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Chapter 14


Nay, let me have the friends who eat my victuals,
As various as my dishes.--The feast's naught,
Where one huge plate predominates. John Plaintext,
He shall be mighty beef, our English staple;
The worthy Alderman, a butter'd dumpling;
Yon pair of whisker'd Cornets, ruffs and rees:
Their friend the Dandy, a green goose in sippets.
And so the hoard is spread at once and fill'd
On the same principle--Variety.
NEW PLAY.


"And what brave lass is this?" said Hob Miller, as Mary Avenel entered
the apartment to supply the absence of Dame Elspeth Glendinning.

"The young Lady of Avenel, father," said the Maid of the Mill,
dropping as low a curtsy as her rustic manners enabled her to make.
The Miller, her father, doffed his bonnet, and made his reverence, not
altogether so low perhaps as if the young lady had appeared in the
pride of rank and riches, yet so as to give high birth the due homage
which the Scotch for a length of time scrupulously rendered to it.

Indeed, from having had her mother's example before her for so many
years, and from a native sense of propriety and even of dignity, Mary
Avenel had acquired a demeanour, which marked her title to
consideration, and effectually checked any attempt at familiarity on
the part of those who might be her associates in her present
situation, but could not be well termed her equals. She was by nature
mild, pensive, and contemplative, gentle in disposition, and most
placable when accidentally offended; but still she was of a retired
and reserved habit, and shunned to mix in ordinary sports, even--when
the rare occurrence of a fair or wake gave her an opportunity of
mingling with companions of her own age. If at such scenes she was
seen for an instant, she appeared to behold them with the composed
indifference of one to whom their gaiety was a matter of no interest,
and who seemed only desirous to glide away from the scene as soon as
she possibly could.

Something also had transpired concerning her being born on All-hallow
Eve, and the powers with which that circumstance was supposed to
invest her over the invisible world. And from all-these particulars
combined, the young men and women of the Halidome used to distinguish
Mary among themselves by the name of the Spirit of Avenel, as if the
fair but fragile form, the beautiful but rather colourless cheek, the
dark blue eye, and the shady hair, had belonged rather to the
immaterial than the substantial world. The general tradition of the
White Lady, who was supposed to wait on the fortunes of the family of
Avenel, gave a sort of zest to this piece of rural wit. It gave great
offence, however, to the two sons of Simon Glendinning; and when the
expression was in their presence applied to the young lady, Edward was
wont to check the petulance of those who used it by strength of
argument, and Halbert by strength of arm. In such cases Halbert had
this advantage, that although ho could render no aid to his brother's
argument, yet when circumstances required it, he was sure to have that
of Edward, who never indeed himself commenced a fray, but, on the
other hand, did not testify any reluctance to enter into combat in
Halbert's behalf or in his rescue.

But the zealous attachment of the two youths, being themselves, from
the retired situation in which they dwelt, comparative strangers in
the Halidome, did not serve in any degree to alter the feelings of the
inhabitants towards the young lady, who seemed to have dropped amongst
them from another sphere of life. Still, however, she was regarded
with respect, if not with fondness; and the attention of the Sub-Prior
to the family, not to mention the formidable name of Julian Avenel,
which every new incident of those tumultuous times tended to render
more famous, attached to his niece a certain importance. Thus some
aspired to her acquaintance out of pride while the more timid of the
feuars were anxious to inculcate upon their children the necessity of
being respectful to the noble orphan. So that Mary Avenel, little
loved because little known, was regarded with a mysterious awe, partly
derived from fear of her uncle's moss-troopers, and partly from her
own retired and distant habits, enhanced by the superstitious opinions
of the time and country.

It was not without some portion of this awe, that Mysie felt herself
left alone in company with a young person so distant in rank, and so
different in bearing, from herself; for her worthy father had taken
the first opportunity to step out unobserved, in order to mark how the
barnyard was filled, and what prospect it afforded of grist to the
mill. In youth, however, there is a sort of free-masonry, which,
without much conversation, teaches young persons to estimate each
other's character, and places them at ease on the shortest
acquaintance. It is only when taught deceit by the commerce of the
world, that we learn to shroud our character from observation, and to
disguise our real sentiments from those with whom we are placed in
communion.

Accordingly, the two young women were soon engaged in such objects of
interest as best became their age. They visited Mary Avenel's pigeons,
which she nursed with the tenderness of a mother; they turned over her
slender stores of finery, which yet contained some articles that
excited the respect of her companion, though Mysie was too
good-humoured to nourish envy. A golden rosary, and some female
ornaments marking superior rank, had been rescued in the moment of
their utmost adversity, more by Tibb Tacket's presence of mind, than
by the care of their owner,--who was at that sad period too much sunk
in grief to pay any attention to such circumstances. They struck
Mysie with a deep impression of veneration; for, excepting what the
Lord Abbot and the convent might possess, she did not believe there
was so much real gold in the world as was exhibited in these few
trinkets, and Mary, however sage and serious, was not above being
pleased with the admiration of her rustic companion.

Nothing, indeed, could exhibit a stronger contrast than the appearance
of the two girls;--the good-humoured laughter-loving countenance of
the Maid of the Mill, who stood gazing with unrepressed astonishment
on whatever was in her inexperienced eye rare and costly, and with an
humble, and at the same time cheerful acquiescence in her inferiority,
asking all the little queries about the use and value of the
ornaments, while Mary Avenel, with her quiet composed dignity and
placidity of manner, produced them one after another for the amusement
of her companion.

As they became gradually more familiar, Mysie of the Mill was just
venturing to ask, why Mary Avenel never appeared at the May-pole, and to
express her wonder when the young lady said she disliked dancing, when
a trampling of horses at the gate of the tower interrupted their
conversation.

Mysie flew to the shot-window in the full ardour of unrestrained female
curiosity. "Saint Mary! sweet lady! here come two well-mounted gallants;
will you step this way to look at them ?"

"No," said Mary Avenel, "you shall tell me who they are."

"Well, if you like it better," said Mysie--"but how shall I know
them?---Stay, I do know one of them, and so do you, lady; he is a
blithe man, somewhat light of hand, they say, but the gallants of
these days think no great harm of that. He is your uncle's henchman,
that they call Christie of the Clinthill; and he has not his old green
jerkin and the rusty blackjack over it, but a scarlet cloak, laid down
with silver lace three inches broad, and a breast-plate you might see
to dress your hair in, as well as in that keeking-glass in the ivory
frame that you showed me even now. Come, dear lady, come to the
shot-window and see him."

"If it be the man you mean, Mysie," replied the orphan of Avenel, "I
shall see him soon enough, considering either the pleasure or comfort
the sight will give me."

"Nay, but if you will not come to see gay Christie," replied the Maid
of the Mill, her face flushed with eager curiosity, "come and tell me
who the gallant is that is with him, the handsomest, the very
lovesomest young man I ever saw with sight."

"It is my foster-brother, Halbert Glendinning," said Mary, with,
apparent indifference; for she had been accustomed to call the sons of
Elspeth her foster-brethren, and to live with them as if they had been
brothers in earnest.

"Nay, by Our Lady, that it is not," said Mysie; "I know the favour of
both the Glendinnings well, and I think this rider be not of our
country. He has a crimson velvet bonnet, and long brown hair falling
down under it, and a beard on his upper lip, and his chin clean and
close shaved, save a small patch on the point of the chin, and a
sky-blue jerkin slashed and lined with white satin, and trunk-hose to
suit, and no weapon but a rapier and dagger--Well, if I was a man, I
would never wear weapon but the rapier! it is so slender and
becoming, instead of having a cartload of iron at my back, like my
father's broad-sword with its great rusty basket-hilt. Do you not
delight in the rapier and poniard, lady?"

"The best sword," answered Mary, "if I must needs answer a question of
the sort, is that which is drawn in the best cause, and which is best
used when it is out of the scabbard."

"But can you not guess who this stranger should be?" said Mysie.

"Indeed, I cannot even attempt it; but to judge by his companion, it is
no matter how little he is known," replied Mary.

"My benison on his bonny face," said Mysie, "if he is not going to
alight here! Now, I am as much pleased as if my father had given me
the silver earrings he has promised me so often;--nay, you had as well
come to the window, for you must see him by and by whether you will or
not." I do not know how much sooner Mary Avenel might have sought the
point of observation, if she had not been scared from it by the
unrestrained curiosity expressed by her buxom friend; but at length
the same feeling prevailed over her sense of dignity, and satisfied
with having displayed all the indifference that was necessary in point
of decorum, she no longer thought herself bound to restrain her
curiosity.

From the outshot or projecting window, she could perceive that
Christie of the Clinthill was attended on the present occasion by a
very gay and gallant cavalier, who, from the nobleness of his
countenance and manner, his rich and handsome dress, and the showy
appearance of his horse and furniture, must, she agreed with her new
friend, be a person of some consequence.

Christie also seemed conscious of something, which made him call out
with more than his usual insolence of manner, "What, ho! so ho! the
house! Churl peasants, will no one answer when I call?--Ho!
Martin,--Tibb,--Dame Glendinning--a murrain on you, must we stand
keeping our horses in the cold here, and they steaming with heat, when
we have ridden so sharply?"

At length he was obeyed, and old Martin made his appearance. "Ha!"
said Christie, "art thou there, old Truepenny? here, stable me these
steeds, and see them well bedded, and stretch thine old limbs by
rubbing them down; and see thou quit not the stable till there is not
a turned hair on either of them."

Martin took the horses to the stable as commanded, but suppressed not
his indignation a moment after he could vent it with safety. "Would
not any one think," he said to Jasper, an old ploughman, who, in
coming to his assistance, had heard Christie's imperious injunctions,
"that this loon, this Christie of the Clinthill, was laird or lord at
least of him? No such thing, man! I remember him a little dirty
turnspit boy in the house of Avenel, that every body in a frosty
morning like this warmed his fingers by kicking or cuffing! and now he
is a gentleman, and swears, d--n him and renounce him, as if the
gentlemen could not so much as keep their own wickedness to
themselves, without the like of him going to hell in their very
company, and by the same road. I have as much a mind as ever I had to
my dinner, to go back and tell him to sort his horse himself, since he
is as able as I am."

"Hout tout, man!" answered Jasper, "keep a calm sough; better to
fleech a fool than fight with him."

Martin acknowledged the truth of the proverb, and, much comforted
therewith, betook himself to cleaning the stranger's horse with great
assiduity, remarking, it was a pleasure to handle a handsome nag, and
turned over the other to the charge of Jasper. Nor was it until
Christie's commands were literally complied with that he deemed it
proper, after fitting ablutions, to join the party in the spence; not
for the purpose of waiting upon them, as a mere modern reader might
possibly expect, but that he might have his share of dinner in their
company.

In the meanwhile, Christie had presented his companion to Dame
Glendinning as Sir Piercie Shafton, a friend of his and of his master,
come to spend three or four days with little din in the tower. The
good dame could not conceive how she was entitled to such an honour,
and would fain have pleaded her want of every sort of convenience to
entertain a guest of that quality. But, indeed, the visiter, when he
cast his eyes round the bare walls, eyed the huge black chimney,
scrutinized the meagre and broken furniture of the apartment, and
beheld the embarrassment of the mistress of the family, intimated
great reluctance to intrude upon Dame Glendinning a visit, which could
scarce, from all appearances, prove otherwise than an inconvenience to
her, and a penance to himself.

But the reluctant hostess and her guest had to do with an inexorable
man, who silenced all expostulations with, "such was his master's
pleasure. And, moreover," he continued, "though the Baron of Avenel's
will must, and ought to prove law to all within ten miles around him,
yet here, dame," he said, "is a letter from your petticoated baron,
the lord-priest yonder, who enjoins you, as you regard his pleasure,
that you afford to this good knight such decent accommodation as is in
your power, suffering him to live as privately as he shall
desire.--And for you, Sir Piercie Shafton," continued Christie, "you
will judge for yourself, whether secrecy and safety is not more your
object even now, than soft beds and high cheer. And do not judge of
the dame's goods by the semblance of her cottage; for you will see by
the dinner she is about to spread for us, that the vassal of the kirk
is seldom found with her basket bare." To Mary Avenel, Christie
presented the stranger, after the best fashion he could, as to the
niece of his master the baron.

While he thus laboured to reconcile Sir Piercie Shafton to his fate,
the widow, having consulted her son Edward on the real import of the
Lord Abbot's injunction, and having found that Christie had given a
true exposition, saw nothing else left for her but to make that fate
as easy as she could to the stranger. He himself also seemed
reconciled to his lot by some feeling probably of strong necessity,
and accepted with a good grace the hospitality which the dame offered
with a very indifferent one.

In fact, the dinner, which soon smoked before the assembled guests,
was of that substantial kind which warrants plenty and comfort. Dame
Glendinning had cooked it after her best manner; and, delighted with
the handsome appearance which her good cheer made when placed on the
table, forgot both her plans and the vexations which interrupted them,
in the hospitable duty of pressing her assembled visiters to eat and
drink, watching every trencher as it waxed empty, and loading it with
fresh supplies ere the guest could utter a negative.

In the meanwhile, the company attentively regarded each other's
motions, and seemed endeavouring to form a judgment of each other's
character. Sir Piercie Shafton condescended to speak to no one but to
Mary Avenel, and on her he conferred exactly the same familiar and
compassionate, though somewhat scornful sort of attention, which a
pretty fellow of these days will sometimes condescend to bestow on a
country miss, when there is no prettier or more fashionable woman
present. The manner indeed was different, for the etiquette of those
times did not permit Sir Piercie Shafton to pick his teeth, or to
yawn, or to gabble like the beggar whose tongue (as he says) was cut
out by the Turks, or to affect deafness or blindness, or any other
infirmity of the organs. But though the embroidery of his conversation
was different, the groundwork was the same, and the high-flown and
ornate compliments with which the gallant knight of the sixteenth
century inter-larded his conversation, were as much the offspring of
egotism and self-conceit, as the jargon of the coxcombs of our own
days.

The English knight was, however, something daunted at finding that
Mary Avenel listened with an air of indifference, and answered with
wonderful brevity, to all the fine things which ought, as he
conceived, to have dazzled her with their brilliancy, and puzzled her
by their obscurity. But if he was disappointed in making the desired,
or rather the expected impression, upon her whom he addressed, Sir
Piercie Shafton's discourse was marvellous in the ears of Mysie the
Miller's daughter, and not the less so that she did not comprehend the
meaning of a single word which he uttered. Indeed, the gallant
knight's language was far too courtly to be understood by persons of
much greater acuteness than Mysie's.

It was about this period, that the "only rare poet of his time, the
witty, comical, facetiously-quick, and quickly-facetious, John
Lylly--he that sate at Apollo's table, and to whom Phoebus gave a
wreath of his own bays without snatching" [Footnote: Such, and yet
more extravagant, are the compliments paid to this author by his
editor, Blount. Notwithstanding all exaggeration, Lylly was really a
man of wit and imagination, though both were deformed by the most
unnatural affectation that ever disgraced a printed page.]--he, in
short, who wrote that singularly coxcomical work, called _Euphues
and his England_, was in the very zenith of his absurdity and his
reputation. The quaint, forced, and unnatural style which he
introduced by his "Anatomy of Wit," had a fashion as rapid as it was
momentary--all the court ladies were his scholars, and to _parler
Euphuisme_, was as necessary a qualification to a courtly gallant,
as those of understanding how to use his rapier, or to dance a
measure.

It was no wonder that the Maid of the Mill was soon as effectually
blinded by the intricacies of this erudite and courtly style of
conversation, as she had ever been by the dust of her father's own
meal-sacks. But there she sate with her mouth and eyes as open as the
mill-door and the two windows, showing teeth as white as her father's
bolted flour, and endeavouring to secure a word or two for her own
future use out of the pearls of rhetoric which Sir Piercie Shafton
scattered around him with such bounteous profusion.

For the male part of the company, Edward felt ashamed of his own
manner and slowness of speech, when he observed the handsome young
courtier, with an ease and volubility of which he had no conception,
run over all the commonplace topics of high-flown gallantry. It is
true the good sense and natural taste of young Glendinning soon
informed him that the gallant cavalier was speaking nonsense. But,
alas! where is the man of modest merit, and real talent, who has not
suffered from being outshone in conversation and outstripped in the
race of life, by men of less reserve, and of qualities more showy,
though less substantial? and well constituted must the mind be, that
can yield up the prize without envy to competitors more worthy than
himself.

Edward Glendinning had no such philosophy. While he despised the
jargon of the gay cavalier, he envied the facility with which he could
run on, as well as the courtly tone and expression, and the perfect
ease and elegance with which he offered all the little acts of
politeness to which the duties of the table gave opportunity. And if I
am to speak truth, I must own that he envied those qualities the more
as they were all exercised in Mary Avenel's service, and, although
only so far accepted as they could not be refused, intimated a wish on
the stranger's part to place himself in her good graces, as the only
person in the room to whom he thought it worth while to recommend
himself. His title, rank, and very handsome figure, together with some
sparks of wit and spirit which flashed across the cloud of nonsense
which he uttered, rendered him, as the words of the old song say, "a
lad for a lady's viewing;" so that poor Edward, with all his real
worth and acquired knowledge, in his home-spun doublet, blue cap, and
deerskin trowsers, looked like a clown beside the courtier, and,
feeling the full inferiority, nourished no good-will to him by whom he
was eclipsed.

Christie, on the other hand, as soon as he had satisfied to the full a
commodious appetite, by means of which persons of his profession
could, like the wolf and eagle, gorge themselves with as much food at
one meal as might serve them for several days, began also to feel
himself more in the back-ground than he liked to be. This worthy had,
amongst his other good qualities, an excellent opinion of himself;
and, being of a bold and forward disposition, had no mind to be thrown
into the shade by any one. With an impudent familiarity which such
persons mistake for graceful ease, he broke in upon the knight's
finest speeches with as little remorse as he would have driven the
point of his lance through a laced doublet. Sir Piercie Shafton, a
man of rank and high birth, by no means encouraged or endured this
familiarity, and requited the intruder either with total neglect, or
such laconic replies as intimated a sovereign contempt for the rude
spearman, who affected to converse with him upon terms of equality.

The Miller held his peace; for, as his usual conversation turned
chiefly on his clapper and toll-dish, he had no mind to brag of his
wealth in presence of Christie of the Clinthill, or to intrude his
discourse on the English cavalier.

A little specimen of the conversation may not be out of place, were it
but to show young ladies what fine things they have lost by living when
Euphuism is out of fashion.

"Credit me, fairest lady," said the knight, "that such is the cunning
of our English courtiers, of the hodiernal strain, that, as they have
infinitely refined upon the plain and rusticial discourse of our
fathers, which, as I may say, more beseemed the mouths of country
roisterers in a May-game than that of courtly gallants in a galliard,
so I hold it ineffably and unutterably impossible, that those who may
succeed us in that garden of wit and courtesy shall alter or amend it.
Venus delighted but in the language of Mercury, Bucephalus will stoop
to no one but Alexander, none can sound Apollo's pipe but Orpheus."

"Valiant sir," said Mary, who could scarcely help laughing, "we have
but to rejoice in the chance which hath honoured this solitude with a
glimpse of the sun of courtesy, though it rather blinds than
enlightens us."

"Pretty and quaint, fairest lady," answered the Euphuist. "Ah, that I
had with me my Anatomy of Wit--that all-to-be-unparalleled
volume--that quintessence of human wit--that treasury of quaint
invention--that exquisitively-pleasant-to-read, and
inevitably-necessary-to-be-remembered manual, of all that is worthy to
be known--which indoctrines the rude in civility, the dull in
intellectuality, the heavy in jocosity, the blunt in gentility, the
vulgar in nobility, and all of them in that unutterable perfection, of
human utterance, that eloquence which no other eloquence is sufficient
to praise, that art which, when we call it by its own name of
Euphuism, we bestow on it its richest panegyric."

"By Saint Mary," said Christie of the Clinthill, "if your worship had
told me that you had left such stores of wealth as you talk of at
Prudhoe Castle, Long Dickie and I would have had them off with us if
man and horse could have carried them; but you told us of no treasure
I wot of, save the silver tongs for turning up your mustachoes."

The knight treated this intruder's mistake--for certainly Christie had
no idea that all these epithets which sounded so rich and splendid,
were lavished upon a small quarto volume--with a stare, and then
turning again to Mary Avenel, the only person whom he thought worthy
to address, he proceeded in his strain of high-flown oratory, "Even
thus," said he, "do hogs contemn the splendour of Oriental pearls;
even thus are the delicacies of a choice repast in vain offered to the
long-eared grazer of the common, who turneth from them to devour a
thistle. Surely as idle is it to pour forth the treasures of oratory
before the eyes of the ignorant, and to spread the dainties of the
intellectual banquet before those who are, morally and metaphysically
speaking, no better than asses."

"Sir Knight, since that is your quality," said Edward, "we cannot
strive with you in loftiness of language; but I pray you in fair
courtesy, while you honour my father's house with your presence, to
spare us such vile comparisons."

"Peace, good villagio," said the knight, gracefully waving his hand,
"I prithee peace, kind rustic; and you, my guide, whom I may scarce
call honest, let me prevail upon you to imitate the laudable
taciturnity of that honest yeoman, who sits as mute as a mill-post,
and of that comely damsel, who seems as with her ears she drank in
what she did not altogether comprehend, even as a palfrey listening to
a lute, whereof, howsoever, he knoweth not the gamut."

"Marvellous fine words," at length said Dame Glendinning, who began
to be tired of sitting so long silent, "marvellous fine words, neighbour
Happer, are they not?"

"Brave words--very brave words--very exceeding pyet words," answered
the Miller; "nevertheless, to speak my mind, a lippy of bran were worth
a bushel of them."

"I think so too, under his worship's favour," answered Christie of the
Clinthill. "I well remember that at the race of Morham, as we call it,
near Berwick, I took a young Southern fellow out of saddle with my
lance, and cast him, it might be, a gad's length from his nag; and so,
as he had some gold on his laced doublet, I deemed he might ha' the
like on it in his pocket too, though that is a rule that does not aye
hold good--So I was speaking to him of ransom, and out he comes with a
handful of such terms as his honour there hath gleaned up, and craved
me for mercy, as I was a true son of Mars, and such like."

"And obtained no mercy at thy hand, I dare be sworn," said the knight,
who deigned not to speak Euphuism excepting to the fair sex.

"By my troggs," replied Christie, "I would have thrust my lance down
his throat, but just then they flung open that accursed postern-gate,
and forth pricked old Hunsdon, and Henry Carey, and as many fellows at
their heels as turned the chase northward again. So I e'en pricked
Bayard with the spur, and went off with the rest; for a man should
ride when he may not wrestle, as they say in Tynedale."

"Trust me," said the knight, again turning to Mary Avenel, "if I do
not pity you, lady, who, being of noble blood, are thus in a manner
compelled to abide in the cottage of the ignorant, like the precious
stone in the head of the toad, or like a precious garland on the brow
of an ass.--But soft, what gallant have we here, whose garb savoureth
more of the rustic than doth his demeanour, and whose looks seem more
lofty than his habit; even as--"

"I pray you, Sir Knight," said Mary, "to spare your courtly similitudes
for refined ears, and give me leave to name unto you my foster-brother,
Halbert Glendinning."

"The son of the good dame of the cottage, as I opine," answered the
English knight; "for by some such name did my guide discriminate the
mistress of this mansion, which you, madam, enrich with your
presence.--And yet, touching this juvenal, he hath that about him
which belongeth to higher birth, for all are not black who dig
coals--"

"Nor all white who are millers," said honest Happer, glad to get in a
word, as they say, edgeways.

Halbert, who had sustained the glance of the Englishman with some
impatience, and knew not what to make of his manner and language,
replied with some asperity, "Sir Knight, we have in this land of
Scotland an ancient saying, 'Scorn not the bush that bields you'--you
are a guest of my father's house to shelter you from danger, if I am
rightly informed by the domestics. Scoff not its homeliness, nor that
of its inmates--ye might long have abidden at the court of England,
ere we had sought your favour, or cumbered you with our society. Since
your fate has sent you hither amongst us, be contented with such fare
and such converse as we can afford you, and scorn us not for our
kindness; for the Scots wear short patience and long daggers."

All eyes were turned on Halbert while he was thus speaking, and there
was a general feeling that his countenance had an expression of
intelligence, and his person an air of dignity, which they had never
before observed. Whether it were that the wonderful Being with whom
he had so lately held communication, had bestowed on him a grace and
dignity of look and bearing which he had not before, or whether the
being conversant in high matters, and called to a destiny beyond that
of other men, had a natural effect in giving becoming confidence to
his language and manner, we pretend not to determine. But it was
evident to all, that, from this day, young Halbert was an altered man;
that he acted with the steadiness, promptitude, and determination,
which belonged to riper years, and bore himself with a manner which
appertained to higher rank.

The knight took the rebuke with good humour. "By my mine honour," he
said, "thou hast reason on thy side, good juvenal--nevertheless, I
spoke not as in ridicule of the roof which relieves me, but rather in
your own praise, to whom, if this roof be native, thou mayst
nevertheless rise from its lowliness; even as the lark, which maketh
its humble nest in the furrow, ascendeth towards the sun, as well as
the eagle which buildeth her eyry in the cliff."

This high-flown discourse was interrupted by Dame Glendinning, who,
with all the busy anxiety of a mother, was loading her son's trencher
with food, and dinning in his ear her reproaches on account of his
prolonged absence. "And see," she said, "that you do not one day get
such a sight while you are walking about among the haunts of them that
are not of our flesh and bone, as befell Mungo Murray when he slept on
the greensward ring of the Auld Kirkhill at sunset, and wakened at
daybreak in the wild hills of Breadalbane. And see that, when you are
looking for deer, the red stag does not gall you as he did Diccon
Thorburn, who never overcast the wound that he took from a buck's
horn. And see, when you go swaggering about with a long broadsword by
your side, whilk it becomes no peaceful man to do, that you dinna meet
with them that have broadsword and lance both--there are enow of rank
riders in this land, that neither fear God nor regard man."

Here her eye "in a fine frenzy rolling," fell full upon that of
Christie of the Clinthill, and at once her fears for having given
offence interrupted the current of maternal rebuke, which, like rebuke
matrimonial, may be often better meant than timed. There was something
of sly and watchful significance in Christie's eye, an eye gray, keen,
fierce, yet wily, formed to express at once cunning, and malice, which
made the dame instantly conjecture she had said too much, while she
saw in imagination her twelve goodly cows go lowing down the glen in a
moonlight night, with half a score of Border spearsmen at their heels.

Her voice, therefore, sunk from the elevated tone of maternal
authority into a whimpering apologetic sort of strain, and she
proceeded to say, "It is no that I have ony ill thoughts of the Border
riders, for Tibb Tacket there has often heard me say that I thought
spear and bridle as natural to a Borderman as a pen to a priest, or a
feather-fan to a lady; and--have you not heard me say it, Tibb?"

Tibb showed something less than her expected alacrity in attesting her
mistress's deep respect for the freebooters of the southland hills;
but, thus conjured, did at length reply, "Hout ay, mistress, I'se
warrant I have heard you say something like that."

"Mother!" said Halbert, in a firm and commanding tone of voice, "what
or whom is it that you fear under my father's roof?--I well hope that
it harbours not a guest in whose presence you are afraid to say your
pleasure to me or my brother? I am sorry I have been detained so late,
being ignorant of the fair company which I should encounter on my
return.--I pray you let this excuse suffice: and what satisfies you,
will, I trust, be nothing less than acceptable to your guests."

An answer calculated so jistly betwixt the submission due to his
parent, and the natural feeling of dignity in one who was by birth
master of the mansion, excited universal satisfaction. And as Elspeth
herself confessed to Tibb on the same evening, "She did not think it
had been in the callant. Till that night, he took pets and passions
if he was spoke to, and lap through the house like a four-year-auld at
the least word of advice that was minted at him, but now he spoke as
grave and as douce as the Lord Abbot himself. She kendna," she said,
"what might be the upshot of it, but it was like he was a wonderfu'
callant even now."

The party then separated, the young men retiring to their apartments,
the elder to their household cares. While Christie went to see his horse
properly accommodated, Edward betook himself to his book, and Halbert,
who was as ingenious in employing his hands as he had hitherto appeared
imperfect in mental exertion, applied himself to constructing a place of
concealment in the floor of his apartment by raising a plank, beneath
which he resolved to deposit that copy of the Holy Scriptures which had
been so strangely regained from the possession of men and spirits.

In the meanwhile Sir Piercie Shafton sate still as a stone, in the
chair in which he had deposited himself, his hands folded on his
breast, his legs stretched straight out before him and resting upon
the heels, his eyes cast up to the ceiling as if he had meant to count
every mesh of every cobweb with which the arched roof was canopied,
wearing at the same time a face of as solemn and imperturbable
gravity, as if his existence had depended on the accuracy of his
calculation.

He could scarce be roused from his listless state of contemplative
absorption so as to take some supper, a meal at which the younger
females appeared not. Sir Piercie stared around twice or thrice as if
he missed something; but he asked not for them, and only evinced his
sense of a proper audience being wanting, by his abstraction and
absence of mind, seldom speaking until he was twice addressed, and
then replying, without trope or figure, in that plain English which
nobody could speak better when he had a mind.

Christie, finding himself in undisturbed possession of the
conversation, indulged all who chose to listen with details of his own
wild and inglorious warfare, while Dame Elspeth's curch bristled with
horror, and Tibb Tacket, rejoiced to find herself once more in the
company of a jackman, listened to his tales, like Desdemona to
Othello's, with undisguised delight. Meantime the two young
Glendinnings were each wrapped up in his own reflections, and only
interrupted in them by the signal to move bedward.

Sir Walter Scott