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a civil magistrate, ere the charter of my country shall be forfeited in my person."
"A pretty springald this, upon my honour '." said Claverhouse.
"Are you mad?" said Major Bellenden to his young friend. "For God's sake, Henry Morton," he continued, in a tone between rebuke and entreaty, "remember you are speaking to one of his majesty's officers high m the service."
"It is for that very reason, sir," returned Henry, firmly, " that I desire to know what right he has to detain me without a legal warrant. Were he a civil officer of the law, I should know my duty was submission."
"Your friend, here," said Claverhouse to the veteran, coolly, "is one of those scrupulous gentlemen, who, like the madman in the play, will not tie his cravat without the warrant of Mr. Justice Overdo; but I will let him see, before we part, that my shoulder-knot is as legal a badge of authority as the mace of the Justiciary. So, waiving this discussion, you will be pleased young man, to tell me directly when you saw Balfour of Burley."
"As I know no right you have to ask such a question," replied* Morton, " I decline replying to it."
"You confessed to my sergeant," said Claverhouse, "that you saw and entertained him, knowing him to be an intercommuned traitor; why are you not so frank with me V
"Because," replied the prisoner, " I presume you are, from education, taught to understand the rights upon which you seem disposed to trample; and I am willing you should be aware there are yet Scotsmen who can assert the liberties of Scotland."
"And these supposed rights you would vindicate with your sword, I presume V said Colonel Grahame.
"Were I armed as you are, and we were alone upon a hill-side, you should not ask me the question twice."
"It is quite enough," answered Claverhouse, calmly; "your language corresponds with all I have -heard of 27 Vol. I.
you ;—but you are the son of a soldier, though a rebellious one, and you shall not die the death of a dog ; I will save you that indignity."
"Die in what manner I may," replied Morton, "I will die like the son of a brave man; and the ignominy you mention shall remain with those who shed innocent blood."
"Make your peace, then, with Heaven, in five minutes space.—Bothwell, lead him down to the court-yard, and draw up your party."
The appallmg nature of this conversation, and of its results, struck the silence of horror into all but the speakers. But now those who stood round broke forth into clamour and expostulation. Old Lady Margaret, who, with all the prejudices of rank and party, had not laid aside the feelings of her sex, was loud in her intercession.
"O, Colonel Grahame," she exclaimed, "spare his young blood ! Leave him to the law—do not repay my hospitality by shedding men's blood on the threshold of my doors!"
"Colonel Grahame," said Major Bellenden, "you must answer this violence. Don't think, though I am old and feckless, that my friend's son shall be murdered before my eyes with impunity. I can find friends that shall make you answer it."
"Be satisfied, Major Bellenden, I will answer it," replied Claverhouse, totally unmoved; "and you, madam, might spare me the pain of resisting this passionate intercession for a traitor, when you consider the noble blood your own house has lost by such as he is."
"Colonel Grahame," answered the lady, her aged frame trembling with anxiety, "I leave vengeance to God, who calls it his own. The shedding of this young man's blood will not call back the lives that were dear to me; and how can it comfort me to think that there has maybe been another widowed mother made childless, like mysell, by a deed done at my very door-stane!"
"This is stark madness," said Claverhouse; " I must do my duty to church and state. Here are a thousand villains hard by in open rebellion, and you ask me to pardon a young fanatic who is enough of himself to set a whole kingdom in a blaze! It cannot be—remove him, Bothwell."
She who was most interested in this dreadful decision, had twice strove to speak, but her voice had totally failed her ; her mind refused to suggest words, and her tongue to utter them. She now sprung up and attempted to rush forward, but her strength gave way, and she would have fallen flat upon the pavement had she not been caught by her attendant.
"Help!" cried Jenny,—" Help, for God's sake! my young lady is dying."
At this exclamation, Evandale, who, during the preceding part of the scene, had stood motionless, leaning upon his sword, now stepped forward, and said to his commanding officer,—"Colonel Grahame, before proceeding in this matter, will you speak a word with me in private V
Claverhouse looked surprised, but instantly rose and withdrew with the young nobleman into a recess, where the following brief dialogue passed between them:
"I think I need not remind you, Colonel, that when our family interest was of service to you last year in that affair in the privy-council, you considered yourself as laid under some obligation to us?"
"Certainly, my dear Evandale," answered Claverhouse, " 1 am not a man who forgets such debts ; you will delight me by showing how I can evince my gratitude."
"I will hold the debt cancelled," said Lord Evandale, 'if you will spare this young man's life."
"Evandale," replied Grahame, in great surprise, "you are mad—absolutely mad—what interest can you have in this young spawn of an old roundhead 1—His father was positively the most dangerous man in all Scotland, cool, resolute, soldierly, and inflexible in his cursed principles. His son seems his very model ; you cannot conceive the mischief he may do. T know mankind. Evandale—were he an insignificant, fanatical, country Dooby, do you think I would have refused such a trifle as his life to Lady Margaret and this family 9 But this is a lad of fire, zeal, and education—and these knaves want but such a leader to direct their blind enthusiastic hardiness. 1 mention this, not as refusing your request, but to make you fully aware of the possible consequences—I will never evade a promise, or refuse to return an obligation—If you ask his life, he shall have it."
"Keep him close prisoner," answered Evandale, "but do not be surprised if I persist in requesting you will not put him to death. I have most urgent reasons for what I ask."
"Be it so then," replied Grahame ;—" but, young man, should you wish in your future life to rise to eminence in the service of your king and country, let it be your first task to subject to the public interest, and to the discharge of your duty, your private passions, afTections, and feelings. These are not times to sacrifice to the dotage of greybeards, or the tears of silly women, the measures of salutary severity, which the dangers around compel us to adopt. And remember, that if I now yield this point, in compliance with your urgency, my present concession must exempt me from future solicitations of the same nature."
He then stepped forward to the table, and bent bis eyes keenly on Morton, as if to observe what effect the pause of awful suspense between death and life, which seemed to freeze the by-standers with horror, would produce upon the prisoner himself. Morton maintained a degree of firmness, which nothing but a mind that had nothing left upon earth to love, or to hope, could have supported at such a crisis.
"You see him V said Claverhouse, in a half whisper to Lord Evandale; "he is tottering on the verge between time and eternity, a situation more appalling than the most hideous certainty; yet his is the only cheek un blenched, the only eye that is calm, the only heart that keeps its usual time, the only nerves that are not quivering. Look at him well, Evandale—If that man shall ever come to head an army of rebels,you will have much to answer for on account of this morning's work." He then said aloud, "Young man, your life is for the present safe, through the intercession of your friends.—Remove him, Bothwell, and let him be properly guarded and brought along with the other prisoners."
"If my life," said Morton, stung with the idea that he owed his respite to the intercession of a favoured rival, "if my life be granted at Lord Evandale's request"
"Take the prisoner away, Bothwell," said Colonel Grahame, interrupting him; "I have neither time to make nor to hear fine speeches."
Bothwell forced off Morton, saying, as he conducted him into the court-yard, "Have you three lives in your pocket, besides the one in your body, my lad, that you can afford to let your tongue run away with them at this rate 9 Come, come, I'll take care to keep you out of the Colonel's way; for, egad, you will not be five minutes with him before the next tree or the next ditch will be the word. So, come along to your companions in bondage."
Thus speaking, the sergeant, who, in his rude manner did not altogether want sympathy for a gallant young man, hurried Morton down to the court-yard, where three other prisoners, (two men and a woman,) who had been taken by Lord Evandale, remained under an escort of dragoons.
Meantime, Claverhouse took his leave of Lady Margaret. But it was difficult for the good lady to forgive his neglect of her intercession.
"I have thought till now," she said, "that the Tower of Tillietudlem might have been a place of succour to those that are ready to perish, even if they werena sae deserving as they should have been—but I see auld fruit has little savour—our suffering and our services havQ been of an ancient date." 27* Vol. I.