A Traditional Tale of
When Allan and his
daughter sat down to their homely breakfast, the morning presented a
pleasing contrast to the previous night. The sky was perfectly clear and
serene. Every mountain sparkled, and the earth had a peculiar freshness
diffused over its surface. The few clouds visible were at a great
elevation, and were hurrying away, as if not to leave a stain on the
transparent concave of heaven. There was little wind on the lower
regions, scarcely sufficient to ruffle the surface of a slumbering lake.
The dampness of the grass, the clay washed from the pebbles, and the
rivulet swollen and turbid, were the only relics of the tempest. The
weather continued beautifully serene, and when the sun was at its
height, one of the finest days was presented that ever graced this most
gorgeous month of the year.
It was about the middle of the day when Mary, who happened to look out,
perceived six armed troopers approaching. They were on foot, their
broadswords hanging at their sides, and carbines swung over their
shoulders. In addition to this, each had a couple of pistols stuck in
his belt. As soon as she saw them she ran in to her father with manifest
looks of alarm, and informed him of their approach. Allan could not help
feeling uneasy at this intelligence ; for the military were then
universally dreaded, and whenever a number were seen together, it was
almost always on some errand of destruction. He went to the door; but
just as he reached it the soldiers were on the point of entering. The
leader of this body he recognised to be the ferocious Captain Clobberton,
who had rendered himself universally infamous by his cruelties; and who,
it was reported, had in his career of persecution caused no less than
seventeen persons to be put to death, in cold blood, without even the
formality of a trial. He was one of the chief favourites of Dalzell, who
used to call him his "lamb." The man’s aspect did not belie his heart,
for it was fierce, lowering, and cruel. His companions, with a single
exception, seemed well suited to their leader, and fit instruments to
carry his bloody mandates into execution. Allan, when he confronted this
worthy agent of tyranny, turned back, followed by him and his crew into
"Shut the door, my dear chucks,” said Clobberton ; "we must have some
conversation with this godly man. So, Mr Hamilton, you have taken up
with that pious remnant : you have turned a psalm-singer, eh? Come,
don’t stare at me as if you saw an owl ; answer my question—yes or no. "
Allan looked at him with a steady eye. " Captain Clobberton, you have
asked me no question. I shall not scruple to answer anything which may
be justly commanded of me."
"Answer me, then, sir," continued the captain. " Were you not present at
the field-preaching near Lanark, when one of the king’s soldiers was
slain, in attempting with several others to disperse it? "
"I was not," answered Allan; "I never in my life attended a
"Or a conventicle?"
"Nor a conventicle either.”
"Do you mean to deny that you are one of that hypocritical set, who
preach their absurd and treasonable jargon in defiance of the law? In a
word, do you deny that you are one of
the sworn members of the Covenant?"
"I do deny it, stoutly.”
"Acknowledge it, and save your wretched life. Acknowledge it, or I will
confront you with a proof which will perhaps astonish you, and cost you
more than you are aware of. ”
"I will tell no untruth, even to save my life."
"Then on your own stupid head rest the consequences. Do you know one
Hervey, a preacher? "
"I do," said Allan, firmly.
"Ha, here it comes ! You have then spoken to that man, most godly
"I have spoken to him."
"He has been in your house?"
"I do not mean to deny that he has.”
"Has he not sung psalms in your house, and prayed in your house, and
lodged in your house? Eh? And was it not last night that these doings
were going on?"
“I will gainsay nothing of what you have said."
"Then Allan Hamilton," said the other, " I tell you plainly that you
have harboured a traitor ; and that unless you deliver him up, or tell
where he may be found, I shall hold you guilty
of treason, and punish you accordingly,"
"The Lord’s will be done," answered Hamilton, with a deep sigh. "What I
did was an act of common charity. The old man applied to me in his
distress; and it would have been cruel to have closed my door against
him. Wreak your will upon me as it pleases you. Where he has gone I know
not; and though I did know, I should hardly consider myself justified in
"Then we shall make short work with you," rejoined Clobberton with an
oath. "Ross, give him ten minutes to say his prayers, and then bind up
his eyes. It is needless to palaver with him. We have other jobs of a
like kind to manage to-day."
Here Mary, who stood in a corner listening with terrified heart, uttered
a loud scream when she heard her father’s doom pronounced. She rushed
forth into the middle of the room, and fell upon her knees before
"Oh, captain, do not slay my father! Take my life. It was my fault alone
that the old man was let into the house. My father refused to admit him.
Take my life and save his. I shall be his murderess if he die—for I
brought him into this trouble.”
She continued some moments in this attitude, gazing up at him with looks
of fear and entreaty, and clasping his knees. He had, however, been too
long accustomed to scenes of this afflicting nature to be much moved ;
and he extricated himself from the unhappy girl with brutal rudeness.
She fell speechless at his feet.
"Confound the wench ! Was there ever seen the like of it? She takes me
for one of your chicken-hearted milksops,—out of the way with the
He was about to lay rough hands upon her, when a trooper, stepping
forward, raised her gently up and placed her on a seat. This was the
only one of Clobberton's followers whose appearance was at all
indicative of humanity. He was a handsome and strongly-built young man
of six feet. His countenance was well formed; but its expression was
rather dissolute, and rendered stern, apparently by the prevalence of
some fierce internal passion. The marks of a generous heart were,
notwithstanding, imprinted upon its bold outlines; and whoever looked
upon him could not help thinking that his natural disposition had been
perverted by the wicked characters and scenes among which he was placed.
"Captain," said he, "I do not see the use of shooting this old fool. I
begin to feel that we have had a surfeit of this work. Besides, if what
the girl declares is correct, there is no great matter of treason in the
case. At all events, I would vote to leave the business to the
"Graham," said Clobberton, eyeing him sternly, "give me none of your
cursed whining palaver. What is your liver made of? When there is
anything in the way of justice to be done, you are as mealy and
cream-faced as if you saw the devil. A fine fellow to wear the king’s
uniform! If you say another word," added he, with a frightful oath,
"I’ll have you reported to the general!"
"Captain," said Graham, stepping modestly but firmly forward, "you may
speak of me as you please—you are my officer—(though neither you nor any
man of the regiment need be told that when my service was needed in real
danger, I was never behind); but I cannot stand by unmoved and see
downright butchery. If you have anything to urge against this man, let
him be brought to Edinburgh, and there tried by the commission, which
will punish him severely enough, in all conscience, if he be really
guilty. I have assisted in some of these murders ; but my conscience
tells me that I have done wrong ; and whatever the consequences be, I
shall assist at them no more."
"Ay," said Clobberton, "you are a pretty dainty fellow—fitter to strut
about in regimentals before wenches than behave like a man ; but, Mr
John Graham, let me tell you that your eloquence, instead of retarding,
has hastened the fate of this rascally traitor. And, let me tell you
farther, that on my arrival at headquarters, I shall have you arraigned
for mutiny and disobedience of orders. Ross, blindfold Hamilton and lead
His command was instantly executed; while Mary, in a fit of distraction,
flew up to her father, cast her arms round his neck, and kissed him with
the most heart-rending affliction.
"My father, my father, I am your murderess! I will die with you! Ye
cruel-hearted men, will none of you save him from this bloody death?”
"My dear Mary, may God protect you, and send you a happier lot than
mine," was all that the unhappy parent could articulate. He was then
torn from her with violence, and hurried out to the green before the
house. Mary, on this separation, fell into a short swoon ; on awakening
from which she found herself in the chamber with no one except Graham.
His face was flushed with anger, and he walked impatiently up and down.
By a sudden impulse she ran to the window, and the first sight which
caught her eye was her father kneeling down, and opposite to him the
four troopers, seemingly waiting for the signal of Clobberton, who
looked intently at his watch. At this terrifying spectacle, and in an
agony of desperation, she threw herself on her knees before the soldier.
"Young man …. young man, save my father’s life! Oh, try at least to save
him. I will love you, and work for you, and be your slave for ever.
Blessings on your kind heart, you will do it —yes, you will do it." And
she rose up and threw her arms round his neck, and kissed him on the
cheek. A tear rolled from Graham’s manly eye, and his soul was moved
with compassion for the lovely being who clung to him and implored him
so feelingly. He turned an instant to the window.
"Let me go, my dear-the accursed miscreant is putting up his watch and
has told them to present; there is not a second to lose."
Without saying another word, he unslung his carbine, rushed to the open
air—and shot Clobberton dead on the spot.
The troopers were confounded at this sudden action. They lowered the
weapons which they had that instant raised to their shoulders, and stood
for some time gazing confusedly at each other—then at Graham——then at
the body of their captain. When they recovered their self-possession,
they raised up the latter to see if any spark of life remained. He was
perfectly dead. The following colloquy then ensued between them.
Russell:—Why, I thinks as how he be dead.
Smith:—Dead! ay, as dead as Julius Caesar. I wonder what old Dalzell
will say when he hears of his dear " lamb" being butchered thus?
Russell: — Now hang it, Smith, don’t speak ill of the captain. He was a
worthy man—that is to say, after his own fashion; and no one ever served
his country better in the way of ridding it of crop-eared preachers: he
was worth a score of hangmen.
Ross:—Gentlemen, there is no occasion to stand jesting and talking
nonsense. Here is as pretty a piece of murder as ever was committed ;
and it remains for us to decide what we will do, first with the traitor,
Hamilton, and secondly with the murderer, Graham.
Graham:—Whatever you do with me, I hope you will not harm that poor man.
Let him go; and thus do a charitable action for once in your lives.
Russell:—I always, do you see, gentlemen, goes with the majority. Hang
it, shoot or not is all one to Dick Russell. If you make up your minds
to let him go scot-free, why, l’se not oppose it.
Jones:—Well, well, let him go and sing psalms in his own canting
The fact is, these men were getting sick of shedding innocent blood, and
although ready to spill more on being ordered, rather shunned it than
otherwise-- especially when their victims were unresisting.
"I see, comrades, you are agreed to let the old fool go unharmed," said
Ross. Then walking up to Allan, who still knelt—his daughter with her
arms around him, awaiting in terrible suspense the result of their
deliberation, "Get up," said he, "and bless your stars; but take care in
future of your treasonable Covenanting tricks under the cloak of
charity. It is not every day you will get a young fellow to shoot your
executioner and save your life. As for you, Graham," turning to his
companion, “I hold you prisoner. You must accompany us to headquarters,
and there take your trial for this business. You have committed a black
murder on the body of your officer; and if we failed to bring you up,
old Dalzell would have us shot like so many pyets the minute after."
Graham’s carbine and pistols were immediately taken from him, and his
hands tied behind his back by the remaining troopers.
"Farewell, young woman," said he to Mary, who looked at him with tears
of gratitude, "farewell! I have saved your father’s life and forfeited
my own: don’t forget Jack Graham."
The unfortunate girl was distracted at this heartrending sight; and she
rushed, forward to entreat his guards to give him liberty. One of them
presented his carbine at her—
"Off mistress; blast my heart, if it were not for your pretty face, I
would send an ounce of cold lead through you. What the devil—haven’t we
spared your fathers life, and you would have us connive at the escape of
a murderer, to the risk of our own necks!”
"Do not distress yourself about me, my sweet girl,” cried Graham—
“farewell once more!”
And she turned back weeping, while the troopers held their way forwards
the western outlets of the valley.
END OF CHAPTER II