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Chapter 20


Now have you reft me from my staff, my guide,
Who taught my youth, as men teach untamed falcons,
To use my strength discreetly--I am reft
Of comrade and of counsel.
OLD PLAY.

In the gray of the next morning's dawn, there was a loud knocking at
the gate of the hostelrie; and those without, proclaiming that they
came in the name of the Regent, were instantly admitted. A moment or
two afterwards, Michael Wing-the-wind stood by the bedside of our
travellers.

"Up! up!" he said, "there is no slumber where Murray hath work
ado."

Both sleepers sprung up, and began to dress themselves.

"You, old friend," said Wing-the-wind to Adam Woodcock, "must to horse
instantly, with this packet to the Monks of Kennaquhair; and with
this," delivering them as he spoke, "to the Knight of Avenel."

"As much as commanding the monks to annul their election, I'll warrant
me, of an Abbot," quoth Adam Woodcock, as he put the packets into his
bag, "and charging my master to see it done--To hawk at one brother
with another, is less than fair play, methinks."

"Fash not thy beard about it, old boy," said Michael, "but betake thee
to the saddle presently; for if these orders are not obeyed, there
will be bare walls at the Kirk of Saint Mary's, and it may be at the
Castle of Avenel to boot; for I heard my Lord of Morton loud with the
Regent, and we are at a pass that we cannot stand with him anent
trifles."

"But," said Adam, "touching the Abbot of Unreason--what say they to
that outbreak--An they be shrewishly disposed, I were better pitch the
packets to Satan, and take the other side of the Border for my bield."

"Oh, that was passed over as a jest, since there was little harm
done.--But, hark thee, Adam," continued his comrade, "if there was a
dozen vacant abbacies in your road, whether of jest or earnest, reason
or unreason, draw thou never one of their mitres over thy brows.--The
time is not fitting, man!--besides, our Maiden longs to clip the neck
of a fat churchman."

"She shall never sheer mine in that capacity," said the falconer,
while he knotted the kerchief in two or three double folds around his
sunburnt bull-neck, calling out at the same time, "Master Roland,
Master Roland, make haste! we must back to perch and mew, and, thank
Heaven, more than our own wit, with our bones whole, and without a
stab in the stomach."

"Nay, but," said Wing-the-wind, "the page goes not back with you; the
Regent has other employment for him."

"Saints and sorrows!" exclaimed the falconer--"Master Roland Graeme to
remain here, and I to return to Avenel!--Why, it cannot be--the child
cannot manage himself in this wide world without me, and I question if
he will stoop to any other whistle than mine own; there are times I
myself can hardly bring him to my lure."

It was at Roland's tongue's end to say something concerning the
occasion they had for using mutually each other's prudence, but the
real anxiety which Adam evinced at parting with him, took away his
disposition to such ungracious raillery. The falconer did not
altogether escape, however, for, in turning his face towards the
lattice, his friend Michael caught a glimpse of it, and exclaimed, "I
prithee, Adam Woodcock, what hast thou been doing with these eyes of
thine? They are swelled to the starting from the socket!"

"Nought in the world," said he, after casting a deprecating glance at
Roland Graeme, "but the effect of sleeping in this d--ned truckle
without a pillow."

"Why, Adam Woodcock, thou must be grown strangely dainty," said his
old companion; "I have known thee sleep all night with no better
pillow than a bush of ling, and start up with the sun, as glegg as a
falcon; and now thine eyes resemble----"

"Tush, man, what signifies how mine eyes look now?" said Adam--"let us
but roast a crab-apple, pour a pottle of ale on it, and bathe our
throats withal, thou shalt see a change in me."

"And thou wilt be in heart to sing thy jolly ballad about the Pope,"
said his comrade.

"Ay, that I will," replied the falconer, "that is, when we have left
this quiet town five miles behind us, if you will take your hobby and
ride so far on my way."

"Nay, that I may not," said Michael--"I can but stop to partake your
morning draught, and see you fairly to horse--I will see that they
saddle them, and toast the crab for thee, without loss of time."

During his absence the falconer took the page by the hand--"May I
never hood hawk again," said the good-natured fellow, "if I am not as
sorry to part with you as if you were a child of mine own, craving
pardon for the freedom--I cannot tell what makes me love you so much,
unless it be for the reason that I loved the vicious devil of a brown
galloway nag whom my master the Knight called Satan, till Master
Warden changed his name to Seyton; for he said it was over boldness to
call a beast after the King of Darkness----"

"And," said the page, "it was over boldness in him, I trow, to call a
vicious brute after a noble family."

"Well," proceeded Adam, "Seyton or Satan, I loved that nag over every
other horse in the stable---There was no sleeping on his back--he was
for ever fidgeting, bolting, rearing, biting, kicking, and giving you
work to do, and maybe the measure of your back on the heather to the
boot of it all. And I think I love you better than any lad in the
castle, for the self-same qualities."

"Thanks, thanks, kind Adam. I regard myself bound to you for the
good estimation in which you hold me."

"Nay, interrupt me not," said the falconer--"Satan was a good nag--
But I say I think I shall call the two eyases after you, the one
Roland, and the other Graeme; and while Adam Woodcock lives, be sure
you have a friend--Here is to thee, my dear son."

Roland most heartily returned the grasp of the hand, and Woodcock,
having taken a deep draught, continued his farewell speech.

"There are three things I warn you against, Roland, now that you art
to tread this weary world without my experience to assist you. In the
first place, never draw dagger on slight occasion--every man's doublet
is not so well stuffed as a certain abbot's that you wot of. Secondly,
fly not at every pretty girl, like a merlin at a thrush--you will not
always win a gold chain for your labour--and, by the way, here I
return to you your fanfarona--keep it close, it is weighty, and may
benefit you at a pinch more ways than one. Thirdly, and to conclude,
as our worthy preacher says, beware of the pottle-pot--it has drenched
the judgment of wiser men than you. I could bring some instances of
it, but I dare say it needeth not; for if you should forget your own
mishaps, you will scarce fail to remember mine--And so farewell, my
dear son."

Roland returned his good wishes, and failed not to send his humble
duty to his kind Lady, charging the falconer, at the same time, to
express his regret that he should have offended her, and his
determination so to bear him in the world that she would not be
ashamed of the generous protection she had afforded him.

The falconer embraced his young friend, mounted his stout, round-made,
trotting-nag, which the serving-man, who had attended him, held ready
at the door, and took the road to the southward. A sullen and heavy
sound echoed from the horse's feet, as if indicating the sorrow of the
good-natured rider. Every hoof-tread seemed to tap upon Roland's heart
as he heard his comrade withdraw with so little of his usual alert
activity, and felt that he was once more alone in the world.

He was roused from his reverie by Michael Wing-the-wind, who reminded
him that it was necessary they should instantly return to the palace,
as my Lord Regent went to the Sessions early in the morning. They went
thither accordingly, and Wing-the-wind, a favourite old domestic, who
was admitted nearer to the Regent's person and privacy, than many
whose posts were more ostensible, soon introduced Graeme into a small
matted chamber, where he had an audience of the present head of the
troubled State of Scotland. The Earl of Murray was clad in a
sad-coloured morning-gown, with a cap and slippers of the same cloth,
but, even in this easy deshabillé, held his sheathed rapier in his
hand, a precaution which he adopted when receiving strangers, rather
in compliance with the earnest remonstrances of his friends and
partisans, than from any personal apprehensions of his own. He
answered with a silent nod the respectful obeisance of the page, and
took one or two turns through the small apartment in silence, fixing
his keen eye on Roland, as if he wished to penetrate into his very
soul. At length he broke silence.

"Your name is, I think, Julian Graeme?"

"Roland Graeme, my lord, not Julian," replied the page.

"Right--I was misled by some trick of my memory--Roland Graeme, from
the Debateable Land.--Roland, thou knowest the duties which belong to
a lady's service?"

"I should know them, my lord," replied Roland, "having been bred so
near the person of my Lady of Avenel; but I trust never more to
practise them, as the Knight hath promised----"

"Be silent, young man," said the Regent, "I am to speak, and you to
hear and obey. It is necessary that, for some space at least, you
shall again enter into the service of a lady, who, in rank, hath no
equal in Scotland; and this service accomplished, I give thee my word
as Knight and Prince, that it shall open to you a course of ambition,
such as may well gratify the aspiring wishes of one whom circumstances
entitle to entertain much higher views than thou. I will take thee
into my household and near to my person, or, at your own choice, I
will give you the command of a foot-company--either is a preferment
which the proudest laird in the land might be glad to ensure for a
second son."

"May I presume to ask, my lord," said Roland, observing the Earl
paused for a reply, "to whom my poor services are in the first place
destined?"

"You will be told hereafter," said the Regent; and then, as if
overcoming some internal reluctance to speak farther himself, he
added, "or why should I not myself tell you, that you are about to
enter into the service of a most illustrious--most unhappy lady--
into the service of Mary of Scotland."

"Of the Queen, my lord!" said the page, unable to suppress his
surprise.

"Of her who was the Queen!" said Murray, with a singular mixture of
displeasure and embarrassment in his tone of voice. "You must be
aware, young man, that her son reigns in her stead."

He sighed from an emotion, partly natural, perhaps, and partly
assumed.

"And am I to attend upon her Grace in her place of imprisonment, my
lord?" again demanded the page, with a straightforward and hardy
simplicity, which somewhat disconcerted the sage and powerful
statesman.

"She is not imprisoned," answered Murray, angrily; "God forbid she
should--she is only sequestered from state affairs, and from the
business of the public, until the world be so effectually settled,
that she may enjoy her natural and uncontrolled freedom, without her
royal disposition being exposed to the practices of wicked and
designing men. It is for this purpose," he added, "that while she is
to be furnished, as right is, with such attendance as may befit her
present secluded state, it becomes necessary that those placed around
her, are persons on whose prudence I can have reliance. You see,
therefore, you are at once called on to discharge an office most
honourable in itself, and so to discharge it that you may make a
friend of the Regent of Scotland. Thou art, I have been told, a
singularly apprehensive youth; and I perceive by thy look, that thou
dost already understand what I would say on this matter. In this
schedule your particular points of duty are set down at length--but
the sum required of you is fidelity--I mean fidelity to myself and
to the state. You are, therefore, to watch every attempt which is
made, or inclination displayed, to open any communication with any of
the lords who have become banders in the west--with Hamilton,
Seyton, with Fleming, or the like. It is true that my gracious sister,
reflecting upon the ill chances that have happened to the state of
this poor kingdom, from evil counsellors who have abused her royal
nature in time past, hath determined to sequestrate herself from state
affairs in future. But it is our duty, as acting for and in the name
of our infant nephew, to guard against the evils which may arise from
any mutation or vacillation in her royal resolutions. Wherefore, it
will be thy duty to watch, and report to our lady mother, whose guest
our sister is for the present, whatever may infer a disposition to
withdraw her person from the place of security in which she is lodged,
or to open communication with those without. If, however, your
observation should detect any thing of weight, and which may exceed
mere suspicion, fail not to send notice by an especial messenger to me
directly, and this ring shall be thy warrant to order horse and men on
such service.--And now begone. If there be half the wit in thy head
that there is apprehension in thy look, thou fully comprehendest all
that I would say--Serve me faithfully, and sure as I am belted earl,
thy reward shall be great."

Roland Graeme made an obeisance, and was about to depart.

The Earl signed to him to remain. "I have trusted thee deeply," he
said, "young man, for thou art the only one of her suite who has been
sent to her by my own recommendation. Her gentlewomen are of her own
nomination--it were too hard to have barred her that privilege, though
some there were who reckoned it inconsistent with sure policy. Thou
art young and handsome. Mingle in their follies, and see they cover
not deeper designs under the appearance of female levity--if they do
mine, do thou countermine. For the rest, bear all decorum and respect
to the person of thy mistress--she is a princess, though a most
unhappy one, and hath been a queen! though now, alas! no longer such!
Pay, therefore, to her all honour and respect, consistent with thy
fidelity to the King and me--and now, farewell.--Yet stay--you travel
with Lord Lindesay, a man of the old world, rough and honest, though
untaught; see that thou offend him not, for he is not patient of
raillery, and thou, I have heard, art a crack-halter." This he said
with a smile, then added, "I could have wished the Lord Lindesay's
mission had been intrusted to some other and more gentle noble."

"And wherefore should you wish that, my lord?" said Morton, who even
then entered the apartment; "the council have decided for the
best--we have had but too many proofs of this lady's stubbornness of
mind, and the oak that resists the sharp steel axe, must be riven with
the rugged iron wedge.--And this is to be her page?--My Lord Regent
hath doubtless instructed you, young man, how you shall guide yourself
in these matters; I will add but a little hint on my part. You are
going to the castle of a Douglas, where treachery never thrives--the
first moment of suspicion will be the last of your life. My kinsman,
William Douglas, understands no raillery, and if he once have cause to
think you false, you will waver in the wind from the castle
battlements ere the sun set upon his anger.--And is the lady to have
an almoner withal?"

"Occasionally, Douglas," said the Regent; "it were hard to deny the
spiritual consolation which she thinks essential to her salvation."

"You are ever too soft hearted, my lord--What! a false priest to
communicate her lamentations, not only to our unfriends in Scotland,
but to the Guises, to Rome, to Spain, and I know not where!"

"Fear not," said the Regent, "we will take such order that no
treachery shall happen."

"Look to it then." said Morton; "you know my mind respecting the
wench you have consented she shall receive as a waiting-woman--one of
a family, which, of all others, has ever been devoted to her, and
inimical to us. Had we not been wary, she would have been purveyed of
a page as much to her purpose as her waiting-damsel. I hear a rumour
that an old mad Romish pilgrimer, who passes for at least half a saint
among them, was employed to find a fit subject."

"We have escaped that danger at least," said Murray, "and converted it
into a point of advantage, by sending this boy of Glendinning's--and
for her waiting-damsel, you cannot grudge her one poor maiden instead
of her four noble Marys and all their silken train?"

"I care not so much for the waiting-maiden," said Morton, "but I
cannot brook the almoner--I think priests of all persuasions are much
like each other--Here is John Knox, who made such a noble puller-down,
is ambitious of becoming a setter-up, and a founder of schools and
colleges out of the Abbey lands, and bishops' rents, and other spoils
of Rome, which the nobility of Scotland have won with their sword and
bow, and with which he would endow new hives to sing the old drone."

"John is a man of God," said the Regent, "and his scheme is a devout
imagination."

The sedate smile with which this was spoken, left it impossible to
conjecture whether the words were meant in approbation, or in
derision, of the plan of the Scottish Reformer. Turning then to Roland
Graeme, as if he thought he had been long enough a witness of this
conversation, he bade him get him presently to horse, since my Lord of
Lindesay was already mounted. The page made his reverence, and left
the apartment.

Guided by Michael Wing-the-wind, he found his horse ready saddled and
prepared for the journey, in front of the palace porch, where hovered
about a score of men-at-arms, whose leader showed no small symptoms of
surly impatience.

"Is this the jackanape page for whom we have waited thus long?" said
he to Wing-the-wind.--"And my Lord Ruthven will reach the castle long
before us."

Michael assented, and added, that the boy had been detained by the
Regent to receive some parting instructions. The leader made an
inarticulate sound in his throat, expressive of sullen acquiescence,
and calling to one of his domestic attendants, "Edward," said he,
"take the gallant into your charge, and let him speak with no one
else."

He then addressed, by the title of Sir Robert, an elderly and
respectable-looking gentleman, the only one of the party who seemed
above the rank of a retainer or domestic, and observed, that they must
get to horse with all speed.

During this discourse, and while they were riding slowly along the
street of the suburb, Roland had time to examine more accurately the
looks and figure of the Baron, who was at their head.

Lord Lindesay of the Byres was rather touched than stricken with
years. His upright stature and strong limbs, still showed him fully
equal to all the exertions and fatigues of war. His thick eyebrows,
now partially grizzled, lowered over large eyes full of dark fire,
which seemed yet darker from the uncommon depth at which they were set
in his head. His features, naturally strong and harsh, had their
sternness exaggerated by one or two scars received in battle. These
features, naturally calculated to express the harsher passions, were
shaded by an open steel cap, with a projecting front, but having no
visor, over the gorget of which fell the black and grizzled beard of
the grim old Baron, and totally hid the lower part of his face. The
rest of his dress was a loose buff-coat, which had once been lined
with silk and adorned with embroidery, but which seemed much stained
with travel, and damaged with cuts, received probably in battle. It
covered a corslet, which had once been of polished steel, fairly
gilded, but was now somewhat injured with rust. A sword of antique
make and uncommon size, framed to be wielded with both hands, a kind
of weapon which was then beginning to go out of use, hung from his
neck in a baldrick, and was so disposed as to traverse his whole
person, the huge hilt appearing over his left shoulder, and the point
reaching well-nigh to the right heel, and jarring against his spur as
he walked. This unwieldy weapon could only be unsheathed by pulling
the handle over the left shoulder--for no human arm was long enough
to draw it in the usual manner. The whole equipment was that of a rude
warrior, negligent of his exterior even to misanthropical sullenness;
and the short, harsh, haughty tone, which he used towards his
attendants, belonged to the same unpolished character.

The personage who rode with Lord Lindesay, at the head of the party,
was an absolute contrast to him, in manner, form, and features. His
thin and silky hair was already white, though he seemed not above
forty-five or fifty years old. His tone of voice was soft and
insinuating--his form thin, spare, and bent by an habitual stoop--
his pale cheek was expressive of shrewdness and intelligence--his
eye was quick though placid, and his whole demeanour mild and
conciliatory. He rode an ambling nag, such as were used by ladies,
clergymen, or others of peaceful professions--wore a riding habit of
black velvet, with a cap and feather of the same hue, fastened up by a
golden medal--and for show, and as a mark of rank rather than for
use, carried a walking-sword, (as the short light rapiers were
called,) without any other arms, offensive or defensive.

The party had now quitted the town, and proceeded, at a steady trot,
towards the west.--As they prosecuted their journey, Roland Graeme
would gladly have learned something of its purpose and tendency, but
the countenance of the personage next to whom he had been placed in
the train, discouraged all approach to familiarity. The Baron himself
did not look more grim and inaccessible than his feudal retainer,
whose grisly beard fell over his mouth like the portcullis before the
gate of a castle, as if for the purpose of preventing the escape of
any word, of which absolute necessity did not demand the utterance.
The rest of the train seemed under the same taciturn influence, and
journeyed on without a word being exchanged amongst them--more like a
troop of Carthusian friars than a party of military retainers. Roland
Graeme was surprised at this extremity of discipline; for even in the
household of the Knight of Avenel, though somewhat distinguished for
the accuracy with which decorum was enforced, a journey was a period
of license, during which jest and song, and every thing within the
limits of becoming mirth and pastime were freely permitted. This
unusual silence was, however, so far acceptable, that it gave him time
to bring any shadow of judgment which he possessed to council on his
own situation and prospects, which would have appeared to any
reasonable person in the highest degree dangerous and perplexing.

It was quite evident that he had, through various circumstances not
under his own control, formed contradictory connexions with both the
contending factions, by whose strife the kingdom was distracted,
without being properly an adherent of either. It seemed also clear,
that the same situation in the household of the deposed Queen, to
which he was now promoted by the influence of the Regent, had been
destined to him by his enthusiastic grandmother, Magdalen Graeme; for
on this subject, the words which Morton had dropped had been a ray of
light; yet it was no less clear that these two persons, the one the
declared enemy, the other the enthusiastic votary, of the Catholic
religion,--the one at the head of the King's new government, the
other, who regarded that government as a criminal usurpation--must
have required and expected very different services from the individual
whom they had thus united in recommending. It required very little
reflection to foresee that these contradictory claims on his services
might speedily place him in a situation where his honour as well as
his life might be endangered. But it was not in Roland Graeme's
nature to anticipate evil before it came, or to prepare to combat
difficulties before they arrived. "I will see this beautiful and
unfortunate Mary Stewart," said he, "of whom we have heard so much,
and then there will be time enough to determine whether I will be
kingsman or queensman. None of them can say I have given word or
promise to either of their factions; for they have led me up and down
like a blind Billy, without giving me any light into what I was to do.
But it was lucky that grim Douglas came into the Regent's closet this
morning, otherwise I had never got free of him without plighting my
troth to do all the Earl would have me, which seemed, after all, but
foul play to the poor imprisoned lady, to place her page as an espial
on her."

Skipping thus lightly over a matter of such consequence, the thoughts
of the hare-brained boy went a wool-gathering after more agreeable
topics. Now he admired the Gothic towers of Barnbougle, rising from
the seabeaten rock, and overlooking one of the most glorious
landscapes in Scotland--and now he began to consider what notable
sport for the hounds and the hawks must be afforded by the variegated
ground over which they travelled--and now he compared the steady and
dull trot at which they were then prosecuting their journey, with the
delight of sweeping over hill and dale in pursuit of his favourite
sports. As, under the influence of these joyous recollections, he gave
his horse the spur, and made him execute a gambade, he instantly
incurred the censure of his grave neighbour, who hinted to him to keep
the pace, and move quietly and in order, unless he wished such notice
to be taken of his eccentric movements as was likely to be very
displeasing to him.

The rebuke and the restraint under which the youth now found himself,
brought back to his recollection his late good-humoured and
accommodating associate and guide, Adam Woodcock; and from that topic
his imagination made a short flight to Avenel Castle, to the quiet and
unconfined life of its inhabitants, the goodness of his early
protectress, not forgetting the denizens of its stables, kennels, and
hawk-mews. In a brief space, all these subjects of meditation gave way
to the resemblance of that riddle of womankind, Catherine Seyton, who
appeared before the eye of his mind--now in her female form, now in
her male attire--now in both at once--like some strange dream, which
presents to us the same individual under two different characters at
the same instant. Her mysterious present also recurred to his
recollection--the sword which he now wore at his side, and which he
was not to draw save by command of his legitimate Sovereign! But the
key of this mystery he judged he was likely to find in the issue of
his present journey.

With such thoughts passing through his mind, Roland Graeme accompanied
the party of Lord Lindesay to the Queen's-Ferry, which they passed in
vessels that lay in readiness for them. They encountered no adventure
whatever in their passage, excepting one horse being lamed in getting
into the boat, an accident very common on such occasions, until a few
years ago, when the ferry was completely regulated. What was more
peculiarly characteristic of the olden age, was the discharge of a
culverin at the party from the battlements of the old castle of
Rosythe, on the north side of the Ferry, the lord of which happened to
have some public or private quarrel with the Lord Lindesay, and took
this mode of expressing his resentment. The insult, however, as it
was harmless, remained unnoticed and unavenged, nor did any thing else
occur worth notice until the band had come where Lochleven spread its
magnificent sheet of waters to the beams of a bright summer's sun.

The ancient castle, which occupies an island nearly in the centre of
the lake, recalled to the page that of Avenel, in which he had been
nurtured. But the lake was much larger, and adorned with several
islets besides that on which the fortress was situated; and instead of
being embosomed in hills like that of Avenel, had upon the southern
side only a splendid mountainous screen, being the descent of one of
the Lomond hills, and on the other was surrounded by the extensive and
fertile plain of Kinross. Roland Graeme looked with some degree of
dismay on the water-girdled fortress, which then, as now, consisted
only of one large donjon-keep, surrounded with a court-yard, with two
round flanking-towers at the angles, which contained within its
circuit some other buildings of inferior importance. A few old trees,
clustered together near the castle, gave some relief to the air of
desolate seclusion; but yet the page, while he gazed upon a building
so sequestrated, could not but feel for the situation of a captive
Princess doomed to dwell there, as well as for his own. "I must have
been born," he thought, "under the star that presides over ladies and
lakes of water, for I cannot by any means escape from the service of
the one, or from dwelling in the other. But if they allow me not the
fair freedom of my sport and exercise, they shall find it as hard to
confine a wild-drake, as a youth who can swim like one."

The band had now reached the edge of the water, and one of the party
advancing displayed Lord Lindesay's pennon, waving it repeatedly to
and fro, while that Baron himself blew a clamorous blast on his bugle.
A banner was presently displayed from the roof of the castle in reply
to these signals, and one or two figures were seen busied as if
unmooring a boat which lay close to the islet.

"It will be some time ere they can reach us with the boat," said the
companion of Lord Lindesay; "should we not do well to proceed to the
town, and array ourselves in some better order, ere we appear
before----"

"You may do as you list, Sir Robert," replied Lindesay, "I have
neither time nor temper to waste on such vanities. She has cost me
many a hard ride, and must not now take offence at the threadbare
cloak and soiled doublet that I am arrayed in. It is the livery to
which she has brought all Scotland."

"Do not speak so harshly," said Sir Robert; "if she hath done wrong,
she hath dearly abied it; and in losing all real power, one would not
deprive her of the little external homage due at once to a lady and a
princess."

"I say to you once more, Sir Robert Melville," replied Lindesay, "do
as you will--for me, I am now too old to dink myself as a gallant to
grace the bower of dames."

"The bower of dames, my lord!" said Melville, looking at the rude old
tower--"is it yon dark and grated castle, the prison of a captive
Queen, to which you give so gay a name?"

"Name it as you list," replied Lindesay; "had the Regent desired to
send an envoy capable to speak to a captive Queen, there are many
gallants in his court who would have courted the occasion to make
speeches out of Amadis of Gaul, or the Mirror of Knighthood. But when
he sent blunt old Lindesay, he knew he would speak to a misguided
woman, as her former misdoings and her present state render necessary.
I sought not this employment--it has been thrust upon me; and I will
not cumber myself with more form in the discharge of it, than needs
must be tacked to such an occupation."

So saying, Lord Lindesay threw himself from horseback, and wrapping
his riding-cloak around him, lay down at lazy length upon the sward,
to await the arrival of the boat, which was now seen rowing from the
castle towards the shore. Sir Robert Melville, who had also
dismounted, walked at short turns to and fro upon the bank, his arms
crossed on his breast, often looking to the castle, and displaying in
his countenance a mixture of sorrow and of anxiety. The rest of the
party sate like statues on horseback, without moving so much as the
points of their lances, which they held upright in the air.

As soon as the boat approached a rude quay or landing-place, near to
which they had stationed themselves, Lord Lindesay started up from his
recumbent posture, and asked the person who steered, why he had not
brought a larger boat with him to transport his retinue.

"So please you," replied the boatman, "because it is the order of our
lady, that we bring not to the castle more than four persons."

"Thy lady is a wise woman," said Lindesay, "to suspect me of
treachery!--Or, had I intended it, what was to hinder us from throwing
you and your comrades into the lake, and filling the boat with my own
fellows?"

The steersman, on hearing this, made a hasty signal to his men to back
their oars, and hold off from the shore which they were approaching.

"Why, thou ass," said Lindesay, "thou didst not think that I meant thy
fool's head serious harm? Hark thee, friend--with fewer than three
servants I will go no whither--Sir Robert Melville will require at
least the attendance of one domestic; and it will be at your peril and
your lady's to refuse us admission, come hither as we are, on matters
of great national concern."

The steersman answered with firmness, but with great civility of
expression, that his orders were positive to bring no more than four
into the island, but he offered to row back to obtain a revisal of his
orders.

"Do so, my friend," said Sir Robert Melville, after he had in vain
endeavoured to persuade his stubborn companion to consent to a
temporary abatement of his train, "row back to the castle, sith it
will be no better, and obtain thy lady's orders to transport the Lord
Lindesay, myself, and our retinue hither."

"And hearken," said Lord Lindesay, "take with you this page, who comes
as an attendant on your lady's guest.--Dismount, sirrah," said he,
addressing Roland, "and embark with them in that boat."

"And what is to become of my horse?" said Graeme; "I am answerable
for him to my master."

"I will relieve you of the charge," said Lindesay; "thou wilt have
little enough to do with horse, saddle, or bridle, for ten years to
come--Thou mayst take the halter an thou wilt--it may stand thee in a
turn."

"If I thought so," said Roland--but he was interrupted by Sir Robert
Melville, who said to him good-humouredly, "Dispute it not, young
friend--resistance can do no good, but may well run thee into danger."

Roland Graeme felt the justice of what he said, and, though neither
delighted with the matter or manner of Lindesay's address, deemed it
best to submit to necessity, and to embark without farther
remonstrance. The men plied their oars. The quay, with the party of
horse stationed near it, receded from the page's eyes--the castle and
the islet seemed to draw near in the same proportion, and in a brief
space he landed under the shadow of a huge old tree which overhung the
landing place. The steersman and Graeme leaped ashore; the boatmen
remained lying on their oars ready for farther service.

Sir Walter Scott