As when in tumults rise the ignoble crowd,
Mad are their motions, and their tongues are loud,
And stones and brands in rattling furies fly,
And all the rustic arms which fury can supply--
Then if some grave and pious man appear,
They hush their noise, and lend a listening ear.
A dreadful shout of vengeance was raised by the revellers, whose sport
was thus so fearfully interrupted; but for an instant, the want of
weapons amongst the multitude, as well as the inflamed features arid
brandished poniard of Roland Graeme, kept them at bay, while the
Abbot, horror-struck at the violence, implored, with uplifted hands,
pardon for blood-shed committed within the sanctuary. Magdalen Graeme
alone expressed triumph in the blow her descendant had dealt to the
scoffer, mixed, however, with a wild and anxious expression of terror
for her grandson's safety. "Let him perish," she said, "in his
blasphemy--let him die on the holy pavement which he has insulted!"
But the rage of the multitude, the grief of the Abbot, the exultation
of the enthusiastic Magdalen, were all mistimed and unnecessary.
Howleglas, mortally wounded as he was supposed to be, sprung alertly
up from the floor, calling aloud, "A miracle, a miracle, my masters!
as brave a miracle as ever was wrought in the kirk of Kennaquhair. And
I charge you, my masters, as your lawfully chosen Abbot, that you
touch no one without my command--You, wolf and bear, will guard this
pragmatic youth, but without hurting him--And you, reverend brother,
will, with your comrades, withdraw to your cells; for our conference
has ended like all conferences, leaving each of his own mind, as
before; and if we fight, both you, and your brethren, and the Kirk,
will have the worst on't--Wherefore, pack up you pipes and begone."
The hubbub was beginning again to awaken, but still Father Ambrose
hesitated, as uncertain to what path his duty called him, whether to
face out the present storm, or to reserve himself for a better moment.
His brother of Unreason observed his difficulty, and said, in a tone
more natural and less affected than that with which he had hitherto
sustained his character, "We came hither, my good sir, more in mirth
than in mischief--our bark is worse than our bite--and, especially, we
mean you no personal harm--wherefore, draw off while the play is good;
for it is ill whistling for a hawk when she is once on the soar, and
worse to snatch the quarry from the ban-dog--Let these fellows once
begin their brawl, and it will be too much for madness itself, let
alone the Abbot of Unreason, to bring them back to the lure."
The brethren crowded around Father Ambrosius, and joined in urging
him to give place to the torrent. The present revel was, they said, an
ancient custom which his predecessors had permitted, and old Father
Nicholas himself had played the dragon in the days of the Abbot
"And we now reap the fruit of the seed which they have so unadvisedly
sown," said Ambrosius; "they taught men to make a mock of what is
holy, what wonder that the descendants of scoffers become robbers and
plunderers? But be it as you list, my brethren--move towards the
dortour--And you, dame, I command you, by the authority which I have
over you, and by your respect for that youth's safety, that you go
with us without farther speech--Yet, stay--what are your intentions
towards that youth whom you detain prisoner?--Wot ye," he continued,
addressing Howleglas in a stern tone of voice, "that he bears the
livery of the House of Avenel? They who fear not the anger of Heaven,
may at least dread the wrath of man."
"Cumber not yourself concerning him," answered Howleglas, "we know
right well who and what he is."
"Let me pray," said the Abbot, in a tone of entreaty, "that you do him
no wrong for the rash deed--which he attempted in his imprudent zeal."
"I say, cumber not yourself about it, father," answered Howleglas,
"but move off with your train, male and female, or I will not
undertake to save yonder she-saint from the ducking-stool--And as for
bearing of malice, my stomach has no room for it; it is," he added,
clapping his hand on his portly belly, "too well bumbasted out with
straw and buckram--gramercy to them both--they kept out that madcap's
dagger as well as a Milan corslet could have done."
In fact, the home-driven poniard of Roland Graeme had lighted upon the
stuffing of the fictitious paunch, which the Abbot of Unreason wore as
a part of his characteristic dress, and it was only the force of the
blow which had prostrated that reverend person on the ground for a
Satisfied in some degree by this man's assurances, and compelled--to
give way to superior force, the Abbot Ambrosius retired from the
Church at the head of the monks, and left the court free for the
revellers to work their will. But, wild and wilful as these rioters
were, they accompanied the retreat of the religionists with none of
those shouts of contempt and derision with which they had at first
hailed them. The Abbot's discourse had affected some of them with
remorse, others with shame, and all with a transient degree of
respect. They remained silent until the last monk had disappeared
through the side-door which communicated with their dwelling-place,
and even then it cost some exhortations on the part of Howleglas, some
caprioles of the hobby-horse, and some wallops of the dragon, to rouse
once more the rebuked spirit of revelry.
"And how now, my masters?" said the Abbot of Unreason; "and wherefore
look on me with such blank Jack-a-Lent visages? Will you lose your old
pastime for an old wife's tale of saints and purgatory? Why, I thought
you would have made all split long since--Come, strike up, tabor and
harp, strike up, fiddle and rebeck--dance and be merry to-day, and let
care come to-morrow. Bear and wolf, look to your prisoner--prance,
hobby--hiss, dragon, and halloo, boys--we grow older every moment we
stand idle, and life is too short to be spent in playing mumchance."
This pithy exhortation was attended with the effect desired. They
fumigated the Church with burnt wool and feathers instead of incense,
put foul water into the holy-water basins, and celebrated a parody on
the Church-service, the mock Abbot officiating at the altar; they sung
ludicrous and indecent parodies, to the tunes of church hymns; they
violated whatever vestments or vessels belonging to the Abbey they
could lay their hands upon; and, playing every freak which the whim of
the moment could suggest to their wild caprice, at length they fell to
more lasting deeds of demolition, pulled down and destroyed some
carved wood-work, dashed out the painted windows which had escaped
former violence, and in their rigorous search after sculpture
dedicated to idolatry, began to destroy what ornaments yet remained
entire upon the tombs, and around the cornices of the pillars.
The spirit of demolition, like other tastes, increases by indulgence;
from these lighter attempts at mischief, the more tumultuous part of
the meeting began to meditate destruction on a more extended
scale--"Let us heave it down altogether, the old crow's nest," became
a general cry among them; "it has served the Pope and his rooks too
long;" and up they struck a ballad which was then popular among the
lower classes. [Footnote: These rude rhymes are taken, with some
trifling alterations, from a ballad called Trim-go-trix. It occurs in
a singular collection, entitled; "A Compendious Book of Godly and
Spiritual Songs, collected out of sundrie parts of the Scripture, with
sundry of other ballatis changed out of prophane sanges for avoyding
of sin and harlotrie, with Augmentation of sundrie Gude and Godly
Ballates. Edinburgh, printed by Andro Hart." This curious collection
has been reprinted in Mr. John. Grahame Dalyell's Scottish Poems of
the 16th century Edin. 1801, 2 vols.]
"The Paip, that pagan full of pride,
Hath blinded us ower lang.
For where the blind the blind doth lead,
No marvel baith gae wrang.
Like prince and king,
He led the ring
Of all iniquity.
Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the greenwood tree.
"The Bishop rich, he could not preach
For sporting with the lasses;
The silly friar behoved to fleech
For awmous as he passes:
The curate his creed
He could not read,--
Shame fa' company!
Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the greenwood tree."
Thundering out this chorus of a notable hunting song, which had been
pressed into the service of some polemical poet, the followers of the
Abbot of Unreason were turning every moment more tumultuous, and
getting beyond the management even of that reverend prelate himself,
when a knight in full armour, followed by two or three men-at-arms,
entered the church, and in a stern voice commanded them to forbear
their riotous mummery.
His visor was up, but if it had been lowered, the cognizance of the
holly-branch sufficiently distinguished Sir Halbert Glendinning, who,
on his homeward road, was passing through the village of Kennaquhair;
and moved, perhaps, by anxiety for his brother's safety, had come
directly to the church on hearing of the uproar.
"What is the meaning of this," he said, "my masters? are ye Christian
men, and the king's subjects, and yet waste and destroy church and
chancel like so many heathens?"
All stood silent, though doubtless there were several disappointed and
surprised at receiving chiding instead of thanks from so zealous a
The dragon, indeed, did at length take upon him to be spokesman, and
growled from the depth of his painted maw, that they did but sweep
Popery out of the church with the besom of destruction.
"What! my friends," replied Sir Halbert Glendinning, "think you this
mumming and masking has not more of Popery in it than have these stone
walls? Take the leprosy out of your flesh, before you speak of
purifying stone walls--abate your insolent license, which leads but to
idle vanity and sinful excess; and know, that what you now practise,
is one of the profane and unseemly sports introduced by the priests of
Rome themselves, to mislead and to brutify the souls which fell into
"Marry come up--are you there with your bears?" muttered the dragon,
with a draconic sullenness, which was in good keeping with his
character, "we had as good have been Romans still, if we are to have
no freedom in our pastimes!"
"Dost thou reply to me so?" said Halbert Glendinning; "or is there any
pastime in grovelling on the ground there like a gigantic
kail-worm?--Get out of thy painted case, or, by my knighthood, I will
treat you like the beast and reptile you have made yourself."
"Beast and reptile?" retorted the offended dragon, "setting aside your
knighthood, I hold myself as well a born man as thyself."
The Knight made no answer in words, but bestowed two such blows with
the butt of his lance on the petulant dragon, that had not the hoops
which constituted the ribs of the machine been pretty strong, they
would hardly have saved those of the actor from being broken. In all
haste the masker crept out of his disguise, unwilling to abide a third
buffet from the lance of the enraged Knight. And when the ex-dragon
stood on the floor of the church, he presented to Halbert Glendinning
the well-known countenance of Dan of the Howlet-hirst, an ancient
comrade of his own, ere fate had raised him so high above the rank to
which he was born. The clown looked sulkily upon the Knight, as if to
upbraid him for his violence towards an old acquaintance, and
Glendinning's own good-nature reproached him for the violence he had
acted upon him.
"I did wrong to strike thee," he said, "Dan; but in truth, I knew thee
not--thou wert ever a mad fellow--come to Avenel Castle, and we shall
see how my hawks fly."
"And if we show him not falcons that will mount as merrily as
rockets," said the Abbot of Unreason, "I would your honour laid as
hard on my bones as you did on his even now."
"How now, Sir Knave," said the Knight, "and what has brought you
The Abbot, hastily ridding himself of the false nose which mystified
his physiognomy, and the supplementary belly which made up his
disguise, stood before his master in his real character, of Adam
Woodcock, the falconer of Avenel.
"How, varlet!" said the Knight; "hast thou dared to come here and
disturb the very house my brother was dwelling in?"
"And it was even for that reason, craving your honour's pardon, that I
came hither--for I heard the country was to be up to choose an Abbot
of Unreason, and sure, thought I, I that can sing, dance, leap
backwards over a broadsword, and am as good a fool as ever sought
promotion, have all chance of carrying the office; and if I gain my
election, I may stand his honour's brother in some stead, supposing
things fall roughly out at the Kirk of Saint Mary's."
"Thou art but a cogging knave," said Sir Halbert, "and well I wot,
that love of ale and brandy, besides the humour of riot and frolic,
would draw thee a mile, when love of my house would not bring thee a
yard. But, go to--carry thy roisterers elsewhere--to the alehouse if
they list, and there are crowns to pay your charges--make out the
day's madness without doing more mischief, and be wise men
to-morrow--and hereafter learn to serve a good cause better than by
acting like buffoons or ruffians."
Obedient to his master's mandate, the falconer was collecting his
discouraged followers, and whispering into their ears--"Away,
away--_tace_ is Latin for a candle--never mind the good Knight's
puritanism--we will play the frolic out over a stand of double ale in
Dame Martin the Brewster's barn-yard--draw off, harp and
tabor--bagpipe and drum--mum till you are out of the church-yard, then
let the welkin ring again--move on, wolf and bear--keep the hind legs
till you cross the kirk-stile, and then show yourselves beasts of
mettle--what devil sent him here to spoil our holiday!--but anger him
not, my hearts; his lance is no goose-feather, as Dan's ribs can
"By my soul," said Dan, "had it been another than my ancient comrade,
I would have made my father's old fox [Footnote: _Fox_, An
old-fashioned broadsword was often so called.] fly about his ears!"
"Hush! hush! man," replied Adam Woodcock, "not a word that way, as you
value the safety of your bones--what man? we must take a clink as it
passes, so it is not bestowed in downright ill-will."
"But I will take no such thing," said Dan of the Howlet-hirst,
suddenly resisting the efforts of Woodcock, who was dragging him out
of the church; when the quick military eye of Sir Halbert Glendinning
detecting Roland Graeme betwixt his two guards, the Knight exclaimed,
"So ho! falconer,--Woodcock,--knave, hast thou brought my Lady's page
in mine own livery, to assist at this hopeful revel of thine, with
your wolves and bears? Since you were at such mummings, you might, if
you would, have at least saved the credit of my household, by dressing
him up as a jackanapes--bring him hither, fellows!"
Adam Woodcock was too honest and downright, to permit blame to light
upon the youth, when it was undeserved. "I swear," he said, "by Saint
Martin of Bullions--" [Footnote: The Saint Swithin, or weeping Saint
of Scotland. If his festival (fourth July) prove wet, forty days of
rain are expected.]
"And what hast thou to do with Saint Martin?"
"Nay, little enough, sir, unless when he sends such rainy days that we
cannot fly a hawk--but I say to your worshipful knighthood, that as I
am, a true man----"
"As you are a false varlet, had been the better obtestation."
"Nay, if your knighthood allows me not to speak," said Adam, "I can
hold my tongue--but the boy came not hither by my bidding, for all
"But to gratify his own malapert pleasure, I warrant me," said Sir
Halbert Glendinning--"Come hither, young springald, and tell me
whether you have your mistress's license to be so far absent from the
castle, or to dishonour my livery by mingling in such a May-game?"
"Sir Halbert Glendinning," answered Roland Graeme with steadiness, "I
have obtained the permission, or rather the commands, of your lady, to
dispose of my time hereafter according to my own pleasure. I have been
a most unwilling spectator of this May-game, since it is your pleasure
so to call it; and I only wear your livery until I can obtain clothes
which bear no such badge of servitude."
"How am I to understand this, young man?" said Sir Halbert
Glendinning; "speak plainly, for I am no reader of riddles.--That my
lady favoured thee, I know. What hast thou done to disoblige her, and
occasion thy dismissal?"
"Nothing to speak of," said Adam Woodcock, answering for the boy--"a
foolish quarrel with me, which was more foolishly told over again to
my honoured lady, cost the poor boy his place. For my part, I will say
freely, that I was wrong from beginning to end, except about the
washing of the eyas's meat. There I stand to it that I was right."
With that, the good-natured falconer repeated to his master the whole
history of the squabble which had brought Roland Graeme into disgrace
with his mistress, but in a manner so favourable for the page, that
Sir Halbert could not but suspect his generous motive.
"Thou art a good-natured fellow," he said, "Adam Woodcock."
"As ever had falcon upon fist," said Adam; "and, for that matter, so
is Master Roland; but, being half a gentleman by his office, his blood
is soon up, and so is mine."
"Well," said Sir Halbert, "be it as it will, my lady has acted
hastily, for this was no great matter of offence to discard the lad
whom she had trained up for years; but he, I doubt not, made it worse
by his prating--it jumps well with a purpose, however, which I had in
my mind. Draw off these people, Woodcock,--and you, Roland Graeme,
The page followed him in silence into the Abbot's house, where,
stepping into the first apartment which he found open, he commanded
one of his attendants to let his brother, Master Edward Glendinning,
know that he desired to speak with him. The men-at-arms went gladly
off to join their comrade, Adam Woodcock, and the jolly crew whom he
had assembled at Dame Martin's, the hostler's wife, and the Page and
Knight were left alone in the apartment. Sir Halbert Glendinning paced
the floor for a moment in silence and then thus addressed his
"Thou mayest have remarked, stripling, that I have but seldom
distinguished thee by much notice;--I see thy colour rises, but do not
speak till thou nearest me out. I say I have never much distinguished
thee, not because I did not see that in thee which I might well have
praised, but because I saw something blameable, which such praises
might have made worse. Thy mistress, dealing according to her pleasure
in her own household, as no one had better reason or title, had picked
thee from the rest, and treated thee more like a relation than a
domestic; and if thou didst show some vanity and petulance under such
distinction, it were injustice not to say that thou hast profited both
in thy exercises and in thy breeding, and hast shown many sparkles of
a gentle and manly spirit. Moreover, it were ungenerous, having bred
thee up freakish and fiery, to dismiss thee to want or wandering, for
showing that very peevishness and impatience of discipline which arose
from thy too delicate nurture. Therefore, and for the credit of my own
household, I am determined to retain thee in my train, until I can
honourably dispose of thee elsewhere, with a fair prospect of thy
going through the world with credit to the house that brought thee
If there was something in Sir Halbert Glendinning's speech which
flattered Roland's pride, there was also much that, according to his
mode of thinking, was an alloy to the compliment. And yet his
conscience instantly told him that he ought to accept, with grateful
deference, the offer which was made him by the husband of his kind
protectress; and his prudence, however slender, could not but admit he
should enter the world under very different auspices as a retainer of
Sir Halbert Glendinning, so famed for wisdom, courage, and influence,
from those under which he might partake the wanderings, and become an
agent in the visionary schemes, for such they appeared to him, of
Magdalen, his relative. Still, a strong reluctance to re-enter a
service from which he had been dismissed with contempt, almost
counterbalanced these considerations.
Sir Halbert looked on the youth with surprise, and resumed--"You seem
to hesitate, young man. Are your own prospects so inviting, that you
should pause ere you accept those which I should offer to you? or,
must I remind you that, although you have offended your benefactress,
even to the point of her dismissing you, yet I am convinced, the
knowledge that you have gone unguided on your own wild way, into a
world so disturbed as ours of Scotland, cannot, in the upshot, but
give her sorrow and pain; from which it is, in gratitude, your duty to
preserve her, no less than it is in common wisdom your duty to accept
my offered protection, for your own sake, where body and soul are
alike endangered, should you refuse it."
Roland Graeme replied in a respectful tone, but at the same time with
some spirit, "I am not ungrateful for such countenance as has been
afforded me by the Lord of Avenel, and I am glad to learn, for the
first time, that I have not had the misfortune to be utterly beneath
his observation, as I had thought--And it is only needful to show me
how I can testify my duty and my gratitude towards my early and
constant benefactress with my life's hazard, and I will gladly peril
it." He stopped.
"These are but words, young man," answered Glendinning, "large
protestations are often used to supply the place of effectual service.
I know nothing in which the peril of your life can serve the Lady of
Avenel; I can only say, she will be pleased to learn you have adopted
some course which may ensure the safety of your person, and the weal
of your soul--What ails you, that you accept not that safety when it
is offered you?"
"My only relative who is alive," answered Roland, "at least the only
relative whom I have ever seen, has rejoined me since I was dismissed
from the Castle of Avenel, and I must consult with her whether I can
adopt the line to which you now call me, or whether her increasing
infirmities, or the authority which she is entitled to exercise over
me, may not require me to abide with her."
"Where is this relation?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning.
"In this house," answered the page.
"Go then, and seek her out," said the Knight of Avenel; "more than
meet it is that thou shouldst have her approbation, yet worse than
foolish would she show herself in denying it."
Roland left the apartment to seek for his grandmother; and, as he
retreated, the Abbot entered.
The two brothers met as brothers who loved each other fondly, yet meet
rarely together. Such indeed was the case. Their mutual affection
attached them to each other; but in every pursuit, habit or sentiment,
connected with the discords of the times, the friend and counsellor of
Murray stood opposed to the Roman Catholic priest; nor, indeed, could
they have held very much society together, without giving cause of
offence and suspicion to their confederates on each side. After a
close embrace on the part of both, and a welcome on that of the Abbot,
Sir Halbert Glendinning expressed his satisfaction that he had come in
time to appease the riot raised by Howleglas and his tumultuous
"And yet," he said, "when I look on your garments, brother Edward, I
cannot help thinking there still remains an Abbot of Unreason within
the bounds of the Monastery."
"And wherefore carp at my garments, brother Halbert?" said the Abbot;
"it is the spiritual armour of my calling, and, as such, beseems me as
well as breastplate and baldric becomes your own bosom."
"Ay, but there were small wisdom, methinks, in putting on armour where
we have no power to fight; it is but a dangerous temerity to defy the
foe whom we cannot resist."
"For that, my brother, no one can answer," said the Abbot, "until the
battle be fought; and, were it even as you say, methinks a brave man,
though desperate of victory, would rather desire to fight and fall,
than to resign sword and shield on some mean and dishonourable
composition with his insulting antagonist. But, let not you and I make
discord of a theme on which we cannot agree, but rather stay and
partake, though a heretic, of my admission feast. You need not fear,
my brother, that your zeal for restoring the primitive discipline of
the church will, on this occasion, be offended with the rich profusion
of a conventual banquet. The days of our old friend Abbot Boniface are
over; and the Superior of Saint Mary's has neither forests nor
fishings, woods nor pastures, nor corn-fields;--neither flocks nor
herds, bucks nor wild-fowl--granaries of wheat, nor storehouses of oil
and wine, of ale and of mead. The refectioner's office is ended; and
such a meal as a hermit in romance can offer to a wandering knight, is
all we have to set before you. But, if you will share it with us, we
shall eat it with a cheerful heart, and thank you, my brother, for
your timely protection against these rude scoffers."
"My dearest brother," said the Knight, "it grieves me deeply I cannot
abide with you; but it would sound ill for us both were one of the
reformed congregation to sit down at your admission feast; and, if I
can ever have the satisfaction of affording you effectual protection,
it will be much owing to my remaining unsuspected of countenancing or
approving your religious rites and ceremonies. It will demand whatever
consideration I can acquire among my own friends, to shelter the bold
man, who, contrary to law and the edicts of parliament, has dared to
take up the office of Abbot of Saint Mary's."
"Trouble not yourself with the task, my brother," replied Father
Ambrosius. "I would lay down my dearest blood to know that you
defended the church for the church's sake; but, while you remain
unhappily her enemy, I would not that you endangered your own safety,
or diminished your own comforts, for the sake of my individual
protection.--But who comes hither to disturb the few minutes of
fraternal communication which our evil fate allows us?"
The door of the apartment opened as the Abbot spoke, and Dame
"Who is this woman?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning, somewhat sternly,
"and what does she want?"
"That you know me not," said the matron, "signifies little; I come by
your own order, to give my free consent that the stripling, Roland
Graeme, return to your service; and, having said so, I cumber you no
longer with my presence. Peace be with you!" She turned to go away,
but was stopped by inquiries of Sir Halbert Glendinning.
"Who are you?--what are you?--and why do you not await to make
"I was," she replied, "while yet I belonged to the world, a matron of
no vulgar name; now I am Magdalen, a poor pilgrimer, for the sake of
"Yea," said Sir Halbert, "art thou a Catholic? I thought my dame said
that Roland Graeme came of reformed kin.'
"His father," said the matron, "was a heretic, or rather one who
regarded neither orthodoxy or heresy--neither the temple of the church
or of antichrist. I, too, for the sins of the times make sinners,
have seemed to conform to your unhallowed rites--but I had my
dispensation and my absolution."
"You see, brother," said Sir Halbert, with a smile of meaning towards
his brother, "that we accuse you not altogether without grounds of
"My brother, you do us injustice," replied the Abbot; "this woman, as
her bearing may of itself warrant you, is not in her perfect mind.
Thanks, I must needs say, to the persecution of your marauding barons,
and of your latitudinarian clergy."
"I will not dispute the point," said Sir Halbert; "the evils of the
time are unhappily so numerous, that both churches may divide them,
and have enow to spare." So saying, he leaned from the window of the
apartment, and winded his bugle.
"Why do you sound your horn, my brother?" said the Abbot; "we have
spent but few minutes together."
"Alas!" said the elder brother, "and even these few have been sullied
by disagreement. I sound to horse, my brother--the rather that, to
avert the consequences of this day's rashness on your part, requires
hasty efforts on mine.--Dame, you will oblige me by letting your young
relative know that we mount instantly. I intend not that he shall
return to Avenel with me--it would lead to new quarrels betwixt him
and my household; at least to taunts which his proud heart could ill
brook, and my wish is to do him kindness. He shall, therefore, go
forward to Edinburgh with one of my retinue, whom I shall send back to
say what has chanced here.--You seem rejoiced at this?" he added,
fixing his eyes keenly on Magdalen Graeme, who returned his gaze with
"I would rather," she said, "that Roland, a poor and friendless
orphan, were the jest of the world at large, than of the menials at
"Fear not, dame--he shall be scorned by neither," answered the Knight.
"It may be," she replied--"it may well be--but I will trust more to
his own bearing than to your countenance." She left the room as she
The Knight looked after her as she departed, but turned instantly to
his brother, and expressing, in the most affectionate terms, his
wishes for his welfare and happiness, craved his leave to depart. "My
knaves," he said, "are too busy at the ale-stand, to leave their
revelry for the empty breath of a bugle-horn."
"You have freed them from higher restraint, Halbert," answered the
Abbot, "and therein taught them to rebel against your own."
"Fear not that, Edward," exclaimed Halbert, who never gave his brother
his monastic name of Ambrosius; "none obey the command of real duty
so well as those who are free from the observance of slavish bondage."
He was turning to depart, when the Abbot said,--"Let us not yet part,
my brother--here comes some light refreshment. Leave not the house
which I must now call mine, till force expel me from it, until you
have at least broken bread with me."
The poor lay brother, the same who acted as porter, now entered the
apartment, bearing some simple refreshment, and a flask of wine. "He
had found it," he said with officious humility, "by rummaging through
every nook of the cellar."
The Knight filled a small silver cup, and, quaffing it off, asked his
brother to pledge him, observing, the wine was Bacharac, of the first
vintage, and great age.
"Ay," said the poor lay brother, "it came out of the nook which old
brother Nicholas, (may his soul be happy!) was wont to call Abbot
Ingelram's corner; and Abbot Ingelram was bred at the Convent of
Wurtzburg, which I understand to be near where that choice wine
"True, my reverend sir," said Sir Halbert; "and therefore I entreat my
brother and you to pledge me in a cup of this orthodox vintage."
The thin old porter looked with a wishful glance towards the Abbot.
"_Do veniam_," said his Superior; and the old man seized, with a
trembling hand, a beverage to which he had been long unaccustomed;
drained the cup with protracted delight, as if dwelling on the flavour
and perfume, and set it down with a melancholy smile and shake of the
head, as if bidding adieu in future to such delicious potations. The
brothers smiled. But when Sir Halbert motioned to the Abbot to take up
his cup and do him reason, the Abbot, in turn, shook his head, and
replied--"This is no day for the Abbot of Saint Mary's to eat the fat
and drink the sweat. In water from our Lady's well," he added, filling
a cup with the limpid element, "I wish you, brother, all happiness,
and above all, a true sight of your spiritual errors."
"And to you, my beloved Edward," replied Glendinning, "I wish the free
exercise of your own free reason, and the discharge of more important
duties than are connected with the idle name which you have so rashly
The brothers parted with deep regret; and yet, each confident in his
opinion, felt somewhat relieved by the absence of one whom he
respected so much, and with whom he could agree so little.
Soon afterwards the sound of the Knight of Avenel's trumpets was
heard, and the Abbot went to the top of the tower, from whose
dismantled battlements he could soon see the horsemen ascending the
rising ground in the direction of the drawbridge. As he gazed,
Magdalen Graeme came to his side.
"Thou art come," he said, "to catch the last glimpse of thy grandson,
my sister. Yonder he wends, under the charge of the best knight in
Scotland, his faith ever excepted."
"Thou canst bear witness, my father, that it was no wish either of
mine or of Roland's," replied the matron, "which induced the Knight of
Avenel, as he is called, again to entertain my grandson in his
household--Heaven, which confounds the wise with their own wisdom, and
the wicked with their own policy, hath placed him where, for the
services of the Church, I would most wish him to be."
"I know not what you mean, my sister," said the Abbot.
"Reverend father," replied Magdalen, "hast thou never heard that there
are spirits powerful to rend the walls of a castle asunder when once
admitted, which yet cannot enter the house unless they are invited,
nay, dragged over the threshold?
[Footnote: There is a popular belief respecting evil spirits, that
they cannot enter an inhabited house unless invited, nay, dragged over
the threshold. There is an instance of the same superstition in the
Tales of the Genii, where an enchanter is supposed to have intruded
himself into the Divan of the Sultan.
"'Thus,' said the illustrious Misnar, 'let the enemies of Mahomet be
dismayed! but inform me, O ye sages! under the semblance of which of
your brethren did that foul enchanter gain admittance here?'--'May the
lord of my heart,' answered Balihu, the hermit of the faithful from
Queda, 'triumph over all his foes! As I travelled on the mountains
from Queda, and saw neither the footsteps of beasts, nor the flight of
birds, behold, I chanced to pass through a cavern, in whose hollow
sides I found this accursed sage, to whom I unfolded the invitation of
the Sultan of India, and we, joining, journeyed towards the Divan; but
ere we entered, he said unto me. 'Put thy hand forth, and pull me
towards thee into the Divan, calling on the name of Mahomet, for the
evil spirits are on me and vex me.'"
I have understood that many parts of these fine tales, and in
particular that of the Sultan Misnar, were taken from genuine Oriental
sources by the editor, Mr. James Ridley.
But the most picturesque use of this popular belief occurs in
Coleridge's beautiful and tantalizing fragment of Christabel. Has not
our own imaginative poet cause to fear that future ages will desire to
summon him from his place of rest, as Milton longed
"To call him up, who left half told
The story of Cambuscan bold?"
'They cross'd the moat, and Christabel
Took the key that fitted well;
A little door she open'd straight,
All in the middle of the gate;
The gate that was iron'd within and without,
Where an army in battle array had march'd out.
"The lady sank, belike through pain,
And Christabel with might and main
Lifted her up, a weary weight,
Over the threshold of the gate:
Then the lady rose again,
And moved as she were not in pain.
"So free from danger, free from fear,
They cross'd the court;--right glad they were,
And Christabel devoutly cried
To the lady by her side:
'Praise we the Virgin, all divine,
Who hath rescued thee from this distress.'
'Alas, alas!' said Geraldine,
'I cannot speak from weariness.'
So free from danger, free from fear,
They cross'd the court: right glad they were
Twice hath Roland Graeme been thus drawn into the household of Avenel
by those who now hold the title. Let them look to the issue."
So saying she left the turret; and the Abbot, after pausing a moment
on her words, which he imputed to the unsettled state of her mind,
followed down the winding stair to celebrate his admission to his high
office by fast and prayer instead of revelling and thanksgiving.
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