WHILE these transactions occupied
the morning, Lady Helen (who the night before had been removed into the
quiet cell appointed for her) slept long and sweetly. Her exhausted frame
found renovation; and she awoke with a heavenly calm at her heart. A
cheering vision had visited her sleeping thoughts; and a trance of happy
feelings absorbed her senses, while her hardly disengaged spirit still
hovered over its fading images.
She had seen in her dream a
young knight enter her cell, bearing her father in his arms. He laid the
Earl down before her; but as she stooped to embrace him, the knight took
her by the hand, and leading her to the window of the apartment (which
seemed extended to an immense size) he smiled, and said, "Look out,
and see how I have performed my vow!" She obeyed, and saw crowds of
rejoicing people, who at sight of the young warrior raised such a shout,
that Helen awoke. She started—she looked around—she was still in the narrow
cell, and alone; but the rapture of beholding her father, yet fluttered in
her breast, and the touch of the warrior’s hand seemed still warm
upon hers. "Angels of rest," cried she, "I thank ye for
this blessed vision!"
The prior of St. Fillan might have
read his own just sentiment, in the heart of Lady Helen. While the
gentlest of human beings, she was an evidence that an ardent and pious
mind contains the true principles of heroism. Hope, in such a mind, treads
down impossibilities; and, regardless of impediments or dangers, rushes
forward to seize the prize. In the midst of hosts, it feels a conqueror’s
power; or, when its strength fails, sees, by the eye of faith, legions of
angels watching to support the natural weakness. Lady Helen knew that the
cause was just, which had put the sword into the hand of Wallace; that it
was virtue which had prompted her father to second him; and where justice
is, there are the wings of the Most High stretched out as a shield!
This dream seemed prophetic:
"Yes," cried she, "though thousands of Edward’s soldiers
surrounded my father and his friend, I should not despair. Thy life, O!
noble Wallace, was not given to be extinguished in an hour! Thy morn has
hardly risen, the perfect day must come that is to develop thy greatness—that
is to prove thee, (and oh! gracious God, grant my prayer!) the glory of
Owing to the fervour of her
apostrophe, she did not observe the door of the cell open, till the prior
stood before her. After expressing his pleasure at the renovation in her
countenance, he informed her of the departure of the English soldier; and
of the alarm which he and Murray had sustained for his safety, by the
adventure which had thrown a stranger from the craigs into their
protection. At the mention of that now momentous spot, she blushed; the
golden-haired warrior of her dream seemed ready to rise before her; and
with a beating heart she prepared to hear some true but miraculous account
of her father’s rescue.
Unconscious of what was
passing in her young and eager mind, the prior calmly proceeded to relate
all that Ker had told of the dangerous extremity to which Wallace was
reduced; and then closed his intelligence, by mentioning the attempt which
her cousin meditated to save him. The heightened colour gradually faded
from the face of Helen, and low sighs were her only responses to the
observations the good priest made on the difficulty of the enterprise. But
when his pity for the brave men engaged in the cause, betrayed him into
expressing his fears that the patriotic zeal of Wallace would only make
him and them a sacrifice, Helen looked up; there was inspiration on her
lips and in her eyes. "Father:" said she, "hast thou not
taught me, that God shieldeth the patriot as well as armeth him!"
"True !" returned he with
an answering smile; "steadily believe this, and where will be the
sighs you have just been breathing?"
shrink:" replied she; "but the Christian’s hope checks her ere
she falls. Pardon me then, holy father, that I sometimes weep; but they
are often tears of trust and consolation."
"Daughter of heaven:’
replied the good prior, "you might teach devotion to age, and cause
youth to be enamoured of the graces of religion! Be ever thus, and you may
look with indifference on the wreck of worlds."
Helen having meekly replied
to this burst from the heart of the holy man, begged to see her cousin
before he set off on his expedition. The prior withdrew, and within an
hour after, Murray entered the apartment. Their conversation was long, and
their parting full of an interest that dissolved them both into tears.
"When I see you again, my brave cousin, tell me that my father is
free, and his preserver safe. Your own life, dear Andrew," added she,
as he pressed his cheek to hers, "must always be Precious to
Murray hastily withdrew,
and Helen was again alone.
The young chieftain and Ker covered
their armour with shepherds’ plaids; [In
the Appendix to this volume, a short account of the principal Tartans of
Scotland will be given; and for beautiful specimens of each, the writer
has to thank the politeness of Messrs. Romanes and Paterson of
Edinburgh.—-(1840.)] and having received a
thousand blessings from the prior and Halbert proceeded under shelter of
the night, through the obscurest paths of the wood which divided Bothwell
Sir John Murray was gone to
rest when his nephew arrived, but Lord Andrew’s voice being well known
by the porter, he was admitted into the house; and leaving his companion
in the dining-hall, went to the apartment of his uncle. The old knight was
soon aroused; and welcomed his nephew with open arms; for he had feared,
from the accounts brought by the fugitive tenants of Bothwell, that he
also had been carried away prisoner.
Murray now unfolded his
errand :—first, to obtain a band of Sir John’s trustiest people, to
assist in rescuing the preserver of the Earl’s life from immediate
destruction; and, secondly, if a commission for Lord Mar’s release did
not arrive from King Edward, to aid him to free his uncle and the Countess
from Dumbarton castle.
Sir John listened with
growing anxiety to his nephew’s details. When he heard of Lady Helen’s
continuing in the convent, he highly approved it. "That is
well;" said he; "to bring her to any private protection, would
only spread calamity. She might be traced, and her protector put in
danger; none but the church, with safety to itself, can grant asylum to
the daughter of a state prisoner."
"Then I doubly rejoice
she is there;" replied Murray, "and there she will remain, till
your generous assistance empowers me to rescue her father:"
Lord Mar has been very
rash, nephew," returned Drumshargaid. [It
is a Scottish custom to distinguish chieftains of the same name as the
title of their estates.—(1809.)]
"What occasion was there for him to volunteer sending men to support
Sir William Wallace? and how durst he bring ruin on Bothwell castle, by
collecting, unauthorized by my brother, its vassals for so dangerous an
Murray started at these unexpected
observations. He knew his uncle was timid, but he had never suspected him
of meanness; however, in consideration of the respect he owed to him as
his father’s brother, he smothered his disgust, and gave him a mild
answer. But the old man could not approve of a nobleman of his rank,
running himself, his fortune, and his friends into peril, to pay any debt
of gratitude; and as to patriotic sentiments being a stimulus, he treated
the idea with contempt. "Trust me, Andrew;" said he,
"nobody profits by these notions but thieves, and desperate fellows
ready to become thieves!"
"I do not understand
"Not understand me?"
replied the knight, rather impatiently: "Who suffers in these contests
for liberty, as you choose to call them, but such men as Lord Mar and
your father? Betrayed by artful declamation, they rush into conspiracies
against the existing government, are detected, ruined, and perhaps finally
lose their lives! Who gains by rebellion, but a few pennyless wretches,
that embrace these vaunted principles from the urgency of their
necessities! They acquire plunder, under the mask of extraordinary
disinterestedness; and hazarding nothing of themselves but their worthless
lives, they would make tools of the first men in the realm; and throw the
whole country into flames, that they may catch a few brands from the fire
Young Murray felt his anger
rise with this speech.
"You do not speak to
my point, sir! I do not come here to dispute the
general evil of revolt, but to ask your assistance to snatch two of the
bravest men in Scotland from the fangs of the tyrant who has made you a
the knight, starting from his couch, and darting a fierce look at him,
"if any man but one of my own blood had uttered that word, this hour
should have been his last."
"Every man, sir,"
continued Murray, "who acts upon your principles, must know himself
to be a slave.;—and to resent being called so, is to affront his own
conscience. A name is nothing; the fact ought to knock upon your heart,
and there arouse the indignation of a Scot and a Murray. See you not the
villages of your country burning around you? the castles of your
chieftains rased to the ground? Did not the plains of Dunbar reek with the
blood of your kinsmen; and even now, do you not see them led, away in
chains to the strongholds of the tyrant? Are not your stoutest vassals
pressed from your service, and sent into foreign wars? And yet you
exclaim, ‘I see no injury—I spurn at the name of slave ! "
Murray rose from his seat
as he ended, and walking the room in agitation, did not perceive the
confusion of his uncle, who, at once overcome with conviction and with
fear, again ventured to speak:— "It is too sure you speak truth,
Andrew; but what am I, or any other private individual, that we should
make ourselves a forlorn hope for the whole nation? Will Baliol, who was
the first to bow to the usurper, will he thank us for losing our heads in
resentment of his indignity? Bruce himself, the rightful heir of the
crown, leaves us to our fates, and has become a courtier in England! For
whom then should I adventure my grey hairs, and the quiet of my home, to
seek an uncertain liberty, and to meet an almost certain death.?"
"For Scotland !
uncle;" replied he; "just laws are her right. You are her son;
and if you do not make one in the grand attempt
to rescue her from the blood-hounds which tear her vitals, the guilt of
parricide will be on your soul! Think not, sir, to preserve your home, or
even your grey hairs, by hugging the chains by which you are bound. You
are a Scot; and that is sufficient to arm the enemy against your property
and life. Remember the fate of Lord Monteith! At the very time he was
beset by the parasites of Edward, and persuaded by their flatteries to be
altogether as an Englishmen, in that very hour, when he had taken a niece
of Cressingham’s to his arms, by her hands the vengeance of Edward
reached him—he fell !"
Murray saw that his uncle
was struck, and that he trembled.
"But I am too
"You are the brother
of Lord Bothwell!" answered Murray, with all the dignity of his
father rising in his countenance: "His large possessions, made him a
traitor in the eyes of the tyrant’s representatives. Cressingham, as
treasurer for the crew, has already sent his lieutenant, to lord it in our
paternal castle; and do not deceive yourself in believing, that some one
of his officers will not require the fertile fields of Drumshargard as a
reward for his services! No! cheat not yourself with the idea that the
brother of Lord Bothwell, will be too insignificant to share in the honour
of bearing a part in the confiscations of his country! Trust me, my uncle,
the forbearance of tyrants is not that of mercy but of convenience. When
they need your wealth, or your lands, your submission is forgotten, and a
prison, or the axe, ready to give them quiet possession."
Sir John Murray, though a
timid and narrow-sighted man, now fully comprehended his nephew’s
reasoning; and his fears taking a different turn, he hastily declared his
determination to set off immediately for the Highlands. "In the
morning, by daybreak," said he, "I will commence my journey, and
join my brother at Loch-awe; for I cannot believe myself safe a moment,
while so near the garrisons of the enemy."
Murray approved this plan;
and after obtaining his hard-wrung leave to take thirty men from his
vassals, he returned to Ker, to inform him of the success of his mission.
It was not necessary, neither would it have been agreeable to his pride,
to relate the arguments which had been required to obtain this small
assistance; and in the course of an hour, he brought together the
appointed number of the bravest men on the estate. When equipped, he led
them into the hall, to receive the last command from their feudal lord.
On seeing them armed, with
every man his drawn dirk in his hand, Sir John turned pale. Murray, with
the unfolded banner of Mar in his grasp, and Ker by his side, stood at
"Young men," said
the old knight, striving to speak in a firm tone, "in this expedition
you are to consider yourselves the followers of my nephew: he is brave and
honourable, therefore I commit you to his command. But as you go on his
earnest petition, I am not answerable to any man for the enterprises to
which he may lead you.
"Be they all on my own
head!" cried Murray, blushing at his uncle’s pusillanimity, and
drawing out his sword with an impatience that made the old knight start:
"We now have your permission to depart, sir?"
Sir John gave a ready
assent: he was anxious to get so hot-headed a youth out of his house, and
to collect his gold and servants, that he might commence his own flight by
break of day.
It was still dark as
midnight when Murray and his little company passed the heights above
Drumshargard; and took their rapid, though silent march towards the
cliffs, which would conduct them to the more dangerous passes of the