"Alas! my father," said Catharine, "it was even this impetuosity which I dreaded. I knew if I made my plaint to you there would soon be fire and feud, as if religion, though sent to us by the Father of peace, were fit only to be the mother of discord; and hence I could now—even now—give up the world, and retire with my sorrow among the sisters of Elcho, would you but let me be the sacrifice. Only, father—comfort poor Henry when we are parted for ever; and do not—do not let him think of me too harshly. Say Catharine will never vex him more by her remonstrances, but that she will never forget him in her prayers."
"The girl hath a tongue that would make a Saracen weep," said her father, his own eyes sympathising with those of his daughter. "But I will not yield way to this combination between the nun and the priest to rob me of my only child. Away with you, girl, and let me don my clothes; and prepare yourself to obey me in what I may have to recommend for your safety. Get a few clothes together, and what valuables thou hast; also, take the keys of my iron box, which poor Henry Smith gave me, and divide what gold you find into two portions; put the one into a purse for thyself, and the other into the quilted girdle which I made on purpose to wear on journeys. Thus both shall be provided, in case fate should sunder us; in which event, God send the whirlwind may take the withered leaf and spare the green one! Let them make ready my horse instantly, and the white jennet that I bought for thee but a day since, hoping to see thee ride to St. John's Kirk with maids and matrons, as blythe a bride as ever crossed the holy threshold. But it skills not talking. Away, and remember that the saints help those who are willing to help themselves. Not a word in answer; begone, I say—no wilfullness now. The pilot in calm weather will let a sea boy trifle with the rudder; but, by my soul, when winds howl and waves arise, he stands by the helm himself. Away—no reply."
Catharine left the room to execute, as well as she might, the commands of her father, who, gentle in disposition and devotedly attached to his child, suffered her often, as it seemed, to guide and rule both herself and him; yet who, as she knew, was wont to claim filial obedience and exercise parental authority with sufficient strictness when the occasion seemed to require an enforcement of domestic discipline.
While the fair Catharine was engaged in executing her father's behests, and the good old glover was hastily attiring himself, as one who was about to take a journey, a horse's tramp was heard in the narrow street. The horseman was wrapped in his riding cloak, having the cape of it drawn up, as if to hide the under part of his face, while his bonnet was pulled over his brows, and a broad plume obscured his upper features. He sprung from the saddle, and Dorothy had scarce time to reply to his inquiries that the glover was in his bedroom, ere the stranger had ascended the stair and entered the sleeping apartment. Simon, astonished and alarmed, and disposed to see in this early visitant an apparitor or sumner come to attach him and his daughter, was much relieved when, as the stranger doffed the bonnet and threw the skirt of the mantle from his face, he recognised the knightly provost of the Fair City, a visit from whom at any time was a favour of no ordinary degree, but, being made at such an hour, had something marvellous, and, connected with the circumstances of the times, even alarming.
"Sir Patrick Charteris!" said the glover. "This high honour done to your poor beadsman—"
"Hush!" said the knight, "there is no time for idle civilities. I came hither because a man is, in trying occasions, his own safest page, and I can remain no longer than to bid thee fly, good glover, since warrants are to be granted this day in council for the arrest of thy daughter and thee, under charge of heresy; and delay will cost you both your liberty for certain, and perhaps your lives."
"I have heard something of such a matter," said the glover, "and was this instant setting forth to Kinfauns to plead my innocence of this scandalous charge, to ask your lordship's counsel, and to implore your protection."
"Thy innocence, friend Simon, will avail thee but little before prejudiced judges; my advice is, in one word, to fly, and wait for happier times. As for my protection, we must tarry till the tide turns ere it will in any sort avail thee. But if thou canst lie concealed for a few days or weeks, I have little doubt that the churchmen, who, by siding with the Duke of Albany in court intrigue, and by alleging the decay of the purity of Catholic doctrine as the sole cause of the present national misfortunes, have, at least for the present hour, an irresistible authority over the King, will receive a check. In the mean while, however, know that King Robert hath not only given way to this general warrant for inquisition after heresy, but hath confirmed the Pope's nomination of Henry Wardlaw to be Archbishop of St. Andrews and Primate of Scotland; thus yielding to Rome those freedoms and immunities of the Scottish Church which his ancestors, from the time of Malcolm Canmore, have so boldly defended. His brave fathers would have rather subscribed a covenant with the devil than yielded in such a matter to the pretensions of Rome."
"Alas, and what remedy?"
"None, old man, save in some sudden court change," said Sir Patrick. "The King is but like a mirror, which, having no light itself, reflects back with equal readiness any which is placed near to it for the time. Now, although the Douglas is banded with Albany, yet the Earl is unfavourable to the high claims of those domineering priests, having quarrelled with them about the exactions which his retinue hath raised on the Abbot of Arbroath. He will come back again with a high hand, for report says the Earl of March hath fled before him. When he returns we shall have a changed world, for his presence will control Albany; especially as many nobles, and I myself, as I tell you in confidence, are resolved to league with him to defend the general right. Thy exile, therefore, will end with his return to our court. Thou hast but to seek thee some temporary hiding place."
"For that, my lord," said the glover, "I can be at no loss, since I have just title to the protection of the high Highland chief, Gilchrist MacIan, chief of the Clan Quhele."
"Nay, if thou canst take hold of his mantle thou needs no help of any one else: neither Lowland churchman nor layman finds a free course of justice beyond the Highland frontier."
"But then my child, noble sir—my Catharine?" said the glover.
"Let her go with thee, man. The graddan cake will keep her white teeth in order, the goat's whey will make the blood spring to her cheek again, which these alarms have banished and even the Fair Maiden of Perth may sleep soft enough on a bed of Highland breckan."
"It is not from such idle respects, my lord, that I hesitate," said the glover. "Catharine is the daughter of a plain burgher, and knows not nicety of food or lodging. But the son of MacIan hath been for many years a guest in my house, and I am obliged to say that I have observed him looking at my daughter, who is as good as a betrothed bride, in a manner that, though I cared not for it in this lodging in Curfew Street, would give me some fear of consequences in a Highland glen, where I have no friend and Conachar many."
The knightly provost replied by a long whistle. "Whew! whew! Nay, in that case, I advise thee to send her to the nunnery at Elcho, where the abbess, if I forget not, is some relation of yours. Indeed, she said so herself, adding, that she loved her kinswoman well, together with all that belongs to thee, Simon."
"Truly, my lord, I do believe that the abbess hath so much regard for me, that she would willingly receive the trust of my daughter, and my whole goods and gear, into her sisterhood. Marry, her affection is something of a tenacious character, and would be loth to unloose its hold, either upon the wench or her tocher."
"Whew—whew!" again whistled the Knight of Kinfauns; "by the Thane's Cross, man, but this is an ill favoured pirn to wind: Yet it shall never be said the fairest maid in the Fair City was cooped up in a convent, like a kain hen in a cavey, and she about to be married to the bold burgess Henry Wynd. That tale shall not be told while I wear belt and spurs, and am called Provost of Perth."
"But what remede, my lord?" asked the glover.
"We must all take our share of the risk. Come, get you and your daughter presently to horse. You shall ride with me, and we'll see who dare gloom at you. The summons is not yet served on thee, and if they send an apparitor to Kinfauns without a warrant under the King's own hand, I make mine avow, by the Red Rover's soul! that he shall eat his writ, both wax and wether skin. To horse—to horse! and," addressing Catharine, as she entered at the moment, "you too, my pretty maid—
"To horse, and fear not for your quarters; They thrive in law that trust in Charters."
In a minute or two the father and daughter were on horseback, both keeping an arrow's flight before the provost, by his direction, that they might not seem to be of the same company. They passed the eastern gate in some haste, and rode forward roundly until they were out of sight. Sir Patrick followed leisurely; but, when he was lost to the view of the warders, he spurred his mettled horse, and soon came up with the glover and Catharine, when a conversation ensued which throws light upon some previous passages of this history.
Hail, land of bowmen! seed of those who scorn'd To stoop the neck to wide imperial Rome— Oh, dearest half of Albion sea walled!
"I have been devising a mode," said the well meaning provost, "by which I may make you both secure for a week or two from the malice of your enemies, when I have little doubt I may see a changed world at court. But that I may the better judge what is to be done, tell me frankly, Simon, the nature of your connexion with Gilchrist MacIan, which leads you to repose such implicit confidence in him. You are a close observer of the rules of the city, and are aware of the severe penalties which they denounce against such burghers as have covine and alliance with the Highland clans."
"True, my lord; but it is also known to you that our craft, working in skins of cattle, stags, and every other description of hides, have a privilege, and are allowed to transact with those Highlanders, as with the men who can most readily supply us with the means of conducting our trade, to the great profit of the burgh. Thus it hath chanced with me to have great dealings with these men; and I can take it on my salvation, that you nowhere find more just and honourable traffickers, or by whom a man may more easily make an honest penny. I have made in my day several distant journeys into the far Highlands, upon the faith of their chiefs; nor did I ever meet with a people more true to their word, when you can once prevail upon them to plight it in your behalf. And as for the Highland chief, Gilchrist MacIan, saving that he is hasty in homicide and fire raising towards those with whom he hath deadly feud, I have nowhere seen a man who walketh a more just and upright path."
"It is more than ever I heard before," said Sir Patrick Charteris. "Yet I have known something of the Highland runagates too."
"They show another favour, and a very different one, to their friends than to their enemies, as your lordship shall understand," said the glover. "However, be that as it may, it chanced me to serve Gilchrist MacIan in a high matter. It is now about eighteen years since, that it chanced, the Clan Quhele and Clan Chattan being at feud, as indeed they are seldom at peace, the former sustained such a defeat as well nigh extirpated the family of their chief MacIan. Seven of his sons were slain in battle and after it, himself put to flight, and his castle taken and given to the flames. His wife, then near the time of giving birth to an infant, fled into the forest, attended by one faithful servant and his daughter. Here, in sorrow and care enough, she gave birth to a boy; and as the misery of the mother's condition rendered her little able to suckle the infant, he was nursed with the milk of a doe, which the forester who attended her contrived to take alive in a snare. It was not many months afterwards that, in a second encounter of these fierce clans, MacIan defeated his enemies in his turn, and regained possession of the district which he had lost. It was with unexpected rapture that he found his wife and child were in existence, having never expected to see more of them than the bleached bones, from which the wolves and wildcats had eaten the flesh.
"But a strong and prevailing prejudice, such as is often entertained by these wild people, prevented their chief from enjoying the full happiness arising from having thus regained his only son in safety. An ancient prophecy was current among them, that the power of the tribe should fall by means of a boy born under a bush of holly and suckled by a white doe. The circumstance, unfortunately for the chief, tallied exactly with the birth of the only child which remained to him, and it was demanded of him by the elders of the clan, that the boy should be either put to death or at least removed from the dominions of the tribe and brought up in obscurity. Gilchrist MacIan was obliged to consent and having made choice of the latter proposal, the child, under the name of Conachar, was brought up in my family, with the purpose, as was at first intended, of concealing from him all knowledge who or what he was, or of his pretensions to authority over a numerous and warlike people. But, as years rolled on, the elders of the tribe, who had exerted so much authority, were removed by death, or rendered incapable of interfering in the public affairs by age; while, on the other hand, the influence of Gilchrist MacIan was increased by his successful struggles against the Clan Chattan, in which he restored the equality betwixt the two contending confederacies, which had existed before the calamitous defeat of which I told your honour. Feeling himself thus firmly seated, he naturally became desirous to bring home his only son to his bosom and family; and for that purpose caused me to send the young Conachar, as he was called, more than once to the Highlands. He was a youth expressly made, by his form and gallantry of bearing, to gain a father's heart. At length, I suppose the lad either guessed the secret of his birth or something of it was communicated to him; and the disgust which the paughty Hieland varlet had always shown for my honest trade became more manifest; so that I dared not so much as lay my staff over his costard, for fear of receiving a stab with a dirk, as an answer in Gaelic to a Saxon remark. It was then that I wished to be well rid of him, the rather that he showed so much devotion to Catharine, who, forsooth, set herself up to wash the Ethiopian, and teach a wild Hielandmnan mercy and morals. She knows herself how it ended."
"Nay, my father," said Catharine, "it was surely but a point of charity to snatch the brand from the burning."
"But a small point of wisdom," said her father, "to risk the burning of your own fingers for such an end. What says my lord to the matter?"
"My lord would not offend the Fair Maid of Perth," said Sir Patrick; "and he knows well the purity and truth of her mind. And yet I must needs say that, had this nursling of the doe been shrivelled, haggard, cross made, and red haired, like some Highlanders I have known, I question if the Fair Maiden of Perth would have bestowed so much zeal upon his conversion; and if Catharine had been as aged, wrinkled, and bent by years as the old woman that opened the door for me this morning, I would wager my gold spurs against a pair of Highland brogues that this wild roebuck would never have listened to a second lecture. You laugh, glover, and Catharine blushes a blush of anger. Let it pass, it is the way of the world."
"The way in which the men of the world esteem their neighbours, my lord," answered Catharine, with some spirit.
"Nay, fair saint, forgive a jest," said the knight; "and thou, Simon, tell us how this tale ended—with Conachar's escape to the Highlands, I suppose?"
"With his return thither," said the glover. "There was, for some two or three years, a fellow about Perth, a sort of messenger, who came and went under divers pretences, but was, in fact, the means of communication between Gilchrist MacIan and his son, young Conachar, or, as he is now called, Hector. From this gillie I learned, in general, that the banishment of the dault an neigh dheil, or foster child of the white doe, was again brought under consideration of the tribe. His foster father, Torquil of the Oak, the old forester, appeared with eight sons, the finest men of the clan, and demanded that the doom of banishment should be revoked. He spoke with the greater authority, as he was himself taishatar, or a seer, and supposed to have communication with the invisible world. He affirmed that he had performed a magical ceremony, termed tine egan, by which he evoked a fiend, from whom he extorted a confession that Conachar, now called Eachin, or Hector, MacIan, was the only man in the approaching combat between the two hostile clans who should come off without blood or blemish. Hence Torquil of the Oak argued that the presence of the fated person was necessary to ensure the victory. 'So much I am possessed of this,' said the forester, 'that, unless Eachin fight in his place in the ranks of the Clan Quhele, neither I, his foster father, nor any of my eight sons will lift a weapon in the quarrel.'
"This speech was received with much alarm; for the defection of nine men, the stoutest of their tribe, would be a serious blow, more especially if the combat, as begins to be rumoured, should be decided by a small number from each side. The ancient superstition concerning the foster son of the white doe was counterbalanced by a new and later prejudice, and the father took the opportunity of presenting to the clan his long hidden son, whose youthful, but handsome and animated, countenance, haughty carriage, and active limbs excited the admiration of the clansmen, who joyfully received him as the heir and descendant of their chief, notwithstanding the ominous presage attending his birth and nurture.
"From this tale, my lord," continued Simon Glover, "your lordship may easily conceive why I myself should be secure of a good reception among the Clan Quhele; and you may also have reason to judge that it would be very rash in me to carry Catharine thither. And this, noble lord, is the heaviest of my troubles."
"We shall lighten the load, then," said Sir Patrick; "and, good glover, I will take risk for thee and this damsel. My alliance with the Douglas gives me some interest with Marjory, Duchess of Rothsay, his daughter, the neglected wife of our wilful Prince. Rely on it, good glover, that in her retinue thy daughter will be as secure as in a fenced castle. The Duchess keeps house now at Falkland, a castle which the Duke of Albany, to whom it belongs, has lent to her for her accommodation. I cannot promise you pleasure, Fair Maiden; for the Duchess Marjory of Rothsay is unfortunate, and therefore splenetic, haughty, and overbearing; conscious of the want of attractive qualities, therefore jealous of those women who possess them. But she is firm in faith and noble in spirit, and would fling Pope or prelate into the ditch of her castle who should come to arrest any one under her protection. You will therefore have absolute safety, though you may lack comfort."
"I have no title to more," said Catharine; "and deeply do I feel the kindness that is willing to secure me such honourable protection. If she be haughty, I will remember she is a Douglas, and hath right, as being such, to entertain as much pride as may become a mortal; if she be fretful, I will recollect that she is unfortunate, and if she be unreasonably captious, I will not forget that she is my protectress. Heed no longer for me, my lord, when you have placed me under the noble lady's charge. But my poor father, to be exposed amongst these wild and dangerous people!"
"Think not of that, Catharine," said the glover: "I am as familiar with brogues and bracken as if I had worn them myself. I have only to fear that the decisive battle may be fought before I can leave this country; and if the clan Quhele lose the combat, I may suffer by the ruin of my protectors."
"We must have that cared for," said Sir Patrick: "rely on my looking out for your safety. But which party will carry the day, think you?"
"Frankly, my Lord Provost, I believe the Clan Chattan will have the worse: these nine children of the forest form a third nearly of the band surrounding the chief of Clan Quhele, and are redoubted champions."
"And your apprentice, will he stand to it, thinkest thou?"
"He is hot as fire, Sir Patrick," answered the glover; "but he is also unstable as water. Nevertheless, if he is spared, he seems likely to be one day a brave man."
"But, as now, he has some of the white doe's milk still lurking about his liver, ha, Simon?"
"He has little experience, my lord," said the glover, "and I need not tell an honoured warrior like yourself that danger must be familiar to us ere we can dally with it like a mistress."
This conversation brought them speedily to the Castle of Kinfauns, where, after a short refreshment, it was necessary that the father and the daughter should part, in order to seek their respective places of refuge. It was then first, as she saw that her father's anxiety on her account had drowned all recollections of his friend, that Catharine dropped, as if in a dream, the name of "Henry Gow."
"True—most true," continued her father; "we must possess him of our purposes."
"Leave that to me," said Sir Patrick. "I will not trust to a messenger, nor will I send a letter, because, if I could write one, I think he could not read it. He will suffer anxiety in the mean while, but I will ride to Perth tomorrow by times and acquaint him with your designs."
The time of separation now approached. It was a bitter moment, but the manly character of the old burgher, and the devout resignation of Catharine to the will of Providence made it lighter than might have been expected. The good knight hurried the departure of the burgess, but in the kindest manner; and even went so far as to offer him some gold pieces in loan, which might, where specie was so scarce, be considered as the ne plus ultra of regard. The glover, however, assured him he was amply provided, and departed on his journey in a northwesterly direction. The hospitable protection of Sir Patrick Charteris was no less manifested towards his fair guest. She was placed under the charge of a duenna who managed the good knight's household, and was compelled to remain several days in Kinfauns, owing to the obstacles and delays interposed by a Tay boatman, named Kitt Henshaw, to whose charge she was to be committed, and whom the provost highly trusted.
Thus were severed the child and parent in a moment of great danger and difficulty, much augmented by circumstances of which they were then ignorant, and which seemed greatly to diminish any chance of safety that remained for them.
"This Austin humbly did." "Did he?" quoth he. "Austin may do the same again for me."
Pope's Prologue to Canterbury Tales from Chaucer.
The course of our story will be best pursued by attending that of Simon Glover. It is not our purpose to indicate the exact local boundaries of the two contending clans, especially since they are not clearly pointed out by the historians who have transmitted accounts of this memorable feud. It is sufficient to say, that the territory of the Clan Chattan extended far and wide, comprehending Caithness and Sutherland, and having for their paramount chief the powerful earl of the latter shire, thence called Mohr ar Chat. In this general sense, the Keiths, the Sinclairs, the Guns, and other families and clans of great power, were included in the confederacy. These, however, were not engaged in the present quarrel, which was limited to that part of the Clan Chattan occupying the extensive mountainous districts of Perthshire and Inverness shire, which form a large portion of what is called the northeastern Highlands. It is well known that two large septs, unquestionably known to belong to the Clan Chattan, the MacPhersons and the MacIntoshes, dispute to this day which of their chieftains was at the head of this Badenoch branch of the great confederacy, and both have of later times assumed the title of Captain of Clan Chattan. Non nostrum est. But, at all events, Badenoch must have been the centre of the confederacy, so far as involved in the feud of which we treat.
Of the rival league of Clan Quhele we have a still less distinct account, for reasons which will appear in the sequel. Some authors have identified them with the numerous and powerful sept of MacKay. If this is done on good authority, which is to be doubted, the MacKays must have shifted their settlements greatly since the reign of Robert III, since they are now to be found (as a clan) in the extreme northern parts of Scotland, in the counties of Ross and Sutherland. We cannot, therefore, be so clear as we would wish in the geography of the story. Suffice it that, directing his course in a northwesterly direction, the glover travelled for a day's journey in the direction of the Breadalbane country, from which he hoped to reach the castle where Gilchrist MacIan, the captain of the Clan Quhele, and the father of his pupil Conachar, usually held his residence, with a barbarous pomp of attendance and ceremonial suited to his lofty pretensions.
We need not stop to describe the toil and terrors of such a journey, where the path was to be traced among wastes and mountains, now ascending precipitous ravines, now plunging into inextricable bogs, and often intersected with large brooks, and even rivers. But all these perils Simon Glover had before encountered in quest of honest gain; and it was not to be supposed that he shunned or feared them where liberty, and life itself, were at stake.
The danger from the warlike and uncivilised inhabitants of these wilds would have appeared to another at least as formidable as the perils of the journey. But Simon's knowledge of the manners and language of the people assured him on this point also. An appeal to the hospitality of the wildest Gael was never unsuccessful; and the kerne, that in other circumstances would have taken a man's life for the silver button of his cloak, would deprive himself of a meal to relieve the traveller who implored hospitality at the door of his bothy. The art of travelling in the Highlands was to appear as confident and defenceless as possible; and accordingly the glover carried no arms whatever, journeyed without the least appearance of precaution, and took good care to exhibit nothing which might excite cupidity. Another rule which he deemed it prudent to observe was to avoid communication with any of the passengers whom he might chance to meet, except in the interchange of the common civilities of salutation, which the Highlanders rarely omit. Few opportunities occurred of exchanging even such passing greetings. The country, always lonely, seemed now entirely forsaken; and, even in the little straths or valleys which he had occasion to pass or traverse, the hamlets were deserted, and the inhabitants had betaken themselves to woods and caves. This was easily accounted for, considering the imminent dangers of a feud which all expected would become one of the most general signals for plunder and ravage that had ever distracted that unhappy country.
Simon began to be alarmed at this state of desolation. He had made a halt since he left Kinfauns, to allow his nag some rest; and now he began to be anxious how he was to pass the night. He had reckoned upon spending it at the cottage of an old acquaintance, called Niel Booshalloch (or the cow herd), because he had charge of numerous herds of cattle belonging to the captain of Clan Quhele, for which purpose he had a settlement on the banks of the Tay, not far from the spot where it leaves the lake of the same name. From this his old host and friend, with whom he had transacted many bargains for hides and furs, the old glover hoped to learn the present state of the country, the prospect of peace or war, and the best measures to be taken for his own safety. It will be remembered that the news of the indentures of battle entered into for diminishing the extent of the feud had only been communicated to King Robert the day before the glover left Perth, and did not become public till some time afterwards.
"If Niel Booshalloch hath left his dwelling like the rest of them, I shall be finely holped up," thought Simon, "since I want not only the advantage of his good advice, but also his interest with Gilchrist MacIan; and, moreover, a night's quarters and a supper."
Thus reflecting, he reached the top of a swelling green hill, and saw the splendid vision of Loch Tay lying beneath him—an immense plate of polished silver, its dark heathy mountains and leafless thickets of oak serving as an arabesque frame to a magnificent mirror.
Indifferent to natural beauty at any time, Simon Glover was now particularly so; and the only part of the splendid landscape on which he turned his eye was an angle or loop of meadow land where the river Tay, rushing in full swoln dignity from its parent lake, and wheeling around a beautiful valley of about a mile in breadth, begins his broad course to the southeastward, like a conqueror and a legislator, to subdue and to enrich remote districts. Upon the sequestered spot, which is so beautifully situated between lake, mountain, and river, arose afterwards the feudal castle of the Ballough [Balloch is Gaelic for the discharge of a lake into a river], which in our time has been succeeded by the splendid palace of the Earls of Breadalbane.
But the Campbells, though they had already attained very great power in Argyleshire, had not yet extended themselves so far eastward as Loch Tay, the banks of which were, either by right or by mere occupancy, possessed for, the present by the Clan Quhele, whose choicest herds were fattened on the Balloch margin of the lake. In this valley, therefore, between the river and the lake, amid extensive forests of oak wood, hazel, rowan tree, and larches, arose the humble cottage of Niel Booshalloch, a village Eumaeus, whose hospitable chimneys were seen to smoke plentifully, to the great encouragement of Simon Glover, who might otherwise have been obliged to spend the night in the open air, to his no small discomfort.
He reached the door of the cottage, whistled, shouted, and made his approach known. There was a baying of hounds and collies, and presently the master of the hut came forth. There was much care on his brow, and he seemed surprised at the sight of Simon Glover, though the herdsman covered both as well as he might; for nothing in that region could be reckoned more uncivil than for the landlord to suffer anything to escape him in look or gesture which might induce the visitor to think that his arrival was an unpleasing, or even an unexpected, incident. The traveller's horse was conducted to a stable, which was almost too low to receive him, and the glover himself was led into the mansion of the Booshalloch, where, according to the custom of the country, bread and cheese was placed before the wayfarer, while more solid food was preparing. Simon, who understood all their habits, took no notice of the obvious marks of sadness on the brow of his entertainer and on those of the family, until he had eaten somewhat for form's sake, after which he asked the general question, "Was there any news in the country?"
"Bad news as ever were told," said the herdsman: "our father is no more."
"How!" said Simon, greatly alarmed, "is the captain of the Clan Quhele dead?"
"The captain of the Clan Quhele never dies," answered the Booshalloch; "but Gilchrist MacIan died twenty hours since, and his son, Eachin MacIan, is now captain."
"What, Eachin—that is Conachar—my apprentice?"
"As little of that subject as you list, brother Simon," said the herdsman. "It is to be remembered, friend, that your craft, which doth very well for a living in the douce city of Perth, is something too mechanical to be much esteemed at the foot of Ben Lawers and on the banks of Loch Tay. We have not a Gaelic word by which we can even name a maker of gloves."
"It would be strange if you had, friend Niel," said Simon, drily, "having so few gloves to wear. I think there be none in the whole Clan Quhele, save those which I myself gave to Gilchrist MacIan, whom God assoilzie, who esteemed them a choice propine. Most deeply do I regret his death, for I was coming to him on express business."
"You had better turn the nag's head southward with morning light," said the herdsman. "The funeral is instantly to take place, and it must be with short ceremony; for there is a battle to be fought by the Clan Quhele and the Clan Chattan, thirty champions on a side, as soon as Palm Sunday next, and we have brief time either to lament the dead or honour the living."
"Yet are my affairs so pressing, that I must needs see the young chief, were it but for a quarter of an hour," said the glover.
"Hark thee, friend," replied his host, "I think thy business must be either to gather money or to make traffic. Now, if the chief owe thee anything for upbringing or otherwise, ask him not to pay it when all the treasures of the tribe are called in for making gallant preparation of arms and equipment for their combatants, that we may meet these proud hill cats in a fashion to show ourselves their superiors. But if thou comest to practise commerce with us, thy time is still worse chosen. Thou knowest that thou art already envied of many of our tribe, for having had the fosterage of the young chief, which is a thing usually given to the best of the clan."'
"But, St. Mary, man!" exclaimed the glover, "men should remember the office was not conferred on me as a favour which I courted, but that it was accepted by me on importunity and entreaty, to my no small prejudice. This Conachar, or Hector, of yours, or whatever you call him, has destroyed me doe skins to the amount of many pounds Scots."
"There again, now," said the Booshalloch, "you have spoken word to cost your life—any allusion to skins or hides, or especially to deer and does—may incur no less a forfeit. The chief is young, and jealous of his rank; none knows the reason better than thou, friend Glover. He will naturally wish that everything concerning the opposition to his succession, and having reference to his exile, should be totally forgotten; and he will not hold him in affection who shall recall the recollection of his people, or force back his own, upon what they must both remember with pain. Think how, at such a moment, they will look on the old glover of Perth, to whom the chief was so long apprentice! Come—come, old friend, you have erred in this. You are in over great haste to worship the rising sun, while his beams are yet level with the horizon. Come thou when he has climbed higher in the heavens, and thou shalt have thy share of the warmth of his noonday height."
"Niel Booshalloch," said the glover, "we have been old friends, as thou say'st; and as I think thee a true one, I will speak to thee freely, though what I say might be perilous if spoken to others of thy clan. Thou think'st I come hither to make my own profit of thy young chief, and it is natural thou shouldst think so. But I would not, at my years, quit my own chimney corner in Curfew Street to bask me in the beams of the brightest sun that ever shone upon Highland heather. The very truth is, I come hither in extremity: my foes have the advantage of me, and have laid things to my charge whereof I am incapable, even in thought. Nevertheless, doom is like to go forth against me, and there is no remedy but that I must up and fly, or remain and perish. I come to your young chief, as one who had refuge with me in his distress—who ate of my bread and drank of my cup. I ask of him refuge, which, as I trust, I shall need but a short time."
"That makes a different case," replied the herdsman. "So different, that, if you came at midnight to the gate of MacIan, having the King of Scotland's head in your hand, and a thousand men in pursuit for the avenging of his blood, I could not think it for his honour to refuse you protection. And for your innocence or guilt, it concerns not the case; or rather, he ought the more to shelter you if guilty, seeing your necessity and his risk are both in that case the greater. I must straightway to him, that no hasty tongue tell him of your arriving hither without saying the cause."
"A pity of your trouble," said the glover; "but where lies the chief?"
"He is quartered about ten miles hence, busied with the affairs of the funeral, and with preparations for the combat—the dead to the grave and the living to battle."
"It is a long way, and will take you all night to go and come," said the glover; "and I am very sure that Conachar when he knows it is I who—"
"Forget Conachar," said the herdsman, placing his finger on his lips. "And as for the ten miles, they are but a Highland leap, when one bears a message between his friend and his chief."
So saying, and committing the traveller to the charge of his eldest son and his daughter, the active herdsman left his house two hours before midnight, to which he returned long before sunrise. He did not disturb his wearied guest, but when the old man had arisen in the morning he acquainted him that the funeral of the late chieftain was to take place the same day, and that, although Eachin MacIan could not invite a Saxon to the funeral, he would be glad to receive him at the entertainment which was to follow.
"His will must be obeyed," said the glover, half smiling at the change of relation between himself and his late apprentice. "The man is the master now, and I trust he will remember that, when matters were otherwise between us, I did not use my authority ungraciously."
"Troutsho, friend!" exclaimed the Booshalloch, "the less of that you say the better. You will find yourself a right welcome guest to Eachin, and the deil a man dares stir you within his bounds. But fare you well, for I must go, as beseems me, to the burial of the best chief the clan ever had, and the wisest captain that ever cocked the sweet gale (bog myrtle) in his bonnet. Farewell to you for a while, and if you will go to the top of the Tom an Lonach behind the house, you will see a gallant sight, and hear such a coronach as will reach the top of Ben Lawers. A boat will wait for you, three hours hence, at a wee bit creek about half a mile westward from the head of the Tay."
With these words he took his departure, followed by his three sons, to man the boat in which he was to join the rest of the mourners, and two daughters, whose voices were wanted to join in the lament, which was chanted, or rather screamed, on such occasions of general affliction.
Simon Glover, finding himself alone, resorted to the stable to look after his nag, which, he found, had been well served with graddan, or bread made of scorched barley. Of this kindness he was fully sensible, knowing that, probably, the family had little of this delicacy left to themselves until the next harvest should bring them a scanty supply. In animal food they were well provided, and the lake found them abundance of fish for their lenten diet, which they did not observe very strictly; but bread was a delicacy very scanty in the Highlands. The bogs afforded a soft species of hay, none of the best to be sure; but Scottish horses, like their riders, were then accustomed to hard fare.
Gauntlet, for this was the name of the palfrey, had his stall crammed full of dried fern for litter, and was otherwise as well provided for as Highland hospitality could contrive.
Simon Glover being thus left to his own painful reflections, nothing better remained, after having seen after the comforts of the dumb companion of his journey, than to follow the herdsman's advice; and ascending towards the top of an eminence called Tom an Lonach, or the Knoll of Yew Trees, after a walk of half an hour he reached the summit, and could look down on the broad expanse of the lake, of which the height commanded a noble view. A few aged and scattered yew trees of great size still vindicated for the beautiful green hill the name attached to it. But a far greater number had fallen a sacrifice to the general demand for bow staves in that warlike age, the bow being a weapon much used by the mountaineers, though those which they employed, as well as their arrows, were, in shape and form, and especially in efficacy, far inferior to the archery of merry England. The dark and shattered individual yews which remained were like the veterans of a broken host, occupying in disorder some post of advantage, with the stern purpose of resisting to the last. Behind this eminence, but detached from it, arose a higher hill, partly covered with copsewood, partly opening into glades of pasture, where the cattle strayed, finding, at this season of the year, a scanty sustenance among the spring heads and marshy places, where the fresh grass began first to arise.
The opposite or northern shore of the lake presented a far more Alpine prospect than that upon which the glover was stationed. Woods and thickets ran up the sides of the mountains, and disappeared among the sinuosities formed by the winding ravines which separated them from each other; but far above these specimens of a tolerable natural soil arose the swart and bare mountains themselves, in the dark grey desolation proper to the season.
Some were peaked, some broad crested, some rocky and precipitous, others of a tamer outline; and the clan of Titans seemed to be commanded by their appropriate chieftains—the frowning mountain of Ben Lawers, and the still more lofty eminence of Ben Mohr, arising high above the rest, whose peaks retain a dazzling helmet of snow far into the summer season, and sometimes during the whole year. Yet the borders of this wild and silvan region, where the mountains descended upon the lake, intimated, even at that early period, many traces of human habitation. Hamlets were seen, especially on the northern margin of the lake, half hid among the little glens that poured their tributary streams into Loch Tay, which, like many earthly things, made a fair show at a distance, but, when more closely approached, were disgustful and repulsive, from their squalid want of the conveniences which attend even Indian wigwams. They were inhabited by a race who neither cultivated the earth nor cared for the enjoyments which industry procures. The women, although otherwise treated with affection, and even delicacy of respect, discharged all the absolutely necessary domestic labour. The men, excepting some reluctant use of an ill formed plough, or more frequently a spade, grudgingly gone through, as a task infinitely beneath them, took no other employment than the charge of the herds of black cattle, in which their wealth consisted. At all other times they hunted, fished, or marauded, during the brief intervals of peace, by way of pastime; plundering with bolder license, and fighting with embittered animosity, in time of war, which, public or private, upon a broader or more restricted scale, formed the proper business of their lives, and the only one which they esteemed worthy of them.
The magnificent bosom of the lake itself was a scene to gaze on with delight. Its noble breadth, with its termination in a full and beautiful run, was rendered yet more picturesque by one of those islets which are often happily situated in the Scottish lakes. The ruins upon that isle, now almost shapeless, being overgrown with wood rose, at the time we speak of, into the towers and pinnacles of a priory, where slumbered the remains of Sibylla, daughter of Henry I of England, and consort of Alexander the First of Scotland. This holy place had been deemed of dignity sufficient to be the deposit of the remains of the captain of the Clan Quhele, at least till times when the removal of the danger, now so imminently pressing, should permit of his body being conveyed to a distinguished convent in the north, where he was destined ultimately to repose with all his ancestry.
A number of boats pushed off from various points of the near and more distant shore, many displaying sable banners, and others having their several pipers in the bow, who from time to time poured forth a few notes of a shrill, plaintive, and wailing character, and intimated to the glover that the ceremony was about to take place. These sounds of lamentation were but the tuning as it were of the instruments, compared with the general wail which was speedily to be raised.
A distant sound was heard from far up the lake, even as it seemed from the remote and distant glens out of which the Dochart and the Lochy pour their streams into Loch Tay. It was in a wild, inaccessible spot, where the Campbells at a subsequent period founded their strong fortress of Finlayrigg, that the redoubted commander of the Clan Quhele drew his last breath; and, to give due pomp to his funeral, his corpse was now to be brought down the loch to the island assigned for his temporary place of rest. The funeral fleet, led by the chieftain's barge, from which a huge black banner was displayed, had made more than two thirds of its voyage ere it was visible from the eminence on which Simon Glover stood to overlook the ceremony. The instant the distant wail of the coronach was heard proceeding from the attendants on the funeral barge, all the subordinate sounds of lamentation were hushed at once, as the raven ceases to croak and the hawk to whistle whenever the scream of the eagle is heard. The boats, which had floated hither and thither upon the lake, like a flock of waterfowl dispersing themselves on its surface, now drew together with an appearance of order, that the funeral flotilla might pass onward, and that they themselves might fall into their proper places. In the mean while the piercing din of the war pipes became louder and louder, and the cry from the numberless boats which followed that from which the black banner of the chief was displayed rose in wild unison up to the Tom an Lonach, from which the glover viewed the spectacle. The galley which headed the procession bore on its poop a species of scaffold, upon which, arrayed in white linen, and with the face bare, was displayed the corpse of the deceased chieftain. His son and the nearest relatives filled the vessel, while a great number of boats, of every description that could be assembled, either on Loch Tay itself or brought by land carriage from Loch Earn and otherwise, followed in the rear, some of them of very frail materials. There were even curraghs, composed of ox hides stretched over hoops of willow, in the manner of the ancient British, and some committed themselves to rafts formed for the occasion, from the readiest materials that occurred, and united in such a precarious manner as to render it probable that, before the accomplishment of the voyage, some of the clansmen of the deceased might be sent to attend their chieftain in the world of spirits.
When the principal flotilla came in sight of the smaller group of boats collected towards the foot of the lake, and bearing off from the little island, they hailed each other with a shout so loud and general, and terminating in a cadence so wildly prolonged, that not only the deer started from their glens for miles around, and sought the distant recesses of the mountains, but even the domestic cattle, accustomed to the voice of man, felt the full panic which the human shout strikes into the wilder tribes, and like them fled from their pasture into morasses and dingles.
Summoned forth from their convent by those sounds, the monks who inhabited the little islet began to issue from their lowly portal, with cross and banner, and as much of ecclesiastical state as they had the means of displaying; their bells at the same time, of which the edifice possessed three, pealing the death toll over the long lake, which came to the ears of the now silent multitude, mingled with the solemn chant of the Catholic Church, raised by the monks in their procession. Various ceremonies were gone through, while the kindred of the deceased carried the body ashore, and, placing it on a bank long consecrated to the purpose, made the deasil around the departed. When the corpse was uplifted to be borne into the church, another united yell burst from the assembled multitude, in which the deep shout of warriors and the shrill wail of females joined their notes with the tremulous voice of age and the babbling cry of childhood. The coronach was again, and for the last time, shrieked as the body was carried into the interior of the church, where only the nearest relatives of the deceased and the most distinguished of the leaders of the clan were permitted to enter. The last yell of woe was so terribly loud, and answered by so many hundred echoes, that the glover instinctively raised his hands to his ears, to shut out, or deaden at least, a sound so piercing. He kept this attitude while the hawks, owls, and other birds, scared by the wild scream, had begun to settle in their retreats, when, as he withdrew his hands, a voice close by him said:
"Think you this, Simon Glover, the hymn of penitence and praise with which it becomes poor forlorn man, cast out from his tenement of clay, to be wafted into the presence of his maker?"
The glover turned, and in the old man with a long white beard who stood close beside him had no difficulty, from the clear mild eye and the benevolent cast of features, to recognise the Carthusian monk Father Clement, no longer wearing his monastic habiliments, but wrapped in a frieze mantle and having a Highland cap on his head.
It may be recollected that the glover regarded this man with a combined feeling of respect and dislike—respect, which his judgment could not deny to the monk's person and character, and dislike, which arose from Father Clement's peculiar doctrines being the cause of his daughter's exile and his own distress. It was not, therefore, with sentiments of unmixed satisfaction that he returned the greetings of the father, and replied to the reiterated question, what he thought of the funeral rites which were discharged in so wild a manner: "I know not, my good father; but these men do their duty to their deceased chief according to the fashion of their ancestors: they mean to express their regret for their friend's loss and their prayers to Heaven in his behalf; and that which is done of goodwill must, to my thinking, be accepted favourably. Had it been otherwise, methinks they had ere now been enlightened to do better."
"Thou art deceived," answered the monk. "God has sent His light amongst us all, though in various proportions; but man wilfully shuts his eyes and prefers darkness. This benighted people mingle with the ritual of the Roman Church the old heathen ceremonies of their own fathers, and thus unite with the abominations of a church corrupted by wealth and power the cruel and bloody ritual of savage paynims."
"Father," said Simon, abruptly, "methinks your presence were more useful in yonder chapel, aiding your brethren in the discharge of their clerical duties, than in troubling and unsettling the belief of an humble though ignorant Christian like myself."
"And wherefore say, good brother, that I would unfix thy principles of belief?" answered Clement. "So Heaven deal with me, as, were my life blood necessary to cement the mind of any man to the holy religion he professeth, it should be freely poured out for the purpose."
"Your speech is fair, father, I grant you," said the glover; "but if I am to judge the doctrine by the fruits, Heaven has punished me by the hand of the church for having hearkened thereto. Ere I heard you, my confessor was little moved though I might have owned to have told a merry tale upon the ale bench, even if a friar or a nun were the subject. If at a time I had called Father Hubert a better hunter of hares than of souls, I confessed me to the Vicar Vinesauf, who laughed and made me pay a reckoning for penance; or if I had said that the Vicar Vinesauf was more constant to his cup than to his breviary, I confessed me to Father Hubert, and a new hawking glove made all well again; and thus I, my conscience, and Mother Church lived together on terms of peace, friendship, and mutual forbearance. But since I have listened to you, Father Clement, this goodly union is broke to pieces, and nothing is thundered in my ear but purgatory in the next world and fire and fagot in this. Therefore, avoid you, Father Clement, or speak to those who can understand your doctrine. I have no heart to be a martyr: I have never in my whole life had courage enough so much as to snuff a candle with my fingers; and, to speak the truth, I am minded to go back to Perth, sue out my pardon in the spiritual court, carry my fagot to the gallows foot in token of recantation, and purchase myself once more the name of a good Catholic, were it at the price of all the worldly wealth that remains to me."
"You are angry, my dearest brother," said Clement, "and repent you on the pinch of a little worldly danger and a little worldly loss for the good thoughts which you once entertained."
"You speak at ease, Father Clement, since I think you have long forsworn the wealth and goods of the world, and are prepared to yield up your life when it is demanded in exchange for the doctrine you preach and believe. You are as ready to put on your pitched shirt and brimstone head gear as a naked man is to go to his bed, and it would seem you have not much more reluctance to the ceremony. But I still wear that which clings to me. My wealth is still my own, and I thank Heaven it is a decent pittance whereon to live; my life, too, is that of a hale old man of sixty, who is in no haste to bring it to a close; and if I were poor as Job and on the edge of the grave, must I not still cling to my daughter, whom your doctrines have already cost so dear?"
"Thy daughter, friend Simon," said the Carmelite [Carthusian], "may be truly called an angel upon earth."
"Ay, and by listening to your doctrines, father, she is now like to be called on to be an angel in heaven, and to be transported thither in a chariot of fire."
"Nay, my good brother," said Clement, "desist, I pray you, to speak of what you little understand. Since it is wasting time to show thee the light that thou chafest against, yet listen to that which I have to say touching thy daughter, whose temporal felicity, though I weigh it not even for an instant in the scale against that which is spiritual, is, nevertheless, in its order, as dear to Clement Blair as to her own father."
The tears stood in the old man's eyes as he spoke, and Simon Glover was in some degree mollified as he again addressed him.
"One would think thee, Father Clement, the kindest and most amiable of men; how comes it, then, that thy steps are haunted by general ill will wherever thou chancest to turn them? I could lay my life thou hast contrived already to offend yonder half score of poor friars in their water girdled cage, and that you have been prohibited from attendance on the funeral?"
"Even so, my son," said the Carthusian, "and I doubt whether their malice will suffer me to remain in this country. I did but speak a few sentences about the superstition and folly of frequenting St. Fillan's church, to detect theft by means of his bell, of bathing mad patients in his pool, to cure their infirmity of mind; and lo! the persecutors have cast me forth of their communion, as they will speedily cast me out of this life."
"Lo you there now," said the glover, "see what it is for a man that cannot take a warning! Well, Father Clement, men will not cast me forth unless it were as a companion of yours. I pray you, therefore, tell me what you have to say of my daughter, and let us be less neighbours than we have been."
"This, then, brother Simon, I have to acquaint you with. This young chief, who is swoln with contemplation of his own power and glory, loves one thing better than it all, and that is thy daughter."
"He, Conachar!" exclaimed Simon. "My runagate apprentice look up to my daughter!"
"Alas!" said Clement, "how close sits our worldly pride, even as ivy clings to the wall, and cannot be separated! Look up to thy daughter, good Simon? Alas, no! The captain of Clan Quhele, great as he is, and greater as he soon expects to be, looks down to the daughter of the Perth burgess, and considers himself demeaned in doing so. But, to use his own profane expression, Catharine is dearer to him than life here and Heaven hereafter: he cannot live without her."
"Then he may die, if he lists," said Simon Glover, "for she is betrothed to an honest burgess of Perth; and I would not break my word to make my daughter bride to the Prince of Scotland."
"I thought it would be your answer," replied the monk; "I would, worthy friend, thou couldst carry into thy spiritual concerns some part of that daring and resolved spirit with which thou canst direct thy temporal affairs."
"Hush thee—hush, Father Clement!" answered the glover; "when thou fallest into that vein of argument, thy words savour of blazing tar, and that is a scent I like not. As to Catharine, I must manage as I can, so as not to displease the young dignitary; but well is it for me that she is far beyond his reach."
"She must then be distant indeed," said the Carmelite [Carthusian]. "And now, brother Simon, since you think it perilous to own me and my opinions, I must walk alone with my own doctrines and the dangers they draw on me. But should your eye, less blinded than it now is by worldly hopes and fears, ever turn a glance back on him who soon may be snatched from you, remember, that by nought save a deep sense of the truth and importance of the doctrine which he taught could Clement Blair have learned to encounter, nay, to provoke, the animosity of the powerful and inveterate, to alarm the fears of the jealous and timid, to walk in the world as he belonged not to it, and to be accounted mad of men, that he might, if possible, win souls to God. Heaven be my witness, that I would comply in all lawful things to conciliate the love and sympathy of my fellow creatures! It is no light thing to be shunned by the worthy as an infected patient, to be persecuted by the Pharisees of the day as an unbelieving heretic, to be regarded with horror at once and contempt by the multitude, who consider me as a madman, who may be expected to turn mischievous. But were all those evils multiplied an hundredfold, the fire within must not be stifled, the voice which says within me 'Speak' must receive obedience. Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel, even should I at length preach it from amidst the pile of flames!"
So spoke this bold witness, one of those whom Heaven raised up from time to time to preserve amidst the most ignorant ages, and to carry down to those which succeed them, a manifestation of unadulterated Christianity, from the time of the Apostles to the age when, favoured by the invention of printing, the Reformation broke out in full splendour. The selfish policy of the glover was exposed in his own eyes; and he felt himself contemptible as he saw the Carthusian turn from him in all the hallowedness of resignation. He was even conscious of a momentary inclination to follow the example of the preacher's philanthropy and disinterested zeal, but it glanced like a flash of lightning through a dark vault, where there lies nothing to catch the blaze; and he slowly descended the hill in a direction different from that of the Carthusian, forgetting him and his doctrines, and buried in anxious thoughts about his child's fate and his own.
What want these outlaws conquerors should have But history's purchased page to call them great, A wider space, an ornamented grave? Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as brave.
The funeral obsequies being over, the same flotilla which had proceeded in solemn and sad array down the lake prepared to return with displayed banners, and every demonstration of mirth and joy; for there was but brief time to celebrate festivals when the awful conflict betwixt the Clan Quhele and their most formidable rivals so nearly approached. It had been agreed, therefore, that the funeral feast should be blended with that usually given at the inauguration of the young chief.
Some objections were made to this arrangement, as containing an evil omen. But, on the other hand, it had a species of recommendation, from the habits and feelings of the Highlanders, who, to this day, are wont to mingle a degree of solemn mirth with their mourning, and something resembling melancholy with their mirth. The usual aversion to speak or think of those who have been beloved and lost is less known to this grave and enthusiastic race than it is to others. You hear not only the young mention (as is everywhere usual) the merits and the character of parents, who have, in the course of nature, predeceased them; but the widowed partner speaks, in ordinary conversation, of the lost spouse, and, what is still stranger, the parents allude frequently to the beauty or valour of the child whom they have interred. The Scottish Highlanders appear to regard the separation of friends by death as something less absolute and complete than it is generally esteemed in other countries, and converse of the dear connexions who have sought the grave before them as if they had gone upon a long journey in which they themselves must soon follow. The funeral feast, therefore, being a general custom throughout Scotland, was not, in the opinion of those who were to share it, unseemingly mingled, on the present occasion, with the festivities which hailed the succession to the chieftainship.
The barge which had lately borne the dead to the grave now conveyed the young MacIan to his new command and the minstrels sent forth their gayest notes to gratulate Eachin's succession, as they had lately sounded their most doleful dirges when carrying Gilchrist to his grave. From the attendant flotilla rang notes of triumph and jubilee, instead of those yells of lamentation which had so lately disturbed the echoes of Loch Tay; and a thousand voices hailed the youthful chieftain as he stood on the poop, armed at all points, in the flower of early manhood, beauty, and activity, on the very spot where his father's corpse had so lately been extended, and surrounded by triumphant friends, as that had been by desolate mourners.
One boat kept closest of the flotilla to the honoured galley. Torquil of the Oak, a grizzled giant, was steersman; and his eight sons, each exceeding the ordinary stature of mankind, pulled the oars. Like some powerful and favourite wolf hound, unloosed from his couples, and frolicking around a liberal master, the boat of the foster brethren passed the chieftain's barge, now on one side and now on another, and even rowed around it, as if in extravagance of joy; while, at the same time, with the jealous vigilance of the animal we have compared it to, they made it dangerous for any other of the flotilla to approach so near as themselves, from the risk of being run down by their impetuous and reckless manoeuvres. Raised to an eminent rank in the clan by the succession of their foster brother to the command of the Clan Quhele, this was the tumultuous and almost terrible mode in which they testified their peculiar share in their chief's triumph.
Far behind, and with different feelings, on the part of one at least of the company, came the small boat in which, manned by the Booshalloch and one of his sons, Simon Glover was a passenger.
"If we are bound for the head of the lake," said Simon to his friend, "we shall hardly be there for hours."
But as he spoke the crew of the boat of the foster brethren, or leichtach, on a signal from the chief's galley, lay on their oars until the Booshalloch's boat came up, and throwing on board a rope of hides, which Niel made fast to the head of his skiff, they stretched to their oars once more, and, notwithstanding they had the small boat in tow, swept through the lake with almost the same rapidity as before. The skiff was tugged on with a velocity which seemed to hazard the pulling her under water, or the separation of her head from her other timbers.
Simon Glover saw with anxiety the reckless fury of their course, and the bows of the boat occasionally brought within an inch or two of the level of the water; and though his friend, Niel Booshalloch, assured him it was all done in especial honour, he heartily wished his voyage might have a safe termination. It had so, and much sooner than he apprehended; for the place of festivity was not four miles distant from the sepulchral island, being chosen to suit the chieftain's course, which lay to the southeast, so soon as the banquet should be concluded. A bay on the southern side of Loch Tay presented a beautiful beach of sparkling sand, on which the boats might land with ease, and a dry meadow, covered with turf, verdant considering the season, behind and around which rose high banks, fringed with copsewood, and displaying the lavish preparations which had been made for the entertainment.
The Highlanders, well known for ready hatchet men, had constructed a long arbour or silvan banqueting room, capable of receiving two hundred men, while a number of smaller huts around seemed intended for sleeping apartments. The uprights, the couples, and roof tree of the temporary hall were composed of mountain pine, still covered with its bark. The framework of the sides was of planks or spars of the same material, closely interwoven with the leafy boughs of the fir and other evergreens, which the neighbouring woods afforded, while the hills had furnished plenty of heath to form the roof. Within this silvan palace the most important personages present were invited to hold high festival. Others of less note were to feast in various long sheds constructed with less care; and tables of sod, or rough planks, placed in the open air, were allotted to the numberless multitude. At a distance were to be seen piles of glowing charcoal or blazing wood, around which countless cooks toiled, bustled, and fretted, like so many demons working in their native element. Pits, wrought in the hillside, and lined with heated stones, served as ovens for stewing immense quantities of beef, mutton, and venison; wooden spits supported sheep and goats, which were roasted entire; others were cut into joints, and seethed in caldrons made of the animal's own skins, sewed hastily together and filled with water; while huge quantities of pike, trout, salmon, and char were broiled with more ceremony on glowing embers. The glover had seen many a Highland banquet, but never one the preparations for which were on such a scale of barbarous profusion.
He had little time, however, to admire the scene around him for, as soon as they landed on the beach, the Booshalloch observed with some embarrassment, that, as they had not been bidden to the table of the dais, to which he seemed to have expected an invitation, they had best secure a place in one of the inferior bothies or booths; and was leading the way in that direction, when he was stopped by one of the bodyguards, seeming to act as master of ceremonies, who whispered something in his ear.
"I thought so," said the herdsman, much relieved—"I thought neither the stranger nor the man that has my charge would be left out at the high table."
They were conducted accordingly into the ample lodge, within which were long ranges of tables already mostly occupied by the guests, while those who acted as domestics were placing upon them the abundant though rude materials of the festival. The young chief, although he certainly saw the glover and the herdsman enter, did not address any personal salute to either, and their places were assigned them in a distant corner, far beneath the salt, a huge piece of antique silver plate, the only article of value that the table displayed, and which was regarded by the clan as a species of palladium, only produced and used on the most solemn occasions, such as the present.
The Booshalloch, somewhat discontented, muttered to Simon as he took his place: "These are changed days, friend. His father, rest his soul, would have spoken to us both; but these are bad manners which he has learned among you Sassenachs in the Low Country."
To this remark the glover did not think it necessary to reply; instead of which he adverted to the evergreens, and particularly to the skins and other ornaments with which the interior of the bower was decorated. The most remarkable part of these ornaments was a number of Highland shirts of mail, with steel bonnets, battle axes, and two handed swords to match, which hung around the upper part of the room, together with targets highly and richly embossed. Each mail shirt was hung over a well dressed stag's hide, which at once displayed the armour to advantage and saved it from suffering by damp.
"These," whispered the Booshalloch, "are the arms of the chosen champions of the Clan Quhele. They are twenty-nine in number, as you see, Eachin himself being the thirtieth, who wears his armour today, else had there been thirty. And he has not got such a good hauberk after all as he should wear on Palm Sunday. These nine suits of harness, of such large size, are for the leichtach, from whom so much is expected."
"And these goodly deer hides," said Simon, the spirit of his profession awakening at the sight of the goods in which he traded—"think you the chief will be disposed to chaffer for them? They are in demand for the doublets which knights wear under their armour."
"Did I not pray you," said Niel Booshalloch, "to say nothing on that subject?"
"It is the mail shirts I speak of," said Simon—"may I ask if any of them were made by our celebrated Perth armourer, called Henry of the Wynd?"
"Thou art more unlucky than before," said Niel, "that man's name is to Eachin's temper like a whirlwind upon the lake; yet no man knows for what cause."
"I can guess," thought our glover, but gave no utterance to the thought; and, having twice lighted on unpleasant subjects of conversation, he prepared to apply himself, like those around him, to his food, without starting another topic.
We have said as much of the preparations as may lead the reader to conclude that the festival, in respect of the quality of the food, was of the most rude description, consisting chiefly of huge joints of meat, which were consumed with little respect to the fasting season, although several of the friars of the island convent graced and hallowed the board by their presence. The platters were of wood, and so were the hooped cogues or cups out of which the guests quaffed their liquor, as also the broth or juice of the meat, which was held a delicacy. There were also various preparations of milk which were highly esteemed, and were eaten out of similar vessels. Bread was the scarcest article at the banquet, but the glover and his patron Niel were served with two small loaves expressly for their own use. In eating, as, indeed, was then the case all over Britain, the guests used their knives called skenes, or the large poniards named dirks, without troubling themselves by the reflection that they might occasionally have served different or more fatal purposes.
At the upper end of the table stood a vacant seat, elevated a step or two above the floor. It was covered with a canopy of hollow boughs and ivy, and there rested against it a sheathed sword and a folded banner. This had been the seat of the deceased chieftain, and was left vacant in honour of him. Eachin occupied a lower chair on the right hand of the place of honour.
The reader would be greatly mistaken who should follow out this description by supposing that the guests behaved like a herd of hungry wolves, rushing upon a feast rarely offered to them. On the contrary, the Clan Quhele conducted themselves with that species of courteous reserve and attention to the wants of others which is often found in primitive nations, especially such as are always in arms, because a general observance of the rules of courtesy is necessary to prevent quarrels, bloodshed, and death. The guests took the places assigned them by Torquil of the Oak, who, acting as marischal taeh, i.e. sewer of the mess, touched with a white wand, without speaking a word, the place where each was to sit. Thus placed in order, the company patiently waited for the portion assigned them, which was distributed among them by the leichtach; the bravest men or more distinguished warriors of the tribe being accommodated with a double mess, emphatically called bieyfir, or the portion of a man. When the sewers themselves had seen every one served, they resumed their places at the festival, and were each served with one of these larger messes of food. Water was placed within each man's reach, and a handful of soft moss served the purposes of a table napkin, so that, as at an Eastern banquet, the hands were washed as often as the mess was changed. For amusement, the bard recited the praises of the deceased chief, and expressed the clan's confidence in the blossoming virtues of his successor. The seannachie recited the genealogy of the tribe, which they traced to the race of the Dalriads; the harpers played within, while the war pipes cheered the multitude without. The conversation among the guests was grave, subdued, and civil; no jest was attempted beyond the bounds of a very gentle pleasantry, calculated only to excite a passing smile. There were no raised voices, no contentious arguments; and Simon Glover had heard a hundred times more noise at a guild feast in Perth than was made on this occasion by two hundred wild mountaineers.
Even the liquor itself did not seem to raise the festive party above the same tone of decorous gravity. It was of various kinds. Wine appeared in very small quantities, and was served out only to the principal guests, among which honoured number Simon Glover was again included. The wine and the two wheaten loaves were indeed the only marks of notice which he received during the feast; but Niel Booshalloch, jealous of his master's reputation for hospitality, failed not to enlarge on them as proofs of high distinction. Distilled liquors, since so generally used in the Highlands, were then comparatively unknown. The usquebaugh was circulated in small quantities, and was highly flavoured with a decoction of saffron and other herbs, so as to resemble a medicinal potion rather than a festive cordial. Cider and mead were seen at the entertainment, but ale, brewed in great quantities for the purpose, and flowing round without restriction, was the liquor generally used, and that was drunk with a moderation much less known among the more modern Highlanders. A cup to the memory of the deceased chieftain was the first pledge solemnly proclaimed after the banquet was finished, and a low murmur of benedictions was heard from the company, while the monks alone, uplifting their united voices, sung Requiem eternam dona. An unusual silence followed, as if something extraordinary was expected, when Eachin arose with a bold and manly, yet modest, grace, and ascended the vacant seat or throne, saying with dignity and firmness:
"This seat and my father's inheritance I claim as my right—so prosper me God and St. Barr!"
"How will you rule your father's children?" said an old man, the uncle of the deceased.
"I will defend them with my father's sword, and distribute justice to them under my father's banner."
The old man, with a trembling hand, unsheathed the ponderous weapon, and, holding it by the blade, offered the hilt to the young chieftain's grasp; at the same time Torquil of the Oak unfurled the pennon of the tribe, and swung it repeatedly over Eachin's head, who, with singular grace and dexterity, brandished the huge claymore as in its defence. The guests raised a yelling shout to testify their acceptance of the patriarchal chief who claimed their allegiance, nor was there any who, in the graceful and agile youth before them, was disposed to recollect the subject of sinister vaticinations. As he stood in glittering mail, resting on the long sword, and acknowledging by gracious gestures the acclamations which rent the air within, without, and around, Simon Glover was tempted to doubt whether this majestic figure was that of the same lad whom he had often treated with little ceremony, and began to have some apprehension of the consequences of having done so. A general burst of minstrelsy succeeded to the acclamations, and rock and greenwood rang to harp and pipes, as lately to shout and yell of woe.
It would be tedious to pursue the progress of the inaugural feast, or detail the pledges that were quaffed to former heroes of the clan, and above all to the twenty-nine brave galloglasses who were to fight in the approaching conflict, under the eye and leading of their young chief. The bards, assuming in old times the prophetic character combined with their own, ventured to assure them of the most distinguished victory, and to predict the fury with which the blue falcon, the emblem of the Clan Quhele, should rend to pieces the mountain cat, the well known badge of the Clan Chattan.
It was approaching sunset when a bowl, called the grace cup, made of oak, hooped with silver, was handed round the table as the signal of dispersion, although it was left free to any who chose a longer carouse to retreat to any of the outer bothies. As for Simon Glover, the Booshalloch conducted him to a small hut, contrived, it would seem, for the use of a single individual, where a bed of heath and moss was arranged as well as the season would permit, and an ample supply of such delicacies as the late feast afforded showed that all care had been taken for the inhabitant's accommodation.
"Do not leave this hut," said the Booshalloch, taking leave of his friend and protege: "this is your place of rest. But apartments are lost on such a night of confusion, and if the badger leaves his hole the toad will creep into it."
To Simon Glover this arrangement was by no means disagreeable. He had been wearied by the noise of the day, and felt desirous of repose. After eating, therefore, a morsel, which his appetite scarce required, and drinking a cup of wine to expel the cold, he muttered his evening prayer, wrapt himself in his cloak, and lay down on a couch which old acquaintance had made familiar and easy to him. The hum and murmur, and even the occasional shouts, of some of the festive multitude who continued revelling without did not long interrupt his repose, and in about ten minutes he was as fast asleep as if he had lain in his own bed in Curfew Street.
Still harping on my daughter.
Two hours before the black cock crew, Simon Glover was wakened by a well known voice, which called him by name.
"What, Conachar!" he replied, as he started from sleep, "is the morning so far advanced?" and, raising his eyes, the person of whom he was dreaming stood before him; and at the same moment, the events of yesterday rushing on his recollection, he saw with surprise that the vision retained the form which sleep had assigned it, and it was not the mail clad Highland chief, with claymore in hand, as he had seen him the preceding night, but Conachar of Curfew Street, in his humble apprentice's garb, holding in his hand a switch of oak. An apparition would not more have surprised our Perth burgher. As he gazed with wonder, the youth turned upon him a piece of lighted bog wood which he carried in a lantern, and to his waking exclamation replied:
"Even so, father Simon: it is Conachar, come to renew our old acquaintance, when our intercourse will attract least notice."
So saying, he sat down on a tressel which answered the purpose of a chair, and placing the lantern beside him, proceeded in the most friendly tone:
"I have tasted of thy good cheer many a day, father Simon; I trust thou hast found no lack in my family?"
"None whatever, Eachin MacIan," answered the glover, for the simplicity of the Celtic language and manners rejects all honorary titles; "it was even too good for this fasting season, and much too good for me, since I must be ashamed to think how hard you fared in Curfew Street."
"Even too well, to use your own word," said Conachar, "for the deserts of an idle apprentice and for the wants of a young Highlander. But yesterday, if there was, as I trust, enough of food, found you not, good glover, some lack of courteous welcome? Excuse it not—I know you did so. But I am young in authority with my people, and I must not too early draw their attention to the period of my residence in the Lowlands, which, however, I can never forget."
"I understand the cause entirely," said Simon; "and therefore it is unwillingly, and as it were by force, that I have made so early a visit hither."
"Hush, father—hush! It is well you are come to see some of my Highland splendour while it yet sparkles. Return after Palm Sunday, and who knows whom or what you may find in the territories we now possess! The wildcat may have made his lodge where the banqueting bower of MacIan now stands."
The young chief was silent, and pressed the top of the rod to his lips, as if to guard against uttering more.
"There is no fear of that, Eachin," said Simon, in that vague way in which lukewarm comforters endeavour to turn the reflections of their friends from the consideration of inevitable danger.
"There is fear, and there is peril of utter ruin," answered Eachin, "and there is positive certainty of great loss. I marvel my father consented to this wily proposal of Albany. I would MacGillie Chattanach would agree with me, and then, instead of wasting our best blood against each other, we would go down together to Strathmore and kill and take possession. I would rule at Perth and he at Dundee, and all the great strath should be our own to the banks of the Firth of Tay. Such is the policy I have caught from your old grey head, father Simon, when holding a trencher at thy back, and listening to thy evening talk with Bailie Craigdallie."
"The tongue is well called an unruly member," thought the glover. "Here have I been holding a candle to the devil, to show him the way to mischief."
But he only said aloud: "These plans come too late."
"Too late indeed!" answered Eachin. "The indentures of battle are signed by our marks and seals, the burning hate of the Clan Quhele and Clan Chattan is blown up to an inextinguishable flame by mutual insults and boasts. Yes, the time is passed by. But to thine own affairs, father Glover. It is religion that has brought thee hither, as I learn from Niel Booshalloch. Surely, my experience of thy prudence did not lead me to suspect thee of any quarrel with Mother Church. As for my old acquaintance, Father Clement, he is one of those who hunt after the crown of martyrdom, and think a stake, surrounded with blazing fagots, better worth embracing than a willing bride. He is a very knight errant in defence of his religious notions, and does battle wherever he comes. He hath already a quarrel with the monks of Sibyl's Isle yonder about some point of doctrine. Hast seen him?"
"I have," answered Simon; "but we spoke little together, the time being pressing."
"He may have said that there is a third person—one more likely, I think, to be a true fugitive for religion than either you, a shrewd citizen, or he, a wrangling preacher—who would be right heartily welcome to share our protection? Thou art dull, man, and wilt not guess my meaning—thy daughter, Catharine."
These last words the young chief spoke in English; and he continued the conversation in that language, as if apprehensive of being overheard, and, indeed, as if under the sense of some involuntary hesitation.
"My daughter Catharine," said the glover, remembering what the Carthusian had told him, "is well and safe."
"But where or with whom?" said the young chief. "And wherefore came she not with you? Think you the Clan Quhele have no cailliachs as active as old Dorothy, whose hand has warmed my haffits before now, to wait upon the daughter of their chieftain's master?"
"Again I thank you," said the glover, "and doubt neither your power nor your will to protect my daughter, as well as myself. But an honourable lady, the friend of Sir Patrick Charteris, hath offered her a safe place of refuge without the risk of a toilsome journey through a desolate and distracted country."
"Oh, ay, Sir Patrick Charteris," said Eachin, in a more reserved and distant tone; "he must be preferred to all men, without doubt. He is your friend, I think?"
Simon Glover longed to punish this affectation of a boy who had been scolded four times a day for running into the street to see Sir Patrick Charteris ride past; but he checked his spirit of repartee, and simply said:
"Sir Patrick Charteris has been provost of Perth for seven years, and it is likely is so still, since the magistrates are elected, not in Lent, but at St. Martinmas."
"Ah, father Glover," said the youth, in his kinder and more familiar mode of address, "you are so used to see the sumptuous shows and pageants of Perth, that you would but little relish our barbarous festival in comparison. What didst thou think of our ceremonial of yesterday?"
"It was noble and touching," said the glover; "and to me, who knew your father, most especially so. When you rested on the sword and looked around you, methought I saw mine old friend Gilchrist MacIan arisen from the dead and renewed in years and in strength."
"I played my part there boldly, I trust; and showed little of that paltry apprentice boy whom you used to—use just as he deserved?"
"Eachin resembles Conachar," said the glover, "no more than a salmon resembles a gar, though men say they are the same fish in a different state, or than a butterfly resembles a grub."
"Thinkest thou that, while I was taking upon me the power which all women love, I would have been myself an object for a maiden's eye to rest upon? To speak plain, what would Catharine have thought of me in the ceremonial?"
"We approach the shallows now," thought Simon Glover, "and without nice pilotage we drive right on shore."
"Most women like show, Eachin; but I think my daughter Catharine be an exception. She would rejoice in the good fortune of her household friend and playmate; but she would not value the splendid MacIan, captain of Clan Quhele, more than the orphan Conachar."
"She is ever generous and disinterested," replied the young chief. "But yourself, father, have seen the world for many more years than she has done, and can better form a judgment what power and wealth do for those who enjoy them. Think, and speak sincerely, what would be your own thoughts if you saw your Catharine standing under yonder canopy, with the command over an hundred hills, and the devoted obedience of ten thousand vassals; and as the price of these advantages, her hand in that of the man who loves her the best in the world?"
"Meaning in your own, Conachar?" said Simon.
"Ay, Conachar call me: I love the name, since it was by that I have been known to Catharine."
"Sincerely, then," said the glover, endeavouring to give the least offensive turn to his reply, "my inmost thought would be the earnest wish that Catharine and I were safe in our humble booth in Curfew Street, with Dorothy for our only vassal."
"And with poor Conachar also, I trust? You would not leave him to pine away in solitary grandeur?"
"I would not," answered the glover, "wish so ill to the Clan Quhele, mine ancient friends, as to deprive them, at the moment of emergency, of a brave young chief, and that chief of the fame which he is about to acquire at their head in the approaching conflict."
Eachin bit his lip to suppress his irritated feelings as he replied: "Words—words—empty words, father Simon. You fear the Clan Quhele more than you love them, and you suppose their indignation would be formidable should their chief marry the daughter of a burgess of Perth."
"And if I do fear such an issue, Hector MacIan, have I not reason? How have ill assorted marriages had issue in the house of MacCallanmore, in that of the powerful MacLeans—nay, of the Lords of the Isles themselves? What has ever come of them but divorce and exheredation, sometimes worse fate, to the ambitious intruder? You could not marry my child before a priest, and you could only wed her with your left hand; and I—" he checked the strain of impetuosity which the subject inspired, and concluded, "and I am an honest though humble burgher of Perth, who would rather my child were the lawful and undoubted spouse of a citizen in my own rank than the licensed concubine of a monarch."
"I will wed Catharine before the priest and before the world, before the altar and before the black stones of Iona," said the impetuous young man. "She is the love of my youth, and there is not a tie in religion or honour but I will bind myself by them! I have sounded my people. If we do but win this combat—and, with the hope of gaining Catharine, we SHALL win it—my heart tells me so—I shall be so much lord over their affections that, were I to take a bride from the almshouse, so it was my pleasure, they would hail her as if she were a daughter of MacCallanmore. But you reject my suit?" said Eachin, sternly.
"You put words of offence in my mouth," said the old man, "and may next punish me for them, since I am wholly in your power. But with my consent my daughter shall never wed save in her own degree. Her heart would break amid the constant wars and scenes of bloodshed which connect themselves with your lot. If you really love her, and recollect her dread of strife and combat, you would not wish her to be subjected to the train of military horrors in which you, like your father, must needs be inevitably and eternally engaged. Choose a bride amongst the daughters of the mountain chiefs, my son, or fiery Lowland nobles. You are fair, young, rich, high born, and powerful, and will not woo in vain. You will readily find one who will rejoice in your conquests, and cheer you under defeat. To Catharine, the one would be as frightful as the other. A warrior must wear a steel gauntlet: a glove of kidskin would be torn to pieces in an hour."
A dark cloud passed over the face of the young chief, lately animated with so much fire.
"Farewell," he said, "the only hope which could have lighted me to fame or victory!"
He remained for a space silent, and intensely thoughtful, with downcast eyes, a lowering brow, and folded arms. At length he raised his hands, and said: "Father,—for such you have been to me—I am about to tell you a secret. Reason and pride both advise me to be silent, but fate urges me, and must be obeyed. I am about to lodge in you the deepest and dearest secret that man ever confided to man. But beware—end this conference how it will—beware how you ever breathe a syllable of what I am now to trust to you; for know that, were you to do so in the most remote corner of Scotland, I have ears to hear it even there, and a hand and poniard to reach a traitor's bosom. I am—but the word will not out!"
"Do not speak it then," said the prudent glover: "a secret is no longer safe when it crosses the lips of him who owns it, and I desire not a confidence so dangerous as you menace me with."
"Ay, but I must speak, and you must hear," said the youth. "In this age of battle, father, you have yourself been a combatant?"
"Once only," replied Simon, "when the Southron assaulted the Fair City. I was summoned to take my part in the defence, as my tenure required, like that of other craftsmen, who are bound to keep watch and ward."
"And how felt you upon that matter?" inquired the young chief.
"What can that import to the present business?" said Simon, in some surprise.
"Much, else I had not asked the question," answered. Eachin, in the tone of haughtiness which from time to time he assumed.
"An old man is easily brought to speak of olden times," said Simon, not unwilling, on an instant's reflection, to lead the conversation away from the subject of his daughter, "and I must needs confess my feelings were much short of the high, cheerful confidence, nay, the pleasure, with which I have seen other men go to battle. My life and profession were peaceful, and though I have not wanted the spirit of a man, when the time demanded it, yet I have seldom slept worse than the night before that onslaught. My ideas were harrowed by the tales we were told—nothing short of the truth—about the Saxon archers: how they drew shafts of a cloth yard length, and used bows a third longer than ours. When I fell into a broken slumber, if but a straw in the mattress pricked my side I started and waked, thinking an English arrow was quivering in my body. In the morning, as I began for very weariness to sink into some repose, I was waked by the tolling of the common bell, which called us burghers to the walls; I never heard its sound peal so like a passing knell before or since."
"Go on—what further chanced?" demanded Eachin.
"I did on my harness," said Simon, "such as it was; took my mother's blessing, a high spirited woman, who spoke of my father's actions for the honour of the Fair Town. This heartened me, and I felt still bolder when I found myself ranked among the other crafts, all bowmen, for thou knowest the Perth citizens have good skill in archery. We were dispersed on the walls, several knights and squires in armour of proof being mingled amongst us, who kept a bold countenance, confident perhaps in their harness, and informed us, for our encouragement, that they would cut down with their swords and axes any of those who should attempt to quit their post. I was kindly assured of this myself by the old Kempe of Kinfauns, as he was called, this good Sir Patrick's father, then our provost. He was a grandson of the Red Rover, Tom of Longueville, and a likely man to keep his word, which he addressed to me in especial, because a night of much discomfort may have made me look paler than usual; and, besides, I was but a lad."
"And did his exhortation add to your fear or your resolution?" said Eachin, who seemed very attentive.
"To my resolution," answered Simon; "for I think nothing can make a man so bold to face one danger at some distance in his front as the knowledge of another close behind him, to push him forward. Well, I mounted the walls in tolerable heart, and was placed with others on the Spey Tower, being accounted a good bowman. But a very cold fit seized me as I saw the English, in great order, with their archers in front, and their men at arms behind, marching forward to the attack in strong columns, three in number. They came on steadily, and some of us would fain have shot at them; but it was strictly forbidden, and we were obliged to remain motionless, sheltering ourselves behind the battlement as we best might. As the Southron formed their long ranks into lines, each man occupying his place as by magic, and preparing to cover themselves by large shields, called pavesses, which they planted before them, I again felt a strange breathlessness, and some desire to go home for a glass of distilled waters. But as I looked aside, I saw the worthy Kempe of Kinfauns bending a large crossbow, and I thought it pity he should waste the bolt on a true hearted Scotsman, when so many English were in presence; so I e'en staid where I was, being in a comfortable angle, formed by two battlements. The English then strode forward, and drew their bowstrings—not to the breast, as your Highland kerne do, but to the ear—and sent off their volleys of swallow tails before we could call on St. Andrew. I winked when I saw them haul up their tackle, and I believe I started as the shafts began to rattle against the parapet. But looking round me, and seeing none hurt but John Squallit, the town crier, whose jaws were pierced through with a cloth yard shaft, I took heart of grace, and shot in my turn with good will and good aim. A little man I shot at, who had just peeped out from behind his target, dropt with a shaft through his shoulder. The provost cried, 'Well stitched, Simon Glover!' 'St. John, for his own town, my fellow craftsmen!' shouted I, though I was then but an apprentice. And if you will believe me, in the rest of the skirmish, which was ended by the foes drawing off, I drew bowstring and loosed shaft as calmly as if I had been shooting at butts instead of men's breasts. I gained some credit, and I have ever afterwards thought that, in case of necessity—for with me it had never been matter of choice—I should not have lost it again. And this is all I can tell of warlike experience in battle. Other dangers I have had, which I have endeavoured to avoid like a wise man, or, when they were inevitable, I have faced them like a true one. Upon other terms a man cannot live or hold up his head in Scotland."