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dinna be frightened at a' the daft things the wild soger is saying to you.' Then he added, in a lower tone, "Chairlie wad settle doon into a douce, quiet, steady married man, for a' his tantrums. It wad be a pity if a Frenchman's gun should spoil his beauty, poor fallow."
The young lady bowed, without comprehending a syllable of the speech of the worthy host. "Are you likely to be soon ordered abroad?" she said.
"We expect the route for Spain every day, and then huzza for a peerage or Westminster Abbey!"
"Ah! war is a fine game when it is played at a distance! Why can't kings settle their disputes without having recourse to the sword ?”
"I really can't answer your question, but I think it must be out of a kind regard to the interests of younger brothers. A war is a capital provision for poor devils like myself, who were born to no estate but that excessively large one which the catechism calls the estate of sin and misery.'-But come, I see from your face you are very romantic, and are going to say something sentimental, -luckily his Grace is proposing a removal into the ball-room; may I beg the honour of your hand ?"
"Aha, lad!" cried the Laird, who had heard the last sentence, are ye at that wark already—asking a leddy's hand on sae short an acquaintance?-But folk canna do't owre sune.'
The bustle caused by the secession of those who preferred Terpsichore to Bacchus, luckily prevented Miss Mowbray's hearing the Laird's observation, and in a few minutes she found herself entering with heart and soul into the full enjoyment of a country dance.
Marriages they say are made in heaven. Charles Melville devoutly wished the Laird's efforts might be successful, and that one could be made on earth. She was indeed, as the Laird expressed it, "a bonny cra tur to look at." I never could describe a beauty in my life-so the loveliness of the English heiress must be left to the imagination. At all events, she was the bright consummate flower of the whole wreath" which was then gathered together at Strath Lugas; and even Lady Cla
“An' dinna ye think her voice," said her ladyship-" dinna ye think her voice is something like our Jeanie's-only maybe no sae rich in the tone ?"
"Feth, ma'am," said the Laird, "I maun wait till I hear Miss Mowbray speak the Gaelic, for really the saft sort o' beautiful English she speaks gies her a great advantage."
"As ye say, Mr Kirkton," continued her ladyship, who, like all great talkers, never attended to what any one said but herself, " Jeanie has a great advantage owre her, but she's weel enough, for a' that."
In the meantime the young lady, who was the subject of this conversation, troubled herself very little as to what Lady Clavers said or thought on the occasion. I shall not on any account say that she was in love, for I highly disapprove of such a speedy surrender to Dan Cupid in the softer sex; but at all events she was highly delighted with the novelty of the scene, and evidently pleased with her partner. No scruple of the same kind restrains me from mentioning the state of Charles Melville's heart. He was as deeply in love as ever was the hero of a romance, and in the pauses of the dance, indulged in various reveries about love and a cottage, and a number of other absurd notions, which are quite common, I believe, on such occasions. He never deigned to think on so contemptible an object as a butcher's bill, or how inconvenient it would be to maintain a wife and four or five angels of either sex, on ninety pounds a-year; but at the same time I must do him the justice to state, that, although he was a Scotchman, the fact of Miss Mowbray's being an heiress never entered into his contemplation
and if I may mention my own opinion, I really believe he would have been better pleased if she had been as portionless as himself. But time and tide wear through the roughest day; no wonder, then, they wore very rapidly through the happiest
evening he had ever spent. The Duke and the more distant visitors had taken their leave; "the mirth and fun grew fast and furious" among the younger and better acquainted parties who were left; but, greatly to the mortification of the young soldier, his partner was called away at the end of a dance, just when he had been anticipating a delightful têteà-tête while the next was forming. With his heart nearly bursting with admiration and regret, he wrapt her in her cloaks and shawls, and in silent dejection, with only a warm pressure of the hand, which he was enchanted to find returned, he handed her into Mrs Carmichael's old-fashioned open car, though the night was dark and stormy,-and after listening to the last sound of the wheels as they were lost among the snow, he slowly turned, and re-entered the ball-room. Their absence, to all appearance, had not been noticed by a single eye-a thing at which he, as a lover under such circumstances is bound to be, was greatly surprised. "Blockheads!" he said, "they would not see the darkness if the sun were extinguished at mid-day." And he fell into a train of reflections, which, from the expression of his countenance, did not seem to be of a very exhilarating nature. In about twenty minutes, however, after his return, he was roused by the henchman, whom he had spoken of at dinner, who beckoned him from the hall.
"The bonny cratur!-the bonny cratur!" he began,-" an' sic a nicht to gang hame in!-the stars a' put out, the snaw beginnin' to drift, and a spate in the Lugas! Noo, if auld Andrew Strachan, the Leddy Carmichael's coachman, doitet auld body, and mair than half fou, tries the ford-oh, the lassie, the bonny bit lassie 'll be lost!-an' I'll never hae the heart to spend the crownpiece she slippit into my hand just afore the dancin'."
But what more the worthy henchman might have said must remain a mystery to all succeeding time; for, long before he had come to the episode of the crown, Charles had rushed hatless into the open air, and dashed forward at the top of his speed to overtake the carriage, in time to warn them from the ford. But the
snow had already formed itself into enormous wreaths, which, besides impeding his progress, interfered greatly with his knowledge of localities; and he pursued his toilsome way more in despair than hope. He shouted, in the expectation of his voice being heard, but he heard no reply. He stooped down to see the tracks of the wheel, but the snow fell so fast and drifted at the same time, that it was quite undistinguishable, even if the darkness had not been so deep. However, onward he pressed towards the ford, and shouted louder and louder as he approached it. The roaring of the stream, now swollen to a prodigious height, drowned his cries, and his eyes in vain searched for the object of his pursuit; far and near, up and down, he directed his gaze, and in a transport of joy at the hope which their absence presented, that they had gone round by the bridge and were saved, he was turning away to return home, when he thought he heard, in a bend of the river, a little way down, a faint scream above the roaring of the torrent. Quick as lightning he rushed towards the spot, and hallooed as loud as he could. The shriek was distinctly repeated, and a great way out in the water, he saw some substance of considerable size. He shouted again, and a voice replied to him from the river. In an instant he had plunged into the stream, and, though it was rushing with the greatest impetuosity, it was luckily not so deep as to prevent his wading. And after considerable toil, for the water was above his breast, he succeeded in reaching the object he had descried from the bank. It was, indeed, Mrs Carmichael's car, and in it he had the inexpressible delight to find the two ladies, terrified, indeed, with their appalling situation, but luckily in full possession of their presence of mind.
In a few hurried words he desired them to trust entirely to him, and begging the elder lady to remain quiet in the carriage, he lifted the younger in his arms, but in the most earnest language she implored him to save her companion first, as she had such confidence in herself that she was certain she could remain in the carriage till he had effected his return. Pressing her to his
heart in admiration of such magnanimity, he laid her gently back, and lifting Mrs Carmichael from her seat, he pushed desperately for the shore. The water even in this short time had perceptibly risen, and on reaching the bank, and depositing his burden in safety, he rushed once more through the torrent, fearful lest a moment's delay should make it impracticable to reach the car. That light equipage was now shaking from the impetuous attacks of the stream, and at the moment when the fainting girl was lifted up, a rush of greater force taking it, now unbalanced by any weight, forced it on its side, and rolled it off into the great body of the river. It had been carried above fifty yards below the ford, without, however, being overturned, and had luckily become entangled with the trunk of a tree; the horse, after severe struggles, had been drowned, and his inanimate weight had helped to delay the progress of the carriage. The coachman was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile the three, once more upon land, pursued their path back to Strath Lugas. Long and toilsome was the road, but cheered to the young soldier by the happy consciousness he had saved "his heart's idol" from death. Tired and nearly worn out with the harassing nature of their journey and of their feelings, they at length reached the hospitable mansion they had so lately quitted. The music was still sounding, the lights still burning brightly,-but when old Simon Kirkton saw the party enter his hall, no words can do justice to the horror of his expression. The ladies were consigned to the attention of his wife. He himself took especial care of the hero of the story; and after having heard the whole adventure, when the soldier, refreshed and in a suit of the Laird's apparel, was entering the dancingroom, he slapt him on the shoulder and said, "Diel a doubt o't noo. If ye're no laird of the bonny English acres, and gudeman o' the bonny English leddy, I've nae skeel in spaein'; that's a'."
The adventure quickly spread, and people were sent off in all directions with lights, to discover, if possible, the body of the unfortunate Andrew Strachan. After searching for a long time, our friend, the henchman,
thought he heard a voice close beside him, on the bank. He held down his lantern, and, sure enough, there he saw the object of their pursuit lying with his head at the very edge of the water, and his body on the land! The water from time to time burst over his face, and it was only on these occasions that an almost inarticulate grunt shewed that the comatose disciple of John Barleycorn was yet alive. The henchman summoned his companions, and on attentively listening to the groans, as they considered them, of the dying man, they distinctly heard him, as he attempted to spit out the water which broke in tiny waves over his mouth, exclaiming, "Faugh, faugh! I doot ye're changin' the liquor-a wee drap mair whisky, and a sma' spoonfu' o' sugar." The nodding charioteer had been ejected from his seat on the first impetus of the "spate," and been safely floated to land, without perceiving any remarkable change of situation, It is needless to say, he was considerably surprised to discover where he was, on being roused by the benchman's party. "It's my belief," said Jock Stewart, the piper, as they helped him on his way, "the drucken body thocht he was tipplin' a' the time in the butler's ha'. It wad be a gude deed to let the daidlin' haveril follow his hat and wig; and I'm thinkin' by this time they'll be doon about Fort George."
The weather was become so stormy, and the snow so deep, that it was impossible for any one to leave the house that night. The hospitable Laird immediately set about making accommodation for so large a party, and by a little management he contrived to render every body comfortable. The fiddlers were lodged in the barn, the ladies settled by the halfdozen in a room, and a supply of cloaks was collected for the gentlemen in the hall. Where people are willing to be pleased, it is astonishing how easy they find it. Laughter long and loud resounded through all the apartments, and morn began to stand " upon the misty mountaintops," ere sleep and silence took possession of the mansion. Next day the storm still continued. The prospect, as far as the eye could reach, was a dreary waste of snow; and it was soon perceived, by those whọ
were skilful in such matters, that the whole party were fairly snowed up, and how long their imprisonment might last no one could tell. It was amazing with what equanimity the intelligence was listened to; one or two young ladies, who had been particularly pleased with their partners, went so far as to say it was delightful. The elders of the party bore it with great good humour, on being assured from the state of the larder there was no danger of a famine; and, above all, the Laird himself, who had some private schemes of his own to serve, was elevated into the seventh heaven by the embargo laid on his guests.
"If this bides three days there'll be a dizzen couple before Leddyday. It's no possible for a lad and a lass to be snaw'd up thegether three days without melting-but we'll see the night how it's a' to be managed. Has ony body seen Mrs Carmichael and Miss Mowbray this morning ?”
But before this question could be answered, the ladies entered the room. They were both pale from their last night's adventure; but while the elder lady was shaking hands with her friends, and receiving their congratulations, the eyes of her young companion wandered searchingly round the apartment till they fell on Charles Melville. Immediately a flush came over her cheek, which before was deadly pale, and she started forward and held out her hand. He rushed and caught it, and even in presence of all that company, could scarcely resist the inclination to put it to his lips.
"Thanks! thanks !" was all she said, and even in saying these short words her voice trembled, and a tear came to her eye. But when she saw that all looks were fixed on her, she blushed more deeply than ever, and retired to the side of Mrs Carmichael. This scene passed by no means unheeded by the Laird.
Stupid whelp!" he said," what for did he no kiss her, an' it were just to gie her cheeks an excuse for growin' sae rosy? Od', if I had saved her frae droonin', I wadna hae been sae nice, that's to say, my dear," he added to his wife, who was standing near, "if I hadna a wife o' my ain.'
The storm lasted for five days. How the plans of the Laird, with regard to the matrimonial comforts of his guests prospered, I have no intention of detailing. I believe, however, he was right in his predictions, and the minister was presented with eight several sets of tea-things within three months. Many a spinster at this moment looks back with regret to her absence from the snowparty of Strath Lugas, and dates all her misfortunes from that unhappy circumstance. On the fourth morning of the imprisonment, the Laird was presented with a letter from Charles Melville. In it he informed him that he dared not be absent longer, in case of his regiment being ordered abroad, and that he had taken his chance and set off on his homeward way in spite of the snow. It ended with thanks for all his kindness, and an affectionate farewell. When this was announced to the party, they expressed great regret at his absence. It seemed to surprise them all. Mrs Carmichael was full of wonder on the occasion; but Miss Mowbray seemed totally unmoved by his departure. She was duller in spirits than before, and refused to dance; but in other respects the mirth was as uproarious, and the dancing as joyous as ever-and in a day the snow was sufficiently cleared away-the party by different conveyances broke up-and the Laird was left alone, after a week of constant enjoyment.
Four years after the events I have related, a young man presented himself for the first time in the pumproom at Bath. The gossips of that busy city formed many conjectures as to who and what he could besome thought him a foreigner, some a man of consequence incog.; but all agreed that he was a soldier and an invalid. He seemed to be about six-and-twenty, and was evidently a perfect stranger. After he had stayed in the room, and listened for a short time to the music, he went out into the street, and just as he made his exit by one door, the marvels of the old beldames who congregate under the orchestra, were called into activity by the entrance through the other of a young lady_leaning on the arm of an old one. Even so sim
ple an incident as this, is sufficient in a place like Bath to give rise to various rumours and conjectures. She was tall, fair, and very beautiful, but she also seemed in bad health, and to be perfectly unknown. Such an event had not occurred at the pump-room for ages before. Even the master of the ceremonies was at fault. "As near as he could guess, to the best of his conjecture, he believed he had never seen either the gentleman or the lady."
While surmises of all kinds were going their rounds in this manner, the gentleman pursued his walk up Milsom Street. His pace was slow, and his strength did not seem equal even to so gentle an exertion. He leant for support upon his walkingstick, and heard, mingled with many coughs, a voice which he well knew, calling, "Chairlie! Chairlie Melville! I say! pull, ye deil's buckie-ugh— ugh!-sic a damned conveyance for a Hieland gentleman. Ah Chairlie, lad," said our old acquaintance, the Laird, who had now got up to where his friend was standing, "sad times for baith o' us. Here am I sent up here wi' a cough wad shake a kirk, ugh-ugh.-An the gout in baith my feet-to be hurled about in a chair that gangs upon wheels-ugh-ugh -by a lazy English vagabond that winna understand a word I say till him.-An' you," and here the old man looked up in the young soldier's face-"Oh, Chairlie, Chairlie, is this what the wars hae brocht ye to ? ugh-ugh.-Yer verra mither wadna ken ye-but come awa', come awa' to my lodgings in Pulteney Street, and tell us a' about what ye've been doin'-ugh-ugh-my fit, my fit! pu' awa', ye ne'er-do-weel; turn about,an' be hanged till ye-do ye no ken the road to Pulteney Street yet? Come awa' Chairlie, my man, dinna hurry." And thus mingling his commands to his chairman, with complaints of the gout and conversation to his friend, the Laird led the way to his lod gings.
Chairlie's story was soon told. He had shared in all the dangers and triumphs of the last three years of the He had been severely wounded at Waterloo, and had come to Bath with a debilitated frame, and a Ma jor's commission. But though he
spoke of past transactions as gaily as he could, the quick'eyes of the Laird perceived that there was some secret sorrow" which weighed down his spirits. "An' did ye meet with nae love adventure in your travels? for ye manna tell me a bit wound in the shoulder would mak ye sae downheaded as ye are. Is there nae Spa
nish or French lassie that gies ye a sair heart? Tell it a' to me, an' if I can be of ony use in bringin' it about, ye may depend I'll do all in my power to help ye."
No," replied Charles, smiling at the continued match-making propensities of his friend; "I shall scarcely require your services on that score. I never saw Frenchwoman or Spaniard, that cost me a single sigh.' And here, as if by the force of the word itself, the young man sighed.
Weel, it maun be some English or Scotch lassie then; for it's easy to be seen that somebody costs ye a sigh. I aince thocht ye were in a fair way o' winnin' yon bonny cratur ye saved frae the spate o' the Lugasbut ye gaed awa' in such a hurry the plant hadna time to tak' root."
"She was too rich for the poor penniless subaltern to look to," replied the young man, a deep glow coming over his face.
"Havers! havers! She wad hae given a' her lands yon night for a foot o' dry grund. An' as ye won her, ye had the best right to wear her. And I'm muckle mistaken if the lassie didna think sae hersell."
"Miss Mowbray must have overrated my services; but at all events I had no right to take advantage of that fortunate accident to better my fortunes by presuming on her feelings of gratitude to her preserver."
"What for no? what for no?" cried the Laird, "ye should hae married her on the spot. There were eight couples sprang frae the snawmeeting-ye should hae made the ninth, and then ye needna hae had a ball put through your shouther, nor ever moyed frae the braw Holmes o' Surrey. Od I wish it had been me that took her out o' the water; that is, if I had been as young as you, and Providence had afflicted me with the loss o' Mrs Kirkton."
"If I had been on a level with her as to fortune"