The morning stars were twinkling
The cock but thrice did craw,
When our guid laird rode owre the hill,
In wedding suit sae braw.
And aye he clapped his ain brown
That she her feet micht ply;
And aye he crooned a canty air:
"A happy man am I."
"Oh! a happy man am I," quo’ he,
"As e’er was blest or born!"
And owre the hill he rode in glee,
Upon his weddin morn.
Now ane by ane the stars gaed
And birds began to sing;
And a’ the air became a shout
Of music on the wing.
His cheek was flushed, but it grew
Before the stars returned,
And music was a maniac’s wail
Where desolation mourned.
For vainly whimpered he a catch,
And vainly did he ride:
‘Twas but to see another snatch
Away his bonny bride!
It had been long understood
that the lovely Mary Robertson was to become the wife of a rich bachelor,
of ripe middle age, named Mr. Cuthbertson. Their wedding-day, indeed, had
been long fixed by her father and wooer, and its eve had arrived. But, on
that day, she secretly gave her hand to Henry Walton.
On the evening preceding
the day appointed for his marriage, Mr Cuthbertson came smiling through
Burnpath, patting the shaggy neck of his companion. He appeared to sit
lighter on his saddle than usual; and the glad creature, either
participating in his joy, or grateful for the termination of its journey,
ambled and affected all the importance of a
"Courser of the Ukraine
The rider had laid aside his
fashionable blacks. Stopping in the passage, and casting off what was
rather a warm than a fashionable roquelaire, he displayed a coat of
superfine Saxony blue; which, upon a body of better proportions, would, in
those days, have purchased immortality for the most fashionable tailor in
Bond Street. Beneath appeared a waistcoat white as the driven snow,
adorned with ornamental
mother-of-pearls, and unbuttoning his overalls, a pair of
"Lean and slippered
were discovered, of the
same consistency and hue as his coat. Thus prepared, after smoothing back
his hair from his forehead, and adjusting his cravat, the joyous
bridegroom made one stride to the parlour-door.
We know not how our
unfortunate progenitor looked in Paradise, when questioned—"Adam what hast
thou done?" but, certainly, not less horror-stricken was our well dressed
lover, when his next step brought him in front of his lovely bride; with
her arms thrown around the neck, and her face, bathed in tears, buried in
the bosom of Henry Walton. His mouth opened to its utmost width. His large
eyes became still larger; they strained forward from their sockets, ready
to leap on the devoted pair. His clenched hands were raised, and in
contact with the roof. The shaking began in his heart, and his knees
caught the contagion. Every joint appeared under the power of electricity,
and communicated its influence to the furniture in the room. The quivering
vibrations of his whole person resembled a wire suspended from the
ceiling, and struck by an instrument, which gave forth one sepulchral
sound; and, with a loud, deep groan, his tall figure fell insensible on
Mary groaned also, and
endeavoured to raise him, but could not. Henry sprang to his assistance,
and lifting him from the ground, placed him upon the sofa. For a time his
bones seemed melted, and his joints out of their place. At length his eyes
began to roll—his teeth grated together—he threw out his two clenched
hands furiously—tore open his spotless vest, and rending it in frenzy, the
unfortunate mother-of-pearls followed the fragment, and were driven across
the room. The destruction of his costly Marseilles recalled a
portion of his scattered senses: he gave a piteous glance at his breast,
to see the rend "his envious fingers made;" then turning his eyes upon
Henry, who still bent over him, he uttered a loud yell; thrust his fingers
in the throat of his rival, as a tiger springs upon its prey; and, in a
moment, darted to his feet. Cuthbertson was, at no time, deficient in
physical strength; and now, aided by frenzy, his grasp was the dying gripe
of a giant, Henry, who was unprepared for the attack, became black in the
strangling hold of his antagonist. Mary, recalled to a consciousness of
her situation by the conflict, screamed for assistance, supplicated and
threatened, but in vain. At that moment, her father returned from
Edinburgh. As soon as his astonishment admitted of words, he mingled his
inquiries, entreaties, and threats, with his daughter’s. Cuthbertson’s
eyes gloated with indignation; his teeth gnashed, he uttered short, thick
screams, and his fingers yet clung to the throat of his opponent. Henry,
however, who though less in stature, inherited the gigantic strength of
his father, and the skill of a wrestler, threw his arms around his man,
fixed his knuckles into the most susceptible part of his back, and raising
his foot to his knee, hurled him to the earth, with a violence that seemed
to shake the very walls of the Manse.
In a moment, Cuthbertson
was again upon his feet, "weeping, wailing, and gnashing his teeth." Henry
stood by Mary’s side.
"Mary," said her father,
"tell me the cause of this unseemly scene—that, on my return, instead of
the sounds of joy and rejoicing, I hear wrath and profane language, and,
behold, my best friends tear each other as wild beasts!"
Mary was silent; she
glanced at Henry, and clung to his side for protection.
"O sir! sir!" exclaimed Mr.
Cuthbertson—"we are ruined—lost——undone! The villain!—the monster!—the
seducer!—has torn from me the pride o’ my heart, and the delight o’ my een!
He has turned the house o’ joy into shame, and the bridal sang to
lamentation! O Mr Robertson, what’s to be dune noo? Mary, Mary, woman! wha
wad hae thocht this o’ you?"
Mr. Robertson’s blood
chilled in his veins; his flesh grew cold upon his bones; an icy sweat
burst from his forehead; anger and sorrow kindled in his face. He looked
upon his daughter with a blighting frown. It was the first she had ever
seen upon his mild features. His tongue faltered; he said, "Mary!" as if
an accusing spirit from the grave had spoken it; and the frown blackened
on his countenance. She heard her name as she had never before heard it
from a parent’s lips. She beheld his look of anguish and of scorn—the tear
and the curse meeting in a father’s heart for his own child! She uttered a
self-accusing groan, and fell lifeless at his feet.
Janet Gray, the aged
houskeeper, and who had been Mary’s nurse, entered with the maid-servant,
and carried her to her room. Her father turned with an upbraiding look
toward Henry, and said—
"Mr. Walton, as an injured
man and a mourning parent, I demand from you the explanation of
circumstances which, I fear, have brought dishonour upon my house and
shame upon my grey hairs! Tell me—tell an agonized father— was your heart
so void of mercy and of gratitude, as to ruin the bosom that saved you
from destruction? Answer me, Henry Walton!—I conjure you as in the
presence of your Maker—remove my fears, or seal my misery."
"It is your own deed!"
exclaimed Henry bitterly, "I loved your daughter. I would have fled from
your house for ever. You--you withheld me! and my soul grew mad with love.
I would still have fled, have buried me in the deep from which she
snatched me; but I could not rule destiny. She loved me—only me.
She is mine! Your daughter cannot wed that man."
Mr. Robertson seemed
smitten by a voice from heaven; he wrung his hands—threw himself back in
despair, and wept.
"Canna marry me!" cried Mr.
Cuthbertson—"she shall marry me! And on you, ye sacrilegious dyvour, I’ll
have satisfaction, if satisfaction can be had in the three kingdoms, for
baith heaven and earth will rise up and battle upon my side!"
"Sir," said Henry, "in
sympathy for your feelings, I forgive those epithets. If I have robbed you
of her hand, I have not of her affections—they were never yours. But I
will not withhold from you the satisfaction you demand; and, to-morrow, or
this hour, I shall be ready to offer you such reparation as a gentleman
"Then," cried Mr.
Cuthberson, who understood him literally, "renounce my bride for ever; and
restore her to my heart—if a gentleman can do that—restore her spotless as
a lily opening to the spring."
"Henry Walton," said Mr.
Robertson, rising with apparent composure, "you have rendered this a house
of shame, but it shall not be a house of blood. Such language may be
fitting for the world, but not for the presence of a minister of peace.
This moment leave my roof; and may Heaven change your heart, and forgive
Thus saying, he took his
hand, and led him to the door. Henry offered not to resist or expostulate,
and bending a proud farewell, the doors of Burnpath Manse closed on him
Mr. Cuthbertson now relieved of his
rival’s presence, took out his tobacco box, pulled a chair to the fire,
ordered a pipe threw his legs across each other, and commenced smoking
with the utmost satisfaction and indifference; save that he occasionally
bent an anxious gaze on the torn vest; and, looking carefully round the
room for the unlucky fragment,
and its mother-of-pearl buttons, his eyes fell upon it, and lifting it
from the floor, he commenced fitting it to the parent cloth, and, with
perfect complacency, said—"Hoot it will mend again. The seam, when the
coat is buttoned, will never be noticed. Here, lassie," he cried to the
servant who entered the room, "was ye ever at the sewing school?"
"Yes, sir," replied the
"Weel, do ye think, ye
could mak a job o’ my waistcoat?" returned he. "If ye do it neatly, ye
shall have half-a-crown, to yersel, besides the ribbons the morn. But hand
awa and see hoo your mistress is in the first place, and I come and tell
On Henry’s departure, Mr.
Robertson entered his daughter’s room. She was lying delirious, calling
for "her Henry, her husband, to save her" Janet Gray sat by her side.
"Can it be thus, Janet?" said he.
"Does she call him husband?"
Janet pointed to the ring
upon Mary’s finger, and was silent. Mr. Robertson reeled back, and leaned
his head against the window. The wind howled without, and the rain dashed
upon the casements. He hastened down stairs and entered the parlour as Mr.
Cuthbertson gave his last injunction to the maid.
"My friend," said he, "I
have acted rashly in turning this young man from the house. I fear my
daughter is, indeed—his—his wife!"
"His wife!" ejaculated Mr.
Cuthbertson—"his wife!"— The pipe fell from his mouth—the fragment of the
waistcoat was cast in the fire. "His wife!" he exclaimed a third time, and
stamped his foot upon the floor.
"Go," said Mr. Robertson to
the girl, "see if Mr. Walton be yet in the village; and tell him that I
beg he will instantly return. "It is a dreadful night," continued he,
addressing his forlorn friend, "and in putting him from my house, I have
neither acted as a father, a man, nor a Christian."
"Oh! may darkness gather
round his soul, and despair be the light of his heart!" cried Cuthbertson;
"for he has made me miserable."
The maid returned, and
stated that Mr. Walton had not been seen.
"He will have taken to the
moors," said Mr. Robertson, "and, ignorant of the dangerous way, in the
darkness of the night, his blood may be upon my head."
"Are ye mad? are ye daft?"
said Mr. Cuthbertson wildly, "Mr. Robertson! would you insult me in the
midst of my bereavement? Would ye leave me—me that ye’ve kenned for
thirty years—to sorrow as one that has no hope?"
"Have not I also my
sorrows?" replied Mr. Robertson— "the sorrows of a father whose last
spring of comfort is dried up? But let me not add sin to sorrow." And he
hurried from the house.
"His wife! his wife!"
muttered Mr. Cuthbertson to himself. "Am I in my right senses? Am I mysel?—or
is this a dream? Me that was to be married the morn? His wife!—Oh, mercy!
mercy!—hoo lang am I to be the warld’s laugh, and the warld’s jeer?’ And
he crushed the broken pipe beneath his heel. "His wife!" he exclaimed, and
rushing across the room, adding--
"Frailty, thy name is