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Tales of the Scottish Peasantry
The Illegitimate


"Is it possible, on such a sudden, you should fall into so strong a liking with old Sir Rowland's younger son?"—As You Like It.

While most of our large towns have been rapidly increasing, there are perhaps few old people who do not recollect several hamlets, or smaller villages, which have now almost entirely disappeared. Among those the Kirkton may be numbered: the improvements and alterations of the present century have nearly blotted its very name from the face of the earth ; and such as it was, it can never be again. Standing at the base of a range of low hills, which screened it from the northern blast, it presented the very beau-ideal of irregularity. The houses, of which there might be between thirty and forty, stood in detached groups, with open spaces and garden ground between. Around most of the gardens, a row of trees had been planted, which, after having attained the growth of more than a century, gave the whole, when seen from a distance, the appearance of an open grove. The church, however, which, with its time-worn walls, painted windows, roof of grey slates, and antique belfry, stood upon a circular mound near the middle of the village, rose above the trees, and was seen from the surrounding country. Around the church lay the parish cemetery, separated from the rest of the houses by a low wall, within which the dust of many generations seemed to have augmented the original soil, till it was nearly as high as the top of the enclosure. The cemetery itself abounded almost to excess witli that species of erect tombstone, which some one has somewhere designated "spectral." In some places they stood huddled together as if for company's sake, and in others solitary, as men are apt to do when disgusted with the world. Most of them were painted white, so that when seen in the far spent twilight of a summer evening, or by the waning moon on a winter night, a superstitious individual might have easily furnished himself from among them with a whole host of sheeted apparitions. These monuments, several of which evidently belonged to an early period, showed various degrees of perfection in the art. Some were smoothly wrought, and had all their lines and angles entire; others, of an older date, were so overgrown with moss, that they appeared to have neither lines nor angles j some were covered with quaint devices—some "with nameless sculpture decked"—while over a few of the oldest, the obliterating hand of time had passed, sweeping name, date, devices, and all before it, and leaving those whose memories they were intended to perpetuate, in as much obscurity as the "unhonoured dead." Around the churchyard on every side, and separated from it in some places only by a narrow footpath, the small smoky houses were congregated close, as if their original possessors had coveted these situations from their proximity to that "land of, forgetfulness" to which they were at last to be removed. Below the church, on the north side, stood the mill from which the mill burn, making a circuit to the westward, swept nearly half round the village—now ready to overflow its banks, and anon' diminished to the drippings of a scanty stream, as the dam above chanced to be open or shut.

To this place when a boy I was sent every morning, in defiance of my own inclination, that I might have the benefit of the instructions and the thrashings of Mr. Mathias Weather-spoon, who was the parish schoolmaster. Being somewhat of a dunce, I was far enough from being a favourite with the dominie; but to compensate for this, I had the good fortune to find a friend in his daughter, who, when her ireful father, for my misdeeds, had drawn me forth from that sanhedrim of numskulls with whom I was associated, sometimes took me into the house, and comforted me with smiles and kind words; or, if neither of these would do, her last resource was to tell me a story ; and from her it was that I first learnt the following particulars of an individual, at the time living in the village.

On a summer morning, as the mill-master's servants were beginning the labours of the day, they nearly stumbled over a young woman, of rather interesting appearance, with a child in her arms, which appeared to be only a few weeks old, lying upon some straw in one of the sheds. When they discovered her, she was in such a state of exhaustion, that at first they supposed her dead. She was immediately carried into the house, where common humanity prompted Mrs. Henderson, the mill-master's wife to do everything in her power for the restoration of the stranger. When so far recovered as to be able to speak, there was a something in her manner—a bashful-uess and a delicacy—so unlike the character of a common vagrant, that Mrs. Henderson began to take a sort of involuntary interest in her fate; and when it was farther ascertained that .she had neither home nor friends to whom she could apply, Mr. Henderson offered her an empty house which he had in the village, at a very moderate rent, upon condition that she would work for him or his wife when they required her. These terms were readily accepted by the stranger, who seemed anxious to live for the sake of her infant, though it did not appear that she could bring herself to beg for that or any other consideration. The only difficulty now was, to furnish her with a few of those articles which were indispensable to housekeeping; but this also was got over. The wooden frame-work of an old bed, upon which the worms had feasted for nearly half a century, was brought down from the couplehauks of the barn; a remnant of an old carpet, with which the moths had long been familiar, and some worn out blankets, were supplied as bed-clothes; a chair without the back, and a four-footed stool, were brought from the kitchen to serve as seats; a wooden plate, a spoon, and an old pitcher, were added to the store by one of the farm-servants; and with these, and another culinary article, yclept a parritch-kettle, for which fourteenpence was subscribed, the stranger took up house.

The people of the Kirkton, however, were far from regarding these measures with a friendly eye. They had married, and intermarried, till nearly the whole inhabitants of the place were in some way or other connected; and to touch one, was to offend the whole. The former occupant of the house had been ejected by Mr. Henderson, in consequence of some quarrel and when he left it, his friends consoled themselves with the idea, that it would never get another tenant. This was all they could do. Against the mill-master, who was also proprietor of his own farm, they had not the means of waging successful war; they were therefore compelled to brook, what they considered an unpardonable insult; but no sooner was the house again occupied, than they looked upon the unoffending occupant as an intruder, from whom, if they could not drive her hence, it was at least their duty to stand aloof: and, had it not been that some of the women were anxious to hear her story, they would have shown her immediately what she had to expect. That story, however, she did not appear willing to tell: some particulars she indeed gave, but they were neither full, nor satisfactory; and, when her neighbours discovered that she would communicate nothing more, it was at once decided that she had swerved from the paths of virtue—that her child was an illegitimate, and, as such, that they deserved to be treated with contempt. In this belief, they were confirmed by the circumstance of her boy's surname being the same as her own, which, they argued, could not have been the case, had she been married. But as time passed on, some individuals, who were less prejudiced against her, and treated her with more kindness, began to acquire her confidence; to them she at last unfolded the greater part of her story ; and that story a little condensed, ran nearly as follows.

Her name, which she never attempted to conceal, was Katherine Elliot, and she was the daughter of a farmer, who lived near one of the shipping ports on the west coast of Scotland. When little more than a girl, she became attached to a young man, who was frequently employed about the harbour; he was equally fond of her, and as he had the advantage of a tolerably good education, they both hoped that in time he might get into some situation, which would enable him to ask her hand in an open and honourable manner. But, as matters then stood— he being poor, and her father comparatively rich—motives of prudence induced them, for nearly three years, to keep their attachment a profound secret. At last his prospects seemed to brighten: he was promised a place in the Excise, and already wearied with long waiting, to anticipate his good fortune, they were privately married. Almost every day he expected orders to present himself for examination, but several months elapsed without any thing of the kind having reached him. The war was then hotly carried on by sea, as well as land; the press gang were busy in every port; and though he was not a sailor, as he had been frequently seen about the harbours by these officials, and was supposed to have some knowledge of nautical affairs, he was waylaid—hurried on board a tender—and thence draughted into a ship of war, which was on the point of sailing for the Mediterranean, without even having time to speak a word, or write a letter to his wife. On her part, she endeavoured to conceal her sorrow at this unexpected separation, as well as she could; but the time soon arrived, at which the secret of their engagement could be no longer kept, and then her life became truly miserable. Day after day, she had to listen to the stern reproofs of her father, who spoke with bitterness of the shame and disgrace she had brought upon his family; and said, that he would have rather seen her buried, than dishonoured as she was. Morning, noon, and night, her mother abused without measure, or mercy, the man whom she loved, and to whom she considered herself bound by the holiest of human ties. The misery which she had to endure from these causes, was greatly aggravated by the conduct of an only brother, who would scarcely speak to her at all; he avoided her presence, as if it had been contamination to be near her; and, if at any time he did condescend to notice her, it was as "a fallen thing," and in that tone of mingled pity and contempt, which is a thousand times worse to bear than the bitterest reproaches. In vain did she declare that she was married, and that her husband would acknowledge her marriage when he should return—no one believed her, and driven almost to distraction, she at last formed the rash resolution, of quitting her paternal home for ever.

About this time, she heard that the ship in which her husband sailed, had sustained severe damage at sea, and had been ordered back to Plymouth, where she would lie till she could be repaired. The thought of reaching him, and getting their marriage publicly solemnised, struck her, and without speaking of her purpose to any one, she collected what money she could command, tied up a small bundle of clothes, and having previously ascertained that there was a vessel in the harbour, which would sail for the Ex with the night tide, she waited patiently till the family were asleep, then hastened to the shore, paid her passage, and went on board. After having performed more than half the voyage, the vessel was stranded in a gale during the night, on the west coast of England; and the crew, most of whom were drunk, thinking that she must soon go to pieces, took to the long-boat, leaving their passenger to the care of Providence. For their selfishness in this respect, however, they soon met what appeared to be a just reward. The moon, which hitherto had been clouded, now shone out, and from the deck she saw them struggling hard to clear the breakers, but a strong current and. the heavy sea which was then running rendered their efforts unavailing; and in a few minutes a giant wave flung them headlong among those merciless executioners of the deep, where even their drowning cry was drowned by the louder crash of bursting waters. Al most immediately after this catastrophe, the wind began to abate; in half-an-hour more it was nearly a dead calm, and though the heavy swell from the ocean still continued to menace the vessel, she held together till the receding tide left her perfectly dry. Lighted partly by the waning moon, and partly by the rising morn, Katherine Elliot now proceeded to throw a rope over the ship's side, and by this means she succeeded in reaching "the smooth and hardened sand." The vessel had been thrown upon a solitary part of the coast, no one appeared to be stirring, and with a heart full of the events of the past night, and her own uncertain prospects she pushed on through field and brake, till she came to a road leading to the southward, and following it she proceeded sadly and silently on her journey, till fainting nature compelled her to seek rest and refreshment. She had many motives for despatch; even when she did stop, she felt inclined to be silent on the subject of the late wreck, lest any thing should transpire to detain her; and resuming her journey as soon as possible, she prosecuted it with indefatigable perseverance. Travelling on foot, however, is at best but a slow mode of proceeding; and after all her efforts she arrived at Plymouth just in time to see the ship in which her husband sailed, standing out to sea with a fair wind, and to learn that her destination was the East Indies.

This sight nearly overwhelmed her; it was several days before she could recover her spirits so far as to be able to leave the place; and while thus detained she met by accident a sailor, who was a distant relation of her husband's, and who had seen her father and brother at the quay, on the morning of her departure. "When he saw them they had learned the name and destination of the vessel in which she sailed, and were speaking of the necessity of having her confined as soon sis they could get her back. He had then only a few minutes to spare, and giving her hastily the small sum of ready money which he chanced to have about him, he requested her to meet him in, the evening, when he would try to think of some means for her support. But that evening he was destined never to see, for in consequence of a rope giving way, he fell from the rigging of his own vessel, and was taken up a corpse.

Thus deprived of almost the only friend on earth to whom she could appeal, or who knew aught of her having escaped the wreck, and deprived at the same time of the only individual who had been a witness to her marriage, and could attest her innocence—hopeless, destitute, and unable to determine on anything, except that she would not return to her father's house to be a prisoner, she began to direct her steps to the north; but they were soon arrested by that event to which she had almost looked forward as the termination of her misfortunes. With no friend to cheer or support her spirits, in that most trying moment, she gave birth to a son, and in doing so she seemed resigned to the worst which could befall. But as soon as she found herself a mother, the wish to live revived in her bosom, her babe formed a new tie, which knit her once more to the world; and, contrary to her own expectation, she soon recovered. Without attempting to follow her through her subsequent wanderings and sufferings, it may be stated, that after her last shilling was gone, her spirits exhausted, and her body completely worn out with travelling, she arrived at the Kirkton, late on an evening in the month of June. The people were in bed ; she had nothing to offer them in return for those provisions and that shelter which she required; her fainting limbs refused to support her farther, and sitting down, she gave suck to her infant with many a sigh, and then sunk back upon the straw, where she was afterwards found.

When the wandering mendicant has received his alms, and has prayed over his thousand times repeated prayer, for "a blessing on the house, and the head of the individual who doles it out," from him nothing more is expected; but it is different with those who have a fixed habitation. To sympathise with those who are in great distress of any kind, appears to be quite natural to humanity, in almost the whole of its stages of civilisation, and poor people in general are no doubt pitied, and relieved, and so forth; but then they must be so very humble, and so full of gratitude forever after, and so ready to comply with the wishes and opinions of their benefactors upon all occasions, that, to a proud and independent spirit, it may still be a question, whether the relief, or the destitution which it relieves, would be most easily borne? This piece of ethical philosophy, which is perhaps new to the schoolmen, though by no means new to their unsoholastic brethren, Katherine Elliot either knew by intuition, or had been already taught by experience; and her knowledge in this respect, soon manifested itself in her conduct.

Notwithstanding their previous resolution, the dames of the Kirkton would have bestowed a sort of distant attention on their new neighbour; but she evinced no inclination to be their debtor, even for the merest trifle. This they attributed to pride, and as pride, in their estimation, was a more unpardonable crime, than any of which they had hitherto suspected her, they at once gave her up to her fate. The men indeed—married, as well as unmarried—were less hasty in their decision, and, when their natural spirits had been a little elevated by artificial ones, they showed their willingness, for a time, to befriend her, by giving her a clap on the shoulder, and calling her "a bonny lassie;" but she repelled these attempts at familiarity with indignation, and they too were forced to give her up—remarking as they did so, that "she was a perjink body, and carried her head owre heigh."

To this neglect she seemed to have reconciled herself, and she endured it without showing any symptoms of discontent. At the conclusion of the war, her husband came home, with his early prospects completely dissipated, and his constitution sadly shattered. But the air, and the occupations of the country, and perhaps more than all, the affectionate care of his wife, produced the most favourable effect upon his health and spirits:—both rallied, and for the six following years, he seemed to be as well as ever he had been in his life. During this period they had the satisfaction of seeing three children added to their family. The hardships of a seafaring life, however, often sap the vigour of the constitution, and induce premature decay. While he was yet in the prime of life, John Elliot began to suffer from declining health, and, after a lingering indisposition, which prevented him from engaging in profitable labour for more than two years, he was gathered —not to his fathers, for they slept in a distant part of the island, but—to his mother earth. During his protracted illness, his wife's anxiety to procure medical assistance, and every thing else which she thought might have a tendency to facilitate his recovery, or prolong his life, had induced her to mortgage their slender resources, to a very considerable extent; and when these items were added to the expenses of the funeral, she found herself deeply in debt—with the farther aggravation of three children, who, in common phrase, "could neither work nor want," to provide for.

Her circumstances at this crisis appeared to be desperate, and beggary, or parish relief, would have been her only alternatives, had it not been for her eldest boy, who bore his father's name, and who, though only fourteen years of age, now endeavoured to supply his place. By this time, breaking stones on the public roads, at so much per cubic yard, had become a common employment; to such laborious occupations, no apprenticeship was required; and to all the drudgery which they impose upon those who follow them, the boy willingly submitted, rather than see his remaining parent stoop to ask charity. The joint earnings of the mother and son, were once more found sufficient to support the family. It was, long, however, before they could even make an attempt to liquidate their debts, but those to whom they were owing, saw their determined honesty, pitied their poverty, and forbore to press for that which they had not to give.

Still they were not free from persecution. "The rich have many friends," saith Solomon; "but the poor is hated of his own brother." As an illustration of this aphorism, it may be observed, that there is a certain station in society which may be designated honourable poverty—that is, when an individual, without having any thing to spare, is still able to wear a tolerably good coat, and maintain a decent appearance in the circle in which he moves. Such an individual, if there is any thing of intellectual dignity or moral worth about him, may pass through the world very respectably, and be treated with much respect by his fellows. But there is another kind of poverty which is neither honourable nor respectable. When the soiled and tattered garb, the toil-worn countenance, and the anxious eye, tell, in language not to be mistaken, that the individual is fairly under the world, as it has been called, whatever may have been his talents or his virtues, from that world he need look for neither honour nor respect. Yet, under such poverty the noblest virtues, by a train of events, or by a single accident, may be buried; and there, but for some accident or favourable occurrence again to disencumber them, they may expire.

It was under the last mentioned species of poverty that the widow and her son were now labouring. They sought no assistance from any one, and, strange as it may seem, this very independence was imputed to "beggarly pride." Their general appearance spoke too plainly of their indigence; this opened the mouths of all who had a mind to speak; the unfounded suspicions of illegitimacy which attached to the boy's birth were again raked up, and he was christened in derision, John the Illegitimate. This phrase was rather a new one in their vocabulary—unthinking individuals seemed to imagine that it became their mouths, and it was rung in his ears till a sense of shame, if it may be so called, had nearly driven him from society. Nor was this all; the cup of their misfortunes was not yet full; conscious, as it would seem, that their poverty, and the circumstance of its being known that they were in debt, was the principal cause of that contempt with which he was constantly treated, the young man became careless of his own health. Whether it rained or was fair, early and late he pursued his laborious employment for the honourable purpose of being even with the world. This could not last; in a short time be was laid on a bed of sickness, his life came to be despaired of, and the mother, who had already watched the last moments of a beloved husband, now hung in awful suspense over what appeared to be the dying bed of her son—the prop and stay of herself and her fatherless children. A surgeon was called in haste, he was profusely bled, and from that hour Tate seemed to hesitate, if not to relent. For several days, however, no one except the surgeon would believe that he was better. His strength had been so terribly prostrated before the disease could be overcome, and he was so low, that for a long time his recovery was almost imperceptible. Many months passed over before he was able to resume his work, and when he did so, it was with scarcely a tithe of his former strength.

The reader must now be pleased to pass over a number of years, regarding which I can give him no information. In the early part of the summer of 1826, I was advised to try change of air for my health ; like most others, I had some reasons for wishing to live, and I resolved to comply with the advice as far as possible, by spending a few days or weeks, as circumstances might warrant, with a distant relation, who lived near a place called Locharrow. In my way thither, I passed the scene of my schoolboy days, and as I paused to look upon it, I had almost exclaimed, in the words of the poet,

A merry place it was in days of yore,
But something ails it now—the place is cursed.

The Kirkton, as I had seen it, was no more. I was told that a public-house had been established in the village, and that the old-fashioned "little lairds," after liquidating the best part of their properties with the landlord, had one by one sold them, and gone to seek shelter elsewhere, or to conceal their poverty in their graves. The old dominie was dead—his daughter married—the small smoky houses were razed—the trees felled; and the manse and the school-house, with a smithy and a wright's shop—the two last of modern erection—were all that remained. Musing upon the mutability of such possessions, and the follies by which men, who had been comparatively rich, may become poor, I stumbled into the churchyard, where many of the former possessors of property in the place were Tying silent: it alone seemed to have undergone no change. Most of the graves, indeed, which were prominent when I was a schoolboy, had sunk to the level of the surrounding soil, but their places had been supplied by others, which were raised high by new tenants, and it looked still the same. The monumental stones, too, were familiar to my eye, and I could not help scanning them with a strange interests—an interest to which those who are in high health are entire strangers. But among them there was one whose diminutive size and modern appearance particularly attracted my attention. It scarcely rose a foot above the grave which it protected; and after pressing down the long grass with which it was nearly covered, I was able to read the words "John Elliot," graven upon the plain stone, without date or ornament, or aught beside. "The poor illegitimate," said I to myself, as I looked upon it, "housed at last where his poverty is no crime;" and, full of melancholy reflections, I left the place.

For some time after I arrived at my new residence the only thing I could do was to walk a few miles every day upon the public road. During the very first of these sanatory excursions my attention was arrested by one of the stonebreakers, of whom there were several in my way. In passing and repassing I viewed him attentively, and on both occasions felt an inclination to speak; but there was a something in his manner which seemed to forbid this freedom. It was neither haughtiness nor pride—there was nothing of the kind about him—but that peculiar expression which bespeaks a mind under the influence of some absorbing pursuit, and says at once, "my thoughts are not as your thoughts." To appearance he might have seen some nineteen or twenty summers. In stature he was not more than the middle size, but well formed and active. His figure, however, was not one of those which are calculated to convey an idea of robust health and great personal strength, being in proportion rather slender than otherwise : but this might be partly owing to the scanty dress in which he pursued his laborious calling. The only articles of clothing which he usually retained were his shirt and his trousers—his shirt collar being always thrown open, and his shirt sleeves folded upward and inward in such a manner as to leave the whole of the fore-arm bare. Though he was exactly at that time of life when men in general are most sedulous in cultivating any little charms which they may happen to possess, on his personal appearance, on his complexion, on his dress—the last of which was composed of the plainest and cheapest materials—he did not seem to bestow a single thought. When at work he wore no covering upon his head save his own dark brown hair, to the extremities of which constant exposure had imparted a lighter shade. From being thus exposed to the burning sun of that almost tropical summer his hands, arms, and face were so much sunburnt, or rather so completely tanned, that he might have been mistaken for a native of some more southern latitude; but upon those parts of the upper arm and neck, which were only seen when he assumed a new attitude, or stretched himself for some uncommon effort, the skin was of a delicate whiteness. His features were perfectly regular, well defined, and formed for giving expression to manly feeling. His complexion must have been naturally pale, though, from causes already noticed, it was impossible to say in what degree; but upon a close inspection something like a faint red might have been discovered upon his cheek: it was so faint, however, that the superincumbent tanning he had received from the sun nearly concealed it. His eye was of a hazel colour—not particularly dark—full, and of a thoughtful cast. It was not one of those which indicate "a heart of fire," or "a soul of flame," as poets have been accustomed to say: it rather seemed to tell of a spirit which could pursue a fixed purpose "through good report and through bad report"—heedless alike of the praise or the blame, the notice or the neglect, of the world. Still it was far from being the eye of a stoic; for it was lighted up with a glow of feeling, dashed with sadness, which told at once of warm affections, of imagination, and of care. This description can convey little to the mind of the reader; but there was a something about the subject to which it refers which does not admit of being described, and to this he seemed to owe much of that interest which he evidently excited in the bosoms of others: it was that modification which mind sometimes produces upon matter—that general expression which the character diffuses over the countenance, which the painter may catch in a particularly happy moment, but of which the commonplace scribbler can convey no idea. To complete this imperfect sketch, the ease and gracefulness of all his motions, and the dexterity with which he addressed himself to his work, showed at once that he was decidedly the best breaker upon the road.

After having made these observations, the individual upon whom they turned became to me at once a favourite subject of meditation. Thinking of him served for the time to divert my mind from more melancholy thoughts. Though inconsistent, and often contradictory, many were the conjectures which formed concerning him; and to be satisfied as to the accuracy of these conjectures, on the following day I fairly introduced myself to him by an attempt at conversation.

In making this attempt, I found, as I had expected, that he was not one of those young men whose words run continually before their wits. In whatever- he might excel, it was not as an everlasting talker. While he answered my little inquiries about places and things with the utmost ease and readiness, he .it the same time pursued his work with a perseverance which is seldom equalled. It seemed as if nothing could divert his eye even for a moment from the stones, which appeared to crumble down by magic beneath his hammer. There was, moreover, a perplexing explioitness in his replies, which exhausted every subject of conversation almost as soon as it was introduced, and left the listener no alternative but silence, till he could contrive some new topic with which to assail him. All this he accomplished with the most perfect civility, and the greatest suavity of manner; and though he showed no wish for what' is commonly called friendly or familiar conversation, as his silence was neither that of stupidity nor pride, whether he spoke, or spoke not, he was still interesting. It seemed as if something had preoccupied his mind, and stolen his thoughts from those common concerns about which others think, speak, and write, and in which they find a pleasure. Could that something be love? No; for from all the vagaries of that wayward passion he appeared to be perfectly free. Could it be enthusiastic piety? No; for he spoke not after the manner of a religious enthusiast. Could it be incipient madness? No; for his eye was uniformly calm, and his manner composed. What could it be then? The question was more easily asked than answered.

Upon this, and several other occasions, I had ample opportunity for observing the light in which he was regarded by others. Very few could pass him without turning to look back before they had gone far. This was more particularly the case with young females, more than one of whom seemed to be secretly delighted with the symmetry of his person, and the graceful ease of his motions; but upon them and their charms he never paused to look: indeed, it seldom seemed that he was aware of their presence.

For more than a week I had passed a portion of every day beside him; this course of idling, however, was now drawing to a close, and as I was anxious to learn something of his personal history, and believed, moreover, that he might be easily induced to satisfy my curiosity, I resolved, if possible, to turn the conversation in that direction the next time we met. But just as I had seated myself upon the grassy bank beside him, the stage coach came in sight, and my attention was called away to another object. That object was a lady, whose age might be somewhere between eighteen and twenty, sitting upon the front seat immediately behind the driver. Brief as was the time for observation, I remarked that her dress was of the finest materials, but made after the plainest fashion, as if she had scorned to be indebted to art for setting off a figure, which seemed to require no such aid. Her air appeared to be pensive, but not sad, and I soon discovered that her face was interesting in no ordinary degree. It appeared as if the sun had tried to stamp her complexion with the signet of a warmer clime, but had left an impression so faint, that the natural red and white—the blending of the lily and -the rose— shone through. Beauty, however, depends oftener upon form and expression, than upon mere colour; and, though she was by no means deficient in the latter of these qualities, it was in the former that she principally excelled. In the words of a modern poet—

Oh, black were her eyes—black intensely—and black
Were the ringlets of jet which flow'd down her back.

Her raven locks, indeed, did not "flow down her back," as is the case, it seems, with Italian beauties, to which these lines allude; they were braided and curled after the fashion of these islands; but to ascertain their hue, enough of them was seen upon her snowy temples, where they contrasted strongly with the dazzling whiteness of the skin which they alternately shaded and revealed. As the coach advanced, her dark eyes became fixed upon my youthful companion; and by some curious coincidence, in turning to replace a stone which had started from under his hammer, he caught a glance of her nearly at the same time; and, contrary to his usual custom, he allowed the hammer to lie still, rested his arm on his knee, and continued to regard her for a time with a look of fixed and deep admiration. I had never seen him do the like before, though occasionally all but wooed by individuals of the softer sex, and to me the scene became doubly interesting. An event, however, was at hand, which was destined to break the spell.

As the coach drew near, it became evident that it would meet a cart heavily loaded with hay, nearly opposite the place where we were standing. The carter had somehow fallen behind his horses, and the animals still kept the middle of the road. The driver of the coach, as I afterwards understood, had overturned several carts before, without suffering any accident himself, and on the present occasion he evidently contemplated something of the same kind. Measuring the road carefully with his eye, he drove his cattle so close, that the fore-wheel struck, but slipped past without doing any serious injury. The sudden jerk, however, which it gave the cart, brought the shaft horse, who was a powerful animal, still nearer to that side of the road, while it made both him and the tracer lower their heads, and stretch their sinewy limbs, to overcome, by a determined effort, what they considered a permanent resistance. The result was what might have been expected. The hind-wheel of the coach, and the wheel of the cart, came fairly in contact, and the weight of the cart being greater than that of the coach, while the diameter of its wheel was somewhat less, the coach wheel began to rise over it; the horses in both vehicles made a desperate spring forward, and the next moment the coach lay on its side, with, the passengers sprawling on the dusty road. The young lady already noticed had been jerked from her seat by the concussion of the meeting, and thrown among the horses, where, to a certainty, she would have been kicked and trampled to pieces in a few minutes, had she not been rescued from her perilous situation by the stonebreaker, who snatched her thence almost before she fell. Leaving myself, and such of the male passengers as were not stupified by their fall, to render what assistance we could to the other ladies, he raised her in his arms, placed her passive head upon his bosom, and fixed his eyes upon her seemingly lifeless face with an expression of deeper concern than could have been expected from a stranger. He evidently had not been accustomed to see people swoon, and it must have struck him that she was dead. The confusion, however, soon subsided; it was discovered that nobody else was seriously injured; and after a few drops of cold water, brought from a neighbouring spring, had been sprinkled upon her forehead, she opened her dazzlingly dark eyes and turned them full upon the face of the individual who still supported her. He was at the time regarding her with a look of mingled interest, admiration, and apprehension; and the sight which she there met seemed to operate like a charm in restoring her at once to consciousness and self-possession: With a graceful movement she extricated herself from his arms, drew back a few steps, and there they stood like two statues inspired with life, but at the same time destitute of the power of motion. As they stood thus they might have formed an excellent subject for a painter. It were, indeed, difficult to conceive an idea of two more interesting figures brought together in circumstances so entirely dissimilar. But notwithstanding the difference of sex, dress, and the widely different spheres in which they had been bred, I could not help imagining that I could trace a curious resemblance in some of their features. The upper lip of both, for instance, had the same slight curve, their foreheads were similarly formed, and though the eye of the soiled and sunburnt stone-breaker was smaller, lighter in colour, and less brilliant than that of the young lady, to me they seemed to have the same quick motion, and the same expressive glance. This, however, might be partly fancy, and partly owing to the circumstances of their being, at the time, actuated by the same feelings of respect and admiration, heightened by that degree of embarrassment which the first impression of these feelings is calculated to produce.

The time thus passed was necessarily short. A peculiar smile seemed struggling for existence on the young lady's countenance; she offered a large silver piece to her deliverer; and when she spoke, though her voice was set to no tune, it seemed in itself "Nature's music." He appeared to feel its full effect; but he drew back at the same time with a slight feeling of pride, which, if it did nothing else, restored him at once to a consciousness of his situation, and enabled him also to speak.

"Thank you, ma'am," he said; "but I never in my life took money before I had earned it."

When he had uttered these words he seemed to think he had said too much; while the lady looked as though she had detected herself in a serious mistake, glanced timidly at me to ascertain if I observed her; and then silence, accompanied by an evident increase of embarrassment on both sides, succeeded.

While this little side scene was going forward, a band of rustics from the neighbouring fields and farms had assembled to satisfy their curiosity or offer their assistance. With their aid the coach was again placed upon its wheels; the injury it had sustained was not such as to unfit it for the road ; and the guard and driver, having got their cattle in order, were now heard calling to the passengers to "take their seats," and swearing about being "behind their time." Though this summons was loudly repeated, the young female, of whom we have been speaking, still seemed to hesitate, and lingered as if she wished to say something more; but at that moment one of the functionaries offered her his hand to assist her to her place; thus pressed, she again took her seat upon the top of the coach, and the next minute it drove off. I remarked, however, that the stone-breaker followed the vehicle with his eye as long as it was in sight, and the young lady's head was several times so far turned to one side as to allow her to have a sweeping glance of the place we then occupied. But the time I had to spare was now more than spent, and wishing him a good day I also took my departure.

I now felt myself so much better as to be able to attend to a number of little concerns, which hitherto had devolved upon those friends with whom I sojourned ; and as they were pleased to consider my presence as a favour, rather than a tax upon their friendship, the pride of poverty was lulled to sleep, and a wish to have my health fully re-established reconciled me to the idea of spending with them what remained of the season. But as I was now employed opportunities of seeing the stone-breaker seldom occurred, and when they did occur I could never muster resolution to make any direct inquiries concerning his name or story. It struck me, however, that his health was declining. At each successive meeting he appeared paler and thinner than he had done before; but this was easily accounted for by his extraordinary exertion, and the amazing quantity of work which he performed. Convinced that he was injuring himself, and that he would ultimately come to be a sufferer from this species of imprudence, I sometimes ventured to remonstrate on the necessity of relaxing his diligence, and satisfying himself with more moderate earnings; but upon these occasions, his uniform answer was a solemn assurance, that: "it was impossible for him to do so;" and farther I did not consider that it would have been delicate in me to interfere.

Time passed on—autumn was merging into winter; and as my own health was now tolerably re-established, I had taken leave of my friends to follow my fortunes elsewhere. The stone-breaker lay in my way, and as I approached, I was surprised to see him idling. He stood leaning upon a low wall, with his forehead clasped in one of his hands, while the other, in which he still held his hammer, hung motionless by his side. His eyes being shaded, he did not notice my approach; I had thus an opportunity of seeing him unseen, and I was deeply struck with his altered appearance. Owing to the change of the season, the sunburn had nearly disappeared from his face, leaving it more ominously pale than I had ever seen it before. Whatever his original complexion had been, it was now painfully evident, that this was not a natural paleness, but one occasioned by some disease at the time preying upon his constitution. His hands, arms, and more particularly his fingers, appeared attenuated in no ordinary degree; and when he withdrew his palm from his forehead, I almost started to see the blue veins rising over it with a shadowy distinctness, which indicated anything but health.

"You look surprised," said he, "but it is only an old friend of mine—a headache, come to pay me a visit."

I said he was looking ill in other respects, and should unquestionably go home, and take rest for a day or two, till his health was restored.

"When these are broken," said he, pointing to a few stones, which were all that remained of the heap, "I will go home; but it is hard to leave them when so few." With these words. he again placed himself in an attitude to resume his work, and, endeavouring to collect all his energy, made several strokes, which, however, fell wide of the object for which they were intended. He now paused for a few seconds, sighed deeply, and then made a second attempt to no better purpose. Weakness and pain had evidently disordered his sight, and, finding that his most determined efforts were fruitless, he flung down his hammer, pressed his hand once more upon his forehead, moved a few steps to one side, and unable, as it appeared, to support himself longer, he again leaned over the wall.

"You must go home,'' said I, "or you will repent not having done so when it is too late."

"Yes," was his reply; "I must go home now, and the question is, how am I to get there? I immediately offered to assist him ; he accepted the offer, not without some reluctance; and when we were about to leave the place, he took up his hammers with a sigh, looked steadfastly at the heap of stones; and then speaking in a tone, which was solemn rather than sad, "I had hoped to be able to finish these," he said, "before it came to this; but with me it is all over now, and some one else must do what I am forced to leave undone."

I tried to cheer him with the hopes of soon being able to resume his work again, mentioning such instances as I could recollect of individuals who had been more seriously indisposed than he appeared to be, and yet a single day had been sufficient to restore them.

"No, no," said he, with an incredulous shake of the head; "I know the nature of my complaint, and it were in vain to deceive myself as to its termination. But it is kind in you," he added, after a short pause, "thus to try to persuade me that I shall soon recover." And as he spoke, he smiled after that sort which "makes not others smile again."

Finding him firmly fixed in this opinion, and fearing from what I saw that it was but too well founded, I made no farther attempt to shake it; but instead, begged to know what made him so certain as to the nature of his disease.

"Three years ago," said he, "when I was recovering from a severe illness, which the doctor called inflammation of the lungs, he took me aside, and warned me to be particularly careful of myself ever after, otherwise, I should run a great risk of falling into consumption. I heard, him, and I knew well the fatal nature of the disease he named; but with a mother, two sisters, and a brother to provide for, and already deeply in debt, what care could I take? The very idea of it was folly. I must either work, or they must starve. That illness left a weakness in my chest, from which I never fairly recovered; and from that day forth, I looked upon myself as one on whom sentence of death had been already passed. Though I never spoke of the circumstances to any one, such was the impression which it made upon my own mind, that when my birth-day, or the longest day in the year, or any other particular day occurred, I have stood to watch the setting sun, and ere he disappeared, bade him a long farewell, thinking the while on the probability of being cold in my grave before the returning season brought that day again. But to me, who hitherto had been neglected, scorned, and despised by all save my mother, and, with little more than a boy's strength, obliged to drudge out the long, long day, in hard labour, death did not appear very terrible—only the grave seemed a gloomy place, and the thought of what I might have to suffer in dying sometimes made me sad. I had but one object in view, and one wish to accomplish; and these were, that I might be able to clear off my widowed mother's debts, and live till my little sisters were able to work for themselves. Had I been able to finish the few stones you saw me leave, the money in my master's hands would have been sufficient to pay the last farthing; and for my work"—here he paused for a little, sighed deeply, and then, in a low melancholy tone, added, "but it is in vain to speak of that now."

More deeply struck than ever with the extraordinary character of my youthful companion, eager to hear more of his sentiments, and anxious to improve the last opportunity which I was likely to have of seeing him, I inquired if the wish to live to old age had never mingled with his other wishes.

In answer to this question, "I must confess," he said, "that as my strength began to increase, as labour became less irksome, and new enjoyments presented themselves to my eye, I have wished to live; and sometimes, too, I have indulged the vain idea that I might live and be happy like others; but it is the province of the grisly king to dash the cup from the lips of those who are most eager to drink, and in his wonted mood he now comes to me. But see, yonder is my sister coming with my dinner: if I should grow suddenly worse she will be near, and as you may have other demands upon your time, it were unfair to detain you." I expressed my willingness to accompany him home. "But," continued he, "there is another reason for your leaving me. Though I have made free to tell you my sentiments, in the belief that we may never meet again, to my mother I have never spoken of the subject. From her I would gladly conceal the nature of my complaint as long as possible; and were she to see me assisted home by a stranger, it might alarm her fears, and give rise to questions which were better unasked. And now," he added, holding out his hand, "let me thank you for assisting a poor invalid so far, and let us part."

I took his hand, but was so deeply affected, that I could not return his salute.

"Do not distress yourself," he resumed: "you see I can be calm. I have now more reasons for wishing to live than ever, and yet I am resigned to die. Trust me, to those who have been long accustomed to think of the subject, there is nothing very appalling in the prospect of death.—But see, here is Mary: she must not hear me speak thus—farewell! "

And this is a hero, said I to myself, as I turned away, who has performed a task from which most of those heroes, whose fame has kept the world awake, would have shrunk. Without the prospect of fame or profit, or one applauding word, he has drudged out his short life in honourably discharging debts which he never contracted; he now falls a martyr to the stern integrity and affectionate warmth of his own character; and a widowed mother's tears, and a nameless grave, will be his sole reward. With these reflections, I lost sight of Locharrow— the place on which we had been advancing—but I could not so soon lose the recollection of the interesting individual from whom I had just parted; and after waiting a considerable time, without being able to obtain any information concerning him, I became impatient to learn his fate.

About the end of January, 1827, I had again crossed the country to Locharrow, and stood before the little inn, over which was the representation of a plough and harrow. The hostess, as I soon discovered, was no other than the daughter of my former pedagogue, now dignified with the, name of Mrs. Jugster; and from her I learned, that the poor Illegitimate, and the stone-breaker who had interested me so much, were the same; and that the stone I had seen in the Kirkton churchyard had been erected to his father. As almost always happens in such cases, I had got the end of the story long before I had heard one word of the beginning; but by dint of much questioning and cross-questioning, I at last succeeded in getting something like an intelligible account of some events which had occurred both before and after my departure; and of that account, the following is a sort of confused abridgment.

In the course of the preceding summer, a good deal of surprise had been excited, and many conjectures set afloat in the village, by the arrival of a young woman, calling herself Margaret Morrison, who took a house, and tried to Ťarn her own support, by performing the finer sorts of needlework. When she first came among them, she stated that she had once had some expectations; but having been deprived of her friends by death, and reduced to the necessity of doing something, she had resolved to seek her bread by her own industry, Farther she told not, and farther she seemed determined not to tell. But with this account the village dames were by no means satisfied; and in the lack of fuller information, the more charitable part of them said, that "she must have been some unfortunate gentleman's daughter, who, after her father's death, had come there to conceal her poverty;" while those who were inclined to judge harshly, asserted, that "she was only some light-headed lassie, who, having learned to speak English by accident, had taken up her residence among strangers, that she might be thought a lady." In the midst of these speculations, even the most envious were forced to acknowledge that she was beautiful; and her beauty soon drew around her a crowd of admirers, among whom were several, who, in the language of the place, might have been regarded as "good marriages." But whatever motives had induced her to settle there, the getting of a husband did not appear to be among them. There was a native dignity and reserve iu her manner, which repelled their advances without a word on her part; and while the young men were thus forced to keep their distance, their mothers, piqued, as it appeared, by her unaccountable indifference, christened her the nun. Friends or acquaintances she sought none; and except an occasional call upon Catherine Elliot, she was seldom seen to enter a neighbour's house. But by and by it came to be observed, that wherever there was a case of extreme poverty or great distress, she was always ready with her assistance and her mite, the last of which was often larger than could have been expected; and—such is the effect of every thing like generosity or benevolence—even the mothers of her unsuccessful suitors began to speak of her with more respect. As the season advanced, it was also observed that her visits to Catherine Elliot became more frequent, and then the village maidens; who, with all their charms, had never been able to move the heart of the widow's imperturbable son, began to wonder if she had fallen in love with him, or if it were possible that he could fall in love with her. In this mood they speculated upon his "pale looks," and the probability of her soon being left a widow, even if he were to make her his wife; but no decisive evidence could be obtained, and all was mere conjecture as to the state of their affections, when an accident occurred which placed the matter beyond a doubt.

On the evening of the day on which I had assisted the stone-breaker so far on his way home, the carriage of au eminent physician from the county town, which was more than ten miles distant, drew up at the inn door, and while the coachman was preparing to unyoke his cattle, the doctor inquired for the house of Mrs. Elliot, and whether she had a son who was then complaining. Mrs. Jugster had already noticed the declining health of the young man; but why Dr. Overhurn should have been brought so far to visit him, while their own doctor, who lived within half a mile of the place, had never been called, excited her surprise; and she proceeded forthwith to question the coachman. He in his turn appeared rather shy, and said that "he didn't know much about it;" but after she had given him a glass of double strong, he became more communicative, and proceeded to tell her without reserve what he had himself heard from his master's little daughter. "The little girl," he said, "told him that her papa had received a letter without a name, enclosing twenty guineas, and requesting him to visit a young man living at Locharrow, who had been very poorly for some time. The letter mentioned Friday evening as the time at which the writer wished his first visit to be made, and at the same time enjoined him to call in whatever medical assistance he might think proper—to do everything in his power for the recovery of his patient, without any regard to cost—to prohibit him from working, if he thought it would tend in the slightest degree to his restoration—to give him money to support the family, for which he had been accustomed to provide, in comfortable circumstances; and finally, to send his accounts to a banker in London, where they would be promptly acknowledged." This information only served to excite Mrs. Jugster's curiosity still farther, and after ministering to the comfort of the underling she hastened over to the widow's to see if any unravelment of the mystery could be obtained there.

The young man, it seemed, had grown much worse after he got home: pain in the head, which amounted almost to agony, repeated vomiting, and other alarming symptoms had awakened the fears of his anxious mother, who was in the act of despatching her .eldest girl for the medical man of the district when Dr. Overburn arrived. By his directions an opiate was to be administered about bed-time, and after enjoining the patient's mother to watch him for the first part of the night he proceeded to the house of a neighbouring gentleman, where he was to remain till next day. The effect of the opiate was such that the young man almost immediately fell into a profound sleep; and his mother, who had been up for the greater part of the previous night, set the candle down upon a table, on which lay a quantity of flax, at which she had been spinning, and, relieved in a great measure from her anxiety by the favourable opinion which she had heard the doctor express, she soon began to feel drowsy.

Mrs. Jugster, who had not been able to obtain any information beyond what has been stated, but who was, nevertheless, full of the important secret with which the coachman had intrusted her, now began to entertain some suspicions that Margaret Morrison might have been the writer of the letter; and with this idea in her head, before she went home, she determined on calling at her house "to see how she would look." The door, however, was locked, there was no appearance of light or fire within, and, though she craved admittance both by words and actions, nobody made answer. Convinced by this circumstance that Margaret was not at home, she concluded, from her absence on the very evening which had been named in the nameless letter, that she could have had no hand in the affair. Thus disappointed of every thing upon which even a feasible conjecture might be founded, she returned to her own house, and as there was no appearance of customers she went early to bed. But about the middle of the night she was awakened by the cry of fire, and after throwing on her garments in a hasty manner, slipping her feet into her bauchels, and opening the door, she saw over the top of the next house a bright appearance in the lower atmosphere, which was reflected far along the dark sky like the rising moon. She instantly hurried off in the direction whence it proceeded, and soon saw the widow's house, which was on the outskirts of the village, in flames. A crowd had already collected, and the widow herself, who was found sleeping by the fire, and her three younger children had been dragged out. But the moment after this was accomplished, a portion of the roof above the door fell in, and, by choking up the entrance with rubbish, smoke, and flame, prevented any farther attempt. The distracted mother was now wringing her hands, and crying: "My son—my son—oh my son! will none of you try to save him?" and in her eagerness to accomplish that which even the boldest of the other sex durst not venture to attempt, it was with the utmost difficulty she could be prevented from rushing on certain destruction. As her efforts grew more frantic, force was used to restrain her, and the scene in many respects became truly distressing. This had only continued for a very short time, when a female figure, closely wrapped up in a coarse brown cloak, was seen flitting round the crowd, and, upon it all eyes were turned. In the confusion which prevailed, and the fluctuating glare, which was now shaded, and now bright, as the dense smoke intervened, or the wind swayed the flames, it could only be seen indistinctly and by fits. Its face, with the exception of the eyes, which gleamed like balls of fire when the red light fell on them, was completely muffled up; it appeared to have shoes on its feet, but its snowy ankles were bare. Farther none could tell, and each looked in his fellow's face as if afraid to speak—even the wretched mother hushed for a moment the voice of her despair.

"A ghost!—a ghost!—or the great enemy himself come to look for his prey!" whispered half-a-dozen voices at once, the moment it had disappeared behind an angle of the wall.

At this ominous suggestion some trembled from head to foot, while others breathed short prayers for protection, and all were more or less amazed. The object of their terror, however, did not appear to heed them ; it had made the circuit of the house, in a time incredibly short, and it now stood before the door for a moment, till the wind drove back the flames, and then rushed in as fearlessly as if the fire had been its own element.

"In God's name, run for the minister!" cried some one in a voice which was at once loud, tremulous, and indistinct. "Run—run, for Godsake! " repeated a second, and a third, in the same breath. But before any one could obey the mysterious figure was again seen forcing its way through suffocating smoke and scorching flame with what appeared to be a bundle of bedclothes, which it could scarcely support in its arms. As soon as it had reached the free air it deposited its burden on a grassy bank with much caution, staggered forward a few steps, and then fell to the earth. The crowd at first started back, terrified by the idea—already partly expressed—that it was the devil carrying off the young man soul and body; for they had never imagined that anything earthly could have made the attempt and escaped with life: but his agonised mother vas not to be scared by such apprehensions. The moment she saw the figure emerge from the burning ruin she burst from the grasp of the man who held her—sprang forward, and throwing aside the folds of the bed-clothes, discovered her son, still sleeping from the effects of the opiate, but to all appearance uninjured—the blankets having protected him from the terrible element through which he was borne.

"God bless his deliverer!" she exclaimed, "God bless him!" But for the present no such blessing seemed to be bestowed. As she spoke the wind threw aside the thick smoke, and the bright red glare fell full upon the supposed fiend, who was now divested of its cloak and one of its shoes—the last of which had stuck fast among the rubbish, with which the entrance was choked up—and lying full length upon the ground, with a portion of its clothes burning. The next moment Katherine Elliot was bending over it; extinguishing the fire with one hand, and turning its face to the light with the other. "Margaret—Margaret," she once more exclaimed, "I thought it was you. May God bless and reward you!" But Margaret, who had swooned the moment she fell, heard her not.

The crowd, restored to their senses by these discoveries, now began to act like men. Some proceeded to take precautionary measures for preventing the fire from spreading to the rest of the houses, while others assisted in conveying the invalid to the spence of the inn, which had been readily offered for the accommodation of the family, till better could be procured. The women also performed their part by removing Margaret Morrison to her own house, and using such means as their limited skill suggested for restoring her to consciousness. This task was soon accomplished; but the moment she could speak, instead of uttering some complaint as they had expected, she startled them by inquiring in the most peremptory terms "at what time Dr. Overbum had left the village?" Some one who had heard him tell his coachman where to drive chanced to be present, and mentioned the circumstance, together with the hour of his departure. Margaret then offered a guinea, without the slightest hesitation, to the individual who should first reach him. "Tell him"; she continued, "to hasten to his patient, who has met a severe accident, without delay; tell him also that if he can save his life, or mitigate his suffering, his own reward will be liberal, if I—if I—but I am unable to speak—go, despatch a messenger immediately."

As she spoke these words her manner was so unlike what it had formerly been that the good dames stood amazed. The prospect of the guinea, however, was sufficiently tempting to secure more than one messenger; and, after having called at the inn, and seen his patient safe, and as well as could be expected, the medical gentleman was hurried off to visit the intrepid maiden herself.

"Poor girl," said Dr. Overburn, in a kind and encouraging tone, as he approached the bedside, "I hope the injury you have sustained is not so serious as it has been represented."

"In what state have you left your patient?" said she, with a voice and manner which seemed to make him start. The doctor assured her that, though weak at present, his constitution was still good, and with proper care he was likely to do well.

"But the burning, doctor," inquired she eagerly, "what of it? Has he suffered much from the fire?"

"No," said the other. "Owing, as I suppose, to some current of air having carried the smoke away from the bed on which he lay, he does not seem to have sustained the slightest injury.'

"Then I am satisfied," was her brief reply. She now allowed Dr. Overburn to examine her own case, and time it was; for besides her hands, which were fearfully scorched, one of her feet and a part of the leg had suffered so terribly that the flesh in some places seemed to be burned to a cinder. When everything had been done which medical skill at the time could suggest, and after she had intimated a wish that the rest of the company, with the exception of Katherine Elliot, should withdraw, "Doctor," said she, "is it common for fever and delirium to follow such accidents as the present?"

The doctor acknowledged that in very severe cases such a thing might happen.

"Well," said she, "I shall probably die, and farther concealment would be fatal to my purpose. It was I who wrote the letter, and for your prompt compliance with the request which it contained I owe you a deep debt. But I must now be your debtor in other respects. Here is a family left homeless and desolate by the fire—you know where to find money— make them comfortable, no matter at what cost, and the blessing of a friendless orphan will attend you, as you discharge the trust which she now commits to your care."

Having signified his willingness to execute her behests, and expressed a hope that she would yet be able to superintend her own charities, Dr. Overburn was proceeding to a delicate md somewhat embarrassed inquiry as to how the mistress of a fortune came to be in her present circumstances, when she laid her finger on her lip, as a sign that she did not want to be questioned; and he was about to retire.

"But hold!" cried she, as if some second thought had struck her; "I have some money—pardon my abruptness—and no relations that I know of—may I bequeath it to whom I please?" The doctor frankly acknowledged his ignorance of these matters, but professed his willingness to assist her in any way she could point out.

"Then," said she, "will you be so kind as take a few memoranda of my wishes, and employ any lawyer whom you can trust, to draw out the thing in a legal form?" The doctor took a note-book and pencil from his pocket, and she proceeded, "I, Julia Ruthven, wish to bequeath the money which was placed in the British Funds, and also that placed in the bank of Messrs. Glyn and Co. by my father, Francis Ruthven, to------"

Here she stopped, or rather was interrupted by Katherine Elliot, who seemed to start as she spoke, and now approached the bedside, repeating her words:—"Julia Ruthven—Francis Ruthven! it cannot be, and yet my own maiden name was Ruthven, and my only brother's name was Francis. Dear Margaret, did you know him ? but my brain is bewildered with long, long recollections."

Margaret, however, or Julia—the reader may now call her which he pleases, seeing she had assumed both names—answered not. The effort she had made, and the intolerable pain which she had all along been struggling to conceal, were too much for her strength, and she was once more in a state of insensibility. All farther questioning was now strictly forbidden by Dr. Overburn, who enjoined the widow to exclude all visitors, and keep her as quiet as possible. But, though these orders were obeyed to the letter, in the course of the morning fever came on, which was soon followed by delirium. In her ravings she spoke much of one of the "West Indian Islands—of West Indian scenes, and flowers, and also of an aunt, of whom she had heard her father speak, with the bitterest sorrow, as having been driven from the shelter of a paternal roof, and afterwards drowned, through his unkindness, These ravings were mingled with others, about "being thrown from the stage-coach among the horses' feet, and having her life saved by a stone-breaker, whom she loved at first sight, and could never forget. But as he was sick," she said, "and could not marry her, she intended to bequeath her whole fortune to him, when she died." Deeply would she have blushed, had these disjointed sentences been repeated to her after she recovered—for, by the blessing of God on Dr. Overburn's exertions, she did recover—but they reached no ear save that of the widow, and to her they afforded a sort of clue, which seemed in some measure to establish their relationship.

When she was so well as to be able to talk of past events, the mystery was more fully cleared up. Her deceased father was indeed the widow's only brother, and as there was every reason for believing that she had been drowned, when the vessel in which she sailed was wrecked, he fancied that his unkindness had been the principal cause of her death, and consequently that he was little better than her murderer. This thought had made him so unhappy, that he could no longer endure his native country; and, to be free from those scenes which to him seemed haunted, he had sailed for the West Indies, where he soon after married the widow of a rich planter, who brought him a considerable fortune. Julia was their only child; and some time before his death, her father had transmitted the greater part of his fortune to Britain, whither he advised her to follow as soon as possible. It was in endeavouring to comply with this advice, that she met John Elliot, alias the poor Illegitimate, of whom it is almost needless to say that he was her cousin. As soon as they were both perfectly recovered, there being now no cause of delay, they were married, and that fortune which she had been unable to bequeath, she gave along with her hand; thus forming one of a very few instances in which humble merit, after unheard of struggles, is rewarded with unearned riches.


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