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Chapter 13


The Miller was of manly make,
To meet him was na mows;
There durst na ten come him to take,
Sae noited he their pows.
CHRIST'S KIRK ON THE GREEN.


It was after sunset, as we have already stated, when Halbert
Glendinning returned to the abode of his father. The hour of dinner
was at noon, and that of supper about an hour after sunset at this
period of the year. The former had passed without Halbert's
appearing; but this was no uncommon circumstance, for the chase, or
any other pastime which occurred, made Halbert a frequent neglecter of
hours; and his mother, though angry and disappointed when she saw him
not at table, was so much accustomed to his occasional absence, and
knew so little how to teach him more regularity, that a testy
observation was almost all the censure with which such omissions were
visited.

On the present occasion, however, the wrath of good Dame Elspeth
soared higher than usual. It was not merely on account of the special
tup's head and trotters, the haggis and the side of mutton, with which
her table was set forth, but also because of the arrival of no less a
person than Hob Miller, as he was universally termed, though the man's
name was Happer.

The object of the Miller's visit to the Tower of Glendearg was like
the purpose of those embassies which potentates send to each other's
courts, partly ostensible, partly politic. In outward show, Hob came
to visit his friends of the Halidome, and share the festivity common
among country folk, after the barn-yard has been filled, and to renew
old intimacies by new conviviality. But in very truth he also came to
have an eye upon the contents of each stack, and to obtain such
information respecting the extent of the crop reaped and gathered in
by each feuar, as might prevent the possibility of _abstracted
multures_.

All the world knows that the cultivators of each barony or regality,
temporal or spiritual, in Scotland, are obliged to bring their corn to
be grinded at the mill of the territory, for which they pay a heavy
charge, called the _intown multures_. I could speak to the
thirlage of _invecta et illata_ too, but let that pass. I have
said enough to intimate that I talk not without book. Those of the
_Sucken_, or enthralled ground, were liable in penalties, if,
deviating from this thirlage, (or thraldom,) they carried their grain
to another mill. Now such another mill, erected on the lands of a
lay-baron, lay within a tempting and convenient distance of Glendearg;
and the Miller was so obliging, and his charges so moderate, that it
required Hob Miller's utmost vigilance to prevent evasions of his
right of monopoly.

The most effectual means he could devise was this show of good
fellowship and neighbourly friendship,--under colour of which he made
his annual cruise through the barony--numbered every corn-stack, and
computed its contents by the boll, so that he could give a shrewd hint
afterwards whether or not the grist came to the right mill.

Dame Elspeth, like her compeers, was obliged to take these domiciliary
visits in the sense of politeness; but in her case they had not
occurred since her husband's death, probably because the Tower of
Glendearg was distant, and there was but a trifling quantity of arable
or _infield_ land attached to it. This year there had been, upon
some speculation of old Martin's, several bolls sown in the
exit-field, which, the season being fine, had ripened remarkably well.
Perhaps this circumstance occasioned the honest Miller's including
Glendearg, on this occasion, in his annual round Dame Glendinning
received with pleasure a visit which she used formerly only to endure
with patience; and she had changed her view of the matter chiefly, if
not entirely, because Hob had brought with him his daughter Mysie, of
whose features she could give so slight an account, but whose dress
she had described so accurately to the Sub-Prior.

Hitherto this girl had been an object of very trifling consideration
in the eyes of the good widow; but the Sub-Prior's particular and
somewhat mysterious inquiries had set her brains to work on the
subject of Mysie of the Mill; and she had here asked a broad question,
and there she had thrown out an innuendo, and there again she had
gradually led on to a conversation on the subject of poor Mysie. And
from all inquiries and investigations she had collected, that Mysie
was a dark-eyed, laughter-loving wench, with cherry-cheeks, and a skin
as white as her father's finest bolted flour, out of which was made
the Abbot's own wastel-bread. For her temper, she sung and laughed
from morning to night; and for her fortune, a material article,
besides that which the Miller might have amassed by means of his
proverbial golden thumb, Mysie was to inherit a good handsome lump of
land, with a prospect of the mill and mill-acres descending to her
husband on an easy lease, if a fair word were spoken in season to the
Abbot, and to the Prior, and to the Sub-Prior, and to the Sacristan,
and so forth.

By turning and again turning these advantages over in her own mind,
Elspeth at length came to be of opinion, that the only way to save her
son Halbert from a life of "spur, spear, and snaffle," as they called
that of the border-riders, from the dint of a cloth-yard shaft, or the
loop of an inch-cord, was, that he should marry and settle, and that
Mysie Happer should be his destined bride.

As if to her wish, Hob Miller arrived on his strong-built mare,
bearing on a pillion behind him the lovely Mysie, with cheeks like a
peony-rose, (if Dame Glendinning had ever seen one,) spirits all
afloat with rustic coquetry, and a profusion of hair as black as
ebony. The _beau-ideal_ which Dame Glendinning had been bodying
forth in her imagination, became unexpectedly realized in the buxom
form of Mysie Happer, whom, in the course of half an hour, she settled
upon as the maiden who was to fix the restless and untutored Halbert.
True, Mysie, as the dame soon saw, was like to love dancing round a
May-pole as well as managing a domestic establishment, and Halbert was
like to break more heads than he would grind stacks of corn. But then
a miller should always be of manly make, and has been described so
since the days of Chaucer and James I. [Footnote: The verse we have
chosen for a motto, is from a poem imputed to James I. of Scotland. As
for the Miller who figures among the Canterbury pilgrims, besides his
sword and buckler, he boasted other attributes, all of which, but
especially the last, show that he relied more on the strength of the
outside than that of the inside of his skull.


The miller was a stout carl for the nones,
Full big he was of brawn, and eke of bones;
That proved well, for wheresoe'r he cam,
At wrestling he wold bear away the ram;
He was short shoulder'd, broad, a thick gnar;
There n'as no door that he n'old heave of bar,
Or break it at a running with his head, &c. ]

Indeed, to be able to outdo and bully the whole _Sucken_, (once
more we use this barbarous phrase,) in all athletic exercises, was one
way to render easy the collection of dues which men would have
disputed with a less formidable champion. Then, as to the
deficiencies of the miller's wife, the dame was of opinion that they
might be supplied by the activity of the miller's mother. "I will keep
house for the young folk myself, for the tower is grown very lonely,"
thought Dame Glendinning, "and to live near the kirk will be mair
comfortable in my auld age--and then Edward may agree with his brother
about the feu, more especially as he is a favourite with the
Sub-Prior, and then he may live in the auld tower like his worthy
father before him--and wha kens but Mary Avenel, high-blood as she is,
may e'en draw in her stool to the chimney-nook, and sit down here for
good and a'?--It's true she has no tocher, but the like of her for
beauty and sense ne'er crossed my een; and I have kend every wench in
the Halidome of St. Mary's--ay, and their mothers that bore them--ay,
she is a sweet and a lovely creature as ever tied snood over brown
hair--ay, and then, though her uncle keeps her out of her ain for the
present time, yet it is to be thought the gray-goose shaft will find a
hole in his coat of proof, as, God help us! it has done in many a
better man's--And, moreover, if they should stand on their pedigree
and gentle race, Edward might say to them, that is, to her gentle kith
and kin, 'whilk o' ye was her best friend, when she came down the glen
to Glendearg in a misty evening, on a beast mair like a cuddie than
aught else?'--And if they tax him with churl's blood, Edward might
say, that, forby the old proverb, how

Gentle deed
Makes gentle bleid;

yet, moreover, there comes no churl's blood from Glendinning or Brydone;
for, says Edward--"

The hoarse voice of the Miller at this moment recalled the dame from
her reverie, and compelled her to remember that if she meant to
realize her airy castle, she must begin by laying the foundation in
civility to her guest and his daughter, whom she was at that moment
most strangely neglecting, though her whole plan turned on
conciliating their favour and good opinion, and that, in fact, while
arranging matters for so intimate a union with her company, she was
suffering them to sit unnoticed, and in their riding gear, as if about
to resume their journey. "And so I say, dame," concluded the Miller,
(for she had not marked the beginning of his speech,) "an ye be so
busied with your housekep, or ought else, why, Mysie and I will trot
our way down the glen again to Johnnie Broxmouth's, who pressed us
right kindly to bide with him."

Starting at once from her dream of marriages and intermarriages,
mills, mill-lands, and baronies, Dame Elspeth felt for a moment like
the milk-maid in the fable, when she overset the pitcher, on the
contents of which so many golden dreams were founded. But the
foundation of Dame Glendinning's hopes was only tottering, not
overthrown, and she hastened to restore its equilibrium. Instead of
attempting to account for her absence of mind and want of attention to
her guests, which she might have found something difficult, she
assumed the offensive, like an able general when he finds it
necessary, by a bold attack, to disguise his weakness.

A loud exclamation she made, and a passionate complaint she set up
against the unkindness of her old friend, who could for an instant
doubt the heartiness of her welcome to him and to his hopeful
daughter; and then to think of his going back to Johnny Broxmouth's,
when the auld tower stood where it did, and had room in it for a
friend or two in the worst of times--and he too a neighbour that his
umquhile gossip Simon, blessed be his cast, used to think the best
friend he had in the Halidome! And on she went, urging her complaint
with so much seriousness, that she had well-nigh imposed on herself as
well as upon Hob Miller, who had no mind to take any thing in dudgeon;
and as it suited his plans to pass the night at Glendearg, would have
been equally contented to do so even had his reception been less
vehemently hospitable.

To all Elspeth's expostulations on the unkindness of his proposal to
leave her dwelling, he answered composedly, "Nay, dame, what could I
tell? ye might have had other grist to grind, for ye looked as if ye
scarce saw us--or what know I? ye might bear in mind the words Martin
and I had about the last barley ye sawed--for I ken dry multures
[Footnote: Dry multures were a fine, or compensation in money, for not
grinding at the mill of the thirl. It was, and is, accounted a
vexatious exaction.] will sometimes stick in the throat. A man seeks
but his awn, and yet folk shall hold him for both miller and miller's
man, that is millar and knave, [Footnote: The under miller is, in the
language of thirlage, called the knave, which, indeed, signified
originally his lad. (_Knabe_--German,) but by degrees came to be
taken in a worse sense. In the old translation of the Bible, Paul is
made to term himself the knave of our Saviour. The allowance of meal
taken by the miller's servant was called knave-ship.] all the country
over."

"Alas, that you will say so, neighbour Hob," said Dame Elspeth, "or
that Martin should have had any words with you about the mill-dues! I
will chide him roundly for it, I promise you, on the faith of a true
widow. You know full well that a lone woman is sore put upon by her
servants."

"Nay, dame," said the miller, unbuckling the broad belt which made
fast his cloak, and served, at the same time, to suspend by his side a
swinging Andrea Ferrara, "bear no grudge at Martin, for I bear none--I
take it on me as a thing of mine office, to maintain my right of
multure, lock, and gowpen. [Note: The multure was the regular
exaction for grinding the meal. The _lock_, signifying a small
quantity, and the _gowpen_, a handful, were additional
perquisites demanded by the miller, and submitted to or resisted by
the _Suckener_ as circumstances permitted. These and other petty
dues were called in general the _Sequels_.] And reason good, for
as the old song says,


I live by my mill. God bless her,
She's parent, child, and wife.

The poor old slut, I am beholden to her for my living, and bound to
stand by her, as I say to my mill knaves, in right and in wrong. And
so should every honest fellow stand by his bread-winner.--And so,
Mysie, ye may doff your cloak since our neighbour is so kindly glad to
see us--why, I think, we are as blithe to see her--not one in the
Halidome pays their multures more duly, sequels, arriage, and
carriage, and mill-services, used and wont."

With that the Miller hung his ample cloak without farther ceremony
upon a huge pair of stag's antlers, which adorned at once the naked
walls of the tower, and served for what we vulgarly call cloak-pins.

In the meantime Dame Elspeth assisted to disembarrass the damsel whom
she destined for her future daughter-in-law, of her hood, mantle, and
the rest of her riding gear, giving her to appear as beseemed the
buxom daughter of the wealthy Miller, gay and goodly, in a white
kirtle, the seams of which were embroidered with green silken lace or
fringe, entwined with some silver thread. An anxious glance did
Elspoth cast upon the good-humoured face, which was now more fully
shown to her, and was only obscured by a quantity of raven black hair,
which the maid of the mill had restrained by a snood of green silk,
embroidered with silver, corresponding to the trimmings of her kirtle.
The countenance itself was exceedingly comely--the eyes black, large,
and roguishly good-humoured--the mouth was small--the lips well
formed, though somewhat full--the teeth were pearly white--and the
chin had a very seducing dimple in it. The form belonging to this
joyous face was full and round, and firm and fair. It might become
coarse and masculine some years hence, which is the common fault of
Scottish beauty; but in Mysie's sixteenth year she had the shape of a
Hebe. The anxious Elspeth, with all her maternal partiality, could not
help admitting within herself, that a better man than Halbert might go
farther and fare worse. She looked a little giddy, and Halbert was
not nineteen; still it was time he should be settled, for to that
point the dame always returned; and here was an excellent opportunity.

The simple cunning of Dame Elspeth now exhausted itself in
commendations of her fair guest, from the snood, as they say, to the
single-soled shoe. Mysie listened and blushed with pleasure for the
first five minutes; but ere ten had elapsed, she began to view the old
lady's compliments rather as subjects of mirth than of vanity, and was
much more disposed to laugh at than to be flattered with them, for
Nature had mingled the good-humour with which she had endowed the
damsel with no small portion of shrewdness. Even Hob himself began to
tire of hearing his daughter's praises, and broke in with, "Ay, ay,
she is a clever quean enough; and, were she five years older, she
shall lay a loaded sack on an _aver_ [Note: _Aver_--properly
a horse of labour.] with e'er a lass in the Halidome. But I have been
looking for your two sons, dame. Men say downby that Halbert's turned
a wild springald, and that we may have word of him from Westmoreland
one moonlight night or another."

"God forbid, my good neighbour; God, in his mercy, forbid!" said Dame
Glendinning, earnestly; for it was touching the very key-note of her
apprehensions, to hint any probability that Halbert might become one
of the marauders so common in the age and country. But, fearful of
having betrayed too much alarm on this subject, she immediately added,
"That though, since the last rout at Pinkiecleuch, she had been all of
a tremble when a gun or a spear was named, or when men spoke of
fighting; yet, thanks to God and our Lady, her sons were like to live
and die honest and peaceful tenants to the Abbey, as their father
might have done, but for that awful hosting which he went forth to
with mony a brave man that never returned."

"Ye need not tell me of it, dame," said the Miller, "since I was there
myself, and made two pair of legs (and these were not mine, but my
mare's,) worth one pair of hands. I judged how it would be, when I saw
our host break ranks, with rushing on through that broken ploughed
field, and so as they had made a pricker of me, I e'en pricked off
with myself while the play was good."

"Ay, ay, neighbour," said the dame, "ye were aye a wise and a wary
man; if my Simon had had your wit, he might have been here to speak
about it this day; but he was aye cracking of his good blood and his
high kindred, and less would not serve him than to bide the bang to
the last, with the earls, and knights, and squires, that had no wives
to greet for them, or else had wives that cared not how soon they were
widows; but that is not for the like of us. But touching my son
Halbert, there is no fear of him; for if it should be his misfortune
to be in the like case, he has the best pair of heels in Halidome, and
could run almost as fast as your mare herself."

"Is this he, neighbour?" quoth the Miller.

"No," replied the mother; "that is my youngest son, Edward, who can
read and write like the Lord Abbot himself, if it were not a sin to
say so."

"Ay," said the Miller; "and is that the young clerk the Sub-Prior
thinks so much of? they say he will come far ben that lad; wha kens
but he may come to be Sub-Prior himself?--as broken a ship has come to
land."

"To be a Prior, neighbour Miller," said Edward, "a man must first be
a priest, and for that I judge I have little vocation."

"He will take to the pleugh-pettle, neighbour," said the good dame;
"and so will Halbert too, I trust. I wish you saw Halbert.--Edward,
where is your brother?"

"Hunting, I think," replied Edward; "at least he left us this morning
to join the Laird of Colmslie and his hounds. I have heard them
baying in the glen all day."

"And if I had heard that music," said the Miller, "it would have done
my heart good, ay, and may be taken me two or three miles out of my
road. When I was the Miller of Morebattle's knave, I have followed
the hounds from Eckford to the foot of Hounam-law--followed them on
foot, Dame Glendinning, ay, and led the chase when the Laird of
Cessford and his gay riders were all thrown out by the mosses and
gills. I brought the stag on my back to Hounam Cross, when the dogs
had pulled him down. I think I see the old gray knight, as he sate so
upright on his strong war-horse, all white with foam; and 'Miller,'
said he to me, 'an thou wilt turn thy back on the mill, and wend with
me, I will make a man of thee.' But I chose rather to abide by clap
and happer, and the better luck was mine; for the proud Percy caused
hang five of the Laird's henchmen at Alnwick for burning a rickle of
houses some gate beyond Fowberry, and it might have been my luck as
well as another man's."

"Ah, neighbour, neighbour," said Dame Glendinning, "you were aye wise
and wary; but if you like hunting, I must say Halbert's the lad to
please you. He hath all those fair holiday terms of hawk and hound as
ready in his mouth as Tom with the tod's tail, that is the Lord
Abbot's ranger."

"Ranges he not homeward at dinner-time, dame," demanded the Miller;
"for we call noon the dinner-hour at Kennaquhair?"

The widow was forced to admit that, even at this important period of
the day, Halbert was frequently absent; at which the Miller shook his
head, intimating, at the same time, some allusion to the proverb of
MacFarlane's geese, which "liked their play better than their
meat." [Footnote: A brood of wild-geese, which long frequented one of
the uppermost islands in Loch-Lomond, called Inch-Tavoe, were supposed
to have some mysterious connexion with the ancient family of
MacFarlane of that ilk, and it is said were never seen after the ruin
and extinction of that house. The MacFarlanes had a house and garden
upon that same island of Inch-Tavoe. Here James VI. was, on one
occasion, regaled by the chieftain. His Majesty had been previously
much amused by the geese pursuing each other on the Loch. But, when
one which was brought to table, was found to be tough and ill fed,
James observed--"that MacFarlane's geese liked their play better than
their meat," a proverb which has been current ever since.]

That the delay of dinner might not increase the Miller's disposition
to prejudge Halbert, Dame Glendinning called hastily on Mary Avenel to
take her task of entertaining Mysie Happer, while she herself rushed
to the kitchen, and, entering at once into the province of Tibb
Tacket, rummaged among trenchers and dishes, snatched pots from the
fire, and placed pans and gridirons on it, accompanying her own feats
of personal activity with such a continued list of injunctions to
Tibb, that Tibb at length lost patience, and said, "Here was as muckle
wark about meating an auld miller, as if they had been to banquet the
blood of Bruce." But this, as it was supposed to be spoken aside, Dame
Glendinning did not think it convenient to hear.

Sir Walter Scott