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nity in the latter's demeanour, and the richness of his apparel, struck the miller with an undefinable feeling of respect, and placed a guard on his lips. The stranger requested Edward Burnet also to accompany him to the burgh town; a request which was at once assented to by the young man, but which the hunter read in Mary's countenance to be not at all agreeable to her. The miller's fair daughter probably thought that her lover had faced enough of danger, and shown enough of manliness, for one day. But the stranger had a certain purpose to serve, and, in disregard of the damsel's uneasiness, not only took Edward with him, but detained him all night, as the miller's men reported, who had been dismissed by the stranger, with a handsome remuneration, a short way from the town of Peebles, and who carried a message from Edward to his mother, to prevent any anxiety on his account.
But neither was Mary Tod nor any other person left long in wonder or uneasiness on this subject. At an early hour on the following day, a party of horsemen, above twenty in number, halted for a short time at the mill of Kirkton, on their way up the vale of Manor. At their head rode the stranger of the preceding day, and by his side Mary Tod observed her lover on foot, acting apparently as a guide to the party. While the stranger conversed with the miller, Edward took the opportunity of steal-, ing for a moment into the house, and of explaining to the anxious Mary what was going on, and why he had been detained all night from his home. The miller's daughter was surprised at the hope and joy which sparkled in her lover's countenance; but his explanation of the cause speedily raised sympathetic emotions in her own breast. “ It is the young king, Mary, Darnley himsel, who was attacked yestreen; and if I am right in thinking, as I took an oath to the best of my belief last night at Smithfield castle, that it was Will Elliot who played the villain trick, I am a made man, Mary. The farm o’Castlehill, which you ken is the king's land, will be mine. Nae fears o' Andrew refusing his consent then, my ain Mary; and I will be the happiest man alive, wi' the best wife in Tweeddale. But they are moving on to rummage the reiving villain's keep, sae I maun away to lead them.”. And in a minute or two, before the millers daughter could recover from her surprise so far as to get a woman's look at the gallant and princely form of Darnley, the party had moved on to their destination.
It is unnecessary to detail all that passed at the examination of the keep of Castlehill. The outlaw himself, conscious in all likelihood of having been known to Burnet at the time of his assault on Darnley, had absconded; nor was he ever taken, or heard of again in the vale of Manor. Full evidence, however, of his guilt was found; for the poor wretch who had joined him in the previous day's 'attack had crawled home on recovering his senses, and was discovered on his pallet in a state of great
suffering. He made a confession of the whole affair, and revealed as much of other deeds as sufficed to banish the rest of Elliot's followers from the kingdom; and gave an explanation of many mysterious robberies that had, in the course of several years, annoyed and alarmed the country-side. Thus was Burnet not only the succourer of the king in the time of need, but his detection of Elliot's misdemeanours turned out also a most im
ant service to the whole district. We have little more to add, than that Darnley performed his promise to Edward, and bestowed on him the farm of Castlehill, in which the young man led no lonely life; for such was Andrew Tod's thankfulness at the narrow escape he had made from matching his only child with a robber, that it was generally believed he would have given her to Edward, though the latter had remained poor as before. As it was, however, to have saved a king, and to be possessor of a farm, were no disadvantages. The young king danced at the wedding of Edward and Mary, which took place on the day on which the bridegroom entered into the lands and house of Castlehill; and henceforward, the tower which had sheltered a den of midnight reivers became the home of a happy and thriving family, one of the junior members of which, to the great satisfaction of Andrew Tod, who lived long enough to see it, became the miller of Kirkton on the Manor.
AMIDST the hills of Tweeddale there are many lonely valleys, which seem remote from all hụman ken-little separate regions, where you may loiter for a summer's day without seeing a living thing, save a few straggling sheep, which lift up their heads in seeming, wonder as you pass. Or there may rise at your foot a startled hare, or a covey of moorfowl, unused to such intrusion; where no sound reaches your ear excepting the song of the skylark, the bleat of the sheep, the hum of the wild bee, and the low murmuring of a burn, stealing along its quiet way to pay its tribute to the Tweed. It was to one of those sequestered spots, being a stranger in the country, that I was one day led by an old man, who undertook to be my guide to the best streams for trout-fishing. But though now deserted by man, as I have described this valley, there had been a time when it was inhabited, as appeared from a roofless and ruined hut, over the walls of which the ivy and the wild-flower had apparently crept for years. I observed to my guide what a lonely dwelling, it must have been. “ It was so,' said the old man; “but love and youth can make any place a paradise; and happiness once dwelt there, though it did not continue; and though the fate of its hapless inhabitants made a great noise in the country at the time, it is now in a measure forgotten, for it is more than fifteen
years since a fire was kindled in that lone house." Perceiving by this that something remarkable had happened to the lust occupiers of the desolated hut, and being tired with ascending and descending the neighbouring hills, I sat down, and requested the old man, who was the schoolmaster of a village where I had for some days taken up my abode, to gratify my curiosity by repeating to me the story to which he had alluded. The place where I had chosen my seat was a little grassy bank, near the brink of the rivulet, and about forty yards below the site of the little ruin, which stood on the side of a hill; and the old man, having placed himself beside me, began his narration.
"My occupation as a teacher gives me, of course, an opportunity of observing with accuracy the dispositions of the youth I instruct; and I have never met with a girl of more ardent affections, or of better temper, or who possessed more amiable qualities, than Helen Symington. She was the daughter of an honest and respectable weaver in our village, of which, as she grew up to womanhood, she was the pride. When scarce twenty years old, she married William Brydon, a sensible, well-disposed young man, who was principal shepherd to the owner of this property, and came here with him to live in that cottage which is now a ruin, but which was then, by the unwearied industry of Helen, a neat and comfortable habitation; and never, in those early days of her marriage, did lark carol more blithely to the sun, than did she while employed in her household occupations, or, as passing over the heather with a light step, she carried some refreshment to her William, when detained with his flock in some more distant sheep-walk.' Even when left by herself in this wild solitude, she felt no loneliness, for all was peace and joy within and without. William loved her entirely, and her alone; and she knew it, and in that knowledge all her earthly wishes were complete. Yet was this feeling of felicity still increased, when, before the year had completed its circle, she sat, in a summer evening, on yonder little turf seat at the door, with her infant in her arms, watching her husband descending the opposite hill, and drawing nearer and nearer, till at length her baby shared with her in his caresses. The second winter of their abode here was unusually severe; but it was William's care to guard his wife and child from its inclemency, by many little ingenious contrivances to render their cottage more impervious to the cold ; while Helen looked forward each day with longing solicitude to the evening hour which restored him to a participation of its comforts, and seated him by its cheerful hearth. And thus the winter had nearly passed away, and they began to anticipate the varied joys of spring, when the birds would again sing around their cot, and all nature, awakened from its wintry sleep, would start anew into life and 'joy. The month of February arrived, and the weather seemed so settled and serene, that, for two successive Sabbaths, Helen, with her infant enveloped in
her cloak, and accompanied by her husband, had crossed the hills to the parish church. On the second of those Sabbaths, they took sweet counsel,' and, walking together to the house of God, they conversed of a better and a purer world, where they should fear no after-parting. And as Helen listened to her husband, who was eloquent on this subject, she thought she had never heard him speak so like a minister, or seen him so full of holy hope. I notice this particularly, as it is a circumstance I shall have occasion to mention again. On the next morning after this conversation, William departed with the sheep from this valley for a distant fair. The weather was still fine when he gathered his flock, and bade farewell to his beloved Helen for three days, promising to return on the evening of the third. He had never been absent from his home all night but twice since his marriage, and that for a single night each time. His wife, however, expressed no fear from being left alone for so unwonted a time; for the fact is, that there is in general more courage in women of her humble rank in life than in any other, for they are too much occupied to find time for the indulgence of idle alarms; nor do they meet with any encouragement to affect fears till the folly becomes a habit. Neither did William experience any uneasiness on account of the solitariness of the dwelling in which he was to leave her, considering that very circumstance as the principal warrant for her safety.
“ The weather, I have said, was fine at the time of his departure; but in our treacherous climate, and especially in these hilly districts, there is nothing more uncertain than a continuance of settled weather at that season of the year; and never did it exhibit more rapid transitions than during the three days of William's absence. Before the shades of the first night had fallen on the hills, the rain had descended their sides in torrents, and swelled the little burn into a river. On the second night the clouds had disappeared, and a keen frost succeeded, which, ere morning, arrested the water in its course, and transformed the ground for some distance round where we now sit into a frozen lake. Again, another change came o'er the spirit of the storm : dark clouds began to gather, and showers of sleet and snow to fall, till all again was hoary winter. But still, when night came on, there was seemingly, from the quietness of its descent, no depth of snow, though it had fallen at intervals for many hours, and as the time was now arrived when Helen expected to see her husband, she felt no dread of harm; and no sooner had she put her baby to sleep, than she prepared a change of garments, a warm supper, a blazing ingle and a clean hearthstane,' for her William, and often opened the door to listen and look out, if haply she might discern his dark figure against the opposite white hill descending the footpath towards his home. She was, however, as often disappointed, and returned again to heap fresh fuel on the fire, till she began to feel, first the heart-sickness of "hope deferred, and then the heavy pressure of foreboding evil; and when her baby waked, there were in the melancholy tones of the hymn with which she soothed him to rest a soul-subduing pathos; for it has been my lot to hear again that lullaby, when it sounded even more deeply affecting than it could then have done. Poor Helen continued all night her visits to the door, till at length, just as morning began to dawn, she heard her name shouted out by the well-known voice of William. Joy came to her heart, for she thought he had seen her, and though she looked in vain for him, still he was near. But again she heard his voice, and his words fell distinctly on her ear— Oh, Helen, Helen, Í perish ! She flew with the speed of lightning down the bank ; but when she approached near to this spot, her progress was arrested, for the ice, from which the water had receded below, could not bear her weight. And then it was for the first time she discovered, through the indistinct glimmering of the dawn, and by his own words, that, on William's having reached the middle of the burn, where the force of the stream below had rendered it hollow, the ice had given way, and he was only kept from sinking by his arms resting on the surrounding part, which was still firm, Again and again Helen tried in each direction to reach him, in spite of his urgent intreaties to keep off, and his assurances that he had hopes of being able to maintain his position for a length of time, from the manner in which he was wedged between the ice, and its apparent thickness in that place where it had been gurged together; though he feared to make the smallest exertion to extricate himself, lest he should go down. In this extremity there was only one course which gave the agonized wife any chance of saving the life of her husband, and that was to seek for more efficient aid than her own. Means time William was almost fainting with exhaustion from fatigue, cold, and hunger; and Helen, thinking that if she could supply him with some food, he would be better able to endure his situation till she could procure assistance, ran to the house, and, putting some of what had been intended for his supper into a small basket, took a sheep-crook, and, having tied a stick to one end of it, hooked the basket on to the other end, and in this manner conveyed it to him. · At the same time she pushed a blanket close to him with the crook, and having seen him draw it by degrees round his head and shoulders, she returned to the cottage, wrapped her child in a small blanket, and throwing her cloak around her, took it in her arms; then, having taken a hasty leave of her husband, in words which were half a farewell and half a solemn prayer for his preservation till her return, she set off on her journey of four miles to the next farm-house, for no nearer was there a human dwelling.