Glen Discovery in GlenLyon
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Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott Volume ii, Chapters seventeenth and eighteenth

Project Gutenberg's Rob Roy, Complete, by Sir Walter Scott

  _Dangle._--Egad, I think the interpreter is the harder to be
understood of the two.

I had scarce given vent to my feelings in this paroxysm, ere was ashamed of my weakness. I remembered that I had been for some time endeavouring to regard Diana Vernon, when her idea intruded itself on my remembrance, as a friend, for whose welfare I should indeed always be anxious, but with whom I could have little further communication. But the almost unrepressed tenderness of her manner, joined to the romance of our sudden meeting where it was so little to have been expected, were circumstances which threw me entirely off my guard. I recovered, however, sooner than might have been expected, and without giving myself time accurately to examine my motives. I resumed the path on which I had been travelling when overtaken by this strange and unexpected apparition.

“I am not,” was my reflection, “transgressing her injunction so pathetically given, since I am but pursuing my own journey by the only open route.--If I have succeeded in recovering my father's property, it still remains incumbent on me to see my Glasgow friend delivered from the situation in which he has involved himself on my account; besides, what other place of rest can I obtain for the night excepting at the little inn of Aberfoil? They also must stop there, since it is impossible for travellers on horseback to go farther--Well, then, we shall meet again--meet for the last time perhaps--But I shall see and hear her--I shall learn who this happy man is who exercises over her the authority of a husband--I shall learn if there remains, in the difficult course in which she seems engaged, any difficulty which my efforts may remove, or aught that I can do to express my gratitude for her generosity--for her disinterested friendship.”

As I reasoned thus with myself, colouring with every plausible pretext which occurred to my ingenuity my passionate desire once more to see and converse with my cousin, I was suddenly hailed by a touch on the shoulder; and the deep voice of a Highlander, who, walking still faster than I, though I was proceeding at a smart pace, accosted me with, “A braw night, Maister Osbaldistone--we have met at the mirk hour before now.”

There was no mistaking the tone of MacGregor; he had escaped the pursuit of his enemies, and was in full retreat to his own wilds and to his adherents. He had also contrived to arm himself, probably at the house of some secret adherent, for he had a musket on his shoulder, and the usual Highland weapons by his side. To have found myself alone with such a character in such a situation, and at this late hour in the evening, might not have been pleasant to me in any ordinary mood of mind; for, though habituated to think of Rob Roy in rather a friendly point of view, I will confess frankly that I never heard him speak but that it seemed to thrill my blood. The intonation of the mountaineers gives a habitual depth and hollowness to the sound of their words, owing to the guttural expression so common in their native language, and they usually speak with a good deal of emphasis. To these national peculiarities Rob Roy added a sort of hard indifference of accent and manner, expressive of a mind neither to be daunted, nor surprised, nor affected by what passed before him, however dreadful, however sudden, however afflicting. Habitual danger, with unbounded confidence in his own strength and sagacity, had rendered him indifferent to fear, and the lawless and precarious life he led had blunted, though its dangers and errors had not destroyed, his feelings for others. And it was to be remembered that I had very lately seen the followers of this man commit a cruel slaughter on an unarmed and suppliant individual.

Yet such was the state of my mind, that I welcomed the company of the outlaw leader as a relief to my own overstrained and painful thoughts; and was not without hopes that through his means I might obtain some clew of guidance through the maze in which my fate had involved me. I therefore answered his greeting cordially, and congratulated him on his late escape in circumstances when escape seemed impossible.

“Ay,” he replied, “there is as much between the craig and the woodie* as there is between the cup and the lip. But my peril was less than you may think, being a stranger to this country.

* _i.e._ The throat and the withy. Twigs of willow, such as bind faggots, were often used for halters in Scotland and Ireland, being a sage economy of hemp.

Of those that were summoned to take me, and to keep me, and to retake me again, there was a moiety, as cousin Nicol Jarvie calls it, that had nae will that I suld be either taen, or keepit fast, or retaen; and of tother moiety, there was as half was feared to stir me; and so I had only like the fourth part of fifty or sixty men to deal withal.”

“And enough, too, I should think,” replied I.

“I dinna ken that,” said he; “but I ken, that turn every ill-willer that I had amang them out upon the green before the Clachan of Aberfoil, I wad find them play with broadsword and target, one down and another come on.”

He now inquired into my adventures since we entered his country, and laughed heartily at my account of the battle we had in the inn, and at the exploits of the Bailie with the red-hot poker.

“Let Glasgow Flourish!” he exclaimed. “The curse of Cromwell on me, if I wad hae wished better sport than to see cousin Nicol Jarvie singe Iverach's plaid, like a sheep's head between a pair of tongs. But my cousin Jarvie,” he added, more gravely, “has some gentleman's bluid in his veins, although he has been unhappily bred up to a peaceful and mechanical craft, which could not but blunt any pretty man's spirit.--Ye may estimate the reason why I could not receive you at the Clachan of Aberfoil as I purposed. They had made a fine hosenet for me when I was absent twa or three days at Glasgow, upon the king's business--But I think I broke up the league about their lugs--they'll no be able to hound one clan against another as they hae dune. I hope soon to see the day when a' Hielandmen will stand shouther to shouther. But what chanced next?”

I gave him an account of the arrival of Captain Thornton and his party, and the arrest of the Bailie and myself under pretext of our being suspicious persons; and upon his more special inquiry, I recollected the officer had mentioned that, besides my name sounding suspicious in his ears, he had orders to secure an old and young person, resembling our description. This again moved the outlaw's risibility.

“As man lives by bread,” he said, “the buzzards have mistaen my friend the Bailie for his Excellency, and you for Diana Vernon--O, the most egregious night-howlets!”

“Miss Vernon?” said I, with hesitation, and trembling for the answer--“Does she still bear that name? She passed but now, along with a gentleman who seemed to use a style of authority.”

“Ay, ay,” answered Rob, “she's under lawfu' authority now; and full time, for she was a daft hempie--But she's a mettle quean. It's a pity his Excellency is a thought eldern. The like o' yourself, or my son Hamish, wad be mair sortable in point of years.”

Here, then, was a complete downfall of those castles of cards which my fancy had, in despite of my reason, so often amused herself with building. Although in truth I had scarcely anything else to expect, since I could not suppose that Diana could be travelling in such a country, at such an hour, with any but one who had a legal title to protect her, I did not feel the blow less severely when it came; and MacGregor's voice, urging me to pursue my story, sounded in my ears without conveying any exact import to my mind.

“You are ill,” he said at length, after he had spoken twice without receiving an answer; “this day's wark has been ower muckle for ane doubtless unused to sic things.”

The tone of kindness in which this was spoken, recalling me to myself,

and to the necessities of my situation, I continued my narrative as well as I could. Rob Roy expressed great exultation at the successful skirmish in the pass.

“They say,” he observed, “that king's chaff is better than other folk's corn; but I think that canna be said o' king's soldiers, if they let themselves be beaten wi' a wheen auld carles that are past fighting, and bairns that are no come till't, and wives wi' their rocks and distaffs, the very wally-draigles o' the countryside. And Dougal Gregor, too--wha wad hae thought there had been as muckle sense in his tatty-pow, that ne'er had a better covering than his ain shaggy hassock of hair!--But say away--though I dread what's to come neist--for my Helen's an incarnate devil when her bluid's up--puir thing, she has ower muckle reason.”

I observed as much delicacy as I could in communicating to him the usage we had received, but I obviously saw the detail gave him great pain.

“I wad rather than a thousand merks,” he said, “that I had been at hame! To misguide strangers, and forbye a', my ain natural cousin, that had showed me sic kindness--I wad rather they had burned half the Lennox in their folly! But this comes o' trusting women and their bairns, that have neither measure nor reason in their dealings. However, it's a' owing to that dog of a gauger, wha betrayed me by pretending a message from your cousin Rashleigh, to meet him on the king's affairs, whilk I thought was very like to be anent Garschattachin and a party of the Lennox declaring themselves for King James. Faith! but I ken'd I was clean beguiled when I heard the Duke was there; and when they strapped the horse-girth ower my arms, I might hae judged what was biding me; for I ken'd your kinsman, being, wi' pardon, a slippery loon himself, is prone to employ those of his ain kidney--I wish he mayna hae been at the bottom o' the ploy himsell--I thought the chield Morris looked devilish queer when I determined he should remain a wad, or hostage, for my safe back-coming. But I _am_ come back, nae thanks to him, or them that employed him; and the question is, how the collector loon is to win back himsell--I promise him it will not be without a ransom.”

“Morris,” said I, “has already paid the last ransom which mortal man can owe.”

“Eh! What?” exclaimed my companion hastily; “what d'ye say? I trust it was in the skirmish he was killed?”

“He was slain in cold blood after the fight was over, Mr. Campbell.”

“Cold blood?--Damnation!” he said, muttering betwixt his teeth--“How fell that, sir? Speak out, sir, and do not Maister or Campbell me--my foot is on my native heath, and my name is MacGregor!”

His passions were obviously irritated; but without noticing the rudeness of his tone, I gave him a short and distinct account of the death of Morris. He struck the butt of his gun with great vehemence against the ground, and broke out--“I vow to God, such a deed might make one forswear kin, clan, country, wife, and bairns! And yet the villain wrought long for it. And what is the difference between warsling below the water wi' a stane about your neck, and wavering in the wind wi' a tether round it?--it's but choking after a', and he drees the doom he ettled for me. I could have wished, though, they had rather putten a ball through him, or a dirk; for the fashion of removing him will give rise to mony idle clavers--But every wight has his weird, and we maun a' dee when our day comes--And naebody will deny that Helen MacGregor has deep wrongs to avenge.”

So saying, he seemed to dismiss the theme altogether from his mind, and proceeded to inquire how I got free from the party in whose hands he had seen me.

My story was soon told; and I added the episode of my having recovered the papers of my father, though I dared not trust my voice to name the name of Diana.

“I was sure ye wad get them,” said MacGregor;--“the letter ye brought me contained his Excellency's pleasure to that effect and nae doubt it was my will to have aided in it. And I asked ye up into this glen on the very errand. But it's like his Excellency has foregathered wi' Rashleigh sooner than I expected.”

The first part of this answer was what most forcibly struck me.

“Was the letter I brought you, then, from this person you call his Excellency? Who is he? and what is his rank and proper name?”

“I am thinking,” said MacGregor, “that since ye dinna ken them already they canna be o' muckle consequence to you, and sae I shall say naething on that score. But weel I wot the letter was frae his ain hand, or, having a sort of business of my ain on my hands, being, as ye weel may see, just as much as I can fairly manage, I canna say I would hae fashed mysell sae muckle about the matter.”

I now recollected the lights seen in the library--the various circumstances which had excited my jealousy--the glove--the agitation of the tapestry which covered the secret passage from Rashleigh's apartment; and, above all, I recollected that Diana retired in order to write, as I then thought, the billet to which I was to have recourse in case of the last necessity. Her hours, then, were not spent in solitude, but in listening to the addresses of some desperate agent of Jacobitical treason, who was a secret resident within the mansion of her uncle! Other young women have sold themselves for gold, or suffered themselves to be seduced from their first love from vanity; but Diana had sacrificed my affections and her own to partake the fortunes of some desperate adventurer--to seek the haunts of freebooters through midnight deserts, with no better hopes of rank or fortune than that mimicry of both which the mock court of the Stuarts at St. Germains had in their power to bestow.

“I will see her,” I said internally, “if it be possible, once more. I will argue with her as a friend--as a kinsman--on the risk she is incurring, and I will facilitate her retreat to France, where she may, with more comfort and propriety, as well as safety, abide the issue of the turmoils which the political trepanner, to whom she has united her fate, is doubtless busied in putting into motion.”

“I conclude, then,” I said to MacGregor, after about five minutes' silence on both sides, “that his Excellency, since you give me no other name for him, was residing in Osbaldistone Hall at the same time with myself?”

“To be sure--to be sure--and in the young lady's apartment, as best reason was.” This gratuitous information was adding gall to bitterness. “But few,” added MacGregor, “ken'd he was derned there, save Rashleigh and Sir Hildebrand; for you were out o' the question; and the young lads haena wit eneugh to ca' the cat frae the cream--But it's a bra' auld-fashioned house, and what I specially admire is the abundance o' holes and bores and concealments--ye could put twenty or thirty men in ae corner, and a family might live a week without finding them out--whilk, nae doubt, may on occasion be a special convenience. I wish we had the like o' Osbaldistone Hall on the braes o' Craig-Royston--But we maun gar woods and caves serve the like o' us puir Hieland bodies.”

“I suppose his Excellency,” said I, “was privy to the first accident which befell”--

I could not help hesitating a moment.

“Ye were going to say Morris,” said Rob Roy coolly, for he was too much accustomed to deeds of violence for the agitation he had at first expressed to be of long continuance. “I used to laugh heartily at that reik; but I'll hardly hae the heart to do't again, since the ill-far'd accident at the Loch. Na, na--his Excellency ken'd nought o' that ploy--it was a' managed atween Rashleigh and mysell. But the sport that came after--and Rashleigh's shift o' turning the suspicion aff himself upon you, that he had nae grit favour to frae the beginning--and then Miss Die, she maun hae us sweep up a' our spiders' webs again, and set you out o' the Justice's claws--and then the frightened craven Morris, that was scared out o' his seven senses by seeing the real man when he was charging the innocent stranger--and the gowk of a clerk--and the drunken carle of a justice--Ohon! ohon!--mony a laugh that job's gien me--and now, a' that I can do for the puir devil is to get some messes said for his soul.”

“May I ask,” said I, “how Miss Vernon came to have so much influence over Rashleigh and his accomplices as to derange your projected plan?”

“Mine! it was none of mine. No man can say I ever laid my burden on other folk's shoulders--it was a' Rashleigh's doings. But, undoubtedly, she had great influence wi' us baith on account of his Excellency's affection, as weel as that she ken'd far ower mony secrets to be lightlied in a matter o' that kind.--Deil tak him,” he ejaculated, by way of summing up, “that gies women either secret to keep or power to abuse--fules shouldna hae chapping-sticks.”

We were now within a quarter of a mile from the village, when three Highlanders, springing upon us with presented arms, commanded us to stand and tell our business. The single word _Gregaragh,_ in the deep and commanding voice of my companion, was answered by a shout, or rather yell, of joyful recognition. One, throwing down his firelock, clasped his leader so fast round the knees, that he was unable to extricate himself, muttering, at the same time, a torrent of Gaelic gratulation, which every now and then rose into a sort of scream of gladness. The two others, after the first howling was over, set off literally with the speed of deers, contending which should first carry to the village, which a strong party of the MacGregors now occupied, the joyful news of Rob Roy's escape and return. The intelligence excited such shouts of jubilation, that the very hills rung again, and young and old, men, women, and children, without distinction of sex or age, came running down the vale to meet us, with all the tumultuous speed and clamour of a mountain torrent. When I heard the rushing noise and yells of this joyful multitude approach us, I thought it a fitting precaution to remind MacGregor that I was a stranger, and under his protection. He accordingly held me fast by the hand, while the assemblage crowded around him with such shouts of devoted attachment, and joy at his return, as were really affecting; nor did he extend to his followers what all eagerly sought, the grasp, namely, of his hand, until he had made them understand that I was to be kindly and carefully used.

The mandate of the Sultan of Delhi could not have been more promptly obeyed. Indeed, I now sustained nearly as much inconvenience from their well-meant attentions as formerly from their rudeness. They would hardly allow the friend of their leader to walk upon his own legs, so earnest were they in affording me support and assistance upon the way; and at length, taking advantage of a slight stumble which I made over a stone, which the press did not permit me to avoid, they fairly seized upon me, and bore me in their arms in triumph towards Mrs. MacAlpine's.

On arrival before her hospitable wigwam, I found power and popularity had its inconveniences in the Highlands, as everywhere else; for, before MacGregor could be permitted to enter the house where he was to obtain rest and refreshment, he was obliged to relate the story of his escape at least a dozen times over, as I was told by an officious old man, who chose to translate it at least as often for my edification, and to whom I was in policy obliged to seem to pay a decent degree of attention. The audience being at length satisfied, group after group departed to take their bed upon the heath, or in the neighbouring huts, some cursing the Duke and Garschattachin, some lamenting the probable danger of Ewan of Brigglands, incurred by his friendship to MacGregor, but all agreeing that the escape of Rob Roy himself lost nothing in comparison with the exploit of any one of their chiefs since the days of Dougal Ciar, the founder of his line.

The friendly outlaw, now taking me by the arm, conducted me into the interior of the hut. My eyes roved round its smoky recesses in quest of Diana and her companion; but they were nowhere to be seen, and I felt as if to make inquiries might betray some secret motives, which were best concealed. The only known countenance upon which my eyes rested was that of the Bailie, who, seated on a stool by the fireside, received with a sort of reserved dignity, the welcomes of Rob Roy, the apologies which he made for his indifferent accommodation, and his inquiries after his health.

“I am pretty weel, kinsman,” said the Bailie--“indifferent weel, I thank ye; and for accommodations, ane canna expect to carry about the Saut Market at his tail, as a snail does his caup;--and I am blythe that ye hae gotten out o' the hands o' your unfreends.”

“Weel, weel, then,” answered Roy, “what is't ails ye, man--a's weel that ends weel!--the warld will last our day--Come, take a cup o' brandy--your father the deacon could take ane at an orra time.”

“It might be he might do sae, Robin, after fatigue--whilk has been my lot mair ways than ane this day. But,” he continued, slowly filling up a little wooden stoup which might hold about three glasses, “he was a moderate man of his bicker, as I am mysell--Here's wussing health to ye, Robin” (a sip), “and your weelfare here and hereafter” (another taste), “and also to my cousin Helen--and to your twa hopefu' lads, of whom mair anon.”

So saying, he drank up the contents of the cup with great gravity and deliberation, while MacGregor winked aside to me, as if in ridicule of the air of wisdom and superior authority which the Bailie assumed towards him in their intercourse, and which he exercised when Rob was at the head of his armed clan, in full as great, or a greater degree, than when he was at the Bailie's mercy in the Tolbooth of Glasgow. It seemed to me, that MacGregor wished me, as a stranger, to understand, that if he submitted to the tone which his kinsman assumed, it was partly out of deference to the rights of hospitality, but still more for the jest's sake.

As the Bailie set down his cup he recognised me, and giving me a cordial welcome on my return, he waived farther communication with me for the present.--“I will speak to your matters anon; I maun begin, as in reason, wi' those of my kinsman.--I presume, Robin, there's naebody here will carry aught o' what I am gaun to say, to the town-council or elsewhere, to my prejudice or to yours?”

“Make yourself easy on that head, cousin Nicol,” answered MacGregor; “the tae half o' the gillies winna ken what ye say, and the tother winna care--besides that, I wad stow the tongue out o' the head o' any o' them that suld presume to say ower again ony speech held wi' me in their presence.”

“Aweel, cousin, sic being the case, and Mr. Osbaldistone here being a prudent youth, and a safe friend--I'se plainly tell ye, ye are breeding up your family to gang an ill gate.” Then, clearing his voice with a preliminary hem, he addressed his kinsman, checking, as Malvolio proposed to do when seated in his state, his familiar smile with an austere regard of control.--“Ye ken yourself ye haud light by the law--and for my cousin Helen, forbye that her reception o' me this blessed day--whilk I excuse on account of perturbation of mind, was muckle on the north side o' _friendly,_ I say (outputting this personal reason of complaint) I hae that to say o' your wife”--

“Say _nothing_ of her, kinsman,” said Rob, in a grave and stern tone, “but what is befitting a friend to say, and her husband to hear. Of me you are welcome to say your full pleasure.”

“Aweel, aweel,” said the Bailie, somewhat disconcerted, “we'se let that be a pass-over--I dinna approve of making mischief in families. But here are your twa sons, Hamish and Robin, whilk signifies, as I'm gien to understand, James and Robert--I trust ye will call them sae in future--there comes nae gude o' Hamishes, and Eachines, and Angusses, except that they're the names ane aye chances to see in the indictments at the Western Circuits for cow-lifting, at the instance of his majesty's advocate for his majesty's interest. Aweel, but the twa lads, as I was saying, they haena sae muckle as the ordinar grunds, man, of liberal education--they dinna ken the very multiplication table itself, whilk is the root of a' usefu' knowledge, and they did naething but laugh and fleer at me when I tauld them my mind on their ignorance--It's my belief they can neither read, write, nor cipher, if sic a thing could be believed o' ane's ain connections in a Christian land.”

“If they could, kinsman,” said MacGregor, with great indifference, “their learning must have come o' free will, for whar the deil was I to get them a teacher?--wad ye hae had me put on the gate o' your Divinity Hall at Glasgow College, 'Wanted, a tutor for Rob Roy's bairns?'”

“Na, kinsman,” replied Mr. Jarvie, “but ye might hae sent the lads whar they could hae learned the fear o' God, and the usages of civilised creatures. They are as ignorant as the kyloes ye used to drive to market, or the very English churls that ye sauld them to, and can do naething whatever to purpose.”

“Umph!” answered Rob; “Hamish can bring doun a black-cock when he's on the wing wi' a single bullet, and Rob can drive a dirk through a twa-inch board.”

“Sae muckle the waur for them, cousin!--sae muckle the waur for them baith!” answered the Glasgow merchant in a tone of great decision; “an they ken naething better than that, they had better no ken that neither. Tell me yourself, Rob, what has a' this cutting, and stabbing, and shooting, and driving of dirks, whether through human flesh or fir deals, dune for yourself?--and werena ye a happier man at the tail o' your nowte-bestial, when ye were in an honest calling, than ever ye hae been since, at the head o' your Hieland kernes and gally-glasses?”

I observed that MacGregor, while his well-meaning kinsman spoke to him in this manner, turned and writhed his body like a man who indeed suffers pain, but is determined no groan shall escape his lips; and I longed for an opportunity to interrupt the well-meant, but, as it was obvious to me, quite mistaken strain, in which Jarvie addressed this extraordinary person. The dialogue, however, came to an end without my interference.

“And sae,” said the Bailie, “I hae been thinking, Rob, that as it may be ye are ower deep in the black book to win a pardon, and ower auld to mend yourself, that it wad be a pity to bring up twa hopefu' lads to sic a godless trade as your ain, and I wad blythely tak them for prentices at the loom, as I began mysell, and my father the deacon afore me, though, praise to the Giver, I only trade now as wholesale dealer--And--and”--

He saw a storm gathering on Rob's brow, which probably induced him to throw in, as a sweetener of an obnoxious proposition, what he had reserved to crown his own generosity, had it been embraced as an acceptable one;--“and Robin, lad, ye needna look sae glum, for I'll pay the prentice-fee, and never plague ye for the thousand merks neither.”

“_Ceade millia diaoul,_ hundred thousand devils!” exclaimed Rob, rising and striding through the hut, “My sons weavers!--_Millia molligheart!_--but I wad see every loom in Glasgow, beam, traddles, and shuttles, burnt in hell-fire sooner!”

With some difficulty I made the Bailie, who was preparing a reply, comprehend the risk and impropriety of pressing our host on this topic, and in a minute he recovered, or reassumed, his serenity of temper.

“But ye mean weel--ye mean weel,” said he; “so gie me your hand, Nicol, and if ever I put my sons apprentice, I will gie you the refusal o' them. And, as you say, there's the thousand merks to be settled between us.-- Here, Eachin MacAnaleister, bring me my sporran.”

The person he addressed, a tall, strong mountaineer, who seemed to act as MacGregor's lieutenant, brought from some place of safety a large leathern pouch, such as Highlanders of rank wear before them when in full dress, made of the skin of the sea-otter, richly garnished with silver ornaments and studs.

“I advise no man to attempt opening this sporran till he has my secret,” said Rob Roy; and then twisting one button in one direction, and another in another, pulling one stud upward, and pressing another downward, the mouth of the purse, which was bound with massive silver plate, opened and gave admittance to his hand. He made me remark, as if to break short the subject on which Bailie Jarvie had spoken, that a small steel pistol was concealed within the purse, the trigger of which was connected with the mounting, and made part of the machinery, so that the weapon would certainly be discharged, and in all probability its contents lodged in the person of any one, who, being unacquainted with the secret, should tamper with the lock which secured his treasure. “This,” said he touching the pistol--“this is the keeper of my privy purse.”

The simplicity of the contrivance to secure a furred pouch, which could have been ripped open without any attempt on the spring, reminded me of the verses in the Odyssey, where Ulysses, in a yet ruder age, is content to secure his property by casting a curious and involved complication of cordage around the sea-chest in which it was deposited.

The Bailie put on his spectacles to examine the mechanism, and when he had done, returned it with a smile and a sigh, observing--“Ah! Rob, had ither folk's purses been as weel guarded, I doubt if your sporran wad hae been as weel filled as it kythes to be by the weight.”

“Never mind, kinsman,” said Rob, laughing; “it will aye open for a friend's necessity, or to pay a just due--and here,” he added, pulling out a rouleau of gold, “here is your ten hundred merks--count them, and see that you are full and justly paid.”

Mr. Jarvie took the money in silence, and weighing it in his hand for an instant, laid it on the table, and replied, “Rob, I canna tak it--I downa intromit with it--there can nae gude come o't--I hae seen ower weel the day what sort of a gate your gowd is made in--ill-got gear ne'er prospered; and, to be plain wi' you, I winna meddle wi't--it looks as there might be bluid on't.”

“Troutsho!” said the outlaw, affecting an indifference which perhaps he did not altogether feel; “it's gude French gowd, and ne'er was in Scotchman's pouch before mine. Look at them, man--they are a' louis-d'ors, bright and bonnie as the day they were coined.”

“The waur, the waur--just sae muckle the waur, Robin,” replied the Bailie, averting his eyes from the money, though, like Caesar on the Lupercal, his fingers seemed to itch for it--“Rebellion is waur than witchcraft, or robbery either; there's gospel warrant for't.”

“Never mind the warrant, kinsman,” said the freebooter; “you come by the gowd honestly, and in payment of a just debt--it came from the one king, you may gie it to the other, if ye like; and it will just serve for a weakening of the enemy, and in the point where puir King James is weakest too, for, God knows, he has hands and hearts eneugh, but I doubt he wants the siller.”

“He'll no get mony Hielanders then, Robin,” said Mr. Jarvie, as, again replacing his spectacles on his nose, he undid the rouleau, and began to count its contents.

“Nor Lowlanders neither,” said MacGregor, arching his eyebrow, and, as he looked at me, directing a glance towards Mr. Jarvie, who, all unconscious of the ridicule, weighed each piece with habitual scrupulosity; and having told twice over the sum, which amounted to the discharge of his debt, principal and interest, he returned three pieces to buy his kinswoman a gown, as he expressed himself, and a brace more for the twa bairns, as he called them, requesting they might buy anything they liked with them except gunpowder. The Highlander stared at his kinsman's unexpected generosity, but courteously accepted his gift, which he deposited for the time in his well-secured pouch.

The Bailie next produced the original bond for the debt, on the back of which he had written a formal discharge, which, having subscribed himself, he requested me to sign as a witness. I did so, and Bailie Jarvie was looking anxiously around for another, the Scottish law requiring the subscription of two witnesses to validate either a bond or acquittance. “You will hardly find a man that can write save ourselves within these three miles,” said Rob, “but I'll settle the matter as easily;” and, taking the paper from before his kinsman, he threw it in the fire. Bailie Jarvie stared in his turn, but his kinsman continued, “That's a Hieland settlement of accounts. The time might come, cousin, were I to keep a' these charges and discharges, that friends might be brought into trouble for having dealt with me.”

The Bailie attempted no reply to this argument, and our supper now appeared in a style of abundance, and even delicacy, which, for the place, might be considered as extraordinary. The greater part of the provisions were cold, intimating they had been prepared at some distance; and there were some bottles of good French wine to relish pasties of various sorts of game, as well as other dishes. I remarked that MacGregor, while doing the honours of the table with great and anxious hospitality, prayed us to excuse the circumstance that some particular dish or pasty had been infringed on before it was presented to us. “You must know,” said he to Mr. Jarvie, but without looking towards me, “you are not the only guests this night in the MacGregor's country, whilk, doubtless, ye will believe, since my wife and the twa lads would otherwise have been maist ready to attend you, as weel beseems them.”

Bailie Jarvie looked as if he felt glad at any circumstance which occasioned their absence; and I should have been entirely of his opinion, had it not been that the outlaw's apology seemed to imply they were in attendance on Diana and her companion, whom even in my thoughts I could not bear to designate as her husband.

While the unpleasant ideas arising from this suggestion counteracted the good effects of appetite, welcome, and good cheer, I remarked that Rob Roy's attention had extended itself to providing us better bedding than we had enjoyed the night before. Two of the least fragile of the bedsteads, which stood by the wall of the hut, had been stuffed with heath, then in full flower, so artificially arranged, that, the flowers being uppermost, afforded a mattress at once elastic and fragrant. Cloaks, and such bedding as could be collected, stretched over this vegetable couch, made it both soft and warm. The Bailie seemed exhausted by fatigue. I resolved to adjourn my communication to him until next morning; and therefore suffered him to betake himself to bed so soon as he had finished a plentiful supper. Though tired and harassed, I did not myself feel the same disposition to sleep, but rather a restless and feverish anxiety, which led to some farther discourse betwixt me and MacGregor.


  A hopeless darkness settles o'er my fate;
I've seen the last look of her heavenly eyes,--
I've heard the last sound of her blessed voice,--
I've seen her fair form from my sight depart;
My doom is closed.
Count Basil.


“I ken not what to make of you, Mr. Osbaldistone,” said MacGregor, as he pushed the flask towards me. “You eat not, you show no wish for rest; and yet you drink not, though that flask of Bourdeaux might have come out of Sir Hildebrand's ain cellar. Had you been always as abstinent, you would have escaped the deadly hatred of your cousin Rashleigh.”

“Had I been always prudent,” said I, blushing at the scene he recalled to my recollection, “I should have escaped a worse evil--the reproach of my own conscience.”

MacGregor cast a keen and somewhat fierce glance on me, as if to read whether the reproof, which he evidently felt, had been intentionally conveyed. He saw that I was thinking of myself, not of him, and turned his face towards the fire with a deep sigh. I followed his example, and each remained for a few minutes wrapt in his own painful reverie. All in the hut were now asleep, or at least silent, excepting ourselves.

MacGregor first broke silence, in the tone of one who takes up his determination to enter on a painful subject. “My cousin Nicol Jarvie means well,” he said, “but he presses ower hard on the temper and situation of a man like me, considering what I have been--what I have been forced to become--and, above all, that which has forced me to become what I am.”

He paused; and, though feeling the delicate nature of the discussion in which the conversation was likely to engage me, I could not help replying, that I did not doubt his present situation had much which must be most unpleasant to his feelings.

“I should be happy to learn,” I added, “that there is an honourable chance of your escaping from it.”

“You speak like a boy,” returned MacGregor, in a low tone that growled like distant thunder--“like a boy, who thinks the auld gnarled oak can be twisted as easily as the young sapling. Can I forget that I have been branded as an outlaw--stigmatised as a traitor--a price set on my head as if I had been a wolf--my family treated as the dam and cubs of the hill-fox, whom all may torment, vilify, degrade, and insult--the very name which came to me from a long and noble line of martial ancestors, denounced, as if it were a spell to conjure up the devil with?”

As he went on in this manner, I could plainly see, that, by the enumeration of his wrongs, he was lashing himself up into a rage, in order to justify in his own eyes the errors they had led him into. In this he perfectly succeeded; his light grey eyes contracting alternately and dilating their pupils, until they seemed actually to flash with flame, while he thrust forward and drew back his foot, grasped the hilt of his dirk, extended his arm, clenched his fist, and finally rose from his seat.

“And they _shall_ find,” he said, in the same muttered but deep tone of stifled passion, “that the name they have dared to proscribe--that the name of MacGregor--_is_ a spell to raise the wild devil withal. _They_ shall hear of my vengeance, that would scorn to listen to the story of my wrongs--The miserable Highland drover, bankrupt, barefooted,--stripped of all, dishonoured and hunted down, because the avarice of others grasped at more than that poor all could pay, shall burst on them in an awful change. They that scoffed at the grovelling worm, and trode upon him, may cry and howl when they see the stoop of the flying and fiery-mouthed dragon.--But why do I speak of all this?” he said, sitting down again, and in a calmer tone--“Only ye may opine it frets my patience, Mr. Osbaldistone, to be hunted like an otter, or a sealgh, or a salmon upon the shallows, and that by my very friends and neighbours; and to have as many sword-cuts made, and pistols flashed at me, as I had this day in the ford of Avondow, would try a saint's temper, much more a Highlander's, who are not famous for that gude gift, as ye may hae heard, Mr. Osbaldistone.--But as thing bides wi' me o' what Nicol said;--I'm vexed for the bairns--I'm vexed when I think o' Hamish and Robert living their father's life.” And yielding to despondence on account of his sons, which he felt not upon his own, the father rested his head upon his hand.

I was much affected, Will. All my life long I have been more melted by the distress under which a strong, proud, and powerful mind is compelled to give way, than by the more easily excited sorrows of softer dispositions. The desire of aiding him rushed strongly on my mind, notwithstanding the apparent difficulty, and even impossibility, of the task.

“We have extensive connections abroad,” said I: “might not your sons, with some assistance--and they are well entitled to what my father's house can give--find an honourable resource in foreign service?”

I believe my countenance showed signs of sincere emotion; but my companion, taking me by the hand, as I was going to speak farther, said--“I thank--I thank ye--but let us say nae mair o' this. I did not think the eye of man would again have seen a tear on MacGregor's eye-lash.” He dashed the moisture from his long gray eye-lash and shaggy red eye-brow with the back of his hand. “To-morrow morning,” he said, “we'll talk of this, and we will talk, too, of your affairs--for we are early starters in the dawn, even when we have the luck to have good beds to sleep in. Will ye not pledge me in a grace cup?” I declined the invitation.

“Then, by the soul of St. Maronoch! I must pledge myself,” and he poured out and swallowed at least half-a-quart of wine.

I laid myself down to repose, resolving to delay my own inquiries until his mind should be in a more composed state. Indeed, so much had this singular man possessed himself of my imagination, that I felt it impossible to avoid watching him for some minutes after I had flung myself on my heath mattress to seeming rest. He walked up and down the hut, crossed himself from time to time, muttering over some Latin prayer of the Catholic church; then wrapped himself in his plaid, with his naked sword on one side, and his pistol on the other, so disposing the folds of his mantle that he could start up at a moment's warning, with a weapon in either hand, ready for instant combat. In a few minutes his heavy breathing announced that he was fast asleep. Overpowered by fatigue, and stunned by the various unexpected and extraordinary scenes of the day, I, in my turn, was soon overpowered by a slumber deep and overwhelming, from which, notwithstanding every cause for watchfulness, I did not awake until the next morning.

When I opened my eyes, and recollected my situation, I found that MacGregor had already left the hut. I awakened the Bailie, who, after many a snort and groan, and some heavy complaints of the soreness of his bones, in consequence of the unwonted exertions of the preceding day, was at length able to comprehend the joyful intelligence, that the assets carried off by Rashleigh Osbaldistone had been safely recovered. The instant he understood my meaning, he forgot all his grievances, and, bustling up in a great hurry, proceeded to compare the contents of the packet which I put into his hands, with Mr. Owen's memorandums, muttering, as he went on, “Right, right--the real thing--Bailie and Whittington--where's Bailie and Whittington?--seven hundred, six, and eight--exact to a fraction--Pollock and Peelman--twenty-eight, seven--exact--Praise be blest!--Grub and Grinder--better men cannot be--three hundred and seventy--Gliblad--twenty; I doubt Gliblad's ganging--Slipprytongue; Slipprytongue's gaen--but they are sma'sums--sma'sums--the rest's a'right--Praise be blest! we have got the stuff, and may leave this doleful country. I shall never think on Loch-Ard but the thought will gar me grew again.”

“I am sorry, cousin,” said MacGregor, who entered the hut during the last observation, “I have not been altogether in the circumstances to make your reception sic as I could have desired--natheless, if you would condescend to visit my puir dwelling”--

“Muckle obliged, muckle obliged,” answered Mr. Jarvie, very hastily--“But we maun be ganging--we maun be jogging, Mr. Osbaldistone and me--business canna wait.”

“Aweel, kinsman,” replied the Highlander, “ye ken our fashion--foster the guest that comes--further him that maun gang. But ye cannot return by Drymen--I must set you on Loch Lomond, and boat ye down to the Ferry o' Balloch, and send your nags round to meet ye there. It's a maxim of a wise man never to return by the same road he came, providing another's free to him.”

“Ay, ay, Rob,” said the Bailie, “that's ane o' the maxims ye learned when ye were a drover;--ye caredna to face the tenants where your beasts had been taking a rug of their moorland grass in the by-ganging, and I doubt your road's waur marked now than it was then.”

“The mair need not to travel it ower often, kinsman,” replied Rob; “but I'se send round your nags to the ferry wi' Dougal Gregor, wha is converted for that purpose into the Bailie's man, coming--not, as ye may believe, from Aberfoil or Rob Roy's country, but on a quiet jaunt from Stirling. See, here he is.”

“I wadna hae ken'd the creature,” said Mr. Jarvie; nor indeed was it easy to recognise the wild Highlander, when he appeared before the door of the cottage, attired in a hat, periwig, and riding-coat, which had once called Andrew Fairservice master, and mounted on the Bailie's horse, and leading mine. He received his last orders from his master to avoid certain places where he might be exposed to suspicion--to collect what intelligence he could in the course of his journey, and to await our coming at an appointed place, near the Ferry of Balloch.

At the same time, MacGregor invited us to accompany him upon our own road, assuring us that we must necessarily march a few miles before breakfast, and recommending a dram of brandy as a proper introduction to the journey, in which he was pledged by the Bailie, who pronounced it “an unlawful and perilous habit to begin the day wi' spirituous liquors, except to defend the stomach (whilk was a tender part) against the morning mist; in whilk case his father the deacon had recommended a dram, by precept and example.”

“Very true, kinsman,” replied Rob, “for which reason we, who are Children of the Mist, have a right to drink brandy from morning till night.”

The Bailie, thus refreshed, was mounted on a small Highland pony; another was offered for my use, which, however, I declined; and we resumed, under very different guidance and auspices, our journey of the preceding day.

Our escort consisted of MacGregor, and five or six of the handsomest, best armed, and most athletic mountaineers of his band, and whom he had generally in immediate attendance upon his own person.

When we approached the pass, the scene of the skirmish of the preceding day, and of the still more direful deed which followed it, MacGregor hastened to speak, as if it were rather to what he knew must be necessarily passing in my mind, than to any thing I had said--he spoke, in short, to my thoughts, and not to my words.

“You must think hardly of us, Mr. Osbaldistone, and it is not natural that it should be otherwise. But remember, at least, we have not been unprovoked. We are a rude and an ignorant, and it may be a violent and passionate, but we are not a cruel people. The land might be at peace and in law for us, did they allow us to enjoy the blessings of peaceful law. But we have been a persecuted generation.”

“And persecution,” said the Bailie, “maketh wise men mad.”

“What must it do then to men like us, living as our fathers did a thousand years since, and possessing scarce more lights than they did? Can we view their bluidy edicts against us--their hanging, heading, hounding, and hunting down an ancient and honourable name--as deserving better treatment than that which enemies give to enemies?--Here I stand, have been in twenty frays, and never hurt man but when I was in het bluid; and yet they wad betray me and hang me like a masterless dog, at the gate of ony great man that has an ill will at me.”

I replied, “that the proscription of his name and family sounded in English ears as a very cruel and arbitrary law;” and having thus far soothed him, I resumed my propositions of obtaining military employment for himself, if he chose it, and his sons, in foreign parts. MacGregor shook me very cordially by the hand, and detaining me, so as to permit Mr. Jarvie to precede us, a manoeuvre for which the narrowness of the road served as an excuse, he said to me--“You are a kind-hearted and an honourable youth, and understand, doubtless, that which is due to the feelings of a man of honour. But the heather that I have trode upon when living, must bloom ower me when I am dead--my heart would sink, and my arm would shrink and wither like fern in the frost, were I to lose sight of my native hills; nor has the world a scene that would console me for the loss of the rocks and cairns, wild as they are, that you see around us.--And Helen--what could become of her, were I to leave her the subject of new insult and atrocity?--or how could she bear to be removed from these scenes, where the remembrance of her wrongs is aye sweetened by the recollection of her revenge?--I was once so hard put at by my Great enemy, as I may well ca' him, that I was forced e'en to gie way to the tide, and removed myself and my people and family from our dwellings in our native land, and to withdraw for a time into MacCallum More's country--and Helen made a Lament on our departure, as weel as MacRimmon* himsell could hae framed it--and so piteously sad and waesome, that our hearts amaist broke as we sate and listened to her--it was like the wailing of one that mourns for the mother that bore him--the tears came down the rough faces of our gillies as they hearkened; and I wad not have the same touch of heartbreak again, no, not to have all the lands that ever were owned by MacGregor.”

* The MacRimmons or MacCrimonds were hereditary pipers to the chiefs of MacLeod, and celebrated for their talents. The pibroch said to have been composed by Helen MacGregor is still in existence. See the Introduction to this Novel.

“But your sons,” I said--“they are at the age when your countrymen have usually no objection to see the world?”

“And I should be content,” he replied, “that they pushed their fortune in the French or Spanish service, as is the wont of Scottish cavaliers of honour; and last night your plan seemed feasible eneugh--But I hae seen his Excellency this morning before ye were up.”

“Did he then quarter so near us?” said I, my bosom throbbing with anxiety.

“Nearer than ye thought,” was MacGregor's reply; “but he seemed rather in some shape to jalouse your speaking to the young leddy; and so you see”--

“There was no occasion for jealousy,” I answered, with some haughtiness; --“I should not have intruded on his privacy.”

“But ye must not be offended, or look out from amang your curls then, like a wildcat out of an ivy-tod, for ye are to understand that he wishes most sincere weel to you, and has proved it. And it's partly that whilk has set the heather on fire e'en now.”

“Heather on fire?” said I. “I do not understand you.”

“Why,” resumed MacGregor, “ye ken weel eneugh that women and gear are at the bottom of a' the mischief in this warld. I hae been misdoubting your cousin Rashleigh since ever he saw that he wasna to get Die Vernon for his marrow, and I think he took grudge at his Excellency mainly on that account. But then came the splore about the surrendering your papers--and we hae now gude evidence, that, sae soon as he was compelled to yield them up, he rade post to Stirling, and tauld the Government all and mair than all, that was gaun doucely on amang us hill-folk; and, doubtless, that was the way that the country was laid to take his Excellency and the leddy, and to make sic an unexpected raid on me. And I hae as little doubt that the poor deevil Morris, whom he could gar believe onything, was egged on by him, and some of the Lowland gentry, to trepan me in the gate he tried to do. But if Rashleigh Osbaldistone were baith the last and best of his name, and granting that he and I ever forgather again, the fiend go down my weasand with a bare blade at his belt, if we part before my dirk and his best blude are weel acquainted thegither!”

He pronounced the last threat with an ominous frown, and the appropriate gesture of his hand upon his dagger.

“I should almost rejoice at what has happened,” said I, “could I hope that Rashleigh's treachery might prove the means of preventing the explosion of the rash and desperate intrigues in which I have long suspected him to be a prime agent.”

“Trow ye na that,” said Rob Roy; “traitor's word never yet hurt honest cause. He was ower deep in our secrets, that's true; and had it not been so, Stirling and Edinburgh Castles would have been baith in our hands by this time, or briefly hereafter, whilk is now scarce to be hoped for. But there are ower mony engaged, and far ower gude a cause to be gien up for the breath of a traitor's tale, and that will be seen and heard of ere it be lang. And so, as I was about to say, the best of my thanks to you for your offer anent my sons, whilk last night I had some thoughts to have embraced in their behalf. But I see that this villain's treason will convince our great folks that they must instantly draw to a head, and make a blow for it, or be taen in their houses, coupled up like hounds, and driven up to London like the honest noblemen and gentlemen in the year seventeen hundred and seven. Civil war is like a cockatrice;--we have sitten hatching the egg that held it for ten years, and might hae sitten on for ten years mair, when in comes Rashleigh, and chips the shell, and out bangs the wonder amang us, and cries to fire and sword. Now in sic a matter I'll hae need o' a' the hands I can mak; and, nae disparagement to the Kings of France and Spain, whom I wish very weel to, King James is as gude a man as ony o' them, and has the best right to Hamish and Rob, being his natural-born subjects.”

I easily comprehended that these words boded a general national convulsion; and, as it would have been alike useless and dangerous to have combated the political opinions of my guide, at such a place and moment, I contented myself with regretting the promiscuous scene of confusion and distress likely to arise from any general exertion in favour of the exiled royal family.

“Let it come, man--let it come,” answered MacGregor; “ye never saw dull weather clear without a shower; and if the world is turned upside down, why, honest men have the better chance to cut bread out of it.”

I again attempted to bring him back to the subject of Diana; but although on most occasions and subjects he used a freedom of speech which I had no great delight in listening to, yet upon that alone which was most interesting to me, he kept a degree of scrupulous reserve, and contented himself with intimating, “that he hoped the leddy would be soon in a quieter country than this was like to be for one while.” I was obliged to be content with this answer, and to proceed in the hope that accident might, as on a former occasion, stand my friend, and allow me at least the sad gratification of bidding farewell to the object which had occupied such a share of my affections, so much beyond even what I had supposed, till I was about to be separated from her for ever.

We pursued the margin of the lake for about six English miles, through a devious and beautifully variegated path, until we attained a sort of Highland farm, or assembly of hamlets, near the head of that fine sheet of water, called, if I mistake not, Lediart, or some such name. Here a numerous party of MacGregor's men were stationed in order to receive us. The taste as well as the eloquence of tribes in a savage, or, to speak more properly, in a rude state, is usually just, because it is unfettered by system and affectation; and of this I had an example in the choice these mountaineers had made of a place to receive their guests. It has been said that a British monarch would judge well to receive the embassy of a rival power in the cabin of a man-of-war; and a Highland leader acted with some propriety in choosing a situation where the natural objects of grandeur proper to his country might have their full effect on the minds of his guests.

We ascended about two hundred yards from the shores of the lake, guided by a brawling brook, and left on the right hand four or five Highland huts, with patches of arable land around them, so small as to show that they must have been worked with the spade rather than the plough, cut as it were out of the surrounding copsewood, and waving with crops of barley and oats. Above this limited space the hill became more steep; and on its edge we descried the glittering arms and waving drapery of about fifty of MacGregor's followers. They were stationed on a spot, the recollection of which yet strikes me with admiration. The brook, hurling its waters downwards from the mountain, had in this spot encountered a barrier rock, over which it had made its way by two distinct leaps. The first fall, across which a magnificent old oak, slanting out from the farther bank, partly extended itself as if to shroud the dusky stream of the cascade, might be about twelve feet high; the broken waters were received in a beautiful stone basin, almost as regular as if hewn by a sculptor; and after wheeling around its flinty margin, they made a second precipitous dash, through a dark and narrow chasm, at least fifty feet in depth, and from thence, in a hurried, but comparatively a more gentle course, escaped to join the lake.

With the natural taste which belongs to mountaineers, and especially to the Scottish Highlanders, whose feelings, I have observed, are often allied with the romantic and poetical, Rob Roy's wife and followers had prepared our morning repast in a scene well calculated to impress strangers with some feelings of awe. They are also naturally a grave and proud people, and, however rude in our estimation, carry their ideas of form and politeness to an excess that would appear overstrained, except from the demonstration of superior force which accompanies the display of it; for it must be granted that the air of punctilious deference and rigid etiquette which would seem ridiculous in an ordinary peasant, has, like the salute of a _corps-de-garde,_ a propriety when tendered by a Highlander completely armed. There was, accordingly, a good deal of formality in our approach and reception.

The Highlanders, who had been dispersed on the side of the hill, drew themselves together when we came in view, and, standing firm and motionless, appeared in close column behind three figures, whom I soon recognised to be Helen MacGregor and her two sons. MacGregor himself arranged his attendants in the rear, and, requesting Mr. Jarvie to dismount where the ascent became steep, advanced slowly, marshalling us forward at the head of the troop. As we advanced, we heard the wild notes of the bagpipes, which lost their natural discord from being mingled with the dashing sound of the cascade. When we came close, the wife of MacGregor came forward to meet us. Her dress was studiously arranged in a more feminine taste than it had been on the preceding day, but her features wore the same lofty, unbending, and resolute character; and as she folded my friend the Bailie in an unexpected and apparently unwelcome embrace, I could perceive by the agitation of his wig, his back, and the calves of his legs, that he felt much like to one who feels himself suddenly in the gripe of a she-bear, without being able to distinguish whether the animal is in kindness or in wrath.

“Kinsman,” she said, “you are welcome--and you, too, stranger,” she added, releasing my alarmed companion, who instinctively drew back and settled his wig, and addressing herself to me--“you also are welcome. You came,” she added, “to our unhappy country, when our bloods were chafed, and our hands were red. Excuse the rudeness that gave you a rough welcome, and lay it upon the evil times, and not upon us.” All this was said with the manners of a princess, and in the tone and style of a court. Nor was there the least tincture of that vulgarity, which we naturally attach to the Lowland Scottish. There was a strong provincial accentuation, but, otherwise, the language rendered by Helen MacGregor, out of the native and poetical Gaelic, into English, which she had acquired as we do learned tongues, but had probably never heard applied to the mean purposes of ordinary life, was graceful, flowing, and declamatory. Her husband, who had in his time played many parts, used a much less elevated and emphatic dialect;--but even _his_ language rose in purity of expression, as you may have remarked, if I have been accurate in recording it, when the affairs which he discussed were of an agitating and important nature; and it appears to me in his case, and in that of some other Highlanders whom I have known, that, when familiar and facetious, they used the Lowland Scottish dialect,--when serious and impassioned, their thoughts arranged themselves in the idiom of their native language; and in the latter case, as they uttered the corresponding ideas in English, the expressions sounded wild, elevated, and poetical. In fact, the language of passion is almost always pure as well as vehement, and it is no uncommon thing to hear a Scotchman, when overwhelmed by a countryman with a tone of bitter and fluent upbraiding, reply by way of taunt to his adversary, “You have gotten to your English.”

Be this as it may, the wife of MacGregor invited us to a refreshment spread out on the grass, which abounded with all the good things their mountains could offer, but was clouded by the dark and undisturbed gravity which sat on the brow of our hostess, as well as by our deep and anxious recollection of what had taken place on the preceding day. It was in vain that the leader exerted himself to excite mirth;--a chill hung over our minds, as if the feast had been funereal; and every bosom felt light when it was ended.

“Adieu, cousin,” she said to Mr. Jarvie, as we rose from the entertainment; “the best wish Helen MacGregor can give to a friend is, that he may see her no more.”

The Bailie struggled to answer, probably with some commonplace maxim of morality;--but the calm and melancholy sternness of her countenance bore down and disconcerted the mechanical and formal importance of the magistrate. He coughed,--hemmed,--bowed,--and was silent.

“For you, stranger,” she said, “I have a token, from one whom you can never”--

“Helen!” interrupted MacGregor, in a loud and stern voice, “what means this?--have you forgotten the charge?”

“MacGregor,” she replied, “I have forgotten nought that is fitting for me to remember. It is not such hands as these,” and she stretched forth her long, sinewy, and bare arm, “that are fitting to convey love-tokens, were the gift connected with aught but misery. Young man,” she said, presenting me with a ring, which I well remembered as one of the few ornaments that Miss Vernon sometimes wore, “this comes from one whom you will never see more. If it is a joyless token, it is well fitted to pass through the hands of one to whom joy can never be known. Her last words were--Let him forget me for ever.”

“And can she,” I said, almost without being conscious that I spoke, “suppose that is possible?”

“All may be forgotten,” said the extraordinary female who addressed me,--“all--but the sense of dishonour, and the desire of vengeance.”

“_Seid suas!_“* cried the MacGregor, stamping with impatience.

* “Strike up.”

The bagpipes sounded, and with their thrilling and jarring tones cut short our conference. Our leave of our hostess was taken by silent gestures; and we resumed our journey with an additional proof on my part, that I was beloved by Diana, and was separated from her for ever.

Go to volii chapters 19 & 20