HIGHLAND WIDOW.

                 CHAPTER 1.

      It wound as near as near could be,
      But what it is she cannot tell;
      On the other side it seemed to be,
      Of the huge broad-breasted old oak-tree.


  Mrs Bethune Baliol's memorandum begins

  It is five-and-thirty, or perhaps nearer forty
years ago, since, to relieve the dejection of spirits
occasioned by a great family loss sustained two or
three months before, I undertook what was called
the short Highland tour.  This had become in some
degree fashionable; but though the military roads
were excellent, yet the accommodation was so indifferent
that it was reckoned a little adventure to
accomplish it.  Besides, the Highlands, though
now as peaceable  as any part of King George's
dominions, was a sound which still carried terror,
while so many survived who had witnessed the
insurrection of 1745; and a vague idea of fear was
impressed on many, as they looked from the towers
of Stirling northward to the huge chain of mountains,
which rises like a dusky rampart to conceal
in its recesses a people, whose dress, manners, and
language, differed still very much from those of
their Lowland countrymen.  For my part, I come
of a race not greatly subject to apprehensions
arising from imagination only.  I had some Highland
relatives, knew several of their families of distinction;
and, though only having the company of
my bower-maiden, Mrs Alice Lambskin, I went on
my journey fearless.

  But then I had a guide and cicerone, almost
equal to Greatheart in the Pilgrim's Progress, in
no less a person than Donald MacLeish, the postilion
whom I hired at Stirling, with a pair of able-bodied
horses, as steady as Donald himself, to drag
my carriage, my duenna, and myself, wheresoever
it was my pleasure to go.

  Donald MacLeish was one of a race of post-boys,
whom, I suppose, mail-coaches and steam-boats
have put out of fashion.  They were to be found
chiefly at Perth, Stirling, or Glasgow, where they
and their horses were usually hired by travellers,
or tourists, to accomplish such journeys of business
or pleasure as they might have to perform in the
land of the Gael.  This class of persons approached
to the character of what is called abroad a _conducteur_;
or might be compared to the sailing-master
on board a British ship of war, who follows
out after his own manner the course which the
captain commands him to observe.  You explained
to your postilion the length of your tour, and the
objects you were desirous it should embrace; and
you found him perfectly competent to fix the places
of rest or refreshment, with due attention that those
should be chosen with reference to your convenience,
and to any points of interest which you
might desire to visit.

  The qualifications of such a person were necessarily
much superior to those of the ``first ready,''
who gallops thrice-a-day over the same ten miles.  
Donald MacLeish, besides being quite alert at repairing
all ordinary accidents to his horses and
carriage, and in making shift to support them,
where forage was scarce, with such substitutes as
bannocks and cakes, was likewise a man of intellectual
resources.  He had acquired a general knowledge
of the traditional stories of the country which
he had traversed so often; and, if encouraged, (for
Donald was a man of the most decorous reserve,)
he would willingly point out to you the site of the
principal clan-battles, and recount the most remarkable
legends by which the road, and the objects
which occurred in travelling it, had been distinguished.
There was some originality in the
man's habits of thinking and expressing himself,
his turn for legendary lore strangely contrasting
with a portion of the knowing shrewdness belonging
to his actual occupation, which made his conversation
amuse the way well enough.

  Add to this, Donald knew all his peculiar duties
in the country which he traversed so frequently.  
He could tell, to a day, when they would ``be killing''
lamb at Tyndrum or Glenuilt; so that the
stranger would have some chance of being fed
like a Christian; and knew to a mile the last village
where it was possible to procure a wheaten
loaf, for the guidance of those who were little familiar
with the Land of Cakes.  He was acquainted
with the road every mile, and could tell to an
inch which side of a Highland bridge was passable,
which decidedly dangerous.* In short, Donald

*  This is, or was at least, a necessary accomplishment.  In
   one of the most beautiful districts of the Highlands was, not
   many years since, a bridge bearing this startling caution,
   ``Keep to the right side, the left being dangerous.''

MacLeish was not only our faithful attendant and
steady servant, but our humble and obliging friend;
and though I have known the half-classical cicerone
of Italy, the talkative French valet-de-place, and
even the muleteer of Spain, who piques himself on
being a maize-eater, and whose honour is not to be
questioned without danger, I do not think I have
ever had so sensible and intelligent a guide.

  Our motions were of course under Donald's direction;
and it frequently happened, when the weather
was serene, that we preferred halting to rest
his horses even where there was no established
stage, and taking our refreshment under a crag,
from which leaped a waterfall, or beside the verge
of a fountain, enamelled with verdant turf and
wild-flowers.  Donald had an eye for such spots,
and though he had, I dare say, never read Gil Blas
or Don Quixote, yet be chose such halting-places
as Le Sage or Cervantes would have described.  
Very often, as he observed the pleasure I took in
conversing with the country people, he would manage
to fix our place of rest near a cottage where
there was some old Gael, whose broadsword had
blazed at Falkirk or Preston, and who seemed the
frail yet faithful record of times which had passed
away.  Or he would contrive to quarter us, as far
as a cup of tea went, upon the hospitality of some
parish minister of worth and intelligence, or some
country family of the better class, who mingled
with the wild simplicity of their original manners,
and their ready and hospitable welcome, a sort of
courtesy belonging to a people, the lowest of whom
are accustomed to consider themselves as being,
according to the Spanish phrase, ``as good gentlemen
as the king, only not quite so rich.''

  To all such persons Donald MacLeish was well
known, and his introduction passed as current as
if we had brought letters from some high chief of
the country.

  Sometimes it happened that the Highland hospitality,
which welcomed us with all the variety of
mountain fare, preparations of milk and eggs, and
girdle-cakes of various kinds, as well as more substantial
dainties, according to the inhabitant's
means of regaling the passenger, descended rather
too exuberantly on Donald MacLeish in the shape
of mountain dew.  Poor Donald! he was on such
occasions like Gideon's fleece, moist with the noble
element, which, of course, fell not on us.  But it
was his only fault, and when pressed to drink _doch-an-dorroch_
to my ladyship's good health, it would
have been ill taken to have refused the pledge, nor
was he willing to do such discourtesy.  It was, I
repeat, his only fault, nor had we any great right
to complain; for if it rendered him a little more
talkative, it augmented his ordinary share of punctilious
civility, and he only drove slower, and talked
longer and more pompously than when he had
not come by a drop of usquebaugh.  It was, we
remarked, only on such occasions that Donald talked
with an air of importance of the family of MacLeish;
and we had no title to be scrupulous in censuring
a foible, the consequences of which were
confined within such innocent limits.

  We became so much accustomed to Donald's
mode of managing us, that we observed with some
interest the art which he used to produce a little
agreeable surprise, by concealing from us the spot
where he proposed our halt to be made, when it
was of an unusual and interesting character.  This
was so much his wont, that when he made apologies
at setting off, for being obliged to stop in
some strange solitary place, till the horses should
eat the corn which be brought on with them for
that purpose, our imagination used to be on the
stretch to guess what romantic retreat he had
secretly fixed upon for our noontide baiting-place.

  We had spent the greater part of the morning
at the delightful village of Dalmally, and had gone
upon the lake under the guidance of the excellent
clergyman who was then incumbent at Glenorquhy,*

*   This venerable and hospitable gentleman's name  was

and had heard an hundred legends of the
stern chiefs of Loch Awe, Duncan with the thrum
bonnet, and the other lords of the now mouldering
towers of Kilchurn.* Thus it was later than usual

*    Note A.  Loch Awe.

when we set out on our journey, after a hint or two
from Donald concerning the length of the way to
the next stage, as there was no good halting-place
between Dalmally and Oban.

  Having bid adieu to our venerable and kind cicerone,
we proceeded on our tour, winding round
the tremendous mountain called Cruachan Ben,
which rushes down in all its majesty of rocks and
wilderness on the lake, leaving only a pass, in
which, notwithstanding its extreme strength, the
warlike clan of MacDougal of Lorn were almost
destroyed by the sagacious Robert Bruce.  That
King, the Wellington of his day, had accomplished,
by a forced march, the unexpected man<oe>uvre
of forcing a body of troops round the other side of
the mountain, and thus placed them in the flank
and in the rear of the men of Lorn, whom at the
same time he attacked in front.  The great number
of cairns yet visible, as you descend the pass on
the westward side, shows the extent of the vengeance
which Bruce exhausted on his inveterate
and personal enemies.  I am, you know, the sister
of soldiers, and it has since struck me forcibly that
the man<oe>uvre which Donald described, resembled
those of Wellington or of Bonaparte.  He was a
great man Robert Bruce, even a Baliol must admit
that; although it begins now to be allowed that
his title to the crown was scarce so good as that of
the unfortunate family with whom he contended---
But let that pass.---The slaughter had been the
greater, as the deep and rapid river Awe is disgorged
from the lake, just in the rear of the fugitives,
and encircles the base of the tremendous
mountain; so that the retreat of the unfortunate
fliers was intercepted on all sides by the inaccessible
character of the country, which had seemed
to promise them defence and protection.*

*   Note B.  Battle betwixt the Armies of the Bruce
    and Macdougal of Lorn.

  Musing, like the Irish lady in the song, ``upon
things which are long enough a-gone,''* we felt no

*   This is a line from a very pathetic ballad which I heard
    sung by one of the young ladies of Edgeworthstown in 1825.  
    I do not know that it has been printed.

impatience at the slow, and almost creeping pace,
with which our conductor proceeded along General
Wade's military road, which never or rarely
condescends to turn aside from the steepest ascent,
but proceeds right up and down bill, with the indifference
to height and hollow, steep or level, indicated
by the old Roman engineers.  Still, however,
the substantial excellence of these great works
---for such are the military highways in the Highlands---
deserved the compliment of the poet, who,
whether he came from our sister kingdom, and
spoke in his own dialect, or whether he supposed
those whom he addressed might have some national
pretension to the second sight, produced the celebrated

    Had you but seen these roads _before_ they were made,
    You would hold up your hands, and bless General Wade.

  Nothing indeed can be more wonderful than to see
these wildernesses penetrated and pervious in every
quarter by broad accesses of the best possible construction,
and so superior to what the country could
have demanded for many centuries for any pacific
purpose of commercial intercourse. Thus the traces
of war are sometimes happily accommodated to
the purposes of peace.  The victories of Bonaparte
have been without results; but his road over the
Simplon will long be the communication betwixt
peaceful countries, who will apply to the ends of
commerce and friendly intercourse that gigantic
work, which was formed for the ambitious purpose
of warlike invasion.

  While we were thus stealing along, we gradually
turned round the shoulder of Ben Cruachan, and
descending the course of the foaming and rapid
Awe, left behind us the expanse of the majestic
lake which gives birth to that impetuous river.  
The rocks and precipices which stooped down perpendicularly
on our path on the right hand, exhibited
a few remains of the wood which once clothed
them, but which had, in latter times, been
felled to supply, Donald MacLeish informed us,
the iron-founderies at the Bunawe.  This made
us fix our eyes with interest on one  large oak,
which grew on the left hand towards the river.  It
seemed a tree of extraordinary magnitude and picturesque
beauty, and stood just where there appeared
to be a few roods of open ground lying
among huge stones, which had rolled down from
the mountain.  To add to the romance of the situation,
the spot of clear ground extended round the
foot of a proud-browed rock, from the summit of
which leaped a mountain stream in a fall of sixty
feet, in which it was dissolved into foam and dew.  
At the bottom of the fall the rivulet with difficulty
collected, like a routed general, its dispersed
forces, and, as if tamed by its descent, found a
noiseless passage through the heath to join the

  I was much struck with the tree and waterfall,
and wished myself nearer them; not that I thought
of sketch-book or portfolio,---for, in my younger
days, Misses were not accustomed to black-lead pencils,
unless they could use them to some good purpose,
---but merely to indulge myself with a closer
view.  Donald immediately opened the chaise door,
but observed it was rough walking down the brae
and that I would see the tree better by keeping the
road for a hundred yards farther, when it passed
closer to the spot, for which he seemed, however,
to have no predilection.  ``He knew,'' he said, ``a
far bigger tree than that nearer Bunawe, and it was
a place where there was flat ground for the carriage
to stand, which it could jimply do on these
braes;---but just as my leddyship liked.''

  My ladyship did choose rather to look at the fine
tree before me, than to pass it by in hopes of a
finer; so we walked beside the carriage till we
should come to a point, from which, Donald assured
us, we might,  without  scrambling,  go  as  near
the tree as we chose, ``though he wadna advise
us to go nearer than the high-road.''

  There was something grave and mysterious in
Donald's sun-browned countenance when he gave
us this intimation, and his manner was so different
from his usual frankness, that my female curiosity
was set in motion.  We walked on the whilst, and
I found the tree, of which we had now lost sight
by the intervention of some rising ground, was
really more distant than I had at first supposed.  
``I could have sworn now,'' said I to my cicerone,
``that yon tree and waterfall was the very place
where you intended to make a stop to-day.''

  ``The Lord forbid!'' said Donald, hastily.

  ``And for what, Donald? why should you be
willing to pass so pleasant a spot?''

  ``It's ower near Dalmally, my leddy, to corn the
beasts---it would bring their dinner ower near their
breakfast, poor things:---an', besides, the place is
not canny.''

  ``Oh! then the mystery is out.  There is a bogle
or a brownie, a witch or a gyre-carlin, a bodach or
a fairy, in the case?''

  ``The ne'er a bit, my leddy---ye are clean aff
the road, as I may say.  But if your leddyship will
just hae patience, and wait till we are by the place
and out of the glen, I'll tell ye all about it.  There
is no much luck in speaking of such things in the
place they chanced in.''

  I was obliged to suspend my curiosity, observing,
that if I persisted in twisting the discourse
one way while Donald was twining it another, I
should make his objection, like a hempen cord, just
so much the tougher.  At length the promised turn
of the road brought us within fifty paces of the
tree which I desired to admire, and I now saw to
my surprise, that there was a human habitation
among the cliffs which surrounded it.  It was a
hut of the least dimensions, and most miserable description,
that I ever saw even in the Highlands.  
The walls of sod, or _divot_, as the Scotch call it, were
not four feet high---the roof was of turf, repaired
with reeds and sedges---the chimney was composed
of clay, bound round by straw ropes---and the
whole walls, roof and chimney, were alike covered
with the vegetation of house-leek, rye-grass, and
moss, common to decayed cottages formed of such
materials.  There was not the slightest vestige of
a kale-yard, the usual accompaniment of the very
worst huts; and of living things we saw nothing,
save a kid which was browsing on the roof of the
hut, and a goat, its mother, at some distance, feeding
betwixt the oak and the river Awe.

  ``What man,'' I could not help exclaiming, ``can
have committed sin deep enough to deserve such
a miserable dwelling!''

  ``Sin enough,'' said Donald MacLeish, with a
half-suppressed groan; ``and God he knoweth,
misery enough too;---and it is no man's dwelling
neither, but a woman's.''

  ``A woman's!'' I repeated, ``and in so lonely a
place---What sort of a woman can she be?''

  ``Come this way, my leddy, and you may judge
that for yourself,'' said Donald.  And by advancing
a few steps, and making a sharp turn to the
left, we gained a sight of the side of the great
broad-breasted oak, in the direction opposed to that
in which we had hitherto seen it.

  ``If she keeps her old wont, she will be there at
this hour of the day,'' said Donald; but immediately
became silent, and pointed with his finger,
as one afraid of being overheard.  I looked, and
beheld, not without some sense of awe, a female
form seated by the stem of the oak, with her head
drooping, her hands clasped, and a dark-coloured
mantle drawn over her head, exactly as Judah is represented
in the Syrian medals as seated under her
palm-tree.  I was infected with the fear and reverence
which my guide seemed to entertain towards
this solitary being, nor did I think of advancing towards
her to obtain a nearer view until I had cast
an enquiring look on Donald; to which be replied
in a half whisper---``She has been a fearfu' bad
woman, my leddy.''

  ``Mad woman, said you,'' replied I, hearing him
imperfectly; ``then she is perhaps dangerous?''

  ``No---she is not mad,'' replied Donald; ``for
then it may be she would be happier than she is;
though when she thinks on what she has done, and
caused to be done, rather than yield up a hair-breadth
of her ain wicked will, it is not likely she
can be very well settled.  But she neither is mad
nor mischievous; and yet, my leddy, I think you
had best not go nearer to her.'' And then, in a few
hurried words, he made me acquainted with the
story which I am now to tell more in detail.  I
heard the narrative with a mixture of horror and
sympathy, which at once impelled me to approach
the sufferer, and speak to her the words of comfort,
or rather of pity, and at the same time made
me afraid to do so.

  This indeed was the feeling with which she was
regarded by the Highlanders in the neighbourhood,
who looked upon Elspat MacTavish, or the
Woman of the Tree, as they called her, as the
Greeks considered those who were pursued by the
Furies, and endured the mental torment consequent
on great criminal actions.  They regarded
such unhappy beings as Orestes and <OE>dipus, as
being less the voluntary perpetrators of their
crimes than as the passive instruments by which
the terrible decrees of Destiny had been accomplished;
and the fear with which they beheld them
was not unmingled with veneration.

  I also learned farther from Donald MacLeish,
that there was some apprehension of ill luck attending
those who had the boldness to approach too
near, or disturb the awful solitude of a being so
unutterably miserable; that it was supposed that
whosoever approached her must experience in some
respect the contagion of her wretchedness.

  It was therefore with some reluctance that Donald
saw me prepare to obtain a nearer view of the
sufferer, and that he himself followed to assist me in
the descent down a very rough path.  I believe his
regard for me conquered some ominous feelings
in his own breast, which connected his duty on this
occasion with the presaging fear of lame horses, lost
linch-pins, overturns, and other perilous chances of
the postilion's life.

  I am not sure if my own courage would have
carried me so close to Elspat, had he not followed.  
There was in her countenance the stern abstraction
of hopeless and overpowering sorrow, mixed
with the contending feelings of remorse, and of the
pride which struggled to conceal it.  She guessed,
perhaps, that it was curiosity, arising out of her
uncommon story, which induced me to intrude on
her solitude---and she could not be pleased that a
fate like hers had been the theme of a traveller's
amusement.  Yet the look with which she regarded
me was one of scorn instead of embarrassment.  
The opinion of the world and all its children could
not add or take an iota from her load of misery;
and, save from the half smile that seemed to intimate
the contempt of a being rapt by the very intensity
of her affliction above the sphere of ordinary
humanities, she seemed as indifferent to my
gaze, as if she had been a dead corpse or a marble

  Elspat was above the middle stature; her hair,
now grizzled, was still profuse, and it had been of
the most decided black.  So were her eyes, in
which, contradicting the stern and rigid features of
her countenance, there shone the wild and troubled
light that indicates an unsettled mind.  Her hair
was wrapt round a silver bodkin with some attention
to neatness, and her dark mantle was disposed
around her with a degree of taste, though  the  materials
were of the most ordinary sort.

  After gazing on this victim of guilt and calamity
till I was ashamed to remain silent, though uncertain
how I ought to address her, I began to express
my surprise at her choosing such a desert  and  deplorable
dwelling.  She cut short  these  expressions
of sympathy, by answering in a stern voice, without
the least change of countenance or posture---
``Daughter of the stranger, he has told you my
story.'' I was silenced at once, and felt how little
all earthly accommodation must seem to the mind
which had such subjects as hers for rumination.  
Without again attempting to open the conversation,
I took a piece of gold from my purse, (for
Donald had intimated she lived on alms,) expecting
she would at least stretch her hand to receive
it. But she neither accepted nor rejected the gift
---she did not even seem to notice it, though twenty
times as valuable, probably, as was usually offered.  
I was obliged to place it on her knee, saying involuntarily,
as I did so, ``May God pardon you,
and relieve you!'' I shall never forget the look
which she cast up to Heaven, nor the tone in which
she exclaimed, in the very words of my old friend,
John Home---

          ``My beautiful---my brave!''

  It was the language of nature, and arose from the
heart of the deprived mother, as it did from that
gifted imaginative poet, while furnishing with appropriate
expressions the ideal grief of Lady Randolph.


	O, I'm come to the Low Country,
  	  Och, och, ohonochie,
	Without a penny in my pouch
	  To buy a meal for me.
	I was the proudest of my clan,
	  Long, long may I repine;
	And Donald was the bravest man,
	  And Donald he was mine.
				_Old Song_.

Elspat had enjoyed happy days, though her age
had sunk into hopeless and inconsolable sorrow and
distress.  She was once the beautiful and happy
wife of Hamish MacTavish, for whom his strength
and feats of prowess had gained the title of MacTavish
Mhor.  His life was turbulent and dangerous,
his habits being of the old Highland stamp,
which esteemed it shame to want any thing that
could be had for the taking.  Those in the Lowland
line who lay near him, and desired to enjoy
their lives and property in quiet, were contented to
pay him a small composition, in name of protection
money, and comforted themselves with the old proverb,
that it was better to ``fleech the deil than
fight him.'' Others, who accounted such composition
dishonourable, were often surprised by MacTavish
Mhor, and his associates and followers, who
usually inflicted an adequate penalty, either in person
or property, or both.  The creagh is yet remembered,
in which he swept one hundred and fifty
cows from Monteith in one drove; and how be
placed the laird of Ballybught naked in a slough,
for having threatened to send for a party of the
Highland Watch to protect his property.

  Whatever were occasionally the triumphs of
this daring cateran, they were often exchanged for
reverses; and his narrow escapes, rapid flights, and
the ingenious stratagems with which he extricated
himself from imminent danger, were no less remembered
and admired than the exploits in which
he had been successful.  In weal or woe, through
every species of fatigue, difficulty, and danger,
Elspat was his faithful companion.  She enjoyed
with him the fits of occasional prosperity; and
when adversity pressed them hard, her strength of
mind, readiness of wit, and courageous endurance
of danger and toil, are said often to have stimulated
the exertions of her husband.

  Their morality was of the old Highland cast,
faithful friends and fierce enemies: the Lowland
herds and harvests they accounted their own, whenever
they had the means of driving off the one, or
of seizing upon the other; nor did the least scruple
on the right of property interfere on such occasions.  
Hamish Mhor argued like the old Cretan warrior:

    My sword, my spear, my shaggy shield,
      They make me lord of all below;
    For he who dreads the lance to wield,
       Before my shaggy shield must bow.  
    His lands, his vineyards, must resign,
        And all that cowards have is mine.

But those days of perilous, though frequently
successful depredation, began to be abridged, after
the failure of the expedition of Prince Charles
Edward.  MacTavish Mhor had not sat still on
that occasion, and he was outlawed, both as a traitor
to the state, and as a robber and cateran.  Garrisons
were now settled in many places where a
red-coat had never before been seen, and the Saxon
war-drum resounded among the most hidden recesses
of the Highland mountains.  The fate of MacTavish
became every day more inevitable; and it
was the more difficult for him to make his exertions
for defence or escape, that Elspat, amid his
evil days, had increased his family with an infant
child, which was a considerable encumbrance upon
the necessary rapidity of their motions.

  At length the fatal day arrived.  In a strong
pass on the skirts of Ben Cruachan, the celebrated
MacTavish Mhor was surprised by a detachment
of the Sidier Roy.* His wife assisted him heroically,

*    The Red Soldier.

charging his piece from time to time; and as
they were in possession of a post that was nearly
unassailable, he might have perhaps escaped if his
ammunition had lasted.  But at length his balls
were expended, although it was not until he had
fired off most of the silver buttons from his waistcoat,
and the soldiers, no longer deterred by fear
of the unerring marksman, who had slain three,
and wounded more of their number, approached
his stronghold, and, unable to take him alive, slew
him, after a most desperate resistance.

  All this Elspat witnessed and survived, for she
had, in the child which relied on her for support, a
motive for strength and exertion.  In what manner
she maintained herself it is not easy to say.  
Her only ostensible means of support were a flock
of three or four goats, which she fed wherever she
pleased on the mountain pastures, no one challenging
the intrusion.  In the general distress of the
country, her ancient acquaintances had little to
bestow; but what they could part with from their
own necessities, they willingly devoted to the relief
of others.  From Lowlanders she sometimes
demanded tribute, rather than requested alms. She
had not forgotten she was the widow of MacTavish
Mhor, or that the child who trotted by her knee
might, such were her imaginations, emulate one day
the fame of his father, and command the same influence
which he had once exerted without control.
She associated so little with others, went so
seldom and so unwillingly from the wildest recesses
of the mountains, where she usually dwelt with
her goats, that she was quite unconscious of the
great change which had taken place in the country
around her, the substitution of civil order for military
violence, and the strength gained by the law and
its adherents over those who were called in Gaelic
song, ``the stormy sons of the sword.'' Her own diminished
consequence and straitened circumstances
she indeed felt, but for this the death of MacTavish
Mhor was, in her apprehension, a sufficing reason;
and she doubted not that she should rise to her
former state of importance, when Hamish Bean (or
Fair-haired James) should be able to wield the
arms of his father.  If, then, Elspat was repelled
rudely when she demanded any thing necessary
for her wants, or the accommodation of her little
flock, by a churlish farmer, her threats of vengeance,
obscurely expressed, yet terrible in their
tenor, used frequently to extort, through fear of
her maledictions, the relief which was denied to
her necessities; and the trembling goodwife, who
gave meal or money to the widow of MacTavish
Mhor, wished in her heart that the stern old carlin
had been burnt on the day her husband had his

  Years thus ran on, and Hamish Bean grew up,
not indeed to be of his father's size or strength,
but to become an active, high-spirited, fair-haired
youth, with a ruddy cheek, an eye like an eagle,
and all the agility, if not all the strength, of his
formidable father, upon whose history and achievements
his mother dwelt, in order to form her son's
mind to a similar course of adventures.  But the
young see the present state of this changeful world
more keenly than the old.  Much attached to his
mother, and disposed to do all in his power for her
support, Hamish yet perceived, when he mixed
with the world, that the trade of the cateran was
now alike dangerous and discreditable, and that if
he were to emulate his father's prowess, it must
be in some other line of warfare, more consonant
to the opinions of the present day.

  As the faculties of mind and body began to expand,
he became more sensible of the precarious
nature of his situation, of the erroneous views of his
mother, and her ignorance respecting the changes
of the society with which she mingled so little.  In
visiting friends and neighbours, he became aware
of the extremely reduced scale to which his parent
was limited, and learned that she possessed little
or nothing more than the absolute necessaries of
life, and that these were sometimes on the point of
failing.  At times his success in fishing and the
chase was able to add something to her subsistence;
but he saw no regular means of contributing to her
support, unless by stooping to servile labour, which,
if he himself could have endured it, would, he
knew, have been like a death's-wound to the pride
of his mother.

  Elspat, meanwhile, saw with surprise, that
Hamish Bean, although now tall and fit for the
field, showed no disposition to enter on his father's
scene of action.  There was something of the mother
at her heart, which prevented her from urging
him in plain terms to take the field as a cateran,
for the fear occurred of the perils into which the
trade must conduct him; and when she would have
spoken to him on the subject, it seemed to her
heated imagination as if the ghost of her husband
arose between them in his bloody tartans, and laying
his finger on his lips, appeared to prohibit the
topic.  Yet she wondered at what seemed his want
of spirit, sighed as she saw him from day to day
lounging about in the long-skirted Lowland coat,
which the legislature had imposed upon the Gael
instead of their own romantic garb, and thought
how much nearer he would have resembled her
husband, had he been clad in the belted plaid and
short hose with his polished arms gleaming at his

  Besides these subjects for anxiety, Elspat had
others arising from the engrossing impetuosity of
her temper.  Her love of MacTavish Mhor had
been qualified  by respect and sometimes even by
fear; for the cateran was not the species of man
who submits to female government; but over his
son she had exerted, at first during childhood, and
afterwards in early youth, an imperious authority,
which gave her maternal love a character of jealousy.
She could not bear, when Hamish, with
advancing life, made repeated steps towards independence,
absented himself from her cottage at such
season, and for such length of time as he chose, and
seemed to consider, although maintaining towards
her every possible degree of respect and kindness,
that the control and responsibility of his actions
rested on himself alone.  This would have been
of little consequence, could she have concealed her
feelings within her own bosom; but the ardour
and impatience of her passions made her frequently
show her son that she conceived herself neglected
and ill used.  When he was absent for any length
of time from her cottage, without giving intimation
of his purpose, her resentment on his return
used to be so unreasonable, that it naturally suggested
to a young man fond of independence, and
desirous to amend his situation in the world, to
leave her, even for the very purpose of enabling
him to provide for the parent whose egotistical
demands on his filial attention tended to confine
him to a desert, in which both were starving in
hopeless and helpless indigence.

  Upon one occasion, the son having been guilty
of some independent excursion, by which the mother
felt herself affronted and disobliged, she had
been more than usually violent on his return, and
awakened in Hamish a sense of displeasure, which
clouded his brow and cheek.  At length, as she
persevered in her unreasonable resentment, his
patience became exhausted, and taking his gun
from the chimney corner, and muttering to himself
the reply which his respect for his mother prevented
him from speaking aloud, he was about to
leave the hut which he had but barely entered.

  ``Hamish,'' said his mother, ``are you again about
to leave me?'' But Hamish only replied by looking
at, and rubbing the lock of his gun.

  ``Ay, rub the lock of your gun,'' said his parent,
bitterly; ``I am glad you have courage enough to
fire it, though it be but at a roe-deer.'' Hamish
started at this undeserved taunt, and cast a look of
anger at her in reply.  She saw that she had found
the means of giving him pain.

  ``Yes,'' she said, ``look fierce as you will at an
old woman, and your mother; it would be long ere
you bent your brow on the angry countenance of a
bearded man.''

  ``Be silent, mother, or speak of what you understand,''
said Hamish, much irritated, ``and that is
of the distaff and the spindle.''

  ``And was it of spindle and distaff that I was
thinking when I bore you away on my back, through
the fire of six of the Saxon soldiers, and you a wailing
child? I tell you, Hamish, l know a hundred-fold
more of swords and guns than ever you will;
and you will never learn so much of noble war by
yourself, as you have seen when you were wrapped
up in my plaid.''

  ``You are determined at least to allow me no
peace at home, mother; but this shall have an end,''
said Hamish, as, resuming his purpose of leaving
the hut, he rose and went towards the door.

  ``Stay, I command you,'' said his mother; ``stay!
or may the gun you carry be the means of your
ruin---may the road you are going be the track of
your funeral!''

  ``What makes you use such words, mother?''
said the young man, turning a little back---``they
are not good, and good cannot come of them.  
Farewell just now, we are too angry to speak together---
farewell; it will be long ere you see me
again.'' And he departed, his mother, in the first
burst of her impatience, showering after him her
maledictions, and in the next invoking them on her
own head, so that they might spare her son's.  She
passed that day and the next in all the vehemence
of impotent and yet unrestrained passion, now entreating
Heaven, and such powers as were familiar
to her by rude tradition, to restore her dear son,
``the calf of her heart;'' now in impatient resentment,
meditating with what bitter terms she should
rebuke his filial disobedience upon his return, and
now studying the most tender language to attach
him to the cottage, which, when her boy was present,
she would not, in the rapture of her affection,
have exchanged for the apartments of Taymouth

  Two days passed, during which, neglecting even
the slender means of supporting nature which her
situation afforded, nothing but the strength of a
frame accustomed to hardships and privations of
every kind, could have kept her in existence, notwithstanding
the anguish of her mind prevented
her being sensible of her personal weakness.  Her
dwelling, at this period, was the same cottage near
which I had found her but then more habitable by
the exertions of Hamish, by whom it had been in
a great measure built and repaired.

  It was on the third day after her son had disappeared,
as she sat at the door rocking herself, after
the fashion of her countrywomen when in distress
or in pain, that the then unwonted circumstance occurred
of a passenger being seen on the high-road
above the cottage.  She cast but one glance at him
---he was on horseback, so that it could not be
Hamish, and Elspat cared not enough for any other
being on earth, to make her turn her eyes towards
him a second time.  The stranger, however, paused
opposite to her cottage, and dismounting from his
pony, led it down the steep and broken path which
conducted to her door.

  ``God bless you, Elspat MacTavish!''---She looked
at the man as he addressed her in her native
language, with the displeased air of one whose
reverie is interrupted; but the traveller went on
to say, ``I bring you tidings of your son Hamish.''
At once, from being the most uninteresting object,
in respect to Elspat, that could exist, the form of
the stranger became awful in her eyes, as that of
a messenger descended from Heaven, expressly to
pronounce upon her death or life.  She started from
her seat, and with hands convulsively clasped together,
and held up to Heaven, eyes fixed on the
stranger's countenance, and person stooping forward
to him, she looked those enquiries, which her
faltering tongue could not articulate.  ``Your son
sends you his dutiful remembrance and this,'' said
the messenger, putting into Elspat's hand a small
purse containing four or five dollars.

  ``He is gone, he is gone!'' exclaimed Elspat;
he has sold himself to be the servant of the Saxons,
and I shall never more behold him! Tell me, Miles
MacPhadraick, for now I know you, is it the price
of the son's blood that you have put into the mother's

  ``Now, God forbid!'' answered MacPhadraick,
who was a tacksman, and had possession of a considerable
tract of ground under his Chief, a proprietor
who lived about twenty miles off---``God
forbid I should do wrong, or say wrong, to you, or
to the son of MacTavish Mhor! I swear to you
by the hand of my Chief, that your son is well, and
will soon see you; and the rest he will tell you
himself.'' So saying, MacPhadraick hastened back
up the pathway-gained the road, mounted his
pony, and rode upon his way.

               CHAPTER III.

Elspat MacTavish remained gazing on the
money, as if the impress of the coin could have conveyed
information how it was procured.

  ``I love not this MacPhadraick,'' she said to herself;
``it was his race of whom the Bard hath
spoken, saying, Fear them not when their words
are loud as the winter's wind, but fear them when
they fall on you like the sound of the thrush's song.  
And yet this riddle can be read but one way: My
son hath taken the sword, to win that with strength
like a man, which churls would keep him from with
the words that frighten children.'' This idea, when
once it occurred to her, seemed the more reasonable,
that MacPhadraick, as she well knew, himself
a cautious man, had so far encouraged her husband's
practices, as occasionally to buy cattle of
MacTavish, although he must have well known
how they were come by, taking care, however,
that the transaction was so made, as to be accompanied
with great profit and absolute safety.  Who
so likely as MacPhadraick to indicate to a young
cateran the glen in which he could commence his
perilous trade with most prospect of success, who
so likely to convert his booty into money? The
feelings which another might have experienced on
believing that an only son had rushed forward on
the same path in which his father had perished,
were scarce known to the Highland mothers of
that day.  She thought of the death of MacTavish
Mhor as that of a hero who had fallen in his proper
trade of war, and who had not fallen unavenged.  
She feared less for her son's life than for his dishonour.
She dreaded on his account the subjection
to strangers, and the death-sleep of the
soul which is brought on by what she regarded as

  The moral principle which so naturally and so
justly occurs to the mind of those who have been
educated under a settled government of laws that
protect the property of the weak against the incursions
of the strong, was to poor Elspat a book sealed
and a fountain closed.  She had been taught to
consider those whom they call Saxons, as a race
with whom the Gael were constantly at war, and
she regarded every settlement of theirs within the
reach of Highland incursion, as affording a legitimate
object of attack and plunder.  Her feelings
on this point had been strengthened and confirmed,
not only by the desire of revenge for the death of
her husband, but by the sense of general indignation
entertained, not unjustly, through the Highlands
of Scotland, on account of the barbarous and
violent conduct of the victors after the battle of
Culloden.  Other Highland clans, too, she regarded
as the fair objects of plunder when that was
possible, upon the score of ancient enmities and
deadly feuds.

  The prudence that might have weighed the slender
means which the times afforded for resisting
the efforts of a combined government, which had,
in its less compact and established authority, been
unable to put down the ravages of such lawless
caterans as MacTavish Mhor, was unknown to a
solitary woman, whose ideas still dwelt upon her
own early times.  She imagined that her son had
only to proclaim himself his father's successor in
adventure and enterprise, and that a force of men
as gallant as those who had followed his father's
banner, would crowd around to support it when
again displayed.  To her, Hamish was the eagle
who had only to soar aloft and resume his native
place in the skies, without her being able to comprehend
how many additional eyes would have
watched his flight, how many additional bullets
would have been directed at his bosom.  To be
brief, Elspat was one who viewed the present state
of society with the same feelings with which she
regarded the times that had passed away. She had
been indigent, neglected, oppressed, since the days
that her husband had no longer been feared and
powerful, and she thought that the term of her
ascendence would return when her son had determined
to play the part of his father.  If she permitted
her eye to glance farther into futurity, it
was but to anticipate that she must be for many a
day cold in the grave, with the coronach of her
tribe cried duly over her, before her fair-haired
Hamish could, according to her calculation, die
with his hand on the basket-hilt of the red claymore.
His father's hair was grey, ere, after a hundred
dangers, he had fallen with his arms in his
hands---That she should have seen and survived
the sight, was a natural consequence of the manners
of that age.  And better it was---such was her
proud thought---that she had seen him so die, than
to have witnessed his departure from life in a smoky
hovel---on a bed of rotten straw, like an over-worn
hound, or a bullock which died of disease.  But the
hour of her young, her brave Hamish, was yet far
distant.  He must succeed---he must conquer, like
his father.  And when he fell at length,---for she
anticipated for him no bloodless death,---Elspat
would ere then have lain long in the grave, and
could neither see his death-struggle, nor mourn
over his grave-sod.

  With such wild notions working in her brain,
the spirit of Elspat rose to its usual pitch, or rather
to one which seemed higher.  In the emphatic language
of Scripture, which in that idiom does not
greatly differ from her own, she arose, she washed
and changed her apparel, and ate bread, and was

  She longed eagerly for the return of her son, but
she now longed not with the bitter anxiety of doubt
and apprehension.  She said to herself, that much
must be done ere he could in these times arise to
be an eminent and dreaded leader.  Yet when she
saw him again, she almost expected him at the head
of a daring band, with pipes playing, and banners
flying, the noble tartans fluttering free in the wind,
in despite of the laws which had suppressed, under
severe penalties, the use of the national garb, and
all the appurtenances of Highland chivalry.  For
all this, her eager imagination was content only to
allow the interval of some days.

  From the moment this opinion had taken deep
and serious possession of her mind, her thoughts
were bent upon receiving her son at the head of
his adherents in the manner in which she used to
adorn her hut for the return of his father.

  The substantial means of subsistence she had not
the power of providing, nor did she consider that
of importance.  The successful caterans would bring
with them herds and flocks.  But the interior of her
hut was arranged for their reception---the usquebaugh
was brewed or distilled in a larger quantity
than it could have been supposed one lone woman
could have made ready.  Her hut was put into such
order as might, in some degree, give it the appearance
of a day of rejoicing.  It was swept and decorated
with boughs of various kinds, like the house
of a Jewess, upon what is termed the Feast of the
Tabernacles.  The produce of the milk of her little
flock was prepared in as great variety of forms as
her skill admitted, to entertain her son and his associates
whom she expected to receive along with

  But the principal decoration, which she sought
with the greatest toil, was the cloud-berry, a scarlet
fruit, which is only found on very high hills, and
there only in small quantities.  Her husband, or
perhaps one of his forefathers, had chosen this as
the emblem of his family, because it seemed at once
to imply by its scarcity the smallness of their clan,
and by the places in which it was found, the ambitious
height of their pretensions.

  For the time that these simple preparations of
welcome endured, Elspat was in a state of troubled
happiness.  In fact, her only anxiety was that she
might be able to complete all that she could do to
welcome Hamish and the friends who she supposed
must have attached themselves to his band, before
they should arrive, and find her unprovided for their

  But when such efforts as she could make had
been accomplished, she once more had nothing left
to engage her save the trifling care of her goats;
and when these had been attended to, she had only
to review her little preparations, renew such as were
of a transitory nature, replace decayed branches
and fading boughs, and then to sit down at her
cottage door and watch the road, as it ascended on
the one side from the banks of the Awe, and on the
other wound round the heights of the mountain,
with such a degree of accommodation to hill and
level as the plan of the military engineer permitted.  
While so occupied, her imagination, anticipating
the future from recollections of the past, formed
out of the morning mist or the evening cloud the
wild forms of an advancing band, which were then
called ``Sidier Dhu,''---dark soldiers---dressed in
their native tartan, and so named to distinguish
them from the scarlet ranks of the British army.  
In this occupation she spent many hours of each
morning and evening.

                 CHAPTER IV.

It was in vain that Elspat's eyes surveyed the
distant path, by the earliest light of the dawn and
the latest glimmer of the twilight.  No rising dust
awakened the expectation of nodding plumes or
flashing arms---the solitary traveller trudged listlessly
along in his brown lowland great-coat, his
tartans dyed black or purple, to comply with or
evade the law which prohibited their being worn
in their variegated hues.  The spirit of the Gael,
sunk and broken by the severe though perhaps
necessary laws, that proscribed the dress and arms
which he considered as his birthright, was intimated
by his drooping head and dejected appearance. Not
in such depressed wanderers did Elspat recognise
the light and free step of her son, now, as she concluded,
regenerated from every sign of Saxon
thraldom.  Night by night, as darkness came, she
removed from her unclosed door to throw herself
on her restless pallet, not to sleep, but to watch.  
The brave and the terrible, she said, walk by night
---their steps are heard in darkness, when all is
silent save the whirlwind and the cataract---the
timid deer comes only forth when the sun is upon
the mountain's peak; but the bold wolf walks in
the red light of the harvest-moon.  She reasoned
in vain---her son's expected summons did not call
her from the lowly couch, where she lay dreaming
of his approach.  Hamish came not.

  ``Hope deferred,'' saith the royal sage, ``maketh
the heart sick;'' and strong as was Elspat's
constitution, she began to experience that it was
unequal to the toils to which her anxious and immoderate
affection subjected her, when early one
morning the appearance of a traveller on the lonely
mountain-road, revived hopes which had begun to
sink into listless despair.  There was no sign of
Saxon subjugation about the stranger.  At a distance
she could see the flutter of the belted-plaid,
that drooped in graceful folds behind him, and the
plume that, placed in the bonnet, showed rank and
gentle birth.  He carried a gun over his shoulder,
the claymore was swinging by his side, with its
usual appendages, the dirk, the pistol, and the
_sporran mollach_.* Ere yet her eye had scanned all

*    The goat-skin pouch, worn by the Highlanders round
     their waist.

these particulars, the light step of the traveller
was hastened, his arm was waved in token of recognition---
a moment more, and Elspat held in her
arms her darling son, dressed in the garb of his
ancestors, and looking, in her maternal eyes, the
fairest among ten thousand!

  The first outpouring of affection it would be
impossible to describe.  Blessings mingled with
the most endearing epithets which her energetic
language affords, in striving to express the wild
rapture of Elspat's joy.  Her board was heaped
hastily with all she had to offer; and the mother
watched the young soldier, as he partook of the
refreshment, with feelings how similar to, yet how
different from, those with which she had seen him
draw his first sustenance from her bosom!

  When the tumult of joy was appeased, Elspat
became anxious to know her son's adventures since
they parted, and could not help greatly censuring
his rashness for traversing the hills in the Highland
dress in the broad sunshine,when the penalty
was so heavy, and so many red soldiers were abroad
in the country.

  ``Fear not for me, mother,'' said Hamish, in a
tone designed to relieve her anxiety, and yet somewhat
embarrassed; ``I may wear the _breacan_* at

*    That which is variegated, _i.e._ the tartan.

the gate of Fort-Augustus, if I like it.''

  ``Oh, be not too daring, my beloved Hamish,
though it be the fault which best becomes thy father's
son---yet be not too daring! Alas, they fight
not now as in former days, with fair weapons, and
on equal terms, but take odds of numbers and of
arms, so that the feeble and the strong are alike
levelled by the shot of a boy.  And do not think
me unworthy to be called your father's widow, and
your mother, because I speak thus; for God knoweth,
that, man to man, I would peril thee against
the best in Breadalbane, and broad Lorn besides.''

  ``I assure you, my dearest mother,'' replied
Hamish, ``that I am in no danger.  But have you
seen MacPhadraick, mother, and what has he said
to you on my account?''

  ``Silver he left me in plenty, Hamish; but the
best of his comfort was, that you were well, and
would see me soon.  But beware of MacPhadraick,
my son; for when he called himself the friend of
your father, he better loved the most worthless
stirk in his herd, than he did the life-blood of MacTavish
Mhor.  Use his services, therefore, and pay
him for them---for it is thus we should deal with
the unworthy; but take my counsel, and trust him

  Hamish could not suppress a sigh, which seemed
to Elspat to intimate that the caution came too
late. ``What have you done with him?'' she
continued, eager and alarmed.  ``I had money of
him, and he gives not that without value---he is
none of those who exchange barley for chaff.  Oh,
if you repent you of your bargain, and if it be one
which you may break off without disgrace to your
truth or your manhood, take back his silver, and
trust not to his fair words.''

  ``It may not be, mother,'' said Hamish; ``I do
not repent my engagement, unless that it must
make me leave you soon.''

  ``Leave me! how leave me? Silly boy, think
you I know not what duty belongs to the wife or
mother of a daring man? Thou art but a boy yet;
and when thy father had been the dread of the
country for twenty years, he did not despise my
company and assistance, but often said my help was
worth that of two strong gillies.''

  ``It is not on that score, mother; but since I
must leave the country---''

  ``Leave the country!'' replied his mother, interrupting
him; ``and think you that I am like a
bush, that is rooted to the soil where it grows, and
must die if carried elsewhere? I have breathed
other  winds  than  these  of  Ben  Cruachan---I   have
followed your father to the wilds of Ross, and the
impenetrable  deserts   of   Y   Mac   Y   Mhor---Tush,
man, my limbs, old as they are, will bear me as
far as your young feet can trace the way.''

  ``Alas, mother,'' said the young man, with a
faltering accent, ``but to cross the sea---''

  ``The sea! who am I that I should fear the
sea? Have I never been in a birling in my life
---never known the Sound of Mull, the Isles of
Treshornish, and the rough rocks of Harris?''

  ``Alas, mother, I go far, far from all of these---
I am enlisted in one of the new regiments, and we
go against the French in America.''

  ``Enlisted!'' uttered the astonished mother---
``against _my_ will---without _my_ consent---You could
not---you would not,''---then rising up, and assuming
a posture of almost imperial command, ``Hamish,
you =dared= not!''

  ``Despair, mother, dares every thing,'' answered
Hamish, in a tone of melancholy resolution.
``What should I do here, where I can scarce get
bread for myself and you, and when the times are
growing daily worse? Would you but sit down
and listen, I would convince you I have acted for
the best.''

  With a bitter smile Elspat sat down, and the
same severe ironical expression was on her features,
as, with her lips firmly closed, she listened
to his vindication.

  Hamish went on, without being disconcerted by
her expected displeasure.  ``When I left you,
dearest mother, it was to go to MacPhadraick's
house; for although I knew he is crafty and worldly,
after the fashion of the Sassenach, yet he is wise,
and I thought how he would teach me, as it would
cost him nothing, in which way I could mend our
estate in the world.''

  ``Our estate in the world!'' said Elspat, losing
patience at the word; ``and went you to a base
fellow with a soul no better than that of a cowherd,
to ask counsel about your conduct? Your
father asked none, save of his courage and his

  ``Dearest mother,'' answered Hamish, ``how
shall I convince you that you live in this land of
our fathers, as if our fathers were yet living? You
walk as it were in a dream, surrounded by the
phantoms of those who have been long with the
dead.  When my father lived and fought, the great
respected the Man of the strong right hand, and
the rich feared him.  He had protection from MacAllan
Mhor, and from Caberfae,* and tribute from

*    Caberfae---_Anglice_, the Stag's-head, the Celtic  designation
     for the arms of the family of the high Chief of Seaforth.

meaner men.  That is ended, and his son would
only earn a disgraceful and unpitied death, by the
practices which gave his father credit and power
among those who wear the breacan.  The land is
conquered---its lights are quenched,---Glengary,
Lochiel, Perth, Lord Lewis, all the high chiefs are
dead or in exile---We may mourn for it, but we
cannot help it.  Bonnet, broadsword, and sporran
---power, strength, and wealth, were all lost on

  ``It is false!'' said Elspat, fiercely; ``you, and
such like dastardly spirits, are quelled by your own
faint hearts, not by the strength of the enemy; you
are like the fearful waterfowl, to whom the least
cloud in the sky seems the shadow of the eagle.''

  ``Mother,'' said Hamish, proudly, ``lay not faint
heart to my charge.  I go where men are wanted
who have strong arms and bold hearts too.  I leave
a desert, for a land where I may gather fame.''

  ``And you leave your mother to perish in want,
age, and solitude,'' said Elspat, essaying successively
every means of moving a resolution, which she
began to see was more deeply rooted than she had
at first thought.

  ``Not so, neither,'' he answered; ``I leave you
to comfort and certainty, which you have yet never
known.  Barcaldine's son is made a leader, and
with him I have enrolled myself; MacPhadraick
acts for him, and raises men,  and  finds  his  own  in
doing it.''

  ``That is the truest word of the tale, were all
the rest as false as hell,'' said the old woman, bitterly.

  ``But we are to find our good in it also,'' continued
Hamish; ``for Barcaldine is to give you a
shieling in his wood of Letter-findreight, with grass
for your goats, and a cow, when you please to have
one, on the common; and my own pay, dearest
mother, though I am far away, will do more than
provide you with meal, and with all else you can
want.  Do not fear for me.  I enter a private gentleman;
but I will return, if hard fighting and
regular duty can deserve it, an officer, and with half
a dollar a-day.''

  ``Poor child!''---replied Elspat, in a tone of pity
mingled with contempt, ``and you trust MacPhadraick?''

  ``I might mother''---said Hamish, the dark red
colour of his race crossing his forehead and cheeks,
``for MacPhadraick knows the blood which flows
in my veins, and is aware, that should he break
trust with you, he might count the days which could
bring Hamish back to Breadalbane, and number
those of his life within three suns more.  I would
kill him at his own hearth, did he break his word
with me---I would, by the great Being who made
us both!''

  The look and attitude of the young soldier for
a moment overawed Elspat; she was unused to see
him express a deep and bitter mood, which reminded
her so strongly of his father, but she resumed
her remonstrances in the same taunting manner in
which she had commenced them.

  ``Poor boy!'' she said; ``and you think that at
the distance of half the world your threats will be
heard or thought of! But, go---go---place your neck
under him of Hanover's yoke, against whom every
true Gael fought to the death---Go, disown the
royal Stewart, for whom your father, and his fathers,
and your mother's fathers, have crimsoned
many a field with their blood.---Go, put your head
under the belt of one of the race of Dermid, whose
children murdered---Yes,'' she added, with a wild
shriek, ``murdered your mother's fathers in their
peaceful dwellings in Glencoe!---Yes,'' she again
exclaimed, with a wilder and shriller scream, ``I
was then unborn, but my mother has told me---and
I attended to the voice of _my_ mother---well I remember
her words!---They came in peace, and
were received in friendship, and blood and fire
arose, and screams and murder!''*

*    Note C. Massacre of Glencoe.

  ``Mother,'' answered Hamish, mournfully, but
with a decided tone, ``all that I have thought over
---there is not a drop of the blood of Glencoe on
the noble band of Barcaldine---with the unhappy
house of Glenlyon the curse remains, and on them
God hath avenged it.''

  ``You speak like the Saxon priest already,'' replied
his mother; ``will you not better stay, and
ask a kirk from MacAllan Mhor, that you may
preach forgiveness to the race of Dermid?''

  ``Yesterday was yesterday,'' answered Hamish,
``and to-day is to-day.  When the clans are crushed
and confounded together, it is well and wise that
their hatreds and their feuds should not survive
their independence and their power.  He that cannot
execute vengeance like a man, should not harbour
useless enmity like a craven.  Mother, young
Barcaldine is true and brave; I know that MacPhadraick
counselled him, that he should not let
me take leave of you, lest you dissuaded me from
my purpose; but he said, `Hamish MacTavish is
the son of a brave man, and he will not break his
word.' Mother, Barcaldine leads an hundred of
the bravest of the sons of the Gael in their native
dress, and with their fathers' arms---heart to heart
---shoulder to shoulder.  I have sworn to go with
him---He has trusted me, and I will trust him.''

  At this reply, so firmly and resolvedly pronounced,
Elspat remained like one thunderstruck, and
sunk in despair.  The arguments which she had
considered so irresistibly conclusive, had recoiled
like a wave from a rock.  After a long pause, she
filled her son's quaigh, and presented it to him with
an air of dejected deference and submission.

  ``Drink,'' she said, ``to thy father's roof-tree,
ere you leave it for ever; and tell me,---since the
chains of a new King, and of a new Chief, whom
your fathers knew not save as mortal enemies, are
fastened upon the limbs of your father's son,---tell
me how many links you count upon them?''

  Hamish took the cup, but looked at her as if uncertain
of her meaning.  She proceeded in a raised
voice.  ``Tell me,'' she said, ``for I have a right to
know, for how many days the will of those you have
made your masters permits me to look upon you?
---In other words, how many are the days of my
life---for when you leave me, the earth has nought
besides worth living for!''

  ``Mother,'' replied Hamish MacTavish, ``for six
days I may remain with you, and if you will set
out with me on the fifth, I will conduct you in safety
to your new dwelling.  But if you remain here,
then I will depart on the seventh by daybreak---
then, as at the last moment, I =must= set out for
Dunbarton, for if I appear not on the eighth day,
I am subject to punishment as a deserter, and am
dishonoured as a soldier and a gentleman.''

  ``Your father's foot,'' she answered, ``was free
as the wind on the heath---it were as vain to say
to him where goest thou, as to ask that viewless
driver of the clouds, wherefore blowest thou.  Tell
me under what penalty thou must---since go thou
must, and go thou wilt---return to thy thraldom?''

  ``Call it not thraldom, mother, it is the service
of an honourable soldier---the only service which
is now open to the son of MacTavish Mhor.''

  ``Yet say what is the penalty if thou shouldst
not return?'' replied Elspat.

  ``Military punishment as a deserter,'' answered
Hamish; writhing, however, as his mother failed
not to observe, under some internal feelings, which
she resolved to probe to the uttermost.

  ``And that,'' she said, with assumed calmness,
which her glancing eye disowned, ``is the punishment
of a disobedient hound, is it not?''

  ``Ask me no more, mother,'' said Hamish; ``the
punishment is nothing to one who will never deserve

  ``To me it is something,'' replied Elspat, ``since
I know better than thou, that where there is power
to inflict, there is often the will to do so without
cause.  I would pray for thee, Hamish, and I must
know against what evils I should beseech Him who
leaves none unguarded, to protect thy youth and

  ``Mother,'' said Hamish, ``it signifies little to
what a criminal may be exposed, if a man is determined
not to be such.  Our Highland chiefs used
also to punish their vassals, and, as I have heard,
severely---Was it not Lachlan Maclan, whom we
remember of old, whose head was struck off by
order of his chieftain for shooting at the stag before

  ``Ay,'' said Elspat, ``and right he had to lose it,
since he dishonoured the father of the people even
in the face of the assembled clan.  But the chiefs
were noble in their ire---they punished with the
sharp blade, and not with the baton.  Their punishments
drew blood, but they did not infer dishonour.  
Canst thou say, the same for the laws under whose
yoke thou hast placed thy freeborn neck?''

  ``I cannot---mother---I cannot,'' said Hamish,
mournfully. ``I saw them punish a Sassenach for
deserting as they called it, his banner.  He was
scourged---I own it---scourged like a hound who
has offended an imperious master.  I was sick at
the sight---I confess it.  But the punishment of
dogs is only for those worse than dogs, who know
not how to keep their faith.''

  ``To this infamy, however, thou hast subjected
thyself, Hamish,'' replied Elspat, ``if thou shouldst
give, or thy officers take, measure of offence against
thee.---I speak no more to thee on thy purpose.---
Were the sixth day from this morning's sun my
dying day, and thou wert to stay to close mine
eyes, thou wouldst run the risk of being lashed like
a dog at a post---yes! unless thou hadst the gallant
heart to leave me to die alone, and upon my desolate
hearth, the last spark of thy father's fire, and
of thy forsaken mother's life, to be extinguished
together!''---Hamish traversed the hut with an
impatient and angry pace.

  ``Mother,'' he said at length, ``concern not yourself
about such things.  I cannot be subjected to
such infamy, for never will I deserve it; and were
I threatened with it, I should know how to die
before I was so far dishonoured.''

  ``There spoke the son of the husband of my
heart!'' replied Elspat; and she changed the discourse,
and seemed to listen in melancholy acquiescence,
when her son reminded her how short the
time was which they were permitted to pass in
each other's society, and entreated that it might
be spent without useless and unpleasant recollections
respecting the circumstances under which
they must soon be separated.

  Elspat was now satisfied  that  her  son,  with  some
of his father's other properties, preserved the
haughty masculine spirit which rendered it impossible
to divert him from a resolution which he had
deliberately adopted.  She assumed, therefore, an
exterior of apparent submission to their inevitable
separation; and if she now and then broke out into
complaints and murmurs, it was either that she
could not altogether suppress the natural impetuosity
of her temper, or because she had the wit to
consider, that a total and unreserved acquiescence
might have seemed to her son constrained and suspicious,
and induced him to watch and defeat the
means by which she still hoped to prevent his leaving
her.  Her ardent, though selfish affection for
her son, incapable of being qualified by a regard
for the true interests of the unfortunate object of
her attachment, resembled the instinctive fondness
of the animal race for their offspring; and diving
little farther into futurity than one of the inferior
creatures, she only felt, that to be separated from
Hamish was to die.

  In the brief interval permitted them, Elspat exhausted
every art which affection could devise, to
render agreeable to him the space which they
were apparently to spend with each other.  Her
memory carried her far back into former days, and
her stores of legendary history, which furnish at
all times a principal amusement of the Highlander
in his moments of repose, were augmented by an
unusual acquaintance with the songs of ancient
bards, and traditions of the most approved Seannachies
and tellers of tales.  Her officious attentions
to her son's accommodation, indeed, were so
unremitted as almost to give him pain; and be endeavoured
quietly to prevent her from taking so
much personal toil in selecting the blooming heath
for his bed, or preparing the meal for his refreshment.
``Let me alone, Hamish,'' she would reply
on such occasions; ``you follow your own will in
departing from your mother, let your mother have
hers in doing what gives her pleasure while you

  So much she seemed to be reconciled to the arrangements
which he had made in her behalf, that
she could hear him speak to her of her removing
to the lands of Green Colin, as the gentleman was
called, on whose estate he had provided her an asylum.
In truth, however, nothing could be farther
from her thoughts.  From what he had said during
their first violent dispute, Elspat had gathered,
that if Hamish returned not by the appointed time
permitted by his furlough, he would incur the hazard
of corporal punishment.  Were he placed
within the risk of being thus dishonoured, she was
well aware that be would never submit to the disgrace,
by a return to the regiment where it might
be inflicted.  Whether she looked to any farther
probable consequences of her unhappy scheme,
cannot be known; but the partner of MacTavish
Mhor, in all his perils and wanderings, was familiar
with an hundred instances of resistance or escape,
by which one brave man, amidst a land of
rocks, lakes, and mountains, dangerous passes, and
dark forests, might baffle the pursuit of hundreds.
For the future, therefore, she feared nothing;
her sole engrossing object was to prevent
her son from keeping his word with his commanding

  With this secret purpose, she evaded the proposal
which Hamish repeatedly made, that they
should set out together to take possession of her
new abode; and she resisted it upon grounds apparently
so natural to her character, that her son
was neither alarmed nor displeased.  ``Let me
not,'' she said, ``in the same short week, bid farewell
to my only son, and to the glen in which I
have so long dwelt.  Let my eye, when dimmed
with weeping for thee, still look around, for
a while at least, upon Loch Awe and on Ben Cruachan.''

  Hamish yielded the more willingly to his mother's
humour in this particular, that one or two
persons who resided in a neighbouring glen, and
had given their sons to Barcaldine's levy, were
also to be provided for on the estate of the chieftain,
and it was apparently settled that Elspat was
to take her journey along with them when they
should remove to their new residence.  Thus, Hamish
believed that he had at once indulged his
mother's humour, and insured her safety and accommodation.
But she nourished in her mind
very different thoughts and projects!

  The period of Hamish's leave of absence was
fast approaching, and more than once he proposed
to depart, in such time as to insure his gaining
easily and early Dunbarton, the town where were
the head-quarters of his regiment.  But still his
mother's entreaties, his own natural disposition to
linger among scenes long dear to him, and, above
all, his firm reliance in his speed and activity, induced
him to protract his departure till the sixth
day, being the very last which he could possibly
afford to spend with his mother, if indeed he meant
to comply with the conditions of his furlough.

                 CHAPTER V.

   But for your son, believe it---Oh, believe it---
   Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,
   If not most mortal to him.---

On the evening which preceded his proposed
departure, Hamish walked down to the river with
his fishing-rod, to practise in the Awe, for the last
time, a sport in which be excelled, and to find, at
the same time, the means for making one social
meal with his mother on something better than
their ordinary cheer.  He was as successful as
usual, and soon killed a fine salmon.  On his return
homeward an incident befell him, which he
afterwards related as ominous, though probably
his heated imagination, joined to the universal
turn of his countrymen for the marvellous, exaggerated
into superstitious importance some very ordinary
and accidental circumstance.

  In the path which he pursued homeward, he was
surprised to observe a person, who, like himself,
was dressed and armed after the old Highland
fashion.  The first idea that struck him was, that
the passenger belonged to his own corps, who,
levied by government, and bearing arms under royal
authority, were not amenable for breach of the statutes
against the use of the Highland garb or weapons.
But he was struck on perceiving, as he
mended his pace to make up to his supposed comrade,
meaning to request his company for the next
day's journey, that the stranger wore a white cockade,
the fatal badge which was proscribed in the
Highlands.  The stature of the man was tall, and
there was something shadowy in the outline, which
added to his size; and his mode of motion, which
rather resembled gliding than walking, impressed
Hamish with superstitious fears concerning the
character of the being which thus passed before
him in the twilight.  He no longer strove to make
up to the stranger, but contented himself with keeping
him in view, under the superstition common to
the Highlanders, that you ought neither to intrude
yourself on such supernatural apparitions as you
may witness, nor avoid their presence, but leave it
to themselves to withhold or extend their communication,
as their power may permit, or the purpose
of their commission require.

  Upon an elevated knoll by the side of the road,
just where the pathway turned down to Elspat's
hut, the stranger made a pause, and seemed to await
Hamish's coming up.  Hamish, on his part, seeing
it was necessary be should pass the object of his
suspicion, mustered up his courage, and approached
the spot where the stranger had placed himself;
who first pointed to Elspat's hut, and made, with
arm and head, a gesture prohibiting Hamish to
approach it, then stretched his hand to the road
which led to the southward, with a motion which
seemed to enjoin his instant departure in that direction.
In a moment afterwards the plaided form
was gone---Hamish did not exactly say vanished,
because there were rocks and stunted trees enough
to have concealed him; but it was his own opinion
that be had seen the spirit of MacTavish Mhor,
warning him to commence his instant journey to
Dunbarton, without waiting till morning, or again
visiting his mother's hut.

  In fact, so many accidents might arise to delay
his journey, especially where there were many ferries,
that it became his settled purpose, though he
could not depart without bidding his mother adieu,
that he neither could nor would abide longer than
for that object; and that the first glimpse of next
day's sun should see him many miles advanced towards
Dunbarton.  He descended the path, therefore,
and entering the cottage, he communicated,
in a hasty and troubled voice, which indicated
mental agitation, his determination to take his instant
departure.  Somewhat to his surprise, Elspat
appeared not to combat his purpose, but she urged
him to take some refreshment ere he left her for
ever.  He did so hastily, and in silence, thinking
on the approaching separation, and scarce yet believing
it would take place without a final struggle
with his mother's fondness.  To his surprise, she
filled the quaigh with liquor for his parting cup.

``Go,'' she said, ``my son, since such is thy settled
purpose; but first stand once more on thy
mother's hearth, the flame on which will be extinguished
long ere thy foot shall again be placed

  ``To your health, mother!'' said Hamish, ``and
may we meet again in happiness, in spite of your
ominous words.''

  ``It were better not to part,'' said his mother,
watching him as he quaffed the liquor, of which he
would have held it ominous to have left a drop.

  ``And now,'' she said, muttering the words to
herself, ``go---if thou canst go.''

  ``Mother,'' said Hamish, as he replaced on the
table the empty quaigh, ``thy drink is pleasant to
the taste, but it takes away the strength which it
ought to give.''

  ``Such is its first effect, my son,'' replied Elspat;
``but lie down upon that soft heather couch, shut
your eyes but for a moment, and, in the sleep of
an hour, you shall have more refreshment than in
the ordinary repose of three whole nights, could
they be blended into one.''

  ``Mother,'' said Hamish, upon whose brain the
potion was now taking rapid effect, ``give me my
bonnet---I must kiss you and begone---yet it seems
as if my feet were nailed to the floor.''

  ``Indeed,'' said his mother, ``you will be instantly
well, if you will sit down for half an hour---but half
an hour: it is eight hours to dawn, and dawn were
time enough for your father's son to begin such a

  ``I must obey you, mother---I feel I must,'' said
Hamish,  inarticulately;  ``but  call  me   when   the
moon rises.''

  He sat down on the bed--reclined back, and
almost instantly was fast asleep.  With the throbbing
glee of one who has brought to an end a difficult
and troublesome enterprise, Elspat proceeded
tenderly to arrange the plaid of the unconscious
slumberer, to whom her extravagant affection was
doomed to be so fatal, expressing, while busied in
her office, her delight, in tones of mingled tenderness
and triumph.  ``Yes,'' she said, ``calf of my
heart, the moon shall arise and set to thee, and so
shall the sun; but not to light thee from the land
of thy fathers, or tempt thee to serve the foreign
prince or the feudal enemy! To no son of Dermid
shall I be delivered, to be fed like a bondswoman;
but he who is my pleasure and my pride shall be
my guard and my protector.  They say the Highlands
are changed; but I see Ben Cruachan rear
his crest as high as ever into the evening sky---no
one hath yet herded his kine on the depths of Loch
Awe---and yonder oak does not yet bend like a
willow.  The children of the mountains will be such
as their fathers, until the mountains themselves
shall be levelled with the strath.  In these wild
forests, which used to support thousands of the
brave, there is still surely subsistence and refuge
left for one aged woman, and one gallant youth, of
the ancient race and the ancient manners.''

  While the misjudging mother thus exulted in
the success of her stratagem, we may mention to
the reader, that it was founded on the acquaintance
with drugs and simples, which Elspat, accomplished
in all things belonging to the wild life which
she had led, possessed in an uncommon degree, and
which she exercised for various purposes.  With
the herbs, which she knew how to select as well as
how to distil, she could relieve more diseases than
a regular medical person could easily believe.  She
applied some to dye the bright colours of the tartan
---from others she compounded draughts of various
powers, and unhappily possessed the secret of one
which was strongly soporific.  Upon the effects of
this last concoction, as the reader doubtless has
anticipated, she reckoned with security on delaying
Hamish beyond the period for which his return was
appointed; and she trusted to his horror for the
apprehended punishment to which he was thus rendered
liable, to prevent him from returning at all.

  Sound and deep, beyond natural rest, was the
sleep of Hamish MacTavish on that eventful evening,
but not such the repose of his mother.  Scarce
did she close her eyes from time to time, but she
awakened again with a start, in the terror that her
son had arisen and departed; and it was only on
approaching his couch, and hearing his deep-drawn
and regular breathing, that she reassured herself of
the security of the repose in which he was plunged.

  Still, dawning, she feared, might awaken him,
notwithstanding the unusual strength of the potion
with which she had drugged his cup.  If there remained
a hope of mortal man accomplishing the
journey, she was aware that Hamish would attempt
it, though he were to die from fatigue upon the
road.  Animated by this new fear, she studied to
exclude the light, by stopping all the crannies and
crevices through which, rather than through any
regular entrance, the morning beams might find
access to her miserable dwelling; and this in order
to detain amid its wants and wretchedness the
being, on whom, if the world itself had been at her
disposal, she would have joyfully conferred it.

  Her pains were bestowed unnecessarily.  The
sun rose high above the heavens, and not the fleetest
stag in Breadalbane, were the hounds at his
heels, could have sped, to save his life, so fast as
would have been necessary to keep Hamish's appointment.
Her purpose was fully attained---her
son's return within the period assigned was impossible.
She deemed it equally impossible, that he
would ever dream of returning, standing, as he
must now do, in the danger of an infamous punishment.
By degrees, and at different times, she had
gained from him a full acquaintance with the predicament
in which he would be placed by failing to
appear on the day appointed, and the very small
hope he could entertain of being treated with lenity.

  It is well known, that the great and wise Earl
of Chatham prided himself on the scheme, by which
he drew together for the defence of the colonies
those hardy Highlanders, who, until his time, had
been the objects of doubt, fear, and suspicion, on
the part of each successive administration.  But
some obstacles occurred, from the peculiar habits
and temper of this people, to the execution of his
patriotic project.  By nature and habit, every
Highlander was accustomed to the use  of arms,
but at the same time totally unaccustomed to, and
impatient of, the restraints imposed by discipline
upon regular troops.  They were a species of militia,
who had no conception of a camp as their
only home.  If a battle was lost, they dispersed to
save themselves, and look out for the safety of
their families; if won, they went back to their
glens to hoard up their booty, and attend to their
cattle and their farms.  This privilege of going and
coming at pleasure, they would not be deprived
of even by their Chiefs, whose authority was in
most other respects so despotic.  It followed as a
matter of course, that the new-levied Highland
recruits could scarce be made to comprehend the
nature of a military engagement, which compelled
a man to serve in the army longer than he pleased;
and perhaps, in many instances, sufficient care was
not taken at enlisting to explain to them the permanency
of the engagement which they came under,
lest such a disclosure should induce them to change
their mind.  Desertions were therefore become
numerous from the newly-raised regiment, and the
veteran General who commanded at Dunbarton,
saw no better way of checking them than by causing
an unusually severe example to be made of a deserter
from an English corps.  The young Highland
regiment was obliged to attend upon the punishment,
which struck a people, peculiarly jealous of
personal honour, with equal horror and disgust,
and not unnaturally indisposed some of them to the
service.  The old General, however, who had been
regularly bred in the German wars, stuck to his
own opinion, and gave out in orders that the first
Highlander who might either desert, or fail to appear
at the expiry of his furlough, should be brought
to the halberds, and punished like the culprit whom
they had seen in that condition.  No man doubted
that General --------- would keep his word rigorously
whenever severity was required, and Elspat,
therefore, knew that her son, when he perceived
that due compliance with his orders was impossible,
must at the same time consider the degrading
punishment denounced against his defection as inevitable,
should be place himself within the General's

*	Note D. Fidelity of the Highlanders.

  When noon was well passed, new apprehensions
came on the mind of the lonely woman.  Her son
still slept under the influence of the draught; but
what if, being stronger than she had ever known
it administered, his health or his reason should be
affected by its potency? For the first time, likewise,
notwithstanding her high ideas on the subject
of parental authority, she began to dread the
resentment of her son, whom her heart told her
she had wronged.  Of late, she had observed that
his temper was less docile, and his determinations,
especially upon this late occasion of his enlistment,
independently formed, and then boldly carried
through.  She remembered the stern wilfulness of
his father when he accounted himself ill-used, and
began to dread that Hamish, upon finding the deceit
she had put upon him, might resent it even
to the extent of cutting her off, and pursuing his
own course through the world alone.  Such were
the alarming and yet the reasonable apprehensions
which began to crowd upon the unfortunate woman,
after the apparent success of her ill-advised

  It was near evening when Hamish first awoke,
and then he was far from being in the full possession
either of his mental or bodily powers.  From
his vague expressions and disordered pulse, Elspat
at first experienced much apprehension; but she
used such expedients as her medical knowledge
suggested; and in the course of the night, she had
the satisfaction to see him sink once more into a
deep sleep, which probably carried off the greater
part of the effects of the drug, for about sunrising
she heard him arise, and call to her for his bonnet.  
This she had purposely removed, from a fear that
he might awaken and depart in the night-time,without
her knowledge.

  ``My bonnet---my bonnet,'' cried Hamish, ``it
is time to take farewell.  Mother, your drink was
too strong---the sun is up---but with the next morning
I will still see the double summit of the ancient
Dun.  My bonnet---my bonnet! mother, I
must be instant in my departure.'' These expressions
made it plain that poor Hamish was unconscious
that two nights and a day had passed since
he had drained the fatal quaigh, and Elspat had
now to venture on what she felt as the almost
perilous, as well as painful task, of explaining her

  ``Forgive me, my son,'' she said, approaching
Hamish, and taking him by the hand with an air
of deferential awe, which perhaps she had not always
used to his father, even when in his moody

  ``Forgive you, mother---for what?'' said Hamish,
laughing; ``for giving me a dram that was
too strong, and which my head still feels this morning,
or for hiding my bonnet to keep me an instant
longer? Nay, do _you_ forgive _me_.  Give me the
bonnet, and let that be done which now must be
done.  Give me my bonnet, or I go without it;
surely I am not to be delayed by so trifling a want
as that---I, who have gone for years with only a
strap of deer's hide to tie back my hair.  Trifle
not, but give it me, or I must go bareheaded, since
to stay is impossible.''

  ``My son,'' said Elspat, keeping fast hold of his
hand, ``what is done cannot be recalled; could you
borrow the wings of yonder eagle, you would arrive
at the Dun too late for what you purpose,---
too soon for what awaits you there.  You believe
you see the sun rising for the first time since you
have seen him set, but yesterday beheld him climb
Ben Cruachan, though your eyes were closed to
his light.''

  Hamish cast upon his mother a wild glance of
extreme terror, then instantly recovering himself,
said---``I am no child to be cheated out of my
purpose by such tricks as these---Farewell, mother,
each moment is worth a lifetime.''

  ``Stay,'' she said, ``my dear---my deceived son!
run not on infamy and ruin---Yonder I see the
priest upon the high-road on his white horse---ask
him the day of the month and week---let him decide
between us.''

  With the speed of an eagle, Hamish darted up
the acclivity, and stood by the minister of Glenorquhy,
who was pacing out thus early to administer
consolation to a distressed family near Bunawe.

  The good man was somewhat startled to behold
an armed Highlander, then so unusual a sight, and
apparently much agitated, stop his horse by the
bridle, and ask him with a faltering voice the day
of the week and month.  ``Had you been where
you should have been yesterday, young man,'' replied
the clergyman, ``you would have known that
it was God's Sabbath; and that this is Monday,
the second day of the week, and twenty-first of the

  ``And this is true?'' said Hamish.

  ``As true,'' answered the surprised minister,
``as that I yesterday preached the word of God to
this parish.---What ails you, young man?---are you
sick?---are you in your right mind?''

  Hamish made no answer, only repeated to himself
the first expression of the clergyman---``Had
you been where you should have been yesterday;''
and so saying, he let go the bridle, turned from the
road, and descended the path towards the hut, with
the look and pace of one who was going to execution.
The minister looked after him with surprise;
but although he knew the inhabitant of the hovel,
the character of Elspat had not invited him to open
any communication with her, because she was
generally reputed a Papist, or rather one indifferent
to all religion, except some superstitious observances
which had been handed down from her
parents.  On Hamish the Reverend Mr Tyrie had
bestowed instructions when he was occasionally
thrown in his way, and if the seed fell among the
brambles and thorns of a wild and uncultivated
disposition, it had not yet been entirely checked
or destroyed.  There was something so ghastly in
the present expression of the youth's features, that
the good man was tempted to go down to the hovel,
and enquire whether any distress had befallen the
inhabitants, in which his presence might be consoling,
and his ministry useful.  Unhappily he did
not persevere in this resolution, which might have
saved a great misfortune, as he would have probably
become a mediator for the unfortunate young
man; but a recollection of the wild moods of such
Highlanders as had been educated after the old
fashion of the country, prevented his interesting
himself in the widow and son of the far-dreaded
robber MacTavish Mhor; and he thus missed an
opportunity, which he afterwards sorely repented,
of doing much good.

  When Hamish MacTavish entered his mother's
hut, it was only to throw himself on the bed he
had left, and, exclaiming, ``Undone, undone!'' to
give vent, in cries of grief and anger, to his deep
sense of the deceit which had been practised on
him, and of the cruel predicament to which he was

  Elspat was prepared for the first explosion of
her son's passion, and said to herself, ``It is but the
mountain torrent, swelled by the thunder shower.  
Let us sit and rest us by the bank; for all its present
tumult, the time will soon come when we may
pass it dryshod.'' She suffered his complaints and
his reproaches, which were, even in the midst of
his agony, respectful and affectionate, to die away
without returning any answer; and when, at length,
having exhausted all the exclamations of sorrow
which his language, copious in expressing the feelings
of the heart, affords to the sufferer, he sunk
into a gloomy silence, she suffered the interval to
continue near an hour ere she approached her son's

  ``And now,'' she said at length, with a voice in
which the authority of the mother was qualified by
her tenderness, ``have you exhausted your idle
sorrows, and are you able to place what you have
gained against what you have lost? Is the false
son of Dermid your brother, or the father of your
tribe, that you weep because you cannot bind yourself
to his belt, and become one of those who must
do his bidding? Could you find in yonder distant
country the lakes and the mountains that you leave
behind you here? Can you hunt the deer of Breadalbane
in the forests of America, or will the ocean
afford you the silver-scaled salmon of the Awe?
Consider, then, what is your loss, and, like a wise
man, set it against what you have won.''

  ``I have lost all, mother,'' replied Hamish, ``since
I have broken my word, and lost my honour.  I
might tell my tale, but who, oh, who would believe
me?'' The unfortunate young man again clasped
his hands together, and, pressing them to his forehead,
hid his face upon the bed.

  Elspat was now really alarmed, and perhaps
wished the fatal deceit had been left unattempted.  
She had no hope or refuge saving in the eloquence
of persuasion, of which she possessed no small
share, though her total ignorance of the world as
it actually existed, rendered its energy unavailing.  
She urged her son, by every tender epithet which
a parent could bestow, to take care for his own

  ``Leave me,'' she said, ``to baffle your pursuers.  
I will save your life---I will save your honour---I
will tell them that my fair-haired Hamish fell from
the Corrie dhu (black precipice) into the gulf, of
which human eye never beheld the bottom.  I will
tell them this, and I will fling your plaid on the
thorns which grow on the brink of the precipice,
that they may believe my words.  They will believe,
and they will return to the Dun of the double-crest;
for though the Saxon drum can call the living
to die, it cannot recall the dead to their slavish
standard.  Then will we travel together far northward
to the salt lakes of Kintail, and place glens
and mountains betwixt us and the sons of Dermid.  
We will visit the shores of the dark lake, and my
kinsmen---(for  was  not  my  mother  of   the   children
of  Kenneth,  and  will  they  not  remember  us   with
the affection of the olden time, which lives in  those
distant glens, where the Gael still dwell in their
nobleness, unmingled with the churl Saxons, or
with the base brood that are their tools and their

  The energy of the language, somewhat allied to
hyperbole, even in its most ordinary expressions,
now seemed almost too weak to afford Elspat the
means of bringing out the splendid picture which
she presented to her son of the land in which she
proposed to him to take refuge.  Yet the colours
were few with which she could paint her Highland
paradise.  ``The hills,'' she said, ``were higher and
more magnificent than those of Breadalbane---Ben
Cruachan was but a dwarf to Skooroora.  The lakes
were broader and larger, and abounded not only
with fish, but with the enchanted and amphibious
animal which gives oil to the lamp.* The deer

*    The seals are considered by the Highlanders as enchanted

were larger and more numerous---the white-tusked
boar, the chase of which the brave loved best, was
yet to be roused in those western solitudes---the
men were nobler, wiser, and stronger, than the
degenerate brood who lived under the Saxon banner.
The daughters of the land were beautiful,
with blue eyes and fair hair, and bosoms of snow,
and out of these she would choose a wife for Hamish,
of blameless descent, spotless fame, fixed and
true affection, who should be in their summer bothy
as a beam of the sun, and in their winter abode as
the warmth of the needful fire.''

  Such were the topics with which Elspat strove
to soothe the despair of her son, and to determine
him, if possible, to leave the fatal spot, on which
he seemed resolved to linger.  The style of her
rhetoric was poetical, but in other respects resembled
that which, like other fond mothers, she had
lavished on Hamish, while a child or a boy, in
order to gain his consent to do something he had
no mind to; and she spoke louder, quicker, and
more earnestly, in proportion as she began to despair
of her words carrying conviction.

  On the mind of Hamish her eloquence made no
impression.  He knew far better than she did the
actual situation of the country, and was sensible,
that, though it might be possible to hide himself
as a fugitive among more distant mountains, there
was now no corner in the Highlands in which his
father's profession could be practised, even if he,
had not adopted, from the improved ideas of the
time when he lived, the opinion that the trade of
the cateran was no longer the road to honour and
distinction.  Her words were therefore poured into
regardless ears, and she exhausted herself in vain
in the attempt to paint the regions of her mother's
kinsmen in such terms as might tempt Hamish to
accompany her thither.  She spoke for hours, but
she spoke in vain.  She could extort no answer,
save groans and sighs, and ejaculations, expressing
the extremity of despair.

  At length, starting on her feet, and changing
the monotonous tone in which she had chanted, as
it were, the praises of the province of refuge, into
the short, stern language of eager passion---``I am
a fool,'' she said, ``to spend my words upon an
idle, poor-spirited, unintelligent boy, who crouches
like a hound to the lash.  Wait here, and receive
your taskmasters, and abide your chastisement at
their hands; but do not think your mother's eyes
will behold it.  I could not see it and live.  My
eyes have looked often upon death, but never upon
dishonour.  Farewell, Hamish!---We never meet

  She dashed from the hut like a lapwing, and
perhaps for the moment actually entertained the
purpose which she expressed, of parting with her
son for ever.  A fearful sight she would have
been that evening to any who might have met her
wandering through the wilderness like a restless
spirit, and speaking to herself in language which
will endure no translation.  She rambled for hours,
seeking rather than shunning the most dangerous
paths.  The precarious track through the morass,
the dizzy path along the edge of the precipice, or
by the banks of the gulfing river, were the roads
which, far from avoiding, she sought with eagerness,
and traversed with reckless haste.  But the
courage arising from despair was the means of saving
the life, which, (though deliberate suicide
was rarely practised in the Highlands,) she was
perhaps desirous of terminating.  Her step on the
verge of the precipice was firm as that of the wild
goat.  Her eye, in that state of excitation, was so
keen as to discern, even amid darkness, the perils
which noon would not have enabled a stranger to

  Elspat's course was not directly forward, else
she had soon been far from the bothy in which she
had left her son.  It was circuitous, for that hut
was the centre to which her heartstrings were
chained, and though she wandered around it, she
felt it impossible to leave the vicinity.  With the
first beams of morning, she returned to the hut.  
Awhile she paused at the wattled door, as if ashamed
that lingering fondness should have brought
her back to the spot which she had left with the
purpose of never returning; but there was yet
more of fear and anxiety in her hesitation---of anxiety,
lest her fair-haired son had suffered from
the effects of her potion---of fear, lest his enemies
had come upon him in the night.  She opened the
door of the hut gently, and entered with noiseless
step.  Exhausted with his sorrow and anxiety,
and not  entirely relieved perhaps from the influence
of  the powerful opiate, Hamish Bean again
slept the stern sound sleep, by which the Indians
are said to be overcome during the interval of their
torments.  His mother was scarcely sure that she
actually discerned his form on the bed, scarce certain
that her ear caught the sound of his breathing.
With a throbbing heart, Elspat went to the
fire-place in the centre of the hut, where slumbered,
covered with a piece of turf, the glimmering
embers of the fire, never extinguished on a Scottish
hearth until the indwellers leave the mansion
for ever.

  ``Feeble greishogh,''* she said, as she lighted,

*    Greishogh, a glowing ember.

by the help of a match, a splinter of bog pine
which was to serve the place of a candle; ``weak
greishogh, soon shalt thou be put out for ever, and
may Heaven grant that the life of Elspat MacTavish
have no longer duration than thine!''

  While she spoke she raised the blazing light
towards the bed, on which still lay the prostrate
limbs of her son, in a posture that left it doubtful
whether he slept or swooned.  As she advanced
towards him, the light flashed upon his eyes---he
started up in an instant, made a stride forward
with his naked dirk in his hand, like a man armed
to meet a mortal enemy, and exclaimed, ``Stand
off!---on thy life, stand off!''

  ``It is the word and the action of my husband,''
answered Elspat; ``and I know by his speech and
his step the son of MacTavish Mhor.''

  ``Mother,'' said Hamish, relapsing from his tone
of desperate firmness into one of melancholy expostulation;
``oh, dearest mother, wherefore have
you returned hither?''

  ``Ask why the hind comes back to the fawn,''
said Elspat; ``why the cat of the mountain returns
to her lodge and her young.  Know you, Hamish,
that the heart of the mother only lives in the bosom
of the child.''

  ``Then will it soon cease to throb,'' said Hamish,
``unless it can beat within a bosom that
lies beneath the turf.---Mother, do not blame
me; if I weep, it is not for myself but for you,
for my sufferings will soon be over; but yours
------O who but Heaven shall set a boundary to

  Elspat shuddered and stepped backward, but
almost instantly resumed her firm and upright position,
and her dauntless bearing.

  ``I thought thou wert a man but even now,''
she said, ``and thou art again a child.  Hearken
to me yet, and let us leave this place together.  
Have I done thee wrong or injury? if so, yet do
not avenge it so cruelly---See, Elspat MacTavish,
who never kneeled before even to a priest, falls
prostrate before her own son, and craves his forgiveness.''
And at once she threw herself on her
knees before the young man, seized on his hand,
and kissing it an hundred times, repeated as often,
in heart-breaking accents, the most earnest entreaties
for forgiveness.  ``Pardon,'' she exclaimed,
``pardon, for the sake of your father's ashes---
pardon, for the sake of the pain with which I bore
thee, the care with which I nurtured thee!---Hear
it, Heaven, and behold it, Earth---the mother asks
pardon of her child, and she is refused!''

  It was in vain that Hamish endeavoured to stem
this tide of passion, by assuring his mother, with
the most solemn asseverations, that he forgave entirely
the fatal deceit which she  had  practised  upon

  ``Empty words,'' she said; ``idle protestations,
which are but used to hide the obduracy of your
resentment.  Would you have me believe you, then
leave the but this instant, and retire from a country
which every hour renders more dangerous.---
Do this, and I may think you have forgiven me---
refuse it, and again I call on moon and stars,
heaven and earth, to witness the unrelenting resentment
with which you prosecute your mother
for a fault, which, if it be one, arose out of love to

  ``Mother,'' said Hamish, ``on this subject you
move me not.  I will fly before no man.  If Barcaldine
should send every Gael that is under his
banner, here, and in this place, will I abide them;
and when you bid me fly, you may as well command
yonder mountain to be loosened from its foundations.
Had I been sure of the road by which they
are coming hither, I had spared them the pains of
seeking me; but I might go by the mountain,
while they perchance came by the lake.  Here I
will abide my fate; nor is there in Scotland a voice
of power enough to bid me stir from hence, and be

  ``Here, then, I also stay,'' said Elspat, rising up
and speaking with assumed composure.  ``I have
seen my husband's death---my eyelids shall not
grieve to look on the fall of my son.  But MacTavish
Mhor died as became the brave, with his
good sword in his right hand; my son will perish
like the bullock that is driven to the shambles
by the Saxon owner who had bought him for a

  ``Mother,'' said the unhappy young man, ``you
have taken my life; to that you have a right, for
you gave it; but touch not my honour! It came
to me from a brave train of ancestors, and should
be sullied neither by man's deed nor woman's
speech.  What I shall do, perhaps I myself yet
know not; but tempt me no farther by reproachful
words; you have already made wounds more
than you can ever heal.''

  ``It is well, my son,'' said Elspat, in reply. ``Expect
neither farther complaint nor remonstrance
from me; but let us be silent, and wait the chance
which Heaven shall send us.''

  The sun arose on the next morning, and found
the bothy silent as the grave.  The mother and
son had arisen, and were engaged each in their
separate task---Hamish in preparing and cleaning
his arms with the greatest accuracy, but with an
air of deep dejection.  Elspat, more restless in her
agony of spirit, employed herself in making ready
the food which the distress of yesterday had induced
them both to dispense with for an unusual
number of hours.  She placed it on the board before
her son so soon as it was prepared, with the
words of a Gaelic poet, ``Without daily food, the
husbandman's ploughshare stands still in the furrow;
without daily food, the sword of the warrior
is too heavy for his hand.  Our bodies are our
slaves, yet they must be fed if we would have their
service.  So spake in ancient days the Blind Bard
to the warriors of Fion.''

  The young man made no reply, but he fed on
what was placed. before him, as if to gather strength
for the scene which he was to undergo.  When
his mother saw that be had eaten what sufficed
him, she again filled the fatal quaigh, and proffered
it as the conclusion of the repast.  But he started
aside with a convulsive gesture, expressive at once
of fear and abhorrence.

  ``Nay, my son,'' she said, ``this time surely, thou
hast no cause of fear.''

  ``Urge me not, mother,'' answered Hamish; ``or
put the leprous toad into a flagon, and I will drink
but from that accursed cup, and of that mind-destroying
potion, never will I taste more!''

  ``At your pleasure, my son,'' said Elspat,
haughtily, and began, with much apparent assiduity,
the various domestic tasks which had been interrupted
during the preceding day.  Whatever was
at her heart, all anxiety seemed banished from
her looks and demeanour.  It was but from an
over activity of bustling exertion that it might have
been perceived, by a close observer, that her actions
were spurred by some internal cause of painful excitement;
and such a spectator, too, might also have
observed bow often she broke off the snatches
of songs or tunes which she hummed, apparently
without knowing what she was doing, in order to
cast a hasty glance from the door of the hut. Whatever
might be in the mind of Hamish, his demeanour
was directly the reverse of that adopted by his
mother.  Having finished the task of cleaning and
preparing his arms, which he arranged within the
hut, he sat himself down before the door of the
bothy, and watched the opposite hill, like the fixed
sentinel who expects the approach of an enemy.  
Noon found him in the same unchanged posture,
and it was an hour after that period, when his mother,
standing beside him, laid her hand on his
shoulder, and said, in a tone indifferent, as if she
had been talking of some friendly visit, ``When
dost thou expect them?''

  ``They cannot be here till the shadows fall long
to the eastward,'' replied Hamish; ``that is, even
supposing the nearest party, commanded by Sergeant
Allan Breack Cameron, has been commanded
hither by express from Dunbarton, as it is most
likely they will.''

  ``Then enter beneath your mother's roof once
more; partake the last time of the food which she
has prepared; after this, let them come, and thou
shalt see if thy mother is an useless encumbrance
in the day of strife.  Thy hand, practised as it is,
cannot fire these arms so fast as I can load them;
nay, if it is necessary, I do not myself fear the
flash or the report, and my aim has been held

  ``In the name of Heaven, mother, meddle not
with this matter!'' said Hamish.  ``Allan Breack is
a wise man and a kind one, and comes of a good
stem.  It may be, he can promise for our officers,
that they will touch me with no infamous punishment;
and if they offer me confinement in the dungeon,
or death by the musket, to that I may not

  ``Alas, and wilt thou trust to their word, my
foolish child? Remember the race of Dermid
were ever fair and false, and no sooner shall they
have gyves on thy hands, than they will strip thy
shoulders for the scourge.''

  ``Save your advice, mother,'' said Hamish,
sternly; ``for me, my mind is made up.''

  But though he spoke thus, to escape the almost
persecuting urgency of his mother, Hamish would
have found it, at that moment, impossible to say upon
what course of conduct he had thus fixed.  On one
point alone he was determined, namely, to abide
his destiny, be what it might, and not to add to
the breach of his word, of which he had been involuntarily
rendered guilty, by attempting to
escape from punishment.  This act of self-devotion
he conceived to be due to his own honour, and that
of his countrymen.  Which of his comrades would
in future be trusted, if he should be considered as
having broken his word, and betrayed the confidence
of his officers? and whom but Hamish Bean
MacTavish would the Gael accuse, for having verified
and confirmed the suspicions which the Saxon
General was well known to entertain against the
good faith of the Highlanders? He was, therefore,
bent firmly to abide his fate.  But whether his
intention was to yield himself peaceably into the
bands of the party who should come to apprehend
him, or whether he purposed, by a show of resistance,
to provoke them to kill him on the spot, was
a question which he could not himself have answered.
His desire to see Barcaldine, and explain
the cause of his absence at the appointed time,
urged him to the one course; his fear of the degrading
punishment, and of his mother's bitter upbraidings,
strongly instigated the latter and the
more dangerous purpose.  He left it to chance to
decide when the crisis should arrive; nor did he
tarry long in expectation of the catastrophe.

  Evening approached, the gigantic shadows of the
mountains streamed in darkness towards the east
while their western peaks were still glowing with
crimson and gold.  The road which winds round
Ben Cruachan was fully visible from the door of
the bothy, when a party of five Highland soldiers,
whose arms glanced in the sun, wheeled suddenly
into sight from the most distant extremity, where
the highway is hidden behind the mountain.  One
of the party walked a little before the other four,
who marched regularly and in files, according to
the rules of military discipline.  There was no dispute,
from the firelocks which they carried, and the
plaids and bonnets which they wore, that they were
a party of Hamish's regiment, under a non-commissioned
officer; and there could be as little doubt
of the purpose of their appearance on the banks of
Loch Awe.

  ``They come briskly forward''---said the widow
of MacTavish Mhor,---``I wonder how fast or how
slow some of them will return again! But they are
five, and it is too much odds for a fair field.  Step
back within the hut, my son, and shoot from the
loophole beside the door.  Two you may bring
down ere they quit the high-road for the footpath
---there will remain but three; and your father,
with my aid, has often stood against that number.''

  Hamish Bean took the gun which his mother
offered, but did not stir from the door of the hut.  
He was soon visible to the party on the high-road,
as was evident from their increasing their pace to
a run the files, however, still keeping together
like coupled greyhounds, and advancing with great
rapidity.  In far less time than would have been
accomplished by men less accustomed to the mountains,
they had left the high-road, traversed the
narrow path, and approached within pistol-shot of
the bothy, at the door of which stood Hamish,
fixed like a statue of stone, with his firelock in his
band, while his mother, placed behind him, and almost
driven to frenzy by the violence of her passions,
reproached him in the strongest terms which
despair could invent, for his want of resolution and
faintness of heart.  Her words increased the bitter
gall which was arising in the young man's own
spirit, as be observed the unfriendly speed with
which his late comrades were eagerly making towards
him, like hounds towards the stag when he
is at bay.  The untamed and angry passions which
he inherited from father and mother, were awakened
by the supposed hostility of those who pursued
him; and the restraint under which these passions
had been hitherto held by his sober judgment,
began gradually to give way.  The sergeant now
called to him, ``Hamish Bean MacTavish, lay down
your arms and surrender.''

  ``Do _you_ stand, Allan Breack Cameron, and
command your men to stand, or it will be the worse
for us all.''

  ``Halt, men''---said the sergeant, but continuing
himself to advance.  ``Hamish, think what you do,
and give up your gun; you may spill blood, but
you cannot escape punishment.''

  ``The scourge---the scourge---my son, beware
the scourge!'' whispered his mother.

  ``Take heed, Allan Breack,'' said Hamish. ``I
would not hurt you willingly,---but I will not be
taken unless you can assure me against the Saxon

  ``Fool!'' answered Cameron, ``you know I cannot.
Yet I will do all I can.  I will say I met you
on your return, and the punishment will be light---
but give up your musket---Come on, men.''

  Instantly he rushed forward, extending his arm
as if to push aside the young man's levelled firelock.
Elspat exclaimed, ``Now, spare not your
father's blood to defend your father's hearth!''
Hamish fired his piece, and Cameron dropped dead.
---All these things happened, it might be said, in
the same moment of time.  The soldiers rushed
forward and seized Hamish, who, seeming petrified
with what he had done, offered not the least resistance.
Not so his mother, who, seeing the men
about to put handcuffs on her son, threw herself on
the soldiers with such fury, that it required two
of them to hold her, while the rest secured the

  ``Are you not an accursed creature,'' said one
of the men to Hamish, ``to have slain your best
friend, who was contriving, during the whole march,
bow he could find some way of getting you off
without punishment for your desertion?''

  ``Do you hear _that_, mother?'' said Hamish, turning
himself as much towards her as his bonds would
permit-but the mother heard nothing, and saw
nothing.  She had fainted on the floor of her hut.  
Without waiting for her recovery, the party almost
immediately began their homeward march towards
Dunbarton, leading along with them their prisoner.  
They thought it necessary, however, to stay for a
little space at the village of Dalmally, from which
they despatched a party of the inhabitants to bring
away the body of their unfortunate leader, while
they themselves repaired to a magistrate to state
what had happened, and require his instructions as
to the farther course to be pursued.  The crime
being of a military character, they were instructed
to march the prisoner to Dunbarton without delay.

  The swoon of the mother of Hamish lasted for
a length of time; the longer perhaps that her constitution,
strong as it was, must have been much
exhausted by her previous agitation of three days'
endurance.  She was roused from her stupor at
length by female voices, which cried the coronach,
or lament for the dead, with clapping of hands and
loud exclamations; while the melancholy note of
a lament, appropriate to the clan Cameron, played
on the bagpipe, was heard from time to time.

  Elspat started up like one awakened from the
dead, and without any accurate recollection of the
scene which had passed before her eyes.  There
were females in the hut who were swathing the
corpse in its bloody plaid before carrying it from
the fatal spot.  ``Women,'' she said, starting up
and interrupting their chant at once and their labour---
``Tell me, women, why sing you the dirge
of MacDhonuil Dhu in the house of MacTavish

  ``She-wolf, be silent with thine ill-omened yell,''
answered one of the females, a relation of the deceased,
``and let us do our duty to our beloved
kinsman! There shall never be coronach cried, or
dirge played, for thee or thy bloody wolf-burd.*

*    Wolf-brood, _i. e_. wolf-cub.

The ravens shall eat him from the gibbet, and the
foxes and wild-cats shall tear thy corpse upon the
hill.  Cursed be he that would sain your bones,
or add a stone to your cairn!''

  ``Daughter of a foolish mother,'' answered the
widow of MacTavish Mhor, ``know that the gibbet
with which you threaten us, is no portion of our
inheritance. For thirty years the Black Tree of
the Law, whose apples are dead men's bodies, hungered
after the beloved husband of my heart; but
be died like a brave man, with the sword in his
hand, and defrauded it of its hopes and its fruit.''

  ``So shall it not be with thy child, bloody sorceress,''
replied the female mourner, whose passions
were as violent as those of Elspat herself.  
``The ravens shall tear his fair hair to line their
nests, before the sun sinks beneath the Treshornish

  These words recalled to Elspat's mind the whole
history of the last three dreadful days.  At first,
she stood fixed as if the extremity of distress had
converted her into stone; but in a minute, the
pride and violence of her temper, outbraved as she
thought herself on her own threshold, enabled her
to reply---``Yes, insulting bag, my fair-haired boy
may die, but it will not be with a white hand---it
has been dyed in the blood of his enemy, in the
best blood of a Cameron---remember that; and
when you lay your dead in his grave, let it be his
best epitaph, that he was killed by Hamish Bean
for essaying to lay hands on the son of MacTavish
Mhor on his own threshold.  Farewell---the shame
of defeat, loss, and slaughter, remain with the clan
that has endured it!''

  The relative of the slaughtered Cameron raised
her voice in reply; but Elspat, disdaining to continue
the objurgation, or perhaps feeling her grief
likely to overmaster her power of expressing her
resentment, had left the hut, and was walking forth
in the bright moonshine.

  The females who were arranging the corpse of
the slaughtered man, hurried from their melancholy
labour to look after her tall figure as it
glided away among the cliffs.  ``I am glad she is
gone,'' said one of the younger persons who assisted.
``I would as soon dress a corpse when the
great Fiend himself---God sain us---stood visibly
before us, as when Elspat of the Tree is amongst
us.---Ay---ay, even overmuch intercourse hath she
had with the Enemy in her day.''

  ``Silly woman,'' answered the female who had
maintained the dialogue with the departed Elspat,
``thinkest thou that there is a worse fiend on earth,
or beneath it, than the pride and fury of an offended
woman, like yonder bloody-minded hag? Know
that blood has been as familiar to her as the dew
to the mountain-daisy.  Many and many a brave
man has she caused to breathe their last for little
wrong they had done to her or theirs.  But her
hough-sinews are cut, now that her wolf-burd must,
like a murderer as he is, make a murderer's end.''

  Whilst the women thus discoursed together, as
they watched the corpse of Allan Breack Cameron,
the unhappy cause of his death pursued her lonely
way across the mountain.  While she remained
within sight of the bothy, she put a strong constraint
on herself, that by no alteration of pace or
gesture, she might afford to her enemies the triumph
of calculating the excess of her mental agitation,
nay, despair.  She stalked, therefore, with a slow
rather than a swift step, and, holding herself upright,
seemed at once to endure with firmness that
woe which was passed, and bid defiance to that
which was about to come.  But when she was beyond
the sight of those who remained in the hut,
she could no longer suppress the extremity of her
agitation.  Drawing her mantle wildly round her,
she stopped at the first knoll, and climbing to its
summit, extended her arms up to the bright moon,
as if accusing heaven and earth for her misfortunes,
and uttered scream on scream, like those of an
eagle whose nest has been plundered of her brood.  
Awhile she vented her grief in these inarticulate
cries, then rushed on her way with a hasty and
unequal step, in the vain hope of overtaking the
party which was conveying her son a prisoner to
Dunbarton.  But her strength, superhuman as it
seemed, failed her in the trial, nor was it possible
for her, with her utmost efforts, to accomplish her

  Yet she pressed onward, with all the speed which
her exhausted frame could exert.  When food became
indispensable, she entered the first cottage;
``Give me to eat,'' she said; ``I am the widow of
MacTavish Mhor---I am the mother of Hamish
MacTavish Bean,---give me to eat, that I may once
more see my fair-haired son.'' Her demand was
never refused, though granted in many cases with
a kind of struggle between compassion and aversion
in some of those to whom she applied, which
was in others qualified by fear.  The share she had
had in occasioning the death of Allan Breack Cameron,
which must probably involve that of her
own son, was not accurately known; but, from a
knowledge of her violent passions and former habits
of life, no one doubted that in one way or other
she had been the cause of the catastrophe; and
Hamish Bean was considered, in the slaughter
which he had committed, rather as the instrument
than as the accomplice of his mother.

  This general opinion of his countrymen was of
little service to the unfortunate Hamish.  As his
captain, Green Colin, understood the manners and
habits of his country, he had no difficulty in collecting
from Hamish the particulars accompanying his
supposed desertion, and the subsequent death of
the non-commissioned officer.  He felt the utmost
compassion for a youth, who had thus fallen a victim
to the extravagant and fatal fondness of a parent.  
But he had no excuse to plead which could rescue
his unhappy recruit from the doom, which military
discipline and the award of a court-martial denounced
against him for the crime he had committed.

  No time had been lost in their proceedings, and
as little was interposed betwixt sentence and execution.
General --------- had determined to make a
severe example of the first deserter who should fall
into his power, and here was one who had defended
himself by main force, and slain in the affray
the officer sent to take him into custody.  A fitter
subject for punishment could not have occurred
and Hamish was sentenced to immediate execution.
All which the interference of his captain in his favour
could procure, was that he should die a soldier's
death; for there had been a purpose of executing
him upon the gibbet.

  The worthy clergyman of Glenorquhy chanced
to be at Dunbarton, in attendance upon some church
courts, at the time of this catastrophe.  He visited
his unfortunate parishioner in his dungeon,
found him ignorant indeed, but not obstinate, and
the answers which he received from him, when
conversing on religious topics, were such as induced
him doubly to regret, that a mind naturally
pure and noble should have remained unhappily so
wild and uncultivated.

  When he ascertained the real character and disposition
of the young man, the worthy pastor made
deep and painful reflections on his own shyness and
timidity, which, arising out of the evil fame that
attached to the lineage of Hamish, had restrained
him from charitably endeavouring to bring this
strayed sheep within the great fold.  While the
good minister blamed his cowardice in times past,
which had deterred him from risking his person,
to save, perhaps, an immortal soul, he resolved no
longer to be governed by such timid counsels, but
to endeavour, by application to his officers, to obtain
a reprieve, at least, if not a pardon, for the
criminal, in whom he felt so unusually interested,
at once from his docility of temper and his generosity
of disposition.

  Accordingly the divine sought out Captain
Campbell at the barracks within the garrison.  
There was a gloomy melancholy on the brow of
Green Colin, which was not lessened, but increased,
when the clergyman stated his name, quality,
and errand.  ``You cannot tell me better of the
young man than I am disposed to believe,'' answered
the Highland officer; ``you cannot ask me to
do more in his behalf than I am of myself inclined,
and have already endeavoured to do.  But it is
all in vain.  General --------- is half a Lowlander
half an Englishman.  He has no idea of the high
and enthusiastic character which in these mountains
often brings exalted virtues in contact with
great crimes, which, however, are less offences of
the heart than errors of the understanding. I
have gone so far as to tell him, that in this young
man he was putting to death the best and the bravest
of my company, where all, or almost all, are
good and brave.  I explained to him by what
strange delusion the culprit's apparent desertion
was occasioned, and how little his heart was accessary
to the crime which his hand unhappily committed.
His answer was, `These are Highland
visions, Captain Campbell, as unsatisfactory and
vain as those of the second sight.  An act of gross
desertion may, in any case, be palliated under the
plea of intoxication; the murder of an officer may
be as easily coloured over with that of temporary
insanity.  The example must be made, and if it
has fallen on a man otherwise a good recruit, it
will have the greater effect.'---Such being the General's
unalterable purpose,'' continued Captain
Campbell, with a sigh, ``be it your care, reverend
sir, that your penitent prepare by break of day tomorrow
for that great change which we shall all
one day be subjected to.''

  ``And for which,'' said the clergyman, ``may
God prepare us all, as I in my duty will not be
wanting to this poor youth.''

  Next morning, as the very earliest beams of sunrise
saluted the grey towers which crown the summit
of that singular and tremendous rock, the soldiers
of the new Highland regiment appeared on
the parade, within the Castle of Dunbarton, and
having fallen into order, began to move downward
by steep staircases, and narrow passages towards
the external barrier-gate, which is at the very bottom
of the rock.  The wild wailings of the pibroch
were heard at times, interchanged with the drums
and fifes, which beat the Dead March.

  The unhappy criminal's fate did not, at first,
excite that general sympathy in the regiment which
would probably have arisen had he been executed
for desertion alone.  The slaughter of the unfortunate
Allan Breack had given a different colour
to Hamish's offence; for the deceased was much
beloved, and besides belonged to a numerous and
powerful clan, of whom there were many in the
ranks.  The unfortunate criminal, on the contrary,
was little known to, and scarcely connected with,
any of his regimental companions.  His father had
been, indeed, distinguished for his strength and
manhood; but he was of a broken clan, as those
names were called who had no chief to lead them
to battle.

  It would have been almost impossible in another
case, to have turned out of the ranks of the regiment
the party necessary for execution of the sentence;
but the six individuals selected for that
purpose, were friends of the deceased, descended,
like him, from the race of MacDhonuil Dhu; and
while they prepared for the dismal task which
their duty imposed, it was not without a stern feeling
of gratified revenge.  The leading company of
the regiment began now to defile from the barrier-gate,
and was followed by the others, each successively
moving and halting according to the orders
of the Adjutant, so as to form three sides of an
oblong square, with the ranks faced inwards.  The
fourth, or blank side of the square, was closed up
by the huge and lofty precipice on which the Castle
rises.  About the centre of the procession,
bare-headed, disarmed, and with his hands bound,
came the unfortunate victim of military law.  He
was deadly pale, but his step was firm and his eye
as bright as ever.  The clergyman walked by his
side---the coffin, which was to receive his mortal
remains, was borne before him.  The looks of his
comrades were still, composed, and solemn.  They
felt for the youth, whose handsome form, and
manly yet submissive deportment had, as soon as
he was distinctly visible to them, softened the
hearts of many, even of some who had been actuated
by vindictive feelings.

  The coffin destined for the yet living body of
Hamish Bean was placed at the bottom of the hollow
square, about two yards distant from the foot
of the precipice, which rises in that place as steep
as a stone wall to the height of three or four hundred
feet.  Thither the prisoner was also led, the
clergyman still continuing by his side, pouring
forth exhortations of courage and consolation, to
which the youth appeared to listen with respectful
devotion.  With slow, and, it seemed, almost unwilling
steps, the firing party entered the square,
and were drawn up facing the prisoner, about ten
yards distant.  The clergyman was now about to
retire---``Think, my son,'' he said, ``on what I
have told you, and let your hope be rested on the
anchor which I have given.  You will then exchange
a short and miserable existence here, for a life in
which you will experience neither sorrow nor pain.
---Is there aught else which you can intrust to me
to execute for you?''

  The youth looked at his sleeve buttons.  They
were of gold, booty perhaps which his father had
taken from some English officer during the civil
wars.  The clergyman disengaged them from his

  ``My mother!'' he said with some effort, ``give
them to my poor mother!---See her, good father,
and teach her what she should think of all this.  
Tell her Hamish Bean is more glad to die than
ever he was to rest after the longest day's hunting.  
Farewell, sir---farewell!''

  The good man could scarce retire from the fatal
spot.  An officer afforded him the support of his
arm.  At his last look towards Hamish, be beheld
him alive and kneeling on the coffin; the few that
were around him had all withdrawn.  The fatal
word was given, the rock rung sharp to the sound
of the discharge, and Hamish, falling forward with
a groan, died, it may be supposed, without almost
a sense of the passing agony.

  Ten or twelve of his own company then came
forward, and laid with solemn reverence the remains
of their comrade in the coffin, while the
Dead March was again struck up, and the several
companies, marching in single files, passed the
coffin one by one, in order that all might receive
from the awful spectacle the warning which it was
peculiarly intended to afford.  The regiment was
then marched off the ground, and reascended the
ancient cliff, their music, as usual on such occasions,
striking lively strains, as if sorrow, or even deep
thought, should as short a while as possible be the
tenant of the soldier's bosom.

  At the same time the small party, which we before
mentioned, bore the bier of the ill-fated Hamish
to his humble grave, in a corner of the churchyard
of Dunbarton, usually assigned to criminals.  
Here, among the dust of the guilty, lies a youth,
whose name, had he survived the ruin of the fatal
events by which he was hurried into crime, might
have adorned the annals of the brave.

  The minister of Glenorquhy left Dunbarton
immediately after he had witnessed the last scene
of this melancholy catastrophe.  His reason acquiesced
in the justice of the sentence, which
required blood for blood, and he acknowledged
that the vindictive character of his countrymen
required to be powerfully restrained by the strong
curb of social law.  But still he mourned over
the individual victim.  Who may arraign the bolt
of Heaven when it bursts among the sons of the
forest; yet who can refrain from mourning, when
it selects for the object of its blighting aim the fair
stem of a young oak, that promised to be the pride
of the dell in which it flourished? Musing on these
melancholy events, noon found him engaged in the
mountain passes, by which he was to return to his
still distant home.

  Confident in his knowledge of the country, the
clergyman had left the main road, to seek one of
those shorter paths, which are only used by pedestrians,
or by men, like the minister, mounted on
the small, but sure-footed, hardy, and sagacious
horses of the country.  The place which he now
traversed, was in itself gloomy and desolate, and
tradition had added to it the terror of superstition,
by affirming it was haunted by an evil spirit, termed
_Cloght-dearg_, that is, Redmantle, who at all times,
but especially at noon and at midnight, traversed
the glen, in enmity both to man and the inferior
creation, did such evil as her power was permitted
to extend to, and afflicted with ghastly terrors
those whom she had not license otherwise to hurt.

  The minister of Glenorquhy had set his face in
opposition to many of these superstitions, which
he justly thought were derived from the dark ages
of Popery, perhaps even from those of Paganism,
and unfit to be entertained or believed by the Christians
of an enlightened age.  Some of his more
attached parishioners considered him as too rash in
opposing the ancient faith of their fathers; and
though they honoured the moral intrepidity of
their pastor, they could not avoid entertaining and
expressing fears, that he would one day fall a victim
to his temerity, and be torn to pieces in the
glen of the Cloght-dearg, or some of those other
haunted wilds, which he appeared rather to have a
pride and pleasure in traversing alone, on the days
and hours when the wicked spirits were supposed
to have especial power over man and beast.

  These legends came across the mind of the clergyman;
and, solitary as he was, a melancholy smile
shaded his cheek, as he thought of the inconsistency
of human nature, and reflected how many
brave men, whom the yell of the pibroch would
have sent headlong against fixed bayonets, as the
wild bull rushes on his enemy, might have yet feared
to encounter those visionary terrors, which he
himself, a man of peace, and in ordinary perils no
way remarkable for the firmness of his nerves, was
now risking without hesitation.

  As he looked around the scene of desolation, he
could not but acknowledge, in his own mind, that
it was not ill chosen for the haunt of those spirits,
which are said to delight in solitude and desolation.
The glen was so steep and narrow, that there
was but just room for the meridian sun to dart a
few scattered rays upon the gloomy and precarious
stream which stole through its recesses, for the
most part in silence, but occasionally murmuring
sullenly against the rocks and large stones, which
seemed determined to bar its further progress.  In
winter, or in the rainy season, this small stream
was a foaming torrent of the most formidable magnitude,
and it was at such periods that it had torn
open and laid bare the broad-faced and huge fragments
of rock, which, at the season of which we
speak, hid its course from the eye, and seemed disposed
totally to interrupt its course.  ``Undoubtedly,''
thought the clergyman, ``this mountain
rivulet, suddenly swelled by a water-spout, or
thunder-storm, has often been the cause of those
accidents, which, happening in the glen called by
her name, have been ascribed to the agency of the

  Just as this idea crossed his mind, he heard a
female voice exclaim, in a wild and thrilling accent,
``Michael Tyrie---Michael Tyrie!'' He looked
round in astonishment, and not without some fear.  
It seemed for an instant, as if the Evil Being, whose
existence he had disowned, was about to appear for
the punishment of his incredulity.  This alarm did
not hold him more than an instant, nor did it prevent
his replying in a firm voice, ``Who calls---
and where are you?''

  ``One who journeys in wretchedness, between
life and death,'' answered the voice; and the speaker,
a tall female, appeared from among the fragments
of rocks which had concealed her from view.

  As she approached more closely, her mantle of
bright tartan, in which the red colour much predominated,
her stature, the long stride with which
she advanced, and the writhen features and wild
eyes which were visible from under her curch, would
have made her no inadequate representative of the
spirit which gave name to the valley.  But Mr
Tyrie instantly knew her as the Woman of the
Tree, the widow of MacTavish Mhor, the now
childless mother of Hamish Bean.  I am not sure
whether the minister would not have endured the
visitation of the Cloght-dearg herself, rather than
the shock of Elspat's presence, considering her
crime and her misery.  He drew up his horse instinctively,
and stood endeavouring to collect his
ideas, while a few paces brought her up to his
horse's head.

  ``Michael Tyrie,'' said she, ``the foolish women
of the Clachan* hold thee as a god---be one to me,

*    _i. e_. The village, literally the stones.

and say that my son lives.  Say this, and I too will
be of thy worship-I will bend my knees on the
seventh day in thy house of worship, and thy God
shall be my God.''

  ``Unhappy woman,'' replied the clergyman,
``man forms not pactions with his Maker as with
a creature of clay like himself.  Thinkest thou to
chaffer with Him, who formed the earth, and spread
out the heavens, or that thou canst offer aught of
homage or devotion that can be worth acceptance
in his eyes? He hath asked obedience, not sacrifice;
patience under the trials with which he afflicts
us, instead of vain bribes, such as man offers to his
changeful brother of clay, that he may be moved
from his purpose.''

  ``Be silent, priest!'' answered the desperate
woman; ``speak not to me the words of thy white
book.  Elspat's kindred were of those who crossed
themselves and knelt when the sacring bell was
rung; and she knows that atonement can be made
on the altar for deeds done in the field.  Elspat
had once flocks and herds, goats upon the cliffs,
and cattle in the strath.  She wore gold around
her neck and on her hair---thick twists as those
worn by the heroes of old.  All these would she
have resigned to the priest---all these; and if he
wished for the ornaments of a gentle lady, or the
sporran of a high chief, though they had been great
as Macallanmore himself, MacTavish Mhor would
have procured them if Elspat had promised them.  
Elspat is now poor, and has nothing to give.  But
the Black Abbot of Inchaffray would have bidden
her scourge her shoulders, and macerate her feet
by pilgrimage, and he would have granted his pardon
to her when he saw that her blood had flowed,
and that her flesh had been torn.  These were the
priests who had indeed power even with the most
powerful---they threatened the great men of the
earth with the word of their mouth, the sentence
of their book, the blaze of their torch, the sound
of their sacring bell.  The mighty bent to their
will, and unloosed at the word of the priests those
whom they had bound in their wrath, and set at
liberty, unharmed, him whom they had sentenced
to death, and for whose blood they had thirsted.  
These were a powerful race, and might well ask
the poor to kneel, since their power could humble
the proud.  But you!---against whom are ye strong,
but against women who have been guilty of folly,
and men who never wore sword? The priests of
old were like the winter torrent which fills this
hollow valley, and rolls these massive rocks against
each other as easily as the boy plays with the ball
which he casts before him---But you! you do but
resemble the summer-stricken stream, which is
turned aside by the rushes, and stemmed by a bush
of sedges---Woe worth you, for there is no help in

  The clergyman was at no loss to conceive that
Elspat had lost the Roman Catholic faith without
gaining any other, and that she still retained a
vague and confused idea of the composition with
the priesthood, by confession, alms, and penance,
and of their extensive power, which, according to
her notion, was adequate, if duly propitiated, even
to effecting her son's safety.  Compassionating her
situation, and allowing for her errors and ignorance,
he answered her with mildness.

  ``Alas, unhappy woman! Would to God I
could convince thee as easily where thou oughtest
to seek, and art sure to find consolation, as I can
assure you with a single word, that were Rome
and all her priesthood once more in the plenitude
of their power, they could not, for largesse or penance,
afford to thy misery an atom of aid or comfort.
---Elspat MacTavish, I grieve to tell you the

  ``I know them without thy speech,'' said the
unhappy woman---``My son is doomed to die.''

  ``Elspat,'' resumed the clergyman, ``he _was_
doomed, and the sentence has been executed.''
The hapless mother threw her eyes up to heaven,
and uttered a shriek so unlike the voice of a human
being, that the eagle which soared in middle air
answered it as she would have done the call of her

  ``It is impossible!'' she exclaimed, ``it is impossible!
Men do not condemn and kill on the
same day! Thou art deceiving me.  The people
call thee holy---hast thou the heart to tell a mother
she has murdered her only child?''

  ``God knows,'' said the priest, the tears falling
fast from his eyes, ``that were it in my power, I
would gladly tell better tidings---But these which
I bear are as certain as they are fatal---My own
ears heard the death-shot, my own eyes beheld thy
son's death---thy son's funeral.---My tongue bears
witness to what my ears heard and my eyes saw.''

  The wretched female clasped her bands close
together, and held them up towards heaven like a
sibyl announcing war and desolation, while, in impotent
yet frightful rage, she poured forth a tide
of the deepest imprecations.---``Base Saxon churl!''
she exclaimed, ``vile hypocritical juggler! May
the eyes that looked tamely on the death of my
fair-haired boy be melted in their sockets with
ceaseless tears, shed for those that are nearest and
most dear to thee! May the ears that heard his
death-knell be dead hereafter to all other sounds
save the screech of the raven, and the hissing of
the adder! May the tongue that tells me of his
death and of my own crime, be withered in thy
mouth---or better, when thou wouldst pray with
thy people, may the Evil One guide it, and give
voice to blasphemies instead of blessings, until men
shall fly in terror from thy presence, and the thunder
of heaven be launched against thy head, and
stop for ever thy cursing and accursed voice! Begone,
with this malison!---Elspat will never, never
again bestow so many words upon living man.''

  She kept her word---from that day the world
was to her a wilderness, in which she remained
without thought, care, or interest, absorbed in her
own grief, indifferent to every thing else.

  With her mode of life, or rather of existence,
the reader is already as far acquainted as I have
the power of making him.  Of her death, I can tell
him nothing.  It is supposed to have happened
several years after she had attracted the attention
of my excellent friend Mrs Bethune Baliol.  Her
benevolence, which was never satisfied with dropping
a sentimental tear, when there was room for
the operation of effective charity, induced her to
make various attempts to alleviate the condition of
this most wretched woman.  But all her exertions
could only render Elspat's means of subsistence less
precarious, a circumstance which, though generally
interesting even to the most wretched outcasts
seemed to her a matter of total indifference.  Every
attempt to place any person in her hut to take
charge of her miscarried, through the extreme resentment
with which she regarded all intrusion on
her solitude, or by the timidity of those who had
been pitched upon to be inmates with the terrible
Woman of the Tree.  At length, when Elspat became
totally unable (in appearance at least) to turn
herself on the wretched settle which served her
for a couch, the humanity of Mr Tyrie's successor
sent two women to attend upon the last moments
of the solitary, which could not, it was judged, be
far distant, and to avert the possibility that she
might perish for want of assistance or food, before
she sunk under the effects of extreme age, or
mortal malady.

  It was on a November evening, that the two
women appointed for this melancholy purpose,
arrived at the miserable cottage which we have
already described.  Its wretched inmate lay stretched
upon the bed, and seemed almost already a lifeless
corpse, save for the wandering of the fierce
dark eyes, which rolled in their sockets in a manner
terrible to look upon, and seemed to watch
with surprise and indignation the motions of the
strangers, as persons whose presence was alike
unexpected and unwelcome.  They were frightened
at her looks; but, assured in each other's company,
they kindled a fire, lighted a candle, prepared
food, and made other arrangements for the discharge
of the duty assigned them.

  The assistants agreed they should watch the
bedside of the sick person by turns; but, about
midnight, overcome by fatigue, (for they had walked
far that morning,) both of them fell fast asleep.  
When they awoke, which was not till after the
interval of some hours, the hut was empty, and the
patient gone.  They rose in terror, and went to
the door of the cottage, which was latched as it
had been at night.  They looked out into the darkness,
and called upon their charge by her name.  
The night-raven screamed from the old oak-tree,
the fox howled on the bill, the hoarse waterfall
replied with its echoes, but there was no human
answer.  The terrified women did not dare to make
further search till morning should appear; for the
sudden disappearance of a creature so frail as Elspat,
together with the wild tenor of her history,
intimidated them from stirring from the hut.  They
remained, therefore, in dreadful terror, sometimes
thinking they heard her voice without, and at other
times, that sounds of a different description were
mingled with the mournful sigh of the night-breeze,
or the dash of the cascade.  Sometimes, too, the
latch rattled, as if some frail and impotent hand
were in vain attempting to lift it, and ever and
anon they expected the entrance of their terrible
patient animated by supernatural strength, and in
the company, perhaps, of some being more dreadful
than herself.  Morning came at length.  They
sought brake, rock, and thicket in vain.  Two
hours after daylight, the minister himself appeared,
and, on the report of the watchers, caused the country
to be alarmed, and a general and exact search
to be made through the whole neighbourhood of
the cottage and the oak-tree.  But it was all in
vain.  Elspat MacTavish was never found, whether
dead or alive; nor could there ever be traced the
slightest circumstance to indicate her fate.

  The neighbourhood was divided concerning the
cause of her disappearance.  The credulous thought
that the evil spirit, under whose influence she seemed
to have acted, had carried her away in the body;
and there are many who are still unwilling, at untimely
hours, to pass the oak-tree, beneath which,
as they allege. she may still be seen seated according
to her wont.  Others less superstitious  supposed,
that had it been possible to search the gulf of
the Corri Dhu, the profound deeps of the lake, or
the whelming eddies of the river, the remains of
Elspat MacTavish might have been discovered; as
nothing was more natural, considering her state of
body and mind, than that she should have fallen in
by accident, or precipitated herself intentionally
into one or other of those places of sure destruction.
The clergyman entertained an opinion of his
own.  He thought that, impatient of the watch
which was placed over her, this unhappy woman's
instinct had taught her, as it directs various domestic
animals, to withdraw herself from the sight of
her own race, that the death-struggle might take
place in some secret den, where, in all probability,
her mortal relics would never meet the eyes of
mortals.  This species of instinctive feeling seemed
to him of a tenor with the whole course of her
unhappy life, and most likely to influence her, when
it drew to a conclusion.