It was a beautiful March
morning, ruined only by a breeze from the south-west, which although not
cold, was occasionally too strong to be pleasant. The whins were already
adorning the barren heath with their golden covering; and, as they
approached the northern extremity of the mountains, in a moment, spring
rejoiced in the song of the lark, and the labours of the husbandman. The
empire of sterility was suddenly stayed in the pride of its desolation;
and a straight line, stretching from the sea as far as the eye could
reach, seemed to declare—"Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther;" while
in summer the heather put forth its gorgeous blossoms, and the strong
wheat, towering by its side, waved gracefully over it; the one touching
the other, and each thriving in the strength of its own true region.
companions grew clamorous in their admiration of the scene; and a small
gentleman, who was determined to be nothing, if not critical, checked what
he considered their want of taste, by observing that the landscape was
spoiled by too great a proportion of water. While another remarked that
"he was perfectly of his opinion, and thought that the country would be
much finer, were it not for the fir trees, and others that he did not know
the name of."
"By my faith! but ye are
twa judges, I warrant ye!" said a sturdy countryman, with an equally
sturdy cudgel between his knees, and who had hitherto devoted his
attention exclusively to a sagacious-looking dog which occupied a place by
his side—"ye are twa judges without a doot! Wud and water destroy a
landscape! Was ye born in a coal-pit, gentlemen?—or in the region round
about Bowbells, were the smoke and the trees, I understand, are meikle o’
a colour? I thocht yer famous Doctor Johnson said we hadna a tree in a’
To these sarcastic and half
unintelligible observations, the young gentlemen deemed it prudent to be
silent; and the first-mentioned connoisseur who appeared to have been
brought to the coach in a bandbox, fresh from the hands of his tailor—with
the impudent and unfeeling effrontery of an empty coxcomb, who considers
his own insignificant form and disagreeable face irresistible, commenced
an attack upon Mary, who had hitherto remained silent, playing off his
impertinent badinage, to the edification of his own ear, and the annoyance
of all around him. But she, buried in her own thoughts, did not even deign
to answer him with one monosyllable—with one glance of scorn. An angry
scowl from time to time, was given by the countryman, who sat facing him;
and another from the dog, that looked in its master’s face, and, catching
the expression of his eyes, gave a low growl, indicating its wish to
punish the object of his resentment. The young gentleman, however, still
affected to despise the displeasure of his plebeian fellow-traveller, and
throughout two stages, he continued to persecute, with ill-timed mirth and
vulgarity, which he mistook for wit, the lovely and unprotected being whom
chance had thrown for a few hours by his side.
Sinking beneath the weight of her
sorrows, she was resting her brow pensively on her hand, when the coach
stopped for a few minutes at an inn by the way-side; where her loquacious
companion, whose assumed familiarity now amounted to insolence, having
called for a glass of brandy and water, attempted to pull her hand from
her face, saying—"Come, my pretty dummie, if you can’t speak, you can
"Drink yersel’, ye infernal impudent
puppy!" exclaimed the countryman; and, at the same instant, raising his
cudgel, he dashed the glass in a hundred pieces, spilling the brandy and
water on the inexpressibles of the exquisite, and causing the blood to
gush from the ends of his fingers, which had received part of the blow.
the trembling pattern of the fashions, half choked with pain and passion,
while he stretched out at arm’s length, his gentle fingers, dripping with
gore; and, casting a rueful look at his soiled cassimeres,
added—"Scoundrel! you shall answer for this!"
"No a word oot o’ yer head,
ye unmannerly vagabond!" cried the other; "no a word oot o’ yer head!—or
there’s the grund for ye!"
And, suiting the action to
the word, he seized him neck and heel, and the next moment the thing of
"shreds and patches," his fashionables covered with March dust, was
weeping, and mincing his genteel oaths upon the pavement.
"Let him lie there, and be
hanged to him," said the countryman; "he deserves a’ he’s got."
"No, no!" interrupted Mary;
"let no one suffer upon my account. The ignorance of the young man is his
"I wad say that wad be bad
logic, ma’am, in a court o’ law," said her champion; "but, howsever, if I
helped the insignificant cratur doon, I’ll help him up again."
He leaped from the coach,
raised the gentleman like a child in his arms, and placed him again in his
former seat, remarking—"Noo, see that ye be quiet till we get to
Edinburgh, least a warse thing happen ye. But I didna intend to smash yer
bits o’ leddy-like fingers, after a’. Are they sair hurt!" And taking them
in his own Herculean fist to examine them, he inquired—"Has ony o’ ye a
The coach drove off; and
Mary, having dressed the wounds of her late tormentor, he hung his head
upon his breast, and was silent during the rest of the journey.
For some time they had seen
Arthur’s Seat uprearing, in bold magnificence, its stony front, and
bearing, even at this view, some resemblance to a lion preparing to spring
upon its prey; together with the Calton Hill and its observatory and the
proud castle, high towering in gigantic majesty between them like the
genius of war, defying its thunderbolts. And now the fair City of Palaces,
glistening in the sun, opened to their right, like a sea of silver; while,
to their left, grey and venerable with years, rose pile upon pile, house
rising upon house, in eccentric but sublime array, bearing the shapes of
departed ages; and their hoary summits, partly veiled in the cloudy
columns which floated around them, seemed like the ghosts of time, looking
down, "more in sorrow than in anger," from their irregular and strong
towers, on the beauty and order of modern improvements; while Leith,
stretching out its arms to embrace it, and a hundred fair gardens smiling
around their union, with the blue Frith circling them, and bearing the
wealth of other nations to their threshold, make Edinburgh appear, to the
eye of the traveller, one of earth’s fairest cities.
On their stopping at the
Black Bull, the countryman sprang first to the ground, and, with the air
of a cavalier politely assisted Mary from the coach.
"I ask your pardon, ma’am,"
said he; "but as I ken ye are a stranger, if ye will alloo me, I’ll jist
tak yer bit trunk under my arm, and show ye to ony place ye may be gaun
to; for I ken every fit o’ Edinburgh, jist as weel as I ken Burnpath or
She expressed her gratitude
for his kindness, but begged that he would not think of burdening himself
with her trunk.
"Burden! hinny!" said he,
"I wush I micht ne’er has a greater burden than to carry it back th’ nicht
again, to whar it cam frae! Mind ye, thae cadie an’ porter bodies are
extortionable craturs, when they get hand o’ ony ane that they think they
can impose upon." And, throwing the trunk upon his shoulder, he added,
"Now, ma’ain, if ye’ll jist say whar ye wish to gang, I’m at yer service."
Mary knew but little of
Edinburgh, and that little appeared to her like the broken remembrance of
a dream. She was here without friends, almost without an acquaintance and
the only individual whose house she could look to as temporary home,
during her stay in the Scottish capital, was a commercial gentleman,
called Lindsay, residing in Brown Square, who had been highly esteemed by,
and was distantly related to her father. On her signifying a wish to be
conducted there—"To Brown Square!" said the countryman, whom the
reader will have peceived was no other than Willie Watson, the
Berwickshire drover—"To Brown Square!—ye shall be there in ten minutes.
An’, besides, it wunna tak me oot o’ my way in the least, for my line o
business, ma’am, lies in the Grassmarket; an’ I can just whoup down
Merchant Court, an’ be there in a jiffy, after seein’ ye safe."
On arriving at the house of
Mr. Lindsay, the footboy who opened the door stated that his master was in
Glasgow, and that Mrs. Lindsay and daughters were at home, but were then
dressing in order to go out to an evening party. Mary’s heart felt sick.
There was a coldness in the accent and manner of the very boy. She knew
Mr. Lindsay only; his wife and daughters she had never seen. She hesitated
in what manner she should give in her name, and her confusion became
visible. She was shown into a parlour, and Willie, having placed her trunk
in the passage, seemed anxious to witness her reception before leaving;
but Mary took his hand, thanked him for his friendly care and attention,
and desired that, if possible, she might see him again before he left
"Ye may depend on that,
ma’am," said he, "ye may depend on that"—-and a tear stole down his
weather beaten cheek—" I wad hae liket to see hoo ye are to be situated
before I left ye; but, although I am only a plain farmer, I’m no
insensible o’ what is due to guid breedin’. Sae I’ll bid ye guid day the
noo, ma’am; but I’ll mak it my business to ca’ the morn, afore I
gang east again; an’, if ye hae ony word to send, I will tak it as a
favour to be the bearer."
The honest drover, making a
slight bow, worth all the formal suppleness of superficial politeness,
took his leave. Mary remembered having seen him formerly; and had heard
him spoken of, but only as a wrestler and a pugilist, whose quarrels were
in the mouth of every one, and the terror of a peaceable neighbourhood.
But now she could only look upon him as a warm-hearted man, who, whatever
were his faults, could not be destitute of redeeming virtues.
Half-an-hour passed, and
she was still left to muse upon her reception, without seeing either Mrs.
Lindsay or her daughters. She felt it as an indignity to a friendless
orphan—to the only child of a man who befriended them, and placed them in
the path of fortune. She had arisen with the intention of leaving the
house, and seeking a lodging elsewhere, when Mrs. Lindsay and her three
daughters, rustling in a gaudy and tasteless display of showy silk, rich
brocade, and Brussels lace, with head-dresses as ridiculous and unnatural
as silver tissue, golden ears of corn, artificial hair, and the wearied
fingers of their maid could make them sailed into the room. Each, in her
turn, slid towards Mary like a boat gliding for a few yards by a single
stroke of the oars—halted within three feet, like a young recruit at the
word of command—dropped a low and graceful congee—gently extended the tip
of her fore-finger—smiled---whispered—and withdrew to a chair.
The mother and daughters
having paid their formal salutation to their visitor—"You look shockingly
pale, child," said the former; "don’t you think so, girls?" And
again turning to Mary—"I believe your father and Mr. Lindsay were
acquainted—were they not?’
"They were, ma’am,"
answered Mary, shocked at the cold indifference of a question so little a
to have been anticipated.
"Your father is dead
lately, I think my husband was saying," returned the other.
Mary could only reply,
She would have wept, but
indignation at the ingratitude of the other withheld her tears.
"And met with his death
rather unfortunately too, did he not?" continued Mrs. Lindsay.
This was too much. A crowd
of thoughts and recollections flashed at once upon her bosom; she replied
only with a sigh, and the tears burst forth.
"Nay, do not distress
yourself, dear child," said the wife of her father’s friend—"those sort of
things will happen, you know; and our tears can do no good."
"Perhaps Miss Robertson is
fatigued with her journey, and will take a glass of wine," said the
youngest daughter, whose heart was not touched by the frigid affectation
of her mother and sisters; and hastened to present it.
"I am sorry Mr. Lindsay is
from home," added the matron, "and we do not expect him before to-morrow.
Do you intend making any stay in town?"
"Only a few days," rejoined
"And perhaps you have not
yet procured a lodging?" inquired the other.
"Oh, dear mamma," replied the
youngest, who at that moment entered with the wine, "I am sure I
will have no objections to sleep
with me; and, if she only do, I should be so happy."
returned the mother; "and I should be very happy if she would: but
remember your father is from home, and we are just going out to a party,
so that you see the thing is quite impossible—we cannot leave Miss
"Nay, nay, mamma," said the
daughter; "you and sisters can give my apologies to Lady Sillerdykes
(should she discover I am absent), and I shall remain at home to bear Miss
Robertson company, which will give me a great deal more pleasure."
"Do not name it, my dear
friend," said Mary; "you nor any one shall make a sacrifice of enjoyment
for me. I have met with trials more severe than the procuring of a
lodging, or passing a night alone."
"She is the most foolish,
wilful girl in the world," resumed the mother. "To talk of not going to my
Lady’s!--when—would you believe it, Miss Robertson? –these four dresses,
which were made for the occasion, cost one hundred and twenty pounds! For
the life of me, I don’t know what her father will say when the bill is
presented! And yet to talk of not going!—not going, indeed! Do you
suppose if you will not appear in public, that your father is to
keep you in private all your life."
"La! now, mamma!" said the
laughing girl, "how you do talk. Get husbands for sisters before you think
As she spoke, a loud
knocking was heard at door. Mrs. Lindsay bit her lips—the two elder looked
to each other in dismay. The youngest flew smiling to the passage, and
entered, holding her father’s hand, saying—"Miss Robertson, father !—your
friend!—my friend!--from Burnpath.’
exclaimed Mr. Lindsay, who had unexpectedly returned. He hurried forward,
pressed her hand fervidly within his. He gazed on her face for a few
moments with silent tenderness; and, at length, in a voice broken with
emotion, said, "Welcome! welcome, beloved child of my best friend!—welcome
to my house—to your home!" Still holding her hands, and turning to his
wife and daughters—"Behold," said he, "all that remains of our
first benefactor! Mrs. Lindsay, henceforth be to her a mother; children,
regard her as a sister."
"Oh, I am sure I shall,"
said the youngest, fondly smiling in her face—"and love her too."
"At present," said Mary, "I
shall be with you but a few days; but for your affection for my beloved
father, accept his orphan’s tears—accept her gratitude."
"Let it be for a few days,
or for a few years," added Mr. Lindsay—"whatever is mine, you may at all
Mrs. Lindsay now endeavoured, by
overwrought civility, to atone for her past indifference. And having, as
she conceived, by her attentions and protestations of affection for Mary,
sufficiently delighted her husband to venture upon informing him of the
invitation to Lady Sillerdykes—"My love," said she, with an endearing
smile, "would you believe it!—my Lady Sillerdykes has sent your daughters
and me the kindest invitation in the world, to attend her party to-night.
There is to be a Marquis there!—several lords!—and I don’t know how many
baronets!"—"And needy fortune hunters," added her husband, "ruined
gamesters, add corrupters of morals, ad
"Oh, shocking, love!"
replied Mrs. Lindsay; "you really distress me—you are always so cynical.
But you know, if you won’t, I must take our children into society, like
other people. And, with our prospects, the present honour, I assure you,
my dear, is not to be overlooked."
"Oh, doubtless, doubtless,"
said Mr. Lindsay, with a sarcastic smile; "its advantages will be
The worthy merchant, not
having deemed it prudent to set up his own carriage, and Brown Square
being but indifferently situated for the approach of one, Mrs. Lindsay and
her two daughters had the mortification of walking to the College, to
procure a hackney-coach; in which miserable vehicle they were to come in
contact with the coroneted and crested equipages of their companions for
the night, in the Crescent.
In the company of Mr.
Lindsay and his youngest daughter, Mary forgot the insulting coldness of
her reception. She undisguisedly related to him all the events which had
recently transpired at Burnpath; save one—one on which all the rest in a
measure revolved—her own marriage. And this she wished not to conceal from
him—but feared, and knew not how to communicate it. It was known to but
few beyond Burnpath; and until she should see Henry, or hear from him, she
knew not how far she might act wisely in divulging it; and his mysterious
silence, since his departure, increased her hesitation.
Next day, Willie Watson
strode across Brown Square, "To inquire after the bit lassie," as he said,
"for he feared as far as he could judge, she wad meet wi’ but a blae
He had heard of her
marriage with Henry; and his name being at the moment uppermost in his
thoughts, on the servant opening the door, he inquired—"Is Mrs. Walton
within this morning?"
"There is no such person
here," said the boy, attempting to shut the door.
"Nae sic person here!" said
Willie, intercepting him with his foot—"Nae sic person here, do ye say?
What’s come owre her then? Did I no bring her trunk here yesterday?"
"Oh, Mrs Walton!—beg
pardon—yes, yes, I had forgot," said the crafty urchin, while a laughing
devil twinkled at the corners of his eyes; and hurrying to the parlour,
where Mary was sitting with Mrs. Lindsay and family—"A person wishes to
speak with Mrs. Walton," said he.
"Mrs. Walton?" responded
all, raising their eyes inquiringly—"Mrs. Walton?"
her eyes upon the ground—shed a sudden tear—and, rising with the dignity
of a princess, laid her hand upon Mr. Lindsay’s, saying—"Yes, my dear
friend, I am Mrs. Walton; hereafter you shall know all. Show the stranger
"How singular!" ejaculated
"Did you ever!" exclaimed
Miss Lindsay, in the attitude of adoration.
"Such a discovery!" cried
"Ah, my dear Mrs. Walton!"
said the youngest, leaping towards her, "and you are married, are you?
Well, I wish you joy with my whole heart."
"I trust I may rejoice that
it is so, my amiable friend," replied Mr. Lindsay; "but reveal nothing to
me which it would give you pain to relate."
Willie Watson was heard
stalking along the passage, shaking the walls "with thundering tread."
Making his best bow to the company, and firmly smoothing down his hair
over his forehead, as he began to speak, he began also to smooth round his
hat; and, continuing to turn it in his hand said—"I ask your pardon,
leddies, and yours, too, sir, for coming in amang ye in a figure like
this; for it doesna do to be owre particular in my line o’ life. But, ye
see, having a great regard for Mrs. Walton’s connections—the memory o’ her
worthy faither in particular—no to mention that the like o’ me has even
the honour o’ being familiar, I may say, wi’ her, as wi’ her worthy
husband, the son o’ the great Sir Robert Walton o’ Devonshire, ye ken,
that (I saw it in the papers mysel’) gied twa thousand pounds, no lang
syne, for an Arawbian mare—I say, no even to mention this, coming to the
toun wi’ her yesterday, I couldna think o’ gaun hame till I heard how she
was situated, an’ to see if she has ony word to send east by to
His professing acquaintance
with Henry, rendered him doubly interesting to Mary, and she more than
forgave the confusion he caused by the betrayal of her secret. He further
had mentioned circumstances relating to her husband’s family with which
she was unacquainted; and, with the natural energy of her manner, she
thanked him for the kindly interest he manifested in her behalf. Mr.
Lindsay, to testify the sincerity of his welcome, placed him a chair
beside his own, and ordered a morning dram. (A false and pernicious token
of hospitality, which we trust to see exploded for ever). One glass begot
another; and between Mr. Lindsay and the drover, an acquaintance that had
been forgotten for almost thirty years was revived. The elder Misses
Lindsay and their mother, were forgetting the shock they sustained on the
entrance of the unpolished figure before them, in their redoubled
attentions to the— wife of a Baronet’s son—when the Honourable Timothy
Higgins was announced.
"Oh, shocking!" exclaimed
Miss Lindsay, rising in perturbation—"and that odious man—show the
gentleman into the drawing-room."
Mr. Lindsay was at this
moment in the midst of a school adventure, in which Willie Watson and
himself had been the principal actors.
"The Honourable Fiddle-de-dee!"
said he, having heard the words "odious man," applied to his old
schoolfellow—"Show him in here. I certainly am entitled to see that no
honourable visitors to my house be dishonourable. Show him in
"Oh, horrid!—Mr. Lindsay,
you are the most unaccountable man,"—said Mrs. Lindsay.
"My love!" replied the
"I’ll be bidding ye guid-day,
Mr Lindsay," said Willie, "for, although I hae the honour to be acquainted
wi’ Mr. Walton, I maun say, after a’, that drovers arena just the kind o’
company that yer Honourables, and Richt Honourables, wad like to sit doun
wi’; though cast off the bit coat an’ they wad maybe find wha is the best
man for a’ that."
"Be seated," said Mr.
Lindsay; "whoever may come, my house is large enough for an old friend."
Mr. Higgins had arrived on
the preceding day from England, was at Lady Sillerdykes soiree in the
evening, and having escorted the Misses Lindsay and their mother home had
sent in his card to pay his respects to the ladies in the morning. Miss
Lindsay was his partner during the evening; and she had already informed
Mary that he was a divine creature, though his form was rather petit;
and he had had the misfortune, a few weeks ago, as he told her, to
have his right hand wounded in an affair of honour, which caused him at
present to wear it in a sling, and rendered him indescribably interesting.
The mighty Mr. Higgins now
entered, in all the imposing dignity of five feet two; bowed, smiled—bent
his body—begged that they would excuse his misfortune; saw
Mary—blushed-—shook—turned his eyes to the farther end of the
room—started, and almost fainted at the feet of the ladies! Mary slightly,
and somewhat disdainfully, returned his confused bow. Mr. Lindsay was
rising to welcome him, when, to the horror of all, Willie Watson stalked
across the floor, offered his hand to the Honourable and petrified Mr.
Higgins, saying—"Weel, sir, hoo’s a’ wi’ ye the day? Hoo’s your fingers?
I’m very sorry for that bit lick I gied them yesterday?"
trembled—perspired—grew pale—stuttered he would call again—turned his back
upon the drover, and muttering something about engagements, to the
astonishment of the ladies, bowed, blushed, and backed out of the room.
"I fear, my dears," said
Mr. Lindsay, "your Honourable has met with a surprise:—he has made but a
"The less o’ his company
the better," said Willie, "if we may judge by the specimen Mrs. Walton an’
me had o’ it on the coach yesterday."
He then narrated his
impertinent conduct towards Mary, and bursting into a loud laugh,
said—"But it wad hae been one joke, after a’, if I had left his bits o’
honourable fingers on the road, for the craws to build their nests wi’.
Mrs. Walton," continued Willie, as he rose to depart, "if I micht mak sae
free as to ask a favour, ye wad greatly oblige me by a word, or twa in
This being granted, he
proceeded—"I was just wishing to ken, ma’am—if it’s no impertinent in me
to ask—when ye heard frae Mr. Walton. For, to tell ye the truth, ma’am I
like him maist as weel as ye can do yersel’. I gaed frae Dunse to
Newcastle wi’ him; an’ four happier days I never spent in my life. He
invited me, if ever I was up in the south, to come owre and spend a while
at his faither’s. But I’ve heard naethin’ o’ him since he left Newcastle."
He forbore alluding to the
nature of Henry’s disappearance, or the circumstances attending it; for
what he wanted in politeness he had supplied to him in feeling. It was a
question which, of all others, Mary would have avoided; for the thought
that she had not heard from Henry was her deepest affliction. But
she could not tell a falsehood; and, least of all, to one who gloried in
the thought of being her husband’s friend, and who had acted as hers.
Melting into tears, she replied that she had not.
Willie drew his coat sleeve
across his eyes.
"Forgie me, ma’am—forgie me
for askin’ ye," said he, "but I expect to be in London very soon: an’, if
I dinna see you in Devonshire, I’ll at least bring ye word frae it! Guid
day the noo, ma’am—guid-day!" And again drawing his sleeve across his
eyes, the good-natured drover bent his way to the Grassmarket.