Графични страници
PDF файл

loss of blood, that he was unable to dismount without assistance. As he entered the hall, leaning upon a servant, the ladies shrieked with surprise and terror; for, pale as death, stained with blood, his regimentals soiled and torn, and his hair matted and disordered, he resembled rather a spectre than a human being. But their next exclamation was that of joy at his escape.

"Thank God!" exclaimed Lady Margaret, " that you are here, and have escaped the hands of the blood-thirsty murderers who have cut off so many of the King's loyal servants!"

"Thank God!" added Edith, " that you are here and m safety! We have dreaded the worst. But you are wounded, and I fear we have little the means of assisting you."

"My wounds are only sword-cuts," answered the young nobleman, as he reposed himself on a seat; "the pain is not worth mentioning, and I should not even feel exhausted but for the loss of blood. But it was not my purpose to bring my weakness to add to your danger and distress, but to relieve them, if possible. What can I do for you 1 —Permit me," he added, addressing Lady Margaret— "permit me to think and act as your son, my dear madam —as your brother, Edith!"

He pronounced the last part of the sentence with some emphasis, as if he feared that the apprehension of his pretensions as a suitor might render his proffered services unacceptable to Miss Bellenden. She was not insensible to his delicacy, but there was no time for exchange of sentiments.

"We are preparing for our defence," said the old lady, with great dignity; "my brother has taken charge of our garrison, and, by the grace of God, we will give the rebels such a reception as they deserve."

"How gladly," said Evandale, " would I share in the defence of the Castle' But in my present state, I should be but a burden to you, nay, something worse ; for, the knowledge that an officer of the Lifs-Guards was in the Castle would be sufficient to mnl<e these roeuc; more deiperately earnest to possess themselves of it. If they find it defended only by the family, they may possibly march on to Glasgow, rather than hazard an assault."

"And can you think so meanly of us, my lord," said Edith, with the generous burst of feeling which woman so often evinces, and which becomes her so well, her voice faltering through eagerness, and her brow colouring with the noble warmth which dictated her language—" Can you think so meanly of your friends, as that they would permit such considerations to interfere with their sheltering and protecting you at a moment when you are unable to defend yourself, and when the whole country is filled with the enemy 1 Is there a cottage in Scotland whose owners would permit a valued friend to leave it in such circumstances 1 And can you think we will allow you to go from a castle which we hold to be strong enough for our own defence V

"Lord Evandale need never think of it," said Lady Margaret, " I will dress his wounds myself; it is all an old wife is fit for in war time ; but to quit the Castle of Tillietudlem when the sword of the enemy is drawn to slay him,—the meanest trooper that ever wore the King's coat on his back should not do so, much less my young Lord Evandale.—Ours is not a house that ought to brook such dishonour. The Tower of Tillietudlem has been too

much distinguished by the visit of his most sacred"

'Here she was interrupted by the entrance of the Major.

"We have taken a prisoner, my dear uncle," said Edith—" a wounded prisoner, and he wants to escape from us. You must help us to keep him by force."

"Lord Evandale!" exclaimed the veteran, " I am as much pleased as when I got my first commission. Claverhouse reported you were killed, or missing at least."

"I should have been slain, but for a friend of yours," said Lord Evandale, speaking with some emotion, and bending his eyes on the ground, as if he wished to avoid seeing the impression that what he was about to say would make upon Miss Bellenden. "I was unhorsed and de' fenceless, and the sword raised to despatch me, when young Mr. Morton, the prisoner for whom you interested yourself yesterday morning, interposed in the most generous manner, preserved my life, and furnished me with the means of escaping."

9* vOL. ii.

As he ended the sentence, a painful curiosity overcame his first resolution; he raised his eyes to Edith's face, and imagined he could read in the glow of her cheek and the sparkle of her eye, joy at hearing of her lover's safety and freedom, and triumph at his not having been left last in the race of generosity. Such, indeed, were her feelings, but they were also mingled with admiration of the ready frankness with which Lord Evandale had hastened to bear witness to the merit of a favoured rival, and to acknowledge an obligation which, in all probability, he would rather have owed to any other individual in the world.

Major Bellenden, who would never have observed the emotions of either party, even had they been much more markedly expressed, contented himself with saying, "Since Henry Morton has influence with these rascals, l am glad he has so exerted it; but I hope he will get clear of them as soon as he can. Indeed, I cannot doubt it. I know his principles, and that he detests their cant and hypocrisy. I have heard him laugh a thousand times at the pedautry of that old presbyterian scoundrel, Poundtext, wbo, after enjoying the indulgence of the government for so many years, has now, upon the very first ruffle shown himself in his own proper colours, and set off, with three parts of his crop-eared congregation, to join the host of the fanatics.—But how did you escape after leaving the field, my lord V

"I rode for my life, as a recreant knight must," answered Lord Evandale, smiling. "1 took the route where I thought I had least chance of meeting with any of the enemy, and I found shelter for several hours—you will hardly guess where."

"At Castle Bracklan, perhaps," said Lady Margaret, "or in the house of some other 'oval gentleman 9"

"No, madam. I was repulsed, under one mean pretext or another, from more than one house of that description, for fear of the enemy following my traces; but I (bund refuge in the cottage of a poor widow, whose husband had been shot within these three months by a party of our corps, and whose two sons are at this very moment with the insurgents."

"Indeed V said Lady Margaret Bellenden; " and was a fanatic woman capable of such generosity 1—but she disapproved, I suppose, of the tenets of her family V

"Far from it, madam," continued the young nobleman; "she was in principle a rigid recusant, but she saw my danger and distress, considered me as a fellow creature, and forgot that I was a cavalier and a soldier. She bound my wounds, and permitted me to rest upon her bed, concealed me from a party of the insurgents who were seeking for stragglers, supplied me with food, and did not suffer me to leave my place of refuge until she had learned that I had every chance of getting to this tower without danger."

"It was nobly done," said Miss Bellenden; " and I trust you will have an opportunity of rewarding her generosity."

"I am running up an arrear of obligation on all sides', Miss Bellenden, during these unfortunate occurrences," replied Lord Evandale; "but when I can attain the means of showing my gratitude, the will shall not be wanting."

All now joined in pressing Lord Evandale to relinquish his intention of leaving the Castle; but the argument of Major Bellenden proved the most effectual.

"Your presence in the Castle will be most useful, if not absolutely necessary, my Lord, in order to maintain, by your authority, proper discipline among the fellows whom Claverhouse has left in garrison here, and who do not prove to be of the most orderly description of inmates: and, indeed, we have the Colonel's authority, for that very purpose, to detain any officer of his regiment who might pass thi« way."

"That," said Lord Evandale, "is an unanswerable argument, since it shows me that my residence here may be useful, even in my present disabled state."

"For your wounds, my lord," said the Major, " if my sister, Lady Bellenden, will undertake to give battle to any feverish symptom, if such should appear, I will answer that my old campaigner, Gideon Pike, shall dress a flesh-wound with any of the incorporation of BarberSurgeons. He had enough of practice in Montrose's time, for we had few regularly-bred army chirurgeons, as you may well suppose.—You agree to stay with us, then V

"My reasons for leaving the Castle," said Lord Evandale, glancing a look towards Edith, " though they evidently seemed weighty, must needs give way to those which infer the power of serving you. May I presume, Major, to inquire into the means and plan of defence which you have prepared 1 or can I attend you to examine the works V

It did not escape Miss Bellenden, that Lord Evandale seemed much exhausted both m body and mind. "I think, sir," she said, addressing the Major, " that since Lord Evandale condescends to become an officer of our garrison, you should begin by rendering him amenable to your authority, and ordering him to his apartment, that he may take some refreshment ere he enters on military discussions."

"Edith is right," said the old lady; "you must go instantly to bed, my lord, and take some febrifuge, which I will prepare with my own hand; and my lady-in-waiting Mistress Martha Weddell, shall make some friar's chicken, or something very light. I would not advise wine.John Gudyill, let the housekeeper make ready the chamber of dais. Lord Evandale must lie down instantly. Pike will take off the dressings, and examine the state of the wounds."

"These are melancholy preparations, madam," said Lord Evandale, as he returned thanks to Lady Margaret, and was about to leave the hall,—" but I must submit to vour ladyship's directions; and I trust that your skill will

« ПредишнаНапред »