affray of the preceding evening had now assembled. The workroom of Simon Glover was filled to crowding by personages of no little consequence, some of whom wore black velvet cloaks, and gold chains around their necks. They were, indeed, the fathers of the city; and there were bailies and deacons in the honoured number. There was an ireful and offended air of importance upon every brow as they conversed together, rather in whisper than aloud or in detail. Busiest among the busy, the little important assistant of the previous night, Oliver Proudfute by name, and bonnet maker by profession, was bustling among the crowd, much after the manner of the seagull, which flutters, screams, and sputters most at the commencement of a gale of wind, though one can hardly conceive what the bird has better to do than to fly to its nest and remain quiet till the gale is over.

Be that as it may, Master Proudfute was in the midst of the crowd, his fingers upon every one's button and his mouth in every man's ear, embracing such as were near to his own stature, that he might more closely and mysteriously utter his sentiments; and standing on tiptoe, and supporting himself by the cloak collars of tall men, that he might dole out to them also the same share of information. He felt himself one of the heroes of the affair, being conscious of the dignity of superior information on the subject as an eyewitness, and much disposed to push his connexion with the scuffle a few points beyond the modesty of truth. It cannot be said that his communications were in especial curious and important, consisting chiefly of such assertions as these:

"It is all true, by St. John! I was there and saw it myself—was the first to run to the fray; and if it had not been for me and another stout fellow, who came in about the same time, they had broken into Simon Glover's house, cut his throat, and carried his daughter off to the mountains. It is too evil usage—not to be suffered, neighbour Crookshank; not to be endured, neighbour Glass; not to be borne, neighbours Balneaves, Rollock, and Chrysteson. It was a mercy that I and that stout fellow came in, was it not, neighbour and worthy Bailie Craigdallie?"

These speeches were dispersed by the busy bonnet maker into sundry ears. Bailie Craigdallie, a portly guild brother, the same who had advised the prorogation of their civic council to the present place and hour, a big, burly, good looking man, shook the deacon from his cloak with pretty much the grace with which a large horse shrugs off the importunate fly that has beset him for ten minutes, and exclaimed, "Silence, good citizens; here comes Simon Glover, in whom no man ever saw falsehood. We will hear the outrage from his own mouth."

Simon being called upon to tell his tale, did so with obvious embarrassment, which he imputed to a reluctance that the burgh should be put in deadly feud with any one upon his account. It was, he dared to say, a masking or revel on the part of the young gallants about court; and the worst that might come of it would be, that he would put iron stanchions on his daughter's window, in case of such another frolic.

"Why, then, if this was a mere masking or mummery," said Craigdallie, "our townsman, Harry of the Wind, did far wrong to cut off a gentleman's hand for such a harmless pleasantry, and the town may be brought to a heavy fine for it, unless we secure the person of the mutilator."

"Our Lady forbid!" said the glover. "Did you know what I do, you would be as much afraid of handling this matter as if it were glowing iron. But, since you will needs put your fingers in the fire, truth must be spoken. And come what will, I must say, that the matter might have ended ill for me and mine, but for the opportune assistance of Henry Gow, the armourer, well known to you all."

"And mine also was not awanting," said Oliver Proudfute, "though I do not profess to be utterly so good a swordsman as our neighbour Henry Gow. You saw me, neighbour Glover, at the beginning of the fray?"

"I saw you after the end of it, neighbour," answered the glover, drily.

"True—true; I had forgot you were in your house while the blows were going, and could not survey who were dealing them."

"Peace, neighbour Proudfute—I prithee, peace," said Craigdallie, who was obviously tired of the tuneless screeching of the worthy deacon.

"There is something mysterious here," said the bailie; "but I think I spy the secret. Our friend Simon is, as you all know, a peaceful man, and one that will rather sit down with wrong than put a friend, or say a neighbourhood, in danger to seek his redress. Thou, Henry, who art never wanting where the burgh needs a defender, tell us what thou knowest of this matter."

Our smith told his story to the same purpose which we have already related; and the meddling maker of bonnets added as before, "And thou sawest me there, honest smith, didst thou not?"

"Not I, in good faith, neighbour," answered Henry; "but you are a little man, you know, and I might overlook you."

This reply produced a laugh at Oliver's expense, who laughed for company, but added doggedly, "I was one of the foremost to the rescue for all that."

"Why, where wert thou, then, neighbour?" said the smith; "for I saw you not, and I would have given the worth of the best suit of armour I ever wrought to have seen as stout a fellow as thou at my elbow."

"I was no farther off, however, honest smith; and whilst thou wert laying on blows as if on an anvil, I was parrying those that the rest of the villains aimed at thee behind thy back; and that is the cause thou sawest me not."

"I have heard of smiths of old time who had but one eye," said Henry; "I have two, but they are both set in my forehead, and so I could not see behind my back, neighbour."

"The truth is, however," persevered Master Oliver, "there I was, and I will give Master Bailie my account of the matter; for the smith and I were first up to the fray."

"Enough at present," said the bailie, waving to Master Proudfute an injunction of silence. "The precognition of Simon Glover and Henry Gow would bear out a matter less worthy of belief. And now, my masters, your opinion what should be done. Here are all our burgher rights broken through and insulted, and you may well fancy that it is by some man of power, since no less dared have attempted such an outrage. My masters, it is hard on flesh and blood to submit to this. The laws have framed us of lower rank than the princes and nobles, yet it is against reason to suppose that we will suffer our houses to be broken into, and the honour of our women insulted, without some redress."

"It is not to be endured!" answered the citizens, unanimously.

Here Simon Glover interfered with a very anxious and ominous countenance. "I hope still that all was not meant so ill as it seemed to us, my worthy neighbours; and I for one would cheerfully forgive the alarm and disturbance to my poor house, providing the Fair City were not brought into jeopardy for me. I beseech you to consider who are to be our judges that are to hear the case, and give or refuse redress. I speak among neighbours and friends, and therefore I speak openly. The King, God bless him! is so broken in mind and body, that he will but turn us over to some great man amongst his counsellors who shall be in favour for the time. Perchance he will refer us to his brother the Duke of Albany, who will make our petition for righting of our wrongs the pretence for squeezing money out of us."

"We will none of Albany for our judge!" answered the meeting with the same unanimity as before.

"Or perhaps," added Simon, "he will bid the Duke of Rothsay take charge of it; and the wild young prince will regard the outrage as something for his gay companions to scoff at, and his minstrels to turn into song."

"Away with Rothsay! he is too gay to be our judge," again exclaimed the citizens.

Simon, emboldened by seeing he was reaching the point he aimed at, yet pronouncing the dreaded name with a half whisper, next added, "Would you like the Black Douglas better to deal with?"

There was no answer for a minute. They looked on each other with fallen countenances and blanched lips.

But Henry Smith spoke out boldly, and in a decided voice, the sentiments which all felt, but none else dared give words to: "The Black Douglas to judge betwixt a burgher and a gentleman, nay, a nobleman, for all I know or care! The black devil of hell sooner! You are mad, father Simon, so much as to name so wild a proposal."

There was again a silence of fear and uncertainty, which was at length broken by Bailie Craigdallie, who, looking very significantly to the speaker, replied, "You are confident in a stout doublet, neighbour Smith, or you would not talk so boldly."

"I am confident of a good heart under my doublet, such as it is, bailie," answered the undaunted Henry; "and though I speak but little, my mouth shall never be padlocked by any noble of them all."

"Wear a thick doublet, good Henry, or do not speak so loud," reiterated the bailie in the same significant tone. "There are Border men in the town who wear the bloody heart on their shoulder. But all this is no rede. What shall we do?"

"Short rede, good rede," said the smith. "Let us to our provost, and demand his countenance and assistance."

A murmur of applause went through the party, and Oliver Proudfute exclaimed, "That is what I have been saying for this half hour, and not one of ye would listen to me. 'Let us go to our provost,' said I. 'He is a gentleman himself, and ought to come between the burgh and the nobles in all matters."

"Hush, neighbours—hush; be wary what you say or do," said a thin meagre figure of a man, whose diminutive person seemed still more reduced in size, and more assimilated to a shadow, by his efforts to assume an extreme degree of humility, and make himself, to suit his argument, look meaner yet, and yet more insignificant, than nature had made him.

"Pardon me," said he; "I am but a poor pottingar. Nevertheless, I have been bred in Paris, and learned my humanities and my cursus medendi as well as some that call themselves learned leeches. Methinks I can tent this wound, and treat it with emollients. Here is our friend Simon Glover, who is, as you all know, a man of worship. Think you he would not be the most willing of us all to pursue harsh courses here, since his family honour is so nearly concerned? And since he blenches away from the charge against these same revellers, consider if he may not have some good reason more than he cares to utter for letting the matter sleep. It is not for me to put my finger on the sore; but, alack! we all know that young maidens are what I call fugitive essences. Suppose now, an honest maiden—I mean in all innocence—leaves her window unlatched on St. Valentine's morn, that some gallant cavalier may—in all honesty, I mean—become her Valentine for the season, and suppose the gallant be discovered, may she not scream out as if the visit were unexpected, and—and—bray all this in a mortar, and then consider, will it be a matter to place the town in feud for?"

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