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"How is Mies Vere 1 and have you Tearned the cause of her being carried off 9" asked Mareschal hastily.
"She is retired to her apartment greatly fatigued, and I cannot expect much light upon her adventure till her spirits are somewhat recruited," replied her father. "She and I were not the less obliged to you, Mareschal, and to my other friends, for their kind inquiries. But I must suppress the father's feelings for a while to give myself up to those of the patriot. You know this is the day fixed for our final decision—time presses—our friends are arriving, and I have opened house, not only for the gentry, but for the under-spur-leathers whom we must necessarily employ. We have, therefore, little time to prepare to meet them.—Look over these lists, Marchie, (an abbreviation by which Mareschal-Wells was known among his friends.) Do you, Sir Frederick, read these letters from Lothian and the west—all is ripe for the sickle, and we have but to summon out the reapers."
"With all my heart," said Mareschal; "the more mischief the better sport."
Sir Frederick looked grave and disconcerted.
"Walk aside with me, my good friend," said Ellieslaw to the sombre baronet, " I have something for your private ear, with which I know you will be gratified."
They walked into the house, leaving Ratcliffe and Majeschal standing together in the court.
"And so," said Ratcliffe, " the gentlemen of your political persuasion think the downfall of this government so oertain, that they disdain even to throw a decent disguise over the machinations of their party?"
"Faith, Mr. Ratcliffe," answered Mareschal, "the actions and sentiments of your friends may require to be veiled, but I am better pleased that ours can go barefaced."
"And is it possible," continued Ratcliffe, " that you, who, notwithstanding your thoughtlessness and heat Oi temper, (I heg pardon, Mr. Mareschal, I am a plain man) —that you, who, notwithstanding these constitutional defects, possess natural good sense and acquired information, should be infatuated enough to embroil yourself in such desperate proceedings 1 How does your head feel when you are engaged in these dangerous conferences 9"
"Not quite so secure on my shoulders," answered Mareschal, " as if I were talking of hunting and hawking. I am not of so indifferent a mould as my cousin Ellieslaw, who speaks treason as if it were a child's nursery rhymes, and loses and recovers that sweet girl, his daughter, with a good deal less emotion on both occasions, than would have affected me had I lost and recovered a grey hound puppy. My temper is not quite so inflexible, nor my hate against government so inveterate, as to blind me to the full danger of the attempt."
"Then why involve yourself in it?" said Ratcliffe.
"Why, I love this poor exiled king with all my heart; and my father was an old Killiecrankie-man, and I long to see some amends on the Unionist courtiers that,have bought and sold old Scotland, whose crown has been so long independent."
"And for the sake of these shadows," said his monitor, " you ar"e going to involve your country in war, and yourself in trouble?"
"/ involve? No !—but, trouble for trouble, I had rather it came to-morrow than a month hence. Come, I know it will ; and, as your country folks say, better soon than syne—it will never find me ycunger—and, as for hanging, as Sir John Falstaff says, I can become a gallows as well as another. You know the end of the old ballad;
'Sae dauntonly, sae wantonly,
Sae rantingly gaed he,
Beneath the g.dlows tree.'"
"Mr. Mareschal, I am sorry for you," said his grave adviser.
"I am obliged to you, Mr. Ratcliffe; but I Would not have you judge of our enterprize by my way of vindicatmg it; there are wiser heads than mine at the work."
"Wiser heads than yours may lie as low," said Ratcliffe, in a warning tone.
"Perhaps so; hut no lighter heart shall; and, to prevent it heing made heavier hy your remonstrances, I will bid you adieu, Mr. Ratcliffe, till dinner-time, when you shall see that my apprehensions have not spoiled my appetite."
To face the garment of rebellion
1 Of hurlyburly innovation.
Hmry IV. Part II.
There had been great preparations made at EllieslawCastle for the entertainment on this important day, when not only the gentlemen of note in the neighbourhood, attached to the Jacobite interest, were expected to rendezvous, but also many subordinate malecontents,whom difficulty of circumstances, love of change, resentment against England, or any of the numerous causes which inflamed men's passions at the time, rendered apt to join in perilous enterprize. The men of rank and substance were not many in number; for almost all the large proprietors stood aloof, and most of the smaller gentry and yeomanry were of the Presbyterian persuasion, and, therefore, however displeased with the Union, unwilling to engage in a Jacobite conspiracy. But there were some gentlemen of property, who, either from early principle, from religious motives, or sharing the ambitious views of Ellieslaw, had given countenance to his schemes; and there were, also, some fiery young men, like Mareschal, desirous of signalizing themselves, by engaging in a dangerous enterprize, by which they hoped to vindicate the independencf of their country. The other members of the party were persons of inferior rank and desperate fortunes, who were now ready to rise in that part of the country, as they did afterwards in the year 1715, under Foster and Derwentwater, when a troop, commanded by a Border gentleman, named Douglas, consisted almost entirely of freebooters, among whom the notorious Luck-in-a-bag, as he was called, held a distinguished command. We think it necessary to mention these particulars, applicable solely to the province in which our scene lies; because, unquestionably, the Jacobite party, in the other parts of the kingdom, consisted of much more formidable, as well as much more respectable, materials.
One long table extended itself down the ample hall of Ellieslaw Castle, which was still left much in the state in which it had been one hundred years before, stretching, that is, in gloomy length, along the whole side of the Castle, vaulted with ribbed arches of freestone, the groins of which sprung from projecting figures, that, carved into all the wild forms which the fantastic imagination of a Gothic architect could devise, grinned, frowned, and gnashed their tusks at the assembly below. Long narrow windows lighted the banquetting room on both sides, filled up with stained glass, through which the sun emitted a dusky and discoloured light. A banner, which tradition averred to have been taken from the English at the battle of Sark, waved over the chair in which Ellieslaw presided, as if to inflame the courage of the guests, by reminding them of ancient victories over their neighbours. He himself, a portly figure, dressed on this occasion with uncommon care, and with features, which, though of a stern and sinister expression, might well be termed handsome, looked the old feudal baron extremely well. Sir Frederick Langley was placed on his right hand, and Mr. Mareschal of Mareschal-Wells, on his left. Some gentlemen of consideration, with their sons, brothers, and nephews, were seated at the upper end of the table,, and among these Mr. Ratclifle had his place. Beneath the 10* vOL. I.
salt-cellar (a massive piece of plate which occupied the midst of the table) sat the sine nomine turba, men whose vanity was gratified by holding even this subordinate space at the social board, while the distinction observed in ranking them, was a salvo to the pride of their superiors. That the lower house was not very select must be admitted, since Willie of Westburnflat was one of the party. The unabashed audacity of this fellow, in daring to present himself in the house of a gentleman, to whom he had just offered so flagrant an insult, can only be accounted for by supposing him conscious that his share in carrying off Miss Vere was a secret, safe in her possession and that of her father.
Before this numerous and miscellaneous party was placed a dinner, consisting, not indeed of the delicacies of the season, as the newspapers express it, but of viands, ample, solid, and sumptuous, under which the very board groaned. But the mirth was not in proportion to the good cheer. The lower end of the table were, for some time, chilled by constraint and respect on finding themselves members of so august an assembly; and those who were placed around it had those feelings of awe with which P. P., clerk of the parish, describes himself oppressed, when he first uplifted the psalm in presence of those persons of high worship, the wise Mr. Justice Freeman, the good Lady Jones, and the great Sir Thomas Truby. This ceremonious frost, however, soon gave way before the incentives to merriment, which were liberally supplied, and as liberally consumed by the guests of the lower description. They became talkative, loud, and even clamorous in their mirth.
But it was not in the power of wine or brandy to elevate the spirits of those who held the higher places of the banquet. They experienced the chilling revulsion of spirits which often takes place, when men are called upon to take a desperate resolution, after having placed themselves in circumstances where it is alike difficult to advance or to recede. The precipice looked deeper and more dangerous as they approached the brink, and each