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Book of Scottish Story
The Faithless Nurse


Most of our readers who are citizens of "our own romantic town,” are familiarly acquainted with the valley which, winding among the Pentland Hills, forms the path by which the waters of Glencorse seek their way to those of the more celebrated Esk. It has long been the haunt of those "pilgrims of his genius” who loved to see with their own eyes the sacred scene chosen by the Pastoral Poet of Scotland for the display of lowly loves and rustic beauty ; and it has now—alas the day ! —acquired attractions for spirits of a far different sort ; and who can see without a sigh the triumphs of art domineering over and insulting the sweetest charms of nature? It is not, however, to visit the stupendous and unseemly barrier which now chains up the gentle waters of the burn, nor even to seek the summer-breathing spot where Patie sang and Roger sighed, that we now request the attendance of our readers ; but simply to point out to their attention a party of three individuals, who, on a still September evening, in the memorable year 1644, might have been seen slowly riding up the glen.

Two of the party were entitled in courtesy to be termed fair ; but of these twain, one would have been acknowledged lovely by the most uncourteous boor that ever breathed. She had hardly reached the earliest years of womanhood, ’tis true, and the peachy bloom that mantled o’er her cheek showed as yet only the dawn of future loveliness ; but her fair brow, on which, contrary to the fashion—we had almost said ‘taste’—of the times, her auburn locks danced gracefully; the laughing lustre of her dark-blue eye, and the stinging sweetness of her pouting lip, aided by an expression of indomitable gentleness of heart and kindliness of manner, lent a witchery to her countenance which few could gaze upon unmoved.

The other female had thrice the years of Lady Lilias Hay; but they had not brought her one tithe of that maiden’s beauty, and what little God had given her, she had, long ere the day we saw her first, destroyed, by screwing her features into an unvarying cast of prim solemnity, which, had she practised it, would have blighted the cheek of Venus herself.

The "squire of dames" who accompanied the pair we have described was also young, his chin as yet being guiltless of a hair. But there was a firmness in his look, a dark something in his eye, that bespoke his courage superior to his years; and a scar that trenched his open brow showed that he had arrived at the daring, if not the wisdom of manhood.

On the present occasion, however, it was not a feeling of recklessness which characterised the demeanour of the youth. He was thoughtful and abstracted, riding silently by the side of the maiden, who more than once attempted to dispel the gloom which hung over the gallant. It gave way, indeed, to the influence of her gentle voice ; but it was for a moment only, and the downcast eye and contracted brow ever and anon returned when the accents of her voice had ceased.

"Nay, prithee, cousin Maurice, do doff the visor of thy melancholy, and let us behold thy merry heart unmasked. I could stake my little jennet here to Elspeth’s favourite "baudrons,” that if Montrose should meet thee in this moody temperament, he will rather promote thee to a halter as a spy from the Committee of Estates, than to honourable command befitting one who has bled beneath the eye, and been knighted by the honour-giving hand of his royal master! Do laugh with me a little.”

"Why, my dearest Lilias, you seem in higher spirits to-day than is usual with you. Cannot the surety of our parting to-morrow, and the uncertainty of our ever meeting again, throw even a passing cloud over your gaiety?"

"Modestly put, my valiant cousin. I am well reminded of my unbecoming conduct. It must, of course, be night with me when you, bright sun of my happiness, shall have withdrawn your beams from me.”

“Nay, banter me not, sweet Lily. Have you never known an hour when the sweetest sights were irksome to the eye, and the softest strains of music fell harshly on the ear?"

"Pshaw! if you will neither smile nor talk, of what use are you by a lady’s side? What say you to a race? Yonder stands the kirk of Saint Catherine. Will you try your roan that length? An you ride not so fast now as you did from Cromwell at Longmarston Moor, I shall beat you. ‘Via’ !”

And so saying, the light-hearted girl gave rein to her snowy palfrey, and flew up the glen toward the edifice she had mentioned, at a speed which Maurice Ogilvy had some difficulty in equalling, and which prevented him from overtaking her until she had reached the gate.

All who have visited—and who has not ? —Roslin’s "proud chapelle," are familiar with the legend of Sir William St Clair, and his venturous boast to the Bruce, that he would find, on peril of his head, a dog that would bring down the deer ere it could cross Glencorse burn ;—how the trusty hound did redeem his own credit and his master’s life, by seizing the quarry in the very middle of the stream ;—and how, ingratitude to the gentle saint by whose intercession this mighty feat was accomplished, he built a church on the bank of the stream, and dedicated it to Saint Catherine of the Howe. This virgin martyr was unfortunately no more successful than her sister saints in protecting her mansions from the desolating zeal of the earlier reformers. The church was destroyed by a fanatical mob, and nothing now remains to record the kindness of Catherine, and the gratitude of the "high Saint Clair," but a few uneven grassy heaps of deeper green than the surrounding verdure, and the name of the neighbouring farm town, which is yet called Kirkton. At the time we are at present writing of, however, the roofless walls of the building, though gray with the ruin of a hundred years, were still almost entire, and the cemetery then and long after continued to be used by the neighbouring peasantry.

Whein Maurice reached the church, he found that the Lady Lilias had dismounted. He too alighted, and sought her in the interior. She was seated on a fallen stone, and the deep melancholy which now shadowed her fair countenance was more in unison with the sombre aspect of the place and of the hour, than he had expected to find it. She arose at his approach, and addressed him.

“You have something to tell me, Maurice, and you wished to do it alone. We have now an opportunity. What has befallen us?”

"Nay, fair Lily, why should you think so? Is not the thought that tomorrow we must part of itself sufficient to dull my spirit and sadden my countenance?”.

"Pshaw! trifle not with me now. Your face has no secrets for one who has conned its ill-favoured features so frequently as I have done. Out with your secret! Elspeth will be with us forthwith.”

Maurice seemed for some moments undecided how he should act, but at length, with a look of no little embarrassment, replied,—

"Sweet Lilias, you shall be obeyed. You can only laugh at me ; and thanks to your merry heart, that is a daily pastime of yours."

"Nay, nay—say on; I will be as grave as Argyle.”

"Know then, that while I waited for you and Elspeth at the bottom of the glen, a remarkable thing befell me. I had alighted, and while Rupert was trying to pick a scanty meal among the bent, I flung myself on the ground, and endeavoured to beguile the time by thinking sometimes of you, and sometimes of King Charles."

"How! sir cousin, I am not always the companion of your reveries, it seems, then? Heigho! to think what a change a single day’s matrimony has accomplished ! ”

"Ungenerous Lilias," said Maurice, taking her hand, "listen to me. Lifting my head accidentally, I was surprised to perceive a man and woman walking away at some distance from me. The more attentively I looked at these individuals, the more uneasy I became, until my terror was completed by the figures slowly turning round and presenting to me the identical features of you, dear Lilias, and myself."

"Maurice, Maurice ! you amaze me !"

"Though fully aware of the unearthly nature of these appearances, I could not resist the desire I felt of following them. I did so, tracing their silent steps up the glen, until I saw them enter the churchyard without. I hastened after, but when I too entered the cemetery, the figures had disappeared ! "

The lady’s cheek grew pale as she listened to this narration, for in those days the belief in such prognostications was universal; and the time of day when Maurice had seen the wraiths, their retiring motion, and the fatal spot to which he had traced them, were all indicative of fast approaching doom. She clung around her husband’s neck for a few moments in silence, until the deep-seated conviction of safety while with him, which forms so striking a characteristic of feminine affection, revived her spirits; and though the tear still hung on her silken eyelash as she looked up in his face, there was a languid smile on her cheek as she said,—

"Beshrew you, Maurice, for frightening me so deeply on my wedding-day! Could you find no other time than this to see bogles ? "

"Well said, love," answered Maurice, who felt no little alarm at seeing the effect which his story had produced on his wife: "’twas doubtless a mere delusion.”

"Even should it prove true," replied Lilias, "we shall at least die together ; and there is a tranquillising influence in that thought, Maurice, which would go far to make even death agreeable.”

"Let us leave this place," said Maurice, after the emotion which so bewitching a confusion excited had in some measure subsided ; " I fear Elspeth will miss us.”

"What then?”

"You know that I have ever distrusted that woman. She and I are as different from each other as day from darkness. She is a staunch Covenanter —I a graceless Cavalier. She rails at love-locks, love-songs, and love-passages — I adore them all. She prays for MacCallummore, and would fain see his bonnet nod above the crown of King Charles, and the caps of his merry men; —I would rather see his head frowning on the Netherbow Port. While she opposed my suit to you, I only hated her ; now that she connives at it—shall I confess it to you?—I fear her.”

"Nay, now you are unjust. While in the lawful exercise of woman’s just prerogative,—coquetry,—I seemed to balance the contending claims of Sir Mungo Campbell and yourself for this poor hand, Elspeth doubtlessly favoured the cause of her kinsman (all Campbell’s being of course cousins) ; but our sovereign will once unequivocally declared, she became all submission, and has not even attempted to irnpugn the decision which we, somewhat foolishly perhaps, have pronounced in your favour. Besides, Maurice," continued Lilias, leaving off the mock-heroic tone in which she had hitherto spoken for one more akin to natural feeling, " Elspeth Campbell was my nurse, has a mother’s affection for me, and therefore would not, I am confident, engage in any scheme inimical to my happiness. ”

"Still she is a Covenanter, and a Campbell," replied Maurice, "and as such, her dearest wish, even for your own sake, must be to see you the wife of him who is both the one and the other.”

"Well," rejoined Lilias, colouring highly as she spoke, "that at least you have put out of her power: and yet I regret that I trusted her not in that matter. It was a secret for a woman, and a nursing mother."

"Fear not, she shall know in time. I know, I feel it is unmanly, the dread I entertain; but I cannot quell it. I
wish we had not agreed to make this Logan House the trysting-place of my gallant friends: my father’s dwelling had been the safer place. ”

"Yes; and so have set my worthy guardian, Gillespie Grumach, and his obsequious friend Sir Mungo, on our track. Come, come, your alarm is unbecoming. At dawn we leave Logan House. The madcap disguise which you have prevailed on me to adopt will prevent any recognition till you have consigned me to my noble kinswoman of Huntly; and you—but I wrong you—fear not for yourself.”

"Kindly spoken, my love,—would o Heaven you indeed were in Strathbogie, and I among the gallant Grahams! But here comes Elspeth, looking as demure as if she were afraid that the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass, like the leprosy of old, might still stick to those time-worn walls, and infect her godly heart. Let us go."

Lilias looked earnestly on the countenance of her nurse as they met; for though she had not acknowledged so much to Maurice, her heart had misgiven her as she listened to his discourse. Whether it might proceed from the melancholy truth, that suspicion once excited against an individual cannot be entirely quieted by any innocence whatever, or whether the countenance of Elspeth really afforded ground for the doubt of her mistress, we are unable to determine, but certainly the latter imagined at least that she could detect alarm, solicitude, and fear, lurking amid the apparent placidity of her nurse’s features.”

Nothing was said, however; and the party, remounting their horses, shortly afterwards arrived at their destination for the night, namely, the Peel or Tower of Logan House. This edifice, which crowns the summit of a small knoll or brae on the northern side of Glencorse water, was one of the many places built for the safety of the population against any sudden but short-lived attack, and, from the walls, which are still left, must have been of considerable strength. It was, at the time we speak of, entire, and consisted of two storeys ; the lower being devoted to the accommodation of the servants of the house, and that of the family bestial, while the upper was divided into the few apartments then thought sufficient for the accommodation of the gentles.

As they rode into the courtyard, Maurice was struck by the want of attendance which the place betrayed. At that day the laudable customs of the "queen’s old courtier" had not entirely gone into desuetude, and every holding, however small, was filled with a number of retainers, that in the present day would be deemed excessive. At Logan House, however, things were very different. A stripling—half-man, half-boy—seemed the only representative of male vassalage, and the woman-servants, though more numerous, did not amount to anything near the average number which in those days divided amongst themselves, with commendable chariness, the duties of a household.

The faggots, however, blazed cheerfully in the upper apartment, and food and wine having been prepared in abundance, Maurice for a moment forgot his suspicions, and Lilias regained her sprightliness. They conversed gaily together of days gone by, and of courts and masques and pageants which they had seen, to the evident discomfort of Elspeth, who not only thought her presence becoming in her character of nurse, but somewhat necessary in the existing condition, as she imagined, of the youthful pair. Maurice soon saw her uneasiness, and wickedly resolved to make it a means of pastime to himself and Lilias.

"Do you recollect, sweet Lily, when the good King Charles kissed your cheek in Holyroodhouse, and vowed, on a king’s word, to find a husband for you?’

"I do; and how a malapert page sounded in my ear that he would save his Majesty the trouble. ”

And have I not kept my word—ha, lady mine? The great Argyle and all his men will hardly, I think, undo the links that bind us to each other;" and inspired, as it seemed, by the pleasant thought, the youth took the lady’s hand in his, and pressed it warmly and frequently to his lips.

Elspeth looked on in amazement at the familiarity of intercourse in which the lady indulged her cousin, and which was equally repugnant to her natural and acquired feelings on the subject.

"Pshaw! you foolish man, desist !” cried Lilias, blushing and laughing at the same time, when Maurice attempted to substitute her rosy lips for the hand he had been so fervently kissing. "What will Elspeth think ?”

"Think, Lady Lilias!" said Elspeth bitterly; "think ! I cannot think; but I can feel for the impropriety—the sinful levity—into which, for the first time, I see my mistress fallen. "

The fair neck of Lilias crimsoned as she listened to the taunt. For a moment a frown gathered on her brow, before which the nurse’s countenance fell ; but it died away in a moment, and, with a beseeching smile, which lay nestled among rosy blushes, she stretched out her hand and said,—

"Forgive me, Elspeth, we are married !"

This brief annunciation had a striking effect on the individual to whom it was addressed. She clasped together her withered hands, and continued for a few moments gazing wildly in the faces of the startled pair, seemingly anxious to discover there some contradiction of what she had just heard; and then uttering a loud long shriek, dashed her face against the wooden board, and groaned audibly.

The terrified Lilias tried to raise the old woman’s head from the table, but she for some time resisted the kindly effort. At length, raising her pale and now haggard features to those of the lady, she exclaimed,—

"Unsay, child of my affection, the dreadful tidings you have told ;—tell me not that I have murdered the daughter of my mistress. Often when the ‘taish’ was on me have I seen the dirk in your bosom. Little did I dream that my own hand should guide it there. Oh! say you are not married.”

Lilias, who knew the violent temper of her nurse, and imagined her present ravings proceeded from offended pride at not having been made privy to the marriage, now attempted to soothe her feelings.

"Nay, my dear Elspeth, take not on so; you know Sir Maurice and I have long loved each other; to-morrow morning he rides to join Montrose, who has conquered for the king at Tippermuir. I tremble to be left behind, and have therefore resolved to accompany him; in these circumstances, was it not fitting that he should have a husband’s title to protect me ? ’Twas but this morning we were wedded ; and I ever meant to tell you here."

"Here, said you?” replied the old woman, shuddering. " But I am guiltless. You were ordained to be the
destruction of each other before the world was. James Graham will look long and wearily for your coming, I fear. Hush ! the Campbells are about the house; and he is coming to seek you here."

"Who ?—Sir Mungo Campbell?” said Lilias and her husband, in the same breath.

"Even he,” replied Elspeth ; "he brings the warrant of the Estates to apprehend Sir Maurice, and has orders from the Marquis of Argyle to secure your own person." •

"Treacherous, infamous wretch !”— " Cruel, unkind Elspeth!" burst again simultaneously from the lips of Maurice and his bride.

"Upbraid me not, Lady Lilias, alas! what must fall will fall. Oh, that you had trusted me. I fondly hoped that Sir Mungo Campbell might yet be your husband, and that I should see you the proud and happy mistress of Castle Lorn ; but married !—he will water this floor with our blood! ”

And again the wretched old woman, overcome with remorse and terror, sbrieked aloud. Then, as if stung
by some instantaneous and overpowering feeling, she hastily quitted the apartment. The betrayed and devoted pair gazed for a few minutes at each other in silent sadness. There was more of grief than terror in these mournful looks; for it was for the calamity of the other that each heart bled. At length the lady sank, weeping, into his arms.

"Oh, Maurice, Maurice, bitterly are our fears fulfilled! We are lost! There is no escape from the bloodhounds who have beset us.”

"Nay, nay, my love,” replied the knight, feigning the tranquillity he did not feel; " think not so. I must have heard the arrival of the party, had we been yet surrounded. There still is time to escape from the net prepared for us. Once on horseback, between the darkness of the night, and the wild nature of these hills, we may manage to escape."

Ere Lilias could make answer to this cheering discourse, Elspeth entered the apartment.

"Haste!" she exclaimed in an emphatic whisper, "a moment yet is left. Sir Mungo has not arrived. Leave, oh leave, this fearful place!”: and she wmng her hands impatiently.

The lovers lost no time in obeying this invitation. Two large riding cloaks were supplied by Elspeth, in order to conceal their forms, if they should unhappily be met by Sir Mungo; while, still more to defeat detection, it was agreed that Lilias should mount the nurse’s pony.

"And you, Elspeth,” said the lady, with a kind-hearted-ness which no personal danger could destroy, " what shall become of you? ”

"Fear not for me,” replied Elspeth chokingly ; " I fear nothing—fly ! "

Maurice now led his lady to the open plain, and here saw, with sorrow, that the moon, which shone dazzlingly bright, would destroy almost every hope of escaping the recognition of Sir Mungo Campbell, should that individual meet them ; and this was, alas ! too soon to happen. They had only turned the angle of the building, with the intention of taking the hillward path, when they saw a band of armed men, at the head of whom stood one whom hatred and fear at once enabled both to pronounce the man they sought to shun.

"Who comes there ? ” cried Sir Mungo, harshly.

"Friends to King Charles,” replied Maurice, undauntedly.

"That may well be,” replied Campbell, " and yet deep foes to Scotland. Sir Maurice Ogilvy, I arrest thee of high treason ! ”

"Win me, and wear me, Roundhead ! " cried the knight; and, throwing off the cloak which cumbered him,
he drew his sword with one hand, while with the other he plucked Lilias from her seat, and placed her before him. Then giving the rowel to his horse, he dashed among the astonished Highlanders, who either fell before, or yielded a passage to the gallant steed.

A wild yell arose amid the stillness of the night, as the Campbells perceived the rapid pace at which Maurice rode, and which, if continued for a few minutes, must soon place him beyond the chance of capture, and matchlocks and pistols were employed in vain to interrupt his career. But, alas ! Heaven had decreed the triumph of the guilty. Urged to his utmost speed, Rupert would soon have saved his master, and his yet more precious load, when, his foot striking against a piece of earthfast rock, he stumbled —made a futile effort to recover himself —and at last fell on his side. Sir Maurice instantly sprang to his feet, but Lilias lay apparently lifeless on the turf. He kneeled down, and raised her in his arms, but she replied not to his eager questionings. He could feel no pulse, to tell him of returning life; and to his despair, he perceived the blood flowing profusely from her white brow.

"She is gone !” cried he, bitterly. " Now, Campbell, for thy heart; " and as he spoke, he lifted his weapon from the grass. He had hardly regained it, when he was surrounded by the Highlanders.

"Yield thee, Sir Maurice, or thou diest.”

"Never to one of thy detested clan will Maurice Ogilvy give up his sword. Send back your murderers, Campbell, and let us settle here our long arrear of hatred.”

"Once more I bid thee yield.”

"Again do I defy thee. "

"Thy blood be on thy head then. Smite the braggart to the dust. ”

The word was barely uttered when the upraised arm of one who stood behind the youth buried a dirk in his bosom. He reeled to the earth, tried with dimming eye to scan the features of Lilias as she lay still prostrate on the ground, and then casting his eyes upwards, murmured out, "Bear witness, Heaven, I die true to love, and faithful to the king !" A moment more, and he was silent.

Campbell next proceeded to raise the body of Lilias from the ground. It seemed as if her deep-rooted aversion to this person was so vital as even to vern her while in a state of insensibility; for no sooner had his fingers touched her waist, than she started from the ground, and, drawing her hands across her eyes, gazed wildly around. A moment sufficed to show her the cureless ruin which had befallen her hopes and happiness, and, bursting from the grasp of her hated suitor, and exclaiming in a voice hoarse in agony, “Stand off monster! I am his wife ! ” she threw herself with reckless violence on the prostrate corpse. Even the heart of Campbell was touched by her extreme misery, and some minutes elapsed ere he could give directions for her removal. That was now needless. In her frantic despair, poor Lilias regarded death as an enviable blessing; the dagger of Maurice afforded her the ready means of escaping at once from all her worldly woe, and her cruel captors only raised her to discover that her heart’s blood was now mingling on the same turf with that of him who had alone possessed her living love.

On the following morning, the wandering shepherds of the neighbourhood perceived a new-made grave in the churchyard of Saint Catherine, and a wretched being in female attire seated beside it. Hers was a grief " too deep for tears”—a sorrow too mighty for mortal alleviation. She spoke to no one, replied to no one, but continued, with her head resting on her lap, to spend the livelong day by the side of the unfortunates whom her well-meant treachery had stretched so untimely there. As the winter advanced, she grew weaker and weaker, but still she abstained not from her daily vigil. Even when, from debility, she was unable to walk, she prevailed on some one to carry her to the lonely cemetery; and her dying words to her pitying neighbours were—" Bury me at the feet of Lady Lilias— remember, at the feet. "—
‘Edinburgh Literary Gazette’

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