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Chapter 20


--If you fail Honour here,
Never presume to serve her any more;
Bid farewell to the integrity of armes;
And the honourable name of soldier
Fall from you, like a shivered wreath of laurel
By thunder struck from a desertlesse forehead.
A Faire Quarrell.

Early the next morning, a gentleman came to wait upon Mr. Lovel, who was
up and ready to receive him. He was a military gentleman, a friend of
Captain M'Intyre's, at present in Fairport on the recruiting service.
Lovel and he were slightly known to each other. "I presume, sir," said
Mr. Lesley (such was the name of the visitor), "that you guess the
occasion of my troubling you so early?"

"A message from Captain M'Intyre, I presume?"

"The same. He holds himself injured by the manner in which you declined
yesterday to answer certain inquiries which he conceived himself entitled
to make respecting a gentleman whom he found in intimate society with his
family."

"May I ask, if you, Mr. Lesley, would have inclined to satisfy
interrogatories so haughtily and unceremoniously put to you?"

"Perhaps not;--and therefore, as I know the warmth of my friend M'Intyre
on such occasions, I feel very desirous of acting as peacemaker. From Mr.
Lovel's very gentleman-like manners, every one must strongly wish to see
him repel all that sort of dubious calumny which will attach itself to
one whose situation is not fully explained. If he will permit me, in
friendly conciliation, to inform Captain M'Intyre of his real name, for
we are led to conclude that of Lovel is assumed"--

"I beg your pardon, sir, but I cannot admit that inference."

"--Or at least," said Lesley, proceeding, "that it is not the name by
which Mr. Lovel has been at all times distinguished--if Mr. Lovel will
have the goodness to explain this circumstance, which, in my opinion, he
should do in justice to his own character, I will answer for the amicable
arrangement of this unpleasant business."

"Which is to say, Mr. Lesley, that if I condescend to answer questions
which no man has a right to ask, and which are now put to me under
penalty of Captain M'Intyre's resentment, Captain MIntyre will condescend
to rest satisfied? Mr. Lesley, I have just one word to say on this
subject--I have no doubt my secret, if I had one, might be safely
entrusted to your honour, but I do not feel called upon to satisfy the
curiosity of any one. Captain M'Intyre met me in society which of itself
was a warrant to all the world, and particularly ought to be such to him,
that I was a gentleman. He has, in my opinion, no right to go any
further, or to inquire the pedigree, rank, or circumstances, of a
stranger, who, without seeking any intimate connection with him, or his,
chances to dine with his uncle, or walk in company with his sister."

"In that case, Captain M'Intyre requests you to be informed, that your
farther visits at Monkbarns, and all connection with Miss M'Intyre, must
be dropt, as disagreeable to him."

"I shall certainly," said Lovel, "visit Mr. Oldbuck when it suits me,
without paying the least respect to his nephew's threats or irritable
feelings. I respect the young lady's name too much (though nothing can be
slighter than our acquaintance) to introduce it into such a discussion."

"Since that is your resolution, sir," answered Lesley, "Captain M'Intyre
requests that Mr. Lovel, unless he wishes to be announced as a very
dubious character, will favour him with a meeting this evening, at seven,
at the thorn-tree in the little valley close by the ruins of St. Ruth."

"Most unquestionably, I will wait upon him. There is only one difficulty
--I must find a friend to accompany me, and where to seek one on this
short notice, as I have no acquaintance in Fairport--I will be on the
spot, however--Captain M'Intyre may be assured of that."

Lesley had taken his hat, and was as far as the door of the apartment,
when, as if moved by the peculiarity of Lovel's situation, he returned,
and thus addressed him: "Mr. Lovel, there is something so singular in all
this, that I cannot help again resuming the argument. You must be
yourself aware at this moment of the inconvenience of your preserving an
incognito, for which, I am convinced, there can be no dishonourable
reason. Still, this mystery renders it difficult for you to procure the
assistance of a friend in a crisis so delicate--nay, let me add, that
many persons will even consider it as a piece of Quixotry in M'Intyre to
give you a meeting, while your character and circumstances are involved
in such obscurity."

"I understand your innuendo, Mr. Lesley," rejoined Lovel; and though I
might be offended at its severity, I am not so, because it is meant
kindly. But, in my opinion, he is entitled to all the privileges of a
gentleman, to whose charge, during the time he has been known in the
society where he happens to move, nothing can be laid that is unhandsome
or unbecoming. For a friend, I dare say I shall find some one or other
who will do me that good turn; and if his experience be less than I could
wish, I am certain not to suffer through that circumstance when you are
in the field for my antagonist."

"I trust you will not," said Lesley; "but as I must, for my own sake, be
anxious to divide so heavy a responsibility with a capable assistant,
allow me to say, that Lieutenant Taffril's gun-brig is come into the
roadstead, and he himself is now at old Caxon's, where he lodges. I think
you have the same degree of acquaintance with him as with me, and, as I
am sure I should willingly have rendered you such a service were I not
engaged on the other side, I am convinced he will do so at your first
request."

"At the thorn-tree, then, Mr. Lesley, at seven this evening--the arms, I
presume, are pistols?"

"Exactly. M'Intyre has chosen the hour at which he can best escape from
Monkbarns--he was with me this morning by five, in order to return and
present himself before his uncle was up. Good-morning to you, Mr. Lovel."
And Lesley left the apartment.

Lovel was as brave as most men; but none can internally regard such a
crisis as now approached, without deep feelings of awe and uncertainty.
In a few hours he might be in another world to answer for an action which
his calmer thought told him was unjustifiable in a religious point of
view, or he might be wandering about in the present like Cain, with the
blood of his brother on his head. And all this might be saved by speaking
a single word. Yet pride whispered, that to speak that word now, would be
ascribed to a motive which would degrade him more low than even the most
injurious reasons that could be assigned for his silence. Every one, Miss
Wardour included, must then, he thought, account him a mean dishonoured
poltroon, who gave to the fear of meeting Captain M'Intyre the
explanation he had refused to the calm and handsome expostulations of Mr.
Lesley. M'Intyre's insolent behaviour to himself personally, the air of
pretension which he assumed towards Miss Wardour, and the extreme
injustice, arrogance, and incivility of his demands upon a perfect
stranger, seemed to justify him in repelling his rude investigation. In
short, he formed the resolution which might have been expected from so
young a man,--to shut the eyes, namely, of his calmer reason, and follow
the dictates of his offended pride. With this purpose he sought
Lieutenant Taffril.

The lieutenant received him with the good breeding of a gentleman and the
frankness of a sailor, and listened with no small surprise to the detail
which preceded his request that he might be favoured with his company at
his meeting with Captain M'Intyre. When he had finished, Taffril rose up
and walked through his apartment once or twice. "This is a most singular
circumstance," he said, "and really"--

"I am conscious, Mr. Taffril, how little I am entitled to make my present
request, but the urgency of circumstances hardly leaves me an
alternative."

"Permit me to ask you one question," asked the sailor;--"is there
anything of which you are ashamed in the circumstances which you have
declined to communicate."

"Upon my honour, no; there is nothing but what, in a very short time, I
trust I may publish to the whole world."

"I hope the mystery arises from no false shame at the lowness of your
friends perhaps, or connections?"

"No, on my word," replied Lovel.

"I have little sympathy for that folly," said Taffril--"indeed I cannot
be supposed to have any; for, speaking of my relations, I may be said to
have come myself from before the mast, and I believe I shall very soon
form a connection, which the world will think low enough, with a very
amiable girl, to whom I have been attached since we were next-door
neighbours, at a time when I little thought of the good fortune which has
brought me forward in the service."

"I assure you, Mr. Taffril," replied Lovel, "whatever were the rank of my
parents, I should never think of concealing it from a spirit of petty
pride. But I am so situated at present, that I cannot enter on the
subject of my family with any propriety."

"It is quite enough," said the honest sailor--"give me your hand; I'll
see you as well through this business as I can, though it is but an
unpleasant one after all--But what of that? our own honour has the next
call on us after our country;--you are a lad of spirit, and I own I think
Mr. Hector M'Intyre, with his long pedigree and his airs of family, very
much of a jackanapes. His father was a soldier of fortune as I am a
sailor--he himself, I suppose, is little better, unless just as his uncle
pleases; and whether one pursues fortune by land, or sea, makes no great
difference, I should fancy."

"None in the universe, certainly," answered Lovel.

"Well," said his new ally, "we will dine together and arrange matters for
this rencounter. I hope you understand the use of the weapon?"

"Not particularly," Lovel replied.

"I am sorry for that--M'Intyre is said to be a marksman."

"I am sorry for it also," said Lovel, "both for his sake and my own: I
must then, in self-defence, take my aim as well as I can."

"Well," added Taffril, "I will have our surgeon's mate on the field--a
good clever young fellow at caulking a shot-hole. I will let Lesley, who
is an honest fellow for a landsman, know that he attends for the benefit
of either party. Is there anything I can do for you in case of an
accident?"

"I have but little occasion to trouble you," said Lovel. "This small
billet contains the key of my escritoir, and my very brief secret. There
is one letter in the escritoir" (digesting a temporary swelling of the
heart as he spoke), "which I beg the favour of you to deliver with your
own hand."

"I understand," said the sailor. "Nay, my friend, never be ashamed for
the matter--an affectionate heart may overflow for an instant at the
eyes, if the ship were clearing for action; and, depend on it, whatever
your injunctions are, Dan Taffril will regard them like the bequest of a
dying brother. But this is all stuff;--we must get our things in fighting
order, and you will dine with me and my little surgeon's mate, at the
Graeme's-Arms over the way, at four o'clock."

"Agreed," said Lovel.

"Agreed," said Taffril; and the whole affair was arranged.

It was a beautiful summer evening, and the shadow of the solitary
thorn-tree was lengthening upon the short greensward of the narrow
valley, which was skirted by the woods that closed around the ruins of
St. Ruth. *

* [Supposed to have been suggested by the old Abbey of Arbroath in *
Forfarshire.]

Lovel and Lieutenant Taffril, with the surgeon, came upon the ground
with a purpose of a nature very uncongenial to the soft, mild, and
pacific character of the hour and scene. The sheep, which during the
ardent heat of the day had sheltered in the breaches and hollows of the
gravelly bank, or under the roots of the aged and stunted trees, had now
spread themselves upon the face of the hill to enjoy their evening's
pasture, and bleated, to each other with that melancholy sound which at
once gives life to a landscape, and marks its solitude.--Taffril and
Lovel came on in deep conference, having, for fear of discovery, sent
their horses back to the town by the Lieutenant's servant. The opposite
party had not yet appeared on the field. But when they came upon the
ground, there sat upon the roots of the old thorn a figure as vigorous in
his decay as the moss-grown but strong and contorted boughs which served
him for a canopy. It was old Ochiltree. "This is embarrassing enough,"
said Lovel:--"How shall we get rid of this old fellow?"

"Here, father Adam," cried Taffril, who knew the mendicant of yore
--"here's half-a-crown for you. You must go to the Four Horse-shoes yonder
--the little inn, you know, and inquire for a servant with blue and
yellow livery. If he is not come, you'll wait for him, and tell him we
shall be with his master in about an hour's time. At any rate, wait there
till we come back,--and--Get off with you--Come, come, weigh anchor."

"I thank ye for your awmous," said Ochiltree, pocketing the piece of
money; "but I beg your pardon, Mr. Taffril--I canna gang your errand e'en
now."

"Why not, man? what can hinder you?"

"I wad speak a word wi' young Mr. Lovel."

"With me?" answered Lovel: "what would you say with me? Come, say on, and
be brief."

The mendicant led him a few paces aside. "Are ye indebted onything to the
Laird o' Monkbarns?"

"Indebted!--no, not I--what of that?--what makes you think so?"

"Ye maun ken I was at the shirra's the day; for, God help me, I gang
about a' gates like the troubled spirit; and wha suld come whirling there
in a post-chaise, but Monkbarns in an unco carfuffle--now, it's no a
little thing that will make his honour take a chaise and post-horse twa
days rinnin'."

"Well, well; but what is all this to me?"

"Ou, ye'se hear, ye'se hear. Weel, Monkbarns is closeted wi' the shirra
whatever puir folk may be left thereout--ye needna doubt that--the
gentlemen are aye unco civil amang themsells."

"For heaven's sake, my old friend"--

"Canna ye bid me gang to the deevil at ance, Mr. Lovel? it wad be mair
purpose fa'ard than to speak o' heaven in that impatient gate."

"But I have private business with Lieutenant Taffril here."

"Weel, weel, a' in gude time," said the beggar--"I can use a little wee
bit freedom wi' Mr. Daniel Taffril;--mony's the peery and the tap I
worked for him langsyne, for I was a worker in wood as weel as a
tinkler."

"You are either mad, Adam, or have a mind to drive me mad."

"Nane o' the twa," said Edie, suddenly changing his manner from the
protracted drawl of the mendicant to a brief and decided tone. "The
shirra sent for his clerk, and as the lad is rather light o' the tongue,
I fand it was for drawing a warrant to apprehend you--I thought it had
been on a _fugie_ warrant for debt; for a' body kens the laird likes
naebody to pit his hand in his pouch--But now I may haud my tongue, for I
see the M'Intyre lad and Mr. Lesley coming up, and I guess that
Monkbarns's purpose was very kind, and that yours is muckle waur than it
should be."

The antagonist now approached, and saluted with the stern civility which
befitted the occasion. "What has this old fellow to do here?" said
M'Intyre.

"I am an auld fallow," said Edie, "but I am also an auld soldier o' your
father's, for I served wi' him in the 42d."

"Serve where you please, you have no title to intrude on us," said
M'Intyre, "or"--and he lifted his cane _in terrorem,_ though without the
idea of touching the old man.

But Ochiltree's courage was roused by the insult. "Haud down your switch,
Captain M'Intyre! I am an auld soldier, as I said before, and I'll take
muckle frae your father's son; but no a touch o' the wand while my
pike-staff will haud thegither."

"Well, well, I was wrong--I was wrong," said M'Intyre; "here's a crown
for you--go your ways--what's the matter now?"

The old man drew himself up to the full advantage of his uncommon height,
and in despite of his dress, which indeed had more of the pilgrim than
the ordinary beggar, looked from height, manner, and emphasis of voice
and gesture, rather like a grey palmer or eremite preacher, the ghostly
counsellor of the young men who were around him, than the object of their
charity. His speech, indeed, was as homely as his habit, but as bold and
unceremonious as his erect and dignified demeanour. "What are ye come
here for, young men?" he said, addressing himself to the surprised
audience; "are ye come amongst the most lovely works of God to break his
laws? Have ye left the works of man, the houses and the cities that are
but clay and dust, like those that built them--and are ye come here among
the peaceful hills, and by the quiet waters, that will last whiles aught
earthly shall endure, to destroy each other's lives, that will have but
an unco short time, by the course of nature, to make up a lang account at
the close o't? O sirs! hae ye brothers, sisters, fathers, that hae tended
ye, and mothers that hae travailed for ye, friends that hae ca'd ye like
a piece o' their ain heart? and is this the way ye tak to make them
childless and brotherless and friendless? Ohon! it's an ill feight whar
he that wins has the warst o't. Think on't, bairns. I'm a puir man--but
I'm an auld man too--and what my poverty takes awa frae the weight o' my
counsel, grey hairs and a truthfu' heart should add it twenty times. Gang
hame, gang hame, like gude lads--the French will be ower to harry us ane
o' thae days, and ye'll hae feighting eneugh, and maybe auld Edie will
hirple out himsell if he can get a feal-dyke to lay his gun ower, and may
live to tell you whilk o' ye does the best where there's a good cause
afore ye."

There was something in the undaunted and independent manner, hardy
sentiment, and manly rude elocution of the old man, that had its effect
upon the party, and particularly on the seconds, whose pride was
uninterested in bringing the dispute to a bloody arbitrament, and who, on
the contrary, eagerly watched for an opportunity to recommend
reconciliation.

"Upon my word, Mr. Lesley," said Taffril, "old Adam speaks like an
oracle. Our friends here were very angry yesterday, and of course very
foolish;--today they should be cool, or at least we must be so in their
behalf. I think the word should be forget and forgive on both sides,
--that we should all shake hands, fire these foolish crackers in the air,
and go home to sup in a body at the Graeme's-Arms."

"I would heartily recommend it," said Lesley; "for, amidst a great deal
of heat and irritation on both sides, I confess myself unable to discover
any rational ground of quarrel."

"Gentlemen," said M'Intyre, very coldly, "all this should have been
thought of before. In my opinion, persons that have carried this matter
so far as we have done, and who should part without carrying it any
farther, might go to supper at the Graeme's-Arms very joyously, but would
rise the next morning with reputations as ragged as our friend here, who
has obliged us with a rather unnecessary display of his oratory. I speak
for myself, that I find myself bound to call upon you to proceed without
more delay."

"And I," said Lovel, "as I never desired any, have also to request these
gentlemen to arrange preliminaries as fast as possible."

"Bairns! bairns!" cried old Ochiltree; but perceiving he was no longer
attended to--"Madmen, I should say--but your blood be on your heads!" And
the old man drew off from the ground, which was now measured out by the
seconds, and continued muttering and talking to himself in sullen
indignation, mixed with anxiety, and with a strong feeling of painful
curiosity. Without paying farther attention to his presence or
remonstrances, Mr. Lesley and the Lieutenant made the necessary
arrangements for the duel, and it was agreed that both parties should
fire when Mr. Lesley dropped his handkerchief.

The fatal sign was given, and both fired almost in the same moment.
Captain M'Intyre's ball grazed the side of his opponent, but did not draw
blood. That of Lovel was more true to the aim; M'Intyre reeled and fell.
Raising himself on his arm, his first exclamation was, "It is nothing--it
is nothing--give us the other pistols." But in an instant he said, in a
lower tone, "I believe I have enough--and what's worse, I fear I deserve
it. Mr. Lovel, or whatever your name is, fly and save yourself--Bear all
witness, I provoked this matter." Then raising himself again on his arm,
he added, "Shake hands, Lovel--I believe you to be a gentleman--forgive
my rudeness, and I forgive you my death--My poor sister!"

The surgeon came up to perform his part of the tragedy, and Lovel stood
gazing on the evil of which he had been the active, though unwilling
cause, with a dizzy and bewildered eye. He was roused from his trance by
the grasp of the mendicant. "Why stand you gazing on your deed?--What's
doomed is doomed--what's done is past recalling. But awa, awa, if ye wad
save your young blood from a shamefu' death--I see the men out by yonder
that are come ower late to part ye--but, out and alack! sune eneugh, and
ower sune, to drag ye to prison."

"He is right--he is right," exclaimed Taffril; "you must not attempt to
get on the high-road--get into the wood till night. My brig will be under
sail by that time, and at three in the morning, when the tide will serve,
I shall have the boat waiting for you at the Mussel-crag. Away-away, for
Heaven's sake!"

"O yes! fly, fly!" repeated the wounded man, his words faltering with
convulsive sobs.

"Come with me," said the mendicant, almost dragging him off; "the
Captain's plan is the best--I'll carry ye to a place where ye might be
concealed in the meantime, were they to seek ye 'wi' sleuth-hounds."

"Go, go," again urged Lieutenant Taffril--"to stay here is mere madness."

"It was worse madness to have come hither," said Lovel, pressing his
hand--"But farewell!" And he followed Ochiltree into the recesses of the
wood.

Sir Walter Scott

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