The waning harvest-moon shone broad and bright,
The warder’s horn was heard at dead of night,
And while the portals-wide were flung,
With trampling hoofs the rocky pavement rung.
“And you, too, would be a soldier, Roland?” said the Lady of Avenel to her young charge, while, seated on a stone chair at one end of the battlements, she saw the boy attempt, with a long stick, to mimic the motions of the warder, as he alternately shouldered, or ported, or sloped pike.
“Yes, Lady,” said the boy — for he was now familiar, and replied to her questions with readiness and alacrity — “a soldier will I be; for there ne’er was gentleman but who belted him with the brand.”
“Thou a gentleman!” said Lilias, who, as usual, was in attendance; “such a gentleman as I would make of a bean-cod with a rusty knife.”
“Nay, chide him not, Lilias,” said the Lady of Avenel, “for, beshrew me, but I think he comes of gentle blood — see how it musters in his face at your injurious reproof.”
“Had I my will, madam,” answered Lilias, “a good birchen wand should make his colour muster to better purpose still.”
“On my word, Lilias,” said the Lady, “one would think you had received harm from the poor boy — or is he so far on the frosty side of your favour because he enjoys the sunny side of mine?”
“Over heavens forbode, my Lady!” answered Lilias; “I have lived too long with gentles, I praise my stars for it, to fight with either follies or fantasies, whether they relate to beast, bird, or boy.”
Lilias was a favourite in her own class, a spoiled domestic, and often accustomed to take more licence than her mistress was at all times willing to encourage. But what did not please the Lady of Avenel, she did not choose to hear, and thus it was on the present occasion. She resolved to look more close and sharply after the boy, who had hitherto been committed chiefly to the management of Lilias. He must, she thought, be born of gentle blood; it were shame to think otherwise of a form so noble, and features so fair; — the very wildness in which he occasionally indulged, his contempt of danger, and impatience of restraint, had in them something noble; — assuredly the child was born of high rank. Such was her conclusion, and she acted upon it accordingly. The domestics around her, less jealous, or less scrupulous than Lilias, acted as servants usually do, following the bias, and flattering, for their own purposes, the humour of the Lady; and the boy soon took on him those airs of superiority, which the sight of habitual deference seldom fails to inspire. It seemed, in truth, as if to command were his natural sphere, so easily did he use himself to exact and receive compliance with his humours. The chaplain, indeed, might have interposed to check the air of assumption which Roland Graeme so readily indulged, and most probably would have willingly rendered him that favour; but the necessity of adjusting with his brethren some disputed points of church discipline had withdrawn him for some time from the castle, and detained him in a distant part of the kingdom.
Matters stood thus in the castle of Avenel, when a winded bugle sent its shrill and prolonged notes from the shore of the lake, and was replied to cheerily by the signal of the warder. The Lady of Avenel knew the sounds of her husband, and rushed to the window of the apartment in which she was sitting. A band of about thirty spearmen, with a pennon displayed before them, winded along the indented shores of the lake, and approached the causeway. A single horseman rode at the head of the party, his bright arms catching a glance of the October sun as he moved steadily along. Even at that distance, the Lady recognized the lofty plume, bearing the mingled colours of her own liveries and those of Glendonwyne, blended with the holly-branch; and the firm seat and dignified demeanour of the rider, joined to the stately motion of the dark-brown steed, sufficiently announced Halbert Glendinning.
The Lady’s first thought was that of rapturous joy at her husband’s return — her second was connected with a fear which had sometimes intruded itself, that he might not altogether approve the peculiar distinction with which she had treated her orphan ward. In this fear there was implied a consciousness, that the favour she had shown him was excessive; for Halbert Glendinning was at least as gentle and indulgent, as he was firm and rational in the intercourse of his household; and to her in particular, his conduct had ever been most affectionately tender.
Yet she did fear, that, on the present occasion, her conduct might incur Sir Halbert’s censure; and hastily resolving that she would not mention, the anecdote of the boy until the next day, she ordered him to be withdrawn from the apartment by Lilias.
“I will not go with Lilias, madam,” answered the spoiled child, who had more than once carried his point by perseverance, and who, like his betters, delighted in the exercise of such authority — “I will not go to Lilias’s gousty room — I will stay and see that brave warrior who comes riding so gallantly along the drawbridge.”
“You must not stay, Roland,” said the Lady, more positively than she usually spoke to her little favourite.
“I will,” reiterated the boy, who had already felt his consequence, and the probable chance of success.
“You will, Roland!” answered the Lady, “what manner of word is that? I tell you, you must go.”
“Will,” answered the forward boy, “is a word for a man, and must is no word for a lady.”
“You are saucy, sirrah,” said the Lady —“Lilias, take him with you instantly.”
“I always thought,” said Lilias, smiling, as she seized the reluctant boy by the arm, “that my young master must give place to my old one.”
“And you, too, are malapert, mistress!” said the Lady; “hath the moon changed, that ye all of you thus forget yourselves?”
Lilias made no reply, but led off the boy, who, too proud to offer unavailing resistance, darted at his benefactress a glance, which intimated plainly, how willingly he would have defied her authority, had he possessed the power to make good his point.
The Lady of Avenel was vexed to find how much this trifling circumstance had discomposed her, at the moment when she ought naturally to have been entirely engrossed by her husband’s return. But we do not recover composure by the mere feeling that agitation is mistimed. The glow of displeasure had not left the Lady’s cheek, her ruffled deportment was not yet entirely composed, when her husband, unhelmeted, but still wearing the rest of his arms, entered the apartment. His appearance banished the thoughts of every thing else; she rushed to him, clasped his iron-sheathed frame in her arms, and kissed his martial and manly face with an affection which was at once evident and sincere. The warrior returned her embrace and her caress with the same fondness; for the time which had passed since their union had diminished its romantic ardour, perhaps, but it had rather increased its rational tenderness, and Sir Halbert Glendinning’s long and frequent absences from his castle had prevented affection from degenerating by habit into indifference.
When the first eager greetings were paid and received, the Lady gazed fondly on her husband’s face as she remarked, “You are altered, Halbert — you have ridden hard and far today, or you have been ill?”
“I have been well, Mary,” answered the Knight, “passing well have I been; and a long ride is to me, thou well knowest, but a thing of constant custom. Those who are born noble may slumber out their lives within the walls of their castles and manor-houses; but he who hath achieved nobility by his own deeds must ever be in the saddle, to show that he merits his advancement.”
While he spoke thus, the Lady gazed fondly on him, as if endeavouring to read his inmost soul; for the tone in which he spoke was that of melancholy depression.
Sir Halbert Glendinning was the same, yet a different person from what he had appeared in his early years. The fiery freedom of the aspiring youth had given place to the steady and stern composure of the approved soldier and skilful politician. There were deep traces of care on those noble features, over which each emotion used formerly to pass, like light clouds across a summer sky. That sky was now, not perhaps clouded, but still and grave, like that of the sober autumn evening. The forehead was higher and more bare than in early youth, and the locks which still clustered thick and dark on the warrior’s head, were worn away at the temples, not by age, but by the constant pressure of the steel cap, or helmet. His beard, according to the fashion of the time, grew short and thick, and was turned into mustaches on the upper lip, and peaked at the extremity. The cheek, weather-beaten and embrowned, had lost the glow of youth, but showed the vigorous complexion of active and confirmed manhood. Halbert Glendinning was, in a word, a knight to ride at a king’s right hand, to bear his banner in war, and to be his counsellor in time of peace; for his looks expressed the considerate firmness which can resolve wisely and dare boldly. Still, over these noble features, there now spread an air of dejection, of which, perhaps, the owner was not conscious, but which did not escape the observation of his anxious and affectionate partner.
“Something has happened, or is about to happen,” said the Lady of Avenel; “this sadness sits not on your brow without cause — misfortune, national or particular, must needs be at hand.”
“There is nothing new that I wot of,” said Halbert Glendinning; “but there is little of evil which can befall a kingdom, that may not be apprehended in this unhappy and divided realm.”
“Nay, then,” said the Lady, “I see there hath really been some fatal work on foot. My Lord of Murray has not so long detained you at Holyrood, save that he wanted your help in some weighty purpose.”
“I have not been at Holyrood, Mary,” answered the Knight; “I have been several weeks abroad.”
“Abroad! and sent me no word?” replied the Lady.
“What would the knowledge have availed, but to have rendered you unhappy, my love?” replied the Knight; “your thoughts would have converted the slightest breeze that curled your own lake, into a tempest raging in the German ocean.”
“And have you then really crossed the sea?” said the Lady, to whom the very idea of an element which she had never seen conveyed notions of terror and of wonder — “really left your own native land, and trodden distant shores, where the Scottish tongue is unheard and unknown?”
“Really, and really,” said the Knight, taking her hand in affectionate playfulness, “I have done this marvellous deed — have rolled on the ocean for three days and three nights, with the deep green waves dashing by the side of my pillow, and but a thin plank to divide me from it.”
“Indeed, my Halbert,” said the Lady, “that was a tempting of Divine Providence. I never bade you unbuckle the sword from your side, or lay the lance from your hand — I never bade you sit still when your honour called you to rise and ride; but are not blade and spear dangers enough for one man’s life, and why would you trust rough waves and raging seas?”
“We have in Germany, and in the Low Countries, as they are called,” answered Glendinning, “men who are united with us in faith, and with whom it is fitting we should unite in alliance. To some of these I was despatched on business as important as it was secret. I went in safety, and I returned in security; there is more danger to a man’s life betwixt this and Holyrood, than are in all the seas that wash the lowlands of Holland.”
“And the country, my Halbert, and the people,” said the Lady, “are they like our kindly Scots? or what bearing have they to strangers?”
“They are a people, Mary, strong in their wealth, which renders all other nations weak, and weak in those arts of war by which other nations are strong.”
“I do not understand you,” said the Lady.
“The Hollander and the Fleming, Mary, pour forth their spirit in trade, and not in war; their wealth purchases them the arms of foreign soldiers, by whose aid they defend it. They erect dikes on the sea-shore to protect the land which they have won, and they levy regiments of the stubborn Switzers and hardy Germans to protect the treasures which they have amassed. And thus they are strong in their weakness; for the very wealth which tempts their masters to despoil them, arms strangers in their behalf.”
“The slothful hinds!” exclaimed Mary, thinking and feeling like a Scotswoman of the period; “have they hands, and fight not for the land which bore them? They should be notched off at the elbow!”
“Nay, that were but hard justice,” answered her husband; “for their hands serve their country, though not in battle, like ours. Look at these barren hills, Mary, and at that deep winding vale by which the cattle are even now returning from their scanty browse. The hand of the industrious Fleming would cover these mountains with wood, and raise corn where we now see a starved and scanty sward of heath and ling. It grieves me, Mary, when I look on that land, and think what benefit it might receive from such men as I have lately seen — men who seek not the idle fame derived from dead ancestors, or the bloody renown won in modern broils, but tread along the land, as preservers and improvers, not as tyrants and destroyers.”
“These amendments would here be but a vain fancy, my Halbert,” answered the Lady of Avenel; “the trees would be burned by the English foemen, ere they ceased to be shrubs, and the grain that you raised would be gathered in by the first neighbour that possessed more riders than follow your train. Why should you repine at this? The fate that made you Scotsman by birth, gave you head, and heart, and hand, to uphold the name as it must needs be upheld.”
“It gave me no name to uphold,” said Halbert, pacing the floor slowly; “my arm has been foremost in every strife — my voice has been heard in every council, nor have the wisest rebuked me. The crafty Lethington, the deep and dark Morton, have held secret council with me, and Grange and Lindsay have owned, that in the field I did the devoir of a gallant knight — but let the emergence be passed when they need my head and hand, and they only know me as son of the obscure portioner of Glendearg.”
This was a theme which the Lady always dreaded; for the rank conferred on her husband, the favour in which he was held by the powerful Earl of Murray, and the high talents by which he vindicated his right to that rank and that favour, were qualities which rather increased than diminished the envy which was harboured against Sir Halbert Glendinning among a proud aristocracy, as a person originally of inferior and obscure birth, who had risen to his present eminence solely by his personal merit. The natural firmness of his mind did not enable him to despise the ideal advantages of a higher pedigree, which were held in such universal esteem by all with whom he conversed; and so open are the noblest minds to jealous inconsistencies, that there were moments in which he felt mortified that his lady should possess those advantages of birth and high descent which he himself did not enjoy, and regretted that his importance as the proprietor of Avenel was qualified by his possessing it only as the husband of the heiress. He was not so unjust as to permit any unworthy feelings to retain permanent possession of his mind, but yet they recurred from time to time, and did not escape his lady’s anxious observation.
“Had we been blessed with children,” she was wont on such occasions to say to herself, “had our blood been united in a son who might have joined my advantages of descent with my husband’s personal worth, these painful and irksome reflections had not disturbed our union even for a moment. But the existence of such an heir, in whom our affections, as well as our pretensions, might have centred, has been denied to us.”
With such mutual feelings, it cannot be wondered that it gave the Lady pain to hear her husband verging towards this topic of mutual discontent. On the present, as on other similar occasions, she endeavoured to divert the knight’s thoughts from this painful channel.
“How can you,” she said, “suffer yourself to dwell upon things which profit nothing? Have you indeed no name to uphold? You, the good and the brave, the wise in council, and the strong in battle, have you not to support the reputation your own deeds have won, a reputation more honourable than mere ancestry can supply? Good men love and honour you, the wicked fear, and the turbulent obey you; and is it not necessary you should exert yourself to ensure the endurance of that love, that honour, and wholesome fear, and that necessary obedience?”
As she thus spoke, the eye of her husband caught from hers courage and comfort, and it lightened as he took her hand and replied, “It is most true, my Mary, and I deserve thy rebuke, who forget what I am, in repining because I am not what I cannot be. I am now what the most famed ancestors of those I envy were, the mean man raised into eminence by his own exertions; and sure it is a boast as honourable to have those capacities which are necessary to the foundation of a family, as to be descended from one who possessed them some centuries before. The Hay of Loncarty, who bequeathed his bloody yoke to his lineage — the ‘dark gray man,’ who first founded the house of Douglas, had yet less of ancestry to boast than I have. For thou knowest, Mary, that my name derives itself from a line of ancient warriors, although my immediate forefathers preferred the humble station in which thou didst first find them; and war and counsel are not less proper to the house of Glendonwyne, even, in its most remote descendants, than to the proudest of their baronage.” 3
He strode across the hall as he spoke; and the Lady smiled internally to observe how much his mind dwelt upon the prerogatives of birth, and endeavoured to establish his claims, however remote, to a share in them, at the very moment when he affected to hold them in contempt. It will easily be guessed, however, that she permitted no symptom to escape her that could show she was sensible of the weakness of her husband, a perspicacity which perhaps his proud spirit could not very easily have brooked.
As he returned from the extremity of the hall, to which he had stalked while in the act of vindicating the title of the house of Glendonwyne in its most remote branches to the full privileges of aristocracy, “Where,” he said, “is Wolf? I have not seen him since my return, and he was usually the first to welcome my home-coming.”
“Wolf,” said the Lady, with a slight degree of embarrassment, for which perhaps, she would have found it difficult to assign any reason even to herself, “Wolf is chained up for the present. He hath been surly to my page.”
“Wolf chained up — and Wolf surly to your page!” answered Sir Halbert Glendinning; “Wolf never was surly to any one; and the chain will either break his spirit or render him savage — So ho, there — set Wolf free directly.”
He was obeyed; and the huge dog rushed into the hall, disturbing, by his unwieldy and boisterous gambols, the whole economy of reels, rocks, and distaffs, with which the maidens of the household were employed when the arrival of their lord was a signal to them to withdraw, and extracting from Lilias, who was summoned to put them again in order, the natural observation, “That the Laird’s pet was as troublesome as the lady’s page.”
“And who is this page, Mary?” said the Knight, his attention again called to the subject by the observation of the waiting-woman — “Who is this page, whom every one seems to weigh in the balance with my old friend and favourite, Wolf? — When did you aspire to the dignity of keeping a page, or who is the boy?”
“I trust, my Halbert,” said the Lady, not without a blush, “you will not think your wife entitled to less attendance than other ladies of her quality?”
“Nay, Dame Mary,” answered the Knight, “it is enough you desire such an attendant. — Yet I have never loved to nurse such useless menials — a lady’s page — it may well suit the proud English dames to have a slender youth to bear their trains from bower to hall, fan them when they slumber, and touch the lute for them when they please to listen; but our Scottish matrons were wont to be above such vanities, and our Scottish youth ought to be bred to the spear and the stirrup.”
“Nay, but, my husband,” said the Lady, “I did but jest when I called this boy my page; he is in sooth a little orphan whom we saved from perishing in the lake, and whom I have since kept in the castle out of charity. — Lilias, bring little Roland hither.”
Roland entered accordingly, and, flying to the Lady’s side, took hold of the plaits of her gown, and then turned round, and gazed with an attention not unmingled with fear, upon the stately form of the Knight. —“Roland,” said the Lady, “go kiss the hand of the noble Knight, and ask him to be thy protector.”— But Roland obeyed not, and, keeping his station, continued to gaze fixedly and timidly on Sir Halbert Glendinning. —“Go to the Knight, boy,” said the Lady; “what dost thou fear, child? Go, kiss Sir Halbert’s hand.”
“I will kiss no hand save yours, Lady,” answered the boy.
“Nay, but do as you are commanded, child,” replied the Lady. —“He is dashed by your presence,” she said, apologizing to her husband; “but is he not a handsome boy?”
“And so is Wolf,” said Sir Halbert, as he patted his huge four-footed favourite, “a handsome dog; but he has this double advantage over your new favourite, that he does what he is commanded, and hears not when he is praised.”
“Nay, now you are displeased with me,” replied the Lady; “and yet why should you be so? There is nothing wrong in relieving the distressed orphan, or in loving that which is in itself lovely and deserving of affection. But you have seen Mr. Warden at Edinburgh, and he has set you against the poor boy.”
“My dear Mary,” answered her husband, “Mr. Warden better knows his place than to presume to interfere either in your affairs or mine. I neither blame your relieving this boy, nor your kindness for him. But, I think, considering his birth and prospects, you ought not to treat him with injudicious fondness, which can only end in rendering him unfit for the humble situation to which Heaven has designed him.”
“Nay, but, my Halbert, do but look at the boy,” said the Lady, “and see whether he has not the air of being intended by Heaven for something nobler than a mere peasant. May he not be designed, as others have been, to rise out of a humble situation into honour and eminence?”
Thus far had she proceeded, when the consciousness that she was treading upon delicate ground at once occurred to her, and induced her to take the most natural, but the worst of all courses in such occasions, whether in conversation or in an actual bog, namely, that of stopping suddenly short in the illustration which she had commenced. Her brow crimsoned, and that of Sir Halbert Glendinning was slightly overcast. But it was only for an instant; for he was incapable of mistaking his lady’s meaning, or supposing that she meant intentional disrespect to him.
“Be it as you please, my love,” he replied; “I owe you too much to contradict you in aught which may render your solitary mode of life more endurable. Make of this youth what you will, and you have my full authority for doing so. But remember he is your charge, not mine — remember he hath limbs to do man’s service, a soul and a tongue to worship God; breed him, therefore, to be true to his country and to Heaven; and for the rest, dispose of him as you list — it is, and shall rest, your own matter.”
This conversation decided the fate of Roland Graeme, who from thence-forward was little noticed by the master of the mansion of Avenel, but indulged and favoured by its mistress.
This situation led to many important consequences, and, in truth, tended to bring forth the character of the youth in all its broad lights and deep shadows. As the Knight himself seemed tacitly to disclaim alike interest and control over the immediate favourite of his lady, young Roland was, by circumstances, exempted from the strict discipline to which, as the retainer of a Scottish man of rank, he would otherwise have been subjected, according to all the rigour of the age. But the steward, or master of the household — such was the proud title assumed by the head domestic of each petty baron — deemed it not advisable to interfere with the favourite of the Lady, and especially since she had brought the estate into the present family. Master Jasper Wingate was a man experienced, as he often boasted, in the ways of great families, and knew how to keep the steerage even when the wind and tide chanced to be in contradiction.
This prudent personage winked at much, and avoided giving opportunity for farther offence, by requesting little of Roland Graeme beyond the degree of attention which he was himself disposed to pay; rightly conjecturing, that however lowly the place which the youth might hold in the favour of the Knight of Avenel, still to make an evil report of him would make an enemy of the Lady, without securing the favour of her husband. With these prudential considerations, and doubtless not without an eye to his own ease and convenience, he taught the boy as much, and only as much, as he chose to learn, readily admitting whatever apology it pleased his pupil to allege in excuse for idleness or negligence. As the other persons in the castle, to whom such tasks were delegated, readily imitated the prudential conduct of the major-domo, there was little control used towards Roland Graeme, who, of course, learned no more than what a very active mind, and a total impatience of absolute idleness led him to acquire upon his own account, and by dint of his own exertions. The latter were especially earnest, when the Lady herself condescended to be his tutress, or to examine his progress.
It followed also from his quality as my Lady’s favourite, that Roland was viewed with no peculiar good-will by the followers of the Knight, many of whom, of the same age, and apparently similar origin, with the fortunate page, were subjected to severe observance of the ancient and rigorous discipline of a feudal retainer. To these, Roland Graeme was of course an object of envy, and, in consequence, of dislike and detraction; but the youth possessed qualities which it was impossible to depreciate. Pride, and a sense of early ambition, did for him what severity and constant instruction did for others. In truth, the youthful Roland displayed that early flexibility both of body and mind, which renders exercise, either mental or bodily, rather matter of sport than of study; and it seemed as if he acquired accidentally, and by starts, those accomplishments, which earnest and constant instruction, enforced by frequent reproof and occasional chastisement, had taught to others. Such military exercises, such lessons of the period, as he found it agreeable or convenient to apply to, he learned so perfectly, as to confound those who were ignorant how often the want of constant application is compensated by vivacity of talent and ardent enthusiasm. The lads, therefore, who were more regularly trained to arms, to horsemanship, and to other necessary exercises of the period, while they envied Roland Graeme the indulgence or negligence with which he seemed to be treated, had little reason to boast of their own superior acquirements; a few hours, with the powerful exertion of a most energetic will, seemed to do for him more than the regular instruction of weeks could accomplish for others.
Under these advantages, if, indeed, they were to be termed such, the character of young Roland began to develope itself. It was bold, peremptory, decisive, and overbearing; generous, if neither withstood nor contradicted; vehement and passionate, if censured or opposed. He seemed to consider himself as attached to no one, and responsible to no one, except his mistress, and even over her mind he had gradually acquired that species of ascendancy which indulgence is so apt to occasion. And although the immediate followers and dependents of Sir Halbert Glendinning saw his ascendancy with jealousy, and often took occasion to mortify his vanity, there wanted not those who were willing to acquire the favour of the Lady of Avenel by humouring and taking part with the youth whom she protected; for although a favourite, as the poet assures us, has no friend, he seldom fails to have both followers and flatterers.
The partisans of Roland Graeme were chiefly to be found amongst the inhabitants of the little hamlet on the shore of the lake. These villagers, who were sometimes tempted to compare their own situation with that of the immediate and constant followers of the Knight, who attended him on his frequent journeys to Edinburgh and elsewhere, delighted in considering and representing themselves as more properly the subjects of the Lady of Avenel than of her husband. It is true, her wisdom and affection on all occasions discountenanced the distinction which was here implied; but the villagers persisted in thinking it must be agreeable to her to enjoy their peculiar and undivided homage, or at least in acting as if they thought so; and one chief mode by which they evinced their sentiments, was by the respect they paid to young Roland Graeme, the favourite attendant of the descendant of their ancient lords. This was a mode of flattery too pleasing to encounter rebuke or censure; and the opportunity which it afforded the youth to form, as it were, a party of his own within the limits of the ancient barony of Avenel, added not a little to the audacity and decisive tone of a character, which was by nature bold, impetuous, and incontrollable.
Of the two members of the household who had manifested an early jealousy of Roland Graeme, the prejudices of Wolf were easily overcome; and in process of time the noble dog slept with Bran, Luath, and the celebrated hounds of ancient days. But Mr. Warden, the chaplain, lived, and retained his dislike to the youth. That good man, single-minded and benevolent as he really was, entertained rather more than a reasonable idea of the respect due to him as a minister, and exacted from the inhabitants of the castle more deference than the haughty young page, proud of his mistress’s favour, and petulant from youth and situation, was at all times willing to pay. His bold and free demeanour, his attachment to rich dress and decoration, his inaptitude to receive instruction, and his hardening himself against rebuke, were circumstances which induced the good old man, with more haste than charity, to set the forward page down as a vessel of wrath, and to presage that the youth nursed that pride and haughtiness of spirit which goes before ruin and destruction. On the other hand, Roland evinced at times a marked dislike, and even something like contempt, of the chaplain. Most of the attendants and followers of Sir Halbert Glendinning entertained the same charitable thoughts as the reverend Mr. Warden; but while Roland was favoured by their lady, and endured by their lord, they saw no policy in making their opinions public.
Roland Graeme was sufficiently sensible of the unpleasant situation in which he stood; but in the haughtiness of his heart he retorted upon the other domestics the distant, cold, and sarcastic manner in which they treated him, assumed an air of superiority which compelled the most obstinate to obedience, and had the satisfaction at least to be dreaded, if he was heartily hated.
The chaplain’s marked dislike had the effect of recommending him to the attention of Sir Halbert’s brother, Edward, who now, under the conventual appellation of Father Ambrose, continued to be one of the few monks who, with the Abbot Eustatius, had, notwithstanding the nearly total downfall of their faith under the regency of Murray, been still permitted to linger in the cloisters at Kennaquhair. Respect to Sir Halbert had prevented their being altogether driven out of the Abbey, though their order was now in a great measure suppressed, and they were interdicted the public exercise of their ritual, and only allowed for their support a small pension out of their once splendid revenues. Father Ambrose, thus situated, was an occasional, though very rare visitant, at the Castle of Avenel, and was at such times observed to pay particular attention to Roland Graeme, who seemed to return it with more depth of feeling than consisted with his usual habits.
Thus situated, years glided on, during which the Knight of Avenel continued to act a frequent and important part in the convulsions of his distracted country; while young Graeme anticipated, both in wishes and personal accomplishments, the age which should enable him to emerge from the obscurity of his present situation.
3 This was a house of ancient descent and superior consequence, including persons who fought at Bannockburn and Otterburn, and closely connected by alliance and friendship with the great Earls of Douglas. The Knight in this story argues as most Scotsmen would do in his situation, for all of the same clan are popularly considered as descended from the same stock, and as having a right to the ancestral honor of the chief branch. This opinion, though sometimes ideal, is so strong even at this day of innovation, that it may be observed as a national difference between my countrymen and the English. If you ask an Englishman of good birth, whether a person of the same name be connected with him, he answers (if in dubio.) “No — he is a mere namesake.” Ask a similar question of a Scot, (I mean a Scotsman,) he replies —“He is one of our clan; I daresay there is a relationship, though I do not know how distant.” The Englishman thinks of discountenancing a species of rivalry in society; the Scotsman’s answer is grounded on the ancient idea of strengthening the clan.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00