"Hout, lassie," said the
wily Dame Seton to her daughter, "dinna blear your een wi` greeting.
What would honest Maister Binks say, if he were to come in the now, and
see you looking baith dull and dour? Dight your een, my bairn, and snood
back your hair—I’se warrant you’ll mak a bonnier bride than ony o’ your
"I carena whether I look bonny or no, since Willie winna see me," said
Mary, while her eyes filled with tears. " Oh, mother, ye have been ower
hasty in this matter; I canna help thinking he will come hame yet, and
make me his wife. lt’s borne in on my mind that Willie is no dead."
"Put awa such thoughts out o’ your head, lassie," answered her mother; "naebody
doubts but yoursel that the ship that he sailed in was whumelled ower in
the saut sea—what gars you threep he’s leeving that gate?"
"Ye ken, mother," answered Mary, " that when Willie gaed awa on that
wearifu’ voyage, ‘to mak the crown a pound,’ as the auld sang says, he
left a kist o’ his best elaes for me to tak care o’; for he said he
would keep a’ his braws for a day that’s no like to come, and that’s our
bridal. Now. ye ken it’s said, that as lang as the moths keep aff folk’s
claes, the owner o’ them is no dead,- so I e’en took a look o’ his bit
things the day, and there’s no a broken thread among them. "
"Ye had little to do to be howking among a dead man’s claes," said her
mother; "it was a bonny like job for a bride."
"But l’m no a bride,” answered Mary, sobbing. " How can ye hae the heart
to speak o’t, mother, and the year no out since I broke a ring wi’ my
ain Willie !—Weel hae I keepit my half o’t; and if Willie is in this
world, he’ll hae the other as surely."
"I trust poor Willie is in a better place” said the mother, trying to
sigh ; " and since it has been ordered sae, ye maun just settle your
mind to take honest Maister Binks ; he’s rich, Mary, my dear bairn, and
he'll let ye want for naethin."
"Riches canna buy true love," said Mary.
"But they can buy things that will last a hantle longer," responded the
wily mother; "so, Mary, ye maun tak him, if you would hae me die in
peace. Ye ken I can leave ye but little. The house and bit garden maun
gang to your brother, and his wife will mak him keep a close hand
;—she’ll soon let you see the cauld shouther. Poor relations are unco
little thought o’; so, lassie, as ye would deserve my benison dinna keep
simmering it and wintering it any longer, but take a gude offer when
it’s made ye.”
"I’ll no hae him till the year is out," cried Mary. " Wha kens but the
ship may cast up yet?”
"I fancy we’ll hae to gie
you your ain gate in this matter," replied the dame, " mair especially
as it wants but three weeks to the year, and we’ll need that to hae ye
cried in the kirk, and to get a’ your braws ready."
"Oh mother, mother, I wish ye would let me die,! ” was Mary’s answer, as
she flung herself down on her little bed.
Delighted at having extorted Mary’s consent to the marriage, Dame Seton
quickly conveyed the happy intelligence to her son-in-law elect a
wealthy burgess of Dunbar ; and, having invited Annot Cameron, Mary’s
cousin, to visit them, and assist her in cheering the sorrowful bride,
the preparations for the marriage proceeded in due form.
On the day before that appointed for the wedding, as the cousins sat
together, arranging the simple ornaments of the bridal dress, poor
Mary’s feelings could no longer be restrained, and her tears fell fast.
"Dear sake, Mary, gie ower greeting," said Annot ; "the bonny white
satin ribbon is wringing wet."
"Sing her a canty sang to keep up her heart,” said Dame Seton.
"I canna bide a canty sang the day, for there’s ane rinnin’ in my head
that my poor Willie made ae night as we sat beneath the rowan-tree outby
there, and when we thought we were to gang hand in hand through this
wearifu’ world," and Mary began to sing in a low voice.
At this moment the door of the dwelling opened, and a tall,
dark-complexioned woman entered, and saying, "My benison on a’ here,"
she seated herself close to the fire, and lighting her pipe, began to
smoke, to the great annoyance of Dame Seton.
"Gudewife," said she gruffly, "ye’re spoiling the lassie's gown, and
raising such a reek, so here’s an awmous to ye, and you’ll just gang
your ways, we’re unco thrang the day. ”
"Nae doubt,” rejoined the spaewife, "a bridal time is a. thrang time,
but it should be a heartsome ane too."
"And hae ye the ill-manners to say it’s otherwise?” retorted Dame Seton.
" Gang awa wi’ ye, without anither bidding ; ye’re making the lassie’s
braws as black as coom.”
"Will ye hae yer fortune spaed, my bonny May?” said the woman, as she
seized Mary’s hand.
"Na, na," answered Mary, "I ken it but ower weel already. ”
"You’ll be married soon, my bonny lassie," said the sibyl.
"Hech, sirs, that’s piper’s news, I trow," retorted the dame, with great
contempt; "can ye no tell us something better worth the hearing ?"
"Maybe I can," answered the spaewife. "What would you think if I were to
tell you that your daughter keeps the half o’ the gold ring she broke wi’
the winsome sailor lad near her heart by night and by day?”
"Get out o’ my house, ye tinkler!" cried Dame Seton, in wrath ; " we
want to hear nae such clavers.”
"Ye wanted news," retorted the fortune-teller; "and I trow l’ll gie ye
mair than you’ll like to hear. Hark ye, my bonnie lassie, ye’ll be
married soon, but no to Jamie Binks,—here’s an anchor in the palm of
your hand, as plain as a pikestaff”
"Awa wi’ ye, ye leein’ Egyptian that ye are," cried Dame Seton, "or I’ll
set the dog on you, and I’ll promise ye he’ll no leave ae dud on your
back to mend another. ”
"I wadna rede ye to middle wi’ me, Dame Seton," said the fortune-teller.
" And now, having said my say, and wishing ye a blithe bridal, I’ll just
be stepping awa ;" and ere another word was spoken, the gipsy had
crossed the threshold.
"I’ll no marry Jamie Binks,” cried Mary, wringing her hands; "send to
him, mother, and tell him sae."
"The sorrow take the lassie,” said Dame Seton; "would you make yoursel
and your friends a warld wonder, and a’ for the clavers o’ a leein’
Egyptian,—black be her fa’, that I should
"Oh, mother, mother! ” cried Mary, " how can I gie ae man my hand, when
another has my heart?"
"Troth, lassie," replied her mother, " a living joe is better than a
dead ane ony day. But whether Willie be dead or living, ye shall be
Jamie Binks’ wife the morn. Sae tak nae thought o’ that ill-deedy body’s
words, but gang ben the house and dry your een, and Annot will put the
last steek in your bonny white gown.”
With a heavy heart Mary saw the day arrive which was to seal her fate;
and while Dame Seton is bustling about, getting everything in order for
the ceremony, which was to be performed in the house, we shall take the
liberty of directing the attention of our readers to the outside
passengers of a stage-coach, advancing from the south, and rapidly
approaching Dunbar. Close behind the coachman was seated a middle-aged,
substantial-looking farmer, with a round, fat, good-humoured face, and
at his side was placed a handsome young sailor, whose frank and jovial
manner, and stirring tale of shipwreck and captivity, had pleasantly
beguiled the way.
"And what’s taking you to Dunbar the day, Mr Johnstone?" asked the
"Just a wedding, John,” answered the farmer. " My cousin, Jamie Binks,
is to be married the night.',
"He has been a wee ower lang about it," said the coachman.
"I’m thinking," replied the farmer, "it’s no the puir lassie’s fault
that the wedding hasna been put off langer; they say that bonny Mary has
little gude will to her new joe."
"What Mary is that you are speaking about? " asked the sailor.
"Oh, just bonny Mary Seton that’s to be married the night” answered the
"Whew!" cried the sailor, giving a long whistle.
"I doubt," said the farmer, "she’ll be but a waefu’ bride, for the sough
gangs that she hasna forgotten an auld joe; but ye see he was away, and
no likely to come back, and Jamie Binks is weel to pass in the world,
and the mother, they say, just made her life bitter till the puir lassie
was driven to say she would take him. It is no right in the mother, but
folks say she is a dour wife, and had aye an ee to the siller."
"Right!” exclaimed the young sailor, “she deserves the cat-o’-nine
“Whisht, whisht, laddie," said the farmer. "Preserve us! where is he
gaun?” he continued, as the youth sprung from the coach and struck
across , the fields.
"He’ll be taking the short cut to the town,” answered the coachman,
giving his horses the whip.
The coach whirled rapidly on, and the farmer was soon set down at Dame
Seton’s dwelling, where the whole of the bridal party was assembled,
waiting the arrival of the minister.
"I wish the minister would come,” said Dame Seton.
"We must open the window," answered Annot, "for Mary is like to swarf
This was accordingly done, and as Mary sat close by the window, and
gasping for breath, an unseen hand threw a small package into her lap.
"Dear sirs, Mary,” said Dame Seton, "Open up the bit parcel bairn; it
will be a present frae your Uncle Sandie ; it’s a queer way o’ gieing
it, but he ne’er does things like ony ither body." The bridal guests
gathered round Mary as she slowly undid fold after fold.
"Hech!" observed Dame Seton, "it maun be something very precious to be
in such sma’ bouk.” The words were scarcely uttered when the half of a
gold ring lay in Mary’s hand.
"Where has this come frae?" exclaimed Mary, wringing her hands. " Has
the dead risen to upbraid me?”
"No, Mary, but the living has come to claim you," cried the young
sailor, as he vaulted through the open window and caught her in his
"Oh, W'illie, Willie, where hae ye been a’ this weary time?" exclaimed
Mary, while the tears fell on her pale cheek.
"That’s a tale for another day," answered the sailor; "I can think of
nothing but joy while I hand you to my breast, which you will never
"There will be twa words to that bargain, my joe," retorted Dame Seton,
“ Let go my bairn, and gang awa wi’ ye; she’s trysted to be this honest
man’s wife, and his wife she shall be."
"Na, na, mistress," said the bride-groom, "l hae nae broo o’ wedding
another man’s joe: since Willie Fleming has her heart, he may e’en tak
her hand for me. "
"Gude save us," cried the farmer, shaking the young sailor by the hand,
" little did I ken wha I was speaking to on the top of the coach. I say,
guidwife," he continued, "ye maun just let Willie tak her; nae gude e’er
yet come o’ crossing true love."
"’Deed, that’s a truth," was answered by several bonny bridesmaids. Dame
Seton, being deserted by her allies, and finding the stream running so
strongly against her, at length gave an unwilling consent to the
marriage of the lovers, which was celebrated amidst general rejoicings;
and at the request of his bride, Willie, on his wedding-day, attired
himself in the clothes which the moths had so considerately spared for
the happy occasion.