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by his side, and that dutiful son, then a playful child, gambolling around them. Allan, too, loved the Tweed, in whose clear pools he had learned, in his happy schooldays, to be a bold and adroit swimmer. But little leisure was now left him for such amusements. His nights, after returning from the customary walk, were spent in the same incessant watching over his father's comforts. Their solitary little dwelling was seldom intruded upon, except by the kind inquiries, and sometimes kinder offers, of a friendly neighbour. For the former the inmates were always grateful, and the latter were always civilly declined. In truth, Allan struggled to do all and everything that was necessary. The old man had through life preserved a manly spirit of independence in his bosom, and the son strove, with perhaps an overnice filial tenderness, that his father should in his weakness and age feel dependence on none but him. But for some consciousness of this, many might have offered a little assistance; for many pitied, and all respected the humble pair.
This very respect, however, rendered it a delicate matter to obtrude charity on those who, if they did feel pinching poverty, bore it meekly and uncomplainingly.
And in reality Allan and his father were in distress, which was put beyond a doubt by the step taken by them to relieve it. We say them, because, though the son was the true and only actor in the matter, yet the consent and blessing of the old man went with him in his honest endeavour. After a severe and protracted attack of his father's complaint, during which Allan's attendance had been so much required as to trench deeply on his earnings, the humble pair found that they would be totally unable to meet the approaching rent-day. This was a source of grievous anxiety to them; for though they had often met the same demand with difficulty, they never before had been so totally unprovided. The old man had recovered so far as to resume his work, and the first idea of a remedy for their need suggested itself to him. How reluctantly this idea was admitted into his mind, may be conceived when we inform the reader that the plan was, to permit his son to offer himself as a militia substitute, the bounty for which would relieve them altogether. The country was at this period at war, and the demand for substitutes was so considerable, that there would be no difficulty in putting the plan in execution. Yet, even with the prospect of losing his son only for a short time, strong must have been the honourable determination to owe no man anything, which could bring over the feelings of a father to the adoption of a scheme like this. Well did the old man know the dutiful character of him on whom he depended. Allan had long meditated upon the plan in question, and had only refrained from stating it, from the disinclination to leave his father for the time which it would render imperative. And now that he saw his father, with health for the time re-established, turn to the scheme with some degree of cheerfulness and hope, he con
sented to embrace it at once. Being now a firmly-knit, though slender lad of nineteen, his offer of himself speedily found an acceptor in a wealthy merchant who had had the bad luck to be selected to serve his majesty by the indiscriminating ballot, which has no regard of persons. The bounty which Allan received was not only sufficient to discharge the rent of their humble dwelling, but was also large enough to support his father during his expected absence.
On the morning of the day preceding that fixed for his departure with his fellow-substitutes for Dumfries, the head-quarters of the corps to which he was to be attached, Allan went to make some necessary preparations with his comrades. After these were accomplished—having all, like himself, given up their occupations for the time—they took a short walk together to chat over their coming campaign. They were all light-hearted lads ; and many of their parents, on hearing of Allan Scott's engagement, had recommended them to follow his conduct as a model. On this occasion they turned their stroll
, at his request, to the side of the river, that they might take leave, as he said, of its clear stream for a time. The day was warm and fine, being in the beginning of summer, and on arriving in their walk at the pool where they had all dipped when schoolboys, the fatal proposition to bathe was made by one of them. Allan, who was fond of the exercise, and a good swimmer, was not the last to consent. Not one of them, as it unhappily fell out, was so fearless and practised as he, and the most of them contented themselves with bathing in the shallower water. Allan plunged at once into the deepest quarter, and two of his companions, who did not join in the amusement, sat upon the rocky bank, gazing upon his free movements with pleasure. Suddenly they heard him give an agonized cry, and saw him attempt to make for the bank. The attention of all was now drawn to him, and they beheld him, after two or three severe struggles, sink below the surface, and in a moment the waters closed above him!
His companions looked on for an instant in stupefaction and dismay. But the boldest of them—for the cry made them aware that something was wrong-speedily came to the spot, and attempted to dive into the depths of the pool. None of them was capable of it, and the most forward got into serious danger himself. At last one of those who had not bathed cried, “We are losing time; I will run for assistance.” This he accordingly did on the instant; but he had to go to the town before he got what he sought. When he returned, several men were with him, one of whom, an experienced diver, brought up the body of poor Allan Scott. A surgeon whom they had warned was not long in following them, and by him several unsuccessful endeayours were made on the spot to restore the breath which had departed. On seeing the fruitlessness of this, he ordered them convey
the body as fast as possible to the town, where warmth
to vouchsafe of their happy meeting. I am an elder of the church, and it was in that capacity that Helen sent for me to pray with her, which I did with a fervour I have seldom felt. But never has it been my lot to witness an appearance so heavenly as she exhibited when I rose from my knees. She sat in her chair supported by pillows, with her hands clasped, and her dark soft eyes beaming with an expression so holy, that she seemed like some disembodied spirit, which, having been perfected by suffering, had returned to encourage and comfort those who were still in the vale of tears. When I bade her farewell, and promised to see her next day, it was with a presentiment that I looked upon her for the last time. And so it proved; for I was next morning informed that her spirit had taken its flight about twelve o'clock the night before.”
The old man thus concluded his melancholy tale; and after sitting for some time in silent reflection, my guide again spoke, and, pointing to a deep pool at some distance down the stream, informed me that large trout were sometimes caught there; and having adjusted our fishing-tackle, we proceeded to it. But though our sport was unusually good, it did not banish from my mind during that day for a single instant the affecting story of the ill-fated Helen Symington.
The little lonely inn of Crook, near the source of the Tweed, is a spot well known to travellers and tourists, and withal one much admired by them, being, as it were, an oasis in the desert, a place of rest and refreshment in a cold and mountainous wilderness. This place, or rather its neighbourhood, was the scene of a nge adventure nearly a century ago, which we propose to narrate to the reader in a more complete form than it has hitherto appeared.
One misty morning in the autumn of 1746, George Black, the landlord of the Crook Inn, stood at the door of his isolated dwelling, eyeing attentively the heavens above him and the mountains around him, for want, it may be, of anything better to do. “Confoun’ these mists !" muttered he; “they'll no clear up the hail day, I doot. Gin this weather gang on muckle langer, we may shut our doors when we like. No ae leevin' thing," continued he, stepping out to the middle of the road that passed his house, and looking first up and then down the narrow vale-"no aé leevin' thing to be seen either to the right or to the left. But there's aye ae comfort in this rouky weather at ony rate; for if it be the same in the Highlands as it is here, the puir bits o' bodies that's skulkin' aboot the hill-taps winna be sae easily taen by the sodgers.” The landlord's observations were suddenly cut short. His eye caught sight of a party of soldiers, the very
persons he had been speaking of; and he hurried in to prepare for their anticipated visit.
Meanwhile the little military party whom he had espied marched slowly up the vale, along the soft and plashy road that ran nearly parallel with the Tweed. Such detachments were no uncommon visitors of the Crook; for this little hostel lay on the direct road from the Highlands towards Carlisle, whither the northern rebels were at this time regularly sent, as taken, in order that they might be tried at a cool distance from all partial influences, and where, at this particular time, scarcely a week passed without seeing numbers of them executed according to the approved style dictated by the English law of high-treason. The well-armed party now advancing to the Crook were bound on such an errand. They were six or seven in number, with a lieutenant at their head, and in the midst of them walked a tall and finely-formed young Highlander, with his right arm pinned, for security, to his side. Though on his way to certain death, and though his soiled tartans and thin cheek spoke of suffering and privation, the prisoner moved with as firm a tread as his captors, and, but for his bonds, might have been taken for their chiet. Of a very different opinion, however, was Lieutenant Howison, the actuas leader of the band, a pontpous middle-aged man, of low stature, and thick-set, rolling figure, which was rendered somewhat ludicrous to look at, by its possessor having bent it into a crescent--the convex side foremost-through long-continued attempts to acquire a dignified military attitude, Everything which this personage did or said was®" in the king's name. This was indeed Lieutenant Howison's tower of strength. It was even alleged, that when he ran away from the battle of Prestonpans, he did it “in the king's name.”
Such was the person who halted, on the morning alluded to, to refresh himself and men at the inn of Crook, having marched some five or six miles since daybreak. After commanding his soldiers to go with the prisoner into one room, and take some bread and cheese, the lieutenant himself retired to another apartment, there to refresh himself with something of a more savoury nature, if it was to be had. Geordie in person waited on the officer, and supplied him with the best the house contained. When this duty had been performed, the landlord then turned his attention to the soldiers, being, in fact, anxious to get a glimpse of the "puir chield” who had fallen into their hands. In this object he was at first disappointed, the Highlander's face being averted from the rest of the party, and steadily directed towards the window. At last one of the soldiers, with more kindness than any of the others seemed disposed to show, exclaimed, “Come, my lad, here's a share of my bit and sup. I shan't see a poor fellow starved neither, rebel though he has been.” The prisoner seemingly was touched by the man's good-nature, and turned partly round to benefit by the offer. Geordie Black,
and other remedies might be applied; and the men, for this purpose, took up their melancholy burden.
The church and its session-house stands in the centre of the town, and to the latter building they conveyed the body of Allan, as all decided that it would be exceedingly improper to take it to the old man's house. In the session-house, warmth, friction, and every means was used that the surgeon could suggest or apply for the recovery of the young man; but all was in vain; and at the end of more than an hour, actively employed, all hope was given up, with pain and reluctance, by those around. And now arose a thought of deeper sorrow and anxiety, if deeper there could be, than that excited by the fate of a youth so beloved and respected. Who could tell the tale to him who, all unconscious of his bereavement, sat in his lonely dwelling, waiting for that beloved and dutiful son's return! The task, melancholy as it was, behoved to be discharged; and the surgeon, seeing that the undertaking of this sad duty was expected from him, prepared to execute it. Unwilling to leave the body of the unfortunate youth exposed to the gaze of the crowd now attracted to the place, before departing, he desired all present to leave the apartment. The people at once complied with the request, one only of them remaining, at the wish of the surgeon, beside the corpse. The medical man then slowly and sadly tumed towards the old man's abode, where we cannot follow him; for we should consider it as little less than sacrilegious to attempt to describe the effect of the awful tidings which he bore.
Is not this, reader, a melancholy event, and one likely to be long remembered by one who knew the history, and saw the bier-borne body, of that unhappy youth? Yet the tale is not done--the catastrophe is not unfolded—the harrowing circumstance which interwove Allan Scott's name and fate with the deepest tendrils of memory is yet, strange as it may appear, to be narrated; and were it not a truth to which many yet can bear witness, we should think it too sad a one for these pages. But it is a truth, and from it a lesson of deep warning may be drawn.
When the surgeon, after being absent for a considerable time, returned to the session-house to make arrangements for bearing the unfortunate Allan's body to the home of his father, he found the person whom he had left behind standing outside the door of the chamber where the body lay. The truth was, the man had begun to feel disagreeably lonely and “eerie” in the room, and, unconscious of any bad result being possible from the step, had risen and taken his station outside, locking the door behind him. But a circumstance had occurred while he was in this position which imprinted alarm and anxiety so visibly on his features, that the surgeon, on coming up to him, observed his discomposure at once; and before turning the key in the lock, the medical gentleman inquired if anything had happened. The answer made