THE prisoners which had
been taken with Montgomery, were lodged behind the town, and the wounded
carried into the abbey of Cambus-Kenneth; but when Edwin came to move that
Earl himself, he found him too faint with loss of blood to sit a horse to
Snawdoun. He therefore ordered a litter; and so conveyed his brave
prisoner to that palace of the kings of Scotland in Stirling.
The priests in Wallace’s
army, not only exercised the Levitical, but the good Samaritan’s
functions; and they soon obeyed the young knight’s summons to dress the
wounds of Montgomery.
arrived from Wallace, acquainting his chieftains in Stirling with the
surrender of De Warenne’s army. Hence no surprise was created in the
breast of the wounded Earl, when he saw his commander enter the palace, as
the prisoner of the illustrious Scot.
Montgomery held out his
hand to the Lord Warden, in silence, and with a flushed cheek.
"Blush not, my noble
friend !" cried De Warenne; "these wounds speak more eloquently
than a thousand tongues, the gallantry with which you maintained the sword
that fate compelled you to surrender. But I, without a scratch, how can I
meet the unconquered Edward? And yet it was not for myself, I feared; my
brave and confiding soldiers were in all my thoughts; for I saw it was not
to meet an army I led them, but against a whirlwind, a storm of war, with
which no strength that I commanded could contend."
While the English generals
thus conversed, Edwin’s impatient heart yearned to be again at the side
of Wallace; and gladly resigning the charge of his noble prisoner, to Sir
Alexander Ramsay; as soon as he observed a cessation in the conversation
of the two earls, he drew near Montgomery, to take his leave.
"Farewell, till we meet again
!" said the young Earl, pressing his hand: "You have been a
young brother, rather than an enemy to me."
returned Edwin, "I follow the example of my general, who would
willingly be the friend of all mankind."
Warenne looked at him with surprise:
"And who are you, who in that stripling form, utters gallant
sentiments which might grace the maturest years ?"
With a sweet dignity, Edwin
replied. "I am Edwin Ruthven, the adopted brother of Sir William
"And the son of him,"
asked De Warenne," who, with Sir William Wallace, was the first to
mount Dumbarton walls ?"
At these words, the cheeks
of Edwin were suffused with a more animated bloom. At the moment when his
courage was distinguished on the heights of Dumbarton, by the vowed
friendship of Wallace, he had found himself beloved by the bravest, and
most amiable of beings; and in his light, he felt both warmth and
brightness: but this question of De Warenne, conveyed to him that he had
found fame himself; that he was there publicly acknowledged, to be
an object not unworthy of being called the brother of Sir William Wallace
!—and, casting down his eyes, beaming with exultation, from the fixed
gaze of De Warenne, he answered, "I am that happy Ruthven, who had
the honour to mount Dumbarton rock by the side of my general; and from his
hand, there received the stroke of knighthood."
De Warenne rose, much agitated: "If such be the
boys of Scotland, need we wonder when the spirit of resistance is roused
in the nation, that our strength should wither before its men!"
"At least," said Montgomery, whose
admiration of what passed, seemed to reanimate his languid faculties,
"it deprives defeat of its sting, when we are conscious we yielded to
a power that was irresistible. But, my Lord;" added he, "if the
courage of this youth amazes you, what will you say, ought to be the fate
of this country? what, to be the crown of Sir William Wallace’s career?
when you know the chain of brave hearts by which he is surrounded! Even
tender woman loses the weakness of her sex, when she belongs to him."
Earl de Warenne, surprised at the energy with which he spoke, looked at
him with an expression that told him so. "Yes;" continued he,
"I witnessed the heroism of Lady Wallace; when she defended the
character of her husband in the midst of an armed host, and preserved the
secret of his retreat inviolate. I saw that loveliest of women, whom the
dastard Heselrigge slew."
"Disgrace to knighthood!" cried Edwin,
with indignant vehemence: "if you were spectator of that bloody deed,
retire from this house; go to Cambus-Kenneth, anywhere; but leave this
city, before the injured Wallace arrives: blast not his eyes, with a
second sight of one who could have beheld his wife murdered."
Every eye was now fixed on the commanding
figure of the young
Edwin, who stood with the determination of being obeyed, breathing in
every look. De Warenne then at once saw the possibility of so gentle a
creature being transformed into the soul of enterprise, into the fearless
and effective soldier.
Lord Montgomery held out his hand to
Edwin. "By this right arm, I swear, noble youth, that had I been on
the spot when Heselrigge lifted his sword against the breast of Lady
Wallace, I would have sheathed my sword in his. It was before then, that I
saw that matchless woman; and offended with my want of severity in the
scrutiny I had made at Ellerslie for its chief, Heselrigge sent me back to
Ayr. Arnulf quarrelled with me there, on the same subject; and I
immediately retired in disgust to England."
"Then how? you ought to be Sir
Gilbert Hambledon?" replied Edwin: "but whoever you are, as you
were kind to the Lady Marion, I cannot but regret my late hasty charge;
and for which I beseech your pardon."
Montgomery took his hand,
and pressed it: "Generous Ruthven, your warmth is too honourable to
need forgiveness. I am that Sir Gilbert Hambledon; and had I remained so,
I should not now be in Scotland. But in my first interview with the Prince
of Wales, after my accession to the earldom of Montgomery, his Highness
told me, it had been rumoured from Scotland, that I was disloyal in my
heart to my king. 'And, to prove the falsehood of such calumniators,'
continued the prince, 'I appoint you second in command there, to the Earl
de Warenne.' To have refused to fight against Sir William Wallace, would
have been to have accused myself of treason. And while I respected the
husband of the murdered Lady Marion, I yet condemned him as an insurgent;
and with the same spirit you follow him to the field, I obeyed the
commands of my sovereign."
‘Lord Montgomery," returned Edwin, "I am
rejoiced to see one who proves to me, what my general, wronged as he has
been, yet always inculcates—that all the Southrons are not base and
cruel. When he knows who is indeed his prisoner, what recollections will
it awaken! But till you and he again meet, I shall not intimate to him the
melancholy satisfaction he is to enjoy; for with the remembrances it will
arouse, your presence must bring the antidote."
The brave youth, then telling Ramsay in what parts
of the palace the rest of the lords were to be lodged, with recovered
composure descended to the court-yard, to take horse for Torwood. He was
galloping along under the bright light of the moon, when he heard a
squadron on full speed approaching; and, presently Murray appeared at its
head. "Hurrah, Edwin !" cried he, "well met! We come to
demand the instant surrender of the citadel. Hilton’s division has
The two barons had indeed come up, about
half an hour after Earl de Warenne’s division was discomfited. Sir
William Wallace had sent forward to the advancing enemy, two heralds,
bearing the colours of De Valence and Montgomery; with the captive banner
of De Warenne; and requiring the present division to lay down its arms
also. The sight of these standards was sufficient to assure Hilton, there
was no deceit in the embassy. The nature of his position precluded
retreat; and not seeing any reason for ten thousand men disputing the day,
with a power to whom fifty thousand had just surrendered, he, and his
compeer, with the reluctance of veterans, embraced the terms of surrender.
The instant Hilton put his argent banner
[The arms of Hilton are, argent, two bars azure. The charge on those of
Blenkinsopp are three wheatsheaves; crest, a lion rampant, grasping a
rose. The ruins of the patrimonial castles of these two ancient barons are
still to be seen in the north of England. The author’s revered mother
was a descendant from the latter venerable name; united with that of the
brave and erudite race of Adamson, of farther north.—(1840,)] into the
victor’s hand, Wallace knew the castle must now be his; he had
discomfited all who could have maintained it against him. Impatient to
apprise Lord Mar and his family of their safety, he despatched Murray with
a considerable escort, to demand its surrender.
Murray gladly obeyed, and
now accompanied by Edwin, with the standards of Cressingham, and De
Warenne, trailing in the dust, he arrived before the castle, and summoned
the lieutenant to the walls. But that officer, well aware of what was
going to happen, feared to appear. From the battlements of the keep, he
had seen the dreadful conflict on the banks of the Forth; he had seen the
thousands of De Warenne, pass before the conqueror. To punish his
treachery, in not only having suffered Cressinghain to steal out, under
the armistice, but upholding also the breaking of his word, to surrender
at sunset! the terrified officer believed that Wallace was now come, to
put the whole garrison to the sword.
At the first sight of
Murray’s approaching squadron, the lieutenant hurried to Lord Mar; to
offer him immediate liberty, if he would go forth to Wallace, and treat
with him to spare the lives of the garrison. Closed up in a solitary
dungeon, the Earl knew nought of what was occurring without; and, when the
Southron entered, he expected it was to lead him again to the death, which
had been twice averted. But the pale and trembling lieutenant had no
sooner spoken the first word, than Mar discerned it was a suppliant, not
an executioner, he saw before him; and he was even promising that clemency
from Wallace, which he knew dwelt in his heart, when Murray’s trumpet
The lieutenant started,
horror-struck. "It is now too late! We have not made the first
overture; and there sounds the death-bell of this garrison! I saved your
life, Earl !" cried he, imploringly, to Lord Mar; "when the
enraged Cressingham commanded me to pull the cord which would have
launched you into eternity,—I disobeyed him! For my sake, then, preserve
this garrison, and accompany me to the ramparts.
The chains were immediately
knocked off the limbs of Mar, and the lieutenant presenting him with a
sword, they appeared together on the battlements. As the declining moon
shone on their backs, Murray did not discern that it was his uncle, who
mounted the wall. But calling to him in a voice which declared there was
no appeal, pointed to the humbled colours of Edward, and demanded the
instant surrender of the citadel.
"Let it be then with
the pledge of Sir William Wallace’s mercy ?" cried the venerable
"With every pledge,
Lord Mar," returned Murray, now joyfully recognising his uncle,
"which you think safe to give."
"Then the keys of the
citadel are yours:" cried the, lieutenant: "I only ask the lives
of my garrison."
This was granted; and
immediate preparations were made for the admission of the Scots. As the
enraptured Edwin heard the heavy chains of the portcullis drawing up, and
the massy bolts of the huge doors grating in their guards, he thought of
his mother’s liberty, of his father’s joy, in pressing her again in
his arms; and hastening to the tower where Lord Ruthven held watch over
the now sleeping De Valence he told him all that had happened: "Go,
my father," added he; "enter with Murray, and be the first to
open the prison doors of my mother."
Lord Ruthven embraced his
son. "My dear Edwin! this
sacrifice to my feelings is worthy of you. But I have a duty to perform,
superior even to the tenderest private ones. I am planted here by my
commander; and shall I quit my station, for any gratification, till he
gives me leave? No, my son !—be you my representative to your mother:
and while my example teaches you, above all earthly considerations to obey
your honour, those tender embraces will show her, what I sacrifice to
Edwin no longer urged his
father; and leaving his apartment, flew to the gate of the inner ballium.
It was open: and Murray already stood on the platform before the keep?
receiving the keys of the garrison.
"Blessed sight !"
cried the Earl, to his nephew; "When I put the banner of Mar into
your unpractised hand, little could I expect, that in the course of four
months, I should see my brave Andrew receive the keys of proud Stirling
from its commander !"
Murray smiled, while his
plumed head bowed gratefully to his uncle; and turning to the lieutenant,
"Now," said he, "lead me to the ladies Mar and Ruthven;
that I may assure them, they are free."
The gates of the keep were
now unclosed; and the lieutenant conducted his victors along a gloomy
passage, to a low door, studded with knobs of iron. As he drew the bolt;
he whispered to Lord Mar, "These severities are the hard policy of
He pushed the door slowly
open, and discovered a small miserable cell; its walls of rugged stone
having no other covering than the incrustations, which time, and many a
dripping winter, had strewn over their vaulted surface. On the ground, on
a pallet of straw, lay a female figure in a profound sleep. But the light
which the lieutenant held, streaming full upon the uncurtained slumberer,
she started, and, with a shriek of terror, at sight of so many armed men,
discovered the pallid features of the Countess of Mar. With an anguish,
which hardly the freedom he was going to bestow, could ameliorate, the
Earl rushed forward, and throwing himself beside her, caught her in his
"Are we then to die
?" cried she, in a voice of horror: "Has
Wallace abandoned us !—Are we to perish?— Heartless, heartless man
Overcome by his emotions,
the Earl could only strain her to his breast, in speechless agitation.
Edwin saw a picture of his mother’s sufferings, in the present
distraction of the Countess; and he felt his powers of utterance locked
up; but Lord Andrew, whose ever-light heart was gay the moment he was no
longer unhappy, jocosely answered, "My fair aunt, there are many
hearts to die by your eyes, before that day! and, meanwhile, I come from
Sir William Wallace—to set you free !"
The name of Wallace, and
the intimation, that he had sent to set her free, drove every
former thought of death, and misery, from her mind: again the ambrosial
gales of love, seemed to breathe around her—she saw not her prison
walls; she felt herself again in his presence: and in a blissful trance,
rather endured, than participated, the warm congratulations of her husband
on their mutual safety.
Edwin, and Murray, turned
to follow the lieutenant; who, preceding them, stopped at the end, of the
gallery, "Here," said he, "is Lady Ruthven’s habitation;
and— alas! not better than the Countess’s. While he spoke, he threw
open the door, and discovered its sad inmate also asleep. But when the
glad voice of her son pierced her ear; when his fond embraces clung to her
bosom, her surprise, and emotions, were almost insupportable. Hardly
crediting her senses, that he whom she had believed was safe in the
cloisters of St. Columba, could be within the dangerous walls of Stirling;
that it was his mailed breast, that pressed against her bosom; that it was
his voice she heard exclaiming, "Mother, we come to give you freedom
!" all appeared to her like a dream of madness.
She listened, she felt him,
she found her cheek wet with his rapturous tears :—"Am I in my
right mind !" cried she, looking at him, with a fearful, yet
overjoyed countenance: " Am I not mad? O! tell me," cried she,
turning to Murray, and the lieutenant, "is this my son that I see, or
has terror turned my brain?"
"It is indeed your
son, your Edwin, my very self," returned he, alarmed at the
expression of her voice and countenance. Murray gently advanced, and
kneeling down by her, respectfully took her hand. "He speaks truth,
my dear madam. It is your son Edwin. He left his convent, to be a
volunteer with Sir William Wallace. He has covered himself with honour, on
the walls of Dumbarton; and here also, a sharer in his leader’s
victories, he is come to set you free."
At this explanation, which
being given in the sober language of reason, Lady Ruthven believed, she
gave way to the full happiness of her soul, and falling on the neck of her
son, embraced him with a flood of tears :—"And thy father, Edwin,
where is he? Did not the noble Wallace rescue him from Ayr?"
"He did, and he is
here." Edwin then repeated to his mother, the affectionate message of
his father, and the particulars of his release. Perceiving how happily
they were engaged, Murray, now with a flutter in his own bosom, rose from
his knees, and requested the lieutenant to conduct him to Lady Helen Mar.
guide led the way by a winding staircase, into a stone gallery; where
letting Lord Andrew into a spacious apartment, divided in the midst by a
vast screen of carved cedar-wood, he pointed to a curtained entrance
:—" In that chamber," said he, " lodges the Lady
"Ah, my poor
cousin!" exclaimed Murray, "though she seems not to have tasted
the hardships of her parents, she has shared their misery I do not
doubt." While he spoke, the lieutenant bowed in silence, and Murray
entered alone. The chamber was magnificent, and illumined by a lamp which
hung from the ceiling. He cautiously approached the bed, fearing, too
hastily to disturb her, and gently pulling aside the curtain, beheld
vacancy. An exclamation of alarm had almost escaped him, when observing a
half open door at the other side of the apartment, he drew towards it; and
there beheld his cousin, with her back to him, kneeling before a crucifix.
She spoke not, but the fervour of her action, manifested how earnestly she
prayed. He moved behind her, but she herd him not; her whole soul was
absorbed in the suceess of her petition; and at last raising her clasped
hands in a paroxysm of emotion, she exclaimed,—"If that trumpet
sounded the victory of the Scots, then, Power of Goodness! receive thy
servant’s thanks. But if De Warenne have conquered, where the Valence
failed; if all whom I love, be lost to me here, take me then to thyself;
and let my freed spirit fly to their embraces in heaven !"
"Ay, and on earth too,
thou blessed angel !" cried Murray, throwing himself towards her. She
started from her knees; and with such a cry, as the widow of Sarepta
uttered when she embraced her son from the dead, Helen threw herself on
the bosom of her cousin, and closed her eyes in a blissful swoon—for
even while every outward sense seemed fled, the impression of joy played
about her heart; and the animated throbbings of Murray’s breast, while
he pressed her in his arms; at last aroused her to recollection. Her
glistening and uplifted eyes, told all the happiness, all the gratitude of
her soul. "My father ?— All are safe?" demanded she.
"All, my best beloved !" answered Murray, forgetting, in the
powerful emotions of his heart, that what he felt, and what he uttered,
were beyond even a cousin’s limits :—"My uncle; the Countess;
Lord and Lady Ruthven; all are safe."
"And Sir William
Wallace?" cried she: "you do not mention him. I hope no
"He is conqueror here
!" interrupted Murray. "He has subdued every obstacle between
Berwick and Stirling; and he has sent me hither, to set you and the rest
of the dear prisoners free."
Helen’s heart throbbed
with a new tumult as he spoke. She longed to ask, whether the unknown
knight from whom she had parted in the hermit’s cell, bad ever joined
Sir William Wallace? She yearned to know that he yet lived. At the thought
of the probability of his having fallen in some of these desperate
conflicts, her soul seemed to gasp for existence; and dropping her head on
her cousin’s shoulder: "Tell me, Andrew —" said she, and
there she paused, with an emotion for which she could not account to
"Of what would my
sweet cousin inquire ?" asked Murray, partaking her agitation.
particular," said she, covered with blushes; "but did you fight
alone in these battles? Did no other knight but Sir William Wallace?"
Helen," returned Murray, enraptured at a solicitude, which he
appropriated to himself. "Many knights joined our arms. All fought in
a manner worthy of their leader; and thanks to Heaven, none have
cried Helen; and with a hope, she dared hardly whisper to herself, of
seeing the unknown knight, in the gallant train of the conqueror, she
falteringly said, "Now, Andrew, lead me to my father."
Murray would perhaps have
required a second bidding, had not Lord Mar, impatient to see his
daughter, appeared with the Countess at the door of the apartment.
Hastening towards them, she fell on the bosom of her father; and while she
bathed his face and hands with her glad tears, he too wept, and mingled
blessings with his caresses. No coldness here met his paternal heart; no
distracting confusions, tore her from his arms: no averted looks, by
turns, alarmed and chilled the bosom of tenderness. All was innocence and
duty in Helen’s breast; and every ingenuous action showed its affection
and its joy. The estranged heart of Lady Mar had closed against him; and
though he suspected not its wanderings, he felt the unutterable difference
between the warm transports of his daughter, and the frigid gratulations,
forced from the lips of his wife.
Lady Mar gazed with a weird
frown on the lovely form of Helen, as she wound her exquisitely turned
arms around the Earl, in filial tenderness. Her bosom, heaving in the
snowy whiteness of virgin purity; her face, radiant with the softest
blooms of youth; all seemed to frame an object, which malignant fiends had
conjured up to blast her step dame’s hopes. "Wallace will behold
these charms !" cried her distracted spirit to herself, "and
then, where am I ?"
While her thoughts thus
followed each other, she unconsciously darted looks on Helen, which, if an
evil eye had any witching power, would have withered all her beauties. At
one of these portentous moments, the glad eyes of Helen met her glance:
she started with horror. It made her remember how she had been betrayed,
and all that she had suffered from Soulis. But she could not forget, that
she had also been rescued; and with that blessed recollection, the image
of her preserver rose before her. At this gentle idea, her alarmed
countenance took a softer expression; and, tenderly sighing, she tuned to
her father’s question of "How she came to be with Lady Ruthven,
when he had been taught by Lord Andrew, to believe her safe at St.
Murray, throwing himself on a seat beside her, "I found in your
letter to Sir William Wallace, that you had been betrayed from your asylum
by some traitor Scot; and but for the fulness of my joy at our present
meeting, I should have inquired the name of the villain?"
Lady Mar felt a deadly
sickness at her heart, on hearing that Sir William Wallace was already so
far acquainted with her daughter, as to have received a letter from her;
and in amazed despair, she prepared to listen, to what she expected would
bring a death-stroke to her hopes. They had met—but how?—where? They
wrote to each other! Then, far indeed had proceeded that communication of
hearts, which was now the aim of her life—and she was undone! Helen
glanced at the face of Lady Mar, and observing its changes, regarded them
as corroborations of her having been the betrayer. "If conscience
disturbs you thus:" thought Helen, "let it rend your heart, and
perhaps remorse may follow!"
As the tide of success
seemed so full for the patriot Scots, Helen no longer feared that her
cousin would rashly seek a precarious vengeance on the traitor Soulis,
when he might probably soon have an opportunity of making it certain, at
the head of an army. She therefore commenced her narrative, from the time
of Murray’s leaving her at the priory; and continued it to the hour in
which she had met her father, a prisoner in the streets of Stirling. As
she proceeded, the indignation of the Earl, and of Murray against Soulis,
became vehement. The nephew was full of immediate personal revenge. But
the father, with arguments similar to those which had suggested themselves
to his daughter, calmed the lover’s rage; for Murray now felt that fire,
as well as a kinsman’s; and reseated himself with repressed, though
burning resentment, to listen to the remainder of her relation.
The quaking conscience of
Lady Mar did indeed vary her cheeks with a thousand dyes, when, as Helen
repeated part of her conversation with Macgregor’s wife, Murray abruptly
said, "Surely that woman could name the traitor who betrayed us into
the hands of our enemies! Did she not hint it?"
Helen cast down her eyes,
that even a glance might not overwhelm with insupportable shame the
already trembling Countess. Lady Mar saw that she was acquainted with her
guilt; and expecting no more mercy, than she knew she would show to Helen
in the like circumstances, she hastily rose from her chair; internally
vowing vengeance against her triumphant daughter, and hatred of all
mankind. But Helen thought she might have so erred, from a wife’s alarm
for the safety of the husband she professed to doat on; and this dutiful
daughter determined never to accuse her.
While all the furies raged
in the breast of the, guilty woman, Helen simply answered, "Lord
Soulis would be weak as he is vile, to trust a secret of that kind with a
servant;" then hurried on to the relation of subsequent events. The
Countess breathed again; and, almost deceiving herself with the idea that
Helen was indeed ignorant of her treachery, listened with emotions of
another kind when she heard of the rescue of her daughter-in-law. She saw
Wallace in that brave act! But as Helen, undesignedly to herself, passed
over the parts in their conversation which had most interested her, and
never named the graces of his person, Lady Mar thought, that to have
viewed Wallace with so little notice, would have been impossible; and
therefore was glad of such a double conviction, that he and her daughter
had never met; which seemed verified, when Helen said, that the unknown
chief had promised to join his arms with those of Wallace.
Murray had observed Helen
while she spoke, with an impression at his heart that made it pause.
Something in this interview, had whispered to him, what he had never
dreamt before; that she was dearer to him than fifty thousand cousins. And
while the blood flushed, and retreated, in the complexion of Helen; and
her downcast eyes refused to show what was passing there, while she
hastily ran over the circumstances of her acquaintance with the stranger
knight, Murray’s own emotions declared the secret of hers; and with a
lip as pale as her own, he said, "But where is this brave man? He
cannot have yet joined us; for surely he would have told Wallace, or
myself, that he came from you?"
"I warned him not to
do so," replied she; "for fear that your indignation against my
enemies, my dear cousin, might have precipitated you into dangers, to be
incurred for our country only."
"Then, if he have
joined us," replied Murray, rising from his seat, "you will
probably soon know who he is. To-morrow morning, Sir William Wallace will
enter the citadel, attended by his principal knights; and in that gallant
company, you must doubtless discover the man who has laid such obligations
on us all by your preservation."
Murray’s feelings told
him, that glad should he be, if the utterance of that obligation would
Helen herself knew not how to
account for the agitation which shook her, whenever she adverted to her
unknown preserver. At the time of the hermit’s friend (the good lay
brother), having brought her to Alloa, when she explained to Lady Ruthven
the cause of her strange arrival, she had then told her story with
composure, till she mentioned her deliverer; but in that moment, for the
first time she felt a confusion which
disordered the animation with which she described his patriotism and his
bravery. But it was natural, she thought, that gratitude for a recent
benefit, should make her heart beat high. It was something like the
enthusiasm she had felt for Wallace, on the rescue of her father; and she
was satisfied. But when a few days of quiet at Alloa had recovered her
health from the shock it had received in the recent scenes, and she
proposed to her aunt, to send some trusty messenger to inform the
imprisoned Earl at Dumbarton, of her happy refuge; and Lady Ruthven in
return, had urged the probability that the messenger would be intercepted,
and so her asylum be discovered; saying, "Let it alone, till this
knight of yours, by performing his word, calls you to declare his
honourable deeds. Till then, Lord Mar, ignorant of your danger, needs no
assurance of your safety."
This casual reference to the knight,
had then made the tranquillized heart of Helen renew its throbbings; and
turning from her aunt with an acquiescing reply, she retired to her own
apartment, to quell the unusual and painful blushes she felt burning on
her cheeks. Why she should feel thus, she could not account,
"unless," said she to herself, "I fear that my suspicion,
may be guessed at; and should my words, or looks, betray the royal Bruce
to any harm, that moment of undesigned ingratitude, would be the last of
This explanation, seemed
ample to herself. And henceforth, avoiding all mention of her preserver,
in her conversations with Lady Ruthven, she had confined the subject to
her own breast; and thinking that she thought of him more, by her
attention to speak of him less, she wondered not that whenever she was
alone, his image immediately rose in her mind; His voice seemed to sound
in her ears; and even as the summer air wafted its soft fragrance over her
cheek, she would turn as if she felt that breath which had so gently
hushed her to repose. She would then start and sigh, and repeat his words
to herself; but all was serene in her bosom. For it seemed as if the
contemplation of so much loveliness of soul in so noble a form, soothed,
instead of agitated her heart. "What a king will he be!" thought
she: "with what transport, would the virtuous Wallace set the
Scottish crown on so noble a brow."
Such were her meditations
and feelings, when she was brought a prisoner to Stirling. And when she
heard of the victories of Wallace, she could not but think that the brave
arm of her knight was there; and that he, with the renowned champion of
Scotland, would fly on the receipt of her letter, to Stirling; there to
repeat the valiant deeds of Dumbarton. The first blast of the Scottish
trumpet under the walls, found her, as she had said, upon her knees; and
kept her there: for, hardly with any intermission, with fast and prayer,
did she kneel before the altar of Heaven,— till the voice of Andrew
Murray, at midnight, called her to freedom and to happiness.
Wallace, and perhaps her
nameless hero with him, had again conquered !—His idea dwelt in her
heart, and faltered on her tongue; and yet, in reciting the narrative of
her late sufferings to her father, when she came to the mentioning of the
stranger’s conduct to her with an apprehensive embarrassment, she felt
her growing emotions as she drew near the subject; and, hurrying over the
event, she could only excuse herself for such new perturbation, by
supposing that, the former treason of Lady Mar, now excited her alarm,
with fear she should fix it on a new object. Turning cold at an idea so
pregnant with horror, she hastily passed from the agitating theme, to
speak of De Valence, and the respect with which he had treated her during
her imprisonment. His courtesy, had professed to deny nothing to her
wishes, except her personal liberty, and any conference with her parents,
or aunt. Her father’s life, he declared, was altogether out of his power
to grant.—He might suspend the sentence, but he could not abrogate it.
"Yes," cried the
Earl; "though false and inflexible, I must not accuse him of having
been so barbarous in his tyranny as Cressingham. For it was not until De
Valence was taken prisoner, that Joanna and I were divided. Till then we
were lodged in decent apartments: but on that event, Cressingham tore us
from each other, and threw us into different dungeons. My sister Janet, I
never saw since the hour we were separated in the street of Stirling,
until the awful moment in which we met on the roof of this castle; the
moment when I expected to behold her, and my wife, die before my
Helen now learned, for the
first time, the base cruelties which had been exercised on her father and
his family, since the capture of De Valence. She had been exempted from
sharing them, by the fears of Cressingham; who, knowing that the English
earl had particular views with regard to her, durst not risk offending
him, by outraging one whom he had declared himself determined to protect.
During part of this
conversation, Murray withdrew, to bring Lady Ruthven and her son, to share
the general joy of full domestic reunion.—The happy Edwin and his
mother, having embraced these dear relatives, with yet more tender
affections yearning in their bosoms, accompanied Murray to the door of the
barbican, which contained Lord Ruthven. They entered on the wings of
conjugal and filial love; but, the for once pensive, Lord Andrew, with a
slow and musing step, returned into the castle, to see that all was safely
disposed for the remainder of the night.