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Project Gutenberg Australia
Title: The Circle in the Water
Author: Marjorie Bowen
eBook No.: 2300391h.html
Date first posted: 2023
Most recent update: 2023
This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat
View ourlicence and header
1. CASTLE DRUM
2. THE LADIES OF CASTLE DRUM
3. THE SAINTS
4. WISE YOUNG PRINCE
5. THE KILLING TIME
Hutchinson & Co. London
Glory is like a circle in the water
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
Till by broad spreading it disperse to naught.
[From an advertisement included in the end pages of thebook.]
A NOVEL that is historical in the same sense as God and theWedding Dress, and Mr. Tyler's Saints, that is, it seeksto reveal the springs of action behind famous events and charactersin English history; the mental and spiritual growth of the nationas well as its outward events.
The characters here are William Penn, the man of peace, and JohnGraham, Viscount Dundee, the soldier, the background is composed ofthe highly coloured, stormy incidents that led to the flight ofJames II—Killiecrankie and death for Dundee, the failure ofall his hopes of a new world for William Penn. The terrors ofwitchcraft also enter into the story that moves from England toHolland and America.
This book is part of a trilogy which includes:
1. God and the Wedding Dress
2. Mr. Tyler's Saints
3. The Circle in the Water
A trilogy on the Renaissance, mentioned in the Preface, below,includes:
1. The Golden Roof
2. The Triumphant Beast
3. Trumpets at Rome
THIS is the third of the trilogy of novels dealing with variousphases in the spiritual history of Great Britain. The endeavour hasbeen to show in terms of action and individual experience, varyingaspects of the growth of British thought. The first volume, Godand the Wedding Dress, was associated with the poetry of HenryVaughan and the faith of an Anglican minister of the lateseventeenth century, the second, Mr. Tyler's Saints, dealtwith the religious conflicts of an earlier generation, wasillustrated by the poetry of Richard Crashaw and dealt with RichardBaxter and Father Southworth. The poetical affinity of the presentvolume is the folk-verse and lore of Scotland and the historicalcharacters introduced are William Penn, the pacifist, John Grahamof Claverhouse, and the Cameronian Saints. In an earlier trilogythe author tried to give three different aspects of the Renaissancein Europe, in the present series the aim has been to give, on anarrower stage, the same cross-sections of British history, not inthe form of swashbuckling tales nor in that of romancizedbiography, but as studies in human drama played by charactersprofoundly affected by the thought and superstitions of theirtime.
The present tale is told in the first person, as this methodseems best suited to the wild subject, bringing the reader close asit does to the matter and allowing these strange events to berelated by an eye-witness.
The details and the background are both authentic, though inthis novel, as in the other two of the series, there is no attemptat painful historical reconstruction; it is the spirit of the timesdealt with that has been aimed at.
I HAVE put down this story—that is, my own story—asI remember it; to me it is all pure truth, truth of mind andspirit, as well as truth of material fact. But it well may be thatI have during the years that have passed since I first went toScotland, confused here and there, both dates and places, makingthis event and that come out of sequence. It may be also that I wasmistaken in my estimates of the characters of these great ones withwhom I had to deal, I write of them as they seemed to me. As I puttogether my memoranda my whole being was made melancholy by a senseof loss, and I heard the words of the old Scotspreacher—"Build no nests here, for God has sold the forest toDeath"—but as I wrote further I became glad of my life, mylove, and resigned to all that had befallen me.
The name of the noble family where I was pedagogue and of theircastle is too famous for my tale, and so I have painted thesepeople and this place under feigned titles.
I. CASTLE DRUM
"GIVE me the yellow gown, for I've a mind to wear it to-nightfor the 'Witches' Gathering.'"
These were the first words I heard spoken in that grand yetdreary place that was to be my home. It was followed by a break oflaughter, and standing at the foot of the dark stairs I looked upand saw three young women standing on the first landing-space.
One held a lamp, and the sound of my footsteps must havedisturbed them for she raised this above her head, and the three ofthem drew quickly together and stared down the stone steps atme.
I stared back in disdain, and in a manner, in rage. I had notwished to come to this barbarous place, or to this ill-favouredcountry, as I then thought it. I was melancholy, too, from the longand tedious journey, and I leaned against the grim, cold wall ofthe passage, folded my arms over my breast and eyed them defiantlyas I said:
"I am Thomas Maitland, who has come to tutor your brother."
Upon which the three sisters moved again, as if a spell of fearhad been taken from them, and she who had spoken before criedout:
"The English tutor! Why, that is only matter for a jest!"
And she turned again with a reckless look and gesture, at whichI wondered, to the tall dark girl standing next her and cried:
"Off with the yellow gown! I tell you I've a mind to wear itto-night!"
And she put her hand on the other woman's bodice, as if shewould have torn it from her back. But the third girl came betweenthese two, and in tones in which I detected more alarm thanmodesty, bid them both be silent, for a stranger was present. Thento me she called out, proudly:
"Come upstairs, and leave your portmanteaux in the passagebelow, for a serving-man will see to them."
I obeyed sullenly enough; with every moment that passed I likedthe place less. I was really an exile, I had left Englandunwillingly. I resented the bitter fact that my one asset was myrelationship to the Duke of Lauderdale; I was a distant cousin, butwe bore the same name.
I waited upon His Grace in my ruin and distress, hat in hand,and gained this favour—a recommendation to Castle Drum. Andfinally, after some tiresome delays, the offer of a post that noone else wished for—that of tutor to the heir of Sir DonaldGarrie in Galloway, many weary miles from the banks of theSolway.
It was full summer, but I had not liked the northern landscapeacross which I had ridden. Perhaps if I had been better mounted andmore splendidly attended, Scotland had pleased me more. But I wasalready angrily homesick for the quiet English pastures and lushfields, the gardens spangled with blossoms, the houses sweet withmusic and delicate odours. Here all were rude and wild, and rudeand wild, too, I thought, were the three women who stood erect,curious, and, as I believed, hostile, to greet me.
She who wore the yellow dress—and it was a fine garment,ill-suited to this stern place, of stiff satin on which the lightglimpsed in and out of the wide folds—was, I guessed, two- orthree-and-twenty years of age. Her face was handsome and fierce,her eyes large, her nose high, her black hair lay in untidyringlets on her thin shoulders. Though she was young, fresh, shehad a hawklike look, and I was used to carefully-nurtured women whocherished their beauty like a casket of jewels. And this woman'scheeks were flayed from the meath and her lips unpainted, and Ithought that for all her fine gown she had a coarse air.
The girl who had called out for the yellow gown stood beside herand held up the lantern, looking at me curiously and defiantly. Shewore a dark, and as I suppose, a homely dress that she might havebeen working in, but over her shoulders was twisted a rich scarf ofthe Highland colours—tartan, or plaid, as they termedthem—and her hair was a rich colour, too—gold with redin it, strong and gleaming, and caught carelessly in a snood ofbright blue silk. She had yellow-brown eyes, like a pale agate, andthe wind had whipped her cheeks also. Her full lips were coarse intexture and ragged, as if she constantly bit them. What I could seeof her neck and bosom was white and beautiful, and though her handswere rough in texture, they were fine and shapely.
The third girl seemed to me to be the youngest, and her attirewas little better than that of a serving-maid, being of a coarsematerial and rude in fashion. She also wore a plaid round hershoulders, but it was of wool, and ragged at the edges. Her hair,too, was red-gold and hung straightly to her waist in tangledringlets. Her eyes were soft, yellow and shining, like those I haveseen in a sleepy cat. And her features had a strange sulky beautythat pleased me not at all. I noticed that she was barefoot on thecold dark stones, and that the other two were but untidilyshod.
I was in no mood to flatter them or anyone else, I had no fearof losing my position—it was not so easy to find a tutor toreside in Castle Drum; I had been warned as much before I leftLondon; now I could see for myself.
"So you're Thomas Maitland," replied the girl who held thelamp—more like a lantern it was, and fitter for a stable thana drawing-room. "An Englishman, Elspeth, as dark as a Highlander."They spoke with a barbarous inflection that my pen could notimitate; though I give their speech here clearly, I was many daysin Castle Drum before I could understand immediately what theysaid, and the plain English that I spoke was often to themincomprehensible.
But now their looks, gestures, spoke clearly enough of enmityand contempt. It was the dark dame who spoke first, she who worethe brilliant and envied yellow satin gown.
"I am Elspeth Garrie, and these: are my stepdaughters, Jannotand Isabelle."
The first of the two she had named was the youngest, thebarefoot girl, the other was she who held the lantern and who hadclamoured for the yellow dress.
I bowed. I had been told to expect a young mistress at CastleDrum, the second wife of Sir Donald Garrie—a young virago, Ihad been told, bitter, in her own childlessness, against the sicklyheir.
The prospect was not agreeable. I had miseries and failuresenough of my own to burden me without wishing to enter into thetroubles of Castle Drum. I acknowledged their scant courtesybriefly, but I had to wait on their pleasure, for they made nomotion to direct me as to where I should go, but stood theredisputing again among themselves, as if I had not existed.
The argument was always about the yellow dress, the gathering ofthe witches there was to be that night. I thought that they spokein a blasphemous and crude jesting way, and I leaned against thewall, weary from melancholy and idleness more than from bodilyfatigue, disdaining to beg their attention and waiting until theyshould see fit to dispose of me.
But I saw Jannot's eyes turn on me again and again, quick-movingeyes shaded by thick gold lashes, so that the whole of her orbitseemed filled with pale, sparkling light. She leant towards the twoothers, her stepmother and sister, and whispered something, andthis seemed to stay their passion. And then I saw that they wereall looking at me with deepened enmity. And Elspeth, who felt someresponsibility no doubt as mistress of the Castle, cried in a highvoice to the others to cease their quarrelling, "Or this foolishyoung Englishman may think that you are serious when you talk of awitches' gathering."
"Maybe I shall," I replied disdainfully. "I have heard thatScotland is the home of witches and warlocks, evil fairies, andeven of Satan himself."
They stood mute at that, and then Elspeth stepped forward and,lifting up the yellow satin gown from her roughly-shod feet, walkedahead, motioning to Jannot to follow with the lantern. Isabelle,pattering on with her bare toes, came behind, and I closed theprocession.
I had had a glimpse, when I entered the Castle, of greatapartments on the ground floor, for one of the doors had beenstanding open. These had seemed to be handsomely furnished, thoughwith great lack of taste.
But the rooms to which they showed me now were gaunt and bareand my chamber had but few pieces in it. The uneven floor of boardspolished to a dark amber colour was covered here and there bysheepskin rugs, yet there was a bedstead that might have come fromFrance, and that was hung by some excellent embroideries. Thecurtains at the window were of grey serge, but between them was adesk of Chinese workmanship on an ormolu stand. A large press wasboth ancient and ugly. There was, however, a handsome chair witharms well supplied with velvet cushions. There were twocandlesticks, one silver and one pewter, and a shelf occupied byvery ancient Latin, Greek, and Hebrew books.
The three women looked at me keenly, as if anxious to know myopinion of this apartment. This I disdained to give them, butdemanded to be brought into the presence of my employer, and, ifpossible, my charge.
"You speak boldly," said Lady Donald, but not altogether as ifthis temerity displeased her. She glanced at her two stepdaughters,with whom she now seemed to be on the best of terms. "It's a dulllife here," she added, "unfit for gentlefolk. You must tell us allthe town gossip, the London scandals and the Paris fashions."
"I know nothing of such things, madam," I replied roundly.
"But we know something of you," replied Lady Donald, drawing herheavy black brows together. "We know the tale that sent you here,or part of it."
I was not greatly enraged at this insolence, for I had comeprepared for their malice. I had been warned by such friends as Ihad left in London that I should not find this exile agreeable. SoI merely scowled in reply. In a manner I was glad to find thatcourtly manners were not expected of me, my mood was ruthless.
"My husband's away," said Lady Donald, after another longscrutiny of my face, figure, and clothes. "And the boy's in bed.You may see the old tutor—that's Richard Cameron. He is goingaway to-morrow."
"And what can he have to tell me that I need to know?" I asked."Come, is this your hospitality, madam? I would have water, cleanlinen napkins, some food and wine."
"White bread and French wine, I suppose," laughed Jannot,maliciously.
"The best you have," I replied, for with the master away I feltas if I was in command of the place. "Was this Mr. Cameron'sroom?"
Lady Donald made an ugly grimace.
"No, the old man thinks this too fine. He's a saint, you know.He sleeps hard and feeds on bread and water, and his eyes arealways turned upwards and inwards."
"Why did not you keep so excellent a character? I shall not beable to emulate his virtues," I warned them with irony.
"He is a dangerous man to keep," said Lady Garrie sullenly. "Alearned man, a man who gives no trouble, and one who's worked forhalf your fee, but Sir Donald will no longer keep him."
"A fanatic, I suppose," said I, for I'd heard of these sternPresbyters, as they were termed, who were bitter against thegovernment of King Charles for forcing episcopacy on them. Andthese things interested me not at all. What, indeed, was Iinterested in at this time, save my own story?
I confess that I was to myself the most important person in theworld. Everything seemed as small as a grain of sand beside theswelling magnitude of the disasters of Thomas Maitland. I couldhave turned on the three women and driven them with foul words fromthe room as they stood there close together, with their consideringfaces and strange attire; how ugly and incongruous the yellow satingown of the elder looked beside the homely garments of the othertwo!—staring at me, inquisitive, insulting, spiteful. Perhapsthey thought that I desired them. Two of them, at least, possesseda gracious beauty, and they appeared to have neither modesty nordiscretion.
But my thoughts, my passion, my heart and soul and spirit wereentirely with Philippa, for whose sake I had had to leave England,and who, as I then believed, I was never to see again.
As the memory of this loss—that I had through my long andpainful journey into exile kept at bay—pierced me, I wasscarcely able to control a groan. Harshly and abruptly turningaside, I began to throw down the books on the shelves in thecorner, declaring them to be of no use to me, and demanding thatthe serving-man might be sent up with my valises and cases ofmanuscripts. And, I added, brutally, "If the young boy whom I am totrain is like you, madam, and your stepdaughters, I think my taskof teaching Christian humility and of gentlefolk's courtesy will behard and maybe barren."
At that they seemed to realize their rudeness in staring thus ata stranger, and a man who was, in a sense, dependent upon them, andin another sense their guest.
Jannot, who seemed to take the duties of a servant upon herself,then came forward, and drawing a flint and tinder from her coarseapron, lit the candles—both those in the silver and thepewter sticks.
I stood watching her, my arms again folded on my chest, as Iremember, and leaning against the rich desk that looked foolish inthose rude surroundings, while she drew the serge curtains acrossthe window. Then, taking up the lantern that she had placed on thebed-step, she followed the other two women out of the room.
They left the door ajar and I heard them laughing loudly, and,as I thought, contemptuously in the passage.
When they had gone I threw off all restraint. I could no longercontrol myself, though I knew how dangerous it is both to mind andbody to give way to pent-up agonies.
Philippa was gone, for ever lost! Like a star drowned in endlessdepths of dark sea. And here was I, a landless man, without estateor profession, unable for a long time to return to England, forcedto remain in this country that I, after a few days' knowledge,thought detestable. I was too young, fierce, and wilful to makeallowances for my own mood, my own swelling self filled theuniverse. I looked on the three women who had given me so harsh awelcome, on the grey and solid castle built in ancient days ofbloody warfares, and a fit habitation now, as I thought, forvultures, owls and foxes, as utterly abhorrent, as a part of theugly destiny that had enclosed me.
I was not prepared to try and suck some sweet out of this sourgrape. I saw no good, no loveliness in anything. I had travelledmeanly, without a servant, on a wretched hired nag, a hired manchanged at every posting-station, following with the baggage horse.And these ignoble circumstances had helped to darken my alreadybitter mood.
I remembered now, as I stood in this large, unfamiliar andunliked room in Castle Drum, the long monotony of the journey,those endless hills, purple and violet, that had encompassed me onevery hand. I had travelled slowly through gorge and valley, acrossCumberland, Northumberland, the Border. How gloomy had appeared thewide waters of the Solway, how hostile the bleak shores ofScotland!
Even then I had been minded to turn back and take my fate. Butyouth will not easily give up, and ahead of me was a living, aperiod of respite from many harassing puzzles. And despite my sour,gloomy mood, hope was increasing, and I began to build again a fewpoor schemes for the future.
I might, in this solitude to which I was bound, study. I was afair scholar. I might become famous for my learning, I might enterthe Church and reach a bishop's throne. I might—and not forthe first time did these thoughts creep and wind into mymind—surprise some of the secrets that then seemed on theedge of discovery. I might find out the mystery of the elements, offire, of water, of earth, of air. I had read the books of theRosicrucians, I had been the friend of that son of fire, ThomasVaughan, I had read many other occult works.
I had contrived now and then to visit the laboratories ofwealthy men and to make at their expense some studies in chemistry,as I had always lacked both patience and means, my time and fortunegoing on lusts and vanities. There had been on me from my earliestyears idleness and luxury, and I had been proud and wilful,disdainful of any labour that did not please my mood. Myscholarship was owing to my love of learning.
I was proud, too, of my gentle birth, and I offended my eldersand my betters by these misplaced and dark vanities.
Then I had lost myself in my pursuit of Philippa, andsquandering my small estate in the purchase of those glitteringtoys that best pleased my amorous youth.
But now I was thrifty and sober, and as I sat in the boat thatbore me across the quickly-moving waters of the Solway towards thecountry that was to me one large prison, these old and fantastichopes rose again.
I had heard much of the legends of Scotland, I had read oldbooks found in strange places of their songs and tales. Like manyanother youth for whom the world and all the world can offer isscarcely brilliant enough, I had dreamed of Thomas the Rhymer andthe Queen of Elfland, who had taken him away to live for ever andever in the hidden palaces in the green hills.
I had thought when I reached Scotland that I would probe intosuch stories, and that perhaps I, being young and comely and fullnot only of lusty life, but of many warm dreams, might meet somesuch stately fairy who would take me away to perpetual wantoningsbeneath the glassy floor of a lake or in the sweet darkness of avast mountain untrodden save by lovely sheep.
I had thought that perhaps when I reached the gloomy castlewhere my sole duty would be to teach a little Latin, a littleGreek, the use of the globes, a few tales from history, theelements of mathematics to a sickly and a peevish lad, and that Imight find leisure to pursue my occult studies, perhaps to becomean adept in the black arts and be able myself to raise or createthe shapes that would satisfy my ambition and my lust.
But all these dreams were now to me but like a little dust inthe palm of my tired hand as I stood in the room at Castle Drum,looking out at the black and fading landscape.
I had not been welcomed by anyone whose countenance or whosewords gave me hope that any of my desires would be fulfilled. Thesewere rude, barbaric people, savages almost, and I should have tolive among them as if I were amongst beasts. Their language to mewas harsh and repellent. I had seen their serving-men, with rustyhair and beards and bare arms and short daggers stuck in theleather belt, speaking a tongue to me incomprehensible.
And the Castle itself, with its antique turrets and heavy,half-dismantled battlements, was at that time but a prison.
My mood was exceedingly bitter. I was past prayer, nor did Iknow of any God to whom I might put up a petition.
For I was, in the modern fashion, a sceptic, though I paid lipservice to the Church of England, and no man would have beentroubled by any heresy of mine. But in my soul I believed nothingand always looked inward to wild and tumultuous fancies.
So I rose now, no prayer having been uttered, and pride gettingme to my feet lest one of these women should come upon me and seemy dismay.
I thought then of Mr. William Penn, who had been such a goodfriend to me, and of his scheme, impracticable as it had alwaysseemed to me, for the man was in many ways harebrained, of foundinga city of brotherly love in the New World. This design was not thenripe; he had asked me if I would wait until he might persuade someof the great ones—the King, perhaps, or the Duke—togive him a charter whereby he might acquire land in America andtake with him some of his people, who belonged to a set called bythe ribald nobile 'Quakers.'
But this design had not pleased me. I was in no mood for thetranquillity preached by Mr. Penn, nor by the bustling activitywhereby he sought to obtain his projects. Besides, the man wasunfortunate; he had been in prison once and would be again. No, Ipreferred my Scottish exile to Newgate, or possibly the halter. Idid not want to have my ears cropped or to stand in the pillory andbe killed by brickbats. And I was not a man to believe in brotherlylove.
But I thought of it now, that lunatic design, with regret.
It was Jannot who came in with the servant behind her with awooden tray on which was set cakes made of oatmeal, a bottle ofwine, some coarse meat and a rude, yellow earthenware bowl full ofsoup that smelt savoury enough. The horn goblet was finely mountedin pierced silver, and the napkin was of pure linen, delicatelyembroidered.
Jannot, who made a pretence, insolently intended, as I thought,of seeing that I was well served, stood about directing the gapingmaid. I saw that she had altered her attire; there were latchedshoes on her feet now, her bodice was more discreetly laced, hersmock drawn up to the throat and down to the wrists. Her brighthair had been smoothly combed and twisted into a blue snood likethat which her sister had worn.
I could not avoid looking at her. It was a strange face to me, acountenance that did not resemble any woman's countenance I hadseen before. The lines were pure and noble, the finely-mouldedbones showed in the cheeks and jaw. The native winds had coarsenedher carnation, but it was clear and bright, and the peculiar colourof her eyes, the peculiar burnish of her brows and lashes did, as Ihad noted before, make her eyes appear to be of liquid gold.
I stood, in a disdainful courtesy, while she was on her feet,but she bade me sit down to my supper and took the chair the otherside of the desk where the tray had been set; putting her elbows onher knees and folding her hands under her fine chin, she asked meif I had brought with me the things that she and her sister hadordered from London—
"Wax candles," said she, "for these are but of mutton fat, and abox of patches such as the ladies wear on their faces, and someorris powder for the hair, and the roll of Florentine silk instripes of blue and red and yellow, a filigree cup and saucer insilver, shoes for all of us in gold brocade, and a length ofdark-green silk to make me a gown?"
I did not answer; I was hungry and relishing my meat, coarselythough this was cooked and served. Besides, the girl's demands werefolly. His Grace of Lauderdale's secretary had told me that theladies of Castle Drum had some requests to make as to vanities thatI might bring them from the Exchange, but they had sent no preciselist—I doubt if any of them could write, at least, notEnglish, nor any money wherewith to pay for thesefoolishnesses.
So, when I had fortified my hunger, I told her. A quick furythat amused me to see flashed across her face. Then her lipsquivered and her expression was that of a disappointed child.
"There's but one silk or satin gown in the Castle," she said,"and that Elspeth is always wearing."
"I'd enough baggage of my own to bring," I repliedindifferently. "It's a long way to drag ladies' gowns and slippersand suchlike vanities, madam," I answered. "Besides, I am a ruinedman, and there was no money sent."
"My father would have paid," she said stormily.
I was avenged now for the malice with which she had regarded mebefore and I asked her what use such finery would be to her inCastle Drum.
"Who is there to admire you here, madam? I heard you demand theyellow dress that you might go to a witches' gathering. Were allthese gauds to dazzle the eyes of Satan himself?"
At that she looked at me very blackly like a cat going to spit,then said violently:
"You're a fool, young man! I'll speak to you again in a fewweeks' time, when you've found out as much."
With that she rose and left me, to my great pleasure, inpeace.
The serving-man brought up my valises and took away the tray. Ithen had some further pleasure in arranging my few possessions inmy new chamber.
I did not dare give myself time to reflect on my misfortunes, orI must have fallen on some violent mood or evil passion, and I yetwished to preserve my fortitude.
I was suffering from a double disappointment. First there wasthe trouble that had sent me here, which was little less than theoverthrow of my entire existence. And second, there was thedisappointment of those faint hopes that had been raised when I hadbeen crossing the Solway and seen Scotland before me, had nowvanished when I found the country to be dull, featureless, andrude.
I had brought with me such of my books as I had been able tosave from the sale of my effects, and it was with a sense, howeverfleeting, of consolation, that I arranged on the desk and theshelves from which I had cast those old tattered volumes down, myTacitus, my Ovid, my Erasmus, and many other of the choicer gems ofmy once handsome library, from the poems of Virgil to the pamphletsof Mr. John Milton.
"What," I wondered bitterly, "am I supposed to teach this youngwhelp? Judging by his stepmother and his sisters, the classics willmean little to him. Yet I know that the Scots are able at learning,and I have met many accomplished scholars from their ancientuniversities. But in this household there is no spark of grace orletters."
I did not know when I was like to receive more candles, sohusbanded those I had. And the two that I allowed myself gave but adim and flickering light. They had, like everything else in CastleDrum, been rudely made, and the coarse wick burned too quickly andsent the rank-smelling mutton fat guttering down the sides on tothe silver sticks, for it was those on the pewter stand that I hadput out.
I felt a sense of triumph, as if I had given good proof ofsteadfast courage when at length I saw my possessions fairlyarranged—my clothes in the press, my books on the shelves, mydesk supplied with inkwell, sand dish, and quill, my two globes setout, my case of mathematical instruments in their place.
I had kept one magnificent garment, a cloak of purple velvetthat I had bought in Paris, and that was very brightly adorned witha design of acorns in bullion. I knew that I would have noopportunity to wear anything so splendid, but though it would havefetched a good price, and I sorely needed the money, I had not beenable to bring myself to part with it. And I was glad now that I hadpreserved at least one garment that might remind me of a past asbrilliant as it was bitter.
I cast it now over the bed, concealing the homespun coverletthat contrasted so rudely with the embroidered curtains that wereworked in a curious design of suns and stars. Even the raggedyellow light from the candles showed the lustre of the rich pile onthat handsome velvet, for which I had paid so high a price, thoughnot more than it was worth.
While I was staring at the cloak and remembering the manyoccasions on which I had worn it, there came a scratching at thedoor. I believed it was one of the bold young women returned totorment me, and I did not at first take any heed of this vexation.But as the scratching became bolder I was forced to cry out thatwhoever stood there might enter.
I heard the latch lifted, not with any very steady hand, and itwas a man well on in years who entered. His demeanour was courteousand meek, and I was sorry that I had spoken hardly. I took him tobe the Mr. Richard Cameron whose place I had taken. I could nothave told his age, he might have been sixty years old or more. Hewas thin and upright and wore the plain, and, as I always thoughtit, forbidding attire of a Calvinist pastor. Even in thatoutlandish place he had contrived to have his band starched andpressed. His hair, that was the colour of wood ash and very fine intexture, was neatly trimmed, and his face had an aspect at oncecommanding and sweet.
As he advanced towards me I set him the chair with arms in whichI had been reclining myself, and he accepted this with a graciousappreciation of my courtesy.
"I am," said he, "Richard Cameron, and I would have been in thepassage-way, or even at the gates, to welcome you, but the womenwould have their will, their wilful will, I take it to be."
This speech, though broad Scotch that I would not know how tospell or put upon paper, was yet agreeable to my ear and not sodifficult to understand as had been the language of the ladies ofCastle Drum.
I was glad to meet him because he was a learned and, as Ibelieved, a civil and well-meaning gentleman. He was also a man ofa strange and, as I afterwards came to know, formidablepersonality.
And he turned on me now eyes of a cold blue-grey colour thatreminded me of a winter scene and regarded me very keenly.
"Mr. Maitland," said he, "by what queer chance do you come toCastle Drum to teach a poor young lad his Latin and hisglobes?"
Although I liked the pastor, I was not inclined to give him myhistory, and it was one that would have stung his ears. So Ianswered merely that I was a ruined gentleman who had had someinfluence with His Grace of Lauderdale, and through him had beenpresented to this post—through one of my Lord's friends, orpanders, or hangers-on, what knew I?—to Donald Garrie ofCastle Drum.
"You might have been sent to a better place, Mr. Maitland,"replied Richard Cameron, and his eyes looked as if a pale dim flamehad been lit behind them. "They are turning me out, homeless, on tothe moors. You know that, I suppose? No, never start or raise yourhand or talk of pity! I know where to go, I have my friends, ay,and armed men, too. That is the manner of folk the Garries are.That's the three women—have you seen them?"
His last question came abruptly, like a ball from a cannon, andwas spoken with such meaning that even I, in my complacency, wasstartled.
"Ay, I've seen them," I replied, "and ordinary pieces theyappear to be, uncouth and bold."
"They're more than that," replied Richard Cameron. "You aregoing to live in the same house with them, and it's but fair to youto know that two of them, at least, are witches."
I smiled at him. I had never thought—interested and evenabsorbed as I had been in occultism, spirits,apparitions—seriously of witches or warlocks. At best I hadconsidered them as crazed old women familiar with apes or cats, buthere was a grave, learned old man speaking seriously.
"They're young, but well favoured," I replied, not wishing tocheck his talk, my curiosity alight. And to fill the pause, forindeed I knew not well what to say, I snuffed the gutteringcandles. And I was glad, though I had not told Madam Jannot asmuch, that I had brought several pounds of fine English wax takenfrom the hives of Devon honey bees, in my baggage.
"Ay, they're bonny enough," said Mr. Cameron. "But if you shouldsee them at night, in the ruins of the old chapel. Do you think inLondon that such things are fairy-tales? I tell you, these womenmet Satan himself, and one of them, Jannot—"
"That's a fair name for a witch!"
"Most of the witches in Scotland have been named Jannot, Mr.Maitland—she's what we term the maiden, or queanes,and sits at old Cloutie's right hand."
"That would be a sight I should like to see," said I, stillsmiling and thinking the old man, for all his learning and piety,was crazed in his wits.
"You'll see it, if you stay in Scotland—either JannotGarrie or some other woman. I suppose you're a Christian,Maitland?"
"I belong to the Church of England," said I.
Then the old man began to talk against the government of KingCharles and all his ministers and all his bishops. And I was wearyand made but little of his discourse, for such matters of politics,either in government of country or Church, interested me not atall. It always appeared to me as if the affairs of men were sojangled and so out of tune that no human could put them right. Whatmattered to me the wrongs of Scotland or the tyrannies of KingCharles? I was as yet immersed in my own vanity.
The old man saw this and stopped in his discourse, which he haddelivered with a power and a flower of rhetoric that I was forcedto admire, although I could understand but little of what he said.Checking himself, he remarked with stately courtesy:
"What has the curse or the doom of Scotland to do with theEnglish? I was sorry for you as a young man, one whom I believedhad met with misfortune—a stranger here in this accursedhouse."
He spoke the last words so solemnly that I was drawn up short inmy complacency as a plunging steed may be pulled up at the edge ofa precipice, and all his pride falls from him in a tremor offright.
"Accursed house!" I repeated. "And who are you to speak so ofCastle Drum? It seems to me to be but a rude habitation ofuncultured people."
"I go forth to-morrow," replied the old man, rising, and hislong shadow in the black gown was cast by the guttering candles onthe wall behind him, where it seemed to rise up and down and toovershadow the whole room with menace. "Do not grieve for me. As Itold you, I have my friends, and they are armed men. I am a powerin this land, and one who will testify strongly for the Lord. Doyou think we are defeated because Charles Stuart, a traitor and adamned son of Bel, is on the throne?"
"I know nothing of your tricks or your politics," I replied. "Itell you I am a ruined gentleman who has come here for hismisfortune."
"For his damnation unless you are careful, Mr. Thomas Maitland,"replied Richard Cameron. "I came here for no concern of my own. Ihave nothing more to do in Castle Drum, or with the family of theLaird of Garrie. But hearing that you were here, a young man anddefenceless—"
"Defenceless!" I caught at the word that seemed a slur upon mymanhood and my courage. "I have my sword and a case of pistols, andmy two fists also. I have not met a man who could defeat me inbodily conflict."
"I'm not talking about men," replied Richard Cameron sternly,and his pale face was yellow like the guttering candles, and hiswrinkled lips twitched as he spoke. "I am talking of the powers ofthe dark. Do you know, young man, how mighty they are? Have youever heard of the wiles and traps of Satan? Have you ever met thewomen who have yielded to his spell?"
"I think you talk like the actors in a playhouse," I replied. "Iam sorry to offend you, Mr. Cameron, but I have lived too long inLondon, ay, and in Paris, to listen to tales of Satan andwitches."
Yet even as I spoke I thought of those forbidden studies thathad so attracted me, I thought of the days I had passed in thelaboratory of that son of fire and of Hermes, Thomas Vaughan. Ithought of all that I had begun to learn there and had laid aside,half in idleness, half in fear. And leaning towards the preacher inthat dark and shadowed room where the yellow flames of theguttering candles leapt and sank, I whispered:
"Tell me, Mr. Cameron, what you know of these things, for I ammuch interested in them, and I would give ten or fifteen years ofthe wretched life I have still to live to meet the Evil One face toface!"
And I laughed loud and long into those shadows.
The old man rose, he seemed to me a supernatural height, hiswhite hair and his pale face were both the colour of frost. Helooked at me with pity and with disdain, and I remembered whatElspeth Garrie had said—"He is a saint"—and I feltmyself gross, lewd, and full of ugly lust before his frailty andhis contempt.
"Leave me!" I cried. "I came here for a retreat. I have leftbehind me a life of what you would call sin, and defeat. I havebrought here but a few books."
"You will need but one book in Castle Drum," interrupted RichardCameron, "and that is the Holy Bible. There is no other book worthcarrying from place to place. What have the others within theircovers but vain thoughts, the vexatious disputes of men? In theHoly Book is written the holy command of God."
"Would I could think so," I replied. "I have my copy of the HolyTestament with me. It is not often that I unclasp it. Speak to meof more practical matters. You see me here a young man,delivered—I will not admit to witches, but to three wilful,and I think, wanton women. What of this Sir Donald? Why is he away?What is this boy whom I have come so far to teach?"
"The boy," said Richard Cameron, "is a clever lad. As to hissoul, I do not know if it is lost or saved. Sometimes he has beenunder the influence of his sisters, sometimes under mine. It was tofight for that soul that I remained in Castle Drum, enduring maliceand insult. And now the time has come when I can fight no more. Youdo what you can for this poor lad. He is sickly, a cripple, he cannever fight a bodily war."
"I had known of it before I had left London." I was disdainfultoo, for in the hot lust of my youth I despised all who were weaklyor diseased, and it was but a facile compassion that caused me toanswer:
"I will do what I may for David Garrie, but I suppose my concernwill be more with his father."
"Sir Donald is a man well on in years," replied Richard Cameron."He is much in the hands of his young second wife and twodaughters. It is the three women who rule Castle Drum, and you willfind them evil. They are, indeed," he added, lowering his voice,"related with a known wizard. That is James Sharp, the Archbishop,as they call him, of St. Andrews. Though in Scotland since theCovenant was signed there can be neither bishop nor archbishop, butonly fiends and arch-fiends."
"Why, I know the Archbishop of St. Andrews," I replied. "I methim in London. He seemed to me an amiable, though a weak, man."
"He played the traitor," replied Richard Cameron in a low voice."But what is that to you? You have no concern in the woes or thewarning of Scotland. Archbishop Sharp, as you will have that namefor him, is a wizard. He has under his domain hundreds of witchesand warlocks. Hush, I will not speak to you, I see that I spend mywords on one who scoffs. Take care of your sneers, youngEnglishman. Do not come to Scotland to gibe at dark shapes and grimforebodings. There is more in this shadowed island than you willunderstand, were you to live a hundred years."
He put his lean hand before his hollow eyes, and I thought helooked like a warlock himself, for such had I imagined these men toseem; he was gaunt, thin, and seemed wasted by unnatural living,and I noted that his gown was rusty and frayed at the hem, andthough his linen was clean and sweet there was poverty and miseryin all his other habiliments. And woe and desolation at my fateseized me then as I looked round at the room so large, so gaunt,with its grotesque assortment of furniture, rich and modish, rudeand fitted for a farmhouse. And I thought of the time that I mustspend there, and the fortune that was before me if I left thisrefuge, and a cry was wrenched from me as I turned to the windowand pulled aside the curtains of coarse serge.
At this sign of weakness Richard Cameron's compassion rose. Hecame to me where I stood and put his hand on my shoulders.
"You are a stranger to me and belong to those whom I shouldhate, but you are young, and one has always compassion for youth,be it ever so wilful or misled. I leave you behind in the darknessof Castle Drum while I go out into the light of the saints and thefollowers of the Covenant. But do you beware of these threewomen—Isabelle, Jannot, and Elspeth. Beware, too, of thephysician, Dr. Fletcher."
I looked at him over my shoulder. I said:
"I heard the women disputing on the stairs. As I came up I heardthem arguing about the yellow satin dress, and one—who wasit, I forget now—said that she wished to wear it for thewitches' gathering. And I took it to be but the wantonness ofunlettered women."
"Take it to be what you will, Thomas Maitland," replied thepreacher, "there is truth behind it. These queans, go out to meetSatan in the ruined chapel. So does that lost soul, Fletcher. Ifyou are abroad in the morning look at the old chapel, mark well.Maybe you will need to know how to enter and how to escape fromthose ruins built by the accursed monks of old."
I saw him again, his face matching the wax for yellowness as hestood there with the guttering candles behind him; they werefalling now in their sockets, the coarse wax had made what thewaiting-maids call winding sheets, falling over the cups of silver;and on the rough whitewashed walls on which were hung at intervalsrude pieces of cloth were the leaping shadows of the oldpreacher.
I stared into his eyes and he into mine, and something thatcould not be expressed in words passed between us. He was goingfree, from what he called the accursed place, and I was to remain.I had come from London and from Paris, from places where men jestedeven about God on His throne above, where nothing was takensolemnly, and where all was a matter for scoffing, even birth, evendeath, and even love.
And I remembered Philippa, how I had last seen her in the satinthat was the same colour and sheen as the pearls about her throat,stained with wine that a corrupt hand had cast on her bosom, hereyes looking at me through a glaze of tears, her hair falling onher rounded shoulders, the faded roses among the tresses.
I remembered that, the faint timid laughter, the light of athousand wax candles, the glitter of a thousand gold pieces piledupon the gaming tables, and I put a hand before my eyes, notknowing what to credit.
The old man seemed to pity my distress. He muttered something inhis broad Scotch that was still like a foreign language to me, butthat I took to be a blessing, an appeal to his God, to theguardians of his Heaven to have their watch over me. And then hetook me by the arm and asked me to walk with him to the door of mychamber. He said that he had never seen the room before but lodgedin one as straight and narrow as the grave and where he had but onecandle and one bowl of porridge, one plate of oatcakes, one glassof water in the day.
"And as for the young lad David," he said, as I parted from himat the door, "remember that he has an immortal soul, and fight forit as you would for your own."
Then he was gone from me and I heard the latch click into itsplace. And I stood there watching the wicks flicker up and down inthe large pools of molten fat, and I watched how the purple velveton the bed which hid the coarse coverlet showed its rich lustre inthat last light.
That night I did not hope to sleep. I lay in the completedarkness with no watch-light. It was the moonless week of themonth, and the darkness without invaded the darkness within, for Ihad left the window open. My curtains were drawn, allowing the softyet chill air upon my face, cooling the blood beating in my cheeks.Who was I to combat the perils of darkness?
I believed then what the old man had told me, and I wonderedwhere the three women had gone. Did such accursed creatures goabroad on a moonless night?
I lay in my bed—the mattresses were soft, the pillows wideand soft, and my hands were stretched out at my side and I imaginedmyself in my tomb, the tomb such as my father's bones rested in,with a painted alabaster monument above and inside all my armorialshields arrayed, painted blue and purple, scarlet and gold.
And who should lie beside me on that gorgeous tomb but Philippa?When I first met her she had been another man's wife, never couldshe belong to me save secretly in vile and sullen passion.
And our private sin had been discovered and we had been put toshame. And Philippa was her husband's penitent and I was exiled tothe Castle Drum.
As I lay in that thick darkness peopled by the evil fancies ofthe days that were gone, how childish seemed my vices—thejingling of the coins on the gambling-tables, the bawdy songs ofthe revellers going home late, the despoiled houses, the sullenwives, the glare of torches held by the sleepy little boys acrossthe courtyard, where the tired horses waited, the sedan chairspainted in red and gold, the foul words of the greasy footmen asthey pressed in idleness about the gate.
And her face, not different in the eyes of others from the facesof other wanton women, but to me beautiful, with the gold dust inher hair, and the red paint on her lips, the satin smock fallingfrom her pearl-coloured shoulders that had the sheen of the jewelsround her warm, white firm throat.
How different from these three women!...
I sat up in bed, pulling the curtains yet further back and therings rattled on the poles.
I remembered Jannot's eyes like slits of golden fire, Iremembered the old preacher's warning, yet I could hardly believethat he had really visited me in this very room, he seemed ratherlike some figment of my dreams.
I reached out my hand and felt on the chair with arms that I haddrawn up beside the bed my sword in its scabbard and the twopistols in their cases.
Clearly, sharply, yet all misty like a phantasy or dream, do Iremember that first night that I spent in Castle Drum.
I watched the dawn, the grey and spent fire, creep upwards likewater slowly filling a cask, until it reached the level of mywindow and flowed into my strange and desolate chamber.
How useless now seemed my preparations of the nightbefore—my books so neatly arrayed, my purple cloak laidacross the bed, my sand-dish and ink-horn now meant nothing. I wasexiled in what seemed to me an 'accursed place,' as Richard Cameronhad called it.
And when I sat up in bed my shirt opened on my bosom, I felt theair very cold, although it was summer, and when the cock crowedbeneath I felt an infinite melancholy, as if I was a lost soul onthe verge of Hell hearing for the last time a homely sound ofearth.
II. THE LADIES OF CASTLEDRUM</>
THE next day I was presented to the young boy who was h2to be inmy charge. His father was still absent from the Castle.
I found the lad to my liking, though I had ever had anabhorrence for those afflicted bodily. And David Garrie was notagreeable to the sight with his long, distorted body, crookedshoulders and limbs awry, and his thin pale face, his high nose andhollowed eyes that made him look older than his years, that werenot sixteen.
He had the same bright-coloured hair as his sisters, but thiswas often dark with sweat. What was his ailment I did not ask, forcourtesy, and was not told. I suppose that he had met some accidentin his childhood, I wondered they did not take him at least toEdinburgh or Glasgow, if not to London, to see if some experiencedphysician might not have healed some of his hurts.
But there seemed to have been little care taken of him, thoughone day he would be master of all their fortunes, and lord, as faras I could understand, of many acres, although these might bebarren. At least, in this rude, wild country his position would bea powerful one.
And there he lay on his couch that was drawn into the widewindow-place, with no other attendant than an ageing serving-manand a dull boy.
He received me courteously, his speech and manner were superiorto those of his sisters. I noticed that his linen was better caredfor than theirs, his clothes neater, and his manner, though notless haughty, not so coarse.
I found him, too, to be a considerable scholar. Richard Cameronhad taught this cripple well. The dullness of ill-health and theconstraint he felt before a stranger fell from him as he showed mehis shelves of books. He had sent as far as Paris for copies of theclassics, and had them there finely bound in tooled leather withgreen and purple ties.
He was nearly as efficient as I was myself in the Greek andLatin, and I believed that I should have some difficulty inteaching one who was so little my inferior in learning. But DavidGarrie assured me himself that he required more a companion than amaster. I was to read and discuss with him and help him pass hislonely hours.
"For my sisters," he said, with a grim look, "give me but littlecompany, and my stepmother has other employments than that ofnurse."
I asked him if he was not sorry to lose the company of Mr.Cameron? And he reflected a little before he gave me his answer,which showed, I thought, a rare prudence in one so young.
"Mr. Cameron is too old for me," he confessed at last, glancingat me with a chill approval, "you, Mr. Maitland, are nearer my age.Mr. Cameron, besides, seems to belong too much to these moderntimes, while I would tread backwards into extinct glories."
"Not being able," I reflected compassionately, "to mingle in theactivities of your own day, poor lad."
But I humoured him, and in order to break the constraint betweenus, sat by his side while he told me something of the state ofaffairs in Scotland, a matter to which I had hitherto given littleor no attention. He told me about the Covenant, how it had beensworn to by his present Majesty and afterwards, by the same King'scommand, burnt by the common hangman. And how black resentment hadrankled in the breasts of many Presbyterian Scots at this grossbetrayal, as they termed it.
These facts I knew, though I allowed the boy to relate them tome as if they were novelties. And as he spoke without passion, yetputting the Presbyterian case fairly, I could see their side of thequestion, as I had not concerned myself to see it before.
"This Mr. Cameron," continued David Garrie, "is one of the mostfervent of the Presbyterians, or Covenanters, as they termthemselves. He considers himself held in a bond to resist the Kingand the English to the utmost of his power. My father hasconsidered him as a seditious and perhaps a dangerous man, and forthat reason has sent him away."
"Where will he go?" I asked.
And David Garrie replied with a shrug of his thin, twistedshoulders, almost in the words that Mr. Cameron had used himselfthe night before when he had stood, his dark figure dim among theshadows of my chamber.
"He will have protection enough over the whole of Scotland. Ay,the protection of armed men also." Then with a rapid change ofsubject that surprised me, the boy sat up on his couch and asked meto move the velvet pillows at his back. I noticed that these, incontrast to much that was so rude in the castle, were as handsomeas the cloak that I had bought in Paris and cast upon my bedupstairs, and thickly embroidered in gold with the arms of theGarries—three pierced hearts in a flowered border.
"Do you know anything of magic, Mr. Maitland? Have you had anystrange conversation with spirits or phantoms? Have you seen ghostswalking abroad by night or by daylight?"
I was a little startled by these questions, which chimed tooclosely with my own thoughts. He sensed my surprise and addedslyly:
"I asked my father to see that one who was acquainted with thisnew science was sent to me. I have heard a good deal about it."
"From Mr. Cameron?" I asked cautiously.
"From him, too. He considers himself sent on earth particularlyto combat the tricks of Satan."
"Something of chemistry and the new sciences I do know," Ireplied, still cautious. "These things have interested me, nay, attimes absorbed my spirit. But the affairs of the world have beentoo much with me." I paused, not willing to unlock my heart or totell to this strange boy my own bitter tale.
But he had little interest in me or in my history. Clasping histhin hands either side of him on the carved arms of his couch, hebegan to talk a deal of matter that to me was incomprehensible. Itseemed that he had gone deeply into what he termed this science ofthe supernatural. That he believed firmly in all he said therecould be no doubt, and much of it I believed as firmly myself. Imight be a lukewarm Christian, and on occasion a fashionablesceptic, but I had no reason to doubt the existence of the Devil,though I might doubt that he came as a black man to dance on theheath amid a circle of wanton village wives.
But David Garrie made no more ado about believing such talesthan if he had been present at some of these Devil's holidays.
"If I were not lame," said he earnestly, leaning towards me, andI noted the drops of sweat on his taut upper lip and his domedbrow, "I should have been abroad and seen these cantrips myself.Mr. Cameron has seen them. The witches and the warlocks meet in theruined church which used to belong to my forefather. John Knox andhis men turned it over in the Reformation and laid the vaultsagape. Come—my Lord Lauderdale said that you had someknowledge of these matters, Mr. Maitland."
"Maybe," I replied, withdrawn into myself, "but I came here toteach you Greek and Latin, and I had thought of Scotland as thehome of pleasant elves and fairies the agreeable sprites of awinter's tale. I suppose," I added cautiously, "we have in Englandalso these vulgar demons, but I have given little heed tothem."
"You do not believe them, perhaps?" asked David Garrie. "Youthink they are all the babblings of ignorant old gossips who do notknow how to read and write? You do not, perhaps, believe in theBible? But in these antique tales that I read I come upon wonders,too, and whom am I to dispute what wise men have set down?"
"Maybe," I replied, "maybe. But what sort of place have I gotteninto, David Garrie, that our talk must be all of these matters? TheDevil may walk abroad oftener in Scotland than in England, for allI know, but I am not to be cozened by the idle, spiteful tattlingof the ignorant."
The boy stared at me without replying, and I saw that this was aserious matter to him. I felt a creeping uneasiness. Why had I beensent for to Castle Drum? Not to read his books with this boy, butto help him—how and why? And what part did the father play inthis cozening?
"Your sisters," I began, and then I saw the intent look in hiseyes deepen. He drew his pallid lips back from his teeth, thecrooked yellow teeth of a sick man, and said:
"What about my sisters? You saw them last night, I think?"
"Yes, I saw the three ladies. They were disputing about a yellowsatin dress, and there was some jest about a witches' revel."
The boy did not answer. His head drooped back on the handsomecushion and his lids slid quickly over the eager eyes. Was itpossible, I asked myself, that he believed his sisters to beSatan's darlings?
I rose and began to arrange the books he had shown me back ontheir shelves; I was determined, for a while at least, to be apedagogue and nothing else.
"It is a pity," I said, with irony, "that if you believeyourself surrounded by the legions of the damned you have partedwith Mr. Richard Cameron. A saint would be a good protectionagainst Satan."
"The old man wearied me," replied the boy indifferently, "hetalked too much of God."
"And what am I to talk to you about?" I asked. And as I lookeddown at that forlorn figure on the couch, a deep depression cameover my own spirits.
I glanced past him at the window from which came the cold lightthat enveloped him. It did not seem to be high summer here inScotland, in this room with the northern aspect. Why had they put asick man in a chamber where the sun never fell? How was I to endureto live in this Castle? My pupil was obsessed by dark fancies thatI must suppose were the fumes of a sick brain. And who else had Ifor company?
As I stood there with the books in my hand scowling at my ownfate and feeling like a man trapped, the latch was lifted andJannot entered. She wore a scarlet petticoat of thin silk thatfluttered when she moved like a blown flame. Her hair was freeagain, curling to her waist, and her gold eyes were full ofexcitement.
She crossed to her brother and seated herself on a corner of hiscouch, and a scowl passed between them, a challenge on her part anda defiance on his, I thought it.
"What have you told Mr. Maitland?" she demanded.
"He is here for my company, not for yours, sister," replied theboy, with more energy than I supposed he possessed. "And this roomis mine, and while my father is away I'm master in Castle Drum, andyou shall leave me in tranquillity."
She threw back her head and laughed, and I could not but admirethe line of her chin and neck, the swell of her bosom where itslipped behind the loose scarlet bodice. In that bleak light fromthe tall, rudely glazed window I gazed at her under lowered lids,thinking how strange a creature she was, how different fromPhilippa, from every other gentlewoman I had known. Gentlewomanseemed indeed an ironic term to apply to one so wild, sodiscourteous, who was without either kindness or charity or grace.And yet Jannot Garrie was the daughter of a noble house, and mustbe considered by her father's numerous tenantry as little less thana princess.
I spoke to her sternly now, meaning to pit my will againsthers.
"Madam," I said, "if your brother is to be in my charge, I mustask you to leave me in peace during the hours that I am to read tohim."
"Read to him!" cried she, with a flaunting tone and a bold look."Who was reading when I entered this room? You were talking, Ibelieve, of Mr. Richard Cameron, and of witches and of the Devil'stricks."
"You, madam, I suppose, were listening at the door," said I,angrier than I wished to be.
"You've a deep voice," said she, rising, "and took no trouble tolower it. Black man, indeed! You're a black man yourself, Mr.Maitland. Your hair is like a burnt coal, and your eyes too." Thenshe looked at her brother over her shoulder and added disdainfully:"Captain Graham is coming here to-morrow. Mr. Cameron did not leaveus too soon. They've determined in London to put down theConventicles and to bring peace to Scotland."
There is no describing the disdain and scorn she put into thesesimple words.
"Did you hear this talk in London?" she said, coming up to meand holding her face close to mine. "You are a Scot yourself, areyou not?"
"I do not claim that honour," I replied. "I am a distantrelation of His Grace of Lauderdale, but I and my forebears havelived for some while in England. And I would have you know, madam,that I take no interest in politics or in the affairs of Scotland.I came here to earn my bread, and I think," said I, my tempergetting out of hand again, "I shall find it hardly gained. Whendoes your father return?" I added.
She replied with her air that was at once fiery andindifferent:
"He is away, he visits kinsfolk at St. Andrews."
"It's Dr. Sharp," said David Garrie from his couch. "He wasrelated to our mother, and Sir Donald, that's our father, you know,does what any harassed man would do—he plays here and therefor safety."
"You talk like a fool," said Jannot. "We may have needed a placeof safety, as you term it, some years ago, now it's clear who'smaster—and that's the King."
"I've met the new Archbishop of St. Andrews," I said, "and I'veheard of him in London."
"And nothing to his credit, I suppose," said David,bitterly.
This was true enough. I knew of John Sharp, now the Archbishopof St. Andrews, as a King's man, although at one time he had been achampion of the people, a violent Presbyterian. I knew, for it wascommon talk, that he had pledged himself to have the Covenantobserved, and then, like my own relative, His Grace of Lauderdale,used all his influence to gain favour with the King, and havinggained that favour, he had turned his coat very prettily and becomea persecutor of the people whom he had once led.
I believed him to be a weak and wilful man, more than an utterlybase or vile one. But I could understand that his name must beloathed by all the Scotch Covenanters. And remembering RichardCameron as he had stood in my shadowed room the night before, Ifelt that I would not care to be detested by these Scotsfanatics.
But what had any of it to do with me? I was a stranger in astrange house, groping my way, as it seemed, through manifoldconfusion.
"I'll wait till Sir Donald returns," said I, trying to preservemy dignity, "to find out from him what my duties are."
"You'll make yourself useful and agreeable," said Madam Jannot,coming still closer to me and turning on me those eyes so oddlygolden.
I looked keenly at her to try to discover the trick of this. Whyshould her orbs appear like liquid yellow fire?
"She's trying to enchant you," said David from the couch. "Theyshould not have sent one who was young and comely, but one who wasa cripple, like me. That's what I wanted—a wise young man whowas lame in body."
Seeing his passion roused at the wiles of the wanton girl, Iturned deliberately away from her and sat on my stool by the couch,opening a book at random. I believed I had defeated Jannot and shehad left us, but a low meaning laugh warned me of my mistake.
I turned, and there were two of them standing inside the door,Isabelle in a gown of apple-green silk and the blue snood on herbright curls, her lips drawn back from her pretty teeth. They bothlaughed together, then went out as quietly as mice, dropping thelatch into its place behind them.
* * *
In a few days I had come to a clear understanding of theinhabitants of Castle Drum.
There were a great number of these, for the steward, thehousekeeper, and many servants lived in the large antiquebuilding.
But of these I took little account, they seemed to know theirrude duties and to go about them without confusion. But for thoseof us who sat at the high table, besides Madam Elspeth, her twostepdaughters, and myself, there was an old, thin, yellow man bythe name of Doctor Fletcher who acted as physician to David Garrie,who had been described as a warlock by Richard Cameron. It seemedhe had been a professor of medicine at St. Andrews University andhad left that place to remain in perpetual attendance on theinvalid heir of Castle Drum.
He was a quiet man who took little heed of what was going onabout him, but was absorbed, as I supposed, in his own studies. Hereceived me civilly and told me that hehad rooms set apart for himin one of the towers that was disused by all save himself. Heinvited me when I had leisure to come and see his study where hehad gathered many curios, for in his youth and mature age he hadbeen a great traveller.
I thought him now something past his prime and even shaken inhis wits. His attire was shabby and faded, the ladies treated himwith contempt, and I supposed that what the old pastor had said ofhim was but malice and moonshine.
This Doctor Fletcher, indeed, I took to be a man who had hadmany adventures and wished, in the shadow of his days, to come uponsome peace, and so he had fallen upon these odd quarters in CastleDrum.
The establishment should have contained a pastor and Mr. RichardCameron had served this turn, but now he had gone, and I, a layman,had taken his place, there was no Christian minister to bless ourmeat or lead our prayers. These offices I was asked to undertake,and the Bible was taken out of its large walnut-wood box and laidby my place at every meal. I had no difficulty or embarrassment ingiving the Latin grace and reading the appointed lessons andprayers for the day, but I was irritated by the little undertonesof laughter and whispers that came up from the ladies seated at theboard.
Our fare was very rude. I had never noticed before how Irelished dainty meat and cakes. But my stomach soon became used tothese coarse dishes. Our table service was like the rest of theestablishment, in some parts delicate, in others most lacking. Ifit suited Madam Elspeth to concern herself with these matters wewould have pure linen napkins and silver salvers, if she was in aforgetful mood the housekeeper would send up wooden trenchers.Pewter wickets usually served for the candles, and these werecommonly of the tallow that I had found in my room on my arrival.When Madam Elspeth was in the humour she would send for some waxcandles, kept in her own chamber.
The only other person who sat with us at the high table in thegreat hall that was adorned by the antlers of great stags that hadbeen killed in the chase by Sir Donald Garrie and his fathers, wasa young man whom I took to be a poor dependant; a distant relationof this house as I was a distant relation to the House ofMaitland.
I pitied these wretched cadets; well did I know their portion. Ihad been fortunate in having had an estate from my mother.Fortunate! it had gone too quickly to give me much benefit, and Idid not know now when in my exile I looked back upon my brief lifeof splendour whether indeed I had been blessed by the possession ofthe substance that had enabled me to see, to envy, and to winPhilippa.
This young man was named Evan Garrie, and I did not understandhis position in the household. He appeared sullen and withdrawn,the butt for the humours of the ladies, and often, when he visitedthe sick boy, for the petulance of David. The upper servants seemedto pay him but little respect, the lower servants were slow to dohis bidding. Why, I wondered, did he not go for a soldier? Therewas brisk recruiting going on just then in Scotland, troops for theputting down of the Covenanters were being raised in all thecounties, and this Captain John Graham, who had promised CastleDrum a visit, was, I knew, very earnest in the service of HisMajesty.
But young Evan Garrie passed an idle life in the Castle Drum,keeping himself much withdrawn. He was comely, tall, andfair-haired, but with dark eyes, his cheeks were hollowed andgaunt, and he had a forlorn look, like a lonely young animal. Ipitied him, yet disdained him too. He had poor clothes on his back,no money in his pockets, yet remained here without endeavouring togo and seek his fortune in the world.
And then I thought of my own case, of how pitiful an object ofcompassion I should be for any observer. Here was I, nearly asyoung as Evan, stronger and more experienced, with more boldnessand confidence in my place, and yet I, too, remained in thisoutlandish place of exile and made no effort to ward off myfate.
But I promised myself that I was but gathering strength, andthat when the time came I would strike, a bold stroke, many boldstrokes if need be, to gain once more what I valued. To gain what Iloved? I asked myself that question, too, but I had an inner hopethat if I remained away from England long enough I should cease todesire Philippa.
I was alarmed and a little dismayed to find that after but ashort space of time I had fallen into the routine of this strangehousehold.
That my presence was resented, I could not avoid knowing.Everyone kept themselves—him or herself, secret and apart.Even the boy who had so ardently desired my companionship—andwho had, as I learned, pestered his father until he sent to Englandfor some ruined gentleman, of good family and fair education, tobeguile his wretched leisure—even the boy, I knew, had hissecrets from me, his deep reserve.
The women soon ceased to torment me. I seldom saw them; even atthe meals they would sometimes be absent and there would be but thethree of us—Doctor Fletcher, myself, and Evan, thegaunt-faced, silent youth.
If I had been told during my London days that this was theprospect ahead of me, I should have said that it was intolerable,that I would sooner slit my throat or jump into the Thames thansupport such an existence, but here I was enduring it, with mysenses, I suppose, and my emotions dulled, my own vanity cloudingevery prospect for me, until at times I almost welcomed this rudesolitude that gave me so much leisure to brood upon my owntragedy.
Captain Graham's visit was postponed. He had taken his troop ofhorse in another direction, but he promised, appearing to be a goodfriend of the Garries, to honour Castle Drum with his presenceshortly.
I had seen this man on one of his visits to London and beenimpressed by his tranquil, almost feminine beauty. I had spoken tohim, for we were much of an age and in much of a position, savethat his estate was larger than mine and he had not been such afool as to lose it. He had been trying to obtain the hand of ayoung heiress and had lost that and the fortune and the title thatwent with it, and there was a gloom over his comeliness when I hadmet him and spoken to him, we having a fair acquaintanceship, inone of the rooms at St. James's Palace.
He had seen service in Holland but had left that because the warwas over and promotion hard to find, and returned to London withletters of recommendation from the Stadtholder to the Duke ofYork.
In order to distract myself from my own businesses I had askedCaptain Graham what he had intended to do, and he had told me thathe thought the best thing would be to ask permission to raise atroop to put down the troubles in Scotland. It was from him I hadlearnt the little I knew about the Covenanters. This was before myown ruin, and I had no thought that I should find myself inScotland so soon.
I had asked him idly, looking at the painted ceiling on whichfleshly goddesses were reclining in the midst of curdled cloudswhite as a goose's plumage:
"What do you mean, Captain Graham, the best thing?"
"For glory," said he, briefly, and turned on his heel. And thewords rang in my mind—"For Glory!"
I had repeated them to Mr. Penn, who had asked me to aconference at his house soon afterwards. He did not know my exactposition and thought that I might be able to help him with moneytowards the enterprise he had in hand of founding a new world inAmerica.
"Glory," said he, "there's but one glory—and that isserving the Lord and through Him mankind."
"That's not the glory John Graham means," I replied, and Mr.Penn in his eager way broke into my words and said it was not theglory that any worldly man meant, but the only one that was fit foran honest creature to pursue. I had amused myself amid my ownmiseries and wretchednesses, and during those days when I wasparted from Philippa by pondering on this term, the glory thatCaptain Graham desired, the glory that Mr. Penn desired, the glorythat I might hope to gain myself.
John Graham was a man of battle, he had no thought but war, nohope but war; he wanted titles, ribbons, stars, a great name,power. I believed he might gain all these for he was an experiencedsoldier and a man of a passionate enthusiasm and a harsh loyalty.Yes, it would be more likely that Captain Graham would gain hisdesire than that Mr. Penn would gain his. There might be glory infounding a city of brotherly love, but what man would earn it?
And so I mused in these dark stone rooms where it seemed I wasto meet Captain Graham again and ask him how far he had got in hispursuit of glory, the glory he hoped to achieve by quieting theLowlands of Scotland.
I soon learnt how quickly the summer was over in the North. Thepurple heatherbell seemed to fade overnight to the colour of driedblood, and there were no flowers left but the thistles and theircrimson crowns had changed to white. The landscape was richlycoloured by the scarlet berries of the mountain ash, and the darktawny gold of the fern that was like the colour of Jannot's andIsabelle's locks.
It was cold at nights, and I was glad when David Garrie began toshiver and to order fires to be lit in the great stone hearth inthe room where we worked. The stone walls were chilly and the dampcrept up at night, and I could understand how a man caught an aguehere.
* * *
In fine rain and cold air I was walking one afternoon about themoors that were still so alien to me when Evan Garrie begged mycompany.
I supposed that he wished to confide in me some troubles that Ibelieved would be puerile and trivial compared to my own, but I wasprepared, though with a cynic air, to listen to them.
We walked for a while across the moors and the strangeness ofthe landscape grew upon me and seemed to encompass me like a spell.As I looked back upon the Castle it appeared to be a shell upon thedistant light sky, a dark and massive outline belonging to olderand ruder days, though in the west wing there had been improvementand some of the latter Garries had attempted an air of southerncomfort and civilization.
The line of the ruined chapel, too, stood out dark against theyellow twilight, and I asked my companion why the lords of CastleDrum had never roofed over this sacred place and tried to protectit from the mist and rain of heaven.
He replied, sullenly enough, that there was a chapel inside theCastle where services had been conducted, that the Garries werestrange folk and spent their money on their own vices and theirerrant whims, and but little on the sanctification or beautifyingof their dwelling.
"I suppose," cried he, as we strolled farther and farther acrossthe darkening moors, "you wonder at me, a lusty youth, wasting mytime in these solitudes?"
"Wonder?" I replied, in a mood as sombre as his own. "Sir, Iwonder at nothing. No doubt you have had your marvels at myresiding here?"
"I thought you," said he, shortly, "a man apart, a man ofestate, fortune, and person who might have done better than playthe tutor to a sick lad in Castle Drum."
I was silent in some anger. I did not care to be read so well bya youth whom I had despised. And then Evan Garrie was to me anobject of compassion, therefore I did not care to be an object ofcompassion to him.
But he relieved me of further vexation by saying simply and yetwith a boldness that pleased me:
"It may be you have guessed my misery, my story. I love todesperation Jannot Garrie."
I had not guessed this, and swiftly I tried to put the twopeople together in my mind—the girl with her golden eyes andher gay frocks and her insolent, rude ways, and the gaunt,withdrawn lad. I had not seen much of either of them, yet I felt apang that displeased me, for it was a sharp pinch and I believed itmight be of jealousy. Yet what concern had I in the violent lovesof Jannot Garrie and Evan Garrie, the poor, despised dependant, asI took it, of Castle Drum?
"I do not know why you confide your secret to me," said I,sullenly. "I am an Englishman, or like to think myself as such,although I am a cadet of the House of Maitland. And I have comehere to escape tragedies of my own, and I do not care to seeanother's tragedies clouding over me like so many wings."
"What tragedies are there," asked he, walking quickly to keeppace with my strides, "besides that that I have confessed toyou—my love for Jannot Garrie?"
"You repeat those words as if you were proud of them," said I,"but the girl—"
"Say nothing of her," said he in a warning tone, "not that I amsqueamish as to her reputation, but be careful, for there are earsin the winds and eyes in the trees. Jannot Garrie is a witch."
I laughed in his face for my blood was not so warm as it hadbeen a few moments before. I remembered what Richard Cameron hadsaid to me in the shadows of my chamber, I remembered many strangelooks and broken whispers while I had been in Castle Drum. Iremembered the words I had heard the girl say the first night Iarrived at the dark castle when she had stood at the head of thestairs trying to tear the yellow dress from the shoulders of herstepmother.
"All the women are witches," said Evan Garrie in a lower tone,"but that does not prevent one loving Jannot, does it? She may beSatan's darling—"
"Hush," said I, "I have gone some way in these matters and havestudied the supernatural science. I hope, if God gives me grace, tosee and face a phantom. I hope to investigate those regions whichlie between Heaven and Earth and Hell. But I will not listen, EvanGarrie, to your babblings of these ladies."
"Ladies!" said he, and the word rang trivial and hollow acrossthe moors. "The ladies of Castle Drum!"
"And who are you," said I, stopping, and turning round andtaking him by the shoulders, "to speak so of the women of SirDonald Garrie who gives you house-room and food, and maybe a fee toput in your pocket?"
"I am his cousin's son," said he. "I was a student and did wellin my work and I thought to make my livelihood and maybe my fame inmedicine, loathing war."
"You should belong," said I, "to the sect that Mr. William Penncommands. Let me give you a letter of recommendation to him inLondon. Do not remain, poor lad, in this wilderness."
He said passionately, leaning towards me in the waninglight:
"What matter of any of this, I am telling you, since I must tellsomeone—or must I talk to the bandogs and the owls?—ofmy love for Jannot Garrie. Have you," he added in a lower tone,"ever seen such golden eyes? Even if they be a gift of hell onemust admire them."
"You talk," said I, "like a weakling. Be careful what you say,remember that the witch hunt is up in Scotland. They burn women whosuffer under this accusation."
"Why," said he, in a voice that made me doubt if he was in hiswits, "I would rather see Jannot Garrie in the flames thanbelonging to another man."
"Do you think," I cried, "to warn me? I have no love towards anyof these women, neither Madam Elspeth nor her twostepdaughters."
"You are a strange fellow," said he, "I do not know why I amminded to tell this secret to you. But I must speak to someone, andevents seem moving fast. We have been chained long in silence andsolitude here in Castle Drum. Soon Captain Graham is coming. Theyare scouring the Lowlanders for these Conventicles, and RichardCameron has roused his people against the soldiers. Soon there willbe blood across the moon."
"Listen to me," said I, turning and seizing the young man by theshoulder. "You seem a gentleman, one who might be strong in mindand body. Listen, then! You say this girl is a witch—leaveher, go out into the world and either with gown or sword make yourway. You will meet other women as fair...."
"Not," said he, interrupting stubbornly, "as fair as JannotGarrie."
"What of Isabelle?" said I, for it was she whom I had noticedmost, though Jannot had done her best to bring herself before myeyes.
"Isabelle is a witch, too," said he, "and Elspeth. All three arewitches. Have you not learned as much while you have lived inCastle Drum?"
"Quick," said I, "walk further away from the Castle. It seems tome as if invisible spies are about us, carrying what we say on thewinds."
He looked back at the Castle and now in that dark outline werestreaks of light where the windows were. I imagined the womenwithin. They had their own chambers to which I had never beeninvited, but I could believe that I knew how they sat there with agreat fire burning, one with a tapestry frame, and one with perhapsa spinning-wheel, and another with a book. None of them could read,as I supposed, but she might be turning the pages. It would be abook bound in brass and she would be looking at the pictures. Andall of them would be silent, save now and then a low laugh wouldpass between them.
And Doctor Fletcher would be sitting in the next room, drowsingin his stool beside the bed of the sick boy. And the tallow candleswould flare up and flare down.
And in the kitchens the servants would be singing their rudeballads while the harpist pulled the few strings of his ancientinstrument.
And there were we, two wind-blown figures—for the nightbreeze was rising to a gale—out on the lonely moor, thesaffron streaks of the sunlight as the sun set becoming dimmer anddimmer beyond the reaches of the purple hills. It was solitary, itwas chill, it was an evening which makes a man long to turn to hishome, to creep into his bed, whether it be straw or down, to layhis face on the pillows and to dream.
I looked at the youth beside me and I felt a certaincompanionship towards him, a certain sympathy and compassion. Itook him by his shoulders and I shook him, for I was much thestronger man, though not by many years the older, and I criedout:
"What would you have me do and why do you tell me you have thispassion for Jannot Garrie? If she be a witch, as you say she is,what am I to do? Denounce her to these fierce saints whom CaptainGraham is sent to suppress?"
"Listen," said he. I could no longer see his face for he was buta dark shape before me in the gathering darkness, and the cloudsflew low over the moor and that saffron light on the horizon wassoon eclipsed never to be seen again. "I love a witch, and if I amdamned for that, damned I must be. She goes now and then to dancein the ruined Chapel of Saint Anne, where her ancestors lie buriedupright in the vaults, some in their shrouds and some in theirarmour. And you have come, a stranger from the South, and I havewondered if you could help me!"
"How could I help," said I, and my voice fell to a whisper, "aman who loves a witch?"
"They are true," said he, sullenly, "to their gods as the saintsare true to Christ."
I had been, as I said, a sceptic in my thoughts, but this namespoken now in this place made me shudder, and I had a mind to fallon my knees and call out for mercy to some unknown God.
"I, too, have loved," I said, in an excess of weakness for whichI despised myself though which I had not foreseen. "I loved a womannamed Philippa in London. She was another man's wife. And yet weloved, and that seemed to make no difference. And I gambled that Imight have more money to spend on gauds for her. And so I lost myestate. And then she played me false and doubly false. Well, noneed to tell that tale now."
"I guessed," said he, in an avid tone, "that some such story wasbehind your coming to some such place as Castle Drum. But when youhave seen Jannot, Isabelle, and Elspeth, have you not forgottenPhilippa?"
I was silent; the night winds blew across my face and I wasgrateful for the chill across my brow for my blood was running ashot as a man in a fever. Philippa? She had become moon-pale in mymind, and the three women, the ladies of Castle Drum, were like thesuns of fairy-tale.
When I had first come there as a despised stranger, Jannot inher scarlet silk that was fine and fluttering like a brown flame,had seemed to take some notice of me and even deigned to lure me toher side. But now many weeks had passed and she had not looked inmy direction.
"Let us go home," said I, "for it is chill and I think a stormblows up. And what good do we do, discussing the ladies of CastleDrum on these lonely moors?"
"Look," said he, "how the lights of the Castle burn up!"
And I turned and gazed over my shoulder, and there seemed to bea light in every window.
"Sometimes they do that—make festival and merriment!"
"And that sick boy?" said I, and I turned again and shook thestupid youth by the shoulder. "When does Sir Donald Garrie comehome?"
"Soon, I hope," replied Evan Garrie. And then he began to talkof worldly matters, of Archbishop Sharp, of the dastardly part hehad played, of the rage he had roused in the breasts of theCovenanters. "I know a good deal," said the youth, slyly. "I havelistened to Richard Cameron talking, I have been with him to themeetings he has held on the moors. And yet at the last minute Idrew back, not wishing to be involved in what wasdangerous—"
"Hush!" said I. "These things seem nothing in London, but herethey have a great importance."
What did I mean by that? I did not know. I was shocked by thesignificance of my own words. Was I, who had come from the greatworlds of London and of Paris, thus far drawn into these rusticpolitics?
I turned sharply away from the youth and made my own way backacross the darkening moors towards Castle Drum.
When I reached this, the lights in all the windows wereextinguished, and when I entered the great hall there was no onethere. And when I went up the stairs they were lonely, and my ownroom was empty and the fire sinking into embers on the hearth.
* * *
David Garrie had ceased to importune me as to my knowledge ofwitches. I saw that he kept to his own advice and brooded much uponthese matters that I thought dangerous for one in his state ofhealth. And I penned a letter to his father, still staying with Dr.Sharp at St. Andrews, saying that I had taken up my position andthat I found the lad sickly and difficult, and that I thought thathe should have a pastor in his house and a physician who was moremodern in his ideas than Doctor Fletcher, who, though no doubt aworthy man, spent too much time in his laboratory in the tower.
But there came no answer to this epistle and I began to beindifferent as to the health of David Garrie. For I was muchabsorbed in watching the three ladies after what Evan Garrie hadtold me. He had become withdrawn and sullen again after his briefconfidence on the moors and seemed to avoid me in the long passagesand dark rooms of the Castle.
The autumn was drawing in, the nights were long and the daysbrief, and I became, as I suppose now looking back, somewhatclouded in my intellect. This world was so different from any worldI had ever known before, these thoughts that came into my mind wereso different from any thoughts that had ever impinged upon myconsciousness before, the outside world of politics the world inwhich Philippa moved—appeared with every day to recedefarther away.
Captain Graham visited us one evening, unexpectedly clatteringup through the dusk into the courtyard with his troop of sixtyhorse. The place was large enough to accommodate all of them and hesat at our board that evening.
I marked him curiously. A long time seemed to have elapsed sinceI had spoken to him in the corridors of St. James's. But heacknowledged me courteously, and I saw that he was still practicalin his mind.
"What of glory now, Captain Graham?" said I, leaning across thetable and looking into his beautiful face in the light of the waxcandles that Madam Elspeth had brought forth in his honour.
"Glory?" said he lightly. "I do my duty." And I saw a curve inhis perfect lips and a light in his melancholy eyes that proved hewas a man doing the work he liked.
Then Evan Garrie began to question him and he briefly, as a manwho would not obtrude his business on the society of gentlefolk,described how he was keeping Dumfries and Wigtown quiet andclearing out of them those rebels the Covenanters.
"Have you met," I asked, "one Richard Cameron, who was tutor inthis house before he was turned adrift for his fanaticism?"
"Richard Cameron? Why, he has such influence over theseCovenanters that they term themselves Cameronians in his honour.Black Cameronian Saints," said Captain Graham, and broke his breadinto pellets and idly pushed it about on the cloth that MadamElspeth had laid in his honour—for often enough we sat downat bare boards.
I looked at him as he sat there in his beauty, for hiscomeliness was extraordinary, the curls falling either side of his'melancholy face and giving him an aspect delicate beyond that ofmost men. And I wondered if I should resign my foolish post withthis sick boy and offer to join his troop and ride with him acrossthe moors, spying out these Covenanters who were no better thanrebels to His Majesty.
But he broke the train of my thought by turning to Madam Jannotand saying:
"These Covenanters have a sharp nose for a witch."
At that she stared at him, and I gazed, too, from one to anotherin the light of the wax candles: it was a softer glow than we wereused to at that rough board.
Then Madam Elspeth rose; she wore the yellow satin dress thathad been the matter of dispute the first day I had entered CastleDrum. And she took up the branch of candles in her hand and criedout in a high, rich voice:
"Captain Graham, I will light you to your room. We will have notalk of witches, nor of Cameronian saints. We are all loyalsubjects."
He rose and bowed, not much moved, I think, by her high talk,but he looked at me curiously, then at the two other girls whostood by their places at the table—Jannot in her scarlet andIsabelle in her green silk. These were their festival gowns, I hadlearnt, and the only silk garments in the Castle; the only satinone that was really rich and fine was that worn by Madam Elspeth atthe head of the table.
Before he left Castle Drum John Graham sent for me and I waspleased to wait upon him. Not only was he a link with those olddays, but he was both a man I respected and liked. Yet I could notforbear saying to him:
"I suppose, sir, that you have heard of my misfortune, how I wasruined, both in love and fortune, and have come here to thisstrange position in Castle Drum."
"I listen to nothing against my friends and acquaintances,"replied he with his grand air. "Mr. Maitland, if you are weary of apedagogue's work, why do you not ride with me?"
I could not answer him, and he, always a well-bred man, did notpress me, but allowed me to demand a question of him:
"Why, sir, did you ask to see me?"
"I find myself," replied John Graham, "in a place where thereare not many men of your breeding. I speak to you as one who has awider experience than your fellows here in Castle Drum."
"What concerns you, Captain Graham, in Castle Drum, or those wholive here?"
"Sir Donald Garrie," he replied, "was my father's friend. And Ilike you, Mr. Maitland."
He paused, with his cool air, but I never could suppose that hewas at a loss for what to say. I knew that he was about to warn me,and I stiffened, as obstinate men will, resenting the advice ofthose even whom they know to be their well-wishers.
"I wonder, Mr. Maitland, whether you understand Scotland? I haveone task—I serve the King. I am here to quiet the Lowlands, Iam here to rout out those people who term themselves Covenanters,who are rebels, and in some cases, murderers. Listen, Maitland,these people believe in supernatural agencies, in witchcraft andenchantment. They believe that from my poor buff coat bullets willrain off like harmless hail."
I looked into his beautiful face earnestly as he spoke. Iwondered if he was leading me to the subject of Jannot Garrie.
"This is in many parts a wild country. They believe that DoctorSharp, the Archbishop of St. Andrews, is a warlock who leads, likeI am supposed to lead, and General Dalzell and others, an enchantedlife."
"What do these rude superstitions and beliefs matter to me?"said I.
"You are in the midst of them," replied John Graham coolly. "Youare, in a fashion, in a strange position. I suppose you know," hesaid, rising and flicking a speck of dust invisible to me from hisneat embroidered cuff, "that the three ladies of Castle Drum arereputed to be witches? If you have any influence over them, as aneducated man and an Englishman, tell them to be careful."
He looked at me keenly as he spoke and I knew not what to makeof his words.
"I have no influence over them," I replied at random. "And ofwhat should I tell them to be careful?"
"The law," said Captain Graham, sharply. And I laughed loudly tocover my uneasiness.
"Then saints, the servants of God, and witches, the servants ofthe Devil, are alike persecuted in Scotland?"
"Take it as you will," replied John Graham. "I have spoken, and,as I hope, to a man of sense."
The next morning he was gone, and the place seemed lonelywithout him. He was too fine a gentleman for Castle Drum, and Ibelieved him to be hard and cruel in his pursuit of glory, yet Imissed his elegance and the darkness and harshness of my exileseemed intensified.
It was Jannot who found me moping by the fire and mocked me formy gloom.
"Why did you not ride with John Graham of Claverhouse?" shesaid. "You would have made a bold dragoon to hunt down the whiningsaints upon the moss-side."
I looked up at her and said, as I had not meant to say: "Isuppose you know that Evan Garrie loves you? Why do you keep him intorment?"
She appeared pleased at this, her eyes glittered like those of acat in the dark. She moved towards me, fingering the thin silk ofthat scarlet gown.
"Put on," said I, "more womanly attire, nor flaunt in this sillyfinery."
"You'd like to see me in linsey-woolsey, then?" she asked."Well, I'll wear it if it pleases you."
She sank down beside me on the settle by the fire and took myhand in hers—so much boldness she had not shown before.
"How do you know," she said very softly under her breath, "thatEvan Garrie loves me?"
I was not minded to betray the boy's confidence, so I answeredbrusquely:
"When a wanton woman and a silly lad get together it's easy forher to have her way."
She laughed at that, throwing back her head and showing hersharp white teeth and shaking from her brow the thick, red-goldcurls.
"Will you come to the old chapel to-night?" she whispered. "Willyou come and see us hold our revels?"
"John Graham warned me," I began.
She laughed louder and put her small hand, delicate in shapethough roughened by work, before my mouth. Then I did what she hadintended I should do, I took her into my arms and kissed her. Shelaughed the louder still, and shrilly, until I put her from me,disgusted at myself.
I went from her and returned to my place by the sick boy. But hewould have nothing from me that evening, being absorbed with DoctorFletcher, who had brought him some new medicine to assuage thepains that attacked him lately.
And, indeed, I was averse from that air, infected and foul as itseemed to me, of the sick chamber where the atmosphere was full ofthe acrid odour of drugs.
The lean face of the doctor and the thin face of the patientwere close together on the bed, which I saw already in my mindplumed and draped in black and silver for the last scene ofall.
I had not grown to love David Garrie and I much regretted thelong delay that his father made in the North. For I wished to maketo my employer a report of the boy, who was, although learned, wiseand clever in his own way, idle and wilful even beyond what thestate of his health justified.
So I was glad to go up to my own room and look at my own booksand the purple cloak that glowed so bravely over the bed. Even inCastle Drum I might claim this place as my own.
But not for long, it seemed. There was a scratch at thedoor.
I did not reply. I knew that my peace would be invaded, althoughI never said a word.
The latch was lifted and Jannot entered. Into the gloom lit bytwo tallow dips she came, holding aloft a branch of silvercandlesticks; in every socket was a white wax candle.
She did not wear the scarlet silk dress that I had spoken of somockingly but a plain smock of linsey-woolsey and over her head ahood of the same dark-grey colour.
"I am going abroad," said she, holding her candlestick aloft andat the same time dropping a slight and mocking curtsey, "on anerrand of mercy. Will you please accompany me across themoors?"
"Going out!" cried I. "At this hour of the night?"
"Ay," said she, "and with witches and warlocks and Claverhouse'sdragoons and ranting saints abroad. And therefore I have come toyou, my bold and bonny gentleman, to give me your protection."
I did not like the look in her golden eyes nor the curl on herred mouth that I had kissed not long ago. But I could not refuseher challenge. I had held her in my arms and then escaped her, andshe had followed me here to what I thought a sanctuary. But whyshould I be afraid of Jannot Garrie?
"Bring your bonny purple cloak," said she, eyeing the garment onthe bed.
"What use is that," said I, "going over the moors in the dark?And what's your errand of mercy, Madam Jannot? Since I've been inScotland," I added with a sideways look, "I've learnt that Jannotis the commonest name for a witch."
"One might be a worse creature than a witch or a warlock," saidshe, "one might be a puling fool."
This I felt intended for me, and I stood still for a moment tosteady myself and turned to look at myself in the mirror that I hadbrought with me. There was none provided in this grim place, but inmy dressing-case—the last remnant of my formerfortunes—was a mirror, and this I had hung by the handle tothe wall. In it now I looked at myself, to reassure my failingconfidence that I had some grace of manhood, some breadth ofshoulder and strength of limb.
I was glad that she had asked me, although I knew she was lying.There was no errand of mercy she was going on, but some darkbusiness. And I was glad for the threat of adventure to be awayfrom these dark, gloomy walls, where nothing happened and yet wherethere were always whispers in corners and sighs on the corridors,and soft footsteps going to and fro from room to room. And a sickboy with his brooding and his queasy fancies, and an old man shutaway with his great books in a tower. And Madam Elspeth with herfrowns and her tantrums, and Isabelle, soft-footed as a mouse.
To torment and taunt her I turned and said:
"I owe my duty to your father, madam, and not to you."
"Oh," said she, dropping another curtsey, and I saw the wax rundown the candles she carried as they shivered with her motion, "Ispeak to you, fair sir, as a lady to a gentleman, not as anemployer to a dependant."
I ignored the sneer she had made about the rich cloak I had caston the bed and took that of plain dark cloth I usually wore fromits hook on the wall. I pulled my leaf hat over my brows and set mypistol in my belt and I was ready to follow her.
We went downstairs, lit by the silver candlesticks that herfantastic whim had brought into my chamber. And there in the lowerroom she quenched that, candle by candle, and brought out fromunder her cloak a dark lantern. This she gave to me to carry.
And so we set out from Castle Drum into the windy night. As soonas the darkness was round us like a garment she drew close besideme and I put my arm round her.
And so together under guidance we turned into the night, and thewind was soft on my face and lifted my hair from my brow, and forthe first time since I had left England I forgot Philippa.
It was towards the chapel we turned, and that was lit up, by thelight as I supposed of torches. There was a flickering and a fitfulgleam through the unglazed windows and a glow rose from theroofless building that faintly stained the darkness of the sky.
Jannot pressed close to me, I felt my blood flow freely and mybrain act quickly, as my blood had not flowed and my brain had notacted when I first came to Castle Drum. Nay, since I had last seenPhilippa in London.
I declined, despite the mockery of Jannot, intended, I believe,to lure and challenge me into a confusion and bewilderment of mindand senses, nor despite the stern alarm of Evan Garrie, to believethat there were satanic revels in the ruins of the old church,though I credited that of the millions of spirits and phantoms thatwalked the earth some of them are occasionally made visible. Iknew, too, something of human credulity and ignorance, and this wasa wild part of the country in which both might well flourish.
I spoke of the matter to Doctor Fletcher, trying by blunt wordsto call him from his abstruse studies.
"What are you trying to discover, Doctor Fletcher," I asked, "inthat tower room of yours? You have promised me a sight of it."
"What interest have you in such things?" said he, lifting hislips back from his shrunken gums in a way he had that gave him thelook of an old, tired animal.
"I like a scene full of action," I replied, "but ever the thingsof the mind and spirit have haunted and tormented me."
And then I told him something of the tales that had beenchattered to me by Jannot, and told me with a groan by Evan Garrie.And I added, to test him, that I had seen lights in the chapel as Iwas coming home over the moors at night.
"Well," he replied, muttering, "that might be some old man athis need, burning turf or charcoal. What do I know?"
I pulled at his gown as he was turning away.
"You must know something. Have these women an evil reputationbeyond their own acres? Why does Sir Donald Garrie stay so longaway in St. Andrews? And is it true that the Presbyterian saintsthink Dr. Sharp, the Archbishop, is a warlock?"
He stared at me with his weak, blinking eyes like an owlsuddenly forced into the daylight.
"Why did you come here, Mr. Maitland?" hecounter-questioned.
"I do not know," replied I, frankly. Then making a shot atrandom I suggested: "Perhaps Sir Donald thought that his sonrequired some protection in a house full of witches and asaint."
At this Doctor Fletcher suddenly laughed, throwing back his headand cackling, so that I could see the muscles moving in his thinthroat beneath his ragged beard. I abhorred the old man, having alllusty youth's loathing for the aged, with their reminders of thegrave.
"Perhaps you're right, Mr. Maitland," he said, "perhaps you'reright. Any time, when you have the leisure, you may come to my roomin the tower. I have a small laboratory there, some retorts andlimbecks."
"Well, chemistry is fashionable enough in London. It ispractised by the King and Prince Rupert," said I. "But what can youhope to discover here, so far from all centres of learning?"
I felt a wave of impatience and detestation for the foul place.Why had I come here? I must have been a desperate man to trustmyself in so unlikely a place. An exile!
"I'll get me another employment," I cried. "I'm not fitted to bea pedagogue."
I turned away from the old man in the windy corridor to findmyself face to face with Isabelle. How light of foot she was! Itmust have been practice that enabled her to move about the placewithout making a sound. She did not creep or seem to be sly in herwalk, which indeed was rather bold and upright, but she had learnedthe fashion of moving as if she scarcely touched the ground. If Ihad been a Papist I should have made the sign of the Cross whenIsabelle Garrie appeared before me.
I think she enjoyed the confusion I could not altogethercontrol. But she pulled at my sleeve and asked if Doctor Fletcherhad been talking of witches.
"There's too much talk of witches in Castle Drum," I replied."The magistrate's not far away, and Presbyterians who have a keennose for the Devil. I should be careful, my lady, how you makethese childish boasts."
"If we were witches," she replied, "there'd be nothing we needfear."
"That's foolishly spoken," I said. "You know well enough, madam,that however witches may vaunt and boast, the day comes when theyfind themselves in the cutting-stool or at the stake."
"Well," said she, "I could show you some tricks, were you not soslow and stupid. For what do you think three women do, in a placelike Castle Drum, alone with an old imbecile man and a boy whonever leaves his couch?"
"Why," asked I, "is Sir Donald Garrie so often away, and for solong?"
"Not so often away," she replied: "My father is here, year in,year out. As it chances now he has gone to St. Andrews. He isafraid, I think, of the Presbyterians since we turned off RichardCameron."
"Afraid, perhaps, I hear, that Mr. Cameron will denounce you aswitches, eh? And what were the tricks that you could show me,madam?"
I disdained myself for giving her this encouragement, but thetruth was I was restless and weary in my spirit, I was glad ofanything to distract me. I did not intend to stay in Castle Drum; Ihad been there a month and felt as if I had crept into my grave.Those sunny skies, bare of cloud and revealing an infinite distancewere to me like the leaden lid of a coffin.
Isabelle took me by the hand, led me into the large room thatthey termed their bower. It would have been, I suppose, in anEnglish gentlewoman's house, the great parlour or music chamber.And Elspeth Garrie, who had lived some while in Edinburgh, hadtried to give the gaunt apartment a modish air. Two of the wallswere bare, but two were covered by French tapestries, there weresome handsome chairs of velvet fringe, and the one window was hungwith velvet also, although this was rubbed smooth in places.
There was even, and this luxury did not show in any other roomin Castle Drum, a strip of Persian carpet in front of the greathearthstone. And by the door stood a cabinet, very finely made inebony set with ivory.
Isabelle opened a drawer in this at once and with hastymovements, as if she feared to lose my attention and interest, shedrew out a large slab of jet and laid it on the palm of her smallwhite hand. White, do I say! Ay, it was white enough now, for sincemy first coming to Castle Drum she must have ceased rude work andused some unguent, for her skin was no longer rough and chafed butalmost as fine as a London lady's.
"What trick are you going to show me with that black stone?"said I.
She looked up at me straightly, I wondered if she was more fairthan Jannot. She was smaller, her hair the same colour, her eyesnot quite so golden and so bright. She had her one silk gown on,she always wore it now and would, I think, until it was intatters.
She breathed on the slab of jet, then rubbed it lightly with thepalm of her other hand and bade me look into it.
"Take it in your own hand," said she, "and look into it long andtell me what you see. Do not be hasty, for first everything will beblank."
Glad of this amusement, I took the slab of jet into thewindow-place where there was a stool, and seated myself comfortablyand took the slab in my palm, resting it on my knee, and gazed intoit.
First I tried to clear my mind of all floating fancies andrandom thoughts. Then Isabelle was suddenly beside me in herstartling silent manner; she rested her hand on my shoulder, and Ithought: "If she is possessed of magic powers, in this moment nodoubt she will bewitch me. But I'll get away from the ladies ofCastle Drum."
I leaned forward over the slab of jet; I remember my hair felldown and touched my hand, for I wore no periwig in Scotland. Then,as will happen when one gazes long and intently at one object, Ibecame drowsy in my senses, and the slab of jet, in which at firstI had seen nothing, seemed to cloud over into a stirring curdle ofopal-coloured mist.
"Take your hand off my shoulder," I muttered to Isabelle, for Ibelieved that her touch was enchanted; but I felt the tips of hersmall fingers pressed yet more firmly through my cloth coat on tomy flesh and bone. I would like to have moved, but I was numb aswell as drowsy.
I knew what I hoped to see in the jet, and that was Philippa,seated in the fair England manor-house, with the red roses climbingover the red bricks, the white pillars of the portico, and she withher pale gown standing there with the fair soft summer breezesblowing upon her, her fingers folded gracefully one upon the other,brilliant rings of ruby gleaming there.
But I saw nothing of this. The curdling clouds parted to show agloomy scene.
"No need," I murmured, struggling to speak ironically, despitemy drowsiness, "to look into the jet to see this desolatelandscape. There's enough of it abroad round Castle Drum."
I thought I heard Isabelle whisper in my ear, but her voice wasno longer mocking, but keen and anxious. "What do you see?" Ithought she said. "What do you see?"
Over the moors came a coach with four horses, there wereoutriders, all outlined in black against a fading light, as I hadseen Castle Drum and the chapel outlined against the saffrontwilight not long ago. They were coming as quickly as they mightalong a rough road. Then a shot sounded deeply in my ears, thecoachman pulled up the leaders, who reared back on the wheelers.And an old man put his head out of the coach. Then I saw that frombehind some bushes of gorses or wind had come several figures ofarmed men, and they fired at the old man, who tumbled out on thestep of the coach. There was a dismal shriek from a woman and alady in a tawny-coloured travelling cloak came out of the carriageand fell on her knees beside the old man.
I could see her face distinctly, although it was distorted byterror. She was young and fresh, I noted her cloak oftawny-coloured cloth with a lining of sage-green.
The whole thing was over me like a horror. I tried to rise andtwist as one does in the grip of a hideous dream. I heard Isabellewhisper close through my hair into my ears: "Why do you groan? Whatdo you see? Tell me!"
They were all shadows, darkened and fused, but I could see theywere beating the old man to death and that the girl was on herknees, screaming for mercy. There were dead men lying on theground.
Then the whole of the square of jet fused with a dark colour offlowing blood.
And I shuddered so strongly that I broke the bonds of theenchantment. The slab of jet fell out of my shaking hands, and Iheard it tinkle on the floor and the dull room was about me again.Isabelle was resting on my shoulder, looking at me with her yelloweyes.
"Did you see anything?" she asked. And I had no mind to tell herwhat I had seen, for I resolved in that moment to get clear ofCastle Drum and if possible, out of pure compassion, to take withme Evan Garrie.
Isabelle was angry with me because I would not tell her what Ihad seen in the slab of jet, and I do not know what induced me tokeep my owl counsel so closely. I believe she had put me on this asa test or trial, to see if I had the gift of second sight, as theytermed it. It may be that because I was new to these tricks I hadcertain powers she did not possess herself, but I was not versed inthe gallimaufry of the doubtful arts.
The twilight was coming about her while she disputed with me,and I stood sullen. My head was aching from the horror of what Ihad seen. I was used to violence, and had fought my duelloand killed my man in my time when I had been in Flanders, but therehad been a dread about this lonely murder of the old man in thesight of his daughter that had horrified me. And yet it was but aplay of shade, and they were strangers to me, both the man who wasdragged from the coach, and his daughter, as I took the young womanto be.
So I tried to put it out of my mind and left Isabelle brusquely,and went to meet Evan Garrie.
I found him with David, my charge, who was much petulant becausehe had been left so long.
"Did you not come to the Castle Drum to look after me?" hecried, and showed me a fair translation of one of Ovid's tales hehad made, neatly written out on expensive vellum and tied withpurple strings.
I had not then the heart to tell the boy that I was about toleave this employment, and, indeed, prudence told me that I hadbetter bide where I was until I knew of a better place.
So I soothed the young man and lit his candles for him andcalled up his servants to arrange his bed, spent half an hourlistening to his translation and correcting it here and there withthe aid of Mr. Golding's book that I had by me. And all the whileEvan Garrie sat by, not interested, but staying there because therewas no purpose in his life and he had nothing else to do.
When I could at last leave my charge I took the other young manby the arm and led him away, and gave him roundly my opinion ofCastle Drum.
"I will not stake my honour," said I, drily, "that these womenpractise evil, but I think them wanton and headstrong, and Ibelieve they know some tricks of devilry that would bemuse anhonest man's mind."
"I've been here six years," replied he, sternly, "since I was alittle lad. And I love Jannot, as I told you, and I'll always loveher. If I can be no more than the bandog, I must stay."
"That," said I, "is the foolish talk of impulsive youth. Goabroad and see other women as fair as this young witch—"
"Witch, did you say?"
"I think she is!"
"Have you been yet to the chapel and caught them at theirsatanic dances?"
"No," I replied grimly, "nor credit that they hold them. But Ithink I'll be away from this place, nor wait Sir Donald'sreturn."
"You can't leave David," replied the young man, as if suddenlyaffrighted. "You can't leave me," he added. He put out his leanhand and gripped my arm firmly. "I think, Tom Maitland, you weresent here for our salvation, and I'm not going to let you go againso easily. It's been worse since Richard Cameron left. You wouldn'tnotice that; you weren't here before. We had prayersthen—twice a day—and a service on Sunday."
"Well, I read the prayers and a grace, too," I said.
"Yes, but you're not a consecrated preacher," said Evan Garrie."You do what you can, but we need some holy man to sanctify thisplace. But leave that talk."
"Ay, leave it," I said sternly, "and come away with me. That iswhat I intend to do—leave Castle Drum and Scotland."
"You've seen nothing of Scotland," said he, and I laughed at hisquick and angry defence of his own country.
"I know that," I replied. "I blame my own evil mood and sourfortunes, not the place. Come with me—" And I remembered, Iknow not why, the beautiful face of Captain Graham and his quiettalk of glory. "Why don't you join Claverhouse's cavalry or comewith me?"
"For what end?" asked he.
"For glory!" said I, catching at the word, which came, I knownot why, into my mind that had been a little troubled and cloudedsince I had looked into the wanton Isabelle's slab of jet.
"Glory!" repeated Evan Garrie. He drew his golden brows into afrown. "I read an old book of plays that David has, and there weremany curious lines in it that chimed in with my own secretthoughts. And one of them was about glory—it said that glorywas like a circle in the water, enlarging until it dissolved itselfinto naught. Have you noticed that?—you throw a stone into apool and there's one ring after another until the inmost ringreaches the bank and breaks and is gone."
"Why, what of that?" said I, gloomily. "Each of us has no morethan his own life and maybe some fame after death."
"And what matters fame after death?" replied young Evan. "I wishto live my life, and unless I can have Jannot..."
I took him by the arm, I remembered Philippa and forgot some ofmy own aches in compassion for him. He was perhaps no more thanfive years younger than I, but in experience there seemed alifetime between us. And still I urged him to get away from CastleDrum.
"What can I do? What can I do?" he said. "Save a trooper, andI've no liking for blood."
He confessed to me that he had a great sympathy with theCovenanters, whom he took to be desperately wronged, that he hadhated Captain Graham when he had seen him sitting there at theboard with his cool smile and his elegant attire and his talk ofthe Lowlands.
Mr. William Penn then came into my mind as an agreeable thing,and I spoke of it to young Evan Garrie.
"There is a man," said I, "in London who may be thought extremein his opinions or fanatic in his enthusiasms. And when I was withhim I refused to listen to him, but now I think of him with relish.Yes, in this sombre, cold place I like to amuse myself with thosedreams that Mr. William Penn had."
"What dreams were they?" said the young man, rudely. "And whatcan another man's dreams mean to you or me?"
"Dreams of glory!" said I. I did not think of the glory thatWilliam Penn thought was an earthly matter. "He rather thought toplease his God and to take many weary world-bitten people out ofthis old country that is rotten and fretted with vices, and startin the New World another country—a city that he said shouldbe termed of brotherly love."
Evan Garrie did not, as I expected he would, laugh at me. Hegazed back at me with serious eyes, and I sensed his youth withcompassion, and though I had not thought that I would ever againtake such trouble for another human being, yet I felt now inclinedto some exertion to save young Evan from Jannot Garrie.
So I spoke to him in soothing terms of Mr. William Penn and hisscheme. I said how the man had suffered for the faith that was inhim, had been lodged, vilely and cruelly, in Newgate Gaol, but nowthat he had a friend or patron in His Royal Highness the Duke ofYork, the same man who had also been a friend to Captain Graham ofClaverhouse, and who held lands in America he might farm out forthis godly plan.
"It would be good," admitted young Evan Garrie, "to get awayfrom this country, which is dark and murk. Yes, it seems like thatto me—for all the skies are shining and the heather isbright. And there is likely to be a battle here, ay, many battles,for the Presbyterians are massed and armed with guns hidden intowers and thatches, and I learned from Captain Graham that it isthe Government's intention to put them down with fire and sword.They are to bring the wild Highlanders upon them, and all are to bemurdered who will not take the Oath—the Test, as they callit, which means the denying of the Covenanter."
"Well," said I, "it would be a man's work to join thesePresbyters, who seem at least brave and steadfast. Better that thanidling in these dreary rooms, allowing a woman to make you fond andsilly."
"I think," said he, "I'll take your advice. Although I've nomoney, somehow I'll get to London and find this Mr. Penn. I'll askhim if he'll take me to his new land over the Atlantic."
I was sorry that I had said so much, for when it came to it thesubject was wild and uncertain. And I remembered that Mr. Penn hadsaid that he might not be long in London, that he was going to TheHague. I told this to Evan Garrie, told him to wait awhile until Ihad written to London and had the news.
At this he turned sullen, as if he had lost faith in me, and Iwas moved again with compassion as I saw him slouching away. I wasvexed with myself that I had taken the burden of another'sdiscontent on my shoulders, already bowed with my own troubles.What was Evan Garrie to me? I wished to be free of him, and ofJannot and Isabelle.
* * *
It was the third of these ladies, Madam Elspeth, with whom I hadnext to deal. She sent for me to the room where Isabelle had shownme the picture in the jet; my lady was wearing the coveted yellowsatin she put on in the evening; it was a fine gown, scalloped andembroidered with gold bullion. And she had a falling lace collar ofthe fashion of the last reign, and her hair twisted in curls anddone up on the top of her head. For all that, she was not a finelady or a beautiful woman. She was too thin, and the red on hercheeks served only to show the hollows beneath. She seemed savageand restless, and though young was gaunt and thin. She now began tocomplain, in a high voice, of my behaviour in Castle Drum,declaring that I was neglecting her stepson.
And I told her roundly that I cared nothing for this employmentand that I was soon leaving it. And I said at random that Iintended to go to Holland and take my fortune there at the Courtsof the Stadtholder. For I had two to recommend me there John Grahamand William Penn.
At this Madam Elspeth became frightened. Clasping her thin handstogether tightly she looked at me with her great eyes glowing withsome strong emotion, fear I took it to be.
"Don't leave Castle Drum, Mr. Maitland, yet," she implored."Not, at least, until my husband returns. There's trouble in thecountry, you can see the signal beacons at night, if you lookout."
"I've seen fires burning," said I, interested in anything thatshowed violent action to be likely in this gloomy country.
"I don't know what's going on," she said. "It's the forbiddingConventicles again—they will meet. They gather together, andpreachers go about with armed men. It is like a rebellion. Dalzelland Claverhouse and others, as you know, are raising troops to putthem down. And they'll send more soldiers from England—youhave this knowledge better than I. Many of the lairds here supportthe Whigs, hide and feed the preachers—and the little men gethanged for it."
"And why," said I, "should that make me return to Castle Drum?Why does not your husband return? Even without your husband youhave a number of men, as I think, armed," for I had seen that theyhad an arsenal in one of the lower rooms, where there werenumerous, if rude, weapons.
"But I want you to stay, Mr. Maitland," urged Sir DonaldGarrie's lady. "You're a gentleman, and these are but wild folk. Ican trust you, I hope," she added, in a stormy voice. "If I spoketo you harshly just now, I am sorry for it."
"Why, so you should be if you're to ask a service of me," saidI. I did not feel obliged even to be courteous towards her, she hadtreated me from the first harshly, and I much mistrusted both herand her stepdaughters.
"I must confide in you," she admitted. "I have those two girls,Jannot and Isabelle, under my charge."
"And a poor business you make of it," I thought, "letting themtrip about like wanton queans, instead of turning them into modestgentlewomen."
I was not prepared for what she was going to say; these were hernext words:
"Mr. Maitland, as I said, I must trust you. We are surrounded bywhat I can only term rebels. Preachers, among whom is Mr. RichardCameron, whom to our misfortune we nurtured here, have gone abroad,rousing the countryside, not only against the Government but whatthey term Devil-worship. Ay, the witch hunt is up again in Gallowayand Wig-town."
I was sharply interested, but tried to keep my features composedas I replied:
"And how should the question of witches concern the ladies ofCastle Drum?"
She was ready for me and returned my challenge coolly, though Icould see that she was still deeply troubled, perhaps deeplyafraid.
"There is much witchcraft in Scotland," said she, "and muchsecret worship of the Devil. Perhaps for years at a time nothingwill be said and nothing will be discovered. Then one man rising upand cries of 'Vue, halloo!' and there's the hunt—and theinnocent and the guilty go to the torture and the stake. There'snot a corner of Scotland," continued Elspeth Garrie, wildly, "wherewitches may not be found if they are sought for. These Covenanters,as they term themselves, are as set against witchcraft and theworship of Satan as they are set against the Bishops, whom theytake to be under the protection of demons."
"And you think, madam, I suppose, that they may rouse thefanatic and superstitious peasantry?"
"That I do," said she, "and we are three women alone. And as wehave more learning and a better education than any man for milesaround—" she checked herself, and I thought that she wasgoing to admit that they were, the three of them, objects ofsuspicion, that they had been reckless in their sense of securityas the ladies of Castle Drum. But she was not so foolish as that;she looked at me as if she was enjoying my disappointment as sheadded:
"As we have a better education, we have protected in ourestablishment several old women who have been suspected ofbewitching cattle and of transferring pains from which theysuffered to others. We know them to be harmless old bodies and haveprotected them. They have work in the castle, but now I think theirnames may be remembered. And this Mr. Cameron, when he was here,was always protesting against their presence."
"I think Mr. Cameron protested against other things," said I,grimly. I was vexed because she had asked me for my protection,said she trusted me, then put me off with a tale like that. I didnot at that time think the three ladies of Castle Drum wereotherwise than mischievous and foolish. I believed they practisedstupid and perhaps disgusting rites, such as sticking pins into thewax images of their enemies, making philtres to rouse love or hate,mixing potions to increase their beauty, and suchlike follies. Butwith real evil or real power I did not then connect them.
The lady's terror was manifest, though I had to confess that shekept a fair show of fortitude. And when I reflected on their case,with the husband at St. Andrews and no one in the Castle with thembut a sick boy, an old, half-crazed man and some stupidserving-folk who might, for all I know, turn traitors, I was sorryfor their plight. And I promised Elspeth Garrie, thoughunwillingly, that I would remain in Castle Drum until Sir Donaldreturned.
At that she seemed satisfied and thanked me in a friendlyfashion. And I noticed at the supper-table that evening that sheand the two other ladies did their best to flatter me. It was anevening when we had the wax candles on the table, when good Frenchwine was served and our places were spread with linen napery.
When I had been talking with Elspeth Garrie young Evan had goneout of my mind or I would have reminded Madam Elspeth that she hadthere a man on whose services she might call. I thought of him inthis connection when I saw him at the supper-table and reminded myhostess:
"If you are attacked, either by Claverhouse's cavalry or by thewild Covenanters," I said, "there is a knight ready to protectyou."
None of them liked the sharpness of my tone, and young Evanreminded me sourly that I had promised to send him to some Utopiabeyond the seas, where the Golden Age might be discoveredagain.
I was vexed at the sly and, as I thought it, evil laughter ofthe women, and I championed the young man, leaning across the lightof the shining white candles, and said to him:
"I have promised to remain here until Sir Donald's return fromSt. Andrews. Then you and I will leave Castle Drum together and wewill go to London and then straight to Holland. If no betteremployment can be found we will take service with the Prince ofOrange."
At that the three ladies clasped their hands and laughed andbade us both good cheer and good luck and hoped we would find gloryin the wars.
The word glory rang into my head again and I thought of thesimile of the circle in the water. How little any of us mattered,how soon we should be gone from this dark-and whirlingplanet—
I rose from the table, pushing back my chair, plunged in a deepmelancholy all of a sudden as a man may be seized by the throat byhis phantoms and thrust into the dark waters of despair.
I could not endure to stay longer at that dismal board, brightlythough it was lit by the candles they had brought out in myhonour.
I went up to my chamber and sat there in the dark, that was onlydispersed by the dying embers of the fire on the wide hearth.
And there Evan Garrie came to me after an interval and asked ifI would like to go abroad that night. He had a dark lantern, hesaid, which he would conceal under his cloak. "And we might visitthe chapel." And I could see for myself some of the strange thingsthat were whispered about Castle Drum and the ladies.
As I have written, I did not at this time take any great heed ofany stories I had heard of these women. The place was detestable tome, but I believed that this was the result of my own humour andthe savage desolateness of the countryside.
But as I was restless, tormented in myself, I willingly acceptedthe young man's invitation. As it was usual for one or other of us,or sometimes both, to watch by the sick boy, I asked him how thatduty was to be performed that night. And he said that David had hadone of his fits or seizures and that Doctor Fletcher and a servantwere in attendance on him, he had been let a pint of blood and wasnow in a swoon. The Doctor would watch him all night. I had littlefaith in the treatment of Doctor Fletcher, his learning must havegrown a little rusty in this wilderness; but David Garrie was notmy bodily charge, it was his mind I had undertaken to keep. I hadsaid nothing about endeavouring to heal his disease. So I put himout of my mind and felt no further responsibility for him.
* * *
And the house being quiet save for the outdoor servants whomthey kept watching on the walls, we passed out, the two of us,wrapped in our dark cloaks, through the postern gate. The sentrieswere rude and ill-trained, and it was not difficult for us to evadethem for they lingered and perhaps slept on their watch. And wewere soon free both of the building and of the grounds.
It appeared to be almost winter here in this grim north, thoughI knew that in England the beech and the elm would be showinggolden leaves and the last lilies and roses blooming in thewell-kept gardens. Philippa would be spreading her plucked blossomswith their spices and salts in the glow of the autumn sun in orderthat she might fill her blue china bow-pots with odours for theshort December days. How odd that this thought sprang into my mindnow as we stood on the bleak moorland.
"What do you think to show me, sir?" I said to Evan Garrie. Icould understand that superstition must have him deep in its gripand that he must believe in many crude tales that a child inEngland would scarcely credit. How desolate was this country, howwild the climate, these uncultivated fields and moors, the lonelyhills, the long winters, the lack of learning and books andcompany—why, it was easy for these poor benighted people tobelieve that the Devil walked abroad.
So thought I in my complacence as we-went together towards theruined chapel.
The moon had risen into a sky pale as a faded hyacinth bell,from banks of heavy purplish cloud, and the thin pale light, likedissolved pearl, drifted on to the sharp outlines of the ruins, thebroken arches, the defaced pillars of the papal church that thefollowers of John Knox had laid low:
We moved towards this with cautious steps, keeping in theshadows as best we might, though Evan Garrie said to me: "There isno need for such caution. Many will be going to the chapel tonight,and who is to know one from the other in the moonlight!"
The air was very keen, I felt the flesh of my face chill and Idrew my cloak, not so much for diguise as for warmth, closer roundmy neck.
Evan Garrie seemed to know the way well. He led me by diverspaths until we came to a block of fallen masonry. The moon, withthat swift spinning motion it seems to have when clouds are in thesky, had disappeared behind a sombre band of vapour, and EvanGarrie took advantage of this obscurity to seize me by the arm andlead me where he would have me, into an archway that led to somestone steps. I could just discern them, as he told me in a whisperthat they were safe and bade me mount quietly.
"It is the old belfry, rebuilt in later times after the churchwas destroyed, though the Covenanters took the bells away in thelast King's reign."
Unthinking fool as I was, I followed the young man up thestairs, my spirits raised by what I thought the triviality of theadventure, for it reminded me of enterprises undertaken in my youthwhen I had been light of heart and anything that savoured ofexcitement had heightened my dancing blood. So I had gone out atnight, searching for owls' nests and I know not what senselesstrophies—to rob our fruit, may be, from a neighbour's orchardwhen glasshouse pines and peaches would be placed on my ownfather's table.
We reached the little chamber at the top of the belfry easilyenough and could look down, as my companion pointed out to me, intothe centre of the ruined church. The moon having swum clear of thebank of clouds again, showed us these green aisles. Near where thealtar had once stood and before the ruins of a fine window withbroken tracery in the arch, grew three young beech trees that stillretained a few pale-gold leaves; harsh grass and weeds carpeted thechurch; these were already bitten by the early frost, and amongthem I could see the outlines of flat grey coffin stones thatcovered the long-forgotten dead.
It was silent, not even the hoot of a bird, the rustle of a windbroke the dense stillness, that seemed suddenly to qeat on myear-drums with more passion than a continuous noise.
What did I expect to see? I did not know, and if I had formedany pictures of the satanic rites that Evan Garrie's excited fancyhad conjured up, I imagined that I should see a gathering of women,headed by the ladies of Castle Drum, young and old, poor andgentle, meet on the one sanctified ground, to dance, to sing, tochatter, and to perform their futile, their trivial, perhaps theirobscene rites.
But no one appeared in that palely-lit enclosure.
I turned to Garrie and said:
"What are we waiting for? What do you think we shall see?"
He did not answer, and I heard a sigh pass from his lips. And Icontinued to gaze from my small pointed window. The stone was coldunder my hand, and I was uncomfortable as I half leant, half knelt,crouching in the narrow space.
Then, as I stared, I was conscious of something moving below. Itseemed a grey shape, as if it were of the same substance as theweed-covered ground or the stained stone pillars. But it was movingand detached from these, and seemed to be a human being and yet tobe crawling. It moved towards the large stone that had once beenhung with rich cloths and set with jewelled candlesticks in thedays when the Pope was lord in Scotland.
"Look!" I whispered. "What's that below?"
My companion replied only with a groan, and I felt my own bloodwas not so warm in my veins. I had not expected anything like this,and I wished myself back even in the gaunt rooms of CastleDrum.
As I stared again I saw that the whole space enclosed by thoseruined walls was moving with these grey figures.
It seemed as if the ground heaved as I had noticed a piece ofrotten meat to heave with the maggots that were devouring it. Icould not count them, they were there so thick, these greypalpitating shapes.
"It is the moon mist," I thought. "I am bewildered in mysenses." And I remembered with rage the tricks that Isabelle hadplayed on me with the square of polished jet. I turned my head awayand tried to steady myself by staring into the darkness.
Evan Garrie was clutching my hand.
"What do you see below?" I asked.
"I see death in many shapes!" he replied. "The place is full, donot attract attention to us. This place is still blessed, theycannot enter it. Hold this," he pushed something into my palm, andmy fingers closed on the four points of metal. He had given me aCross.
I tried to laugh, but looked down again. There were the shapesswarming, heaving, crawling towards the altar. "Empty," said I."What are they worshipping? There is nothing there!"
Then I was angry with him for having brought me to this placeand set me in such a foul position. I tried to drag at his hand,his arm, and pull him down the stairs again, but he stayed thereagainst the wall, peering out of the window beside me like onebewitched. And I felt bewitched myself.
How lightly we talk of the Devil and his evils, how carelesslywe jest about the monsters of darkness! I remembered then what Mr.Cameron had said to me about the ladies of Castle Drum, and Iwished I had him there by my side. Surely these men, thesePresbyterians, were right—the country was vile and haunted. Ifelt my courage grow heavy and like a sea receding in my veins, thesea of my warm blood that was chilling into ice.
The first figures had reached the altar, they overflowed it inslow-grey waves, then mounted through the broken windows and beganto disperse like torpid rings of smoke in the dim upper air.
Then I heard a little wailing music like someone playing on thepipes that they had in this country, of someone singing.
I looked up at the moon to steady myself, for I thought that thebase of the ruined church was filled by globes of light thatchanged and intermingled one into the other, and I would notbelieve these to be anything but an illusion and so stared up intothe highest point of the heavens where the moon now shone free, theclouds had drifted to the horizon, and the wind blew very cold. Itseemed to come directly from the moon on to my face. I put out myhands into the white light as if I thought I could clean them inthat pure glow.
And then I felt Evan Garrie fall against me. He said: "Let uscome away! It is worse to-night than it has ever been."
I thought I should not be able to move, that my limbs weretrapped by witchcraft. And I held the little Cross that he hadgiven me tightly in my palm, and managed to move my stiff fingersto my lips, then to open them and to kiss the Cross.
At that a little courage returned to me. I suppose he, too, musthave believed that he had the strength that was in this holysymbol, for he was able to rise, and we turned and made our wayslowly, step by step, down the stairs that were worn and crumblingand damp with slimy mosses and tangled with great thick weeds, noneof which I had noticed when we had come up so swiftly and soeagerly.
When we reached the bottom there was one standing there like asentry on guard. He appeared of monstrous size, and as he turnedhis face to look at us I saw it was that of a black man.
"Do not speak to it," moaned Evan Garrie, and his words werehissing breath upon his lips.
We turned from this awful sentinel, and there was one of thegrey shapes lurking in the corner of the wall. It floated out as wecame by with a slow, sullen movement, not as if it were light butrather like a heavy thing, solid, being dragged. And there was afoul smell of putrefaction.
I stepped back from Evan Garrie, who was better used, I thought,than I to these horrors.
And the shape paused by us and looked at me with the face ofJannot, that same richly-coloured face with the tawny hair, theeyes full of golden light, but now inhuman with stains of decay onit that I had seen on marble statues that had long been buriedunderground.
Evan Garrie pulled me away and we stumbled on. I tried to tellmyself that this was no more than a dream. I did not fear theshapes roused in midnight slumbers, or in the lonely hours of themorning as the cold dawn filled the gaunt bedchamber with a soiledlight. Cold I might be, even to the heart, even to the marrow, butI rose from my bed to say "these are but visions."
So now I must think—these were but fumes or humours of thebrain. I tried to think that they had given me at my last meat somenoisome drug. What were those boasted wines or cakes with whichthey had been so eager to toast me.
Another shape approached us. It was decorously clad in russet. Iknew it for Doctor Fletcher and hailed him with a warm pulse ofjoy. Here was another human being, a Christian man who would helpto guide us home.
But he drew near and turned upon us awful empty eyes, and I sawthat he, too, was one of this accursed crew.
Three times he passed us, kept pace with us for a while, andthen disappeared.
Evan Garrie was by my side, whimpering like a beaten hound. Whyhad he brought me on so foul a journey, and why had I, foolish inmy complacency, allowed him to persuade me?
We reached that pile of fallen masonry behind which we hadhidden when the moon first shone upon us when we had left CastleDrum. And there the two other women were waiting forus—Elspeth and Isabelle. I knew them, being used now to theirfoul trickery and their obscene shape. They appeared in outlinelike those large grey slugs that I had seen crawling in my father'sgarden after the rain. They were grey, too, as those we had seen inthe desecrated church, and yet shrouded and drawn together. Andthat abomination that had the face of Elspeth took no heed of us,but the shape that had the face of Isabelle moved forward and herstained visage was pale in the pinched light of the moon.
Made desperate by horror, ay, and by fear, I struck out at thiswith my clenched fist, which seemed to go but into soft cloud.
Then the appearances had gone and we were no more molested onour way home, save that we saw, sitting near the confines of theCastle grounds, a hunched figure playing upon the bagpipes, that Itook to be no mortal thing.
And I knew then that Castle Drum and all the ground about wastruly infested with the powers of evil.
* * *
As I reached the Castle I thought of the sick boy and the shapeof Doctor Fletcher that I had seen walking in the ruins of thechurch.
"He, too!" I thought. "Perhaps he, too?"
I turned and looked at Evan Garrie, who appeared like one crazywith a mortal sickness.
I took him into the great dining-room, where they had lit thewax candles and brought the French wine to me that evening. Therewas still some of the native raw spirit in the horn and silvergoblets, standing carelessly, after their fashion, on theserving-board. I gave him some of r this and took a draughtmyself.
Gradually the world of reality slipped into place about me.Reality, say I, there was but little of that in Castle Drum. Evennow this room seemed to me strange and heavy, infected ground.
"We'll get away," said I. "No more after to-night." I ravedagainst witches and warlocks. "What have I seen?" I was angry withthe young man. "Why did you show me what I shall never be able toforget?"
"Jannat holds me here," he sobbed, silly and beaten from hismanhood.
"Jannot! After you've seen her as you saw her to-night?" Yet Icould not wonder at the boy. I felt something of the samebewitchment over my own dulled senses. "There's David to think of."I tried to steady myself by this concern about the sick boy. "Ifthat was Doctor Fletcher whom we saw...?"
"Who do you think it would be?" snarled Garrie. His eyes wereshining from the strong spirit, there was a hectic red in hischeeks and his lips were drawn back from his teeth, making him looklike a lean young mastiff.
I had no thought then but getting him and myself away from theplace, but I still had David on my conscience. I had been feed toteach his mind, as I had said, and not to look after his body, muchless his soul. But he was another human being, and after the lastfew hours I had begun to believe in eternal damnation. Those twowords and the thoughts they evoked blew over me like an icywind.
We crawled feebly up the large cold stone stairs to the sickboy's room. The door was ajar and the watchlight was burning on thetable by his bed; the fire had sunk down, the strong wind down thechimney was stirring the already cold ashes.
I did not know what light it was that fell between the shuttersthat stood partially open, whether the light of dawn or moon orchill rays from some other world.
The boy was seated on his bed with a sage-coloured cloak abouthis shoulders, and his face, damp with sweat, was like that of anold man in this unearthly light that filled the chamber.
The serving-man was there, but asleep, his head overcast on hisarms upon the table. The coarse tallow candles had guttered out onhis uncombed hair, his locks and the winding tallow both fell overthe table.
"Well, Evan," whispered the boy, leaning forward so that hiscloak and shirt fell apart and showed his thin chest, on which Icould count the ribs, "what did you see tonight? Tom Maitland! Hewent with you, too, and he had a taste of their quality!"
I did not know if he was one of them, although I feared as much.And I had no answer ready, nor could I understand the mind or moodof Evan, who stood there at the foot of the bed staring at the sickman. Was he, young Evan, trying to save the soul of David? Or werethey companions, almost accomplices, in all this satanicvileness?
I felt as if I, too, like young Evan, stood on theborderland.
And then all our high thoughts and resolutions, tremulous,half-formed, were scattered by a noisy clangor and thunder on thegates.
The sick boy shrieked, drawing his knees up under his heavycoverlet. Even the weary manservant, responsive to that loudcommand, rose yawning and groaning, pushing the hair, stained withthe tallow, out of his bloodshot eyes.
Evan Garrie fell to his knees, thinking no doubt this was asummons from Hell. But for me it cleared my mind, and I was ThomasMaitland again, the ruined gentleman who had been hired as apedagogue for this pale withered heir to a Scots lord.
"Who's master here when Sir Donald's away?" I said. I looked atDavid, then at Evan. Neither was able to answer me, so I told theserving-man to go down to the door and rouse the house and see whoit was without. It might be Sir Donald's return, it might beCaptain Graham and his troop, it might be the Covenanters on awitch-hunt.
My faculties were sharpened above the common by the horrors Ihad seen and the strong drink I had taken, yet I cared nothing towhat might befall. I knew that these days there might be a dangerin opening the gates of Castle Drum in its master's absence. Whatdid I know of the broils of this petty kingdom? It might be thatenemies without were coming to slit all our throats, but what did Icare for that? The place was drenched in horror for me. Could Ihave seen Elspeth, Jannot and Isabelle speared as they stood Ishould not have blanched.
The sick boy gathered up his serge cloak to his shoulders andagain shrieked with fear. And I shouted back at him and put my handon my sword; Evan Garrie caught at my arm, and so we stood, thethree of us, while the serving-man stared, asking me to repeat myorders, for he seemed to look on me as the master.
I told him to go downstairs and to see who was outside, forsomeone had passed the outer gate and was now belabouring the innerdoor.
I peered from the window that I pushed open and there was thelight of a pine-knot torch below; the moon had long sincedisappeared and the sky was black above us. A drizzle of rain wasfalling, I felt it as I put out my hand, and I wondered if thispure moisture from Heaven had scattered those hideous, swarmingshapes inside the ruined walls of the chapel. And I thought, too,that if I could not stop my memory of this night, one day I shouldgo mad and gibbering or imbecile as Doctor Fletcher must be in hisunholy dotage.
We went downstairs together, I feeling again some confidence inmy youth and strength, and even Evan Garrie having thrown offsomething of his bewitchment, and the servants were roused now andstood together while two of them lifted the latch of the greatdoor.
Without was no warlock or devil and no shouting Covenantersaint, but Captain Graham of Claverhouse on his famous sorrelhorse. His elegance was something marred, he had lost his hat andhis long curls were dark with sweat and rain and dust.
He asked where Sir Donald Garrie was as he threw himself fromthe saddle and came with slow dignity up the few steps into thegreat hall.
I told him that the Lord of Castle Drum was still away at St.Andrews. And then John Graham told me, quietly as when we had metthat day in St. James's and he had mentioned glory, that he hadbeen outwitted by the rebels, as he termed them, who were gatheringin their hundreds on the moors and had outstripped his dragoons.And he added, drawing off his gloves, pulling them finger byfinger, that he had pursued a hundred rebels for a week, but thatthey had escaped, being much protected by the farmers andgentlefolk.
And he said with his cool smile: "You have none hiding here? Irecall that this was Mr. Cameron's retreat. He is a dangerous andobstinate fanatic."
He was much disturbed beneath his show of equanimity, I was wellconvinced. And he and his misfortune—a strange one, surely,for him and his troop to be defeated by these fanatics and theirfollowers—seemed to me to blend into the horror that was thatnight.
The weary soldier would not sleep but came and sat in the greathall where they had all the candles they could find lit and thefire piled up and set aflare. He would not take off more of hisequipment than his gauntlets and his boots. And there he sat inthose changing and flickering lights as first one candle and thenanother guttered in the strong draughts.
Nor would he speak of his defeat, for he had set his heart oncapturing these men, but presently towards the dawn he withdrewhimself from his moody abstraction and asked for paper and a quill.And I brought down the equipment from my chamber, for I had notmuch used it since I had come to Castle Drum—the sand-dishand quills that I had used in London and brought with some contemptto this outlandish place.
He thanked me with grave courtesy, his dark eyes were heavy withfatigue, and I admired the air with which he put off hishumiliation.
"Next time," he said to me with a smile, "we shall see who isthe stronger. They killed two of my troopers and burned the home ofa woman who gave us directions."
"You will have troops from London, sir, perhaps," said I.
"No," said he, "I hope to raise sufficient men of my own. I mustenlarge my own troop. What are sixty men to quiet theLowlands?"
He would say no more nor would he take any wine. He was alwaysan abstemious man, and he had no interest in cards or in wantonnessor in drink, but only in this idea that he kept fixed before him,of glory, or rather, as he would term it, of loyalty. "The King'sService" were words often on his lips, but I knew that he tried towin an heiress, titles, and castles for himself.
And I thought again of the circle in the water as I watched himbending to his task, which was that of writing to his Commander inGlasgow of his complete failure. These rude, untrained rebels,these fierce Covenanters, had killed many of his men and escaped,and he had counted, I well knew, on clearing the Lowlands at onceand on the reward he might have for that.
He said when he had finished his letter that he was so sleepy hecould scarce keep his eyes open. And he asked me why I sat awakeall night. And I told him bluntly that I did not like Castle Drum,and I said: "I'd rather be out with yon Covenanters on the heather,rebels as they may be, than shut up here."
His eyes, dim with fatigue, flashed at that; he seemed to knowwhat I meant, for he asked me where the ladies were. And I saidbitterly: "I suppose in their chambers."
I added I had a charge I did not like, and I was reminded toreturn to London and go to Holland to seek out Mr. WilliamPenn.
"For I'll be free," said I, "of this country, ay, and of Englandtoo. Here is no chance—"
"Do you seek glory?" asked Captain Graham, sharply. I used wordsthat I had never used before, nor thought to use.
"No," I said, "I hope to save my soul."
John Graham made little disguise of his contempt of me, who, aman of stalwart habit and body, was in the foolish position ofpedagogue to a sick boy instead of being a trooper. He wantedsoldiers.
And when he had slept an hour or so on the settle in the roomwhere he had written his letter—he had refused the use of oneof the bedchambers offered him by Evan Garrie—he turned to meon his waking, and trying to conceal his scorn, endeavoured topersuade me to join his dragoons, as his troop of mounted infantrywas termed.
He said that he would probably have permission to raise anotherhundred men. For the whole of the Lowlands, all at least of Wigtownand Dumfries, were likely to be armed; there was talk of having theHighlanders down, but he did not greatly care to lead these wildmen.
I do not know how much he was aware of my story; he must atleast have remembered me as a gentleman of position whom he had metin the corridors of St. James's Palace. Why I was ruined and why Iwas here was probably no concern of his. But I noted the firmnesswith which he kept to his own point, to get men with which topursue the Covenanters. And I realized his pride, which was sharpand keen. He had been entrusted with this work by the Government,in particular by his patron, the Duke of York, and it was odd tothink that that same man was the friend and patron of Mr. WilliamPenn. And he, John Graham of Claverhouse, wished to quieten theLowlands without calling for help from England.
Therefore I was to him but as was a means to his end. I had noneed to flatter him, and I looked at him straightly as Ireplied:
"Why are you giving so much to this work, Captain Graham? Youare a man of a substantial fortune, a good position. Why do you notenjoy yourself in tranquillity?"
"This is my enjoyment," said he coldly, "to do my duty as Iperceive it, to serve my loyalty as I see it. Come, will you ridewith me?"
"It is bloody work you do," said I. "I have heard enough talessince I've been in Castle Drum."
He gave me a contemptuous glance.
"You have been listening to the wild ravings of Richard Cameron.If I could catch that errant mischief-maker I should be very gladto silence him. But as well chase a squib of wildfire."
"Have you warrants," I asked, "to kill all whom you will?"
"I have warrant to shoot at sight those who refuse to take theTest," replied Captain Graham, still controlling his anger at what,no doubt, he considered my impertinence, for he hoped to enlist me,as I was a likely man for a trooper. "These are rebels," he addedin a high tone. "Do you not understand?"
"Do you greatly care," said I, "about the Test or not, CaptainGraham? Do you greatly care about this fine question of theologyand the Covenant and what it means or does not mean, and whetherits presence justifies His Majesty in breaking his oath?"
"I do not question where I obey."
Captain Graham rose. I saw him as a man who was strained almostto the limit of his endurance, fatigued, and chagrined; he wasshorter than I, with long arms, very dark, with melancholyeyes.
"Next time," he said, taking up his soft tasselled gloves, "wewill not be defeated. And I take it, Mr. Maitland, that you willnot join my troop of dragoons?"
"No," said I, "I intend to be free of Scotland and Scotland'stroubles. I'm taking with me young Evan Garrie."
"That's a pity," said Claverhouse. He used no oath, being, as Isaid, in his language as in his habit both abstemious. "It is apity," he repeated, but he gave the womanish word a deadly edge."Two strong young men—"
"But neither," said I, breaking into his speech, "inclined tofight with you, Captain Graham. I came here, as I think it, onfalse pretences. At least, I don't intend to be shut in Castle Drumwith three crazy ladies and a sick stripling. Besides, my fancy haschanged. I'll be no more a pedagogue."
"What will you do?" he asked, still, I could see, with a hope ofgaining me. "Why do you take the young man away? I had hopes ofhim. It sickens me to the soul to see a likely youth lead a life ofidleness. Or is it possible," added Captain Graham, shrewdly,drawing his fine brows together above his beautiful, dreamy eyes,"that you are, both of you, tainted with this Presbyterianism?"
"You can scarcely suspect me of that," said I, "since I am newcome from London."
"As I remember, in London you were a friend of William Penn, whois suspected by some of Nonconformist doctrines."
"You've taken little trouble to study the beliefs of those whomyou've been sent to exterminate, Captain Graham, if you confuse thetenets of Covenanters with those of William Penn. What will you donow?" I asked sharply.
"Ride into Glasgow," he replied, "and there make my report. Donot fear that I shall return soon."
"It's ungrateful and unpleasant work, this of yours, policingthe Lowlands," I said. "But it matters little to me." Then, toexasperate him, for I never liked the man, I said: "Will you giveus an escort of troopers, for I intend to ride to St. Andrews tosee Sir Donald Garrie, to tell him that we will neither of usremain in Castle Drum. We have our reasons which, if pressed, wewill explain to Sir Donald himself.'
"Why," asked Captain Graham, giving me hostility for hostility,"should you demand an escort for so peaceful an expedition?"
"We are but two men, we intend to take no servants, having noneof our own and not wishing to deprive the ladies," said I, withirony, "of their protection. And we go through the country that is,as I believe, infested by these rebels. We may be taken for two ofyour troopers."
I had intended these remarks but to vex him, and I was surprisedwhen he answered gravely:
"It is true that my troopers are murdered when they go far fromtheir fellows. Even the women set on them and beat them withstones. But I can do nothing for you, Mr. Maitland. Young EvanGarrie must know the countryside. You had better take the lessfrequented ways. Do not wear buff coats, cuirass, or sash, try toappear ordinary travellers, and no doubt you will not bemolested."
I felt rebuked by his kindness and courtesy, though it wassternly offered. And as the ladies did not appear (well I knewwhy), I assumed the post of master of the house, saying that I wasacting for the sick lad David, and did what I could for theentertainment and solace of Captain Graham and his dragoons; thegreat castle had the means to refresh them all.
In the ill-kept yard was a standing pool, and when the trooperswere ready to ride away I took a stone and threw it into thisstagnant water and bade John Graham, who then had one foot in thestirrup, to mark the circles that it made.
"Glory!" I said. "The circle in the water!"
He gave me a sharp, unkind look. He took my meaning, being quickand alert in mind. But I could not avoid sending it home. Isaid:
"Captain Graham, what is this glory for which you would giveyour life and the life of so many others? Do you not pause in yourridings to and fro and in those severities that make these sternpeople think you are helped by Satan, to consider how soon fame isgone? Look," said I, "the last circle has dissolved and the pool iscalm again as if the stone had never been."
"A man may leave a name behind," he said, "for after generationsto wonder at."
"And shall he for that," I demanded, "give his sweet life, whichis all he has?"
"I would rather," replied the proud soldier, "die in my youth inpursuit of this glory that you despise, than live long and safely,to die at length the death of a dog, utterly."
* * *
The troop was gone; there was a pale sunshine in the air,flickered by a chill wind. I saw the gleams of their cuirasses, thesoft white plumes that the officers wore, and for a moment Iregretted that I was not of their company and of his mind who ledthem.
But I had resolved that my way should not be of blood andslaughter. What I had seen last night had shaken my spirit.Hallucinations they might be, delusions from some fierce potentthey had put into my wine, but it mattered little whether it was adream or reality on which I had gazed, for it was proof, intangiblemaybe, but proof that evil was about me, that evil was possible,and might take on these tormenting and disastrous forms to torturemankind.
As I was turning back into the Castle, having seen the last ofthe troop and watched the clumsy and sullen serving-men close thedoor, I drew back a step and sent my foot into the soiled waterinto which I had thrown the stone, for there, standing in thedoorway, was a black man, whom I could not doubt was he whom I hadseen in the-ruins of the chapel the night before.
The Devil, no other, I had thought him then. But this man was ablackamoor, such a creature had I often seen in London, a slaveemployed as a servant in gaudy feather and turban, though the youngnegroes were more favoured by the ladies for their prettiness anddocility.
This man looked sick and melancholy and could not have been, Isoon decided, the shape that I had seen last night. Ike was not ofsuch vast stature, either, being about my own height and breadth.He was ragged and his eyes, brown with the muddy white injectedwith blood, turned on me with an appealing look.
He spoke a few words of English and tried to make me understandhis history. How he had crept into the courtyard I do not know, itmust have been while we were all occupied with the departure ofCaptain Graham's troop.
Seeing the terrified and malicious looks that the servants caston him, I took him into the house. I wondered where the ladies ofCastle Drum were now, and whether they would be glad to see thisfellow.
I certainly had my suspicions of him. It was strange that heshould appear so pat on the obscene rites of yesterday had he notbeen a partaker in them. The poor wretch, for such he seemed atleast to be, was glad to get to the fire and warm his limbs.
His story as I could piece it together was that he had been aslave in Edinburgh, in the 'Nether Bow.' He had worked in agoldsmith's shop and been most ill-treated. His master had broughthim from London, and apart from the poor food and the blows hereceived from his owner's virago of a wife, he had endured greattorment from the cold. This I could well believe, for I had seenthe wretched creatures in England; the black boys seldom survivedtheir first winter but would pine and wither like those outlandishflowers some gardeners affect when first nipped by our nativefrosts.
I asked the man why he had come to Castle Drum, and he repliedthat it was the first great house he had passed. He had not daredto show himself, for he knew that the people would stone himwherever he went; even in Edinburgh he had been looked at askance.Well he understood the meaning of these injuries and insults; theblackamoor was aware that he was considered a demon, an attendantin the train of the Prince of Darkness. This much he had learnedduring his four years in Scotland.
I asked him how he had lived and his grin answered me; he hadstolen such poor food as had kept him alive. I was in the mood fora grim jest and to avenge myself on all those whom I disliked inCastle Drum, so I told the man, slowly—and he wasquick-witted like most creatures in extremity—that I wouldfor a while at least, take him into my service and offer him myprotection. I was aware that I could not afford to buy him from hismaster, and until I could produce his purchase price he would bethe property of the goldsmith in the "Nether Bow." And yet Ithought it little likely, the times being as they were in Scotland,that he would be traced to me. Even in the north there were severalblackamoors employed. They were brought into Leith from theNetherlands and Germany; some of the hardy ones survived theclimate for many years, so the sight of them in cities and townswas not so frightening to the populace. One blackamoor, too, as Iargued to myself, looked as much like another as one sheepresembled his fellow in the flock.
The creatures were, too, as I knew, faithful, and this one waspowerful in stature with mighty arms and hands. So I took theblackamoor as my servant or slave, and I thought that he would beno ill companion if I and Evan Garrie were to ride over therebellious country to St. Andrews. For I remained resolute to thatloyalty, that I would let Sir Donald Garrie know that I was leavinghis service and that the three women of his family were alone withthe sick boy in Castle Drum. No consideration that I could think ofwould have induced me to remain in that lonely place, and neitherwould any consideration have induced me to abandon my task withoutat least an explanation.
Besides, practical reasons impinged upon these lofty resolves. Iwas almost without money, the last sale of my effects had broughtin but a few pounds, and these I had almost spent. The residue ofmy possessions, a few jewels and such comfortable vanities as thevelvet cloak, I was not minded to part with. And only, I knew, bygoing to St. Andrews, should I get my fee from Sir Donald; thesewomen would give me nothing.
It was Jannot who entered the room first. I wondered if she knewthat I had spied upon her last night, or that shape that had herface. It was difficult to look at her with composure, but I waspleased to see the recoil she gave when she noticed the black manstanding by the hearth.
"This is my new servant," I said, with an air as if I hadconjured the creature out of the stone flags at my feet. And I wasbewildered by her bewilderment. "This looks," I thought, "as if theblack man was present last night. Perhaps it was this poor wretchhuddled in the ruins for some manner of shelter. Yet the creaturethat had affrighted me and Evan Garrie had seemed gigantic and hada different countenance."
"He is a runaway slave from Edinburgh," I told her, scornfully."His name is Virgil, and I'll keep that, for it suits me well. Theignorant used to think that Virgil was a warlock because he showedDante, the Italian poet, over Hell."
By this Madam Jannot had recovered her spirits. She camemincingly to the table where our breakfast had been set, and Iasked her how it was she had slept so sound that she had not heardthe arrival and departure of Captain Graham and his troop ofhorse?
She replied insolently enough:
"Why, I heard them, Mr. Maitland, and so did Isabelle andElspeth. But we had no thought to come down and entertain theserude men at night."
While she spoke and as she sat over her oat-cakes I could seeher eyeing the black man with wonder, and, I thought,apprehension.
The other two women came down presently, and she went to meetthem and whispered to them in the doorway. And I could see thethree of them throwing looks at the blackamoor who they allowed,however, to continue kneeling by the hearth, bidding him throw onthe billets of wood from the great basket that stood there, whenthe flames sunk low. They permitted me, too, to order a plate ofmeat and bread for the fellow and for him to eat it and in theirpresence, for I was not minded to let the blackamoor out of mysight for fear some of the Scots should do him a mischief.
"Everyone will think he is an evil spirit, or Satan himself,"said Isabelle.
I looked straightly into her yellow eyes. I wondered if she knewhow I had spent my night.
The three women accepted sullenly my decision to go to St.Andrews and seek out Sir Donald. They admitted themselves that hehad been away a long time, and it was a good while since they hadreceived even a message from him.
I did not tell them of my designs to leave their service,feeling sure they would raise outcries, especially if they knewthat I was taking away, and for ever, as I hoped, Evan Garrie fromthe circle of their spells and enchantment.
I thought, at the last, that I should not have my way with this.The youth became restless and was minded to hang back; I saw Jannotsignalling to him with her eyes and even with her fingers as shemoved quickly to and fro on her lap, inviting him, no doubt, tomore of these hellish cantrips, as they termed them, that I hadwitnessed on the night before.
But at length I got the boy away, and the women not suspectingthat we were escaping for ever, provided us with a bag of meal anda plate whereon to cook it, a flask of spirit, and a portion ofsalt. They allowed young Evan Garrie, too, to take arms from thearsenal that I had observed on the ground floor. I had my own swordthat I had brought with me from England, and I had taken CaptainGraham's warning not to wear a steel cuirass, a flash of which,even, from a distance, might cause me to be taken for asoldier.
Evan Garrie had a small target, or shield, that he hung on thesaddle in front of him and a Scottish dagger, or dirk, as he termedit, that was finely set with the native yellow stones that theycall cairngorms.
Jannot also gave me some money to pay my fees at the inns wherewe must stay. I thought it was no more than my due, and put it inthe long purse of knitted purple silk; the coins within were, Ifound, golden Jacobuses of one of the old Scottish kings that hadbeen hoarded, I know not how long, in the coffers and closets ofCastle Drum. But I doubted not that in that rude country they wouldbe glad enough to take the gold without concerning themselves withits antiquity.
About Virgil, the blackamoor, the ladies had made no commentwhatsoever. Either they believed that I had evoked an attendantspirit—and this is what I intended them to believe—orthey credited the tale that Virgil was a runaway slave, or theythought that he was some demon of their own creation. At least, andthis was the important point, they saw him provided with clothessuch as their own servants wore—homespun coat and breechesand stockings and rawhide shoes, a shawl like a checkerboard inblack and white. They armed him, too, and Elspeth said:
"I am glad you have this protection of the blackamoor's. We haveno men that we can spare."
"You are not likely to be attacked," said I, "in Castle Drum.Nor are the rebels so bold," I added mockingly, "that they woulddare to undertake a gentleman of the provision and substance of SirDonald Garrie."
But I knew that it was not the rebels rising against theGovernment that the ladies of Castle Drum were frightened of, butthe country-side roused in a witch-hunt by the preaching of one ofthe Covenantering saints such as Richard Cameron.
* * *
So we left them, on the fifteenth day of October, as I canrecall it. It was winter to me, there was no cloud in the sky thatwas colourless as a pearl; the landscape lay rich beneath it, darkpurple and faded gold of quiet distance and dry heather andcrackling, tawny ferns.
The ladies of Castle Drum stood on the old battlements to see usdepart. Elspeth was wearing the yellow satin dress, I wondered ifshe had worn it at the revels of the night before; it seemed thatJannot had given up the dispute for it. She, whose face lookedheavy with fatigue and whose air now that she saw us determined todepart was dull and lifeless, wore a grey gown and mantle like oneof the serving wenches But Isabelle who still sought to please meand hoped, I think, to gain me in the end, was robed brightly inher silken garment, and the universal pallor of the light caughtthis in little brilliant gleams and lingered too in the heavy bandsof her hair as she watched us depart.
I had to keep my hand on the bridle of Evan Garrie's horse, forI thought even at the last moment he would turn back, and I calledout to the blackamoor to take the animal on the other side. And Icried out to Evan Garrie: "Do not look back!" for I did not knowwhat tricks they might not play on him.
Yet I could not subdue my own curiosity. Before we were out ofeyeshot I had turned in the saddle and stared at Castle Drum.
What had I expected to see? Perhaps a pale flame leapingheavenward where those dark walls had been, perhaps a dream palace,such a fabric as we build in our half-waking hours wherein toenshrine our dearest, most unobtainable hopes. A dream palace,windows with fair faces looking, beckoning us to unimaginabledelight?
But however strong the arts of the three ladies, they had nottransformed their dwelling-place for our destruction. Grim and coldthe dark walls uprose against that pale sky, the groves of leaflesstrees were of man's planting, and built by human hands were thestained arches of the ruined chapel through which the daylightshone, wan and delicate.
"Those women are not witches," said I, contemptuously, "norlinked with any great powers. Let them be, sir, you'll forget themat the first fresh face you see."
Evan Garrie did not reply, he seemed downcast and aloof as werode together down the rough road. But presently he brought hishorse close up to mine and, moving his head sideways, lookedwithout speaking at the blackamoor. This fellow was riding humbly aplace or two behind. He looked at me as a slave or a dog should athis master; I had had as yet no instructions to give him, but I didnot doubt that he would obey the first I should issue.
I noticed, with a smile, how eagerly he handled his weapon. Isuppose he never had been armed before, and I believed that hewould, as was his place, die for me willingly. And I intended, atour first halt, to show him how to fire the musket that I had madeElspeth Garrie give him.
But young Evan Garrie was plainly uneasy and soon he whisperedhis doubts into my ear. What could the blackamoor be but thefamiliar spirit of the ladies of Castle Drum? What could it all bebut a trick?
"Were you not too credulous, Mr. Maitland, to take in so easilyso strange an attendant?" He sank his voice yet lower and added:"Remember what we saw last night in the ruins of the chapel!"
I smiled, yet wryly. The thought had come to me also.
* * *
The way was lonely now, no human creature, no human habitationwas in sight on either hand, behind where Castle Drum had droppedout of sight, nor ahead where as yet no other building had comeinto view. The sky had darkened, fleeces of grey cloud obscured thepale light that first shone upon our desolate way. A bird of preyhovered overhead. This was Evan Garrie's native country, but evenhe seemed oppressed by the dull gloom of the scene, and the highspirits with which I had left Castle Drum had somewhat left me.
I glanced over my shoulder at the humble blackamoor followingup; uncouth and rude he looked in those unaccustomed garments, thegrey of the North, worn and ill-fitting, sat clumsily upon hisEastern strength and grace. Strange, indeed, if we had taken theDevil for protection, if we had the Foul Fiend for company. Howwould that adventure end?
I spoke boldly to my young companion, who was, I knew, a braveman, afraid of nothing mortal but who was now most uneasy in hismind.
"What we saw last night," I said, "were but the fumes from thedrug they had given us at the supper-table, cannot you forgetthem."
Though I spoke roughly, I knew that the visions we had seen inthe chapel would remain long in my memory, and I hoped that Ishould never look upon the faces of the ladies of Castle Drumagain.
"Maybe," replied young Evan, sullenly, "but I wish we had notthe blackamoor for company."
III. THE SAINTS
I CAN remember but little of that journey except that it grewwith every day more uncomfortable. The roads were worse in Scotlandthan any I had seen in England, and became rougher as we proceededthrough Carrick and Ayr towards Fife.
I regretted what I considered now my foolish courtesy in thisjourney. Why should I trouble to inform Sir Donald Garrie that Iwas leaving his service? What had impelled me to take upon myselfall this trouble? I put these questions once or twice to EvanGarrie, and he rebuked me for my sullenness and reading me moreclearly than I cared to know of, said:
"You know, Mr. Maitland, that you go to St. Andrews really foryour own pleasure, because you are of a wild and adventurous turn.Because you would, at any price, be away from Castle Drum.Besides," he added, with his candid smile, "we are fee'd, are wenot?"
He glanced towards the pouch where I kept the golden Jacobigiven me by Jannot Garrie.
Virgil, the blackamoor, was a good servant to both of us, andany mistrust that young Garrie may hare had of him was soondispelled by the poor creature's devotion and strength, that wasalways at our service. It was easier for Evan than it was for me totalk with the blackamoor because what Christian language he knewwas broad Scotch, and he was almost incomprehensible, but we did,somehow, between the two of us, contrive to communicate withhim.
And as we rode ever further into the winter, as it seemed to me,across that bleak and colourless landscape, Evan Garrie told mesomething more of the state of affairs in Scotland than I had everknown before. Had I better employment I had not listened to him,but I can recall now how he, occupied like all his countrymen inthese matters of Church and State that to me were so barren, talkedto me of Test Act and Covenant.
The Test Act, it seemed, was not put on yet in Scotland, thoughwe had had it five years or more in England. It was my LordShaftesbury who had got it put through Parliament; it had beendirected against the Roman Catholics and the Duke of York, thoughit was operated against the Dissenters also. I had heard a gooddeal of it from Mr. William Penn, who considered it unjust andunlawful that all who held public office had to receive the Churchof England sacrament and renounce transubstantiation.
"They'll put the Test on here," said Evan Garrie, "and how manymen, do you think, will be shot for refusing to take it?"
I little knew or cared. I was trying to think out my ownfortunes and my own future and gave but distracted attention to theyoung man's talk. From what I had seen of him in Castle Drum he hadnot seemed so interested in these affairs. But it seemed, when itcame to it, that every Scot seemed bitten to the bone with thisfanatic interest in Church and State.
Although he was not a Covenanter, young Evan was most indignantthat the Covenant had been burned by the public hangman inLondon.
"That was many years ago," said I, "I can scarce remember it.And was it not condemned also by your Privy Council as an unlawfuloath? And those ministers who maintained it ejected?"
"Yes," replied Evan Garrie, "and it is these same outedMinisters who have held conventicles on the hill-side eversince."
And he reminded me that it was in that same year that theAbjuration Oath had been brought in, by which all the Scots were todeclare that the Oath of the Covenant was unlawful.
"The King had betrayed them, you see," said Evan Garrie, thoughwithout passion. "Little I care one way or another, though thesehard matters have been hammered into my head since I was a child.But the King took the Covenant as the price of Scotland's help, andas soon as he had come into his own again he betrayed it. As didDoctor James Sharp, the man whom we are about to visit, whoreceived as his prize the archbishopric."
And then Evan Garrie, as I recall and not for the first time,reminded me that my name was held in odium in Scotland, and itwould be well to conceal wherever we stayed that I was a relationof His Grace of Lauderdale, who more than others was blamed for thesuppressing of the liberties of Scotland and who was considered tohave great influence over the King and to have induced His Majestyto persecute the Covenanters.
At the first town we stayed, I do not recall its name, thepeople were agog with the news that Captain Graham had been madeSheriff-Deputy of Dumfries and Wigtown, or was about to be made so,I forget which, and that he had raised another troop of horse whichwas to be under the command of the Earl of Airlie. That made threetroops, for there were already two—one under Lord Hulme andone under Colonel Graham, as he now was to be. Lord Linlithgow,too, we heard, was to be commander-in-chief in Scotland, and agreat campaign against the conventicles and the Covenanters was tobe begun in Dumfries and Galloway, all to be forced to take theabjuration oath or taken prisoner.
"Well, Evan Garrie," said I, "here is your chance. Think well,again, whether you will not turn back and enlist in CaptainGraham's troop."
"No," said he, "though the fumes of this dispute sometimes riseto my brain, yet on the whole I care little for them. And if youwill have me, as a guide and companion, or a secretary, or even aservant ..."
"None of which I can afford," said I.
"Well, I'll come with you just for the luck of the road,whatever it may be. I'll get free of Scotland. And Scotland," addedthe young man gloomily, lowering his voice, "means JannotGarrie."
"Are you still thinking of her!" I was contemptuous of hisfidelity. I would not have cared to admit that I dreamt too oftenof Castle Drum and the ladies there, at night when we wrappedourselves in our cloaks and used our saddles for our pillows,sheltering behind rocks or in some deserted shepherd's hut. Thesedreams would rise out of my exhausted sleep, like noisome fumesfrom stagnant poisons, and turning sharply on my side I would thinkthat I saw the stained face of Jannot or Isabelle lying beside meon my hard pillow. Cowardly, too, was that remembrance of DoctorFletcher, and I puzzled myself if it had been the man's phantasm orthe man himself that we had seen in the ruins of the chapel. Hadhis body kept watch by the boy while his spirit had wandered amongthe ruins to attend the obscene rites held by the witches?
One night, I recall, my fancies crowded on me blackly and I wokeyoung Evan Garrie and made him speak to me in the dark. We hadtaken shelter in a small, ruined building, a roofless cottage thatyet afforded some protection in the angle of the stone walls. Thenight was bleak and the wind harsh and there was no sparkle ofheavenly light above us, the thick clouds covered the stars andthere was no moon. But I had liked the look of this shelter betterthan the inn where we might have stayed, that was kept byvillainous folk—at least, if their appearance was warrant forthem.
Here we seemed safer with our weapons to our hand and our horsesready, tethered to an old ash tree that grew near the ruinedhearth, and with Virgil, the blackamoor, on guard for us.
We had each an inch or two of candle that we had set in a hornlantern to light us for our meal, we had bought some food and eatenit with relish, and now I could not sleep. I had loosened my cravatfor all the cold winds, and thrown back my cloak for all ourexposed position, for something seemed to choke and stifle me.
And I roused young Evan Garrie, whom I could not see in thedark, and bade him tell me something of what he knew of the witchesin Scotland.
He seemed surprised at my question, as if I had asked him aboutsomething too common for speech.
"This is a dreary country," said I, "where the summer is but agleam and the winters are long and dreary. You must have many moorsand mountains here unknown to human inhabitants."
"Well," said Evan Garrie in a whisper, "I'll not deny that thereare many outposts of Hell, and that is the opinion of a sober man.There's no ford that has not its kelpie, and on the bare hill-sideyou may find the May moulach."
"But these," said I, "are elves and fairies; I've read of themin England. I thought I would like to be like Thomas the Rhymer andwander away to some of those islands you have in the west, in thetrain of the Queen of Fairyland. She should have hair as yellow asthe corn and plaited with lilies of unearthly beauty."
"That's the poet's talk," replied Evan Garrie, and I thoughtthat his voice was uneasy. "You find such fancies in the balladsand songs the people have, I've sung them myself in the evenings atCastle Drum to the harp, and I doubt the fairies. I think they arebut the ministers of Satan."
"What of the fairy gold?"
"They've bought many an unhappy soul with that, and within anhour it is dust in the hand."
Then Evan Garrie told me how, ever since the days of John Knox,the Presbyterian and black Genevans had set out to combat thefairies and the Devil in Scotland. Was it not John Knox who hadforced Queen Mary to publish a statute bringing in the penalty ofdeath for witchcraft?
"How may you tell a witch?" asked I, curiously.
"It may be anyone," answered Evan Garrie, glancing uneasilythrough the dark, "a fair young maiden or an old hioldame, a greatnoble or a mean peasant. Have you heard of the lamias, those arefemale devils who take the likeness of fair women? There are humanbrides, too, who marry demons."
"One may no doubt all this, I suppose?" I asked.
"If you are a Christian you may no doubt it," replied EvanGarrie. "Is there not the Witch of Endor, and Simon Magus? And whatis the holy command 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'!"
The young man told me, as if it was a plain matter of fact, thatthere were organizations of witches all over the country, that Hislate Majesty King James I of Great Britain had well known, for hadhe not spent the greater part of his life endeavouring to combatwitches and warlocks and black magic?
I asked what these witches could do and how far their powersextended?
"For even after what we saw in the ruined church," said I, "Itake it to be but delusion of the senses."
He did not deign to reply to this, he did not think that mywords were truthful. And he told me that the witches could raisestorms, troops of ghosts and apparitions, and that they went toruined churches and churchyards at night to dance with theDevil.
And he added that he knew for a certainty from what Mr. RichardCameron had told him, that the Covenanters were pledged together toabolish witchcraft, the Devil, and all his legions from Scotland,and that they firmly believed that their persecutors, as they namedthem, such as Colonel Graham and Archbishop Sharp and my relation,the Duke of Lauderdale, were in league with his Satanic Majesty andprotected by his diabolical arts.
More than this, that was a confusion of dark and doubtfulsayings, some of them fit for old wives' tales in the chimneycorner of a winter's night, some of them such as would be used tofrighten fractious children, did Evan Garrie tell me as he sat inthe corner of the ruined cottage that stormy night.
My mind was troubled and doubtful, I knew that he who spoke tome believed these matters, as did nearly all of his countrymen. AndI had seen for myself enough horror to cause me to think sharplybefore I said I did not believe the wild and curious tales.
I remembered Doctor Fletcher and his experiments in the tower, Iremembered what I had learnt in my youth when I had been a pupil ofThomas Vaughan in London. And I was weighed down by a heaviness,partly thoughtfulness and partly dreaming, while Evan Garrie, in anawesome tone, reminded me of the commissions that had been set upin Scotland in the last few years for the suppression of witchcraftand the numbers of men and women who had been tortured, strangledand burnt for this offence. And I had a horrid twinge at the heartas I thought of the three women of Castle Drum. I remembered howIsabelle had looked at me.
"It is my duty, I think," said I, "to warn Sir Donald when I getto St. Andrews, of the danger those women stand in. Whatever aretheir tricks or cantrips, as you name them, they are in danger, itis clear, from the Covenanters."
And then from the dark I heard the young man say sullenly:
"I wish they would burn Castle Drum and all who are in it, andthen maybe I might be in peace."
* * *
We did not sleep that night, but sat up until the slow reluctantdawn, talking to one another. Virgil kept guard, refusing to sleepeven though we were awake, over the open door.
I wondered who had lived in that hut, had he perhaps beendragged out with his wife and children about him, offered the Oathand been shot because he had refused to take it?
With the morning we were on our way again. A dreary rain wasfalling. We had kept the horses we had taken from Castle Drum, andthis made our progress slow because we had to pause so often torest them. Yet even with all the care we had given them, the beastswere now becoming weary, and, like ourselves, splashed with mud, sothat we three, riding slowly along the bad roads through the rain,made no splendid picture of well-attended gentlemen but appearedrather like travelling merchants of the meaner sort, with the poorblackamoor in his sodden grey behind us.
We had not gone far that morning before we fell in with a troopof men who came up rapidly from the mist and challenged us.
I knew them at once to be Presbyterians for their grim aspectand plain clothing. One of them wore the garments that I hadnoticed were affected by Mr. Richard Cameron, Genevan black andlank beneath the russet cloak. His companions were armed men withmuskets in their hands, and I saw them look with mingled fear andfury at poor Virgil, so that I cried out quickly:
"Friends, that is an escaped slave and a baptised soul?"
I made this statement, not knowing if it were true or not, for Ihad not been able to discover from the blackamoor if he were aChristian.
At that, respecting perhaps my air of authority, the men putdown their muskets, but sullenly, and rode up either side of us asif we were prisoners, and asked us our business.
They did not like my English accent any more than they likedVirgil's black face. Perhaps, too, they took amiss my swarthyvisage, which no doubt looked grim enough in the shadow of my leafhat dripping with moisture.
I thought it best to speak to them boldly, so I said:
"Sirs, I am an Englishman, and neither one of Colonel Graham'stroopers, nor a warlock, nor a Highlander sent for yourdestruction."
He who appeared to be the leader then asked me what was my nameand business. The first I thought it prudent not to give. I saidthat I was the pedagogue in Castle Drum. At those two last words Isaw them exchange sidelong looks.
"I did not like my employment," I said, "and therefore I leftit. I am going abroad, but first I have a duty to perform. And thatis to take a message to Sir Donald Garrie in St. Andrews."
If they had not liked the words 'Castle Drum,' they liked thoseof 'St. Andrews' less. I heard them talking among themselves. AndEvan Garrie whispered to me not to mention the name of theArchbishop, who was the most loathed man in Scotland, being evenmore feared and hated than my relative, His Grace ofLauderdale.
"What matter for that?" I replied under my breath. "No doubtthey know where Sir Donald Garrie lodges in St. Andrews."
I thought they were like to murder us where we stood. Theystopped the horses and two of them kept guard over us, theirblunderbusses ready, while the others conferred a little wayapart.
I looked at the blackamoor, his eyes were rolling in his head; Isaw that he and Evan Garrie were willing to make a fight for it.But we were outnumbered, perhaps ten to one.
I laughed suddenly, for it seemed to me a foolish way to dieafter what my life had been, what I hoped it would be. And Iremembered Philippa. Was it possible that the same earth couldcontain her and the scene where we were now? I remembered, too, thethree ladies—Elspeth, Jannot, and Isabelle—of CastleDrum. It all seemed to me a confusion and ridiculous.
And I turned to those men who were so seriously discussing ourfate, and said:
"Why do you stay here to talk of bloodshed, for I think that youintend to kill us."
The leader then rode up to me and asked me what I meant.
He spoke seriously, and his aspect, though stern, was notruffianly.
"I mean this," said I, looking at him through the driving mistand rain. "There are other countries in the world besides Scotlandwhere a man might be free. Have you not heard of those who sailedto the Americas in the Mayflower? Do you not know that thereare Protestants living quietly in the Netherlands?"
"Yes," said he, "Richard Cameron has gone there."
"Well, then," said I, "I might meet him. It was his place that Itook in Castle Drum. And I am going to The Hague."
"For what purpose?" asked the Covenanter quickly.
"For that, I do not know. I think to find my friend, WilliamPenn, and to go with him, if the matter can be arranged, to the NewWorld."
And then I asked them why they did not do the same, instead ofremaining in this infested country, planning vengeance on theirpersecutors, slaughtering and being slaughtered, tormenting andbeing tormented, they did not go with Mr. Penn and build up a newcity in hope.
And I reminded them that the persecuted and the helpless had inevery age imagined the promised land a golden city, a Utopia.
"And why do not you, who are young and stalwart," said I,"endeavour to attain it?"
They had not, I think, been spoken to thus before. The matterand the manner a little surprised them, and they puzzled a littleover my English accent. But I think they were impressed with mysincerity, for what I spoke I spoke truthfully. My own life hadbeen faulty, even evil, but I was minded in that moment, and hadbeen for some while, to end it, and all these feuds, done in thename of Christ, God of Love, confused and sickened me.
"Our homes are here," said the leader of the men, still lookingat me earnestly; "we are pledged to root out the Devil fromScotland and to overthrow the rule of that base perjured manCharles Stuart."
Evan Garrie then told him that he spoke treason, and added infriendly warning that such words were dangerous.
"For," said he, "I come from Dumfries, and in there, andWigtown, they are raising more troops every week, and it isintended to put down the Conventicles and the outed ministers bysword and fire. John Graham has fuller powers now."
The Covenanters seemed to think these bold words from one whowas in their power, and peered again at young Evan Garrie, at me,and at the negro. Then the leader of them said:
"My name is David Harston of Raphillet, I have estates nearhere, and I think you are honest men, even if you speak foolishlyof what concerns you not. For you," he turned to me, "you are anEnglishman and have no concern in these matters. For you," and hespoke to Evan Garrie, "I think you are one of those who blowneither hot nor cold. You'll not ride with Claverhouse nor fightwith us. Well, be on your way." He spoke to the man beside him, andsaid: "This friend of mine, James Balfour, will go with you and seeyou safely across the moor."
"Are we likely to be stopped by other rebels," said I, using theword deliberately, "those who will fire at us, maybe, withoutstopping to question?"
He did not answer, but looked at me gloomily. I cannot reproducehis rough and strange speech, but the substance of his emphatictalk was clear enough to me. I saw that I could not move him fromhis purpose, and desolation fell upon my spirit. The scene was sogloomy, the moor, the rain, the low sky, these dark-faced men withtheir stern purpose, blood as I was sure it was, their musketsready to their hand, their faces intently peering through the wetvapours. What a fool I had been to endeavour to persuade them to goabroad and walk the world elsewhere. How useless it would be, evenif they went they would carry their bitternesses, their quarrels,their dissensions, with them!
So we went on our way with Mr. James Balfour as our surly guide.After a while he said he would turn back, for we were almost withinsight of St. Andrews.
I asked him of the name of the place where we had crossed, andhe said that it was known as Magus Moor.
* * *
Within an hour or so we reached the city of St. Andrews,entering it by an old gate that was much chained. The mist clearedabout this hour and showed us the noble city standing upon a rockypromontory above the bay. We passed through streets of noblehouses, antique and dignified, and the ruins of a magnificentcathedral that had been destroyed, Evan Garrie told me, by the furyof the followers of John Knox, the true founder. I recalled thatgrim old man was himself suspected of being a warlock, for had henot taken to himself in his extreme old age a fair and noble youngwife? and how else save by magic had he won her?
In St. Andrews city had been martyred several of thesereformers, and there too had been murdered Cardinal Beaton, who wasminister to Mary, Queen of Scotland. And everywhere we looked wereruined churches, convents, or monasteries, I know not what, but atleast fragments of popish architecture with roofless aisles andbroken arches.
Asking our way from some of the passers-by, who stared withsuspicion, for by now we looked uncouth and rough enough, we weredirected to the residence of Doctor Sharp, who did not live in thecastle on the cliff but in a smaller though still magnificent housein the city.
The interior of this mansion was furnished in a fair fashion,and we were courteously received, so that in a while, when I hadbeen able to repair my garments in a comfortable chamber that wasset at my disposal, all that had passed seemed but a wild dream,for I had returned now to the manner of life to which I had beenused in England.
Doctor Sharp had about him all the appointments and service thatI had been accustomed to in the houses of those people whom I hadknown before I came to Scotland.
And so, having, as it were, returned to that life, I could notbelieve in the phantoms I thought I had seen that night in theruined chapel. Nay, I could scarcely believe in the existence ofthe ladies of Castle Drum, or in the wild tales that Evan Garriehad told me in the corner of the ruined cottage two or three nightsago. It was difficult even to credit those wild figures who hadaccosted us on Magus Moor, whom I had, in a moment of madness, asit now seemed to me, endeavoured to persuade to join Mr. Penn inhis fanatic attempt to find a New World.
What need of a New World? Why, all was fair here. The house waswarm and pleasantly perfumed, the servants were lightfooted and incomely liveries, there was fine meat and good French wine on thetable. No trace of savage Scotland here. I noticed that Evan Garrieseemed uneasy, almost uncomfortable, and that he looked uncouth andrustic among these luxurious surroundings.
But I was once more Tom Maitland, who had not cut so poor afigure in St. James's and on the Mall.
Doctor Sharp was agreeable, but seemed, I thought, weak, forbeneath his courtesies that he dispensed very amiably, was acertain hesitancy, an irritability that seemed to indicate a mannot sure of himself.
However, he played the host very graciously and presented me tohis daughter, Marjorie I think the name was, who kept house for himI understood.
I discovered the reason why Sir Donald Garrie had tarried solong in St. Andrews was because he had been ill with a quinzy. Whyhe had not written was also clear, why we had not received theletters. He had made several attempts to send messengers, but noneof these had got more than part of the way. They had all come back,saying that the countryside was in a state of f revolt and it wasnot safe to endeavour to push through to Castle Drum.
After our experiences of James Balfour and David Harston andtheir troop, I could believe Sir Donald.
He expressed some marvel that we had succeeded in gaining St.Andrews without being molested, and I told him of the care we hadtaken on our journey and that Evan Garrie had a fair knowledge ofthe by-roads. He asked us if we had come upon any Conventicles orouted ministers gathering their flocks about them in the haunts ofthe fox and the eagle?
And I replied no, we had met none but a few men on the moorsoutside the town. But I did not give the names of these, disdainingto betray their sufferance by delivering them to theirpersecutors.
Sir Donald, like his host, the Archbishop, was a peevish man. Icould see that he was trying hard to get himself a place in theGovernment. Like all the rest, like all of us, perhaps, for Ishould include myself in the same category, he wanted rewards,honours, safety, some manner of earldom for himself.
And I looked at him, a man past his prime, with a wonder at thevileness of humanity. While this dotard was cringing upon the greatprelate in St. Andrews, what were his two daughters doing, or hissick heir? They were in the charge of that man Fletcher, whom Itook at best to be but a charlatan and at worse to be, perhaps, aminister of Satan himself.
So absorbed was he in his own affairs and so brought down by thesickness that had nearly choked him, Sir Donald did not at firstrecall how strange it was that I should be there, nor ask me myerrand. And it was after we had supped and had our wine, elegantlyenough, and we had laughed over poor Virgil, who had been taken tothe servants' quarters to be fed and clothed, that suddenly helooked at me across the table and said:
"But, Mr. Maitland, you are my son's pedagogue. How is it youhave left Castle Drum?"
I had been waiting for that question, and I had so many answersready that I knew not which to offer first. I gave a sidelongglance at Evan Garrie, who looked back steadily at me. I meant tosay to him 'This is the moment to defy the enchantment,' and hemeant to say 'Speak on, I am ready.'
"Sir," said I, "speaking in the presence of His Grace, here, Idid not like my employment in Castle Drum, and if I were in yourplace, Sir Donald, I would hasten back as soon as you may get atroop of horse to the protection of your castle."
"Is it likely," cried he, half rising in his chair, "to beassailed by these bloody devils, murderous Covenanters, as theycall themselves? Greatly do I regret," he added, quickly, withoutgiving me time to speak, "that ever I harboured Richard Cameron,who was like a viper on my hearth, and yet I never knew it, for heplayed the gentle saint."
"I think he is a gentle saint," said I, "and maybe he kept muchevil from your house."
Sir Donald did not like these words nor their inclination. Helooked at Doctor Sharp, who sat at the head of his table,indifferent, I think, to all of us, yet listening, as an uneasy,nervous man will, for sounds that were not there. I had seen thathis house was very well guarded, I had been told that he worechainmail under his priestly robes, that he endured all thetorments of a man who goes in fear of assassination; more than oncethere had been an attempt on his life.
I think that Sir Donald had taken something of my meaning, forhe said:
"I am obliged to you, Mr. Maitland, for taking this long, and,as I fear, dangerous journey, to warn me that Castle Drum is inperil. I am glad to have had news of my ladies and to be able tosend them back messages by you, for I think that you have taken anunnecessary fatigue. The Castle's well guarded, I must have overtwo hundred able-bodied serving-men, and an arsenal of armsthere."
"I'm not talking," said I, "of worldly perils. Castle Drum hasinmates more dangerous to its safety than the attacks ofCovenanters."
I know not what he made of these dark words, but he began toplay Sir Hector with me, saying in a bullying tone: "I took youfrom London, Mr. Maitland, as a ruined gambler who chanced to be afine scholar, and, as I thought, an honest gentleman. I took youbecause you came of my Lord of Lauderdale's family."
"No reason why how you took me," I said, "I'll not be your son'spedagogue nor your daughters' guardian."
I gave him a look that pierced through his evasions and tookfrom my pocket the packet of gold that Jannot Garrie had givenme.
"This is what is left of my fee, some of it is spent on myjourney. But little, we only bought food and bait for the horsesand slept for the most in our cloaks by the wayside. Here is what'sleft of Castle Drum's gold, Sir Donald. I intend to go abroad."
Doctor Sharp was now looking a little amazed at this scene,which must have been unlike any he had seen at his elegant table.He looked at me, to Evan, and then to Sir Donald. Being prudent, heasked nothing of what the matter was.
Sir Donald turned to him with a bow, as if excusing thisuncouthness, then to me, and said, almost with a whimper:
"It was difficult to get anyone to teach a sick boy."
"Ay, and your two wayward daughters," said I, rising. "We'vedone our part now."
"Your part!" said Sir Donald. "Why are you taking with you myyoung kinsman, Evan Garrie?"
"Why should he stay in Castle Drum in idleness? He's too old fora page," said I, "and does not wish to be a serving-man."
"Well, let him go as a trooper. Colonel Graham is raising moremen," said the Archbishop. "We want more soldiers to protect usfrom these accursed rebels."
"I've no mind for that, Your Grace," Evan Garrie spoke forhimself. "I think to go abroad with Mr. Maitland, here. I've livedroughly too long here."
"Go home, sir," said I, "and find out why we left." Then Ithanked His Grace for his hospitality, and I begged that he wouldgive us a room for the night and that we would be gone early in themorning. The horses were not ours, and we were prepared to go onfoot, we intended to make our way to the nearest port, if not fromSt. Andrews Bay—and so across the wintry seas to the LowCountries. "Why," cried Sir Donald, "have you come so far to tellme this? Why did not you go straight on your adventures from CastleDrum?"
"You reminded me but now," said I, "that I am a gentleman,albeit a ruined one, and I wished to let you know my intentions.Now you can understand that there is no one in authority there atyour castle save your sick son and Doctor Fletcher." I could scarceavoid retching at the name, I remembered that figure I had seen inthe chapel ruins. "Your patron, His Grace here, and your friend,Colonel Graham, can protect Castle Drum."
Sir Donald made no more demur. I think he realized something ofwhat lay behind my words, he must have had some glimmer of thereputation his ladies held. For all I knew he was a warlockhimself, that was certainly the reputation of Doctor Sharp.
After that we were silent over our wine. His Grace was verycourteous, and after a while began to give us good advice. He didnot disagree with our design of going to the Netherlands, where hesaid many good and able men were gathered.
"And it was as well," he added shrewdly, "to have a foot in eachcamp, for His Highness of Orange was in the position ofheir-apparent to the throne of England, and was well known to be insecret chief of the opposition to His Grace of York." Some eventhought that he encouraged these rebellious Covenanters, but thatDoctor Sharp did not credit. Being one who always spoke well, Ithink, of all the great ones of the earth, he had much praise forthe young Stadtholder, and even offered us, being gentlemen ofposition, letters of introduction to His Highness.
I said we would take these, although I did not think we shouldbe able to use them. We were really penniless adventurers, and hadbut a small pouch of silver between us.
Sir Donald, frowning and uneasy, said that I must take my feefor the few weeks I had been at Castle Drum, and I said that Iwould take whatever he chose to give me, not being in a position toshow pride nor dignity.
So the matter was settled, something to the convenience andcomfort of us all. And we spent a night on feather beds betweenfair linen, and rose in the morning much refreshed.
His Grace insisted on sending serving-men with us to the port,where we might get a ship to Leith, and advised us not to encumberourselves with the poor blackamoor. This last I would not listento; I had taken an affection to Virgil and Evan Garrie did notobject to his company.
Sir Donald took me aside before we left the Archbishop's housenext morning and asked me, in a tone that I think was unnaturallycontrolled, what was my real reason for leaving Castle Drum? Hesaid that I had mentioned his wayward daughters and demanded inwhat way they had offended me?
"Offended!" I cried. "What am I, a poor pedagogue, to use such aword! I have had my lesson, sir, and lived a wild life. I shall notnow risk offence by advising another man's women. And my advice isthis, Sir Donald, return as fast as you may to Castle Drum and givean eye as to what is taking place there."
I saw that he did not care to press me further, but was mostuneasy. And he muttered with regret:
"I thought if I had an Englishman it would be different. Ibelieved a foreigner would suit."
His Grace asked us if we would not delay while he got otherletters from His Grace of Lauderdale and other relatives of mine,who might also supply us with money and necessities.
But we were both of us impatient to be out of the country, wherewe saw nothing ahead but blood and revolution. And I think in thebreast of each was a little hope that we might come upon some peaceor pleasure that till now had seemed impossible to us.
Young Evan, whom I had rescued from Jannot Garrie, felt, Ibelieve, a lightened spirit such as had been unknown to him before.His face looked younger, less lined and harassed than when he hadbeen in Castle Drum, and the strained look had gone from his eyes,his mouth was less grim.
I felt I had been a benefactor to the poor lad, I might havesoothed my pride by saying the same of poor Virgil, whose cheekshad fattened, whose eyes were less bloodshot, whose gait was lessslouching. He had been treated kindly at the Archbishop'sestablishment, for the servants had come from Edinburgh and Londonand were used to negroes, and did not consider them all limbs ofSatan.
We were, on the whole, well treated by these two gentlemen onwhom we had broken so rudely and for one of whom at least I hadbrought an ungracious message. A certain amount of money Iaccepted, a further sum Sir Donald gave to his young kinsman, Evan.The negro was provided with a decent livery, and they importuned usuntil we accepted horses to take us to the port.
It was a day of thick mist when we left the shores of Scotlandin the Cross Keys. The passage to Holland was slow and tedious; weencountered several gales of wind. Both I and Evan Garrie feltqueasy in the stomach and the poor blackamoor was ill, groaning hissoul out in the cabin.
IV. WISE YOUNG PRINCE
THE sun shone fairly though out of a misted sky when we arrivedon the shores of the Lowlands, and when we reached The Hague thesnow was thick on the ground and the canals frozen. It wasdifficult to make Evan Garrie believe that this country was in thesame world as Scotland; I agreed with him most heartily as to thesharp differences between the two countries.
We lodged modestly and in a most clean place, and findingWilliam Penn in The Hague we waited upon him soon after ourarrival.
Evan Garrie had seen nothing but his native country and hisnative customs, and he continued to be greatly astonished at theplace in which he found himself. Perhaps there could be fewcontrasts more complete than that between Scotland and the Lowlandsat the time of which I am writing, when I paid my first visit thereafter my horrid experiences in Castle Drum.
The winter was severe but the houses so comfortable and wellwarmed that we did not feel the rigours of it, while theever-encroaching sea damp was checked by so many good housewifelyarts that there was neither unsightliness from tarnish nordiscomfort from chill.
The States General had signed the peace in the same year inwhich I reached The Hague, and there was still signs of warlikeactivity in the beautiful town, many soldiers about the streets andmany men returning to civil occupations after having been for yearsunder arms.
There was a quiet pride about this people that I could not butadmire, for they had begun this war six years ago in desperation todefend themselves from the wanton aggression of France and from theheroism of their young Stadtholder only and from their own doggeddetermination not to lose their freedom had they survived.
I have heard the Dutch spoken of with contempt and the countryreferred to as the 'vomit of the sea' and the 'valiant sand-bank,'and there was much about these people that was not sympathetic toone of my temperament.
But for all that I was obliged to allow them noble and splendidqualities. Everything they did was done well, their arts and craftswere admirable, and I soon perceived that they had been the firstin many-inventions.
There was a dignity most pleasing to the eye in thistown—for it was no more than that though the seat ofgovernment; indeed, I believe it held the status of avillage—with the flat-fronted patrician houses rising eitherside the canals planted in comely fashion with wych-elms and limetrees, all now prettily outlined with sparkling frost. There weremany skaters on the frozen waters and on the great lake of theYverberg that lay in front of the ancient Hall of the Knights thatwas surrounded by more modern buildings, now the seat of theGovernment and the Stadtholder's Palace. Swans graced the lakes inmilder weather, but now these were taken into shelter for thewinter, that was as bleak as the climate as that of Scotland, as Ihave said. Ceaseless low clouds blew up from the dunes and from theopen sea that lay but an easy ride away 4 through old pleasantwoods of tall trees; the land was so flat that all was at the mercyof the winds.
All here was civilized to the highest point of civilization thatI had ever seen. The people were patrician in temperament, elegantin their accomplishments, fond of music, of painting and of gamesof skill; good equestrians too, and fine judges of both dogs andhorses. It was surprising in a country that had been fighting forbare existence for years, all odds against it, that there should beso much tranquillity, and, as far as I could see, so muchluxury.
My introductions gave me the entry into several houses where thenames of Doctor Sharp, the Duke of Lauderdale, and Sir DonaldGarrie were known. Some of these were the mansions of noblemen,where one might expect magnificence, but others belonged to men whowere no more than merchants and knew the Scots through trading withthem. But even in these houses I found much elegance and evenextravagance.
The Dutch had long been trading with the East, and it was to myeye, long cheated of beauty and comeliness, a great pleasure togaze on these rich pieces of furniture, lacquer, gilt, and inlaid,these vases of enamel and of fine porcelain set so preciselyagainst the walls painted a pale pea-green colour in these statelymirrored chambers with the glass-fronted cabinets filled withporcelain.
Mr. Penn could not immediately receive us, he was, indeed, inattendance on the Stadtholder. We heard that through the agency ofDr. Gilbert Burnet, who gave himself the air of a personage, he hadhad an introduction to the Prince of Orange from the Duke of York,his patron, and that he was entrusted with some half-secret missionfrom one prince to another; some proposal, it was said, about theabolition of the Test.
But we amused our leisure well enough; all that defeated us waslack of means, we could not ruffle it very bravely when we had tocount every penny in our pouches. But my clothes were good, EvanGarrie was much of my height and my wardrobe served to give us botha decent appearance. The livery that Dr. Sharp had fitted out poorVirgil looked very well, and against this background of The Hagueno one here remarked on the blackamoor, for most of the people kepta slave, or even more, and these negroes might be seen inattendance on the sledges that passed along the canals, finelypainted with gay carnival scenes and adorned with the heads ofswans and peacocks, with furred ladies within and drawn either byponies, servants, or these lusty blackamoors.
I liked this life, so ordered, so aristocratic; it cleared mymind of many fumes and fancies, and after no more than a few weeksof it I had found it difficult to believe that I had ever witnessedthat scene in the chapel ruins or ever seen Jannot Garrie's stainedface turn and look at me as I hastened away from those wickedenchantments. Impossible to believe that such abominations evertook place while moving in these cool airs, this atmosphere ofdignity and common sense.
I could not but admire the Dutch for their toleration, so vivida contrast to the bloody debates in Scotland. Here were no jarringdissensions, no talk of persecuting a man for his faith. Thereligion of the Dutch was that of John Calvin, but they seemed tohave wrought that stern faith into a gentler form than that it wasgiven in Scotland, and though their ministers were grave enough intheir black and white bands, though their religious observanceswere severely kept, I saw nothing of those grim furies and blackhatreds that animated the Covenanters.
Their churches were pleasant, the large Romish buildings hadlong since been stripped of all ornaments and white-washed out withpainful care. The brightly-coloured glass was gone from all thehigher windows and the clear cold daylight fell through thewater-green panes on to interiors that were, with their green sergecurtains and plain pews, more like meeting-houses thanchurches.
But here even the taste and luxury of this wealthy peopleshowed, for they had magnificent tombs in alabaster for theirheroes and not a church that I went into during my residence in theLow Country lacked a superb organ, played on by skilled musiciansand garnished with gilt figures of angels for the pipes and finepaintings for the panels.
In one sense of the word neither Evan Garrie nor myself couldfeel a stranger at The Hague, there were so many English and Scotsthere—refugees and adventurers—more the first than thelast, because rogues and scoundrels were not encouraged by HisHighness, and those who lived by vice found it difficult to make alivelihood there among people cool, prudent, and decorous.
Many worthy and pious men were there, who had fled frompersecution or ill-treatment or the threat of injustice that hadbeen offered them in their native countries.
There were Germans there who had come to offer their services tothe Stadtholder in their various provinces of science and art;there were a number of Jews, for this was one of the few countriesin the world where the Jews were not persecuted. Amsterdam, I knewwell, was the headquarters of the powerful Jew bankers and greattrading houses, and although this superb city was alwaysantagonistic to the House of Orange, yet the Prince was on goodterms with many of these Jews, and I have seen them going to andfro the streets of The Hague in their furred gowns and their highcaps with their servants behind them and their secretaries withportfolios under their arms.
I was told that much of the money that His Highness had spent onhis long war with France from which he had emerged, if' notvictorious at least safe, and that was a triumph considering themight of France, had been produced by the Jews.
Here were many of the extreme Scots Covenanters, including, Iheard, Mr. Richard Cameron. Strange to think that I should meet himin this place, so different from Castle Drum. I heard from anotherScot, whom I met at an Ordinary, of this preacher's residence atThe Hague, but for some time I did not see him.
I noticed other Scots, however, some of them known to EvanGarrie; it was not clear to me if they were on peaceful purposes oftrade or because they had fled from political storms. There wereseveral English people of distinction also, and I surmised thatthey had come to learn from his own mouth the future plans of thePrince of Orange, who, as the husband of the heiress to the throneof Great Britain, was of increasing importance to English politics,and had a great reputation as a wise statesman.
All these people were allowed to live as they would, practisingtheir several faiths. There was a chapel where the Scots might meetand pray in peace, there was a church for those who followed theEnglish Communion; Papists, too, were welcome as long as they didnot meddle with others; there were Freethinkers also, andphilosophers, various clubs and organizations existed in The Haguefor the entertainment and support of these foreigners.
You may believe that with all these activities and all thesestrangers, the place was full of life and movement. The BritishResident, Sir William Temple, and his wife—the lively andgracious Lady Dorothy—were continually receiving visitorsfrom England, and many of these stayed for several months, hiringexpensive houses in the Voor hourt, where there was always a pressof handsome carriages.
I did not wait on Sir William. I did not suppose that my namewould be more popular in The Hague than in Scotland. I knew that mypowerful relative, the Duke of Lauderdale, for whom I had not anygreat respect myself, was not a man to be held in esteem by thePrince of Orange or the Dutch people. Nor had I any good reason forapproaching His Highness. I did not want a troop of horse, I had noexcuse to ask for a pension, I had no news to give him, no offer ofservice to make.
For the same reason, after my first impulse to seek the man outhad passed, I made no endeavour to approach Mr. Penn, whom I saw onseveral occasions going about the streets in his plain grey coatand flat hat that he did not take off even in the presence of theKing, walking as was his wont, quickly, as if he had a mightybusiness in hand, his full, pleasant features clouded by an anxiouslook, talking loudly in his thick sweet voice.
I pointed him out once as he hastened along the footway to EvanGarrie:
"That is the man," said I, "who is going to found a newworld."
And as I spoke old regrets tugged at my heartstrings. Andanother man's dreams haunted me again.
Evan Garrie was disappointed in the appearance of Mr. Penn. Hesaid that he looked an ordinary enough man, scarce a gentleman, toostolid and temperate, like an overfed clerk.
"It is the strange dress he affects," said I. "They callthemselves Friends, the vulgar term them Quakers, for they aresupposed to fall into tremulous fits when they receive divineinspiration. And it may be, young Evan, that they know the truth ofit, and in following them we may find peace."
And the fit came upon me and I endeavoured to persuade the boy,as I had tried once before when we were in Scotland, that we shouldleave all these broils, attach ourselves to Mr. Penn and offerhim—not our fortune, for we had none—but the strengthof our hands, brains, and sense, and help him found in that farawaycountry a new world and to build a city of brotherly love.
"It is a fair climate," said I, although I knew but little ofthe place; "there are wide streams, lush pastures, and mightytrees, magnificent beasts. And is there not in every man's mind alonging to start afresh on the virgin soil, cut down the timber tobuild his own house, to raise his roof-tree by his own labour?"
And I reminded Evan Garrie of the Pilgrim Fathers, as theytermed them, who had sailed to New England fifty-years ago, yetfrom what reports I had heard of them I was bound to add, they hadfallen into nothing but broils among themselves ever since, beingtransported too far in zeal and overgiven to disputes on doctrinalpoints.
"Well, the tale I've heard," confided Evan Garrie, lowering hisvoice and looking round apprehensively, as if he was not safe fromold terrors even here, "is that they took witches with them andthat it was the witches who blew up these quarrels. Besides, therewere Indians, the murdering savages. How does your Mr. Penn intendto deal with them?"
"By brotherly love," I quoted. "He means to buy the land fromthem on honest terms, to smoke the pipe of peace with them, tooffer them his friendship and love."
"Well, you'll not go, Mr. Maitland, will you? And neither shallI! I suppose," added Evan Garrie with a sigh, "we belong to thisold world, with all its broils and halts and fears. Sometimes Ithink, Mr. Maitland," added the boy earnestly, "that I belong toScotland. That even here in the Netherlands I hanker for it. I amsmitten with a desire to return."
He made the confession with a mounting colour, for he knew thepains I had been at to rescue him from Castle Drum and the womenthere, and that such an admission as this might well smack ofingratitude. Of such, indeed, I instantly accused him, and he toldme, shamefacedly, that he regretted his words.
"Why," said he, bitterly, and I could see he was trying to talkdown his own desires, "should I wish to return to a country so darkand accursed?"
"Dark and accursed, indeed," I agreed, for we had read of theaffairs of Scotland in the news-letters and heard of them from theother Scots and English whom we had met.
"The country is ill-governed and in a state of rebellion, andthe men who are set over it—and I do not except my ownrelative, His Grace of Lauderdale—are both greedy, corrupt,and incapable. Matters are little mended," said I, getting into mylittle homily as I stretched my feet out before the earthenwarestove, "by sending busy gallants like Captain John Graham to playthe Constable and to slaughter the saints, as they termthemselves."
We had heard something of this gentleman at The Hague, for hehad been for some years in the service of the Prince of Orange andhad proved himself a capable as well as a brave soldier. But therehad been some trouble, and no one rightly knew the story of why itwas that he had left His Highness' service and returned to Englandquickly, though with letters of recommendation to that Prince'suncle, the Duke of York. There was some story that he had assistedthe Prince at the Battle of St. Neff, mounting His Highness on hisown horse and hoping for great rewards for this; whereas all he gotwas a hundred guineas for the price of the animal he had lent thePrince, and in disdain he had scattered this money among hisstablemen.
There was another tale that he, jealous of an officer who hadreceived, as he thought, undue preferment, that he had struck thisgentleman and that the Prince had pardoned him this grave offencethat had taken place in the precincts of the Palace, but had atonce dismissed him from his service. Whatever these stories mightbe, and they heard them but at the clubs and coffee-houses atsecond- and third-hand, it was at least clear that Captain Grahamhad acted with much arrogance and spirit; and he being but amercenary soldier, this had been ill-stomached by the Dutch and nottolerated by the Stadtholder, whom I took to be as proud a princeas any who ever stepped, for all his simplicity of life and thefact that he was head of a republic.
I know not how long we should have gone on in this lazy lifefor, despite all our high talk when we had left Scotland, we madeno effort to obtain adventures but lived in the rooms we had foundin The Hague, comfortable in the little circle of friends we soonmade, avoiding the Court? but going among the coffee-houses and theclubs, talking to the wits and sages of many nations who found itwiser to come to this tolerant country.
And the days passed quickly enough.
I found a salle d'armes where I practised myswordsmanship and where I taught Evan Garrie the use of morecivilized weapons than the dirk and the targe. I amused myself byinstructing the poor blackamoor, Virgil, in plain English, inwriting a few simple sentences.
And I hired a horse and rode a little through the woods, towardsthe wide open sea. I played cards, billiards, and backgammon, Imade the memoranda for my Memoirs. I talked—yes, I was nottoo old to talk—and ranted a great deal of the state of theworld and the state of my soul, the history of the past and theenigma of the future, with all whom I met.
And I heard the opinions and arguments of Doctors of Law,Doctors of Theology, and Swiss philosophers and Flemish peasants,of scarred soldiers who had been fighting for six years up and downthe Flanders borders. I spoke with engineers and moneylenders, bothof whom had been important in the last war, with chemists andarchitects, none of them very great in their professions, but keenand able men. I met fanatics, too, who boiled over with zeal, andfound themselves, even here, taken up to prison.
And still out of all this babble I could not resolve my own way.What should I be? What should I do? I had been discontented inScotland, where I had work to my hand, and I soon becamediscontented in the comfortable idleness of The Hague, where I feltmyself but an idle jackanapes.
Evan Garrie seemed to wait on my mood, and that at timesexasperated me, and I would ask the boy roundly why he did not goto the Prince of Orange and offer his sword? And he said for thesame reason that he had refused to ride with Captain Graham.
Then we would fall laughing, both of the same mind, for we hadno wish to begin such a bloody and useless profession as that ofwar, yet I felt ashamed of my lightness and jesting mind.
What, then, should we do? We were young and lusty, both gentlyborn, though I was better bred, and I wondered if there was notsome scheme of trade whereby I might not make enough money to buyback my estates in England. But when I thought of England I wouldthink of Philippa, and decided I would never see my own countryagain.
Then I pondered if we might not engage in some merchandise, andwe began to learn the Dutch language for that end. Some of ourindulgent friends offered to give us letters to rich merchants'houses in Amsterdam. If we had known anything of seamanship wemight have gone on some of their trading vessels that went to andfro the Indies. But there were many highly skilled men in theNetherlands to fill these employments.
The winter began to break, even in this cold climate, and thesnow to melt and even the sluggish waters in the canals stirred alittle beneath the thin ice; and we were still without resolve oremployment.
We should have been, at this time, hard put to it for money hadI not—in a moment of bravado and maybe ofinsolence—written to His Grace of Lauderdale, upbraiding himfor the miserable employment he had gotten me in Castle Drum, andtelling him that it was a disgrace to him to have a cadet of hishouse reduced as I was reduced, and, to come closer to the point,begging him that he would send a draft on one of the banks at TheHague in my name and for a round sum of money, adding that arefusal would do him a great deal of wrong.
I made a wager with Evan Garrie that I should get no reply. Buta letter did come, and with it a draft for a sum of money thatexceeded my hopes.
There was also a letter of advice from His Grace, who referredbitterly to my late misconduct, as he termed it, in London, sayingthat I had brought discomfiture, if not disgrace, upon his house.He added, however, that time enough perhaps had gone by, and itmight be reasonable for me to return to London, where he wouldendeavour to find me some post about the Court. "A sinecure," headded, "for you never had any gift, Tom, save for your ancientlearning. And what use is that to a man of breeding if it be notjoined to other matters?"
I had found this same knowledge of the classics, however, someuse in The Hague, for it was the passport to the company of menbetter than myself. I was, though I appeared but an ordinarygallant, a ruined gentleman of birth and one time of position, afair scholar, and I could hold my own with the pedagogues andsavants whom I met at The Hague.
With my Lord of Lauderdale's monies, we paid our expenses untilthe spring. When we had made up our minds at last to wait upon Mr.Penn, he had returned to London. It was voiced that he would beback in The Hague in a few weeks, so we made this an excuse tocondone our idleness. We would remain there until he returned andthen put before him our plight and see if he was able to persuadeus to join him in his scheme of founding a new city in a newworld.
I think the happiest of the three of us in those days was theblackamoor, who, well treated in The Hague and given as muchconsideration as if he were a Christian, became fat and content,and certainly did not now look like any imp of Satan, for hischeeks became round and glistening, his eyes clear, his smileperpetual and cheerful.
I discovered that he had been fairly well trained by thegoldsmith in the Heatherbow in Edinburgh, he knew how to look aftera gentleman's clothes and weapons, how to prepare food and how todress a horse. I taught him some further elegances, and he became amost useful servant, warmly grateful for the least kindness andstrongly attached both to Evan Garrie and myself.
It was in the month of April that I, like many a man who hasretreated into a backwater of life, discovered that I was in afool's paradise. I had endeavoured like a coward to stand asidefrom all the conflicts and storms, and I was idling away my time,my youth, and my kinsman's money in vain disputes andarguments.
From this mental sloth and bodily inactivity I was shaken by anevent that to me was dreadful.
As I was walking by the Vyverberg the day that, as I remember, Ifirst felt the faint warmth of spring in the air, I saw Philippacoming towards me, the woman whom I did not think I should ever seeagain, the woman I did not wish to see again; for her I hadundergone much, and it might have been on a better account.
She wore a dark-green coloured cloak, that was the first I notedabout her. Why do we observe in strong moments such pettytrivialities? And she was alone, save for a footman in attendance afew yards behind.
She held in her hand a little travelling mask on a stick andwore large doeskin gloves with tassels.
I kept my attention on these details, for I wished to persuademyself that this was Philippa, indeed, and not a fantasy of myinfatuated imagination.
It was she, and she knew me, and stared at me with as much amazeas I looked at her.
I had often wondered what we should do if we chanced to meet;that had been my amusement in my midnight hours when I had woken,wretched almost to madness thinking of her, counting over in mymind what I had lost when I had lost this lady.
But now that I saw her so unexpectedly and in this strangeplace, I stared foolishly. It was she who spoke:
"I did not think to see you ever again. I certainly did notthink to see you here."
I found my voice again, and the words I used did not seem of myown choosing. I said:
"Do you speak as a friend or as an enemy?"
"You are in your old mood," she replied, "and intend, I see, tomake a debate of everything."
Then she could not let the moment be, but must tarnish it withfeminine duplicity and worldliness, for she added:
"If we are seen talking here they will believe we met in TheHague by design."
I commended her prudence and was turning away, but she calledafter me, one word, slowly spoken:
I stood still and would not turn, and she came up to me, andsaid quickly:
"Do you want to see me again? Do you want to speak to me?"
I remembered the three witch ladies in Castle Drum, why I do notknow. There seemed something of the expression I had noticed ontheir faces in the fine-pointed countenance of Philippa Dean.
Why should I want to speak to her? What could we have to say?Had there not been arguments and questions enough between me andthis woman? Had she not broken my life in half, leaving me sullen,discontented, and desolate?
"Is your husband with you?" I asked.
She replied, looking away, that he was, and that he had herwatched closely, seldom letting her out of sight.
"That is his servant following you now, I suppose," I said. "Hewill go and report to his master that you were seen talking to me.And I shall soon be known as Tom Maitland, for whose sake, nodoubt," I added bitterly, "you suffer all this espionage."
She then told me quickly that her husband had come to The Hagueas, he declared, to buy horses, the Prince of Orange having somemagnificent Polish horses in his stables that, now the wars wereover, he was willing to sell. But that this was a mere excuse andthat Sir John had political reasons, like most of those who came toThe Hague for such visits, under various excuses, to theStadtholder's Court.
I was so occupied by the fact that this was Philippa and that wehad again, after a not great space of time, met, that I took littleheed of what she said. I was wondering, with my usual blackselfishness, what effect this meeting would have on me and mydestiny and my future.
I had not told Evan Garrie my story, but I knew he had guessedmuch of it, and as I watched Philippa hurrying away in her greencloak with the footman behind her along the edge of the Vyverberg,I thought I would return to the young Scot and tell him my tale forthe pleasure of having a listener, for I was stirred from my spruceidleness.
So I went back to our lodgings, hardly noticing the world aboutme, full of elation, rage and confusion of spirit, and with nothingbut these words "Philippa is here! I have found Philippa again!"ringing in my mind, to discover that Evan Garrie was not alone inthe dark, clean room that looked on to the grey water of thecanal.
To my deep chagrin I found Richard Cameron was in his company.We had not met the Covenanter often when we were in The Hague. Hekept himself much apart among a few chosen followers.
Why he had sought us out now when I wished for Evan Garrie'scompany, I could not guess, and I gave him dismal looks. I was sovexed to see the old man there, babbling of his own, as it seemedto me, thin and foolish concerns, while I was smitten by the clapthat Fate had given me in this meeting with Philippa, that I satapart black and sullen and scarcely heard a sentence that hespoke.
I had wanted Evan Garrie, who was, as it were, the whipping-boyfor my moods, to myself that night, and to pour out before him myrage and tribulation at coming face to face with this woman, whohad been at once my joy and my ruin. And there was the old man,looking to me half starved in his worn gown and darned starchedbands, trying, as I supposed, to persuade Evan Garrie to returnwith him to Scotland to join the Covenanters, even as CaptainGraham had endeavoured to make the boy join his dragoons.
"Why could they not leave the wretch alone?" I thought bitterly,forgetting in my grim selfishness that I had used Evan Garrie formy own ends and brought him away with me out of Scotland, partly,no doubt, as I flattered myself, to save his soul and his health ofbody, but partly also that I might have the solace of hiscompanionship and admiration.
The cold daylight waned and the serving-maid brought in thecandles and still the old man talked.
And I was forced at last to interrupt; I came forward into thecircle of light and, resting my arms on the table, demanded withoutmuch respect what the matter of his discourse was?
Richard Cameron was suddenly silent, but Evan Garrie looked atme then shrewdly, and I saw that he weighed me up in his mind,comparing me, perhaps, with Richard Cameron, comparing both of uswith Colonel Graham; wondering, no doubt, where his path lay. Andhe said, slowly, and in a gentle tone and in his Scots tongue, thathe had not lost even after so many months abroad, and that I couldnever imitate:
"It is true, Mr. Maitland," (he had never lost his formal mannerof addressing me) "that I waste my time here at The Hague inidleness, and I have told you before that I have a mind to returnto Scotland."
I could not speak for chagrin and disgust, so I took my head inmy hands and listened sullenly while the old man took the word.
I had to admit that Mr. Cameron spoke in dulcet tones, he had asoothing and endearing way with him, but much of what he said to mewas but dead theology; what care had I for the dry and divers waysin which men strove to approach an invisible God?
Yet some of his discourse had warm human colouring and wentdirectly to the heart.
"There are persecuted people, who are my people, in Scotland.They are shooting down those who will not take the Oath against theCovenant. It is yes or no, and then a bullet in the heart or brain.Young boys are dying thus, and women too. Wives and mothers arebereaved. The heather is covered with the blood and beaten-outbrains of the saints."
"It has always been thus," said I, wearily, "Europe has but cometo the end of a long war, and there are further warnings as to thefuture. How, either in the public affairs or in the private livesofmen, shall there be any peace?"
I thought of Mr. Penn, with his schemes which, as he had told mein fiery, eager words, were like to fail for lack of funds, and Ilaughed aloud in my bitterness at all these confusions thatstumbled the moderate, and gratified, no doubt, the Devil.
"If I cannot save them," Mr. Cameron was saying, "I may die withthem. Blessed be the Lord."
"What use would you be—an aged, failing man?" asked EvanGarrie curiously. "In this choppy sea of politics andpersecution?"
"No use with my hands, that is why I come to a strong youth likeyou. Why do not you take up the sword for your countrymen who arepersecuted and downtrodden? Well you know—and you too, Mr.Maitland—that Scotland is bitterly misgoverned. And Iintend," said he in quiet tones, "to excommunicate Charles Stuartand to publish a declaration that he is no longer, by reason of hisperfidy and blasphemy and lewd living, King of Scotland. And noneof my friends will alter or warp from this."
"That's a bold, and perhaps a dangerous thing to do," said I."It is no toy or trifle to thus defy a great King."
The old man's pale eyes turned on me with a tranquil look, clearas that of a child.
"Well I know it," he replied. "Do you think that I can live atThe Hague in comfort and cowardice while the others suffer? Theglorious power of the Lord has wonderfully risen in me."
He began to recite to me what was happening in Scotland, namingthe arrests in Galloway that was under the heel of Captain Grahamand his regiment of horse, and added solemnly:
"These men, Claverhouse, Dalzell, and others, are under theprotection of the Devil, and they cannot by ordinary human means bekilled. One must have blessed bullets made of silver. This coolfiend," and I understood that this was his name for Captain Graham,"is under the direct protection of the Evil One, and not by mortalmeans can he be given a stop."
And then, half to humour him, half because I was curious, Iasked:
"And what of Castle Drum and the ladies there?"
Mr. Cameron gave me a look out of his faded eyes, pale from ageand prayer and watching, and answered:
"Where there are witches in Scotland the Covenanters will rootthem out. Is it not written 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch tolive'?"
I put out my hand and grasped Evan Garrie's wrist. I thoughtperhaps this stem might serve as his cure, if the image of Jannotwas not already withered out of his simple heart. And I saidsteadily, looking across the candles that were guttering on theirprickets, at the old man:
"Tell me, sir, you who lived in quality as pedagogue at CastleDrum, what you think of the three ladies and of the tricks theyplay? Give me, too," and I could not forbear a grimace at the name,"your opinion of Doctor Fletcher."
I saw the old man's face sharpen and wrinkle with the suspicionsthat he might not utter. His lids drooped over his tired eyes as helooked from one to another of us.
"It is some sign of grace," he answered evasively, "to know evilwhen you see it. And though I take you, Mr. Maitland, to be amalignant, perhaps a concealed Papist, no better than a man ofblood—"
"So!" I interrupted, "you know something of the scandals told ofme?"
"Something," said he. "But let that go now. I say, though I takeyou to be a violent man and a man of blood, yet I have thistenderness for you, that I would warn you not to return to CastleDrum."
"Then you should have more than a tenderness. You should havethanks—because I have rescued Mr. Garrie from that accursedplace."
I tried to speak with a light bitterness, but I think thatwonder sunk my tone, for I was thinking of that night that I hadpassed in the watch-tower gazing down at the empty space betweenthe ruined walls of the old chapel, the space that was not emptylong enough.
Then the old man—I could not deny him sweet and gentleways potent to persuade the heart of any man were he not set inblack anger and near despair as I was myself, approached me,thinking me, I believe, a soul on the brink of Hell, endeavouringto persuade me to return to Scotland to cast in my lot with theCovenanters, to help protect the preachers who still gathered theirflocks about them on the hill-side, against the Horse ofClaverhouse, Rosse, Balcarres and Dalzell.
"Do you know who I am, and my story." I cried in a torment.
Mr. Cameron replied again that he had heard somewhat but that itwas no concern of his, and that no matter how lost and desperate asoul might be there was still chance for it to return to peace.
And all my mind went cloudy with these conflicting beliefs andhard sayings and grim dissensions, and I tried to send my thoughtspiercing upwards through these black and twisting confusions towhatever God there might be enthroned above them all.
So I withdrew from the circle of candlelight and sat in thewindow-place, musing upon Philippa, and the dead man and the liveman who stood between us—her brother, whom they said I hadkilled, and her husband, to whom she had returned, accepting hischarity and his pity sooner than share my blasted name and myestate forfeited to folly.
Then I tried, dark and selfish as I was, to put myself in placeof the old man—old not perhaps in years, he was so frail, Icould not tell his age—and when I turned to look at him now Isaw how bloodless he seemed in the candlelight, how bent andfeeble.
And he was returning from the peace and comfort of theNetherlands, from the little society where he was admired and safein The Hague, to that rude, violent land that I could not think ofwithout distaste, bold and strong as I boasted myself to be, to aland not only policed by the dragoons of Captain Graham but by, asthis man firmly believed, the outposts of Hell.
So I leaned towards him and spoke earnestly:
"Sir, will you not remain where you are secure? Must you ventureon your fate with heedless boldness?"
"I go," he answered quickly, and as he turned his face and hairlooked ghostly in the candlelight, "where God directs. And I hadhoped that this young gentleman," he bowed courteously towards EvanGarrie, "would have accompanied me, forming a guard andescort."
"You'll not lack those," replied the youth roughly, speaking, asI supposed, in this manner to disguise his strong feelings. "Manymen will rise from the hill-sides and the heathered plains to greetyou, Mr. Cameron."
"Why so I hope and so I suppose," he agreed, getting to hisfeet; his voice was low and fatigued with overmuch speaking.
And I thought of what his fate might be if he fell into thehands of the Government forces. And I tried, ill-used as I was tosuch offices, to persuade him to remain where he would be safe. AndI asked him if he had waited on the Stadtholder and what HisHighness had said as to his return to Scotland.
But Mr. Cameron spoke without enthusiasm of that Prince.
"He is a valiant man," he admitted, "but one who blows too hotand cold for me. 'Why, he has even Papists among his friends, andis so much for toleration that I believe he could find it in him tostomach the Devil himself."
"The Stadtholder is a young man," I replied, "but has alwaysproved himself a wise one."
"I have nothing to do with the wisdom of this world," repliedMr. Cameron, and Evan Garrie rose and offered his arm to help theold man to the door, for he seemed exceedingly weak; a poor wretchto go to that powder-magazine that was Galloway.
"Think on this," I cried, "that you will make more mischief byreturning to Scotland and rousing the Covenanters, as you termthem, against the Government. 'What can it end in but blood, andmore blood!"
"What matter of that," said he, "as long as the Lord is served?There are many hiding-places on the moors and many good friends,even among the gentlefolk."
And with that he left us, first pressing the hand of Evan Garrieand bowing courteously to me. I knew that he was disappointed, thathe had hoped to take the young man with him, and that he blamed me,probably for his failure to turn the youth into a fanatic, willingto risk his life in a disaffected country kept down by Governmenttroops.
And I was sorry and sick for the whole business, and I turned onEvan Garrie when he came back to the room and cried.
"Why must you have the old fantastic, meddling man here to-nightwhen I have something of moment to relate to you!"
But even as I spoke I felt with shame my meeting with Philippawas not so important as the resolution of Richard Cameron to returnto Scotland.
The young man looked at me as if he scarcely understood what Ihad said. He was still full of this preacher's words as hemuttered:
"Mr. Cameron is going back to Scotland, to send out adeclaration that defies the authority of the King."
"What do you suppose that will mean but civil war? Ay, and a warto the end, the extermination of the Scots," said I, "when men suchas Colonel Graham are entrusted with the quieting of the Lowlands.Why, they'll bring the wild Highlanders on them, and more, theEnglish troopers. What chance have they, armed peasants and farmersand a few zealots like Mr. Cameron?"
"They'll be taken, these zealots, at their prayers orpreaching," said Evan Garrie, resting his elbows on the table andhis head in the hands, "and I suppose they'll be hanged and takendown while they're alive, and quartered, and their limbs will beset up before the gates of all the market towns in Scotland."
"And who's to blame for that," cried I, "save the rank foolsthemselves I His Highness, the Prince of Orange, who is theirchampion, has warned them against such fierce madness."
He did not answer me directly, but looking at me straightly withthe golden eyes that reminded me always of Jannot and Isabelle,demanded:
"What ails you tonight, Mr. Maitland? Something has befallen yousince I saw you earlier in the day. Your manner is wild, your eyesare strange."
"I have seen," said I, "Philippa Dean, walking by theVyverberg."
"Oh," said he, in a confusion, "that lady for whose sake you arehere?"
"You know, I suppose," I answered. "Remote as you've lived, youmust have heard this story. She and I were named together, and shewas married to a jealous man. Her brother came into it, too, and Imet him in a duello. The wound I gave him was slight, but hedied of it afterwards through his own negligence and the lack ofskill of the surgeons. But I was blamed for it, and there wasscandal at the Court. And though I had friends in high places, theysaid that if I left the country all would be forgotten.
"She went back to her husband, out of fear, not wishing to loseher fame, her estates. And that is all my story, save at the timewhen these misfortunes fell on me, I had lost a great deal of moneyat the gambling-tables. I wished to give magnificent presents tothe lady I cradled in my heart. And my disaster coming upon me myblood ran high and I was reckless at the cards. That is all, thoughno doubt from other lips you have heard it also, Evan Garrie."
He seemed impressed with my poor tale, as if there was a certainhigh magnificence about it. Yet he looked at me askance, and I sawthat his brains were bewildered from the rapid talk of Mr. Cameronthat was not without its turn of nobility, and my tale, which nodoubt he had heard whispered in the various clubs that wefrequented at The Hague, and his own thoughts which were largelythoughts of Jannot whom I named, and I have no doubt as he named,the young witch of Castle Drum.
And so we sat there in the twilight, taking no heed of thecandles that ran down on the prickets in shrouds of wax, twowretched and misguided men, for I could not count Evan Garriehappy, for I believed that the strange girl had still herenchantment over him, and when he spoke of going back to Scotlandhe did not mean any other place but Castle Drum nor any otherperson save Jannot Garrie.
I wondered if she had sent to him at The Hague, though I tookher to be a person who could not write or read. But it might bethat she had these accomplishments.
I remembered then in the drowsiness of my misery as I sat in thetwilight in the window-place, sunk and not resting, on the seatpiled with cushions, of what she had shown me in the jetstone—the moor and the man riding across it, and the womanwhom they had dragged out of the coach. And since then—oftenit would be in my dreams and when waiting—I had put names tothose shadows, and I had thought that the man in the coach wasDoctor James Sharp, the Archbishop of St. Andrews, and that theleaders of the men who had attacked him were those two whom we hadmet on Magus Moor outside the episcopal city. The young woman, too,might well have been Marjorie Sharp—she was married, but Iforgot that name.
I had spoken to Evan Garrie of this more than once and he hadadmitted to me that the Covenanters believed that Doctor Sharp wasa most powerful wizard and one who was responsible more than anyother for the dire persecutions that they underwent. And he hadadded, half fearfully, that he believed that there were two men whowere set aside to watch the Archbishop and, if need be, to avengethe Covenanters' blood upon him. These had a private dispute withhim, one had been his steward.
I had often wondered if these two men were those whom I had metoutside St. Andrews, and now all this medley of dreams and fancyreturned to me and I said sullenly:
"Mr. Cameron is a dangerous man to return to the Highlands.He'll rouse them all into a flame. What will the revenge of ColonelGraham and Doctor Sharp be on all these roaring and preachingagainst the king?"
"You see what I think of him," replied Evan Garrie, gloomily,"by the fact that I will not return with him. Now for your affair,Mr. Maitland. What do you wish me to do for you? Long since I vowedmyself in service to you, and so did Virgil, the poorblackamoor."
"You can do nothing for me," I replied, but the whole fibre ofmy being was warmed by this offer of friendship. "I tell you I metto-day this unhappy woman whom once I set too high."
And there I stayed myself, not wishing to tell the story of myunfortunate passion to this young man, making myself thus but onewith him in his folly towards Jannot Garrie. And I tried to soothehim and put him off from probing into my story, and I tried totreat lightly the talk of Mr. Richard Cameron. I said that we mustforget Scotland and all her woes and evils, and all her witches anddevils, and the Covenanters and the troopers. That we would goforward into Europe, into Germany or France, and some way find alivelihood.
The young man did not reply to me, and I thought that my talkwas wasted, for he was a Scot and loved Scotland.
* * *
So I went out into the clean air and wondered much what I shoulddo, where my fate was minded to lead me. And then I thought, and itseemed at the time no more than a whim, that I would ask for anaudience of the Prince. He was young, not much above my own age,and he had proved himself in a long and difficult war, and I knewthat he was regarded by the people over whom he ruled as a hero,one who had saved them from annihilation at the hands of His MostChristian Majesty. I knew, too, that he was considered, despite hisyouth, one of the most wise and skilful statesmen in Europe. And Ithought that perhaps if I was to see him and discuss with him theCovenanters in Scotland and Mr. Penn's schemes for a city ofbrotherly love to be founded in the New World, he might speak somesentence or offer some words that would relieve me from the worstof anxieties and set me on some manly path of useful work.
So far I had made myself known to few people in The Hague but,as I have already related, remained quietly in the background, onlyfrequenting the usual coffeehouses and clubs where the exilesgathered in comfort.
Nov I used what influence I had and waited upon Sir WilliamTemple, telling him of my great relation, the Duke of Lauderdale,and begging that I might be permitted to wait upon theStadtholder.
The matter was soon arranged, for Sir William Temple was closeto His Highness' ear, and then, as always, much in his favour.
I found the Prince, like so many great men, easily accessible tothose who seriously wished to see him, and it was but three daysafter my application that I found myself waiting in the salons ofthe Binnenhof, awaiting an audience with the Prince.
The thought of this interview had somewhat put my personalaffairs out of my mind, and I was able to remember with equanimitythat Philippa Dean was also in The Hague.
I had not seen her since I had met her on the Vyverberg in herdark green cloak, with the footman and spy so discreetly but soobviously behind her. I knew where she lived and I had seen herhusband more than once going to and fro in his carriage. Imistrusted him; not only on personal grounds did I dislike him, forI believed him to be a sly and treacherous man, one who would actfor two or three masters at once and serve only the one who paidhim the highest fee.
Philippa Dean was in the spirit in my mind and in my blood, as Ithought, and never should I be able to forget her. But I had,through the help and the companionship of Evan Garrie and throughdwelling on this interview that I was to have with His Highness,the Stadtholder, somewhat put her in the background of my thoughts.And I was as surprised as pleased at my clarity of mind. I was ableto think of the future with some hope.
Might I not yet carve out a fine fortune for myself? It was saidthat the Emperor required noble volunteers to help him in his waragainst the Turks. It might be, that my blood was proud enough toenable me to volunteer to fight in the trenches beneathBelgrade.
His Highness was, I reflected, as I waited for my audience, in acurious position. He belonged to one of the oldest families inEurope which had given emperors to the West. His quarterings werenot to be placed on one shield, nor his titles to be rehearsed byone herald. I had always understood that he was one of the proudestof men. He was a grandchild, too, of our King Charles I, andmarried to his cousin, the Duke of York's daughter Mary. But forall that he was the chief magistrate of a republic and effected tolive on an equality with the least of the Dutch. Surely there wassomething to be learned from a man who could, being so born andmarried, hold such a position.
His palace was in an ancient building, and the rooms wherein Iwaited were handsomely decorated, the ceilings being of embossedleather and the walls hung with handsome tapestries. If only Icould have forgotten Philippa Dean, I should have been pleasurablyconcerned to this interview with a man who was then considered themost admired personage in Europe.
Yet, after all, what had I to say to him?
I did not intend to offer him either my sword or my wit, I wouldnot be his soldier or his spy, and I had no news to bring him fromEngland. What, then, had I to do with His Highness the Stadtholder?I knew that I had obtained the favour of this audience only throughthe influence of Sir William Temple, who no doubt had mentioned toHis Highness that I was a relative of the Duke of Lauderdale, thenone of the most important men in Great Britain, and he who had mostthe ear of King Charles in regard to the affairs of Scotland.
The Prince did not keep me waiting long; he had none of thatarrogance that distinguished men of smaller pride. He received mealone in his cabinet that was hung with domestic pictures byartists of his native country.
When I came into his presence and thought of the cares that hehad upon him and on the futility of my own life and the uncertaintyof my future, I felt in a manner ashamed and stood, as I did notoften, even in the presence of the great, at a loss.
He was a man below my own stature but of a manly countenance. Ihad seen him before, but only at a distance on ceremonialoccasions, and I had marked the great likeness he bore both to hismother, whom I remembered in youth, and to his uncle, now dead, theDuke of Gloucester.
Knowing his reputation for thoroughness and shrewdness, I couldnot doubt that he had my dossier, as the French term it, under hishand, and I felt foolish as he questioned me as to why I had askedfor this audience.
I can see him now as I saw him then in his plain attire ofmaroon coloured velvet; he was seldom out of the uniform he wore ofColonel of the Blue Guards, but on this occasion he wore civiliandress. His hair was of the Stuart colour, chestnut-red and long andfine as a woman's, and his eyes for power and brilliancy were themost remarkable I had ever seen.
I had but a poor tale to tell him. I said:
"Your Highness knows I am but a ruined gentleman of the house ofmy Lord of Lauderdale, that I have been for a while in Scotland...''
"A strange position," interrupted the Prince, speaking excellentEnglish, but slowly and with care. "You were a pedagogue, Ibelieve, in the establishment of Sir Donald Garrie?"
"Yes," said I. "And, sir, liked it but little. I have been forsome months in The Hague and have not ventured to bring myself tothe notice of Your Highness before. For in truth," I cried, "I knownot what to do nor to what turn, and though it is but animpertinence of me to bring my troubles to Your Highness ..."
"Still," he interrupted again in his stately manner, "no doubtyou are aware that I am glad both to receive news from England fromany source," and these last words he emphasised, "and also toreceive the offer of the services of any worthy gentleman."
And then he pressed on me, as Captain Graham had pressed on mesome months before, the offer of a troop of horse. I might have aposition in the army of the States-General immediately, and all mytale of tragedy and present confusion of affairs overlooked.
I could scarcely forbear laughing in the austere countenance ofHis Highness as he made his proposition.
"I am a friend," said I, "of Captain Graham."
"And he was a most efficient officer," said the Stadtholder, "Iwas sorry to lose him' from my service. He vvas also of a high andpassionate temperament and one, perhaps, who will do better at thework he is now employed on than he would in one of myregiments."
"And does Your Highness," I broke out, "approve the work thatCaptain Graham is now employed on? Do you not rather support theCovenanters?"
"I support neither the man of blood nor the fanatic," repliedthe Prince, ready for dubious arguments. "What I work for I thinkmust be known to gentlemen like yourself, Mr. Maitland, who take nogreat interest in politics—it is the peace of Europe, and theresistance to the aggression of France."
"Your Highness does not, then, think the Covenanters aresaints?"
"I would persecute no man for his religion," replied the Prince,"and those opinions of mine are too well known for me to need torepeat them to you now, Mr. Maitland."
He glanced at the clock, a fine piece, as I recall, of piercedbrass that stood above his bureau, and then down at his hands. Iremarked them keenly; they lay upon his knees, and though they wereof feminine delicacy and beauty, they gave the impression of powerand authority; though they were so still I felt as if theycontained an immense energy, and it was only by an effort of willthat he held them thus tranquil; they were equally able with swordor pen, as I knew.
I felt out of countenance and even a fool.
"I have nothing," said I, "to tell Your Highness. No espionagetalk from England has come my way, and as to what I have seen inScotland, it would not interest you."
"Ay, but it is of interest to me," said he earnestly, turninghis brilliant eyes upon me. "If you have any interest with thesefanatics, with men like Mr. Richard Cameron who go about now, as Iunderstand, to light flames in their native land, bid them bepeaceful and more tolerant and to look well to their warrants. Ifyou have any influence with men like Captain Graham, bid them notride too high nor be too overbearing. There is never virtue inextreme, Mr. Maitland."
He then asked me if I often saw my noble kinsman, and I repliedthat it was but seldom I had that honour.
"If you ever do see His Grace of Lauderdale, Mr. Maitland,whisper a word in his ear of the fire and sword and the tyranny hehas created. Bid him, if it be possible to one of his temper, to bemore moderate and liberal."
I then asked him what he suggested I should do, and by hisanswer I measured his opinion of my worth, for I knew he had butone set proposition he made to all whom he considered useless butperhaps bold adventurers. And he said to me graciously enough:
"Go and fight the Turks, Mr. Maitland. The Emperor has need ofvolunteers outside Belgrade. There may honour be acquired, and ifnothing better, a death that any man might tolerate."
I saw then his estimate of me, and that he had no employment tooffer in The Hague, nor should I have expected any save that of atrooper.
After he had got out of me what he could with many shrewdprobings and questionings—I understood that he allowed noone, especially an Englishman, to speak to him without discoveringsomething, however small, of the world's affairs that might helphim in his great design—I took my turn to venture a questionto this Prince. I asked him what he thought of the design of Mr.William Penn, who was lately returned to The Hague?
"What design?" asked the Stadtholder. I could tell by hisstately manner that he thought I was interfering beyond my provincein the matters of statecraft, that he suspected me, after all,perhaps for a spy or a secret service agent of some foreigngovernment. I pitied him for his need of perpetual watchfulness,for I knew how he must be surrounded by intrigue and jobbery. So Irelieved his doubts by saying:
"I do not ask Your Highness to debate statecraft with me. Irefer to the design that Mr. William Penn has for establishing acolony in the New World and building a city that he intends to callPhiladelphia, or city of brotherly love."
At this His Highness smiled, and I learnt afterwards the reasonfor his suspicions. Mr. Penn had been sent by the Duke of York toendeavour to induce His Highness to assent to a repeal of the Test,as I had heard, and the Stadtholder, though the most tolerant ofmen, had refused this with a dry reference to the little relianceto be placed on the British Government.
I expected, when I saw His Highness smiling at me like that, tobe rebuked for an enthusiast or a fanatic. But instead he told methat he considered the enterprise laudable.
"And I," said he, "when I was a young man newly come to thegovernment of this country when it was threatened with destructionby the French, had some such design myself. I thought I would takeall the shipping in the port of Amsterdam and that sooner than liveunder foreign tyranny we would go and found another country in theIndies. And so you see, Mr. Maitland, that I am inclined to judgeleniently these fantasies of Mr. Penn."
"Yet, sir, you call them fantasies," I remarked.
"I think they be little more for one who is but a privategentleman and has no great fortune behind him."
"But let Your Highness consider. The land belongs to a parcel ofIndians, who might easily be driven off or massacred, or bought, asis Mr. Penn's intention, by a few knives and guns or to gentlemenwho will sell willingly for a low sum. Let Your Highness rememberthat this land is rich in all possibilities, with great rivers andfine timber and fertile soil."
"If you wish to found a new state," said the Stadtholder, "it isnot the quality of the land that matters but that of the people youtake there. Where does Mr. Penn propose to find colonists worthy ofhis ideals?"
"Sir," replied I, "are there not enough broken soldiers anddiscontented idlers and oppressed craftsmen and unemployed artisansin Europe? And if these were gathered together and taken out to theNew World, would it not leave the Old World freer of broils anddifficulties and bloodshed?"
"Why do you ask my opinion?" demanded His Highness, who seemed,however, I flattered myself, interested in my discourse. "My hands,as doubtless you know, Mr. Maitland, are full enough with theaffairs of the old world. I have plenty of trouble in this smallcountry of my own as likely to last me my days, without seeking outthese fresh problems. Are you a friend of Mr. Penn's?"
I disclaimed that honour and I said that this scheme had takenmy fancy, and that if I had money I would have given it to theQuakers towards his proposed colonization of America—the HolyEnterprise, as they named it.
The Prince seemed to ponder a moment in his pensive way; he wasa man who went deeply into any scheme that was put before him, andno doubt he was considering in his large, magnanimous mind if herethere was not something that could be turned to the good of theNetherlands, shaken, if not crippled, as it was by a war costly andbloody, and hampered by a circle of enemies and a bad peace.
He said at length:
"Mr. Penn is not the man for such an enterprise. He is toosimple, too easily led. I think him honest, I know him full ofardour, but such a project as this is for a great prince."
"And what great prince could undertake it," I asked, "seeing allin Europe, as Your Highness says of yourself, are engaged indomestic broils?"
"Until we can secure toleration," replied the Stadtholder,"until every man in the Western hemisphere is free to follow hisown tastes, his own conscience that matter I always took to beGod's province—until he can without dread of molestation orpersecution, follow his own faith, the hands of every prince andruler and leader will be full. And who shall have time to considerwhat may be done with the New World? Better, Mr. Maitland, to leaveit to the savages."
"I suppose, sir," I replied, "in the breast of every man thereis a longing for the Promised Land, for the Golden Age."
His Highness smiled again.
"Do you suppose, sir, that we shall get the Golden Age or thePromised Land by taking a parcel of men, some of whom wouldassuredly be fools and some scoundrels, from your country or mycountry or France, and setting them against a fresh background?Would they not take with them their old ills, their old vices,their old quarrels and their ancient hatreds? No, Mr. Maitland, itis a pretty scheme, but leave it to Mr. Penn, and do you," said he,returning quickly to his original point, "serve whatever good causeyou have at heart in a more active way. You are a gentleman ofleisure, as you have said, and came upon some misfortune."
I saw that His Highness would still persuade me to be a soldier.I was worth no more than that to him.
"I refused Captain Graham, and I must refuse hisbetter—that is, Your Highness. Besides, there is no war inEurope at the moment, and I have no Wish to track down theCovenanters in Scotland."
"There's better work than that," said the Prince, "the Emperoralways requires volunteers. Leave the New World to the savages andhelp chase the Turks out of Europe."
I suppose he must have seen some merit in me, for he tried againwith that patience that he did not disdain to use on the smallestthings, to turn me in some way to his service, and I found that hethought a little better of me than I had supposed.
For he asked if I would undertake political work for him inEngland, if I would report news of the various parties, and bringmessages to and fro The Hague. I marvelled at the largeness of hisdesigns and the attention he gave to small details and that heshould trouble about a gentleman like myself, no doubt merelybecause I was a cadet of the house of Maitland and because myreputation would cause me to be overlooked as a mere spendthriftgambler.
I suppose he had found me of some intelligence, and perhaps ofunusual tolerance to take so much trouble with me. I felt I was inthe presence of a great man, yet I wanted to have nothing to dowith him; the magnitude of his burdens weighed me down, even thoughthey were on another's shoulders. I would not have been in hisplace for all his titles and the high place he held in thearmorials of Europe.
When I declined to do any work for him, he, without any loss oftemper or change of countenance, asked me still patiently why I haddemanded to see him?
And I wondered why he had granted me this favour, seeing thatevery moment of his time must have been parcelled out among vastinterests.
So I told him that I hoped he would not take it for insolencethat I had asked for this audience, being concerned at my ownfuture, my mind and spirit in a turmoil, and I took him to be thewisest Prince—for all his youth—in Europe, and that Ihad hoped he might say something that would give me some guidanceas to what to do with the rest of my life, for I was a man not yetthirty years of age.
"Well, Mr. Maitland," said he, still with that unchanged andstately composure that I had observed in no one else; it wasmarvellous to me that a man could have so much control of hisfeelings and temper, "have I not given you some guidance? I haveasked you to work for me, and when I say for me I do not speak formyself but of the common cause."
I knew by this phrase, that was often on his lips and on thoseof his followers, that he meant the Protestant religion, that hewas determined to champion against the aggression of France, and bythe Protestant religion he meant also the liberty of mankind. Hehad no quarrel with the Roman Catholics, and was believe ii to beon friendly terms even with His Holiness the Pope. But againstoppression and tyranny as he saw it he had firmly set his face, andso far had won for himself in that fight an unparalleled place inEurope, being the most admired and respected, ay, and feared, ofmodern heroes.
But such high work was not for me. I would be neither hissoldier nor his spy, his pamphleteer or his agent.
Seeing there was nothing to be obtained from me, he told me thatthe audience was over, still without haste or sign of impatience,though he must have known that he had wasted his time—time tohim as valuable as gold, on a useless, wilful man.
But I had still one or two questions to ask him, and taxed histolerance by demanding what he thought of this Mr. Richard Cameronand his followers, Covenanters or Cameronians, as they were termed.I knew that these men looked to the Stadtholder for protection, andI wondered how he considered their fanaticism. It was not likelythat he would commit himself to a man like Tom Maitland on thesesubjects, but he replied, in his low, tranquil voice:
"There are mistakes on both sides, sir. Scotland isill-governed. You cannot suppress a proud people by puttingsoldiers on them. And Captain Graham, whom I myself recommended toHis Royal Highness the Duke of York, is not a man for such work. Hethinks of nothing else but his own glory."
"Then you give the Cameronians the right of it?"
"What man can say he has the right of it?" asked His Highness,rising. "These enthusiasts and fanatics do harm with their zeal.They, too, lack tolerance."
"Your Highness will have none of Captain Graham, and none of Mr.Cameron, and none of William Penn Who, then," said I, "is the manto be admired and followed?"
"The moderate man," said the Prince, "he who, withoutpersecution or violence, sets himself a difficult task for the goodof mankind, and pursues it through all disappointments."
I had one more question to ask him. He had used the word glory,that word that had of late run so often in my mind, and as he wasin his stately yet homely way ringing the bell to show me from hiscabinet—I think he liked me a little, or he would not havetolerated me, useless as I was to him, for so long—I askedhim what he made of that word glory that one heard so often on themouths of men, worldly glory, heavenly glory, glory which I hadthought described best by the old poet as a "circle in thewater."
"And how," said I, "would Your Highness define this quality ofglory? Captain Graham seeks it by endeavouring to slay theCovenanters, and the Covenanters seek it by allowing themselves tobe slain. The King of France seeks it by trying to overlord Europe.And Your Highness—"
"I have no time to think of it," he replied, coolly, "I do mytask as I see it set before me."
These words were spoken modestly, but he added others that mademe think that he, too, had his ambitions, for he said:
"What I do is, as I think, sent me by God."
And what pride, after all, can go further than that? And had henot felt the lure of glory when he had led the charge of St. Neff,when he had cut the dykes to free the waters with which to roll theinvader back?
I left him much impressed, in a way exalted and excited by hispersonality, but still resolute not to involve myself in his deeppolitics.
Years afterwards, when he was a king and I was one of the commonpress, I looked at him again, but from a distance and with theimpression I had of him then—that he was unutterably lonely.And it was partly this loneliness that frightened me from being inhis service, for I wished to be down among more human faults andfailings, not perched up on the heights of these solitaryendeavours.
I knew the man had those who loved him well and served himfaithfully, and there it was, the sense that he was set apart, tolabour and to suffer. For what purpose? For the good of the others,as he thought, perhaps, something for glory, too, as I suppose.
I never forgot him. His face was familiar to all of us, it wasso commonly reproduced in all the print shops, on coins and medals,yet there was no likeness of him that gave the essence of the manas I had noticed it when I sat in that small cabinet with him,gazing at the pale hollow face with the dark chestnut hair, and thevery large clear hazel eyes—a sensitive face, that of afearless Prince.
I think he forgot me as soon as I had left his presence; it wasalways his custom to see anyone who solicited an audience and whohad some name and a family behind him. For this curious and valiantPrince had one great design—that of securing the liberty andfreedom of his country and resisting the domination of France, andto this end spared no pains and undertook so much business that hewas a marvel to all who knew him.
When I returned to my lodging I found a letter from PhilippaDean declaring that she must and would see me before she returnedto England.
* * *
The weather was mild and the trees planted along the canalsbegan to show their first green. Light clouds still blew up fromthe sea, but they were of a transparent texture and the faint blueof the sky showed through them as they floated above the towers andspires of The Hague. The Dutch are great gardeners, and already thebouquets of flowers, tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils appeared inthe bow pots behind the brightly-polished glass of the longwindows.
Time was flowing away, it seemed to me almost as if I could seeit, like sand falling through the hour-glass or blood softlydripping from a wound.
Time flowing away and no problem solved. The thoughtful peoplewere bewildered and silent, the careless chattered and went abouttheir several concerns. The news from Scotland was bad, the countrywas in a state of civil war. My lord of St. Andrews, the sheriffsand the commanders of the troops in all the different counties wentwell guarded. My relative, His Grace of Lauderdale, stayed at St.James's, where he was safe. A fresh outburst of roaring hatred wasloosened against the Government by the execution of one JamesMitchell, a man who many years before had shot at Dr. Sharp andmissed him, though he had wounded Dr. Honeyman who was with him.This Mitchell had been in hiding since but suddenly been discoveredor betrayed, and, though he had not as much as wounded His Grace hewas put to death for the slaying of the other gentleman, who haddied of gangrene.
This seemed to me not only unmerciful, but impolitic, albeit thefellow had the intention to murder.
I could not forget what His Highness, the Stadtholder, had toldme. I knew something of the man now and I could see the result ofhis works all about me, a people inspired with loyalty, energetic,hard-working, honest and honourable, and I remembered thathalf-averted, aquiline face that I had looked at in the littlecabinet, and those eyes that had gazed at me without pride orostentation but that seemed to indicate a spirit contending withthe future.
But what was all this to me, it was but the background of myprivate distress? Philippa Dean remained at The Hague. She had beenin my life, perhaps, and in this story certainly, a featurelesscreature, but the symbol of distracting womanhood.
I believed that I had loved her, I assured myself that this wasso again and again. I did so in order to banish from my mind somecreeping doubts that I resented the pass to which this same love orpassion had brought me. Was it not because of Philippa Dean that Iwas now placed, as it were, beyond the pale, as they would say ofthe wild Irish in Ireland, a man who had lost touch with his ownclass, in some sense of the word an exile, living on a kinsman'sbounty?
But for her I should not have gambled so desperately evenendeavouring to lose my estates in my despair. But for her I shouldnot have met her young brother in the duello. I had tried toavoid that encounter, but the lad was not to be persuaded toreason. I had tried, superior swordsman as I was, not to do himmuch hurt, and was it my fault that the slight wound that my swordhad given him had brought about his death?
It had been the clumsiness of the surgeon, who had allowedgangrene to develop, and the lad's own imprudence in eating richfood and drinking quantities of wine when he had the fever. But allthe blame and the chagrin came upon me. I was the man who had toleave the country, using all the influence I possessed to escapearrest.
I felt I had sunk in many ways since I had left England for thatposition His Grace of Lauderdale had contrived for me in CastleDrum. I had become wild and wilful, sullen in my manners, and haddwelt too much apart with Evan Garrie, even preferring the companyof poor Virgil, the blackamoor, to those gentlefolk who were myequals.
And all this while Philippa Dean remained at The Hague, and hadwritten and her letters were not answered.
And sometimes all my wild rebellion against my fate, and my owndiscontent at my present idleness, would die down as I thought ofher, not many streets of these prim houses away, living sullenlywith her suspicious lord.
Sometimes I saw her passing by in sedan or coach, sometimes Idreamt of her in those dark realms that have no sound, no colour,no perfume, the sombre, silent landscape of dreams.
I did not know clearly what happened in these 'visions, but whenI awoke I would have to lie still, drawing deep breaths to quiet myanguish. For always in these unbidden imaginings she was close tome, and always when I awoke I was once more bitterly bereaved.
So April was nearly over and I remained gloomy and inactive, andEvan Garrie fretting and inactive.
I could see that he wanted to return to Scotland; he began totalk of Jannot again, to wonder how she was faring in Castle Drumthat seemed, as he said, to be at the other end of the world, forall the space there was between him and his kinsfolk. And I noticeda great uneasiness in him and discovered that he believed the fair,golden witch was casting spells over him and perhaps had an imageof wax of him shut up in her chamber, over which she would croonher incantations.
I tried to clear his mind of these fumes and to urge him to goabout among the acquaintances we had made at The Hague, for therewere many people still in the Dutch capital, of many persuasions,creeds and complexions, enough to distract a young man from anysick dreams.
But Evan, who had been cheerful at our first coming intoHolland, now would keep solitary in his room, refusing almost allcompany save my own and that of the uncouth blackamoor. Virgil wasoften called up from the closet where he slept, to sit the otherside of the yellow earthenware stove and listen to the complaintsthat he scarcely understood of Evan Garrie, who would talk alittle, and pull at his long clay pipe a little, and half doze inthe overheated room.
There was no question yet of putting the stoves out, for thoughthe weather was mild the air was still damp and at night the wetfogs would blow up strongly from the North Sea.
Sir Donald Garrie wrote to Evan as a cadet of his house, urginghis return, trying to persuade, nay, ordering him to take acommission in the new troop that Captain Graham was raising to putdown the insolent Conventicles.
I tried to persuade him to remain as he was, but my Lord ofLauderdale's last charity was giving out, we soon must find somemeans of making money. I suggested we should turn our backs on theNorth, and if we did not take His Highness the Stadtholder'sadvice, at least press eastwards into lands that to us would benew.
We might go to Prague, I suggested, maliciously, and see thecity of the alchemists.
Evan Garrie did not care for this, that he took to be but anunkind jest on my part. I often heard him sigh and groan, and I wasoften much troubled for his obvious distress of mind.
I became impatient with him too. Had I not my own troubles?Might I not step into the street and see the small, pinched face ofPhilippa looking between the folds of her fur hood or under theshade of her large hat, through the glass of her coach orsedan-chair? And what was the use to me that I should struggle todisentangle him from his ancient enchantment.
I supposed that he must love or lust after the girl, although hebelieved her to be no better than a witch, though he had seen withhis own eyes many such unnameable powers as that in the ruinedchapel that I had beheld but once and been stricken for ever.
The lad had grown comely and strong during these months that hehad spent in Holland, with better food and lodging than he hadknown before, and for the first part of the sojourn, at least, morepeace of mind.
He was a pleasing enough creature to look at with his ruddycomplexion and strong, red-gold hair, that he wore instead of aperuke, curling it carefully at night round leaden ribbons, for hehad his vanity now, and with such means as he could secure and suchcredit as he could command, went richly dressed like a gentleman. Ihad my amusement out of that, remembering him as I had first seenhim, a rude Scot in his homespun and leather, and when he wentabroad on his rough horse with targe and dirk.
His mother came of a noble Highland family, but he never worethe plaid that his relatives, the three ladies of Castle Drumwould, when the fancy took them, twist round their head orshoulders.
* * *
There must be an end even to the longest hesitancy and the endof mine came when Philippa one day walked up our narrow stairs andstraight into our room with as much natural composure as if she hadbeen my wife or my sister.
It chanced that our rooms were over a small shop kept by a chinamerchant who sold fragrant tea, fruits in syrup, and delicateEastern porcelain. When you entered his shop you were faced by thedoor on the right that led to the apartment filled by his pleasantcommodities and a narrow staircase that twisted opposite and led upto our chambers. These we had with a closet behind the shop forVirgil.
I suppose it had not been difficult for Philippa, who had herfull share of feminine cunning, to enter the shop and make herpurchases and then, eluding whatever servant or escort she had, toturn quickly up the stairs into our apartment.
She must have watched her time, for it fell out exactly as shewould have it. I was alone, even Virgil had gone abroad to seeafter a saddle for me, and Evan Garrie was attending a gathering atthe little meetinghouse, where the Scots held their Episcopalianservices, that being, superficially, his persuasion.
It was a fair day, and my room, always an agreeable place to me,though in a strange house and a strange land, was lapped in palesunshine. The furniture was good, but worn, all in the Dutch style,that is, well wrought, solid, and dark.
I had my papers before me and was wasting time—too muchleisure I threw away in this fashion—on putting togethernotes on my travels, writing of my own insignificant life that inmy hard vanity and black pride I thought of the greatestimportance. I had written of the Covenanters, of Doctor Sharp, andCaptain Graham, even of the dream, foolish as it seemed now, orvision that had been provoked by the gazing into the square of jetthat Isabelle Garrie had put into my hand that day already seeminglong ago in Castle Drum.
I had written of the speech I had had with His Highness, theStadtholder, of this and that, even to the snow I had noted on theground when first we had come to Holland, and the hymn tunes thebells chimed overhead.
And here was Philippa making it all seem foolish. What had we tosay to one another?
So much that all words were useless.
Now the snow had melted almost everywhere, save in that farNorth that I had not reached. Even in Scotland it would be gone,except on the highest mountain-tops. Here there were green leavesthrough which the sunshine was pouring, that I could see throughthe thick shining glass of my window.
And there was Philippa with her hand on the door and her eyesbright behind the lowered lids and her lips unsteady and no wordspassing through them.
As I rose before my scattered papers I did not know if I lovedor hated her most, if I most desired her or most wished her out ofmy life and forgotten.
"Why are you remaining here?" she asked, and I could understandby that question that was at random and yet might be answered athousand ways to the satisfaction of neither of us, that she wasintending to make a long talk of all that was between us. And evenas she spoke my resolution was taken and I said sternly:
"I am returning to Scotland soon, in a few days."
She was as surprised at this as I should have been myself even afew moments before, for I had taken no such resolve until I hadseen Philippa Dean standing beside my door.
"And what do you want me to do?" I added, harshly. "Kill anotherfor you? Ruin myself again? For I have gathered together somelittle repute and substance."
"Was it my fault?" she asked. "And I do not blame you that youngHarry died. It was through his own wilfulness."
"Whether you blame me or not, I have the censure of the world,"I replied.
She seemed baffled, perhaps astonished, at my attitude.
"I thought that you would become a soldier," she said.
"Am I so commonplace that I should do what every disappointedman does?" I sneered. "I have my own thoughts about women, andabout God, and about glory."
"Why," said she, still holding the door ajar, ready as I thoughtto escape down the stairs at the least surprising noise, "shouldyou return to Scotland?"
"It is, in a way, my native country," said I. "Though my motherwas an Englishwoman, my father was a Scot, even if he did spendmost of his days in England."
"And what side are you on?" she said, and I think there wasresentment both in her look and in her tone. "Are you to help themen who uphold the Covenant, or to ride with—"
"The persecutors!" I took the words out of her mouth, for I knewher strain of Whiggery. "I care for nothing for either, Philippa. Iwish to go where there is action."
"And I think," she said, "you have become crazed since last Iknew you. Do you not understand that it took me much toil and along intrigue to come here to The Hague? I was told you were here,I thought there might be opportunities—"
"Of sly and secret meetings," I said, "in this little place?Where everyone is godly and well-behaved. And what of your husbandand the promises you made him." As I put this into words I wasoverwhelmed by bitterness, for I thought of what it might have beenif Philippa had had the courage—but what women had ever hadthat amount of courage?—to leave the husband whom sheloathed, the family whom she did not like, and go abroad withme.
Yet, that was why I had always been allured by Mr. WilliamPenn's scheme of a new world, for I thought that I and Philippamight go there, to that visionary shining city of brotherly love.Even though she was another man's wife some honourable divorcemight be possible. Or we might travel to such a sweet wildernessthat there would be no talk of anything but natural love, nocensuring eyes, or preaching voices. But Philippa had hung back andleft me to the commonplace tragedies, the gambling-table, and theduello in my despair, and the disgrace of failure. And thenhad returned cringing like a beaten spaniel to her husband for herboard and her food and her silk gowns and her place at Court.
Did I want her? Did I still imagine that I could be happy withher?
Happiness! The word was but a torment. It could not be achieved,I believe, on this earth, and who was to be drugged and surfeitedwith tales of happiness in Heaven?
"Philippa," said I, "this is but a mockery of our formermeeting. I'll not have you for my secret mistress, even if it couldbe contrived in such a place as this. I'm a ruined man, my pocketsare empty and my reputation blown upon."
"But, Tom," said she, prudently lowering her voice. "I loveyou."
I thought the words sounded faint and false, little better thanthe accents used by Jannot or Isabelle, the witch. At least theyhad not profaned something that might have been holy when they hadleered at me with their golden eyes.
And then a thought that was poignant, ugly, and yet delightful,stirred in me.
Had I been a fool? Was it possible that I was being drawn backto Scotland by the enchantments of the ladies of Castle Drum evenas was Evan Garrie? When I had said—and it had been like thevoice of someone else speaking and not my own accents that I wishedto return to Scotland, did I mean that I wished to see Isabelle andJannot again? Or Isabelle only?
I looked at Philippa, and she seemed frightened at my gaze, forshe drew back through the half-open door. I looked at Philippa, herface was white and pinched and small in the tawny velvet hood shewore, and the little hand that clasped together at her throat wasas small as a child's and yet not as small as the little hand ofIsabelle Garrie.
There seemed then unnatural sounds in my ears, unnatural sightsbefore my eyes.
It was a piercing melancholy that possessed me, and yet a sweetpassion. I thought I saw before me the clear light of the North andan air that was full of cold miserable winds, the fantastic danceon a winter night of beings that had golden eyes and who flitted inand out the grey snowflakes.
I thought of the tales that Evan Garrie had told me that nightwhen we had sat in the ruined cottage; the old broken walls seemedabout me now, the room roofless, and overhead the dark sky, fleckedby no remote stars.
But fooleries were what he had told me, yet lit by the brokenlight of some half-remembered fairyland. I thought of those wildstreams, distant mountains, and gloomy moors, the low screaming ofthe wind in the wide chimneys of Castle Drum, and Isabelle movingsilently about, and Jannot standing at the window watching thebeating of the rain through the last light of day.
Had I been driven away by fear, and would I be driven back bydesire?
The face and form of Philippa, who was but an ordinary mortalwoman, seemed to dwindle before my sight until it had vanished likea speck of light receding into utter darkness.
And I thought of the rings in the stagnant water the stone hadmade that day that Claverhouse's dragoons had clattered up toCastle Drum after the failure to track the armed men on themoors.
I heard Philippa's voice say to me:
"You're changed, Tom! You're like a man bewitched!"
I felt as if my imprisoned spirit was quickening within me. Icannot put into words that scene, and when I turn my mind back toit I feel even now my distressed passion and bewilderedexpectancy.
I turned aside from Philippa, my hands still held the quill, andon the piece of paper whereon I had been writing to still my rovingthoughts such scraps of commonplace as came into my mind, I nowtraced the word "Isabelle."
As I wrote the name it was as if I broke the spell, for myvisions, or whatever they might be, left me in eddies, like wavesof water that obscured my sight, and I was again in the plain,comfortable room at The Hague, and there was a frightened womanwith pale lips, the lower showed, I noticed, the dry pressure ofher teeth, standing at the door, leaning forward, staring atme.
I noticed the artificial crimping of her hair. I remembered thatshe had always had tender sight, her eyes were slightlyreddened.
How bravely she had arrayed herself for me, and how quickly heralarm at my changed appearance had withered her decked charms!
"I have been through some strife," I said, "since last I sawyou, Philippa. And I've known much inner debate and listened tomuch wise talk, and there has been a truce between us. I think itwould be perilous to break it."
"You mean," said she, plainly, "that you have forgotten me. AndI have lain in a solitary, silly bed for months, Tom, thinking ofyou. My marriage and my husband, you say, I think you know whatbargain was made there. I have been faithful to you, I have beenconstant."
I stared at her again and I wanted to say. "Why, I no longerlove you, Philippa. It is useless for you to come cringing to me asyou cringe to your husband."
And if she had been no man's wife I would not have takenher.
She was frightened, too. Perhaps this love that she talked aboutwas a dead thing to her also. At least, she kept glancing over hershoulder down the stairs. Perhaps there was a maid or a footmanwaiting for her. She must, for many years now, have been ready withlies. She was not, I think, very skilful; she was in a constantturmoil for fear she was utterly shamed by her own falsehoods.Shamed, that is, before her own world, not before any imaginedGod.
How little poor Philippa Dean cared for anything, save' whatpride and what pleasure and what ease she might get out of each dayas it passed.
"You go to Scotland," she said, on a sigh, quite bewildered."And what could take you to Scotland, Tom? I thought you went thereas a place of exile. Is it a woman?" she asked, still whisperingand sighing and looking down the stairs and then round again at meas if she would have fled and then hoped that I would call her backand make some passionate whispered promise for the nextmeeting.
"A woman! No!" I answered with truth, for I did not think ofIsabelle as a woman. But my bewitched mood had passed and I nolonger believed that it was because of the ladies of Castle Drumthat I wished to return to Scotland.
There was a sound from below, the serving-man in the shop,perhaps, or a customer, or some other, and Philippa was gone,light-footed, but not so light as Isabelle Garrie.
* * *
That evening I suggested to Evan Garrie that we, taking with usVirgil, the blackamoor, should return to Scotland.
He was very willing, but asked me what my mind was, if I shouldgo as a King's man or to help the rebels. I could not tell him, forI did not know my own intention save in so far as I desired toreturn to Scotland.
V. THE KILLING TIME
THIS is the name that I have given to this part of my narrative,but I think that what they afterwards came to term the killing timewas '84, but these earlier years when I was present at the battlesin Scotland and saw and heard of more bloodshed than had ever cometo my knowledge before was a 'killing time' enough in myopinion.
It is difficult to get the rights of things in the remem brance;maybe I have confused the year when Captain Graham became Colonel.Graham and commanded a troop of English Horse, I was ever absorbedin my own matters, weighty and dark to me, and though. I wasinterested in this gentleman, his affairs came to me by hearsay,and I made no note of them as I did of other happenings that morenearly concerned myself.
I marked with malice how he had missed an heiress,
Helen Graham, my Lord of Montieth's daughter, and later, Irecall, he married for love, as they say, Jean Cochrane, who cameof a grim Covenanting family, and had Dunhope Castle for his painsand later still a viscountcy, but how these things fit into mynarrative I hardly recall.
Nor does it greatly matter—during all those years of thereigns of the last two Stuart kings, Scotland was at war withinherself, the Government troop were few but better trained than theCovenanters; on the other hand, they did not know the country sowell, and the Conventicles could move on foot from place to placewhere the horsemen could not go.
Moreover, half the gentry were Whigs, too, and hid the rebels,stuck their arms into stacks and byres, or up chimneys, and gavethem money and food.
That was the wrong of it, to my thinking, that the spirit of thecountry was for the Covenant and that the King had broken his swordand forsworn his oath to these fierce people. I had disliked thecountry when I was penned up there, but now I thought of it asbeautiful—like some of the native gems, golden cairngorm andpurple topas and water pearls, I recalled these moors, hills, andstreams, those milky clouds and curdling mists.
I wondered now at my fear and rage at Isabelle, with hernoiseless feet and eyes like torn water with the sun in it; shut upin Castle Drum with her sick brother, the two other wilful women,and that evil man, Dr. Cyrus Fletcher, how could she be other thanwhat she was?
Why did I who had once fled from her now want to take her away,from her grim home, from Scotland?
I had received a letter from Mr. Penn before I left The Hague,and it set me afire with hopeful longing.
He wrote to me from Worminghurst, where he was established withhis wife Gerli, and told of the progress the Quakers were making inbuying parcels of land in Maryland and New Jersey; there had been acompany for this end for some while, since '76 I think, but it hadlagged for lack of money and ships. Now it went ahead and seemed asif it might be a great venture; and my spirit could not but rise tothe words that Mr. Penn quoted to me as to the New JerseySettlement, where already a meeting-house had been built andbargains made peaceably with the native Indians for land, by saleor barter.
There were the words—the venture was "a foundation forafter ages to understand their liberty as men and Christians, thatthey might not be brought into bondage, but by their own consent;for we put the authority in the people."
A brave challenge to the Old World!
I dreamed that I might sail to those unspoilt shores and thatthere Isabelle would be no more a witch, nor Tom Maitland a ruinedgentleman with a tarnished name, for already I was thinking ofmyself and Isabelle as one. But this would mean that I must becomea Quaker, and here doubts came teasing, and I recalled the adviceof the young Stadtholder, that he had so patiently givenme—"that Mr. Penn was not the man for so large an enterprise,and that no Promised Land should be peopled by those who broughttheir sorrows and faults with them."
So New Jersey remained a view of Pisgah to me, and I turned myattention to matters at hand, the more readily as Mr. Penn wrote tome that he was travelling in Germany with a company of Quakers,among them Mr. Fox and Mr. Barclay, and that I missed seeing him inthe Lowlands by but a little.
For I thought that if the leaders were away the scheme wouldlimp and it would be wiser for me to wait until these men sailedthemselves for their Utopia. Besides, I could not endure to leavethe Old World while Isabelle remained in Castle Drum.
So it all stood as we contended whether or not we should sail toScotland, making a voluntary neglect of the advantages we mighthave had in The Hague.
"I must go," said Evan Garrie continuously. "I must help thepersecuted, who are my own people."
With this delay came another letter from 'William Penn, tellingof the new sufferings of the Quakers. Where was justice to be foundin the Old 'World?
He broached a scheme to me, with his great vigour andenergy—the late King had owed his father, Admiral Penn, agreat sum of money, perhaps many thousands of pounds. Would HisMajesty, perhaps, be induced to grant a space of virgin land inAmerica to cancel this debt—a wilderness that the Quakersmight make to blossom like the rose, where there might be freedom,justice for all?
"It is a dream," said young Evan, when I told him of Mr. Penn'szeal.
"Ay, but men make their dreams come true, Evan. This youngPrince here had his dream when he set himself against France. Hewas laughed at, but so far he triumphs—maybe Mr. Penn willfound his city yet."
"And maybe the time will come," said Evan, "when men can worshipas they please in Scotland."
"Some will have to die first, Evan, and suffer cruelly."
"It might as well be me. I am of little worth to anyone."
I was also for action, but still not clearly saw what side tofight for; I could afford to please my conscience, for I hadnothing to lose and nothing to gain save the chance of seeingIsabelle again.
I wrote to my friends in Scotland, directing the answers to besent to the port of Leither; among others I wrote to John Graham,in what mood I know not, save that I wanted his news, and I knewthat he would reply, for he was exact and careful in his business,and still wanted men, and hoped to get me and young Garrie. I wroteto His Grace of Lauderdale, too, asking for money to be sent toEdinburgh, and I laughed to think that I might join the "rantingrogues," as he called them, who were so tormenting him.
As soon as we had made up our minds to return to Scotland we setabout the business as if there had never been any debatewhatever.
I thought there was a weight off young Evan' Garrie's spirits,and certainly mine felt lighter. But our decision brought grief anddistress to Virgil, for the blackamoor did not relish the return tothe North, where he had been so ill-treated and where, even withtwo kind masters, he dreaded the climate and the witches. Wepersuaded him, however, that when the sun shone Scotland was not soill a place.
Yet so desperate seemed the negro that I was minded to leave himbehind in The Hague where lie might find good service among honestDutch folk in a town where there were plenty of black fellows tokeep him company.
But the poor slave would be by no means parted from us, and atthe last the dispute was ended, and we all three set sail from theNetherlands and arrived in Scotland at the end of April, for we hadmade a bustle about our journey. We had news as soon as we set onthe shores of Scotland; there were letters waiting for me, for. Ihad sent mine by the packet that set sail before the ship in whichwe embarked. One was from Colonel Graham, as I had expected.
The ambitious soldier was prompt to renew his offers. He told methat he had just returned from Dunkirk, where he had gone to theCourt of France, and that he had finally given over his suit to theheiress, Helen Graham. He told me this publicly because the matterhad been much blown abroad. He wrote to me as one man of quality toanother, and said he was resolved by all means in his power toquiet the Lowlands, and he conjured me to join his troop.
As we proceeded inland, I was still doubtful of my destination,and met on every hand by the reports that Colonel Graham wasappealing for more soldiers with which to keep the country down,and I was half minded to join him where he then had hisheadquarters at Falkirk. It might be better for the country if thefanatics were silenced.
Nor did Evan Garrie raise any objection to this plan.
At our first stop we had the news that was told us by theinnkeeper (I thought with relish) of the murder of Dr. Sharp, whohad now at last been paid for his double-dealing, and the ambitionthat had made him betray his party.
This brought to my mind with much uneasiness the picture I hadseen in the slab of polished jet. Like a puzzle suddenly fittinginto place, it came to me who were the people I had seen in thatvision—the man in the coach, the woman who had been haledforth. I could not be surprised at the murder of my Lord, who hadbeen for long the most loathed man in Scotland, and who always wentwith soldiers about him, for lie was afraid of an attempt on hislife. It had been, as I have written, the execution of the sentenceon James Mitchell, a young man and a preacher of merit and piety,which had roused the final fury that had destroyed the Archbishop.This James Mitchell had missed my lord when he had fired at him ashe was entering his coach at Edinburgh, but his companion, theBishop of Orkney, had been wounded in the wrist and had died, likePhilippa's brother, from a gangrene, though some years afterwards.Therefore Mitchell was, in one sense of the word, a murderer.
But his brethren considered him a martyr, and some of themresolved to avenge him in a mighty fashion that should set thewhole Government trembling.
The crime took place on Magus Moor; well I remembered thatgloomy place and the men who had stopped us there. Some of these, Ibelieved, were the same, local squires or lairds, as they termedthem in Scotland, Hackston of Rapphillet, Russell of Kepple, andJohn Balfour of Kinloch. These were not men of good character, andthe last had been steward to the Archbishop and accused ofdishonesty, and Hackston was Balfour's brother-in-law, and had beenhis baillee.
Yet it was not my lord for whom they were waiting but for theSheriff, whom they intended to murder.
These men were true fanatics and highly exalted both by theirfear of God and their dread of Satan. They believed they were thechosen ministers of the Almighty, His weapons to purge Scotland ofthe persecutors. And when they saw the coach of the Archbishopapproaching, that they knew by the liveries of the outriders, theyresolved to endeavour to kill the wizard who was the curse ofScotland, as they named him. Not that they felt much hope for thisenterprise, for they believed that my lord was protected by satanicpowers.
The coachman driving six horses endeavoured to outdistance hispursuers; by a chance, unlucky to my lord that made the attackersbelieve that God had delivered the persecutor into their hands, hewas that day without his usual band of armed protectors. We heardthat he had looked out of the window and cried. "God help my poorchild, for I am gone." This being related with relish by themurderers.
The horsemen gained on the coach-horses that had the heavyvehicle to encumber them, and the coachman's desperate efforts tokeep them off with the long thong of his heavy whip was unavailing.First a postilion was shot and then a horse lamed and the coachbeing then at a standstill, the poor animals on top of one another,these desperate men fired a volley into it, shouting to my lord."Come out, Judas! Come out, you cruel, bloody traitor!"
At that, the old man, who had always been a formidablepersonality and had his own courage—though the zealots werenot so wrong in the words they threw at him, for double-dealer andtraitor he had been—opened the door and looked at thempiteously, begging for mercy so the murderer's report went, andthat was a foul thing to hear, for he was an old man and had hisdaughter with him. Balfour said, too, that the hand that he put outto shield the poor, unconscious woman, was cut off at thewrist-bone. Then his murderers, "worthy gentlemen of courage andzeal for the cause of God," as the Covenanters termed them,believing that the old man was invulnerable, hacked at himdesperately with their swords until he was but a bloody heap ofbroken bones, his brains scattered on the fresh spring heather.
Still they were not satisfied but plundered the coach, turningover all the baggage they found therein, the persons, the servants,the swooning daughter, and the clothes of the dead man, in order todiscover my lord's familiar spirit.
And when at length one of them opened his horn snuffbox and abee flew out, they thought they had it; one of them, who struckdown and trampled on the insect, was counted a saint whose pietyhad defeated Satan.
And so they rode off, singing hymns of triumph.
I could understand how the rage of Colonel Graham would beroused by this, for I heard that he had a reverence for theArchbishop, since the days when he had been a student at St.Andrews and Doctor Sharp set over him. Garrie asked me what I madeof this bloody killing. I could see both the right and wrong of it,and I could not deny that if these men had been persuaded, as itseemed they were persuaded, that Doctor Sharp was one of Satan'scaptains, bringing blood and misery on Scotland, then they did wellto dispose of him, even in that barbarous manner; the daughter andthe servants had not been slain.
We found as we rode south-west that this murder of theArchbishop had put great heart into the Covenanters, or rebels,whichever one might choose to call them, who were daily becomingstronger, many who were before timid or dubious now coming forwardto join them, now that the great wizard was slain.
'When by the end of May we reached Falkirk, we found Claverhouseestablished there with his Horse, and good store of munitions. Herewe heard that Mr. Richard Cameron had been as good as his word and,with some of his fellow preachers, was excommunicating the King anddeclared submission to him to be unlawful.
Richard Cameron had gone with a great following, in company withRobert Hamilton and other insurgents, to Kilbryde Moor, not farfrom the city of Glasgow, to hold a great meeting.
They had won this openly, and the Conventicle had been appointedout of contempt for the festivals to be held on the birthday of HisMajesty.
We learnt, from the different tales and rumours that came ourway, that there were to be more than a thousand men there, who werewell armed and made no secret of their proceedings, which were toconsist of burning four Acts of Parliament, those that were infavour of keeping the King's supremacy and in favour of episcopacy.For this was but a just return, they argued, for the perfidious andpresumptuous burning of the sacred Covenant.
This defiance the Covenanters followed by putting all thesematters into a declaration which they pinned to the Market Cross ofRutherglen.
This information was gathered while we were in Falkirk.
We lodged at a poor inn and attracted no attention in all thebustle and commotion there was in the town. Though I had ColonelGraham's letter in my pocket, I was still not sure whether I wishedto become one of his dragoons, and Evan Carrie was still morehesitant.
He was the one who settled the matter by declaring that he hadat last made up his mind to join the persecutors. I think he wasconsidering how he stood with Jannot Garrie, and I, too, hadIsabelle in my mind, and I thought that if we joined Claverhouse,not only should we be persecuting people whom I held in my heart tohave the right of it, but we should be in league with those whom wehad fled from in Castle Drum, one with those termed witches,warlocks, and imps of Satan. Supposing that we drew the sword toclear the Covenanters out of Wigtown and Galloway andLanarkshire?
Should we not set up a reign of evil in that wretched anddistracted country and lose maybe our own souls and our own wits?If the Covenanters won we might save these women from peril andevil.
So being agreed on this matter, we crept out of Falkirk thoughit was not so easy for stout men to escape when Claverhouse wasclamouring for fresh troopers, but we contrived it, something Ithink by the terror inspired by the appearance of Virgil that madeus respected and even feared.
And trusting to Evan Garrie's knowledge of the country we madefor Rutherglen, that is but a quiet village, but found that theCovenanters had left it a little while before.
There we stayed a while, uncertainly; then a peddler coming intold us that Claverhouse, with Lord Ross, whose troops he hadjoined, was marching towards Rutherglen, having made some prisonersat the town of Hamilton. And this same peddler, whom I took to bebut a Covenanter spy, learned that the rebels had gone towardsLoudon, and there we, having spent the greater part of the money inour pouch on fresh horses, found them encamped.
There were nearly two thousand of these stern people, among themmany with whom I had been familiar at The Hague. Among them wasRichard Cameron, and they had with them, too, their families,women, and even some children, whom they had encamped in the middleof them, the fighting men being ringed about like a wall.
We, even the blackamoor, were given a welcome because we werevouched for by Richard Cameron, who rejoiced when he saw us, as ifhe considered us two straying sheep returned to the flock. Inparticular he was tender with Evan Garrie, whom he had taught inhis youth, and whom he regarded almost as a son. Occupied as hewas, and exalted in this moment of dreadful expectation, for allknew that Claverhouse's dragoons were pursuing them, to break theConventicles, he found time to draw us aside and tell us how hisheart bounded with delight that we had escaped the vileness ofCastle Drum and all the snares and baits of the great enemy ofmankind.
It was strange to me to find myself in this camp. I had my swordand they gave me a carbine and appointed me to a group of men. EvanGarrie was allowed to remain with me, but the poor black who showedlittle courage at this display of force was sent with those wholooked after the horses.
The Covenanters were gathered upon a barren moor which ended ina wide purplish bog, and was on one side encompassed by a smallbare hill that had the name, I learned, of Drum Clog. We had notlong to wait for the enemy whom the scouts had warned us wereapproaching (for so to me Colonel Graham and his troops had nowbecome), for we saw that morning of Sunday in June the horsemenappear at the top of this rising ground.
We much outnumbered them I could see at a glance, for I thinkthat Colonel Graham had no more than a hundred and fifty men; Isuppose he looked at us through his spyglass across the bog. Theday was fair, but there was a little mist about; the foot were infront, the horse behind. Mr. Robert Hamilton, who was a gentlemanand very zealous, led us; what he knew of soldiering I cannot say;he had been a pupil of Gilbert Burnet, whom I have heard speak veryill of him; but now he made at least the show of a hero.
There had been much praying and singing through the night and inthe early morning; harsh and tedious, I thought it; I had slept aswell as I could, and I had been one of the first to see that troopof foot and horse outlined against the pale sky, even before thewatchman had fired his carbine and run towards the kneelingcongregation to warn them; but they had long been in readiness.
The foremost minister was one James Douglas, as I heard himnamed; he was an old weather-stained man, he had taken off his wornbonnet and his grey locks were hanging limply by the side of hispallid face as he expounded his faith, with his ear cocked for thesoldiers.
There was no fear in his voice when the told the excited peoplethat they had now "said their prayers and sung their praises, andit was the moment to put into practice their theories." They knewtheir duties, he said, self-defence was always lawful. Then heuttered a prayer that I had heard on the lips of Richard Cameron."Lord, spare the green and take the ripe," meaning that he waswilling to die.
Singing then the tune of a hymn termed the "Martyrs," theelders, the women, and the children moved apart to a higher groundwhere the baggage was and some spare horses.
I wondered if Colonel Graham would really attack us; I knew hehad large powers, but I was not aware whether he would be permittedto bear down on these people peacefully praying on the moors. But Ilearned afterwards he carried in his pocket his permission from thePrivy Council, and that told him that should he be resisted whendispersing field preaching he should treat the Covenanters asrebels and mow them down.
I recall that it was a Sunday, and that it made the work, in theeyes of the Covenanters at least, the more dreadful.
I think they would have turned and gone quietly away, singingtheir hymns, had not Colonel Graham and his dragoons attacked them.Seeing the troopers, profane, rude wretches as they named them,coming upon them, they turned to fight; a press of stout men, armedwith scythes and sickles.
In my company, as I name it, were many stout Scots armed withcarbines, pikes, pitchforks, and knives. One pleasant youth,William Cleland, was in command of this band, and he bore himselfin a manly fashion and showed great skill in getting round the bogin order that we might fall upon the dragoons on the flank. Here,too, some of the Covenanters were in a ditch or trench with an old,low ruined wall in front (left from some house, I supposed, thathad once stood there) that served as a parapet. Here we stationedourselves, and such as had carbines fired at the dragoons until themud and stone was piled with dead and wounded.
Our young leader was a good soldier, as was the commander of thewhole force, Robert Hamilton, and some few others, but I had littlehopes of our success with such rude, untrained men.
This young man, Cleland, had his Bible with him; I suppose hehad been reading part of it to the Conventicle; he put it down onthe ground and tore some of the leaves out to make wads for hismusket. I heard that several of the rebels had put silver piecesinto their guns instead of bullets, in the hopes of bringing downClaverhouse who, owing to his pact with the Devil, they believed,no leaden bullet could slay; I felt cool, yet excited; was this, Iasked myself, a great event?
Bloody as it was, it seemed as futile as trivial. I stared aboutme at the struggling soldiers behaving with routine courage, Ismelt the acrid odour of the powder that quenched the fresh perfumeof the heather, and leaning in my place behind the rude parapet Iasked 'William Cleland how they came to have so many weapons?
"Do you fire," replied he, flushed and keen, "and be silent."Then he laughed. "They buy the weapons instead of payingtaxes."
I was amused to mark out the white plume that Claverhouse worethat tossed in the strengthening sunshine as he rode up and downhis breaking line.
I wondered if it would be murder if I shot him now, aiming athim in the mêlée!
What a hero that would make of me among the Covenanters; but theman had been kind to me, was ready to be my friend, and I liked himwell enough.
But this problem was not for my solving, for he never camewithin my range. The noise and the smoke increased; Cleland's facewas blackened until it resembled Virgil's dark visage; I wonderedwhere the poor negro was, and why I, a man of some philosophy, withnothing to gain from violence, was standing here, trying to killsome poor devil of a trooper who fought out of stupidity in a causefor which he could have little stomach.
It was soon easy to see how the day was going. The traineddragoons, stubbornly as they fought, were no match for thesedesperate men, who so outnumbered them. Their horses were mutilatedby the pikes and scythes, even the famous sorrel charger thatClaverhouse rode was ripped up with a pike. The agonized animalcarried his rider off the field; at one moment it seemed that liemight be captured, for the frenzied animal bore him past ourtrench, and Cleland, our leader, sprang after him and even had hishand on the bridle.
But Colonel Graham shook him off, and the horse fell dead half amile away soon afterwards, I was told, and Claverhouse made his wayoff the field on the horse of his trumpeter, and so he disappearedtowards Glasgow and his troop went after him, leaving his prisonerswhom he had with him behind.
The Government had been worsted that day, and for a while, atleast, that was the end of what they called "that bloodthirstywretch Claverhouse." I believe, had not his dying horse bolted, hewould have stayed and fought to the last, perhaps choosing soonerto be dragged down and slain, as was the Archbishop of St. Andrews,than yield. I saw his face as the animal bore him past us, and knewhis rage by his black look as he flung Cleland down with his barehands.
"Where is his glory now?" I thought, as I heard the Covenantersroar in triumph.
We came up on to the moor then, and joined in the medley. AllClaverhouse's standards were saved, though one of the Covenantersgot into the thick of the horse and had his hands on one; but itwas recovered soon after. This young man's name was Weir, the sameas that of the celebrated wizard. He dropped almost at my feet, cutdown by a flying trooper; it was I and Evan Garrie who took him upand dragged him to the side where such surgeons as they had werelooking after the wounded, and these were many, groaning andyelling. Yet what mattered that, or the dead either?
Though I had joined the cause but recently and in a strange moodthat was certainly not one of godly enthusiasm, yet I was moved nowby the deep shouts of triumph that rose from the small band ofvictorious men. I knew that it seemed to them that they had beendirectly led and inspired by God and accompanied by angels, andtheir battle hymn rose up above the smoke of battle that blurredthe fair day. The man whom they most loathed next to ArchbishopSharp and Lord Lauderdale had drawn off his broken troops indisarray to Glasgow.
It seemed as if God was working for them.
It was a strange victory, one of which I began to feel a part; Ithought that these grim men were in the right to demand the libertyto pray as they would in the open air, as they were beaten out ofthe churches, and to defend themselves with weapons if they wereattacked as they worshipped their God. I saw the strength there wasin them; fanatics or enthusiasts, they might be termed, but was notthis fire they possessed the only fire that should make a mandifferent from a clod or a beast?
I saw a look on young Evan Garrie's face that I had never seenthere before. He seemed washed, cleansed, and purified from hisresidence in Castle Drum, from his sad affection for Jannot, thewitch girl. There was blood on his brow and on his hands; he hadbeen slightly wounded, and I had seen him bring a trooper down withhis carbine. Never would the young man be the same again, Ithought; I was a little changed myself.
* * *
My stern companions had their grim humour, too. Presently, whenthe news came in that Colonel Graham had gathered together hisdispersed soldiers, and had turned aside to avoid the rebelsgathered to meet him at Strathaven, Richard Cameron remarked thatClaverhouse "had attended one Whig meeting that day and haddisliked the sermon so much that he was unwilling to hear more ofthe discourse."
Such of us as were mounted had pursued the retreating soldiersas long as their horses could stay, but without being able toapproach Glasgow. There was some talk, presumptuous as I thought,of an attack on that city, and after decently attending to the deadand the wounded—and all this was done with muchorder—and comforting the women and children and such as hadfaintness of spirit, the leaders of the Covenanters went to thehouse of Lord Loudon, who was a Campbell and a cautious man, notone inclined, I think, to be a rebel but sympathetic to thePresbyterians. My lord was not there, perhaps out of prudence, butmy lady entertained us very kindly, there were men of her rankamongst us, besides our leader Hamilton.
I thought that she would be surprised if she knew my name andstanding. She would scarcely have looked for me, a cadet of theHouse of Maitland, in this company.
Even in the hour of their triumph, an unexpected and delectabletriumph, the Covenanter captains were abstemious. There was littlewine drunk and little meat eaten, but they were all wrought up withreligious zeal.
I saw young Evan with William Cleland, a man whom I afterwardslearnt was a poet as well as a soldier. Bold, skilful, andhandsome, I liked him much, and I felt no jealousy, only curiosity,when I saw that young Evan's affection was likely to be taken fromme and given to this man of his own race and age.
It was pitiful to see the alarm of Virgil, who had been deafenedby the guns and blinded by the smoke, and sickened by the sight ofblood. The Covenanters, who at first had looked askance at himbecause of his colour, now smiled at his terrors. Many of them werewell used to the slaves in Edinburgh, there were even some inGlasgow, and they treated him with indulgence, asking me only if hehad been baptized?
I lied, as I think I had lied before on behalf of Virgil, andsaid that he was a Christian. They desired then that he should havea Christian name, and I said that he might be called after ourvictorious leader, Robert, and the flourish was well received.
Well I can recall that evening, a lassitude and faint nausea, afatigue that was more of the spirit than the body, was over me, forI did not join in the exultation of these saints. As I have said, Itook them to be in the right, that they were misgoverned, and hadtyrants set over them, but for all that I loved them not. They wererude, grim, and ianatic.
And I had seen a sight after the battle that had turned mystomach, that was not apt to be queasy. They had found a youngofficer dead on the field, a cornet of Claverhouse's troop. Hisname was Graham, and this was on his shirt, so some of the moreignorant believed that they had got Claverhouse himself. Theyproceeded then to kill the devil within the hated captain, as Isuppose. They stuck their knives into the dead body and beat thehead into a jelly, scattering his brains over the stones and moorsas the brains of Archbishop Sharp had been scattered. I thought:"He who slays by the sword shall perish by the sword," but wherewas the Christian charity?
So my mood was dark and gloomy as I sat in the great hall inLoudon's House, wondering why at last my lot had cast me here.
I heard a quarrel going on because the prisoners were spared,many condemned Robert Hamilton for this clemency; the soldiers hadgot off, either by mercy or mischance, and were sure to have talesto tell of the strength and plans of the Covenanters.
"Evan," said I, "shall we not sleep to-night?" For no one seemedto have any thought of that; the leaders sat about in the greathall, that resembled the great hall at Castle Drum, the youngertalking, the elder praying, or reading their Bibles, while thelesser sort would be heard, when one opened a door to come to orfro, singing in the barns and sheds where they were housed.
"What matter for sleep?" he replied wildly; I could see that hewas much unsettled by this bloody event, but William Clelandanswered with a smile that a good soldier should take his rest whenhe could. "We may roll up our coats in a corner," he added.
"Come, Evan," I took the excited youth by the shoulder. "Talkintoxicates, like strong drink"—and I could not forbearbending low to him where he sat and whispering in hisear—"What of Jannot now?"
"Oh, accursed! Accursed!" he cried, whimpering like a child.
But I thought of Isabelle; what mattered it on what side Ifought. I should get to Castle Drum and do what a man might for herand the other two silly women, despite their spells.
I went to the window and set the shutters wide so that thesummer air came into that place fouled by many breaths, and leanedout into the light of the dawn, and thought that I could see thegolden light of her eyes in the sunlit vapours that began tobrighten the vanishing night.
* * *
Much heartened by this advantage, many thousands—and I donot write loosely, for I remember that they were counted as theycame in—able-bodied fighting men, armed not only with theirfarm implements, but with fusils, joined us, I mean the maincovenanting party under Robert Hamilton during that month ofJune.
And the captains, consulting together in Loudon House, where thelady still entertained us fairly, decided to make a push for itagainst Glasgow before the Government had time to well barricadeand garrison that city.
As all the country folk and peasantry were, without exception asI believe, on our side, we had many messengers and spies coming inwith news. There was not an old woman crossing the bogs, a boypulling up weeds or scaring crows, an old labourer at his cottagedoor, who did not have some eyes and ears for the doings of theGovernment troops.
So we learned that Lord Ross and Colonel Graham in Glasgow haddetermined to hold the city, that they had sent riders post-hasteto Edinburgh, where Lord Linlithgow was, he being still in commandof all the Royal forces in Scotland.
It was not so easy for us to get news from the capital, but wehad well-wishers even there, and Robert Hamilton was informed thatthe commander-in-chief would probably march towards the west withall the soldiery in Scotland; they were not many.
At this time the Covenanters were so elated and proud that theybelieved that they could overthrow the rule of His Majesty KingCharles, and I being in the midst of them, found it hard to get theright perspective of their ambition. It seemed even to me, a man ofa wider experience than most of them and one who from a longresidence in London knew the power and might of the Government,that they might succeed, and make Scotland too hot for HisMajesty's fingers to hold.
I noted that my noble relative, the Duke of Lauderdale, did notcome to Scotland, but remained at the King's ear in London. DoctorSharp now being dead they lacked a strong man to hold the countrydown, and that the main feeling of Scotland was Whig andPresbyterian I did not doubt.
Evan Garrie had become one of the warmest of the supporters ofMr. Hamilton and Mr. Cleland, and I wondered at the lad who had solong been hesitant and who had now taken up his position with somuch decision. I saw him, too, at the praying and the hymn-singing,and marked in all his gestures and words a new-born valiancy.Well,' said I to myself, "there is one who has found his work. AndI suppose that with these zealous and holy men he will forgetJannot of Castle Drum."
But for me, could I forget?
I still did not know. Sometimes the mood that had come upon mewhen I had seen Philippa Dean standing in the door of my room atThe Hague would torment me again, and I would feel a tingling in myblood and a strange restlessness in my soul. Strange, I say, for itwas not to be explained, as if a magnet drew me towards that darkand dreary castle.
I learned that Sir Donald Garrie had returned there now, and Isupposed he was in charge of that wild pack of womanhood. Iwondered what the sick boy was doing, and Doctor Fletcher? I couldnot think of him without a creeping of the flesh.
I was not, as was Evan Garrie, persuaded of the rights of theCovenanters to slay as fiercely as they did, although I waspersuaded of their rights to pray to their God in peace. I hadthought that Robert Hamilton had shown a tenderness for theprisoners after the battle of Drumclog, as they named that skirmishin the bog.
But he told me roundly to my face that he, being in command thatday, had given out word that no quarter should be given, meaningthat the prisoners should be slain. And he much blamed themisplaced mercy, as he termed it, of those who had allowed theRoyalists to escape and take information into Glasgow. I did notlike this, as I had not liked the way they had mutilated the bodyof Cornet Graham; I might have been named a ruthless man myself,but that did not make me respect other bloody-minded men, and Ithought that these Covenanters were a long way from the kingdom ofthe God of Love.
Yet I remained with them, out of a curious indifferency ofspirit. Here was work to do, and man's work at that, and if theywere fierce and violent the same might be said of Colonel Graham,who carried his prisoners "bound like beasts," as we were told, andwho would have shot down the whole Conventicle, including women andchildren, if he had had the power.
I did not use my name, one accursed to these people, ofMaitland, but termed myself after my mother's family ThomasFindlater. I had shown sufficient zeal and forwardness at Drumclogfor my English name and accent to be overlooked, and WilliamCleland, who had become so close a friend to Evan Garrie, soughtout my company during the march and the conferences. He was a manof a sensitive spirit and liked the intelligent and the scholarly.I could have had many profitable discourses with him and taught himmuch, for he was thirsty after the classics, and longed to improvehis knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages. But what time hadwe for such things?
At the end of the first week of June found us not far fromGlasgow. We had advanced a few miles at a time over a countrywholly friendly; there was no one against us except a few Royalisttroopers. Knowing Claverhouse as I did, I expected to find that hehad made preparations to receive us.
And so it was. The city was guarded and barricaded, about themarket cross, the town house, and the tolbooth, and a brisk firereceived the first attackers. We lost many in that assault but wentforward again.
I was with the party that tried to force up the Gallowgate, butwe found it impossible to penetrate far into the city owing to themurderous fusillade that met us from the closes, the streetcorners, and the windows of the houses. When we fell back we hadleft many dead in the streets and several prisoners.
On gaining the open ground again we found that the otherdetachment, that Hamilton had sent by the College, had alsoretreated, and the entire army of the Covenanters withdrew, but ingood order.
We were not unduly dispirited by this reverse. The town ofHamilton was our next headquarters, and there our numbers were soaugmented that we were nearly seven thousand armed men strong.
Our scouting parties brought the news that was as welcome asunexpected, that Ross and Claverhouse had abandoned Glasgow, oncommand as one supposed, from Lord Linlithgow in Edinburgh. Thesetactics seemed, to even my small experience, foolish. It appearedto me as if the commander-in-chief was faced with a situation withwhich he did not know how to deal.
We learned from our spies that he had called his two captains,Ross and Claverhouse, and all their troops at Bonnybridge, there tomeet him and to discuss future operations.
This left the West of Scotland in our power; Robert Hamiltonlost no time in marching on Glasgow, and the undefended town waspeacefully occupied.
I wondered how the news of these activities sounded in London. Ihad many a grim smile to myself as I considered the countenances ofHis Majesty and the Duke of York and his counsellors at St. James'swhen they learnt that those whom they most loathed in theworld—this was certainly true at least on His Majesty'spart—had seized the second city in the kingdom ofScotland.
We were for a while unmolested, and the days fell into a curiouspattern of prayer-meetings and conferences and debates that weresometimes cool and sometimes excited.
'William Cleland and Evan Garrie were always in the midst of thedeepest disputes, and I saw little enough now of the lad whom I hadtaken with me from Castle Drum to The Hague.
The news that came from without seemed to show a curiousinaction on the part of the Government. Our numbers swelled withevery day that passed, for all those who believed in the Covenant,and they certainly seemed the majority of the residents in theLowlands, rode up to Glasgow to increase our garrison.
I heard that my good relative, His Grace of Lauderdale, wasendeavouring to raise fresh troops as well as to call out themilitia. Those who daily rode up to Glasgow told us that allbridges and fords were guarded and that it would not be so easy infuture for sympathisers with the Covenanters to reach Glasgow,since all armed men were likely to be arrested.
'We had news, too, of a trifling reverse. Some of thePresbyterians coming from Fife were dispersed by the Master ofRoss, who killed a good part of them and took several prisoners.This, that was termed the skirmish of Bewly Bog, with its tale ofso many slaughtered and so many prisoners sent to meet a criminal'sdeath in Edinburgh, whipped up the Covenanters in Glasgow to one ofthese furies that I had witnessed among them before.
I marched with them to Rutherglen by the middle of the month,where Christian burial was given to some poor miserable relics thathad fallen into the Covenanters' hands during their late success.These were the heads of those Presbyterians who had been put todeath after the Pentland rising.
This epitaph was written, I forget by whom, either on thesemartyrs, as they termed them, or on those others whose heads lie atHamilton:
Stay, passenger, take notice
What thou reads.
At Edinboro be our bodies
Here our heads,
Our right hands stood at Lanark
These we want
Because with them we swore
Evan Garrie came to me after this ceremony, which had beenaccompanied by great ecstasies of prayer and hymn-singing, andasked me uneasily if I thought the Covenanters had not reached thedangerous confidences given by success?
For he had learned by the last rebels who had ridden up that theDuke of Monmouth was to be sent from London as commander-in-chiefin Scotland, bringing with him English troops. It was said thatthere would be near six thousand of these when the reinforcementswere joined to the army under my Lord Linlithgow; he had heard,too, and this I could only too readily believe, that the King'sbastard brought letters of fire and blood with him and that he wasinstructed to enforce the law unto the death of all who might besuspected of treason, and to pursue the obstinate rebels who shouldremain in arms with all the extremities of war until they should beabsolutely reduced.
"Well," said I, "what else did you expect? Did you think, Evan,that the King would allow Scotland, which, after all, is a jewel inhis crown, to fall from him and make no effort to reclaim it?"
Then Evan Garrie confided to me that he doubted as to theleadership of the Covenanters. The captains argued and theministers disputed among themselves too much and too long; therewas no unison.
"I thought," said he, "that the Lord had called for this serviceat my hands, and I wished to venture my all for Him. And seeingthat the Covenanters own to be for the Lord, I judge myself obligedto own and assist them. But now sometimes I fear that the Lord isnot with them, that they have no authority and discipline and thereis much division among those that should have guided the rest."
I could not stay my mockery at this.
"Do they not say, and the saintly Richard Cameron among them,that the Lord will provide, the Lord will protect? Well, you havemade your choice, Evan. You thought, as you say, that you saw theLord's hand in this, that you are doing his service. It is a greatthing," I added, "that you have found God's hand in anything. Aswell shed your blood in that cause as in another."
Them I asked him roundly if he ever thought of Jannot Garrie? Hewould not answer me, but turned aside.
* * *
It was a few days after this that we in Glasgow, having newsthat the King's son and his troops were advancing on us, went outto Bothwell's Bridge to meet them. We were not yet combined into anorderly army; there was, as Evan Garrie had said, disputes amongthe leaders, and the fanatic ministers stirred up revolt those whowere in lay authority. Yet there was no breaking in the spirits ofthese Presbyterians, who were resolved to fight to the death "theKing of England and the legions of Satan," as they termed CharlesStuart.
All knew the Duke of Monmouth's Proclamation that had been castover the country. Mercy was to be offered to such as would lay downtheir arms, save those who had murdered the Archbishop of St.Andrews; we used such of these as came our way for musket wads.
It was another Sunday when we came in sight of the Governmenttroops, who had already planted their cannon on the bridge thatspanned the River Clyde at the little town of Bothwell.
There was a service held before the action, and the words werewild and inspiring and lifted even my indifferent soul for a momentinto a noble exaltation.
"The Lord God of gods, He knoweth in Israel, we shall know, thatif it be in rebellion or in transgression against the Lord, save usnot this day."
Our end of the bridge was protected by our only cannon and had abrave man behind it; horse and foot was behind him; across thebridge was the Government artillery being put into position.
I noticed that there was not the confidence among theCovenanters that there had been at Drumclog; we were clearlyoutnumbered, and Monmouth was thought to be a good captain. Many ofour men were unarmed, and we lacked ammunition. Robert Hamiltonfound, to his dismay and fury, that barrels he thought hadcontained gunpowder were instead full of dried fish—a mistakeor a treachery that was likely to prove highly inconvenient.
When I heard, after the matter had been for an hour or sodisputed, that Robert Hamilton had offered a parley and the Duke ofMonmouth accepted, I volunteered to go with the two clergymen who,with a drummer, rode forward to speak to the Royalcommander-in-chief.
We crossed the bridge, and found the young Duke not many yardsfrom the head of it. I had seen him often enough in St. James's,but did not suppose that he would recognize me now in my roughattire, with my hat pulled over my eyes, my face unshaven, my airrude and harsh. And I think His Grace was in no mood to recognizehis best friend had he seen him then, because he was deeplytroubled. A gay, light-hearted and humane man, he could not haveliked this task.
His face, womanish in its perfection at one time though nowslightly coarsened by debauch, was flushed and his words hesitant,gentle, and contradictory as he spoke to the rebels.
I saw Claverhouse close behind him on another roan horse, aslike as possible to that that had been slain at Drumclog, and Ithought that the scowl on his cool face was because of His Grace'shesitancy and tenderheartedness, for Monmouth was courteous andshowed himself a moderate man. And I thought of William Penn, therewere few peacemakers in the world, and it was surely a notablething to have met two of them.
And while they were talking—the plain Scots and theaffable Duke, who, for all his cuirass and plumes, seemed to me aneasy courtier rather than a man of war—fantastic pictureswere passing through my mind of that city of brotherly love in theNew 'World where perhaps men like His Grace of Monmouth, gentleprinces might have found their ease and pleasure in sport and art,with simple-minded, gracious men like William Penn for theirministers.
Then I remembered the sharp antidotes to these sick fancies, thewords of His Highness, the Prince Stadtholder. And I knew suchthoughts—and why should they have come to me on the eve of abattle?—to be vainillusi ons. I sat there patiently on myrough horse, for I was not spokesman of the party, for more than anhour while the Duke, with good-humour and courtesy, tried topersuade the rebels to spare much slaughter by laying down theirarms.
This they refused to do.
They had, and I could not but admire their steadfast courage,their own terms to make. And these must have been allowed just byany reasonable man. The spokesman of the Presbyterians demandedthat they should be allowed to exercise their religion as theypleased, that the old oaths for the abolishing of the Covenantsshould in their turn be abolished, and that a new General Assemblyof free, unbiased men should be called to consider coolly and todebate wisely the troubles of Scotland in Church and State.
Well I knew that His Grace of Monmouth, if it had been in hispower, would have granted these conditions gracefully and gone witha light heart to his wine or his repose or his sport. But he wasthe tool of the Government only, and though he spun the matter outas long as he could, being, though a brave and efficient soldier, aman who loathed bloodshed, the moment came when the negotiationswere broken off and I had to ride back with the envoys to thewaiting army of the Covenanters.
There was soon a general engagement. As we had but one cannon wewere finally driven from our posts by the fire of the Duke'sartillerymen, though desperate charges and our one gunner hadchased them off at first.
It was a hand-to-hand engagement in the end, in which I, besideEvan Garrie, took my part; it was soon a wild medley, so many of uswere unarmed, and could but stand and be shot, or run likecowards.
Once, twice, spurred on by the roaring shouts of the old,unarmed, unbonneted ministers who bawled to them the warrior wordsof the Old Testament, the rebels rallied.
Rebels, say T, I found it difficult to rid myself of this wordhaving been bred in conventional loyalty to His Majesty KingCharles, but I was glad to be fighting in these ranks, glad, even,to forget the noble birth of which I had been so blackly proud andto have as my brothers in arms these poor countrymen, many of whomhad no weapons, others having nothing but scythes or pitchforks.They believed that they struggled against the cohorts of Satan, andI was glad to lead them again and again in that part of the fieldwhere I found myself against Claverhouse's troop of horse.
But what could we do against the cavalry and the artillery? Ourranks broke, the dead lay about in heaps, the blood drying on thetorn flesh in the heat of the June day, and those who were mountedrode wildly away. Hamilton among them.
It was Claverhouse's cavalry that drove Robert Hamilton off thefield, I heard afterwards—at the time I knew nothing but whatwas happening around me. I fell back in the pursuit with theothers, I heard myself roaring a hymn. Two ministers and twostandards that the Covenanters carried about with them werecaptured by an officer who rode up close to us, but I was left fordead on the ground, I suppose. I was somewhat blinded by the bloodthat was falling into my eyes from a cut on my brow; but I was notgreatly hurt, and rolled over to find beside me Evan Garrie, whowas more gravely wounded than I, and I had, as best I could, to gethim off the field. It was Virgil, the poor blackamoor, whom I knewto be a timorous creature, who somehow had managed to keep close tome in the press, who came up to me now with a fresh horse, that he,quick and clever despite his terror that his affection hadovercome, had found loose on the field and captured; he had beenhiding with the baggage, but had come out when the mass hadthinned.
Between us we got Evan Garrie on to the horse, and I made Virgilmount behind him and gave him my orders to ride westward out of theaffray as best he could.
My own horse had been killed earlier in the day, and I hadfought on foot, but I, too, secured another mount—there werea number of riderless horses then galloping across the field by theriver-banks. And before Garrie and the negro were out of sight Icontrived to follow them.
* * *
So I escaped from the battle of the bridge over the Clyde by thetown of Bothwell, and so avoided an ill fate. Cla verhouse coveredhis name with more infamy than it already possessed in the minds ofthe Lowlanders by his ruthless pursuit and slaughter of theCameronian saints, at least, this blame was given him by the Whigs.A number of prisoners, no less than a thousand it was said, weretaken to Edinburgh; there being no place large enough to containthem, they were all set under guard in the churchyard of the GreyFriars. There, to conclude this mention of their fate, they werekept for nearly half a year, sleeping on the ground, living on suchscraps of food as charity offered them. Such as refused tosubscribe to the Government were finally shipped to the WestIndies.
The two hundred of these who were lost in a storm near theOrkneys were the most fortunate, for the rest were sold as slavesin Barbados. Whenever I heard this tale I thought it related themost cruel fate that could ever befall a man, for I had known thepride, the stubbornness, the black obstinacy of these Covenanters.Who was less fitted to play the part of a slave to some insolentand ignorant Englishman?
Many active rebels were beheaded in Edinburgh, their quarteredlimbs set up over various market towns.
As the three of us fled across the country, not knowing whitherwe went we were overtaken by other fugitives from Bothwell Bridge.And all had the same tale to tell of bloody slaughter. I thought tomyself that it might have been the same had the Covenanters got thevictory. I knew what they did, their women as well as their men, tosuch of the soldiers who fell into their hands. But that did notmake the burden of death and suffering the lighter on the wretchedcountry-side.
Where were we to go? Evan Garrie was grimly wounded, and hurt,too, in his mind, as I thought, for he was talking about thevictory of the warlocks and the witches and of Satan having got theupper hand in Scotland, and of the Lord having forsaken hissaints.
I was able to give him some repose in a cottage where a womansheltered us at the peril of her own life for a few days andnights. There he lay in a fever, not knowing what he said. Wenursed him as best we could. All my property and my money had beenleft behind in Glasgow on the field at Bothwell Bridge; I had onlya little brandy stolen from the cellar of the Bishop at Glasgowwhen we sacked the palace.
By chance we escaped the searching troops; the Duke of Monmouthwas riding through the rebellious districts and as none cameforward to meet him he believed that the followers of the Covenantwere dispersed for ever. So confident were the Government in theirsuccess that the militia was disbanded and the King's bastardreturned to Edinburgh before the end of the month.
I heard afterwards that he had been much abused, not only by hisuncle, His Grace of York, who had always much disliked him, but byhis father, the King, for his clemency towards the rebels; HisMajesty had always loathed the Presbyterians of Scotland, who hadinflicted many sharp humiliations upon him when he had been intheir power. And now he was reputed to have said to his son, "Had Ibeen at Bothwell Bridge there would have been no trouble aboutprisoners."
But all these matters I learnt afterwards. For the moment myconcern was with my own affairs. I think I had not realized beforeinto what position I had put myself by joining the Covenanters. Notall my influence with His Grace of Lauderdale would help me now,indeed no doubt he, who was a sick and failing man, gross of habitand dull in mind, would not endure to hear my name mentioned againbut would be glad of my rebellion in order to wash his hands of me.I had now no hopes of regaining my estates, even if I had been ablein some way to find some money to purchase them. All I possessedwould be forfeit through my treason had I been present at Drumclogand with the Covenanters in Glasgow. If I was not sent to jointhose wretches herded in the churchyard at Grey Friars I might behanged in Edinburgh, as were the ministers who had been captured atBothwell Bridge.
I now fully counted the cost of my rash and, as it were,indifferent act. I had thrown away my hopes of the future, perhapsmy life. But indeed, I did not quite understand why I wished topreserve my life. Philippa was gone and had been lost to me fromthe moment when she had stood on my threshold in that comfortableroom in The Hague. That Philippa had not been the dear love of theEnglish days whom I had always seen against a gentle background ofa Kentish garden with the red roses blowing against the red bricksof her pleasant home. She had been a woman harassed and pursued,stained by remorse and shame, offering me not a high affection buta backstairs intrigue.
And there was Isabelle.
I thought of her every day more frequently as we made ourpainful progress westward, three men on two horses—the negroand I taking it in turn to support Evan Garrie in front of us. Ifeared that he might be smitten by gangrene, for he was wounded inthe leg, the arm, and the brow. But it seemed that these things goby chance, for I have known many a man to die in agonies from alesser hurt. Why, the scratch that I gave Philippa's brother wasnot so severe as the least of Evan Garrie's gaping cuts. But thewashing out that I had given them of wine at that cottage where wehad first stopped seemed to have kept the flesh wholesome, for theedges of the wound dried and came together under the bandages, andthe youth, being strong and lusty, recovered from his loss ofblood.
And when we had been two weeks or so going about the country,hidden always by the country-folk who in this killing-time,' as itwas afterwards termed, offered their all to those pursued by theGovernment, Evan Garrie was as healthy as he had been the daybefore Bothwell Bridge. In his body that is, I thought his mind wasclouded, his senses almost overcast.
He seemed to have forgotten much that had happened to him sinceI had taken him from Scotland. He looked askance at the faithfulnegro, as if the blackamoor's face alarmed him. But the earlierpart of his life he remembered well, and he constantly urged me toreturn to Castle Drum.
"That," said I, "would be to walk into the arms of the enemy. Wemight meet Claverhouse himself there, for Sir Donald Garrie standsfor the Government."
"It is my home," said the boy sullenly, "and I want to seeJannot and Isabelle again."
I wondered if these women would, in extremity, hide us, and atorturing desire to put this question to the proof assailed methrough the long bitter days and nights of that pursuit that seemedendless.
* * *
We slept in caves and on the moors, behind what whins and busheswe could discover. We wandered over tracts of land, mountain passesfit only for the fox and the eagle, quite unknown to me. We hadguides, children or old women, who saw us from place to place. Wenever lacked some food, even if it was but a cup of water, a plateof oatmeal cakes. Sometimes we got a piece of meat and even goodbrandy.
But finding myself no better than a hunted hare affected my mindas well as my body. The last became taut, hardy, and alert, thefirst became subdued and quivering at the sound of a broken branchor a footfall in the distance.
And I could see no end to this slow torment.
Even if we could get to the coast, what money had we with whichto buy the meanest passage on the meanest ship? We had joined in amoment, on my part at least, of utter wilfulness a party that hadbeen defeated. I had lost even my name, there was no one to whom Icould now appeal.
Evan Garrie, too, was cut off from what he still termed hishome. The negro was a wretched slave, dependent on the charity ofthose who could no longer protect him.
We had, soon after the first week of our flight was over, toabandon our horses, not being able to maintain them. Besides, ourpaths often lay down glens and up rocks, where it would have beenimpossible for the animals to have gone.
So, as fugitives, we existed in this country that to me wascertainly accursed, until one night when we had taken shelter in acave, and I slept heavily from sheer weariness of broken spirit.And when I woke Virgil was watching by me.
He told me that Mr. Garrie had gone.
I thought, as the blackamoor gave me this news in the greyglimmer of an ugly dawn, that I must follow this boy to whom I had,in a manner, pledged myself. Although he had forsaken me for thecompany and the affection of William Cleland, still he had turnedto me again and I had heard him say nothing of that worthy since wehad fled from Bothwell Bridge, and I had nursed him through thesickness caused by his wounds. There was no doubt that theattention the blackamoor and I had paid him had saved his life. Butwhat was any man's life worth in these times?
And as Virgil gave me the story, and I made him repeat it morethan once in order that I could be sure of it, I wondered if Ishould follow Evan Garrie or not.
What did it matter if he sought shelter in Castle Drum orwhether the ladies there gave it him, or whether he was caught andslaughtered on the heather, or dragged to Edinburgh and theretormented before his death?
As happened afterwards to that man David Hackston of Raphillet,who had murdered Archbishop Sharp, who was tried about a year afterthis date, condemned and taken, bound with irons, barebacked on ahorse with his face to the animal's tail. First his right hand wascut off, then his left, and then he was hanged, and while stillalive his heart cut out, exposed on the point of the executioner'sknife and thrown into a fire. Such was, commonly enough, the fateof those who followed the covenanting captains.
And I knew that it might be the fate of Evan Garrie were hecaptured by one of Monmouth's soldiers.
Nay, it might have been the fate of all three of us had we nothad so many friends among the humble peasantry who were engaged topass us from one to another and to hide us in the glens, thepasses, and the mountains.
We had heard, too, the tales brought us by the whisperers, whopassed us news in secret, that the Duke of York was coming toEdinburgh to control the country, and knowing him to be as black aPapist as Richard Cameron and his men were black Covenanters, Icould see the fate of Scotland in the few months to come.
All these considerations were thrusting into my mind as Ilistened to the tale told by Virgil. We now were but two and had nohorse between us, and I wondered what we should do or how proceedon our way. And I sat musing awhile in the murk of the cave, idlytracing with my right hand that had been no great use to me eitherwith pen or sword, either in fighting men or caressing women, aname upon the damp mud on which I lay stretched. A cluster ofheather had been our sole bed and our food but some porridge and adrink of water.
The blackamoor was steadfast in his tale. Evan Garrie had rousedhim while it was still dark and told him that he was impelled to gotowards Castle Drum and begged him to give a message to me when Ishould awake, saying that that was his destination and nothingcould keep him from it.
I could understand the meaning of these words; Evan Garrie hadbeen drawn towards Castle Drum by the incantations of Jannot, or soat least he supposed.
The woman had gotten into his blood, into his mind, into hisspirit, and he could by no means resist her. Although I had takenhim away from her enchantment, although he had lived with mepeacefully for a while at The Hague, although he had joined thefanatic Covenanters who were so many zealots out for the blood ofsuch witches as Jannot Garrie was reputed to be, still he hadturned again steadfast to her spell.
And now he was gone, to his certain death it might be, for howdid I know whether Sir Donald Garrie would shelter his kinsman ordeliver him to the Royalist troopers?
I looked down at the name I had written in the mud and saw itwas "Isabelle." If one golden-eyed girl lured Evan Garrie, did notthe other lure me?
"Virgil," said I, "we, too, will go to Castle Drum."
He remembered the place and began to gibber in fear. And then Iwas minded, out of curiosity, to ask him if he had been present atthe ruined chapel the night before he had attracted my attentionstanding in the doorway of the Castle. I could get no sense out ofhim on this point.
He said he had been wandering for some time since he had runaway from the Netherbow in Edinburgh, and it might have been thathe had slept in a corner of the ruins of the chapel the nightbefore I had seen him.
Well, there was no bottom to be found to this. I was convincedin my own mind that Virgil had nothing to do with the nastybusiness in which Doctor Fletcher and the ladies of Castle Drumwere undoubtedly concerned. But I thought that I might have seenhim when I had supposed that the great black man at the foot of thestairs had been Satan himself.
And I remember that I stretched myself out on the floor of thecave and crossed my hands in front of my face and rested these onmy poor bed of heather and thought miserably of the tangle that mylife had been since first I had met Philippa.
But the blackamoor was pulling at my coat, and it was a questionof action. Yes, I would go to Castle Drum also.
I had not the small hope on which Evan Garrie might be relying,for I was no kinsman of the house but a stranger, and one whom theymight consider had played the traitor and the renegade. I hadfought with the Covenanters; everything I had or might have had wasforfeited. It even gave me an ugly satisfaction to think howstripped I was.
We left our place of refuge as soon as it was light enough forus to see our way. Now that I had lost Evan Garrie I had no sureguide, and the negro knew the country even less than I did.
We never failed of a welcome or a shelter at the huts where westayed. Once we came upon a conventicle; even after Bothwell Bridgeand the killings that followed it and the fierce revenge taken bythe Royalist troops upon the Scottish people, these proscribedministers went forth to hold their services of prayer and praise inthe waste lonely places, the watchman standing above them on therising ground and the armed men ready with their hands upon theirweapons.
And when I saw these people again, still valiant after theirgreat misfortune, my heart went out to them once more, and I wasnot sorry to suffer in their cause.
Stern and grim as they were, they received me kindly. I was soonable to identify myself as the Englishman who had so suddenly andunexpectedly joined them, and they treated me, and even the negro,well.
These men, too, set me on my way towards Castle Drum. Theyexclaimed much that I should be going near such a dangerous place,and they said that Sir Donald Carrie had fortified it and that atroop of Claverhouse's soldiers were within the walls, for they hadfeared an attack from the Covenanters. But the man who told me thisadmitted that, for the moment, the spirit of the Presbyterians wasbroken. Too many had been slain, too many made prisoners, too manyscattered, for them to be enabled to make any attack on any place,whether fortified or not.
I asked after Richard Cameron and whether he had fallen into thehands of the enemy. And they assured me no, but that aged andvaliant man was still going about the country, setting up where hecould a copy of his Declaration that excommunicated King Charlesand absolved all the Scots from allegiance to him.
All this matter was but dusty to me now, never had it interestedme very greatly. I pecalled with the longing of a man in a desertfor water the sweet peace that was promised by Mr. William Penn'sscheme, and I wished that I had never come to Scotland but remainedrather in London, where I might have some hope of going to Americawith that gentleman. It was some while since I had been in TheHague that I had had any news of him, but it was pleasant in thatgloomy summer—for though the sun shone the days were dark tome—to recall that there had been such a man and such aplan.
With only the negro for company I fell silent and thereforedisconsolate. There was no one to whom to voice my doubts andfears; hopes and joy I had none.
We were set on our way by such peasants as succoured us, and onthe second day after we left the conventicle in the hills we camewithin sight of Castle Drum.
I remembered with what relief, even with what joy, I had leftit, and how I had stared back at its dark outline on the horizonwith a malicious pleasure, as if I said farewell for ever to thosegrim walls and all the corruption that they enclosed.
But I had returned, my destiny had come full circle. Useless hadbeen the attempt at peace and resignation in Holland, useless thewise words of the stately Prince to whom I had spoken, useless allthe sayings and arguments of those pastors and philosophers to whomI had listened in the clubs and at the conferences in TheHague.
Here I was returning, a wild and broken man.
As I stood upright on the heather, I looked but a vagabond andwas, indeed, no better than I looked. I had lost all the attributesof a gentleman, even my sword—that had been first lost thenbroken and was a fitting symbol, I thought, for my thought, for mycondition. I had but a short Scotch dirk, as they termed it, andthe negro the same; our fusils, or carbines, had long been lost,and if we had contrived to keep them they would have been useless,for we had no ammunition. The poor people who sheltered us werealso without weapons, and we should have met a speedy death had wechanced on any soldiers, for not only were we without means ofdefence but we had been for many days so foot-weary that we wouldnot have been able to take to flight.
So stood I, with my clothes torn and soiled, my face unshavenand my hair tangled, looking at that domain which had been at onetime accursed to me and which I had left in a moment of pride. Ilooked down at the negro and saw that his face was grey, an uglyand a fearsome tinge that it took when he was frightened.
I remembered Doctor Fletcher and felt sick; I did not wish tosee the women in the state I was then in, and I wondered how it waspossible to get a message to Evan Garrie, or even if he was stillin the Castle.
We waited until the dark fell then made our way, by slow andcautious marches, until we approached the building, and came withinsight of the ruined chapel.
The moon was high and full; it was then, so long had ouradventures taken, towards the autumn, it would be the beginning ofharvest in England, as I supposed, but here in this bitter north Ihad seen no sign of reaping and garnering of the grain. Andwhatever poor harvest Scotland might have usually, that year therewas little but that of blood in the Lowlands.
I and the negro were both exhausted from long walking and fromlack of food, we had had but little that day, and I found myself atthe foot of the tower, where, with Evan Garrie beside me, I hadlooked down on those satanic revels, or whatever that hallucinationmight have been.
There we rested, too exhausted to move, drawing ourselves awayfrom the moonlight as best we could, into the shadows. Virgil, whowas still in my service, as if I had been the great gentleman thatonce in my black pride I had affected to be, pulled some ferns andheather and made me the pillow to which I had been now for manyweeks accustomed; then laid himself down across my feet in themanner of a band-dog.
I was soon asleep, scorning myself for this lassitude of theflesh, for it had been in my mind to make an attempt at once tocreep up to the Castle and under disguise of my ragged appearanceto get into the kitchens and so find some news of Evan.
Was it Evan for whom I had come? Was it not rather for anotherof whom I wished news? I did not allow myself to debate this pointbut fell asleep, drawn away in that broken wall of the chapel, awayfrom the moonlight that streamed, for all I knew, from the windowsof Hecate, who is the goddess of all dark things of the night.
My dreams were sweet and gentle as they had not been for sometime. I returned in my sleep to my earlier thoughts of Scotland andto those strange ballads that I had read carelessly in England, ofThomas and the Queen of Elfland, and those dark-green shades towhich she led him on her pearl-white steed.
Across my dreams came oddly the writing on an old posy that Ihad known long since:
They say what likes them, let them say: I care not, but lovethou me, it's good for thee.'
WHEN I awoke Isabelle was gazing at me, She wore a dark-greyhood that matched the sky, then at the dawning, and held it underthe chin as Philippa had held her rich red fox fur when I had lastseen her standing on the threshold of my room at The Hague.
I raised myself on my elbow, not believing this to be true. Shemotioned with her free hand for me to be silent, and sat down upona large block of fallen masonry.
The negro was asleep, his face was grey like ashes, wretched andhollow-cheeked in that colourless light. I looked at him withoutseeing him and then again at her.
She began to sing as if she did not see him, a little song thatI believed might be for my enchantment:
"Oh, my love, leave me not! Leave me not! Leave menot!
Oh, my love, leave me not, leave me not alone!
With one burden on my back,
Love this burden from me take,
Or else I am gone.
With sins I am laden sore. Leave me not! Leave me not;
With sins I am laden sore. Leave me not alone!
I pray thee, sir, therefore,
Keep not my sins in store.
Love me, or I be forlorn, and hear my moan."
"Cease," said I, "cease!"
And I could not raise my voice above my breath.
"I cry, and I call to thee to leave me not, toleave me not!
I cry, and I call to thee to leave me not alone!
All they that laden be,
Thou didst come home to me!
Then shall they stay with me, through thy mercy alone!"
"Do you speak to me, Isabelle, or to God?"
I tried to rise, but could get no further than my knees. A coldwind blew from the east, where the colourless light was stirring,in eddies with the clouds.
She clasped her hands, and not looking at me, and her eyesseeming blank indeed, whispered in her moaning song:
"Faith, hope and charity, leave me not! Leave menot!
Faith, hope and charity, leave me not alone.
I pray thee, Lord, grant me
These goodly gifts free.
Then shall I say with Thee, doubts have I none."
"Why," said I, "Isabelle, do you sing this hymn to me? Or is ita love-song? And who are you, Isabelle?—a witch? Or the Queenof Elfland, or the daughter of Sir Donald Garrie only?"
She turned and looked at me then and said:
"Poor Tom Maitland! You are much changed since you left CastleDrum!"
"Where is your kinsman, Evan Garrie?" I asked her. I hadcontrived to rise, though I was weak to my very bones, and leant inthe broken arch.
"He's safe enough," she said, "ay, and hidden."
"How did you find me?" I asked.
"I knew you'd come," she said. "We go out to watch for you everynight, one by one, round the ruins, round the ramparts, even on tothe moors. Come, you must not remain here now, the light's risingand the sentries may see us. Bring your servant—he isfaithful, I see."
She took my hand and led me, by her side, away from the Castleuntil we came to a place behind the ruins where was a small hutthat had been built with the fallen stones. There she had prepareda comfortable chamber; there was a low pallet bed with blankets onit, there was a jug of milk, a plate of cakes. And there, too, waseven the travelling toilet-box that I had left behind at CastleDrum.
She went away without saying anything more, neither giving meinstructions nor warnings. The negro had followed me, and when Ihad eaten I gave him what was left of the food, for the fellowwould never stay his stomach until I was satisfied.
I did not care to look into the mirror that was let in the lidof the toilet-box. I was sorry that she had seen me in this rougharray. I was glad to see my comb and razors and to be able to makemyself more civilized in appearance. But this seemed a profaneinterlude in what had been like a dream.
When I had eaten and drunk—and the food, though plain, wassatisfying—when I had washed in the ewer she had set thereand dried myself on the clean rough napkin, I felt more equal tofacing her, trying to come to terms with my destiny. My clotheswere still ragged, but I had more the appearance of a gentleman andlittle less that of a vagabond. I remembered the odd luxuries therehad been at Castle Drum, the days when they used to set wax candleson the tables, the other days when there was nothing but a tallowdip on the pricket. Now she had brought out her best forme—linen, and the plate on which the cakes stood was ofsilver with the Garrie arms engraved on it.
"I wonder," said I to Virgil, "what power this lady has to hideus?"
I talked to the negro because there was no one else to speak to.But he looked at me dumbly, terrified on returning to this placebut never faltering in his fidelity to me.
Ah, if Isabelle and I and Jannot and Garrie could escape fromScotland, its black saints and its black witches, and itsovershadowing of Satan and its ugly murders, and go with Mr. Pennto his New World, where there would be plain and fruitful fields ofcorn, large and lightsome streets and stately buildings, and wecould live for ever in peace!
Isabelle came to see me with no great pretence at, nor concernin, secrecy, and I remembered how, during my residence in CastleDrum, the three ladies had seemed to rule there with a freedom thatat that time I attributed to unholy spells.
But now the master of the house was at home, and I askedIsabelle how it came that she was able to hide me not far from herfather's residence, and come to me, as she seemed to come,fearlessly.
She had brought a change of garments with her, and I noticedthat these were like everything else in Castle Drum, mingled meanand rich. There was a purple scarf with golden tassels, a strangegaud to bring a man in hiding; there was a hat with spangled plumesthat might have belonged to some mountebank player. And there was,more comfortable than these, a cloak of lamb's wool.
These she laid on the ground, they had concealed a basket of theearliest apples of golden colour and fragrant smelling that she puton the table where she had before set my food.
"My father, Sir Donald," she said, "is a sick man. When DoctorFletcher is not by his bedside he is by that of David, and there isdaily talk as to which shall die the first."
It did not please me to hear her speak thus coldly of her fatherand her brother, although I knew she could have but littleaffection for either in the nature of things. But whatever hadpleased me about Isabelle Garrie? She had nothing changed duringthose months in which so much had happened to me.
She had come into my rude hiding-place, that I was ashamed totake from her charity with as light a step as she had moved intothe great stone hall behind me when I had been her brother'spedagogue. Her eyes had the same golden look as if there was a starbehind them, and her tawny-coloured hair was smooth in the shadowof her hidden grey hood. Her thin face was a little pinched and wanand not now, any more than it had been before, beautiful. I noticedthat the hands that she had once tended into whiteness for my carehad now been treated negligently again and seemed stained withwork.
And what work should Isabelle Garrie do, who had a castle fullof servants at her disposal?
But what I had noticed most in her discourse was this mention ofDoctor Fletcher. I said to her roundly:
"I take that man to be a warlock. Though he is grey-haired hehas a miserable countenance, and I take his condition to be themost pitiful and miserable known to mankind. But," added I, hotly,"he is indeed in league with the Devil."
"Leave Doctor Fletcher," said she, in a soft and dulcet tone,that she did not always use, "tell me why you have returnedhere."
"Perhaps," said I, sullenly, for I was a man trapped andcornered like a beast taken in the net, "because you cast yourspells on me. They say that witches can raise the wind, ay, andbring Venus out of the sea, I doubt not."
"Do not speak so loud," she said, "and tell your blackamoor tokeep guard at the door. I suppose he is a faithful monster?"
I was ashamed that I had been betrayed into a loud-voicedprotest. I gave directions to the black man, whom I did not care tosee against this background, for he reminded me of that odiousnight I had spent in the chapel ruins now at my hand.
"I have," said I, "a difficulty to divine the dream from thereality of these matters. I have endured many pains since I leftyou, Isabelle. Indeed, I know not why I returned. My heart was setupon another woman and she filled, as I thought, all my thoughts.Yet when I was away from Castle Drum I saw it in visions, and Itried to cut a path for myself through thickets of doubts, triedthis way and that to reach up to God until I joined theCovenanters."
"Yes," said she, and repeated, "the Covenanters. And if they hadbeaten the Royalists at Bothwell Bridge as they beat them atDrumclog, would you have marched with them on Castle Drum, to burnus all as witches?"
"There's witchcraft here," cried I. "No doubt of it! But I putthe blame on Doctor Fletcher. Was he not known for a wizard when astudent at Prague, and afterwards at St. Andrews in the days ofDoctor Sharp?"
"His black arts did not save him," smiled Isabelle. "He washacked to pieces on the moors as if he had no friend to protecthim. Tell me, Thomas Maitland," and she leaned towards me, "whathave you seen in this place that makes you talk so much ofwitchcraft? You know that if you blow this reputation abroad wecould be all arrested and tormented to our several deaths."
"What was the vision," said I, sullenly, "that I saw in the jet?What was it I saw "—and for the first time I brought theseevil, ugly dreams across my lips, "in the chapel the night thatEvan Garrie took me there? Loathsome things that made me leaveCastle Drum for ever."
"Perhaps," said she, "you were bewitched."
"Ay," said I, "you and Jannot and your stepmother, Sir DonaldGarrie's wife, were in that enchantment."
"You are," said she, "touched with conceit and vainphantasies."
"I am," said I, "a vagabond. What do you mean to do withme?"
"So you've lost everything," said she, in a compassionate tone."You had little enough, Mr. Maitland, when you came here before. Itwas almost charity you were taken in then. We tried to treat you asa worthy guest, knowing your quality, and then you must run awayand join those fanatics who say that we are in the pay ofSatan."
Something in the way that she said these words that was wild andbeautiful brought me in sudden and bitter mind of the peril inwhich she stood, not only from the Covenanters but from theRoyalists themselves. The King was as eager as were his rebellioussubjects to set Commissions up to deal with witches, and well itwas known to every sober man throughout the length and breadth ofGreat Britain that Scotland was infested by the diabolicalarts.
Isabelle perhaps saw the terror in my face for she spoke again,in softer tones:
"What is this witchcraft of which you speak? What do you think Iknow? Do you think that I shall give disease to cattle or tochildren? That when I hurt my hand I can give the pain of it toanother woman? Do you think that I can take a baptized cat on thelake and raise a storm? Do you think that I go out at night anddance naked on the heath with our witch-wives round the black manwho is Satan?"
I thought I heard a note of human pleading in her voice, but Iwould not answer her. I said:
"What of Evan Garrie?"
Isabelle sighed and turned away. She had taken a little stool inthe corner of the hut; I noticed jealously how it was arranged as arefuge. It was concealed behind the blocks of fallen masonry andthe wild plants, the mountain ash and fern, in such a manner thatone might pass and never see that there was a shelter there. Forwhom had this secret retreat been arranged? Was it the hut whereDoctor Fletcher worked his spells?
"You have an affection for Evan, I think," she said at last. "Myfather received him again. Sir Donald is a man who is verytroubled. He has never recovered the anguish he felt when he heardof the murder of his friend, Doctor Sharp. But for a chance hewould have been in the coach with him, and often he wakes in thenight now groaning out that armed men are dragging him over theheather to cut off his hands and batter out his brains. For," saidIsabelle, sadly, "these are not merciful men whom you would join,Mr. Maitland."
"Who shall find mercy in Scotland," said I, "for it is a darkplace! I came here but to hear the fortunes of Evan Garrie, if hehas returned to his bondage."
"Bondage." cried she, softly. "Why, he has returned to his home,and I tell you that he has received my father's mercy. He hasforgiven him that he fought with the Covenanters at Drumclog andBothwell Bridge, that he was with the rebels in Glasgow. He willhear nothing of any of those things, he thinks that the lad was ledastray, and by you, Mr. Maitland, who have played a doublepart—not only in our house but in Scotland."
Perceiving her to be angry, I changed the discourse and spoke toher fairly, until she had given me some account of the young manfor whose sake I had come, by such tedious marches to so perilous aplace.
From what I could learn from her, and she spoke as if thesubject held no great interest, Evan Garrie had returned to his oldposition in Castle Drum—neither a servant nor a retainer nora friend, but a neglected kinsman, idle for the most part and at apinch doing what work was given him, content that he might be underthe same roof-tree as Jannot.
Yes, he had returned to the woman whose spells had, as I tookit, ruined him before. And I believed that she had found him now aneasier victim because of the wound he had received and the scantnursing he had had.
I had noticed while we were on our flight together that hisspeech was slow, his thoughts often confused, and that he seemed asthose do who are a little ruined in their senses, drawn nearer tothat invisible land; that world we dread to know about yet we aresure is there, and that those who are whole in our wits only visitwhen asleep.
"You'll not save Evan Garrie now," said Isabelle. "Jannot hashim for ever."
"Does she love him?" I asked.
"I do not talk of love," said Isabelle. "I sense that there issome bond between them that shall end only with the staying oftheir breath, and you've but wasted your time by taking him away toa strange land and to fight in the rebellion."
"Well, I have lost a friend," said I.
"Not so," said Isabelle. "He is not lost, though he shines inanother's heart."
And I looked at her and she at me, as well as we could see oneanother in that obscure light.
Only a glimmer of the sun glow came here and there where themasonry was badly joined, for over the entrance a skin had beencunningly hung and a bank was in front, but a few feet away, sothat anyone might come in and out without being observed.
"You and I are old," said I, "under one demeanour or countenancewe have existed in all the ages. We are lovers however we may benamed or whatever we admit to ourselves, with whatever cunningdevices and quiddities we try to amuse ourselves."
"Lovers!" said Isabelle, softly. "You came back here to name meas a witch."
"Whatever I name you, you know what you are. Nothing isexplained between us, yet all is known."
"And what have you to offer me," said she, whom I took then, inmy weariness, to be witch or fairy, but certainly no mortal, "if Ileave Castle Drum and all these broils and follow you?"
"What should I have to offer? You know me a vagabond. The lastmeal I had was by your charity, the next will come from your pity.And after that I shall go, taking the poor black with me, to wanderdown the breadth of Scotland until I find a man to slay me, if Ican, in honourable fight. It is more likely that I shall receive ashot in the back or have my brains beaten out as I saw those ofCornet Graham beaten. For I have been a double-minded, unstableman."
And I thought of all my own unsettled doubts and wavering ofmind. My life had been uneven because my heart, which was thestring of my life, had been at odds with itself.
And I remembered what I had read in the book of some divine,that a man that is not agreed within is like the motion of the sea,of himself ever fluctuating to and fro according to the naturalinstability of that element and at the same time exposed to all thetossing of the waves that arose.
I had thought that I loved Philippa Dean. For her sake I hadruined myself in a worldly sense, taken blood, though unwittingly,on my foolish hands. And then when I had seen her again I hadlooked upon her as but a commonplace person, of a frail and fadingnature, who had no special privilege of beauty or grace orgodliness.
And I had come back here to Isabelle Garrie, who sat now on thestool in the corner and looked at me where I rested on the poortable she had provided. And what had she that was not also frailand doomed to fade?
And I thought "the grass withereth, the flower thereof fallethaway," that we were all of us at our best and brightest but shallowstreams that would run into the river, that would in its turn runinto the sea and be lost for ever.
"Have you," said she, "any mind to fight further with theCovenanters?"
"I have no mind," said I, "to fight with or for any man. Yettheir cause is just and they have always the right of it. And Iliked the mighty words they spoke, and something of the breath ofGod is in their old, wise men. There are no Doctor Fletchers amongthem," said I with a grin. And there came into my mind some of thewords I had heard spoken before the battle of Bothwell Bridge,about the desirable and beautiful sight of God's glory in His owntemple. I remembered how the old man—was it Richard Cameronor another?—had said that "though for a small moment He hadforsaken us, yet with great mercy He will gather us. He has liftedup our enemies that their fall may be the greater, and that He maycast them down in desolation for ever. Arise, and let us be doing,for the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is ourrefuge."
"And who are you," said Isabelle, not with mockery but sadly,"to think of mighty words and stirring speeches who sit now in adark corner like an owl, a defeated man?"
I was fatigued, my mind was not steady.
I had come to the end of a long journey, though it had been buta journey in a circle. I had considered—lately as my poorshallow wits allowed—many things, the nature of God's dealingwith man, the nature of man's dealing with his fellow. I hadlistened to the wisdom of that heroic Prince, the Stadtholder, inHolland, and there had been nothing in that for me. And I hadrefused to fight for the great ones of the earth, even though Ithought their causes good. I had fought instead for these zealotswho in much I disliked.
I had considered the scheme of Mr. William Penn for shaking offhis shoes all the soiled dust of the Old World and endeavouring toplant a new country in the New World.
And where had all this brought me?
I had lost that brilliant and now broken love that had got meinto this plight, and I found myself entangled with one who waswitch or fairy, or common clay, I knew not what. And I had returnedagain to this antique, melancholy residence where I had never beenhappy, sloth had softened my bones, and my plight was no betterthan that described by Mr. William Cleland, by whose side I hadfought in a poem he wrote.
I had seen these words that he had written when we were inGlasgow, finishing for his amusement an old poem that seemed tohave been scribbled by a madman gazing at the moon through thegrating of his cell window.
Mr. Cleland told me that he had written this paper when he hadbeen a youth of eighteen in the college of Edinburgh, and now andthen when the affairs of the world lay heavy on him and he wishedto distract his loaded spirit, he would add another verse. I heardit the night they sacked the cathedral in Glasgow and fired thespirit in the Bishop's cellar.
I said the words now to Isabelle, and she listened, and hergolden eyes sparkled as if I recited to her an incantation:
"Fain also would I prove this:
What that which you call Love is:
Whether it be Folly,
Or a melancholy,
Or some Heroic thing!
Fain I'd have it proved by one whom love has wounded
And fully upon one his Desire hath founded,
Whom nothing else could please, tho' the world were rounded.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?"
"By these foolish rhymes," said I, "I speak to you, for no senseand reason can I offer you, either for my being here nor for what Isay."
And I added some more of the crazed verse written by theCovenanting poet:
"Hallo, my fancy, hallo!
Stay, stay at home with me.
I can thee no longer follow
For thou hast betrayed me
And betrayed me;
It is too much for thee.
"Stay, stay at home with me.
Leave off thy lofty soaring;
Stay thou at home with me and on thy books be poring,
For he that goes abroad, lays little up in storing,
Thou art welcome home, my Fancy, welcome home to me."
Isabelle clapped her hands and laughed when I had finished.
"That is all the matter there need be between you and me," shesaid. "No reason, debate or argument!"
It may be that we did not say all this on one occasion, it maybe that there were two or three occasions on which she visited mein that little cell behind the ruins. But when she had gone I usedto put down in the poor sheets I had still preserved, the highestmatter of these discourses, and thus I found it written a longwhile afterwards.
I think she came no more than two or three times to see me,bringing food and even a few books, for she knew that I foundcomfort in the written words of wise men. Greek and Latin writersshe brought me, and I remembered the volumes as being among thosethat had stood by the side of the sick boy.
I was not greatly concerned with the health of David Garrie orwith the long, dreary illness of Sir Donald, his father, and I soonceased to have any interest for the affairs of Evan Garrie andJannot.
Isabelle and I were all that concerned me, and would, I thought,in this world and the next—if there be such a world.
* * *
There was much freedom in this strange retreat. At night poorVirgil and I would go and walk abroad, contentedly, and not afraidof either the legions of Satan or Claverhouse's dragoons, for therewere many wide and waste spaces where we could walk unperceived,and in this manner we stretched our limbs and got fresh air intoour lungs.
I began to think of life again. So far the sum for me of manymonths of existence had been this return to Castle Drum. And now Iwas here, and now I knew why I had come, I began to think how Ishould continue with my days. And the more I thought of this themore I was enamoured with Mr. William Penn's project. And I thoughtif I could take Isabelle and Virgil with me, and perhaps EvanGarrie and Jannot, we might yet have a fresh lease of days, andthat all this in the memory would seem poor and tawdry, bloody, andill-favoured.
But I, being, as I have so often said, a vagabond, did not knowhow to put this design into execution. I had, too, the black mandependent upon me. He was still the property of another man, andmight, were I to be captured, be claimed again by the goldsmith ofthe Netherbow.
Isabelle was like a bird from a bough or an animal escaped fromits hiding-place. She had nothing to suggest as to the future. Ifshe loved me or would follow me for caprice, I did not know which,I had not asked, but I felt that our destinies were intertwined asthe rose and eglantine that grew from the lovers' graves in theballad.
But, as I have said, she had nothing to say as to what the daysmight bring us. She occupied herself in her tender duties to us; wehad food enough and water, and even wine. And well I knew that herstepmother and her sister must be in a connivance with her or shewould not have been able to bring these things from the Castlewithout being noted.
Then there came a peak in our affairs when Sir Donald Garriedied. Isabelle did not weep for him, or mourn; she had not seen himoften, he had usually been harsh with her. But while the funeralwas taking place, and they made a long and dreary business of it, awild ceremony in that wild place, she did not come to me, and Ifelt as if a curtain had fallen between me and the sun.
"Virgil,", said I, for I had no one to talk to save the poorblack, "we must get somehow to London, and I must wash the pastaway from me, and see if I can begin again."
I remember, I think it was when I was saying these words to himor some other occasion soon after the death of Sir Donald Garrie,that a hare ran past our retreat. The skin that hung in front ofthe door had been drawn a little aside, for we had become carelesswith much security, and the animal, so fleet and beautiful, boundedin and bounded away again. I saw the negro, it was at the break ofthe day, and I had been sleepless for many hours, groveling on thefloor in terror.
It flashed upon me that he believed the hare to be an enchantedcreature, and I remembered that Isabelle, mocking me, had dancedabout on the wooden floor, reciting what she declared to be acharm—"Hare, hare, God send you fear! I am in a hare'slikeness now, but I shall be a woman e'en now! Hare, hare, God sendyou fear!"
When Virgil could recover his speech he babbled out his fearthat the hare had been one of the ladies of Castle Drum.
I looked out into the light that was strengthening over theruined chapel, and the beast was no longer in sight. Her swiftleaps had carried her, I hope, safely to her forme. And if itshould have been Isabelle, would I have held her nestling in mybosom or cast her to the dogs, who, maybe, were behind her, as athing accursed?
I believe that this made me consider with great seriousness myposition. And I decided that I would, once and for all, solve theproblem of the future. If not by untying of the knot, then bycutting of it, as Alexander did the Gordian twist.
Isabelle came down that morning—I had seen her once onlysince her father died—and seated herself on the stool in thecorner, as was her wont, to make with me random discourse. But Iwas changed, by I knew what subtle alchemy of the spirit, andthough I still had not a penny in my pouch nor a sword by my side,I was resolute to try my own fate.
"Isabelle," said I, "I remember there was an arsenal on one ofthe great rooms on the ground floor of the Castle, find me there asword that is not too old-fashioned a make and bring it down hereto me, with the belt appertaining, if you may find it."
"And to whom will you do a mischief?" she asked.
"I have no wish," said I, "to shed anyone's blood. I find myselfin peace towards all mankind, but it is fitting that I should goarmed as a gentleman for what I am about to do."
She seemed frightened at that and asked if I would deliver herup for a witch.
I did not answer, and her fears increased, and she spoke like achild when she confessed piteously:
"Doctor Fletcher has offered to teach me many strange things,and I have been out with him at night on the heath. And I have seenfaces in the smoke that forms in the spray cast up by his crucible.And at times he has blinded my sight and made my speech unsteady.But I could swear to you by any god you like to name that I am nowitch, that I know no evil arts."
I remembered how she had been bred in that lonely Castle amongsuperstitious folk. I did not care to dwell on the strange powersthat Doctor Fletcher might possess; nay, I believed that Isabelleherself might have them, but all I could answer was that all thiswas nothing to me.
She brought me the sword; by then she never refused to do mybidding, not that I asked much of her. It was the most modernweapon that she could find in her late father's arsenal, but datedback to the time of the father of His present Majesty. Still, itwas fitted with a baldrick, and I was glad to feel the leather overmy shoulder again.
Thus armed according to my gentility, and my attire made as neatas the care of Virgil, still a good body-servant, in these adversecircumstances could make me, I took Isabelle by her little wristand bade her take me to the next gathering of witches, theSabats, as they termed them, that might be held within aman's walk of Castle Drum.
She looked at me long and earnestly with those eyes of liquidgolden light, and I could only read in her glance the keenquestioning of bewildered child in asking whether what she does isright or wrong?
"You might hold me cursed," she said, "you might deliver me upto the tar-barrel."
I comforted her away from thoughts of such foul treachery bysaying that as we went to meet the Devil and his legions, and as Iwas but one human man, and not godly at that, all the force wouldbe on her side.
She seemed hesitant and reluctant, and I knew not yet whether Iwas in the right of it or no. I seemed to see a light, but it wasfar distant and much clouded over.
Still, at length she was persuaded. She came to me one chillynight in October; no snow had fallen yet for the northern summerhad been long and sweet in the Lowlands, though the Highland hillswere white. I told her that Virgil must be of our company, for thepoor wretch was too affrighted to remain alone and would havebecome a howling madman by the morning had he been abandoned by theruins of the old church that he declared to be haunted by a hundredfoul goblins. None of these sprites had I seen, but they were veryapparent to the rolling eyeballs of the blackamoor.
So we set out, and there was an odd pain in my heart to thinkthat the girl should be taking me to what she admitted was agathering of witches ruled over by some infernal demon. I had setthe request to test her, to pierce to the heart this confusing,fantastic, and doubtful tale that had been tormenting me ever sinceI came to Castle Drum.
I had thought perhaps it would end in moonshine, that like thefairy gold it would be nothing but a handful of dead leaves in themorning, and here we were—Isabelle with her darklantern—and I reflected jealously how easily she came andwent from the Castle, now masterless save for the sickboy—Virgil behind us, towards the accursed place whereabominable rites would be held, and Isabelle the centre of them.The small hand put into mine was like that of a child, and it washard to think of her as smirched by those obscene ceremonies that Ihad heard the witches held.
We came at last to the place. It was a hollow, boggy as I shouldsuppose in foul weather, but yet dry and guarded by a shield of ashtrees. The moon that had not shone upon our early journey had nowparted the heavy clouds and the pale light that I never liked waslying over the scene, a colourless glow that seemed soiled in itssubstance.
"Is Jannot coming here tonight?" I whispered to the girl by myside as we slipped between the smooth trunks of the rowantrees.
"No," said she. "She seldom comes now, she is occupied intending Evan."
And then she told me what I had long guessed, the boy wasbecoming daily more cloudy in his mind, and though sweet, gentle,and happy too, seemed to have lost much of his reason or to be atthe least of it dimmed in his intellect. He was strong still in hisbody, and gave no sign of physical disease. And he had become,Isabelle told me, increasingly dependent upon Jannot, who had askedher brother's permission for their marriage.
"And so, you see, being a betrothed maiden," said Isabelle, "shecomes no longer to these ceremonies. And I have not been for awhile, thinking you would not countenance it."
"Why did you ever come, Isabelle?" I said. I sat beside her on along stone that had been placed there, I think, as a seat forspectators at these satanic revels.
She did not know. It had been her stepmother who had brought herfirst; there had been old women in the Castle too who were supposedto be possessed of magic powers. All the women for miles roundcame.
Virgil stood behind us, I heard him groaning prayers, and when Ilooked up I could see his eyes rolling, showing their whites. I wasafraid that with a shriek and a clatter he might fly the scene ofwhat he supposed would be monstrous iniquities, so with a sternword I bade him be quiet.
"We must go down and join them," said Isabelle. "We must not sithere as if we meant to spy on them."
I thought of Mr. Richard Cameron and his courage and hisholiness, I thought of the young Prince, the most admired man ofEurope, to whom I had spoken at The Hague, and I smiled to myselfwhen I considered what these two men who had found me not unworthyof serious discourse would think of me were they to see me now.
I was soon aware of a group of people gathered in the hollow.They were all darkly dressed, but many of them carried torches orlanterns. I peered at them keenly, and soon had a chance of closeobservation, for Isabelle tugged at my hand as Virgil tugged at mycloak, and between the two of them I found myself among thechattering crowd.
There was enough light from the various pine-knots and lanternsfor me to observe closely those gathered in this lonely anddesolate place.
Most of them were old folk, clutching tattered garments aboutthem from the keen night wind, labouring men and cottage wives, notto be distinguished from those who had helped us on our flightafter the battle of Bothwell Bridge.
Here and there was the fresh face of a younger woman, youngermen I did not see. Everyone there was credulous, ignorant, bemused,I thought, with idle tales and sick fancies, and the horrors ofthese bloody times.
Very different was this from the scene that I had observed fromthe old tower of the ruined church. All was commonplace, there wasno sense of evil, of dread, or of the marvellous. I could notbelieve that here were gathered any envoys either from Hell orambassadors from Fairyland.
Amid these wretches, many of whom I doubted not were doomed totorture and the stake, moved Doctor Fletcher, whose weak, keen facewas drawn in fretful lines. He had on some kind of tawdry robestuck with stars and held a staff in his hand.
I kept well out of his way; no doubt he would recognize me,though I was much changed since first I had come to CastleDrum.
But he was in some manner of trance or swoon, and going roundand round with staggering steps, with closed eyes and slaveringlips was reciting some gibberish charm.
His audience soon formed a circle round him, and with slow,capering motions began to execute a clumsy dance. As their old andtired feet stamped the soft earth I began to feel something of thevibration of their rhythm, I began to understand, as uncouth wordsleft their quivering throats, chanting in some language older thaneven the rude Scots tongue, that this was the wretched remnant ofsome ancient religion far older than Christianity, and that thesewere the priests of some god whom they would not allow to drop intodecay, though in the eyes of most of mankind he was alreadydead.
Doctor Fletcher seemed the high priest of these poor rites, butI saw among them a leading fanatic, with a face either blackened orcovered by a. black taffeta mask.
I thought by his gait, for he limped even as he tried to leap inthe dance that became every moment more lively, that he was awounded soldier whom I knew, who lived near Castle Drum. Perhapsthe man was a charlatan, and for the sake of a few pence and thelittle power he might gain had set himself up as a messenger ofSatan among these rude and ignorant people, who were lonely andafraid.
And I thought again of glory, the little loathsome glory thatthis fellow gained in deluding the wretched, the poor, and thefoolish.
What power had been over me before when I had looked in thechapel I know not; I think it was some drug that had been put intomy wine by Doctor Fletcher that evening. No doubt, for I was notdiscreet, he had learned that I intended to spy upon his ceremonialand thus had prepared visions to frighten me away, as he had mostsuccessfully done.
Or else in some other way my spirit had been bewitched andhallucinations put upon me.
For this evening, as I looked with the eyes of clear commonsense, there was nothing to be seen but these mean and distressedpeople celebrating, with an enthusiasm that quickly rose to afrenzy equal to the Covenanters, the long-forgotten rites of somelong-forgotten god.
The old soldier, for such I took him to be, was soon enthroned.He thrust out his wooden peg-leg and the women trooping past kissedit. Doctor Fletcher stood by his right hand, like his priest, andthere were howling songs and chants. One there had the pipes, andthese began skirling away.
Then pipkins of drink that I doubt not was strong enough werepassed round, and the people began to screech and sing in adifferent key, bending and bowing before those twofigures—the black man enthroned upon the stone, the vile anddegraded scholar standing beside him.
Was there any difference, I asked myself, between theseworshippers and the Covenanters whom I had heard defying the powersof evil at Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge?
This, at least, I knew—that the cavalry of Claverhousewould ride down these as they had ridden down the Cameroniansaints, for there would be the stake as for the others thehalter.
The moon went behind a cloud and the wind rose, but thesezealots did not seem to feel the discomfort of the bitterwinds.
I drew Isabelle close to me and so got her apart from the throngthat was beginning to whirl and sway in fantastic patterns.
"There's nothing here," said I. "There's nothing here, Isabelle,my dear love, but such as are wretched and miserable, trying toforget themselves even for half an hour."
"There's the Devil in the midst," said she coolly. By hertranquillity I could gauge for how long—no doubt since shehad been in arms—that she, living enclosed, had beenaccustomed to these barbarous superstitions.
"There's magic in the world," I whispered in her ear, "but nothere or now. There's strange things done, but not here. DoctorFletcher knows some tricks, and has even taken me with them, butthey are nothing."
The blackamoor had followed me. We stood apart, but no onenoticed, I think, our withdrawal, for they were by then, I am sure,all drunk with their own furies, and the strong drink that washanded from one to another in the wooden bowls. This seemed to bebrewed by some of the company who were crouched behind the stone onwhich the one-legged soldier sat.
I wonder if the man himself believed in his dark and paltryglory, or whether he was laughing at these poor fools, and knewwell enough that he was but some blear-eyed relic of the late wars,who had been abroad in his time and learnt enough—not todissipate his own ignorance—but to bewilder these poorfolk.
Be that as it may, he played his part, and I had to admit thatthere was a dignity about him in his tattered red mantle and hisblack-horned mask that might have convinced many whose minds werebemused by ignorance and superstition that here indeed was one ofSatan's lieutenants.
And what was Doctor Fletcher's part in this, I wondered?
That he was a man of great learning I could not doubt. He was anadept in chemistry, and I knew from the time I had served withThomas Vaughan, that son of fire, what strange things were to bediscovered in that science, things that in their effect seemedmagical, but in their causes, as I had seen proved, were buteffects of Nature and logical in their demonstration.
I could not be surprised if these people worshipped the Devil.The God of the Covenanters was violent and bloody. The Iove andpeace preached by Christ were hard to find, indeed, I think theywere not known at all in Scotland. And it seemed as likely, nay, asreasonable, to me that men should fall into this extreme of devilworship as that they should become zealous in the cause of the Godof battle whom the Covenanters served.
These poor fools, at least, did not beat out the brains of menwhom they suspected of magic powers. They would not, I thought,have the ferocious courage to do so even if they had the chance. Ifound them more harmless either than the rebels, the captains ofthe Covenanters, or the Royalist troops.
I saw, moving in that murky throng, some women of the bettersort, and that caused me a sickly qualm, and I questioned Isabellein whispers as to what part she had ever taken in these revels? Andshe replied with great pride of birth that never had she mingledwith them, but when the ladies came she and her mother and sistersat apart and were treated as queens.
And I remembered that no one had taught her to read or to writenor taken any concern over her spirit or her mind, and that it wasnot strange that she had fallen into these practices, and I had nomarvel that when Mr. Richard Cameron had come to Castle Drum he hadfound her as far beyond his grasp as any gauzy summer butterflythat fed on the honey-heather in the summer.
I put my cloak about her face and led her away, and she camewillingly.
"These junketings and prancings are but folly," said I, and Ispoke with some melancholy and regret, too. "Here is no bravery offairyland, or no dark magnificence of Hell, only a number of poorwretches beguiling their present miseries by thought of power. Andwhat power have they, Isabelle? Consider that! When they arecaptured, can any of them escape the torture and the stake?"
"They have some power," said she, drawing close to me forprotection against the night wind and looking up at me through thedark. And I could believe that, I had evidence of it. What of theslab of polished jet? Both these sisters possessed strangegifts.
They might be, for all I knew, of fairy birth, as they call it,lamias or women half immortal, born without souls. All these thingswere dark, confused, and inexplicable, and I was not minded toprobe them but take my fortune as it came, and trust that God wouldforgive a mortal man his errors.
* * *
I took Isabelle back to Castle Drum that night and left herwithin sight of the sentry, for Scotland was still in a state oflively unrest, and Ross' dragoons still garrisoned Castle Drum,where now the three women lived lonely with a sick lad.
I slept that night better than I had slept for many nightsbefore, and in the morning I made my attire as cleanly as possible,helped by the toilet-box that Isabelle had brought me and with thehelp of the blackamoor. And with him arrayed as my body-servant,with his livery brushed and mended—he was skilful in suchmatters—I went openly to Castle Drum.
The sentries allowed me to pass, thinking from my demeanour thatI was a friend of the young lord. For, with my newly-sprucedclothes and the black behind me, I did not cut so ill a figure. Andit made me smile at the paltry, shifting fortunes of men to thinkthat I had lain hidden, a fugitive, for so many weeks behind thechapel, who had only but to appear decently arrayed before thecastle to be admitted immediately.
The family were at meat, as I knew, seated in the great hallwhere I had often broken my rough bread on a silver platter andeyed Isabelle and Jannot's golden curls across the tapers of Frenchwax.
At the head, in the chair of the master, that he had only latelyoccupied, sat David, the sick lad, his bright hair falling on hisbent shoulders, his face worn beyond his years, and set in sullenlines of pain.
To his right sat Elspeth; she wore the yellow satin gown and hada long-stemmed glass in her long hand.
I faced the boy whom I had tried to teach, the learning, itseemed to me, he would never need now, for I thought that he wasgoing to a place where all tongues would be alike. Yet perhaps hehad gained some virtue, in the Latin sense of the word, from theold books that he had read so constantly. He looked at mestraightly now, like a gentleman and master of the place, as I camein with Isabelle in my hand and Virgil behind me. Elspeth looked atme keenly also; there was no fear in any of them, yet they mighthave thought that I was but the forerunner of some murdering bandof Covenanters, or leading the country-side roused on awitch-hunt.
Before I spoke to them I took pains to look at Sannot and Evan.She was by his side, their hands were interlocked, their eyesturned towards me, not with the intentness of the others, butrather with a gentle peace, as if withdrawn into their owncompanionship they saw the rest of the world but as an immensesolitude. But the youth was happier now than he had ever been, inthis long twilight of his mind, I could not doubt. And witch or no,Jannot was purged of most of her spells and wantonness, and I couldsee nothing between them but pure affection.
And so I came to the foot of the long heavy table and stoodthere, a landless, penniless man, and could not but help laugh atmyself.
"I am Thomas Maitland," I said, "who was your pedagogue, sincethen I joined the Covenanters and did no good, either to them or tomyself. Now I'm taking Isabelle away with me."
"What old dream is this?" answered Elspeth, and I thought thatthere was a note of longing in her voice. "Do you take her away tosome palace in the hills, or has she beguiled you to follow heracross a sea that has no shore?"
"Do not speak to me in riddles," I replied. "I am at no painsnow to sift out the values of these earthly and unearthly things.Lamiaor witch or Devil's maiden, Isabelle belongs to me."
"It is true," said she, breaking the little silence that fellafter I had spoken. "Wherever he wishes I will go."
"I was at the witch-gathering last night," said I, "and saw buta parcel of poor wretches, maddened by drink and despair andcozened by a lame soldier with a blackened face. But it may be thatthere are other and more tremendous revels of which I knownothing."
Then the young lord answered me.
He spoke bravely and with a grave air. Indeed, there was none atthat table who seemed cowed but Doctor Fletcher, who was fingeringthe napery in front of him with crooked fingers and looking at measlant. I suppose that he was thinking of the torture chamber andthe staple with the iron chain that might be his fate yet. I had nomind to denounce him or to save the other occupants of Castle Drumfrom his spell, for I took him to be a man of much cunning and deeplearning in evil ways.
David Garrie said:
"Take her, Mr. Maitland. I would not stay anyone who would tryto escape from Castle Drum. There are horses in the stable, and youmay take your choice."
He pulled a key from a chain around his neck and sent itspinning down the table towards us. It stayed half-way, butElspeth's hand sent it further to the end of the board and withinmy reach.
"Go to the room," said he, "that you know of and is kept as anarsenal. There is an iron-bound chest at the end, open it, and youwill find some bags of gold. Take what you will for Isabelle'sdowry, for I do not think that I shall need this earth's coinagemuch longer."
Doctor Fletcher made a movement as if he would stay his pupiland his patient, but the boy's pale narrow eyes gave him a sharplook and the old man fell back, fingering his beard.
"I'll take something," said I. "Nothing is owing to me, I waspaid my fee when I worked here, but for Isabelle's sake I will takea few pieces of gold to get us safe out of the realm ofScotland."
I turned to the girl and asked her if she would say good-bye toher kinsfolk, and she held my hand tightly as she said in the highclear voice that was like the trilling of a small bird:
"Good-bye to you all, David, my brother, and Jannot, my sister,and Garrie, her love, and Elspeth, who was a mother to me!Good-bye!"
"The password," said David Garrie, sinking back into his chairas if exhausted, "is United in Time. And if any of the soldiersstay you give them that and say I know of your going."
And so I, Thomas Maitland, and Isabelle Garrie, and Virgil, theblackamoor, left Castle Drum on borrowed horses and with borrowedmoney.
We rode through the darkness and a drifting rain until we cameto Hamilton, where the heads of the Covenanters were buried. Weslept in our cloaks, Isabelle was as hardy as a mountain falcon,and in the morning we read the epitaph of these men who had beendead nearly twenty years.
'Why do I recall it now? It seems to chime in with my flightwith my love.
* * *
That is not the end of the story, but it is all that I care toset down, save for such general particulars that little touch myown life.
I married Isabelle in London, and my kinsman, the Duke ofLauderdale, dying soon afterwards, left me a pretty portion.
This I put into Mr. William Penn's scheme for his plantation inAmerica, that he was to call Pennsylvania.
This proved but a material business, after all. There wasparcelling out of land and buying and bargaining from His Grace theDuke of York and Lord Baltimore, who had the grants over thoseparts.
While this business was going on we lived quietly in London in asmall house that I took furnished in Golden Square, and Isabellenever left my side day or night, save when I was on the mostpressing affairs about the Court. And I can say no more thanthat.
She was my first wife, and has been these thirty years dead.
While I was urging on the business of our settlement in
Philadelphia, as the city of brotherly love was to be named, andenvisaging a life that was to be sweet and pleasant, whereIsabelle's children and mine might grow up about our knees in acomely mansion set about with prolific gardens that reached tofields of noble corn and fine timbered forests, there came the newsto me of how Richard Cameron had been slain in a skirmish at Aird'sMoss, in Ayrshire, and how his hands and head had been set up overdifferent market towns in Scotland.
Then the plague took Isabelle; laemia or witch or fairy, she wasgone from me in a day and a night and dust lay on the golden eyes,and I. had no heart nor interest any more in the schemes of Mr.'William Penn.
It was as if the finer part of me, all that was capable ofwonder and ecstasy, rapture and delight, had died with Isabelle,and been laid with her in her linen shroud, her eyes shut with thefirst cold-coloured windflowers of the year.
Mr. Penn's plans went awry, too. God did not seem to bless thatundertaking any more than he had blessed the Covenanters.
I left England and returned again to The Hague, moving like anautomaton, doing my business, eating, drinking, smoking, but withlittle heart in any of it.
And as I was a man of substance, some traders got hold of me andI entered a substantial business, banking and exchange. The housewas situate at Amsterdam, and there I lived for many years.
Like echoes from a far-off planet I heard of the death ofClaverhouse, Lord Dundee he was then, in the dark defiles ofKillicranky. This was the end of his glory, cut down by a silverbullet fired by his servant, so they said, and like ArchbishopSharp had been, to lie mangled on the heather.
And Mr. Penn's glory was but a circle in the water, too, for allhis schemes ended in disputes and difficulties.
And I lived well out of it all, industrious and comfortable, aman of substance, with a kind and pretty wife who bore me noblechildren.
But where was it all—the worldly glory, the spiritualglory, the lust for power, the search for God?
I often pondered as I smoked my pipe and gazed into thefire.
Time soon chilled the old torments, and with every year thatpassed they grew less, until I was able with patience to set downon paper what broken memories I had of Isabelle, of the yellowsatin gown, of the day I had first gone to Castle Drum.
And until he died of an ague caught in that inhospitableclimate, I kept with me always Virgil, the blackamoor, for though Icould not speak to him of these matters, he had been through theseadventures with me, and was one who had been my companion in thosedays of pain and ecstasy.
I avoided news of Scotland, but I chanced to hear that Daviddied not long after my second marriage and that Jannot and Evanlived in Castle Drum in solitude, being, as one might say,accursed, or, as another might say, blessed.
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