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Chapter 33

Now, on my faith, this gear is all entangled,
Like to the yarn-clew of the drowsy knitter,
Dragg'd by the frolic kitten through the cabin,
While the good dame sits nodding o'er the fire!
Masters, attend; 'twill crave some skill to clear it.

Edward, with the speed of one who doubts the steadiness of his own
resolution, hastened to prepare the horses for their departure, and at
the same time thanked and dismissed the neighbours who had come to his
assistance, and who were not a little surprised both at the suddenness
of his proposed departure, and at the turn affairs had taken.

"Here's cold hospitality," quoth Dan of the Howlet-hirst to his
comrades; "I trow the Glendinnings may die and come alive right oft,
ere I put foot in stirrup again for the matter."

Martin soothed them by placing food and liquor before them. They ate
sullenly, however, and departed in bad humour.

The joyful news that Halbert Glendinning lived, was quickly
communicated through the sorrowing family. The mother wept and thanked
Heaven alternately; until her habits of domestic economy awakening as
her feelings became calmer, she observed, "It would be an unco task to
mend the yetts, and what were they to do while they were broken in
that fashion? At open doors dogs come in."

Tibb remarked, "She aye thought Halbert was ower gleg at his weapon to
be killed sae easily by ony Sir Piercie of them a'. They might say of
these Southrons as they liked; but they had not the pith and wind of a
canny Scot, when it came to close grips."

On Mary Avenel the impression was inconceivably deeper. She had but
newly learned to pray, and it seemed to her that her prayers had been
instantly answered--that the compassion of Heaven, which she had
learned to implore in the words of Scripture, had descended upon her
after a manner almost miraculous, and recalled the dead from the grave
at the sound of her lamentations. There was a dangerous degree of
enthusiasm in this strain of feeling, but it originated in the purest

A silken and embroidered muffler, one of the few articles of more
costly attire which she possessed, was devoted to the purpose of
wrapping up and concealing the sacred volume, which henceforth she was
to regard as her chiefest treasure, lamenting only that, for want of a
fitting interpreter, much must remain to her a book closed and a
fountain sealed. She was unaware of the yet greater danger she
incurred, of putting an imperfect or even false sense upon some of the
doctrines which appeared most comprehensible. But Heaven had provided
against both these hazards.

While Edward was preparing the horses, Christie of the Clinthill again
solicited his orders respecting the reformed preacher, Henry Warden,
and again the worthy monk laboured to reconcile in his own mind the
compassion and esteem which, almost in spite of him, he could not help
feeling for his former companion, with the duty which he owed to the
Church. The unexpected resolution of Edward had removed, he thought,
the chief objection to his being left at Glendearg.

"If I carry this Well-wood, or Warden, to the Monastery." he thought,
"he must die--die in his heresy--perish body and soul. And though such
a measure was once thought advisable, to strike terror into the
heretics, yet such is now their daily increasing strength, that it may
rather rouse them to fury and to revenge. True, he refuses to pledge
himself to abstain from sowing his tares among the wheat; but the
ground here is too barren to receive them. I fear not his making
impression on these poor women, the vassals of the Church, and bred up
in due obedience to her behests. The keen, searching, inquiring, and
bold disposition of Edward, might have afforded fuel to the fire; but
that is removed, and there is nothing left which the flame may catch
to.--Thus shall he have no power to spread his evil doctrines abroad,
and yet his life shall be preserved, and it may be his soul rescued as
a prey from the fowler's net. I will myself contend with him in
argument; for when we studied in common, I yielded not to him, and
surely the cause for which I struggle will support me, were I yet more
weak than I deem myself. Were this man reclaimed from his errors, an
hundred-fold more advantage would arise to the Church from his
spiritual regeneration, than from his temporal death."

Having finished these meditations, in which there was at once goodness
of disposition and narrowness of principle, a considerable portion of
self-opinion, and no small degree of self-delusion, the Sub-Prior
commanded the prisoner to be brought into his presence.

"Henry," he said, "whatever a rigid sense of duty may demand of me,
ancient friendship and Christian compassion forbid me to lead thee to
assured death. Thou wert wont to be generous, though stern and
stubborn in thy resolves; let not thy sense of what thine own thoughts
term duty, draw thee farther than mine have done. Remember, that every
sheep whom thou shalt here lead astray from the fold, will be demanded
in time and through eternity of him who hath left thee the liberty of
doing such evil. I ask no engagement of thee, save that thou remain a
prisoner on thy word at this tower, and wilt appear when summoned."

"Thou hast found an invention to bind my hands," replied the preacher,
"more sure than would have been the heaviest shackles in the prison of
thy convent. I will not rashly do what may endanger thee with thy
unhappy superiors, and I will be the more cautious, because, if we had
farther opportunity of conference, I trust thine own soul may yet be
rescued as a brand from the burning, and that, casting from thee the
livery of Anti-Christ, that trader in human sins and human souls, I
may yet assist thee to lay hold on the Rock of Ages."

The Sub-Prior heard the sentiment, so similar to that which had
occurred to himself, with the same kindly feelings with which the
game-cock hears and replies to the challenge of his rival.

"I bless God and Our Lady," said he, drawing himself up, "that my
faith is already anchored on that Rock on which Saint Peter founded
his Church."

"It is a perversion of the text," said the eager Henry Warden,
"grounded on a vain play upon words--a most idle paronomasia."

The controversy would have been rekindled, and in all probability--for
what can insure the good temper and moderation of polemics?--might
have ended in the preacher's being transported a captive to the
Monastery, had not Christie of the Clinthill observed that it was
growing late, and that he, having to descend the glen, which had no
good reputation, cared not greatly for travelling there after sunset.
The Sub-Prior, therefore, stifled his desire of argument, and again
telling the preacher, that he trusted to his gratitude and generosity,
he bade him farewell.

"Be assured, my old friend," replied Warden, "that no willing act of
mine shall be to thy prejudice. But if my Master shall place work
before me, I must obey God rather than man."

These two men, both excellent from natural disposition and acquired
knowledge, had more points of similarity than they themselves would
have admitted. In truth, the chief distinction betwixt them was, that
the Catholic, defending a religion which afforded little interest to
the feelings, had, in his devotion to the cause he espoused, more of
the head than of the heart, and was politic, cautious, and artful;
while the Protestant, acting under the strong impulse of more
lately-adopted conviction, and feeling, as he justly might, a more
animated confidence in his cause, was enthusiastic, eager, and
precipitate in his desire to advance it. The priest would have been
contented to defend, the preacher aspired to conquer; and, of course,
the impulse by which the latter was governed, was more active and more
decisive. They could not part from each other without a second
pressure of hands, and each looked in the face of his old companion,
as he bade him adieu, with a countenance strongly expressive of
sorrow, affection, and pity.

Father Eustace then explained briefly to Dame Glendinning, that this
person was to be her guest for some days, forbidding her and her whole
household, under high spiritual censures, to hold any conversation
with him on religious subjects, but commanding her to attend to his
wants in all other particulars.

"May Our Lady forgive me, reverend father," said Dame Glendinning,
somewhat dismayed at this intelligence, "but I must needs say, that
ower mony guests have been the ruin of mony a house, and I trow they
will bring down Glendearg. First came the Lady of Avenel--(her soul be
at rest--she meant nae ill)--but she brought with her as mony bogles
and fairies, as hae kept the house in care ever since, sae that we
have been living as it were in a dream. And then came that English
knight, if it please you, and if he hasna killed my son outright, he
has chased him aff the gate, and it may be lang eneugh ere I see him
again--forby the damage done to outer door and inner door. And now
your reverence has given me the charge of a heretic, who, it is like,
may bring the great horned devil himself down upon us all; and they
say that it is neither door nor window will serve him, but he will
take away the side of the auld tower along with him. Nevertheless,
reverend father, your pleasure is doubtless to be done to our power."

"Go to, woman," said the Sub-Prior; "send for workmen from the
clachan, and let them charge the expense of their repairs to the
Community, and I will give the treasurer warrant to allow them.
Moreover, in settling the rental mails, and feu-duties, thou shalt
have allowance for the trouble and charges to which thou art now put,
and I will cause strict search to be made after thy son."

The dame curtsied deep and low at each favourable expression; and when
the Sub-Prior had done speaking, she added her farther hope that the
Sub-Prior would hold some communing with her gossip the Miller,
concerning the fate of his daughter, and expound to him that the
chance had by no means happened through any negligence on her part.

"I sair doubt me, father," she said, "whether Mysie finds her way back
to the Mill in a hurry; but it was all her father's own fault that let
her run lamping about the country, riding on bare-backed naigs, and
never settling to do a turn of wark within doors, unless it were to
dress dainties at dinner-time for his ain kyte."

"You remind me, dame, of another matter of urgency," said Father
Eustace; "and, God knows, too many of them press on me at this moment.
This English knight must be sought out, and explanation given to him
of these most strange chances. The giddy girl must also be recovered.
If she hath suffered in reputation by this unhappy mistake, I will not
hold myself innocent of the disgrace. Yet how to find them out I know

"So please you," said Christie of the Clinthill, "I am willing to take
the chase, and bring them back by fair means or foul; for though you
have always looked as black as night at me, whenever we have
forgathered, yet I have not forgotten that had it not been for you, my
neck would have kend the weight of my four quarters. If any man can
track the tread of them, I will say in the face of both Merse and
Teviotdale, and take the Forest to boot, I am that man. But first I
have matters to treat of on my master's score, if you will permit me
to ride down the glen with you."

"Nay, but my friend," said the Sub-Prior, "thou shouldst remember I
have but slender cause to trust thee for a companion through a place
so solitary."

"Tush! tush!" said the Jackman, "fear me not; I had the worst too
surely to begin that sport again. Besides, have I not said a dozen of
times, I owe you a life? and when I owe a man either a good turn or a
bad, I never fail to pay it sooner or later. Moreover, beshrew me if I
care to go alone down the glen, or even with my troopers, who are,
every loon of them, as much devil's bairns as myself; whereas, if your
reverence, since that is the word, take beads and psalter, and I come
along with jack and spear, you will make the devils take the air, and
I will make all human enemies take the earth."

Edward here entered, and told his reverence that his horse was
prepared. At this instant his eye caught his mother's, and the
resolution which he had so strongly formed was staggered when he
recollected the necessity of bidding her farewell. The Sub-Prior saw
his embarrassment, and came to his relief.

"Dame," said he, "I forgot to mention that your son Edward goes with
me to Saint Mary's, and will not return for two or three days."

"You'll be wishing to help him to recover his brother? May the saints
reward your kindness!"

The Sub-Prior returned the benediction which, in this instance, he had
not very well deserved, and he and Edward set forth on their route.
They were presently followed by Christie, who came up with his
followers at such a speedy pace, as intimated sufficiently that his
wish to obtain spiritual convoy through the glen, was extremely
sincere. He had, however, other matters to stimulate his speed, for he
was desirous to communicate to the Sub-Prior a message from his master
Julian, connected with the delivery of the prisoner Warden; and having
requested the Sub-Prior to ride with him a few yards before Edward,
and the troopers of his own party, he thus addressed him, sometimes
interrupting his discourse in a manner testifying that his fear of
supernatural beings was not altogether lulled to rest by his
confidence in the sanctity of his fellow-traveller.

"My master," said the rider, "deemed he had sent you an acceptable
gift in that old heretic preacher; but it seems, from the slight care
you have taken of him, that you make small account of the boon."

"Nay," said the Sub-Prior, "do not thus judge of it. The Community
must account highly of the service, and will reward it to thy master in
goodly fashion. But this man and I are old friends, and I trust to bring
him back from the paths of perdition."

"Nay," said the moss-trooper, "when I saw you shake hands at the
beginning I counted that you would fight it all out in love and
honour, and that there would be no extreme dealings betwixt ye--
however it is all one to my master--Saint Mary! what call you yon, Sir

"The branch of a willow streaming across the path betwixt us and the

"Beshrew me," said Christie, "if it looked not like a man's hand
holding a sword.--But touching my master, he, like a prudent man, hath
kept himself aloof in these broken times, until he could see with
precision what footing he was to stand upon. Right tempting offers he
hath had from the Lords of Congregation, whom you call heretics; and
at one time he was minded, to be plain with you, to have taken their
way--for he was assured that the Lord James [Footnote: Lord James
Stewart, afterwards the Regent Murray.] was coming this road at the
head of a round body of cavalry. And accordingly Lord James did so far
reckon upon him, that he sent this man Warden, or whatsoever be his
name, to my master's protection, as an assured friend; and, moreover,
with tidings that he himself was marching hitherward at the head of a
strong body of horse."

"Now, Our Lady forfend!" said the Sub-Prior.

"Amen!" answered Christie, in some trepidation, "did your reverence
see aught?"

"Nothing whatever," replied the monk; "it was thy tale which wrested
from me that exclamation."

"And it was some cause," replied he of the Clinthill, "for if Lord
James should come hither, your Halidome would smoke for it. But be of
good cheer--that expedition is ended before it was begun. The Baron of
Avenel had sure news that Lord James has been fain to march westward
with his merry-men, to protect Lord Semple against Cassilis and the
Kennedies. By my faith, it will cost him a brush; for wot ye what
they say of that name,--

"Twixt Wigton and the town of Ayr,
Portpatrick and the cruives of Cree,
No man need think for to bide there,
Unless he court Saint Kennedie.'"

"Then," said the Sub-Prior, "the Lord James's purpose of coming
southwards being broken, cost this person, Henry Warden, a cold
reception at Avenel Castle."

"It would not have been altogether so rough a one," said the
mosstrooper; "for my master was in heavy thought what to do in these
unsettled times, and would scarce have hazarded misusing a man sent to
him by so terrible a leader as the Lord James. But, to speak the
truth, some busy devil tempted the old man to meddle with my master's
Christian liberty of hand-fasting with Catherine of Newport. So that
broke the wand of peace between them, and now ye may have my master,
and all the force he can make, at your devotion, for Lord James never
forgave wrong done to him; and if he come by the upper hand, he will
have Julian's head if there were never another of the name, as it is
like there is not, excepting the bit slip of a lassie yonder. And now
I have told you more of my master's affairs than he would thank me
for; but you have done me a frank turn once, and I may need one at
your hands again."

"Thy frankness," said the Sub-Prior, "shall surely advantage thee; for
much it concerns the Church in these broken times to know the purposes
and motives of those around us. But what is it that thy master expects
from us in reward of good service? for I esteem him one of those who are
not willing to work without their hire."

"Nay, that I can tell you flatly; for Lord James had promised him, in
case he would be of his faction in these parts, an easy tack of the
teindsheaves of his own Barony of Avenel, together with the lands of
Cranberry-moor, which lie intersected with his own. And he will look
for no less at your hand."

"But there is old Gilbert of Cranberry-moor," said the Sub-Prior;
"what are we to make of him? The heretic Lord James may take on him to
dispone upon the goods and lands of the Halidome at his pleasure,
because, doubtless, but for the protection of God, and the baronage
which yet remain faithful to their creed, he may despoil us of them by
force; but while they are the property of the Community, we may not
take steadings from ancient and faithful vassals, to gratify the
covetousness of those who serve God only from the lucre of gain."

"By the mass," said Christie, "it is well talking, Sir Priest; but
when ye consider that Gilbert has but two half-starved cowardly
peasants to follow him, and only an auld jaded aver to ride upon,
fitter for the plough than for manly service; and that the Baron of
Avenel never rides with fewer than. ten jackmen at his back, and
oftener with fifty, bodin in all that effeirs to war as if they were
to do battle for a kingdom, and mounted on nags that nicker at the
clash of the sword as if it were the clank of the lid of a
corn-chest--I say, when ye have computed all this, ye may guess what
course will best serve your Monastery."

"Friend," said the monk, "I would willingly purchase thy master's
assistance on his own terms, since times leave us no better means of
defence against sacrilegious spoliation of heresy; but to take from a
poor man his patrimony--"

"For that matter," said the rider, "his seat would scarce be a soft
one, if my master thought that Gilbert's interest stood betwixt him
and what he wishes. The Halidome has land enough, and Gilbert may be
quartered elsewhere."

"We will consider the possibility of so disposing the matter," said
the monk, "and will expect in consequence your master's most active
assistance, with all the followers he can make, to join in the defence
of the Halidome, against any force by which it may be threatened."

"A man's hand and a mailed glove on that," said the jackman. "They

[Footnote: As some atonement for their laxity of morals on most
occasions, the Borderers were severe observers of the faith which they
had pledged, even to an enemy. If any person broke his word so
plighted, the individual to whom faith had not been observed, used to
bring to the next Border-meeting a glove hung on the point of a spear,
and proclaim to Scots and English the name of the defaulter. This was
accounted so great a disgrace to all connected with him, that his own
clansmen sometimes destroyed him, to escape the infamy he had brought
on them.

Constable, a spy engaged by Sir Ralph Sadler, talks of two Border
thieves, whom he used as his guides:--"That they would not care to
steal, and yet that they would not betray any man that trusts in them,
for all the gold in Scotland or in France. They are my guides and
outlaws. If they would betray me they might get their pardons, and
cause me to be hanged; but I have tried them ere this."--_Sadler's
letters during the Northern Insurrection._]

call us marauders, thieves, and what not; but the side we take we hold
by.--And I will be blithe when my Baron comes to a point which side he
will take, for the castle is a kind of hell, (Our Lady forgive me for
naming such a word in this place!) while he is in his mood, studying
how he may best advantage himself. And now, Heaven be praised, we are
in the open valley, and I may swear a round oath, should aught happen
to provoke it."

"My friend," said the Sub-Prior, "thou hast little merit in abstaining
from oaths or blasphemy, if it be only out of fear of evil spirits."

"Nay, I am not quite a Church vassal yet," said the jackman, "and if
you link the curb too tight on a young horse, I promise you he will
rear--Why, it is much for me to forbear old customs on any account

The night being fine, they forded the river at the spot where the
Sacristan met with his unhappy encounter with the spirit. As soon as
they arrived at the gate of the Monastery, the porter in waiting
eagerly exclaimed, "Reverend father, the Lord Abbot is most anxious
for your presence."

"Let these strangers be carried to the great hall," said the Sub-Prior,
"and be treated with the best by the cellarer; reminding them, however,
of that modesty and decency of conduct which becometh guests in a house
like this."

"But the Lord Abbot demands you instantly, my venerable brother," said
Father Philip, arriving in great haste. "I have not seen him more
discouraged or desolate of counsel since the field of Pinkie-cleugh
was stricken,"

"I come, my good brother, I come," said Father Eustace. "I pray thee,
good brother, let this youth, Edward Glendinning, be conveyed to the
Chamber of the Novices, and placed under their instructor. God hath
touched his heart, and he proposeth laying aside the vanities of the
world, to become a brother of our holy order; which, if his good parts
be matched with fitting docility and humility, he may one day live to

"My very venerable brother," exclaimed old Father Nicholas, who came
hobbling with a third summons to the Sub-Prior, "I pray thee to hasten
to our worshipful Lord Abbot. The holy patroness be with us! never saw
I Abbot of the House of St. Mary's in such consternation; and yet I
remember me well when Father Ingelram had the news of Flodden-field."

"I come, I come, venerable brother," said Father Eustace--And having
repeatedly ejaculated "I come!" he at last went to the Abbot in good

Sir Walter Scott