The Abbot, by Walter Scott

Chapter the Seventeenth.

Edina! Scotia’s darling seat,

All hail thy palaces and towers,

Where once, beneath a monarch’s feet,

Sate legislation’s sovereign powers.

Burns.

“This, then, is Edinburgh?” said the youth, as the fellow-travellers arrived at one of the heights to the southward, which commanded a view of the great northern capital —“This is that Edinburgh of which we have heard so much!”

“Even so,” said the falconer; “yonder stands Auld Reekie — you may see the smoke hover over her at twenty miles’ distance, as the gosshawk hangs over a plump of young wild-ducks — ay, yonder is the heart of Scotland, and each throb that she gives is felt from the edge of Solway to Duncan’s-bay-head. See, yonder is the old Castle; and see to the right, on yon rising ground, that is the Castle of Craigmillar, which I have known a merry place in my time.”

“Was it not there,” said the page in a low voice, “that the Queen held her court?”

“Ay, ay,” replied the falconer, “Queen she was then, though you must not call her so now. Well, they may say what they will — many a true heart will be sad for Mary Stewart, e’en if all be true men say of her; for look you, Master Roland — she was the loveliest creature to look upon that I ever saw with eye, and no lady in the land liked better the fair flight of a falcon. I was at the great match on Roslin Moor betwixt Bothwell — he was a black sight to her that Bothwell — and the Baron of Roslin, who could judge a hawk’s flight as well as any man in Scotland — a butt of Rhenish and a ring of gold was the wager, and it was flown as fairly for as ever was red gold and bright wine. And to see her there on her white palfrey, that flew as if it scorned to touch more than the heather blossom; and to hear her voice, as clear and sweet as the mavis’s whistle, mix among our jolly whooping and whistling; and to mark all the nobles dashing round her; happiest he who got a word or a look — tearing through moss and hagg, and venturing neck and limb to gain the praise of a bold rider, and the blink of a bonny Queen’s bright eye! — she will see little hawking where she lies now — ay, ay, pomp and pleasure pass away as speedily as the wap of a falcon’s wing.”

“And where is this poor Queen now confined?” said Roland Graeme, interested in the fate of a woman whose beauty and grace had made so strong an impression even on the blunt and careless character of Adam Woodcock.

“Where is she now imprisoned?” said honest Adam; “why, in some castle in the north, they say — I know not where, for my part, nor is it worth while to vex one’s sell anent what cannot be mended — An she had guided her power well whilst she had it, she had not come to so evil a pass. Men say she must resign her crown to this little baby of a prince, for that they will trust her with it no longer. Our master has been as busy as his neighbours in all this work. If the Queen should come to her own again, Avenel Castle is like to smoke for it, unless he makes his bargain all the better.” “In a castle in the north Queen Mary is confined?” said the page. “Why, ay — they say so, at least — In a castle beyond that great river which comes down yonder, and looks like a river, but it is a branch of the sea, and as bitter as brine.”

“And amongst all her subjects,” said the page, with some emotion, “is there none that will adventure anything for her relief?”

“That is a kittle question,” said the falconer; “and if you ask it often, Master Roland, I am fain to tell you that you will be mewed up yourself in some of those castles, if they do not prefer twisting your head off, to save farther trouble with you — Adventure any thing? Lord, why, Murray has the wind in his poop now, man, and flies so high and strong, that the devil a wing of them can match him — No, no; there she is, and there she must lie, till Heaven send her deliverance, or till her son has the management of all — But Murray will never let her loose again, he knows her too well. — And hark thee, we are now bound for Holyrood, where thou wilt find plenty of news, and of courtiers to tell it — But, take my counsel, and keep a calm sough, as the Scots say — hear every man’s counsel, and keep your own. And if you hap to learn any news you like, leap not up as if you were to put on armour direct in the cause — Our old Mr. Wingate says — and he knows court-cattle well — that if you are told old King Coul is come alive again, you should turn it off with, ‘And is he in truth? — I heard not of it,’ and should seem no more moved, than if one told you, by way of novelty, that old King Coul was dead and buried. Wherefore, look well to your bearing, Master Roland, for, I promise you, you come among a generation that are keen as a hungry hawk — And never be dagger out of sheath at every wry word you hear spoken; for you will find as hot blades as yourself, and then will be letting of blood without advice either of leech or almanack.”

“You shall see how staid I will be, and how cautious, my good friend,” said Graeme; “but, blessed Lady, what goodly house is that which is lying all in ruins so close to the city? Have they been playing at the Abbot of Unreason here, and ended the gambol by burning the church?”

“There again now,” replied his companion, “you go down the wind like a wild haggard, that minds neither lure nor beck — that is a question you should have asked in as low a tone as I shall answer it.”

“If I stay here long,” said Roland Graeme, “it is like I shall lose the natural use of my voice — but what are the ruins then?”

“The Kirk of Field,” said the falconer, in a low and impressive whisper, laying at the same time his finger on his lip; “ask no more about it — somebody got foul play, and somebody got the blame of it; and the game began there which perhaps may not be played out in our time. — Poor Henry Darnley! to be an ass, he understood somewhat of a hawk; but they sent him on the wing through the air himself one bright moonlight night.”

The memory of this catastrophe was so recent, that the page averted his eyes with horror from the scathed ruins in which it had taken place; and the accusations against the Queen, to which it had given rise, came over his mind with such strength as to balance the compassion he had begun to entertain for her present forlorn situation.

It was, indeed, with that agitating state of mind which arises partly from horror, but more from anxious interest and curiosity, that young Graeme found himself actually traversing the scene of those tremendous events, the report of which had disturbed the most distant solitudes in Scotland, like the echoes of distant thunder rolling among the mountains.

“Now,” he thought, “now or never shall I become a man, and bear my part in those deeds which the simple inhabitants of our hamlets repeat to each other, as if they were wrought by beings of a superior order to their own. I will know now, wherefore the Knight of Avenel carries his crest so much above those of the neighbouring baronage, and how it is that men, by valour and wisdom, work their way from the hoddin-gray coat to the cloak of scarlet and gold. Men say I have not much wisdom to recommend me; and if that be true, courage must do it; for I will be a man amongst living men, or a dead corpse amongst the dead.”

From these dreams of ambition he turned his thoughts to those of pleasure, and began to form many conjectures, when and where he should see Catherine Seyton, and in what manner their acquaintance was to be renewed. With such conjectures he was amusing himself, when he found that they had entered the city, and all other feelings were suspended in the sensation of giddy astonishment with which an inhabitant of the country is affected, when, for the first time, he finds himself in the streets of a large and populous city, a unit in the midst of thousands.

The principal street of Edinburgh was then, as now, one of the most spacious in Europe. The extreme height of the houses, and the variety of Gothic gables and battlements, and balconies, by which the sky-line on each side was crowned and terminated, together with the width of the street itself, might have struck with surprise a more practised eye than that of young Graeme. The population, close packed within the walls of the city, and at this time increased by the number of the lords of the King’s party who had thronged to Edinburgh to wait upon the Regent Murray, absolutely swarmed like bees on the wide and stately street. Instead of the shop-windows, which are now calculated for the display of goods, the traders had their open booths projecting on the street, in which, as in the fashion of the modern bazaars, all was exposed which they had upon sale. And though the commodities were not of the richest kinds, yet Graeme thought he beheld the wealth of the whole world in the various bales of Flanders cloths, and the specimens of tapestry; and, at other places, the display of domestic utensils and pieces of plate struck him with wonder. The sight of cutlers’ booths, furnished with swords and poniards, which were manufactured in Scotland, and with pieces of defensive armour, imported from Flanders, added to his surprise; and, at every step, he found so much to admire and gaze upon, that Adam Woodcock had no little difficulty in prevailing on him to advance through such a scene of enchantment.

The sight of the crowds which filled the streets was equally a subject of wonder. Here a gay lady, in her muffler, or silken veil, traced her way delicately, a gentleman-usher making way for her, a page bearing up her train, and a waiting gentlewoman carrying her Bible, thus intimating that her purpose was towards the church — There he might see a group of citizens bending the same way, with their short Flemish cloaks, wide trowsers, and high-caped doublets, a fashion to which, as well as to their bonnet and feather, the Scots were long faithful. Then, again, came the clergyman himself, in his black Geneva cloak and band, lending a grave and attentive ear to the discourse of several persons who accompanied him, and who were doubtless holding serious converse on the religious subject he was about to treat of. Nor did there lack passengers of a different class and appearance.

At every turn, Roland Graeme might see a gallant ruffle along in the newer or French mode, his doublet slashed, and his points of the same colours with the lining, his long sword on one side, and his poniard on the other, behind him a body of stout serving men, proportioned to his estate and quality, all of whom walked with the air of military retainers, and were armed with sword and buckler, the latter being a small round shield, not unlike the Highland target, having a steel spike in the centre. Two of these parties, each headed by a person of importance, chanced to meet in the very centre of the street, or, as it was called, “the crown of the cause-way,” a post of honour as tenaciously asserted in Scotland, as that of giving or taking the wall used to be in the more southern part of the island. The two leaders being of equal rank, and, most probably, either animated by political dislike, or by recollection of some feudal enmity, marched close up to each other, without yielding an inch to the right or the left; and neither showing the least purpose of giving way, they stopped for an instant, and then drew their swords. Their followers imitated their example; about a score of weapons at once flashed in the sun, and there was an immediate clatter of swords and bucklers, while the followers on either side cried their master’s name; the one shouting “Help, a Leslie! a Leslie!” while the others answered with shouts of “Seyton! Seyton!” with the additional punning slogan, “Set on, set on — bear the knaves to the ground!”

If the falconer found difficulty in getting the page to go forward before, it was now perfectly impossible. He reined up his horse, clapped his hands, and, delighted with the fray, cried and shouted as fast as any of those who were actually engaged in it.

The noise and cries thus arising on the Highgate, as it was called, drew into the quarrel two or three other parties of gentlemen and their servants, besides some single passengers, who, hearing a fray betwixt these two distinguished names, took part in it, either for love or hatred.

The combat became now very sharp, and although the sword-and-buckler men made more clatter and noise than they did real damage, yet several good cuts were dealt among them; and those who wore rapiers, a more formidable weapon than the ordinary Scottish swords, gave and received dangerous wounds. Two men were already stretched on the causeway, and the party of Seyton began to give ground, being much inferior in number to the other, with which several of the citizens had united themselves, when young Roland Graeme, beholding their leader, a noble gentleman, fighting bravely, and hard pressed with numbers, could withhold no longer. “Adam Woodcock,” he said, “an you be a man, draw, and let us take part with the Seyton.” And, without waiting a reply, or listening to the falconer’s earnest entreaty, that he would leave alone a strife in which he had no concern, the fiery youth sprung from his horse, drew his short sword, and shouting like the rest, “A Seyton! a Seyton! Set on! set on!” thrust forward into the throng, and struck down one of those who was pressing hardest upon the gentleman whose cause he espoused. This sudden reinforcement gave spirit to the weaker party, who began to renew the combat with much alacrity, when four of the magistrates of the city, distinguished by their velvet cloaks and gold chains, came up with a guard of halberdiers and citizens, armed with long weapons, and well accustomed to such service, thrust boldly forward, and compelled the swordsmen to separate, who immediately retreated in different directions, leaving such of the wounded on both sides, as had been disabled in the fray, lying on the street.

The falconer, who had been tearing his beard for anger at his comrade’s rashness, now rode up to him with the horse which he had caught by the bridle, and accosted him with “Master Roland — master goose — master mad-cap — will it please you to get on horse, and budge? or will you remain here to be carried to prison, and made to answer for this pretty day’s work?”

The page, who had begun his retreat along with the Seytons, just as if he had been one of their natural allies, was by this unceremonious application made sensible that he was acting a foolish part; and, obeying Adam Woodcock with some sense of shame, he sprung actively on horseback, and upsetting with the shoulder of the animal a city-officer, who was making towards him, he began to ride smartly down the street, along with his companion, and was quickly out of the reach of the hue and cry. In fact, rencounters of the kind were so common in Edinburgh at that period, that the disturbance seldom excited much attention after the affray was over, unless some person of consequence chanced to have fallen, an incident which imposed on his friends the duty of avenging his death on the first convenient opportunity. So feeble, indeed, was the arm of the police, that it was not unusual for such skirmishes to last for hours, where the parties were numerous and well matched. But at this time the Regent, a man of great strength of character, aware of the mischief which usually arose from such acts of violence, had prevailed with the magistrates to keep a constant guard on foot for preventing or separating such affrays as had happened in the present case.

The falconer and his young companion were now riding down the Canongate, and had slackened their pace to avoid attracting attention, the rather that there seemed to be no appearance of pursuit. Roland hung his head as one who was conscious his conduct had been none of the wisest, whilst his companion thus addressed him:

“Will you be pleased to tell me one thing, Master Roland Graeme, and that is, whether there be a devil incarnate in you or no?”

“Truly, Master Adam Woodcock,” answered the page, “I would fain hope there is not.”

“Then,” said Adam, “I would fain know by what other influence or instigation you are perpetually at one end or the other of some bloody brawl? What, I pray, had you to do with these Seytons and Leslies, that you never heard the names of in your life before?”

“You are out there, my friend,” said Roland Graeme, “I have my own reasons for being a friend to the Seytons.”

“They must have been very secret reasons then,” answered Adam Woodcock, “for I think I could have wagered, you had never known one of the name; and I am apt to believe still, that it was your unhallowed passion for that clashing of cold iron, which has as much charm for you as the clatter of a brass pan hath for a hive of bees, rather than any care either for Seyton or for Leslie, that persuaded you to thrust your fool’s head into a quarrel that no ways concerned you. But take this for a warning, my young master, that if you are to draw sword with every man who draws sword on the Highgate here, it will be scarce worth your while to sheathe bilbo again for the rest of your life, since, if I guess rightly, it will scarce endure on such terms for many hours — all which I leave to your serious consideration.”

“By my word, Adam, I honour your advice; and I promise you, that I will practise by it as faithfully as if I were sworn apprentice to you, to the trade and mystery of bearing myself with all wisdom and safety through the new paths of life that I am about to be engaged in.”

“And therein you will do well,” said the falconer; “and I do not quarrel with you, Master Roland, for having a grain over much spirit, because I know one may bring to the hand a wild hawk which one never can a dung-hill hen — and so betwixt two faults you have the best on’t. But besides your peculiar genius for quarrelling and lugging out your side companion, my dear Master Roland, you have also the gift of peering under every woman’s muffler and screen, as if you expected to find an old acquaintance. Though were you to spy one, I should be as much surprised at it, well wotting how few you have seen of these same wild-fowl, as I was at your taking so deep an interest even now in the Seyton.”

“Tush, man! nonsense and folly,” answered Roland Graeme, “I but sought to see what eyes these gentle hawks have got under their hood.”

“Ay, but it’s a dangerous subject of inquiry,” said the falconer; “you had better hold out your bare wrist for an eagle to perch upon. — Look you, Master Roland, these pretty wild-geese cannot be hawked at without risk — they have as many divings, boltings, and volleyings, as the most gamesome quarry that falcon ever flew at — And besides, every woman of them is manned with her husband, or her kind friend, or her brother, or her cousin, or her sworn servant at the least — But you heed me not, Master Roland, though I know the game so well — your eye is all on that pretty damsel who trips down the gate before us — by my certes, I will warrant her a blithe dancer either in reel or revel — a pair of silver morisco bells would become these pretty ankles as well as the jesses would suit the fairest Norway hawk.”

“Thou art a fool, Adam,” said the page, “and I care not a button about the girl or her ankles — But, what the foul fiend, one must look at something!”

“Very true, Master Roland Graeme,” said his guide, “but let me pray you to choose your objects better. Look you, there is scarce a woman walks this High-gate with a silk screen or a pearlin muffler, but, as I said before, she has either gentleman-usher before her, or kinsman, or lover, or husband, at her elbow, or it may be a brace of stout fellows with sword and buckler, not so far behind but what they can follow close — But you heed me no more than a goss-hawk minds a yellow yoldring.”

“O yes, I do — I do mind you indeed,” said Roland Graeme; “but hold my nag a bit — I will be with you in the exchange of a whistle.” So saying, and ere Adam Woodcock could finish the sermon which was dying on his tongue, Roland Graeme, to the falconer’s utter astonishment, threw him the bridle of his jennet, jumped off horseback, and pursued down one of the closes or narrow lanes, which, opening under a vault, terminate upon the main-street, the very maiden to whom his friend had accused him of showing so much attention, and who had turned down the pass in question.

“Saint Mary, Saint Magdalen, Saint Benedict, Saint Barnabas!” said the poor falconer, when he found himself thus suddenly brought to a pause in the midst of the Canongate, and saw his young charge start off like a madman in quest of a damsel whom he had never, as Adam supposed, seen in his life before — “Saint Satan and Saint Beelzebub — for this would make one swear saint and devil — what can have come over the lad, with a wanion! And what shall I do the whilst! — he will have his throat cut, the poor lad, as sure as I was born at the foot of Roseberry-Topping. Could I find some one to hold the horses! but they are as sharp here north-away as in canny Yorkshire herself, and quit bridle, quit titt, as we say. An I could but see one of our folks now, a holly-sprig were worth a gold tassel; or could I but see one of the Regent’s men — but to leave the horses to a stranger, that I cannot — and to leave the place while the lad is in jeopardy, that I wonot.”

We must leave the falconer, however, in the midst of his distress, and follow the hot-headed youth who was the cause of his perplexity.

The latter part of Adam Woodcock’s sage remonstrance had been in a great measure lost upon Roland, for whose benefit it was intended; because, in one of the female forms which tripped along the street, muffled in a veil of striped silk, like the women of Brussels at this day, his eye had discerned something which closely resembled the exquisite shape and spirited bearing of Catherine Seyton. — During all the grave advice which the falconer was dinning in his ears, his eye continued intent upon so interesting an object of observation; and at length, as the damsel, just about to dive under one of the arched passages which afforded an outlet to the Canongate from the houses beneath, (a passage, graced by a projecting shield of arms, supported by two huge foxes of stone,) had lifted her veil for the purpose perhaps of descrying who the horseman was who for some time had eyed her so closely, young Roland saw, under the shade of the silken plaid, enough of the bright azure eyes, fair locks, and blithe features, to induce him, like an inexperienced and rash madcap, whose wilful ways never had been traversed by contradiction, nor much subjected to consideration, to throw the bridle of his horse into Adam Woodcock’s hand, and leave him to play the waiting gentleman, while he dashed down the paved court after Catherine Seyton — all as aforesaid.

Women’s wits are proverbially quick, but apparently those of Catherine suggested no better expedient than fairly to betake herself to speed of foot, in hopes of baffling the page’s vivacity, by getting safely lodged before he could discover where. But a youth of eighteen, in pursuit of a mistress, is not so easily outstripped. Catherine fled across a paved court, decorated with large formal vases of stone, in which yews, cypresses, and other evergreens, vegetated in sombre sullenness, and gave a correspondent degree of solemnity to the high and heavy building in front of which they were placed as ornaments, aspiring towards a square portion of the blue hemisphere, corresponding exactly in extent to the quadrangle in which they were stationed, and all around which rose huge black walls, exhibiting windows in rows of five stories, with heavy architraves over each, bearing armorial and religious devices.

Through this court Catherine Seyton flashed like a hunted doe, making the best use of those pretty legs which had attracted the commendation even of the reflective and cautious Adam Woodcock. She hastened towards a large door in the centre of the lower front of the court, pulled the bobbin till the latch flew up, and ensconced herself in the ancient mansion. But, if she fled like a doe, Roland Graeme followed with the speed and ardour of a youthful stag-hound, loosed for the first time on his prey. He kept her in view in spite of her efforts; for it is remarkable what an advantage, in such a race, the gallant who desires to see, possesses over the maiden who wishes not to be seen — an advantage which I have known counterbalance a great start in point of distance. In short, he saw the waving of her screen, or veil, at one corner, heard the tap of her foot, light as that was, as it crossed the court, and caught a glimpse of her figure just as she entered the door of the mansion.

Roland Graeme, inconsiderate and headlong as we have described him, having no knowledge of real life but from the romances which he had read, and not an idea of checking himself in the midst of any eager impulse; possessed, besides, of much courage and readiness, never hesitated for a moment to approach the door through which the object of his search had disappeared. He, too, pulled the bobbin, and the latch, though heavy and massive, answered to the summons, and arose. The page entered with the same precipitation which had marked his whole proceeding, and found himself in a large hall, or vestibule, dimly enlightened by latticed casements of painted glass, and rendered yet dimmer through the exclusion of the sunbeams, owing to the height of the walls of those buildings by which the court-yard was enclosed. The walls of the hall were surrounded with suits of ancient and rusted armour, interchanged with huge and massive stone scutcheons, bearing double tressures, fleured and counter-fleured, wheat-sheaves, coronets, and so forth, things to which Roland Graeme gave not a moment’s attention.

In fact, he only deigned to observe the figure of Catherine Seyton, who, deeming herself safe in the hall, had stopped to take breath after her course, and was reposing herself for a moment on a large oaken settle which stood at the upper end of the hall. The noise of Roland’s entrance at once disturbed her; she started up with a faint scream of surprise, and escaped through one of the several folding-doors which opened into this apartment as a common centre. This door, which Roland Graeme instantly approached, opened on a large and well-lighted gallery, at the upper end of which he could hear several voices, and the noise of hasty steps approaching towards the hall or vestibule. A little recalled to sober thought by an appearance of serious danger, he was deliberating whether he should stand fast or retire, when Catherine Seyton re-entered from a side door, running towards him with as much speed as a few minutes since she had fled from him.

“Oh, what mischief brought you hither?” she said; “fly — fly, or you are a dead man — or stay — they come — flight is impossible — say you came to ask for Lord Seyton.”

She sprung from him and disappeared through the door by which she had made her second appearance; and, at the same instant, a pair of large folding-doors at the upper end of the gallery flew open with vehemence, and six or seven young gentlemen, richly dressed, pressed forward into the apartment, having, for the greater part, their swords drawn.

“Who is it,” said one, “dare intrude on us in our own mansion?”

“Cut him to pieces,” said another; “let him pay for this day’s insolence and violence — he is some follower of the Rothes.”

“No, by Saint Mary,” said another; “he is a follower of the arch-fiend and ennobled clown Halbert Glendinning, who takes the style of Avenel — once a church-vassal, now a pillager of the church.”

“It is so,” said a fourth; “I know him by the holly-sprig, which is their cognizance. Secure the door, he must answer for this insolence.”

Two of the gallants, hastily drawing their weapons, passed on to the door by which Roland had entered the hall, and stationed themselves there as if to prevent his escape. The others advanced on Graeme, who had just sense enough to perceive that any attempt at resistance would be alike fruitless and imprudent. At once, and by various voices, none of which sounded amicably, the page was required to say who he was, whence he came, his name, his errand, and who sent him hither. The number of the questions demanded of him at once, afforded a momentary apology for his remaining silent, and ere that brief truce had elapsed, a personage entered the hall, at whose appearance those who had gathered fiercely around Roland, fell back with respect.

This was a tall man, whose dark hair was already grizzled, though his high and haughty features retained all the animation of youth. The upper part of his person was undressed to his Holland shirt, whose ample folds were stained with blood. But he wore a mantle of crimson, lined with rich fur, cast around him, which supplied the deficiency of his dress. On his head he had a crimson velvet bonnet, looped up on one side with a small golden chain of many links, which, going thrice around the hat, was fastened by a medal, agreeable to the fashion amongst the grandees of the time.

“Whom have you here, sons and kinsmen,” said he, “around whom you crowd thus roughly? — Know you not that the shelter of this roof should secure every one fair treatment, who shall come hither either in fair peace, or in open and manly hostility?”

“But here, my lord,” answered one of the youths, “is a knave who comes on treacherous espial!”

“I deny the charge!” said Roland Graeme, boldly, “I came to inquire after my Lord Seyton.”

“A likely tale,” answered his accusers, “in the mouth of a follower of Glendinning.”

“Stay, young men,” said the Lord Seyton, for it was that nobleman himself, “let me look at this youth — By heaven, it is the very same who came so boldly to my side not very many minutes since, when some of my own knaves bore themselves with more respect to their own worshipful safety than to mine! Stand back from him, for he well deserves honour and a friendly welcome at your hands, instead of this rough treatment.”

They fell back on all sides, obedient to Lord Seyton’s commands, who, taking Roland Graeme by the hand, thanked him for his prompt and gallant assistance, adding, that he nothing doubted, “the same interest which he had taken in his cause in the affray, brought him hither to inquire after his hurt.”

Roland bowed low in acquiescence.

“Or is there any thing in which I can serve you, to show my sense of your ready gallantry?”

But the page, thinking it best to abide by the apology for his visit which the Lord Seyton had so aptly himself suggested, replied, “that to be assured of his lordship’s safety, had been the only cause of his intrusion. He judged,” he added, “he had seen him receive some hurt in the affray.”

“A trifle,” said Lord Seyton; “I had but stripped my doublet, that the chirurgeon might put some dressing on the paltry scratch, when these rash boys interrupted us with their clamour.”

Roland Graeme, making a low obeisance, was now about to depart, for, relieved from the danger of being treated as a spy, he began next to fear, that his companion, Adam Woodcock, whom he had so unceremoniously quitted, would either bring him into some farther dilemma, by venturing into the hotel in quest of him, or ride off and leave him behind altogether. But Lord Seyton did not permit him to escape so easily. “Tarry,” he said, “young man, and let me know thy rank and name. The Seyton has of late been more wont to see friends and followers shrink from his side, than to receive aid from strangers-but a new world may come around, in which he may have the chance of rewarding his well-wishers.”

“My name is Roland Graeme, my lord,” answered the youth, “a page, who, for the present, is in the service of Sir Halbert Glendinning.”

“I said so from the first,” said one of the young men; “my life I will wager, that this is a shaft out of the heretic’s quiver-a stratagem from first to last, to injeer into your confidence some espial of his own. They know how to teach both boys and women to play the intelligencers.”

“That is false, if it be spoken of me,” said Roland; “no man in Scotland should teach me such a foul part!”

“I believe thee, boy,” said Lord Seyton, “for thy strokes were too fair to be dealt upon an understanding with those that were to receive them. Credit me, however, I little expected to have help at need from one of your master’s household; and I would know what moved thee in my quarrel, to thine own endangering?”

“So please you, my lord,” said Roland, “I think my master himself would not have stood by, and seen an honourable man borne to earth by odds, if his single arm could help him. Such, at least, is the lesson we were taught in chivalry, at the Castle of Avenel.”

“The good seed hath fallen into good ground, young man,” said Seyton; “but, alas! if thou practise such honourable war in these dishonourable days, when right is every where borne down by mastery, thy life, my poor boy, will be but a short one.”

“Let it be short, so it be honourable,” said Roland Graeme; “and permit me now, my lord, to commend me to your grace, and to take my leave. A comrade waits with my horse in the street.”

“Take this, however, young man,” said Lord Seyton,23 undoing from his bonnet the golden chain and medal, “and wear it for my sake.”

With no little pride Roland Graeme accepted the gift, which he hastily fastened around his bonnet, as he had seen gallants wear such an ornament, and renewing his obeisance to the Baron, left the hall, traversed the court, and appeared in the street, just as Adam Woodcock, vexed and anxious at his delay, had determined to leave the horses to their fate, and go in quest of his youthful comrade. “Whose barn hast thou broken next?” he exclaimed, greatly relieved by his appearance, although his countenance indicated that he had passed through an agitating scene.

“Ask me no questions,” said Roland, leaping gaily on his horse; “but see how short time it takes to win a chain of gold,” pointing to that which he now wore.

“Now, God forbid that thou hast either stolen it, or reft it by violence,” said the falconer; “for, otherwise, I wot not how the devil thou couldst compass it. I have been often here, ay, for months at an end, and no one gave me either chain or medal.”

“Thou seest I have got one on shorter acquaintance with the city,” answered the page, “but set thine honest heart at rest; that which is fairly won and freely given, is neither reft nor stolen.”

“Marry, hang thee, with thy fanfarona 24 about thy neck!” said the falconer; “I think water will not drown, nor hemp strangle thee. Thou hast been discarded as my lady’s page, to come in again as my lord’s squire; and for following a noble young damsel into some great household, thou gettest a chain and medal, where another would have had the baton across his shoulders, if he missed having the dirk in his body. But here we come in front of the old Abbey. Bear thy good luck with you when you cross these paved stones, and, by our Lady, you may brag Scotland.”

As he spoke, they checked their horses, where the huge old vaulted entrance to the Abbey or Palace of Holyrood crossed the termination of the street down which they had proceeded. The courtyard of the palace opened within this gloomy porch, showing the front of an irregular pile of monastic buildings, one wing of which is still extant, forming a part of the modern palace, erected in the days of Charles I.

At the gate of the porch the falconer and page resigned their horses to the serving-man in attendance; the falconer commanding him with an air of authority, to carry them safely to the stables. “We follow,” he said, “the Knight of Avenel — We must bear ourselves for what we are here,” said he in a whisper to Roland, “for every one here is looked on as they demean themselves; and he that is too modest must to the wall, as the proverb says; therefore cock thy bonnet, man, and let us brook the causeway bravely.”

Assuming, therefore, an air of consequence, corresponding to what he supposed to be his master’s importance and quality, Adam Woodcock led the way into the courtyard of the Palace of Holyrood.

He appears to have been fond of the arts; for there exists a beautiful family-piece of him in the centre of his family. Mr. Pinkerton, in his Scottish Iconographia, published an engraving of this curious portrait. The original is the property of Lord Somerville, nearly connected with the Seton family, and is at present at his lordship’s fishing villa of the Pavilion, near Melrose.

23 George, fifth Lord Seton, was immovably faithful to Queen Mary during all the mutabilities of her fortune. He was grand master of the household, in which capacity he had a picture painted of himself, with his official baton, and the following motto:

In adversitate, patiens;

In prosperitate, benevolus.

Hazard, yet forward.

On various parts of his castle he inscribed, as expressing his religious and political creed, the legend:

Un Dieu, un Foy, un Roy, un Loy.

He declined to be promoted to an earldom, which Queen Mary offered him at the same time when she advanced her natural brother to be Earl of Mar, and afterwards of Murray.

On his refusing this honour, Mary wrote, or caused to be written, the following lines in Latin and French:

Sunt comites, ducesque alii; sunt denique reges;

Sethom dominum sit satis esse mihi.

Il y a des comptes, des roys, des ducs; ainsi

C’est assez pour moy d’estre Seigneur de Seton.

Which may be thus rendered:—

Earl, duke, or king, be thou that list to be:

Seton, thy lordship is enough for me.

This distich reminds us of the “pride which aped humility,” in the motto of the house of Couci:

Je suis ni roy, ni prince aussi;

Je suis le Seigneur de Coucy.

After the battle of Langside, Lord Seton was obliged to retire abroad for safety, and was an exile for two years, during which he was reduced to the necessity of driving a waggon in Flanders for his subsistence. He rose to favour in James VI’s reign, and assuming his paternal property, had himself painted in his waggoner’s dress, and in the act of driving a wain with four horses, on the north end of a stately gallery at Seton Castle

24 A name given to the gold chains worn by the military men of the period. It is of Spanish origin: for the fashion of wearing these costly ornaments was much followed amongst the conquerors of the New World.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29