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By this time he had completed a lodgment in the body of the place, or, in other words, advanced his seat close to the table.
"" And now, Mr. Francis Stuart of Bothwell, I have the honour to drink your gude health, and a commission t'ye, and much luck may ye have in raking this country clear o' whigs and roundheads, fanatics and Covenanters."
Bothwell, who, it may well be believed, had long ceased to be very scrupulous in point of society, which he regulated more by his convenience and station in life than his ancestry, readily answered the butler's pledge, acknowledging at the same time, the excellence of the wine; and Mr. Gudyill, thus adopted a regular member of the company, continued to furnish them with the means of mirth until an early hour in the next morning.
Did I but purpose to embark with thee
While Lady Margaret held, with the high-descended sergeant of dragoons, the conference which we have detailed in the preceding pages, her grand-daughter, partaking in a less degree her ladyship's enthusiasm for all who were sprung of the blood-royal, did not honour Sergeant Bothwell with more attention than a single glance, which showed her. a tall powerful person, and a set of hardy weather-beaten features, to which pride and dissipation had given an air where discontent mingled with the reckless gaiety of desperation. The other soldiers offered still less to detach her consideration: but
from the prisoner, muffled and disguised ns he was, she found it impossible to withdraw her eyes. Yet she blamed herself for indulging a curiosity which seemed obviously to give pain to him who was its object.
"I wish," she said to Jenny Dennison, who was the immediate attendant on her person, "I wish we knew who that poor fellow is."
"I was just thinking sae mysell, Miss Edith," said the waiting woman, " but it canna be Cuddie Headrigg, because he's taller and no sae stout."
"Yet," continued Miss Bellenden, "it may be some poor neighbour, for whom we might have cause to interest ourselves."
"I can sune learn wha he is," said the enterprizing Jenny, "if the sodgers were anes settled and at leisure, for I ken ane o' them very weel—the best-looking and the youngest o' them."
"I think you know all the idle young fellows about the country^" answered her mistress.
"Na, Miss Edith, I am no sae free o' my acquaintance as that," answered the fille-de-chambre. "To be sure, folk canna help kenning the folk by head-mark that they see aye glowring and looking at them at kirk and market; but I ken few lads to speak to unless it be them o' the family, and the three Steinsons, and Tam Rand, and the young miller, and the five Howisons in Nethersheils, and. lang Tam Gilry, and"
"Pray cut short a list of exceptions which threatens to be a long one, and tell me how you come to know this young soldier," said Miss Bellenden,
"Lord, Miss Edith, it's Tam Halliday, Trooper Tam, as they ca' him, that was wounded by the hill-folk at the conventicle at Outer-side Muir, and lay here while he was under cure. I can ask bim onything, and Tam will no refuse to answer me, I'll be caution for him."
"Try, then," said Miss Edith, "if you can find an opportunity to ask him the name of his prisoner, and come to my room and tell me what he says."
Jenny Dennison proceeded on her errand, but soon 23* Vol. I.
returned with such a face of surprise and dismay as evinced a deep interest in the fate of the prisoner.
"What is the matter 9" said Edith, anxiously; "does it prove to be Cuddie, after all, poor fellow V
"Cuddie, Miss Edith 1 Na! na ! it's nae Cuddie," blubbered out the faithful fille-de-chambre, sensible of the pain which her news were about to inflict on her young mistress. "O dear, Miss Edith, it's young Milnwood himsell!"
"Young Milnwood !" exclaimed Edith, aghast in her turn ; " it is impossible—totally impossible !—His uncle attends the clergyman indulged by law, and has no connection whatever with the refractory people; and he himself has never interfered in this unhappy dissension ; he must be totally innocent, unless he has been standing up for some invaded right."
"O, my dear Miss Edith," said her attendant, "these are not days to ask what's right or what's wrang; if he were as innocent as the new-born infant, they would find some way of making him guilty, if they liked; but Tam Halliday says it will touch his life, for he has been resetting ane o' the Fife gentlemen that killed that auld carle of an Archbishop."
"His life !" exclaimed Edith, starting hastily up and speaking with a hurried and tremulous accent,—they cannot—they shall not—I will speak for him—they shall not hurt him!"
"O, my dear young leddy, think on your grandmother ; think on the danger and the difficulty," added Jenny ; "for he's kept under close confinement till Claverhouse comes up in the morning, and if he does na gie him full satisfaction, Tam Halliday says there will be brief wark wi' him—Kneel down—mak ready—present—fire —just as they did wi' auld deaf John Macbriar, that never understood a single question they pat till him, and sae lost his life for lack o' hearing."
"Jenny," said the young lady, " if he should die, I will die with him ; there is no time to talk of danger or difficulty—I will put on a plaid, and slip down with yoi. to the place where they have kept him—I will throw myself at the feet of the sentinel, and entreat him, as he has a soul to be saved"
"Eh, guide us !" interrupted the maid, " our young leddy at the feet o' Trooper Tam, and speaking to him about his soul, when the puir chield hardly kens whether he has ane or no, unless that he whiles swears by it—that will never do; but what maun be maun be, and I'll never desert a true-love cause—Andsaeif ye maun see young Milnwood, though I ken nae gude it will do, but to make baith your hearts the sairer, I'll e'en tak the risk o't, and try to manage Tam Halliday; but ye maun let me hae my ain gate, and no speak ae word—he's keeping guard o'er Milnwood in the easter round of the tower."
"Go, go, fetch me a plaid," said Edith. "Let me but see him, and I will find some remedy for his danger —Haste ye, Jenny, as ever ye hope to have good at my hands."
Jenny hastened, and soon returned with a plaid, in which Edith mufHed herself so as completely to screen her face, and in part to disguise her person. This was a mode of arranging the plaid very common among the ladies of that century, and the earlier part of the succeeding one; so much so, indeed, that the venerable sages of the Kirk, conceiving that the mode gave tempting facilities for intrigue, directed more than one act of Assembly against this use of the mantle. But fashion, as usual, proved too strong for authority, and while plaids continued to be worn, women of all ranks occasionally employed them as a sort of muffler or veil.12 Her face and figure thus concealed, Edith, holding by her attendant's arm, hastened with trembling steps to the place of Morton's confinement.
This was a small study, or closet, in one of the turrets, opening upon a gallery in which the sentinel was pacing to and fro; for Sergeant Bothwell, scrupulous in observing his word, and perhaps touched with some compassion for the prisoner's youth and genteel demeanour, had waived the indignity of putting his guard into the same apartment with him. Halliday, therefore, with his carabine on his arm, walked up and down the gallery, occasionally solacing himself with a draught of ale, a huge flagon of which stood upon a table at one end of the apartment, and at other times humming the lively Scottish air,
"Between Saint Johnstone and Bonny Dundee,
Jenny Dennison cautioned her mistress once more to let her take her own way.
"I can manage the trooper weel eneugh," she said, "for as ifcugh as he is—I ken their nature weel; but ye maunna say a single word."
She accordingly opened the door of the gallery just as the sentinel had turned his back from it, and taking up the tune which he hummed, she sung in a coquettish tone of rustic raillery,
"If I were to follow a poor sotlger lad,
"A fair challenge, by Jove," cried the sentinel, turnmg round, " and from two at once; but it's not easy to bang the soldier with his bandeliers :" then taking up the song where the damsel had stopt,
"To follow me ye weel may be glad,
A share of my supper, a share of my bed,
To the sound of the drum to range fearless and free,
I'U gar ye be fain to follow me."
"Come, my pretty lass, and kiss me for my song." "I should not have thought of that, Mr. Halliday," answered Jenny, with a look and tone expressing just the necessary degree of contempt at the proposal, "and, I'se assure ye, ye'll hae but little o' my company unless ye show gentler havings—rlt wasna to hear that sort o' non