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Chapter 2


In yon lone vale his early youth was bred,
Not solitary then--the bugle-horn
Of fell Alecto often waked its windings,
From where the brook joins the majestic river,
To the wild northern bog, the curlew's haunt,
Where oozes forth its first and feeble streamlet.
OLD PLAY.

We have said, that most of the feuars dwelt in the village belonging
to their townships. This was not, however, universally the case. A
lonely tower, to which the reader must now be introduced, was at least
one exception to the general rule.

It was of small dimensions, yet larger than those which occurred in
the village, as intimating that, in case of assault, the proprietor
would have to rely upon his own unassisted strength. Two or three
miserable huts, at the foot of the fortalice, held the bondsmen and
tenants of the feuar. The site was a beautiful green knoll, which
started up suddenly in the very throat of a wild and narrow glen, and
which, being surrounded, except on one side, by the winding of a small
stream, afforded a position of considerable strength.

But the great security of Glendearg, for so the place was called, lay
in its secluded, and almost hidden situation. To reach the tower, it
was necessary to travel three miles up the glen, crossing about twenty
times the little stream, which, winding through the narrow valley,
encountered at every hundred yards the opposition of a rock or
precipitous bank on the one side, which altered its course, and caused
it to shoot off in an oblique direction to the other. The hills which
ascend on each side of this glen are very steep, and rise boldly over
the stream, which is thus imprisoned within their barriers. The sides
of the glen are impracticable for horse, and are only to be traversed
by means of the sheep-paths which lie along their sides. It would not
be readily supposed that a road so hopeless and so difficult could
lead to any habitation more important than the summer shealing of a
shepherd.

Yet the glen, though lonely, nearly inaccessible, and sterile, was not
then absolutely void of beauty. The turf which covered the small
portion of level ground on the sides of the stream, was as close and
verdant as if it had occupied the scythes of a hundred gardeners once
a-fortnight; and it was garnished with an embroidery of daisies and
wild flowers, which the scythes would certainly have destroyed. The
little brook, now confined betwixt closer limits, now left at large to
choose its course through the narrow valley, danced carelessly on from
stream to pool, light and unturbid, as that better class of spirits
who pass their way through life, yielding to insurmountable obstacles,
but as far from being subdued by them as the sailor who meets by
chance with an unfavourable wind, and shapes his course so as to be
driven back as little as possible.

The mountains, as they would have been called in England,
_Scottice_ the steep _braes_, rose abruptly over the little
glen, here presenting the gray face of a rock, from which the turf had
been peeled by the torrents, and there displaying patches of wood and
copse, which had escaped the waste of the cattle and the sheep of the
feuars, and which, feathering naturally up the beds of empty torrents,
or occupying the concave recesses of the bank, gave at once beauty and
variety to the landscape. Above these scattered woods rose the hill,
in barren, but purple majesty; the dark rich hue, particularly in
autumn, contrasting beautifully with the thickets of oak and birch,
the mountain ashes and thorns, the alders and quivering aspens, which
checquered and varied the descent, and not less with the dark-green
and velvet turf, which composed the level part of the narrow glen.

Yet, though thus embellished, the scene could neither be strictly
termed sublime nor beautiful, and scarcely even picturesque or
striking. But its extreme solitude pressed on the heart; the traveller
felt that uncertainty whither he was going, or in what so wild a path
was to terminate, which, at times, strikes more on the imagination
than the grand features of a show-scene, when you know the exact
distance of the inn where your dinner is bespoke, and at the moment
preparing. These are ideas, however, of a far later age; for at the
time we treat of, the picturesque, the beautiful, the sublime, and all
their intermediate shades, were ideas absolutely unknown to the
inhabitants and occasional visitors of Glendearg.

These had, however, attached to the scene feelings fitting the time.
Its name, signifying the Red Valley, seems to have been derived, not
only from the purple colour of the heath, with which the upper part of
the rising banks was profusely clothed, but also from the dark red
colour of the rocks, and of the precipitous earthen banks, which in
that country are called _scaurs_. Another glen, about the head of
Ettrick, has acquired the same name from similar circumstances; and
there are probably more in Scotland to which it has been given.

As our Glendearg did not abound in mortal visitants, superstition,
that it might not be absolutely destitute of inhabitants, had peopled
its recesses with beings belonging to another world. The savage and
capricious Brown Man of the Moors, a being which seems the genuine
descendant of the northern dwarfs, was supposed to be seen there
frequently, especially after the autumnal equinox, when the fogs were
thick, and objects not easily distinguished. The Scottish fairies,
too, a whimsical, irritable, and mischievous tribe, who, though at
times capriciously benevolent, were more frequently adverse to
mortals, were also supposed to have formed a residence in a
particularly wild recess of the glen, of which the real name was, in
allusion to that circumstance, _Corrie nan Shian_, which, in
corrupted Celtic, signifies the Hollow of the Fairies. But the
neighbours were more cautious in speaking about this place, and
avoided giving it a name, from an idea common then throughout all the
British and Celtic provinces of Scotland, and still retained in many
places, that to speak either good or ill of this capricious race of
imaginary beings, is to provoke their resentment, and that secrecy and
silence is what they chiefly desire from those who may intrude upon
their revels, or discover their haunts.

A mysterious terror was thus attached to the dale, which afforded
access from the broad valley of the Tweed, up the little glen we have
described, to the fortalice called the Tower of Glendearg. Beyond the
knoll, where, as we have said, the tower was situated, the hills grew
more steep, and narrowed on the slender brook, so as scarce to leave a
footpath; and there the glen terminated in a wild waterfall, where a
slender thread of water dashed in a precipitous line of foam over two
or three precipices. Yet farther in the same direction, and above
these successive cataracts, lay a wild and extensive morass,
frequented only by waterfowl, wide, waste, apparently almost
interminable, and serving in a great measure to separate the
inhabitants of the glen from those who lived to the northward.

To restless and indefatigable moss-troopers, indeed, these morasses
were well known, and sometimes afforded a retreat. They often rode
down the glen--called at this tower--asked and received
hospitality--but still with a sort of reserve on the part of its more
peaceful inhabitants, who entertained them as a party of
North-American Indians might be received by a new European settler, as
much out of fear as hospitality, while the uppermost wish of the
landlord is the speedy departure of the savage guests.

This had not always been the current of feeling in the little valley
and its tower. Simon Glendinning, its former inhabitant, boasted his
connexion by blood to that ancient family of Glendonwyne, on the
western border. He used to narrate, at his fireside, in the autumn
evenings, the feats of the family to which he belonged, one of whom
fell by the side of the brave Earl of Douglas at Otterbourne. On these
occasions Simon usually held upon his knee an ancient broadsword,
which had belonged to his ancestors before any of the family had
consented to accept a fief under the peaceful dominion of the monks of
St. Mary's. In modern days, Simon might have lived at ease on his own
estate, and quietly murmured against the fate that had doomed him to
dwell there, and cut off his access to martial renown. But so many
opportunities, nay so many calls there were for him, who in those days
spoke big, to make good his words by his actions, that Simon
Glendinning was soon under the necessity of marching with the men of
the Halidome, as it was called, of St. Mary's, in that disastrous
campaign which was concluded by the battle of Pinkie.

The Catholic clergy were deeply interested in that national quarrel,
the principal object of which was, to prevent the union of the infant
Queen Mary, with the son of the heretical Henry VIII. The Monks had
called out their vassals, under an experienced leader. Many of
themselves had taken arms, and marched to the field, under a banner
representing a female, supposed to personify the Scottish Church,
kneeling in the attitude of prayer, with the legend, _Afflictae
Sponsae ne obliviscaris_. [Footnote: Forget not the afflicted
spouse.]

The Scots, however, in all their wars, had more occasion for good and
cautious generals, than for excitation, whether political or
enthusiastic. Their headlong and impatient courage uniformly induced
them to rush into action without duly weighing either their own
situation, or that of their enemies, and the inevitable consequence
was frequent defeat. With the dolorous slaughter of Pinkie we have
nothing to do, excepting that, among ten thousand men of low and high
degree, Simon Glendinning, of the Tower of Glendearg, bit the dust, no
way disparaging in his death that ancient race from which he claimed
his descent.

When the doleful news, which spread terror and mourning through the
whole of Scotland, reached the Tower of Glendearg, the widow of Simon,
Elspeth Brydone by her family name, was alone in that desolate
habitation, excepting a hind or two, alike past martial and
agricultural labour, and the helpless widows and families of those who
had fallen with their master. The feeling of desolation was
universal;--but what availed it? The monks, their patrons and
protectors, were driven from their Abbey by the English forces, who
now overran the country, and enforced at least an appearance of
submission on the part of the inhabitants. The Protector, Somerset,
formed a strong camp among the ruins of the ancient Castle of
Roxburgh, and compelled the neighbouring country to come in, pay
tribute, and take assurance from him, as the phrase then went. Indeed,
there was no power of resistance remaining; and the few barons, whose
high spirit disdained even the appearance of surrender, could only
retreat into the wildest fastnesses of the country, leaving their
houses and property to the wrath of the English, who detached parties
everywhere to distress, by military exaction, those whose chiefs had
not made their submission. The Abbot and his community having
retreated beyond the Forth, their lands were severely forayed, as
their sentiments were held peculiarly inimical to the alliance with
England.

Amongst the troops detached on this service was a small party,
commanded by Stawarth Bolton, a captain in the English army, and full
of the blunt and unpretending gallantry and generosity which has so
often distinguished that nation. Resistance was in vain. Elspeth
Brydone, when she descried a dozen of horsemen threading their way up
the glen, with a man at their head, whose scarlet cloak, bright
armour, and dancing plume, proclaimed him a leader, saw no better
protection for herself than to issue from the iron grate, covered with
a long mourning veil, and holding one of her two sons in each hand, to
meet the Englishman--state her deserted condition--place the little
tower at his command--and beg for his mercy. She stated, in a few
brief words, her intention, and added, "I submit, because I have nae
means of resistance."

"And I do not ask your submission, mistress, for the same reason,"
replied the Englishman. "To be satisfied of your peaceful intentions
is all I ask; and, from what you tell me, there is no reason to doubt
them."

"At least, sir," said Elspeth Brydone, "take share of what our spence
and our garners afford. Your horses are tired--your folk want
refreshment."

"Not a whit--not a whit," answered the honest Englishman; "it shall
never be said we disturbed by carousal the widow of a brave soldier,
while she was mourning for her husband.--Comrades, face about.--Yet
stay," he added, checking his war-horse, "my parties are out in every
direction; they must have some token that your family are under my
assurance of safety.--Here, my little fellow," said he, speaking to
the eldest boy, who might be about nine or ten years old, "lend me thy
bonnet."

The child reddened, looked sulky, and hesitated, while the mother,
with many a _fye_ and _nay pshaw_, and such sarsenet
chidings as tender mothers give to spoiled children, at length
succeeded in snatching the bonnet from him, and handing it to the
English leader.

Stawarth Bolton took his embroidered red cross from his barret-cap,
and putting it into the loop of the boy's bonnet, said to the
mistress, (for the title of lady was not given to dames of her
degree,) "By this token, which all my people will respect, you will be
freed from any importunity on the part of our forayers." [Footnote: As
gallantry of all times and nations has the same mode of thinking and
acting, so it often expresses itself by the same symbols. In the civil
war 1745-6, a party of Highlanders, under a Chieftain of rank, came to
Rose Castle, the seat of the Bishop of Carlisle, but then occupied by
the family of Squire Dacre of Cumberland. They demanded quarters,
which of course were not to be refused to armed men of a strange
attire and unknown language. But the domestic represented to the
captain of the mountaineers, that the lady of the mansion had been
just delivered of a daughter, and expressed her hope, that, under
these circumstances, his party would give as little trouble as
possible. "God forbid," said the gallant chief, "that I or mine should
be the means of adding to a lady's inconvenience at such a time. May I
request to see the infant?" The child was brought, and the Highlander,
taking his cockade out of his bonnet, and pinning it on the child's
breast, "That will be a token," he said, "to any of our people who may
come hither, that Donald McDonald of Kinloch-Moidart, has taken the
family of Rose Castle under his protection." The lady who received in
infancy this gage of Highland protection, is now Mary, Lady Clerk of
Pennycuik; and on the 10th of June still wears the cockade which was
pinned on her breast, with a white rose as a kindred decoration.] He
placed it on the boy's head; but it was no sooner there, than the
little fellow, his veins swelling, and his eyes shooting fire through
tears, snatched the bonnet from his head, and, ere his mother could
interfere, skimmed it into the brook. The other boy ran instantly to
fish it out again, threw it back to his brother, first taking out the
cross, which, with great veneration, he kissed and put into his bosom.
The Englishman was half diverted, half surprised, with the scene.

"What mean ye by throwing away Saint George's red cross?" said he to
the elder boy, in a tone betwixt jest and earnest.

"Because Saint George is a southern saint," said the child, sulkily.
"Good"--said Stawarth Bolton.--"And what did you mean by taking it out
of the brook again, my little fellow?" he demanded of the younger.
"Because the priest says it is the common sign of salvation to all
good Christians."

"Why, good again!" said the honest soldier. "I protest unto you,
mistress, I envy you these boys. Are they both yours?"

Stawarth Bolton had reason to put the question, for Halbert
Glendinning, the elder of the two, had hair as dark as the raven's
plumage, black eyes, large, bold, and sparkling, that glittered under
eyebrows of the same complexion; a skin deep embrowned, though it
could not be termed swarthy, and an air of activity, frankness, and
determination, far beyond his age. On the other hand, Edward, the
younger brother, was light-haired, blue-eyed, and of fairer
complexion, in countenance rather pale, and not exhibiting that rosy
hue which colours the sanguine cheek of robust health. Yet the boy had
nothing sickly or ill-conditioned in his look, but was, on the
contrary, a fair and handsome child, with a smiling face, and mild,
yet cheerful eye.

The mother glanced a proud motherly glance, first at the one, and then
at the other, ere she answered the Englishman, "Surely, sir, they are
both my children."

"And by the same father, mistress?" said Stawarth; but, seeing a blush
of displeasure arise on her brow, he instantly added, "Nay, I mean no
offence; I would have asked the same question at any of my gossips in
merry Lincoln.--Well, dame, you have two fair boys; I would I could
borrow one, for Dame Bolton and I live childless in our old
hall.--Come, little fellows, which of you will go with me?"

The trembling mother, half-fearing as he spoke, drew the children
towards her, one with either hand, while they both answered the
stranger. "I will not go with you," said Halbert, boldly, "for you are
a false-hearted Southern; and the Southerns killed my father; and I
will war on you to the death, when I can draw my father's sword."

"God-a-mercy, my little levin-bolt," said Stawarth, "the goodly custom
of deadly feud will never go down in thy day, I presume.--And you, my
fine white-head, will you not go with me, to ride a cock-horse?"
"No," said Edward, demurely, "for you are a heretic."

"Why, God-a-mercy still!" said Stawarth Bolton. "Well, dame, I see I
shall find no recruits for my troop from you; and yet I do envy you
these two little chubby knaves." He sighed a moment, as was visible,
in spite of gorget and corslet, and then added, "And yet, my dame and
I would but quarrel which of the knaves we should like best; for I
should wish for the black-eyed rogue--and she, I warrant me, for that
blue-eyed, fair-haired darling. Natheless, we must brook our solitary
wedlock, and wish joy to those that are more fortunate. Sergeant
Brittson, do thou remain here till recalled--protect this family, as
under assurance--do them no wrong, and suffer no wrong to be done to
them, as thou wilt answer it.--Dame, Brittson is a married man, old
and steady; feed him on what you will, but give him not over much
liquor."

Dame Glendinning again offered refreshments, but with a faltering
voice, and an obvious desire her invitation should not be accepted.
The fact was, that, supposing her boys as precious in the eyes of the
Englishman as in her own, (the most ordinary of parental errors,) she
was half afraid, that the admiration he expressed of them in his blunt
manner might end in his actually carrying off one or other of the
little darlings whom he appeared to covet so much. She kept hold of
their hands, therefore, as if her feeble strength could have been of
service, had any violence been intended, and saw with joy she could
not disguise, the little party of horse countermarch, in order to
descend the glen. Her feelings did not escape Bolton: "I forgive you,
dame," he said, "for being suspicious that an English falcon was
hovering over your Scottish moor-brood. But fear not--those who have
fewest children have fewest cares; nor does a wise man covet those of
another household. Adieu, dame; when the black-eyed rogue is able to
drive a foray from England, teach him to spare women and children, for
the sake of Stawarth Bolton."

"God be with you, gallant Southern!" said Elspeth Glendinning, but not
till he was out of hearing, spurring on his good horse to regain the
head of his party, whose plumage and armour were now glancing and
gradually disappearing in the distance, as they winded down the glen.

"Mother," said the elder boy, "I will not say amen to a prayer for a
Southern."

"Mother," said the younger, more reverentially, "is it right to pray
for a heretic?"

"The God to whom I pray only knows," answered poor Elspeth; "but these
two words, Southern and heretic, have already cost Scotland ten
thousand of her best and bravest, and me a husband, and you a father;
and, whether blessing or banning, I never wish to hear them
more.--Follow me to the Place, sir," she said to Brittson, "and such
as we have to offer you shall be at your disposal."


Sir Walter Scott