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Chapter 12


Some one way, some another--Do you know
Where we may apprehend her?

The researches after Miss Vere were (for the sake of appearances,
perhaps) resumed on the succeeding day, with similar bad success, and
the party were returning towards Ellieslaw in the evening.

"It is singular," said Mareschal to Ratcliffe, "that four horsemen and
a female prisoner should have passed through the country without leaving
the slightest trace of their passage. One would think they had traversed
the air, or sunk through the ground."

"Men may often," answered Ratcliffe, "arrive at the knowledge of that
which is, from discovering that which is not. We have now scoured every
road, path, and track leading from the castle, in all the various points
of the compass, saving only that intricate and difficult pass which
leads southward down the Westburn, and through the morasses."

"And why have we not examined that?" said Mareschal.

"O, Mr. Vere can best answer that question," replied his companion,
dryly.

"Then I will ask it instantly," said Mareschal; and, addressing Mr.
Vere, "I am informed, sir," said he, "there is a path we have not
examined, leading by Westburnflat."

"O," said Sir Frederick, laughing, "we know the owner of Westburnflat
well--a wild lad, that knows little difference between his neighbour's
goods and his own; but, withal, very honest to his principles: he would
disturb nothing belonging to Ellieslaw."

"Besides," said Mr. Vere, smiling mysteriously, "he had other tow on his
distaff last night. Have you not heard young Elliot of the Heugh-foot
has had his house burnt, and his cattle driven away, because he refused
to give up his arms to some honest men that think of starting for the
king?"

The company smiled upon each other, as at hearing of an exploit which
favoured their own views.

"Yet, nevertheless," resumed Mareschal, "I think we ought to ride in
this direction also, otherwise we shall certainly be blamed for our
negligence."

No reasonable objection could be offered to this proposal, and the party
turned their horses' heads towards Westburnflat.

They had not proceeded very far in that direction when the trampling of
horses was heard, and a small body of riders were perceived advancing to
meet them.

"There comes Earnscliff," said Mareschal; "I know his bright bay with
the star in his front."

"And there is my daughter along with him," exclaimed Vere,
furiously. "Who shall call my suspicions false or injurious now?
Gentlemen--friends--lend me the assistance of your swords for the
recovery of my child."

He unsheathed his weapon, and was imitated by Sir Frederick and several
of the party, who prepared to charge those that were advancing towards
them. But the greater part hesitated.

"They come to us in all peace and security," said Mareschal-Wells; "let
us first hear what account they give us of this mysterious affair. If
Miss Vere has sustained the slightest insult or injury from Earnscliff,
I will be first to revenge her; but let us hear what they say."

"You do me wrong by your suspicions, Mareschal," continued Vere; "you
are the last I would have expected to hear express them."

"You injure yourself, Ellieslaw, by your violence, though the cause may
excuse it."

He then advanced a little before the rest, and called out, with a loud
voice,--"Stand, Mr. Earnscliff; or do you and Miss Vere advance alone
to meet us. You are charged with having carried that lady off from her
father's house; and we are here in arms to shed our best blood for her
recovery, and for bringing to justice those who have injured her."

"And who would do that more willingly than I, Mr. Mareschal?" said
Earnscliff, haughtily,--"than I, who had the satisfaction this morning
to liberate her from the dungeon in which I found her confined, and who
am now escorting her back to the Castle of Ellieslaw?"

"Is this so, Miss Vere?" said Mareschal.

"It is," answered Isabella, eagerly,--"it is so; for Heaven's sake
sheathe your swords. I will swear by all that is sacred, that I was
carried off by ruffians, whose persons and object were alike unknown to
me, and am now restored to freedom by means of this gentleman's gallant
interference."

"By whom, and wherefore, could this have been done?" pursued
Mareschal.--"Had you no knowledge of the place to which you were
conveyed?--Earnscliff, where did you find this lady?"

But ere either question could be answered, Ellieslaw advanced, and,
returning his sword to the scabbard, cut short the conference.

"When I know," he said, "exactly how much I owe to Mr. Earnscliff, he
may rely on suitable acknowledgments; meantime," taking the bridle of
Miss Vere's horse, "thus far I thank him for replacing my daughter in
the power of her natural guardian."

A sullen bend of the head was returned by Earnscliff with equal
haughtiness; and Ellieslaw, turning back with his daughter upon the road
to his own house, appeared engaged with her in a conference so
earnest, that the rest of the company judged it improper to intrude by
approaching them too nearly. In the meantime, Earnscliff, as he took
leave of the other gentlemen belonging to Ellieslaw's party, said aloud,
"Although I am unconscious of any circumstance in my conduct that can
authorize such a suspicion, I cannot but observe, that Mr. Vere seems
to believe that I have had some hand in the atrocious violence which has
been offered to his daughter. I request you, gentlemen, to take notice
of my explicit denial of a charge so dishonourable; and that, although
I can pardon the bewildering feelings of a father in such a moment,
yet, if any other gentleman," (he looked hard at Sir Frederick Langley)
"thinks my word and that of Miss Vere, with the evidence of my friends
who accompany me, too slight for my exculpation, I will be happy--most
happy--to repel the charge, as becomes a man who counts his honour
dearer than his life."

"And I'll be his second," said Simon of Hackburn, "and take up ony twa
o' ye, gentle or semple, laird or loon; it's a' ane to Simon."

"Who is that rough-looking fellow?" said Sir Frederick Langley, "and
what has he to do with the quarrels of gentlemen?"

"I'se be a lad frae the Hie Te'iot," said Simon, "and I'se quarrel wi'
ony body I like, except the king, or the laird I live under."

"Come," said; Mareschal, "let us have no brawls.--Mr. Earnscliff;
although we do not think alike in some things, I trust we may be
opponents, even enemies, if fortune will have it so, without losing our
respect for birth, fair-play, and each other. I believe you as innocent
of this matter as I am myself; and I will pledge myself that my cousin
Ellieslaw, as soon as the perplexity attending these sudden events has
left his judgment to its free exercise, shall handsomely acknowledge the
very important service you have this day rendered him."

"To have served your cousin is a sufficient reward in itself--Good
evening, gentlemen," continued Earnscliff; "I see most of your party are
already on their way to Ellieslaw."

Then saluting Mareschal with courtesy, and the rest of the party
with indifference, Earnscliff turned his horse and rode towards
the Heugh-foot, to concert measures with Hobbie Elliot for farther
researches after his bride, of whose restoration to her friends he was
still ignorant.

"There he goes," said Mareschal; "he is a fine, gallant young fellow,
upon my soul; and yet I should like well to have a thrust with him on
the green turf. I was reckoned at college nearly his equal with the
foils, and I should like to try him at sharps."

"In my opinion," answered Sir Frederick Langley, "we have done very
ill in having suffered him, and those men who are with him, to go off
without taking away their arms; for the Whigs are very likely to draw to
a head under such a sprightly young fellow as that."

"For shame, Sir Frederick!" exclaimed Mareschal; "do you think that
Ellieslaw could, in honour, consent to any violence being offered to
Earnscliff; when he entered his bounds only to bring back his daughter?
or, if he were to be of your opinion, do you think that I, and the rest
of these gentlemen, would disgrace ourselves by assisting in such a
transaction? No, no, fair play and auld Scotland for ever! When the
sword is drawn, I will be as ready to use it as any man; but while it is
in the sheath, let us behave like gentlemen and neighbours."

Soon after this colloquy they reached the castle, when Ellieslaw, who
had been arrived a few minutes before, met them in the court-yard.

"How is Miss Vere? and have you learned the cause of her being carried
off?" asked Mareschal hastily.

"She is retired to her apartment greatly fatigued; and I cannot expect
much light upon her adventure till her spirits are somewhat recruited,"
replied her father. "She and I were not the less obliged to you,
Mareschal, and to my other friends, for their kind enquiries. But I must
suppress the father's feelings for a while to give myself up to those of
the patriot. You know this is the day fixed for our final decision--time
presses--our friends are arriving, and I have opened house, not only
for the gentry, but for the under spur-leathers whom we must necessarily
employ. We have, therefore, little time to prepare to meet them.--Look
over these lists, Marchie (an abbreviation by which Mareschal-Wells was
known among his friends). Do you, Sir Frederick, read these letters from
Lothian and the west--all is ripe for the sickle, and we have but to
summon out the reapers."

"With all my heart," said Mareschal; "the more mischief the better
sport."

Sir Frederick looked grave and disconcerted.

"Walk aside with me, my good friend," said Ellieslaw to the sombre
baronet; "I have something for your private ear, with which I know you
will be gratified."

They walked into the house, leaving Ratcliffe and Mareschal standing
together in the court.

"And so," said Ratcliffe, "the gentlemen of your political persuasion
think the downfall of this government so certain, that they disdain even
to throw a decent disguise over the machinations of their party?"

"Faith, Mr. Ratcliffe," answered Mareschal, "the actions and sentiments
YOUR friends may require to be veiled, but I am better pleased that ours
can go barefaced."

"And is it possible," continued Ratcliffe, "that you, who,
notwithstanding pour thoughtlessness and heat of temper (I beg pardon,
Mr. Mareschal, I am a plain man)--that you, who, notwithstanding
these constitutional defects, possess natural good sense and acquired
information, should be infatuated enough to embroil yourself in such
desperate proceedings? How does your head feel when you are engaged in
these dangerous conferences?"

"Not quite so secure on my shoulders," answered Mareschal, "as if I were
talking of hunting and hawking. I am not of so indifferent a mould as
my cousin Ellieslaw, who speaks treason as if it were a child's nursery
rhymes, and loses and recovers that sweet girl, his daughter, with a
good deal less emotion on both occasions, than would have affected me
had I lost and recovered a greyhound puppy. My temper is not quite so
inflexible, nor my hate against government so inveterate, as to blind me
to the full danger of the attempt."

"Then why involve yourself in it?" said Ratcliffe.

"Why, I love this poor exiled king with all my heart; and my father was
an old Killiecrankie man, and I long to see some amends on the Unionist
courtiers, that have bought and sold old Scotland, whose crown has been
so long independent."

"And for the sake of these shadows," said his monitor, "you are going to
involve your country in war and yourself in trouble?"

"I involve? No!--but, trouble for trouble, I had rather it came
to-morrow than a month hence. COME, I know it will; and, as your country
folks say, better soon than syne--it will never find me younger--and as
for hanging, as Sir John Falstaff says, I can become a gallows as well
as another. You know the end of the old ballad;


"Sae dauntonly, sae wantonly,
Sae rantingly gaed he,
He play'd a spring, and danced a round,
Beneath the gallows tree."

"Mr. Mareschal, I am sorry for you," said his grave adviser.

"I am obliged to you, Mr. Ratcliffe; but I would not have you judge of
our enterprise by my way of vindicating it; there are wiser heads than
mine at the work."

"Wiser heads than yours may lie as low," said Ratcliffe, in a warning
tone.

"Perhaps so; but no lighter heart shall; and, to prevent it being made
heavier by your remonstrances, I will bid you adieu, Mr. Ratcliffe, till
dinner-time, when you shall see that my apprehensions have not spoiled
my appetite."

Sir Walter Scott

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