The Fair Maid of Perth, by Walter Scott

Chapter 14

Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndesay,

Will you go the Hielands wi’ me?

Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndesay,

My bride and my darling to be?

Old Ballad.

A former chapter opened in the royal confessional; we are now to introduce our readers to a situation somewhat similar, though the scene and persons were very different. Instead of a Gothic and darkened apartment in a monastery, one of the most beautiful prospects in Scotland lay extended beneath the hill of Kinnoul, and at the foot of a rock which commanded the view in every direction sat the Fair Maid of Perth, listening in an attitude of devout attention to the instructions of a Carthusian monk, in his white gown and scapular, who concluded his discourse with prayer, in which his proselyte devoutly joined.

When they had finished their devotions, the priest sat for some time with his eyes fixed on the glorious prospect, of which even the early and chilly season could not conceal the beauties, and it was some time ere he addressed his attentive companion.

“When I behold,” he said at length, “this rich and varied land, with its castles, churches, convents, stately palaces, and fertile fields, these extensive woods, and that noble river, I know not, my daughter, whether most to admire the bounty of God or the ingratitude of man. He hath given us the beauty and fertility of the earth, and we have made the scene of his bounty a charnel house and a battlefield. He hath given us power over the elements, and skill to erect houses for comfort and defence, and we have converted them into dens for robbers and ruffians.”

“Yet, surely, my father, there is room for comfort,” replied Catharine, “even in the very prospect we look upon. Yonder four goodly convents, with their churches, and their towers, which tell the citizens with brazen voice that they should think on their religious duties; their inhabitants, who have separated themselves from the world, its pursuits and its pleasures, to dedicate themselves to the service of Heaven — all bear witness that, if Scotland be a bloody and a sinful land, she is yet alive and sensible to the claims which religion demands of the human race.”

“Verily, daughter,” answered the priest, “what you say seems truth; and yet, nearly viewed, too much of the comfort you describe will be found delusive. It is true, there was a period in the Christian world when good men, maintaining themselves by the work of their hands, assembled together, not that they might live easily or sleep softly, but that they might strengthen each other in the Christian faith, and qualify themselves to be teachers of the Word to the people. Doubtless there are still such to be found in the holy edifices on which we now look. But it is to be feared that the love of many has waxed cold. Our churchmen have become wealthy, as well by the gifts of pious persons as by the bribes which wicked men have given in their ignorance, imagining that they can purchase that pardon by endowments to the church which Heaven has only offered to sincere penitents. And thus, as the church waxeth rich, her doctrines have unhappily become dim and obscure, as a light is less seen if placed in a lamp of chased gold than beheld through a screen of glass. God knows, if I see these things and mark them, it is from no wish of singularity or desire to make myself a teacher in Israel; but because the fire burns in my bosom, and will not permit me to be silent. I obey the rules of my order, and withdraw not myself from its austerities. Be they essential to our salvation, or be they mere formalities, adopted to supply the want of real penitence and sincere devotion, I have promised, nay, vowed, to observe them; and they shall be respected by me the more, that otherwise I might be charged with regarding my bodily ease, when Heaven is my witness how lightly I value what I may be called on to act or suffer, if the purity of the church could be restored, or the discipline of the priesthood replaced in its primitive simplicity.”

“But, my father,” said Catharine, “even for these opinions men term you a Lollard and a Wickliffite, and say it is your desire to destroy churches and cloisters, and restore the religion of heathenesse.”

“Even so, my daughter, am I driven to seek refuge in hills and rocks, and must be presently contented to take my flight amongst the rude Highlanders, who are thus far in a more gracious state than those I leave behind me, that theirs are crimes of ignorance, not of presumption. I will not omit to take such means of safety and escape from their cruelty as Heaven may open to me; for, while such appear, I shall account it a sign that I have still a service to accomplish. But when it is my Master’s pleasure, He knows how willingly Clement Blair will lay down a vilified life upon earth, in humble hope of a blessed exchange hereafter. But wherefore dost thou look northward so anxiously, my child? Thy young eyes are quicker than mine — dost thou see any one coming?”

“I look, father, for the Highland youth, Conachar, who will be thy guide to the hills, where his father can afford thee a safe, if a rude, retreat. This he has often promised, when we spoke of you and of your lessons. I fear he is now in company where he will soon forget them.”

“The youth hath sparkles of grace in him,” said Father Clement; “although those of his race are usually too much devoted to their own fierce and savage customs to endure with patience either the restraints of religion or those of the social law. Thou hast never told me, daughter, how, contrary to all the usages either of the burgh or of the mountains, this youth came to reside in thy father’s house?”

“All I know touching that matter,” said Catharine, “is, that his father is a man of consequence among those hill men, and that he desired as a favour of my father, who hath had dealings with them in the way of his merchandise, to keep this youth for a certain time, and that it is only two days since they parted, as Conachar was to return home to his own mountains.”

“And why has my daughter,” demanded the priest, “maintained such a correspondence with this Highland youth, that she should know how to send for him when she desired to use his services in my behalf? Surely, this is much influence for a maiden to possess over such a wild colt as this youthful mountaineer.”

Catharine blushed, and answered with hesitation: “If I have had any influence with Conachar, Heaven be my witness, I have only exerted it to enforce upon his fiery temper compliance with the rules of civil life. It is true, I have long expected that you, my father, would be obliged to take to flight, and I therefore had agreed with him that he should meet me at this place as soon as he should receive a message from me with a token, which I yesterday despatched. The messenger was a lightfooted boy of his own clan, whom he used sometimes to send on errands into the Highlands.”

“And am I then to understand, daughter, that this youth, so fair to the eye, was nothing more dear to you than as you desired to enlighten his mind and reform his manners?”

“It is so, my father, and no otherwise,” answered Catharine; “and perhaps I did not do well to hold intimacy with him, even for his instruction and improvement. But my discourse never led farther.”

“Then have I been mistaken, my daughter; for I thought I had seen in thee of late some change of purpose, and some wishful regards looking back to this world, of which you were at one time resolved to take leave.”

Catharine hung down her head and blushed more deeply than ever as she said: “Yourself, father, were used to remonstrate against my taking the veil.”

“Nor do I now approve of it, my child,” said the priest. “Marriage is an honourable state, appointed by Heaven as the regular means of continuing the race of man; and I read not in the Scriptures what human inventions have since affirmed concerning the superior excellence of a state of celibacy. But I am jealous of thee, my child, as a father is of his only daughter, lest thou shouldst throw thyself away upon some one unworthy of thee. Thy parent, I know, less nice in thy behalf than I am, countenances the addresses of that fierce and riotous reveller whom they call Henry of the Wynd. He is rich it may be; but a haunter of idle and debauched company — a common prizefighter, who has shed human blood like water. Can such a one be a fit mate for Catharine Glover? And yet report says they are soon to be united.”

The Fair Maid of Perth’s complexion changed from red to pale, and from pale to red, as she hastily replied: “I think not of him; though it is true some courtesies have passed betwixt us of late, both as he is my father’s friend and as being according to the custom of the time, my Valentine.”

“Your Valentine, my child!” said Father Clement. “And can your modesty and prudence have trifled so much with the delicacy of your sex as to place yourself in such a relation to such a man as this artificer? Think you that this Valentine, a godly saint and Christian bishop, as he is said to have been, ever countenanced a silly and unseemly custom, more likely to have originated in the heathen worship of Flora or Venus, when mortals gave the names of deities to their passions; and studied to excite instead of restraining them?”

“Father,” said Catharine, in a tone of more displeasure than she had ever before assumed to the Carthusian, “I know not upon what ground you tax me thus severely for complying with a general practice, authorised by universal custom and sanctioned by my father’s authority. I cannot feel it kind that you put such misconstruction upon me.”

“Forgive me, daughter,” answered the priest, mildly, “if I have given you offence. But this Henry Gow, or Smith, is a forward, licentious man, to whom you cannot allow any uncommon degree of intimacy and encouragement, without exposing yourself to worse misconstruction — unless, indeed, it be your purpose to wed him, and that very shortly.”

“Say no more of it, my father,” said Catharine. “You give me more pain than you would desire to do; and I may be provoked to answer otherwise than as becomes me. Perhaps I have already had cause enough to make me repent my compliance with an idle custom. At any rate, believe that Henry Smith is nothing to me, and that even the idle intercourse arising from St. Valentine’s Day is utterly broken off.”

“I am rejoiced to hear it, my daughter,” replied the Carthusian, “and must now prove you on another subject, which renders me most anxious on your behalf. You cannot your self be ignorant of it, although I could wish it were not necessary to speak of a thing so dangerous, even, before these surrounding rocks, cliffs, and stones. But it must be said. Catharine, you have a lover in the highest rank of Scotland’s sons of honour?”

“I know it, father,” answered Catharine, composedly. “I would it were not so.”

“So would I also,” said the priest, “did I see in my daughter only the child of folly, which most young women are at her age, especially if possessed of the fatal gift of beauty. But as thy charms, to speak the language of an idle world, have attached to thee a lover of such high rank, so I know that thy virtue and wisdom will maintain the influence over the Prince’s mind which thy beauty hath acquired.”

“Father,” replied Catharine, “the Prince is a licentious gallant, whose notice of me tends only to my disgrace and ruin. Can you, who seemed but now afraid that I acted imprudently in entering into an ordinary exchange of courtesies with one of my own rank, speak with patience of the sort of correspondence which the heir of Scotland dares to fix upon me? Know that it is but two nights since he, with a party of his debauched followers, would have carried me by force from my father’s house, had I not been rescued by that same rash spirited Henry Smith, who, if he be too hasty in venturing on danger on slight occasion, is always ready to venture his life in behalf of innocence or in resistance of oppression. It is well my part to do him that justice.”

“I should know something of that matter,” said the monk, “since it was my voice that sent him to your assistance. I had seen the party as I passed your door, and was hastening to the civil power in order to raise assistance, when I perceived a man’s figure coming slowly towards me. Apprehensive it might be one of the ambuscade, I stepped behind the buttresses of the chapel of St. John, and seeing from a nearer view that it was Henry Smith, I guessed which way he was bound, and raised my voice, in an exhortation which made him double his speed.”

“I am beholden to you, father,” said Catharine; “but all this, and the Duke of Rothsay’s own language to me, only show that the Prince is a profligate young man, who will scruple no extremities which may promise to gratify an idle passion, at whatever expense to its object. His emissary, Ramorny, has even had the insolence to tell me that my father shall suffer for it if I dare to prefer being the wife of an honest man to becoming the loose paramour of a married prince. So I see no other remedy than to take the veil, or run the risk of my own ruin and my poor father’s. Were there no other reason, the terror of these threats, from a man so notoriously capable of keeping his word, ought as much to prevent my becoming the bride of any worthy man as it should prohibit me from unlatching his door to admit murderers. Oh, good father, what a lot is mine! and how fatal am I likely to prove to my affectionate parent, and to any one with whom I might ally my unhappy fortunes!”

“Be yet of good cheer, my daughter,” said the monk; “there is comfort for thee even in this extremity of apparent distress. Ramorny is a villain, and abuses the ear of his patron. The Prince is unhappily a dissipated and idle youth; but, unless my grey hairs have been strangely imposed on, his character is beginning to alter. He hath been awakened to Ramorny’s baseness, and deeply regrets having followed his evil advice. I believe, nay, I am well convinced, that his passion for you has assumed a nobler and purer character, and that the lessons he has heard from me on the corruptions of the church and of the times will, if enforced from your lips, sink deeply into his heart, and perhaps produce fruits for the world to wonder as well as rejoice at. Old prophecies have said that Rome shall fall by the speech of a woman.”

“These are dreams, father,” said Catharine —“the visions of one whose thoughts are too much on better things to admit his thinking justly upon the ordinary affairs of Perth. When we have looked long at the sun, everything else can only be seen indistinctly.”

“Thou art over hasty, my daughter,” said Clement, “and thou shalt be convinced of it. The prospects which I am to open to thee were unfit to be exposed to one of a less firm sense of virtue, or a more ambitious temper. Perhaps it is not fit that, even to you, I should display them; but my confidence is strong in thy wisdom and thy principles. Know, then, that there is much chance that the Church of Rome will dissolve the union which she has herself formed, and release the Duke of Rothsay from his marriage with Marjory Douglas.”

Here he paused.

“And if the church hath power and will to do this,” replied the maiden, “what influence can the divorce of the Duke from his wife produce on the fortunes of Catharine Glover?”

She looked at the priest anxiously as she spoke, and he had some apparent difficulty in framing his reply, for he looked on the ground while he answered her.

“What did beauty do for Catharine Logie? Unless our fathers have told us falsely, it raised her to share the throne of David Bruce.”

“Did she live happy or die regretted, good father?” asked Catharine, in the same calm and steady tone.

“She formed her alliance from temporal, and perhaps criminal, ambition,” replied Father Clement; “and she found her reward in vanity and vexation of spirit. But had she wedded with the purpose that the believing wife should convert the unbelieving, or confirm the doubting, husband, what then had been her reward? Love and honour upon earth, and an inheritance in Heaven with Queen Margaret and those heroines who have been the nursing mothers of the church.”

Hitherto Catharine had sat upon a stone beside the priest’s feet, and looked up to him as she spoke or listened; but now, as if animated by calm, yet settled, feelings of disapprobation, she rose up, and, extending her hand towards the monk as she spoke, addressed him with a countenance and voice which might have become a cherub, pitying, and even as much as possible sparing, the feelings of the mortal whose errors he is commissioned to rebuke.

“And is it even so?” she said, “and can so much of the wishes, hopes, and prejudices of this vile world affect him who may be called tomorrow to lay down his life for opposing the corruptions of a wicked age and backsliding priesthood? Can it be the severely virtuous Father Clement who advises his child to aim at, or even to think of, the possession of a throne and a bed which cannot become vacant but by an act of crying injustice to the present possessor? Can it be the wise reformer of the church who wishes to rest a scheme, in itself so unjust, upon a foundation so precarious? Since when is it, good father, that the principal libertine has altered his morals so much, to be likely to court in honourable fashion the daughter of a Perth artisan? Two days must have wrought this change; for only that space has passed since he was breaking into my father’s house at midnight, with worse mischief in his mind than that of a common robber. And think you that, if Rothsay’s heart could dictate so mean a match, he could achieve such a purpose without endangering both his succession and his life, assailed by the Douglas and March at the same time, for what they must receive as an act of injury and insult to both their houses? Oh! Father Clement, where was your principle, where your prudence, when they suffered you to be bewildered by so strange a dream, and placed the meanest of your disciples in the right thus to reproach you?”

The old man’s eyes filled with tears, as Catharine, visibly and painfully affected by what she had said, became at length silent.

“By the mouths of babes and sucklings,” he said, “hath He rebuked those who would seem wise in their generation. I thank Heaven, that hath taught me better thoughts than my own vanity suggested, through the medium of so kind a monitress. Yes, Catharine, I must not hereafter wonder or exclaim when I see those whom I have hitherto judged too harshly struggling for temporal power, and holding all the while the language of religious zeal. I thank thee, daughter, for thy salutary admonition, and I thank Heaven that sent it by thy lips, rather than those of a stern reprover.”

Catharine had raised her head to reply, and bid the old man, whose humiliation gave her pain, be comforted, when her eyes were arrested by an object close at hand. Among the crags and cliffs which surrounded this place of seclusion, there were two which stood in such close contiguity, that they seemed to have been portions of the same rock, which, rendered by lightning or by an earthquake, now exhibited a chasm of about four feet in breadth, betwixt the masses of stone. Into this chasm an oak tree had thrust itself, in one of the fantastic frolics which vegetation often exhibits in such situations. The tree, stunted and ill fed, had sent its roots along the face of the rock in all directions to seek for supplies, and they lay like military lines of communication, contorted, twisted, and knotted like the immense snakes of the Indian archipelago. As Catharine’s look fell upon the curious complication of knotty branches and twisted roots, she was suddenly sensible that two large eyes were visible among them, fixed and glaring at her, like those of a wild animal in ambush. She started, and, without speaking, pointed out the object to her companion, and looking herself with more strict attention, could at length trace out the bushy red hair and shaggy beard, which had hitherto been concealed by the drooping branches and twisted roots of the tree.

When he saw himself discovered, the Highlander, for such he proved, stepped forth from his lurking place, and, stalking forward, displayed a colossal person, clothed in a purple, red, and green checked plaid, under which he wore a jacket of bull’s hide. His bow and arrows were at his back, his head was bare, and a large quantity of tangled locks, like the glibbs of the Irish, served to cover the head, and supplied all the purposes of a bonnet. His belt bore a sword and dagger, and he had in his hand a Danish pole axe, more recently called a Lochaber axe. Through the same rude portal advanced, one by one, four men more, of similar size, and dressed and armed in the same manner.

Catharine was too much accustomed to the appearance of the inhabitants of the mountains so near to Perth to permit herself to be alarmed, as another Lowland maiden might have been on the same occasion. She saw with tolerable composure these gigantic forms arrange themselves in a semicircle around and in front of the monk and herself, all bending upon them in silence their large fixed eyes, expressing, as far as she could judge, a wild admiration of her beauty. She inclined her head to them, and uttered imperfectly the usual words of a Highland salutation. The elder and leader of the party returned the greeting, and then again remained silent and motionless. The monk told his beads; and even Catharine began to have strange fears for her personal safety, and anxiety to know whether they were to consider themselves at personal freedom. She resolved to make the experiment, and moved forward as if to descend the hill; but when she attempted to pass the line of Highlanders, they extended their poleaxes betwixt each other, so as effectually to occupy each opening through which she could have passed.

Somewhat disconcerted, yet not dismayed, for she could not conceive that any evil was intended, she sat down upon one of the scattered fragments of rock, and bade the monk, standing by her side, be of good courage.

“If I fear,” said Father Clement, “it is not for myself; for whether I be brained with the axes of these wild men, like an ox when, worn out by labour, he is condemned to the slaughter, or whether I am bound with their bowstrings, and delivered over to those who will take my life with more cruel ceremony, it can but little concern me, if they suffer thee, dearest daughter, to escape uninjured.”

“We have neither of us,” replied the Maiden of Perth, “any cause for apprehending evil; and here comes Conachar to assure us of it.”

Yet, as she spoke, she almost doubted her own eyes; so altered were the manner and attire of the handsome, stately, and almost splendidly dressed youth who, springing like a roebuck from a cliff of considerable height, lighted just in front of her. His dress was of the same tartan worn by those who had first made their appearance, but closed at the throat and elbows with a necklace and armlets of gold. The hauberk which he wore over his person was of steel, but so clearly burnished that it shone like silver. His arms were profusely ornamented, and his bonnet, besides the eagle’s feather marking the quality of chief, was adorned with a chain of gold, wrapt several times around it, and secured by a large clasp, glistening with pearls. His brooch, by which the tartan mantle, or plaid, as it is now called, was secured on the shoulder, was also of gold, large and curiously carved. He bore no weapon in his hand, excepting a small sapling stick with a hooked head. His whole appearance and gait, which used formerly to denote a sullen feeling of conscious degradation, was now bold, forward, and haughty; and he stood before Catharine with smiling confidence, as if fully conscious of his improved appearance, and waiting till she should recognise him.

“Conachar,” said Catharine, desirous to break this state of suspense, “are these your father’s men?”

“No, fair Catharine,” answered the young man. “Conachar is no more, unless in regard to the wrongs he has sustained, and the vengeance which they demand. I am Ian Eachin MacIan, son to the chief of the Clan Quhele. I have moulted my feathers, as you see, when I changed my name. And for these men, they are not my father’s followers, but mine. You see only one half of them collected: they form a band consisting of my foster father and eight sons, who are my bodyguard, and the children of my belt, who breathe but to do my will. But Conachar,” he added, in a softer tone of voice, “lives again so soon as Catharine desires to see him; and while he is the young chief of the Clan Quhele to all others, he is to her as humble and obedient as when he was Simon Glover’s apprentice. See, here is the stick I had from you when we nutted together in the sunny braes of Lednoch, when autumn was young in the year that is gone. I would not exchange it, Catharine, for the truncheon of my tribe.”

While Eachin thus spoke, Catharine began to doubt in her own mind whether she had acted prudently in requesting the assistance of a bold young man, elated, doubtless, by his sudden elevation from a state of servitude to one which she was aware gave him extensive authority over a very lawless body of adherents.

“You do not fear me, fair Catharine?” said the young chief, taking her hand. “I suffered my people to appear before you for a few minutes, that I might see how you could endure their presence; and methinks you regarded them as if you were born to be a chieftain’s wife.”

“I have no reason to fear wrong from Highlanders,” said Catharine, firmly; “especially as I thought Conachar was with them. Conachar has drunk of our cup and eaten of our bread; and my father has often had traffic with Highlanders, and never was there wrong or quarrel betwixt him and them.”

“No?” replied Hector, for such is the Saxon equivalent for Eachin, “what! never when he took the part of the Gow Chrom (the bandy legged smith) against Eachin MacIan? Say nothing to excuse it, and believe it will be your own fault if I ever again allude to it. But you had some command to lay upon me; speak, and you shall be obeyed.”

Catharine hastened to reply; for there was something in the young chief’s manner and language which made her desire to shorten the interview.

“Eachin,” she said, “since Conachar is no longer your name, you ought to be sensible that in claiming, as I honestly might, a service from my equal, I little thought that I was addressing a person of such superior power and consequence. You, as well as I, have been obliged to the religious instruction of this good man. He is now in great danger: wicked men have accused him with false charges, and he is desirous to remain in safety and concealment till the storm shall pass away.”

“Ha! the good clerk Clement! Ay, the worthy clerk did much for me, and more than my rugged temper was capable to profit by. I will be glad to see any one in the town of Perth persecute one who hath taken hold of MacIan’s mantle!”

“It may not be safe to trust too much to that,” said Catharine. “I nothing doubt the power of your tribe; but when the Black Douglas takes up a feud, he is not to be scared by the shaking of a Highland plaid.”

The Highlander disguised his displeasure at this speech with a forced laugh.

“The sparrow,” he said, “that is next the eye seems larger than the eagle that is perched on Bengoile. You fear the Douglasses most, because they sit next to you. But be it as you will. You will not believe how wide our hills, and vales, and forests extend beyond the dusky barrier of yonder mountains, and you think all the world lies on the banks of the Tay. But this good clerk shall see hills that could hide him were all the Douglasses on his quest — ay, and he shall see men enough also to make them glad to get once more southward of the Grampians. And wherefore should you not go with the good man? I will send a party to bring him in safety from Perth, and we will set up the old trade beyond Loch Tay — only no more cutting out of gloves for me. I will find your father in hides, but I will not cut them, save when they are on the creatures’ backs.”

“My father will come one day and see your housekeeping, Conachar — I mean, Hector. But times must be quieter, for there is feud between the townspeople and the followers of the noblemen, and there is speech of war about to break out in the Highlands.”

“Yes, by Our Lady, Catharine! and were it not for that same Highland war, you should nor thus put off your Highland visit, my pretty mistress. But the race of the hills are no longer to be divided into two nations. They will fight like men for the supremacy, and he who gets it will deal with the King of Scotland as an equal, not as a superior. Pray that the victory may fall to MacIan, my pious St. Catharine, for thou shalt pray for one who loves thee dearly.”

“I will pray for the right,” said Catharine; “or rather, I will pray that there be peace on all sides. Farewell, kind and excellent Father Clement. Believe I shall never forget thy lessons; remember me in thy prayers. But how wilt thou be able to sustain a journey so toilsome?”

“They shall carry him if need be,” said Hector, “if we go far without finding a horse for him. But you, Catharine — it is far from hence to Perth. Let me attend you thither as I was wont.”

“If you were as you were wont, I would not refuse your escort. But gold brooches and bracelets are perilous company, when the Liddesdale and Annandale lancers are riding as throng upon the highway as the leaves at Hallowmass; and there is no safe meeting betwixt Highland tartans and steel jackets.”

She hazarded this remark, as she somewhat suspected that, in casting his slough, young Eachin had not entirely surmounted the habits which he had acquired in his humbler state, and that, though he might use bold words, he would not be rash enough to brave the odds of numbers, to which a descent into the vicinity of the city would be likely to expose him. It appeared that she judged correctly; for, after a farewell, in which she compounded for the immunity of her lips by permitting him to kiss her hand, she returned towards Perth, and could obtain at times, when she looked back, an occasional glance of the Highlanders, as, winding through the most concealed and impracticable paths, they bent their way towards the North.

She felt in part relieved from her immediate anxiety, as the distance increased betwixt her and these men, whose actions were only directed by the will of their chief, and whose chief was a giddy and impetuous boy. She apprehended no insult on her return to Perth from the soldiery of any party whom she might meet; for the rules of chivalry were in those days a surer protection to a maiden of decent appearance than an escort of armed men, whose cognizance might not be acknowledged as friendly by any other party whom they might chance to encounter. But more remote dangers pressed on her apprehension. The pursuit of the licentious Prince was rendered formidable by threats which his unprincipled counsellor, Ramorny, had not shunned to utter against her father, if she persevered in her coyness. These menaces, in such an age, and from such a character, were deep grounds for alarm; nor could she consider the pretensions to her favour which Conachar had scarce repressed during his state of servitude, and seemed now to avow boldly, as less fraught with evil, since there had been repeated incursions of the Highlanders into the very town of Perth, and citizens had, on more occasions than one, been made prisoners and carried off from their own houses, or had fallen by the claymore in the very streets of their city. She feared, too, her father’s importunity on behalf of the smith, of whose conduct on St. Valentine’s Day unworthy reports had reached her; and whose suit, had he stood clear in her good opinion, she dared not listen to, while Ramorny’s threats of revenge upon her father rung on her ear. She thought on these various dangers with the deepest apprehension, and an earnest desire to escape from them and herself, by taking refuge in the cloister; but saw no possibility of obtaining her father’s consent to the only course from which she expected peace and protection.

In the course of these reflections, we cannot discover that she very distinctly regretted that her perils attended her because she was the Fair Maid of Perth. This was one point which marked that she was not yet altogether an angel; and perhaps it was another that, in despite of Henry Smith’s real or supposed delinquencies, a sigh escaped from her bosom when she thought upon St. Valentine’s dawn.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00