Christopher Johnson (ed.), The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, Vol. 10: Walter Scott: The Abbot
pg 322Chapter Eight
- Editor’s NoteAy, Pedro,—Come you here with mask and lantern,
- Ladder of ropes and other moonshine tools—
- Critical ApparatusWhy, youngster, thou mayst cheat the old Duenna,
- Flatter the waiting-woman, bribe the valet;
- But know, that I her father play the Gryphon,
- Tameless and sleepless, proof to fraud or bribe,
- And guard the hidden treasure of her beauty.
The Spanish Father
The tenor of our tale carries us back to the Castle of Lochleven, where we take up the order of events on the same remarkable day on which Dryfesdale had been dismissed from the castle. It was past noon, the usual hour of dinner, yet no preparations seemed made for the Queen's entertainment. Mary herself was retired into her own apartment, where she was closely engaged in writing. Her attendants Editor’s Notewere together in the presence-chamber, and much disposed to specu-late on the delay of the dinner; for it may be recollected that their breakfast had been interrupted. "I believe in my conscience," said the Critical Apparatuspage, "that having found the poisoning scheme miscarry, by going to Critical Apparatusthe wrong shop for their deadly wares, they are now about to try how famine will work upon us."
Lady Fleming was somewhat alarmed at this surmise, but comfor-ted herself by observing that the chimney of the kitchen had reeked that whole day in a manner which contradicted the supposition.—Catherine Seyton presently exclaimed, "They were bearing the dishes across the court, marshalled by the Lady Lochleven herself, dressed out in her highest and stiffest ruff, with her partlet and sleeves of Cyprus, and her huge old-fashioned farthingale of crimson velvet."
"I believe on my word," said the page, approaching the window also, "it was in that very farthingale that she captivated the heart of gentle King Jamie, which procured our poor Queen her precious bargain of a brother."
"That may hardly be, Master Roland," answered the Lady Flem-ing, who was a great recorder of the changes of fashion, "since the farthingales came first in when the Queen Regent went to Saint Editor’s NoteCritical ApparatusAndrews, after the battle of Pinkie, and were then called Vertu-gardins"——
She would have proceeded farther in this important discussion, but was interrupted by the entrance of the Lady of Lochleven, who pre-ceded the servants bearing the dishes, and formally discharged the pg 323duty of tasting each of them. Lady Fleming regretted, in courtly phrase, that the Lady of Lochleven should have undertaken so troublesome an office.
"After the strange incident of this day, madam," said the Lady, "it is necessary for my honour and that of my son, that I partake whatever is offered to my involuntary guest. Please to inform the Lady Mary that I attend her commands."
Critical Apparatus"Her Majesty," replied the Lady Fleming, with due emphasis on the word, "shall be informed that the Lady Lochleven waits."
Mary appeared instantly, and addressed her hostess with courtesy, which even approached to something more cordial. "This is nobly Critical Apparatusdone, Lady Lochleven," she said; "for though we ourselves appre-hend no danger under your roof, our ladies have been much alarmed by this morning's chance, and our meal will be the more cheerful for your presence and assurance. Please you to sit down."
Critical ApparatusThe Lady Lochleven obeyed the Queen's command, and Roland performed the office of carver and attendant as usual. But, notwith-standing what the Queen had said, the meal was silent and unsocial; and every effort which Mary made to excite some conversation, died away under the solemn and chill replies of the Lady of Lochleven. At Critical Apparatuslength it was plain that the Queen, who had considered her advances as a condescension on her part, and who piqued herself justly on her powers of pleasing, became offended at the repulsive conduct of her hostess. After looking with a significant glance at Lady Fleming and Catherine, she slightly shrugged her shoulders, and remained silent. A pause ensued, at the end of which the Lady Douglas spoke.—"I Critical Apparatusperceive, Madam, I am a check on the mirth of this fair company—I pray you to excuse me—I am a widow—alone here in a most perilous Critical Apparatuscharge—deserted by my son—betrayed by my servant—I am little worthy of the grace you do me in offering me a seat at your table, where I am aware that wit and pastime are usually expected from the guests."
"If the Lady Lochleven is serious," said the Queen, "we wonder by what simplicity she expects our present meals to be seasoned with mirth. If she is a widow, she lives honoured and uncontrouled, at the head of her late husband's household. But I know, at least, of one widowed woman in the world, before whom the words desertion and betrayal ought never to be mentioned, since no one has been made so bitterly acquainted with their import."
"I meant not to remind you of your misfortunes, by the mention of mine," answered the Lady Lochleven, and there was again a deep silence.
Mary at length addressed Lady Fleming. "We can commit no pg 324Editor’s Notedeadly sins here, ma bonne, where we are so well warded and looked Editor’s Noteto; but if we could, this Carthusian silence might be useful as a kind of penance. If thou hast adjusted my wimple amiss, my Fleming, or if Catherine hath made a wry stitch in her broidery, when she was thinking of something else than her work, or if Roland Græme hath missed a wild-duck on the wing, and broke a quarrel-pane of glass in the turret window, as chanced to him a week since, now is the time to think on your sins and to repent of them."
"Madam, I speak with all reverence," said the Lady Lochleven; Critical Apparatus"but I am old, and crave the privilege of age. Methinks your followers might find fitter subjects for repentance than the trifles you mention, Critical Apparatusand so mentioned—once more, I crave your pardon—as if you jested with sin and with repentance both."
"You have been our taster, Lady Lochleven," said the Queen, "I perceive you would eke out your duty with that of our Father Con-Critical Apparatusfessor—And since you chuse that our conversation should be serious, may I ask you why the Regent's promise—since your son so styles himself—has not been kept to me in that respect? From time to time this promise has been renewed, and as constantly broken. Methinks, those who pretend themselves to so much gravity and sanctity, should not debar from others the religious succours which their consciences require."
"Madam, the Earl of Moray was indeed weak enough," said the Lady Lochleven, "to give so far way to your unhappy prejudices, and a religioner of the Pope presented himself on his part at our town of Kinross.—But the Douglas is Lord of his own castle, and will not Critical Apparatuspermit its threshold to be darkened, no not for a single moment, by an emissary belonging to the Bishop of Rome."
"Methinks it were well, then," said Mary, "that my Lord Regent would send me where there is less scruple and more charity."
"In this, madam," answered the Lady Lochleven, "you mistake the Editor’s Notenature both of charity and of religion. Charity giveth to those who are in delirium the medicaments which may avail their health, but refuses those enticing cates and liquors which please the palate, but augment the disease."
"This your charity, Lady Lochleven, is pure cruelty, under the Critical Apparatushypocritical disguise of friendly care—I am oppressed amongst you as Critical Apparatusif you meant the destruction both of my body and soul—but Heaven will not endure such iniquity for ever, and they who are the most active agents in it may speedily expect their reward."
Critical ApparatusAt this moment Randal entered the apartment, with a step so hur-ried and a look so much perturbed, that the Lady Fleming uttered a faint scream, the Queen was obviously startled, and the Lady of Loch-pg 325leven, though too bold and proud to evince any marked signs of alarm, asked hastily what was the matter?
Critical Apparatus"Dryfesdale has been slain, madam," was the reply; "murdered so soon as he gained the dry land by young Master Henry Seyton."
It was now Catherine's turn to start and grow pale—"Has the murderer of the Douglas's vassal escaped?" was the Lady's hasty question.
"There was none to challenge him but old Keltie, and the carrier Critical ApparatusAuchtermuchty," replied Randal; "unlikely men to stay one of the Critical Apparatusfrackest* youths in Scotland of his years, and who was like to have friends and partakers at no great distance."
"Was the deed completed?" said the Lady.
"Done, and done thoroughly," said Randal; "a Seyton seldom Critical Apparatusstrikes twice—But the body was not spoiled, and your honour's packet Critical Apparatusgoes forward to Edinburgh by Auchtermuchty, who leaves Keltie-Bridge early to-morrow—marry, he has drunk two bottles of aqua-vitæ to put the fright out of his head, and now sleeps them off beside his cart-avers."
There was a pause when this fatal tale was told. The Queen and Lady Douglas looked on each other, as if each thought how she could best turn the incident to her own advantage in the controversy, which was continually kept alive betwixt them—Catherine Seyton kept her kerchief at her eyes and wept.
Critical Apparatus"You see, madam, the bloody maxims and practices of the deluded papists," said Lady Lochleven.
"Nay, madam," replied the Queen, "say rather you see the deserved judgment of Heaven upon a Calvinistical poisoner."
"Dryfesdale was not of the Church of Geneva or of Scotland," said the Lady Lochleven, hastily.
"He was a heretic, however," replied Mary; "there is but one true and unerring guide, the others lead alike into error."
"Well, madam, I trust it will reconcile you to your retreat, that this Critical Apparatusdeed shews the temper of those who might wish you at liberty—blood-Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatusthirsty tyrants, and cruel man-quellers are they all, from the Clan-Critical ApparatusRanald and Clan-Tosach in the north, to Ferniherst and Buccleuch in Critical Apparatusthe south—the murdering Seytons in the east"——
"If I had forgot it, fair mistress, your forward bearing would have reminded me," said Lady Lochleven.
Critical Apparatus"If my brother have slain the villain that would have poisoned his pg 326Sovereign, and his sister," said Catherine, "I am only so far sorry that he should have spared the hangman his proper task. For aught fur-Editor’s Notether, had it been the best Douglas in the land, he would have been honoured in falling by the Seyton's sword."
"Farewell, gay mistress," said the Lady of Lochleven, rising to withdraw; "it is such maidens as you, who make giddy-fashioned revellers and deadly brawlers. Boys must needs rise, forsooth, in the grace of some sprightly damsel, who thinks to dance through life as through a French galliard." She then made her reverence to the Queen, and added, "Do you also, madam, fare you well, till curfew time, when I will make, perchance, more bold than welcome in attending upon your supper board.—Come with me, Randal, and tell me more of this cruel fact."
"'Tis an extraordinary chance," said the Queen, when she had departed; "and, villain as he was, I would this man had been spared Critical Apparatustime for repentance—we will cause something to be done for his soul, if we ever attain our liberty, and the Church will permit such grace to Editor’s Notean heretic.—But, tell me, Catherine, ma mignonne—this brother of thine, who is so frack, as the fellow called him, bears he the same wonderful likeness to thee as formerly?"
Critical Apparatus"If your Grace means in temper, you know best whether I am so frack as the serving-man spoke him."
Editor’s Note"Nay, thou art prompt enough in all reasonable conscience," replied the Queen; "but thou art my own darling notwithstanding—Critical ApparatusBut I meant, is this thy twin-brother as like thee in form and feature as formerly? I remember thy dear mother alleged it as a reason for Critical Apparatusdestining thee to the veil, that, were you both to go at large, thou wouldst surely get the credit of some of thy brother's mad pranks."
"I believe, madam," said Catherine, "there are some unusually simple people even yet, who can hardly distinguish betwixt us, espe-cially when, for diversion's sake, my brother hath taken a female dress,"—and, as she spoke, she gave a quick glance at Roland Græme, to whom this conversation conveyed a ray of light, welcome as ever streamed into the dungeon of a captive through the door which opened to give him freedom.
"He must be a handsome cavalier this brother of thine, if he be so like you," replied Mary. "He was in France, I think, for these late years, so that I saw him not at Holyrood."
"His looks, madam, have never been much found fault with," answered Catherine Seyton; "but I would he had less of that angry and heady spirit which evil times have encouraged amongst our young Critical Apparatusnobles. God knows, I grudge not his life in your Grace's quarrel, and love him for the willingness with which he labours for your rescue. But pg 327wherefore should he brawl with an old ruffianly serving-man, and stain at once his name with such a broil, and his hands with the blood of an old and ignoble wretch?" "Nay, be patient, Catherine; I will not have thee traduce my gallant young knight. With Henry for my knight, and Roland Græme for my trusty squire, methinks I am like a princess of romance, who may shortly set at defiance the dungeons and the weapons of all wicked sorcerers.—But my head aches with the agitation of the day. Take me Editor’s NoteLa Mer des Histoires, and resume where we left off on Wednesday.—Our Lady help thy head, girl, or rather may she help thy heart!—I Editor’s Noteasked thee for the Sea of Histories, and thou hast brought La Cronique Critical Apparatusd'Amour—Ah, Catherine, time will teach thee, I fear, how little truth there is in that same Chronicle of Love." Once embarked upon the Sea of Histories, the Queen continued her labours with her needle, while Lady Fleming and Catherine read to her alternately for two hours.
As to Roland Græme, it is probable that he continued in secret intent upon the Chronicle of Love, notwithstanding the censure Critical Apparatuswhich the Queen had passed upon that branch of study. He now remembered a thousand circumstances of voice and manner, which, had his own prepossession been less, must surely have discriminated the brother from the sister; and he felt ashamed, that, having as it were by heart every particular of Catherine's gestures, words, and manners, he should have thought her, notwithstanding her spirits and levity, capable of assuming the bold step, loud tones, and forward assurance, which accorded well enough with her brother's hasty and masculine character. He endeavoured repeatedly to catch a glance of Cather-ine's eye, that he might judge how she was disposed to look upon him Critical Apparatussince he had made the discovery; but he was unsuccessful, for Cath-erine, when she was not reading herself, seemed to take so much Editor’s Noteinterest in the exploits of the Teutonic knights against the Heathens of Esthonia and Livonia, that he could not surprise her eye even for a second.
Critical ApparatusBut when, closing the book, the Queen commanded their attend-ance in the garden, Mary, perhaps of set purpose, (for Roland's anxiety could not escape so practised an observer,) afforded him a favourable opportunity of accosting his mistress. The Queen com-manded them to a little distance, while she engaged Lady Fleming in a particular and private conversation; the subject whereof, we learn from another authority, to have been the comparative excellence of Editor’s Notethe high standing ruff and the falling band. Roland must have been duller, and more sheepish than ever was youthful lover, if he had not endeavoured to avail himself of this opportunity.
pg 328"I have been longing this whole evening to ask of you, fair Cather-ine," said the page, "how foolish and unapprehensive you must have thought me, in being capable to mistake betwixt your brother and Critical Apparatusyou."
"The circumstance does indeed little honour to my rustic man-ners," said Catherine, "since those of a wild young man were so readily mistaken for mine. But I shall grow wiser in time; and with that view I am determined not to think of your follies, but to correct my own."
"It will be the lighter subject of meditation of the two," said Roland.
"I know not that," said Catherine, very gravely; "I fear we have been both unpardonably foolish."
"I have been mad," said Roland, "unpardonably mad. But you, lovely Catherine"——
"I," said Catherine, in the same tone of unusual gravity, "have too long suffered you to use such expressions towards me—I fear I can permit it no longer, and I blame myself for the pain it may give you."
"And what can have happened so suddenly to change our relation to each other, or alter, with such sudden cruelty, your whole deportment to me?"
"I can hardly tell," replied Catherine, "unless it is that the events of the day have impressed on my mind the necessity of our observing Critical Apparatusmore distance to each other—A chance similar to that which betrayed to you the existence of my brother, may make known to Henry the terms you have used to me; and, alas! his whole conduct, as well as his deed this day, makes me too justly apprehensive of the con-sequences."
"Fear nothing for that, fair Catherine," answered the page; "I am well able to protect myself against risks of that nature."
Critical Apparatus"That is to say," replied she, "that you would fight with my twin-Critical Apparatusbrother to shew your regard for his sister. I have heard the Queen say, in her sad hours, that men are, in love or in hate, the most selfish animals of creation; and your carelessness in this matter looks very like it. But be not so much abashed—you are no worse than others."
"You do me injustice, Catherine," replied the page, "I thought but of being threatened with a sword, and did not remember in whose hand your fancy had placed it. If your brother stood before me, with his drawn weapon in his hand, so like as he is to you in word, person, Critical Apparatusand favour, he might shed my life-blood ere I could find in my heart to resist him to his injury."
"Alas!" said she, "it is not my brother alone. But you remember only the singular circumstances in which we have met in equality, and I may say in intimacy. You think not, that whenever I re-enter my pg 329father's house, there is a gulph between us you may not pass, but with peril of your life.—Your only known relative is of wild and singular Editor’s Notehabits, of a hostile and broken clan—the rest of your lineage unknown—forgive me that I speak what is the undeniable truth."
Editor’s Note"Love, my beautiful Catherine, despises genealogies," answered Roland Græme.
Critical Apparatus"Love may—but so will not the Lord Seyton," rejoined the damsel.
Critical Apparatus"The Queen, thy mistress and mine—she will intercede. O! drive me not from you at the moment I thought myself most happy!—and if I shall aid her deliverance, said not yourself that you and she would become my debtors?"
"All Scotland will become your debtors," said Catherine; "but for the active effects you might hope from our gratitude, you must Critical Apparatusremember I am wholly dependent upon my father; and the poor Critical ApparatusQueen is, for a long time, more like to be dependent on the pleasure of the nobles of her party, than possessed of power to controul them."
"Be it so," replied Roland; "my deeds shall controul prejudice itself—it is a bustling world, and I will have my share. The Knight of Avenel, high as he now stands, rose from as obscure an origin as mine."
"Ay!" said Catherine, "there spoke the doughty knight of romance, that will cut his way to the imprisoned princess, through fiends and fiery dragons."
"But if I can set the princess at large, and procure her the freedom of her own choice," said the page, "where, dearest Catherine, will that choice alight?"
"Release the princess from duresse, and she will tell you," said the damsel; and breaking off the conversation abruptly, she joined the Critical ApparatusQueen so suddenly, that Mary exclaimed, half aloud—
"No more tidings of evil import—no dissention, I trust, in my limited household?"—Then looking on Catherine's blushing cheek, and Roland's expanded brow and glancing eye—"No—no," she said, Editor’s Note"I see all is well—Ma petite mignonne, go to my apartment and fetch me down—let me see—ay fetch my pomander box."
And having thus disposed of her attendant in the manner best qualified to hide her confusion, the Queen added, speaking apart to Roland, "I should at least have two grateful subjects of Catherine and you; for what sovereign but Mary would aid true-love so willingly?—Editor’s NoteCritical ApparatusAy, you lay your hand on your sword—your petite flamberge à rien thereCritical Apparatus—Well, short time will shew if all the good-will be true that is pro-tested to us.—I hear them toll curfew from Kinross. To our chamber—this old dame hath promised to be with us again at our evening meal. Were it not for the hope of speedy deliverance, her presence pg 330would drive me distracted. But I will be patient."
Critical Apparatus"I profess," said Catherine, who just then entered, "I would I could be Henry, with all a man's privileges for one moment—I long Critical Apparatusto throw my plate at that confect of pride, and formality, and ill-nature."
The Lady Fleming reprimanded her young companion for this explosion of impatience; the Queen laughed, and they went to the presence-chamber, where almost immediately entered supper, and the Lady of the Castle. The Queen, strong in her prudent resolutions, endured her presence with great fortitude and equanimity, until her patience was disturbed by a new form, which had hitherto made no Critical Apparatuspart of the ceremonial of the castle. When the other attendants had retired, Randal entered, bearing the keys of the castle fastened upon a chain, and, announcing that the Watch was set, and the gates locked, delivered the keys with all reverence to the Lady of Lochleven.
The Queen and her ladies exchanged with each other a look of disappointment, anger, and vexation, and Mary said aloud, "We can-not regret the smallness of our court, when we see our hostess dis-charge in person so many of its offices. In addition to her charges of Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatusprincipal steward of our household and grand almoner, she has to-night done duty as captain of our guard."
"And will continue to do so in future, madam," answered the Lady Lochleven, with much gravity; "the history of Scotland may teach me how ill the duty is performed, which is done by an accredited deputy—Critical Apparatuswe have heard, madam, of favourites of later date, and as little merit, Editor’s Noteas Oliver Sinclair."
"O, madam," replied the Queen, "my father had his female as well Editor’s Noteas his male favourites—there were the Ladies Sandilands and Oli-faunt, and some others, methinks; but their names cannot survive in the memory of so grave a person as you."
The Lady Lochleven looked as if she could have slain the Queen on the spot, but commanded her temper, and retired from the apartment, bearing in her hand the ponderous bunch of keys.
"Now God be praised for that woman's youthful frailty," said the Queen. "Had she not that weak point in her character, I might waste my words on her in vain—But that stain is the very reverse of what is Editor’s Notesaid of the witch's mark—I can make her feel there, though she is otherwise insensible all over—But how say you, girls—here is a new Critical Apparatusdifficulty—how are these keys to be come by?—there is no deceiving or bribing this dragon, I trow."
"May I crave to know," said Roland, "whether, if your Grace were beyond the walls of the castle, you could find means of conveyance to the firm land, and protection when you are there."
pg 331"Trust us for that, Roland," said the Queen; "for to that point our scheme is indifferent well laid."
"Then if your Grace will permit me to speak my mind, I think I could be of some use in this matter."
"As how, my good youth?—speak on," said the Queen, "and fear-lessly."
"My patron the Knight of Avenel used to compel the youth edu-cated in his household to learn the use of axe and hammer, and working in wood and iron—he used to speak of old northern cham-pions, who forged their own weapons, and of the Highland Captain Editor’s NoteDonald nan Ord, or Donald of the Hammer, whom he himself knew, and who used to work at the anvil with a sledge-hammer in each hand. Critical ApparatusSome said he praised this art, because he was himself of churlish Critical Apparatusblood—but I gained some practice in it, as the Lady Catherine Seyton partly knows; for since we were here I wrought her a silver broach."
"Ay," replied Catherine, "but you should tell her Grace that your workmanship was so indifferent that it broke to pieces next day, and I flung it away."
"Believe her not, Roland," said the Queen; "she wept when it was broken, and put the fragments into her bosom. But for your scheme—could your skill avail to forge a second set of keys?"
"No, madam, because I know not the wards. But I am convinced I could make a set so like that hateful bunch which the lady bore off even now, that could they be exchanged against them by any means, she would never dream she was possessed of the wrong."
Critical Apparatus"And the good lady, thank heaven, is somewhat blind," said the Queen; "but then for a forge, my boy, and the means of labouring unobserved?"
"The armourer's forge, at which I used sometimes to work with him, is in the round vault at the bottom of the turret—he was dis-missed with the warder for being supposed too much attached to George Douglas. The people are accustomed to see me work there, Editor’s Noteand I will find some excuse that will pass current with them for putting bellows and anvil to work."
"The scheme has a promising face," said the Queen; "about it, my lad, with all speed, and beware the nature of your work is not discov-ered."
"Nay, I will take the liberty to draw the bolt against chance visitors, so that I will have time to put away what I am working upon, before I undo the door."
"Will not that of itself attract suspicion, in a place where it is so current already?" said Catherine.
"Not a whit," replied Roland; "Gregory the armourer, and every pg 332good hammerman, locks himself in when he is about some master-piece of craft. Besides, something must be risked."
"Part we then to-night," said the Queen, "and God bless you, my children.—If Mary's head ever rises above water, you shall all arise Critical Apparatusalong with her."
* Boldest-most forward.