Page images

the stranger; and that she should suffer, what to their feelings appeared the worst, as it is the most irremediable of evils, separation in death from her kindred,--that she should sleep with strangers, --was most afflicting to their prejudices and their tenderness; and Ronald, with a bow more humble than low, spoke his senso of this unlooked for goodness.

The Lady then took leave, and went from hut to hut throughout the hamlet, visiting that little flock which now engrossed all of affection that the grave had not swallowed up,-all of care that she felt for anything of this earth.


And we-behind the Chieftain's shield,
No more shall we in safety dwell,
None lead the people to the field,
And we the loud lament must swell,
Och hone a righ, Och hone a righ,
The pride of Albyn's line is o'er.

SCOTT. NOWISE fatigued by previous exertion, or rather strong in her wish to oblige, Moome, on the succeeding night, again offered to watch by the corpse of the stranger; and Mary, who loved her for her virtues, and adored her for her traditionary lore, gladly accepted this offer.

Several girls likewise joined in this kindly-meant attention to the dead; and with many a tale did Moome amuse their vigil. On that night, Mary's soft nature wept over the mountain-hunter who now slumbered in Kilechan: although his venerable historian frequently reminded her that he was chief of a clan who had always been enemies to our clan,' and that, to avenge his murder, his clan had put to death two of Macalbyn's sons, and their followers, whom they had surprised on a hunting excursion. Towards morning, the young women went to their homes, and Mary was left alone with her friend.

“Now do, dear Moome,” said she," that we are all alone, tell me about how you met the 'Green Lady' at the head of the glen, who told you all that should ever happen to the clan. I once heard my mother tell it, but I should like dearly to have it from your own lips. Mary had sat spell-bound during the night, eagerly, listening to what she dreaded to hear, the strange delight of terror thrilling her soul, and absorbing all her faculties. Often had she listened to the same tales; but she was now in the chamber of death, and every awful event breathed deeper horror. “Now do, dear Moome, tell me!” Moome assumed a look of gravity and importance.

“You are still too young for that, Mary."

"But (by your leave) I may never have such an opportunity," replied Mary; "and I shall be so silent.” And she held her breath in fearful expectation; for hearing the story from one who had communed with the spirit, seemed nearly as awful as meeting it in person.

“ The very

"Well, Mary, I know you are a wise girl and a good; and sure enough, that is what concerns you as much as myself, and all that are called Macalbyn; so, if you promise to be discreet- Mary readily promised; and Moome commenced that narrative in which she felt a solemn pride, and regarded

as the most important event of her life, always excepting nursing Donald Dunalbyn.

“It was ten years after I married Roban Macalbyn," said Moome. “Roban's father had been Gillie-casflue * to the old Laird, and Roban was always about the castle, where I also, happy time! was nurse to Lady Augusta,-a child she was then. So, when we married, there being no place for us at the time, Macalbyn gave us a croft off his own farm, Bruachrua it was, and a shealing at Glentannar with the other tenants. Well, it was about midsummer, and as I had to go to the moss, I got up very early, to have the milking over; besides, the weather was hot, and towards noon the cattle became restive. Och! Mary, believe me now, the weather is no more like what it was in my young days, than old times are to the new. It was a lovely, serene morning; the sun was not yet up, and the mist was low on the hill. Och! well can I remember it! Well, stepping through the Bruar, what should I do but miss my beads: Look at them, Mary, they are real amber.", Mary had seen them every day in her life; but she courteously examined them, and complimented Moome on their possession.

"Beautiful they are, sure enough,” replied Moome. day I took home my Donald, my darling Dalt, to the castle, did the dear Lady that was, present them to me from her own neck. Just eight years he then was, and such a boy! O Mary, you never saw the boy could match him, dressed as he was that day in new tartans of my own spinning; for sure enough, I was a namely webmaker in my own time.” Mary had also heard this history of the beads a hundred times, but Highland courtesy restrained her impatience, and Moome resumed.

"Well, when I came home, Roban was still asleep, and I was loath to wake him, though he should have been up at Macalbyn's peats long before that. So I just stooped down, and kissed poor Roban (for I was young then), thinking if he awoke it was good, and if not, I would let him sleep. I found my beads, and hastened to my cattle. And a namely fold Roban had for a commoner; five tidyt cows, besides other cows, and their followers, and sheep on the hills, all for ten shillings Saxon money, Roban's few services at the peats, and such as that, and some duty fowls from myself, and a few hanks of yarn. And to be sure the Lady would say, 'I can know Unah Bruachrua's yarn from all the women's in the glen.' These were her own words, dear Lady! God give her soul its peace! and forbid that I should take pride to myself for my spinning: for no doubt many a Macalbyn woman span better than I, though she would say so, dear Lady; and God forbid, Mary, that I should belie the dead. Well, as I was saying of Roban's fold,-but you will notice, Mary, there was no sheep-farms in those days, I was hastening on, gazing round me at our master's castle, and all our cattle, and the smoking cottages of our own clan; and praising HIMSELF for all his goodness, for at that moment my own heart felt it, and was full of it, when all at once, what should I see coming slowly towards me, just down from Tobermora (the well or spring of the Virgin), but a lady so tall, so lovely! Guess yourself if I was not in the terrors. She was dressed in green; a white tunag* flowed from her shoulders, which was fastened by a gold brooch; and her fine yellow hair-such hair!-hung around her. I had not recovered my terror when she asked my news. Trembling like an aspen leaf, I said I had none strange.

* That person of a Chieftain's body-guard, whose business it was to carry him over fords.

† Milch cows. Besides the stated services to the Laird, and the rent, whether paid in money or in kind, the lady has her claim on the wife of the tenant,

The Wife's Portion,” or due, consisting of fowls, butter, yarn, &c., and attendance at graddaning, waulking, &c.

called “

“Were any one to ask me for news, I could tell what would seem strange,' said she. Think yourself, Mary, how I trembled, meeting a lady in such a place, who did not belong to the family.

* Don't fear me, woman,' said she; 'ask my news; I am not at liberty to speak unquestioned. It was then

I was sure she was a spirit. All the while she stood, her starry eyes fixed upon me, and her arm wrapped in her tunag.

• My God, preserve me!' cried I, almost fainting with terror.

Perhaps I adore that Being as much as you do,' said she; ‘ask me for news.' Seeing she was a good spirit, I took courage, and you may be certain my first question was what would happen to the Dunalbyn family.

“Their race is nearly run,' said she, and drew her hand across her forehead, 'and now 'tis finished! You shall live and see Macalbyn without a foot of land, or a hut in his country to give him shelter. You shall yet see four different lairds divide Nacalbyn's lands. In this glen you shall see fifty smokes put out in one morning! Oh! Mary, conceive my feelings; I forgot the awful being with whom I conversed, and thought only of Macalbyn! "* And his sons?' I cried in agony.

They shall live while they live between the turf and the thatch,' said she; fifty years hence, and no gentleman will bear the name of Macalbyn; but a day. shall come.' Oh! Mary, how sadly have I seen all this accomplished !” Moome wept anew the desolation of her clan, and then resumed; "Well, you may be sure I thought, after all I had seen and heard, I was no longer for this world, had the spirit not told me that I should live to see; would that I had died, and never seen! After a while, I asked what would happen to Norman Ballachadron, the laird's brother's son, a choalt of my own he was, and a gay, wild young man; many .is the chase he would give myself, when he would come to the hill with his gun, and I a young girl, alone in the shealing, and the herds all out of sight.

"• He will follow evil, and evil will pursue him,' said she; ‘he


* Tunag, a short mantle, still worn by old women in some parts of the Highlands. The plaid is only worn in full dress, but the tunag by way of shawl. the distant isles, this piece of dress is called Guilechan.

[ocr errors]

will go to misery, and his lands to the Macphersons.' Mary, I thought it a pity of his father's son.

Moome reserved the remaining part of her vision to another opportunity, for the spirit had communicated very copious information, and now went home to refresh her spirits with a short sleep, before the

funeral of the stranger required her attendance. The sun shone brightly on the following morning, when Ronald sent off his horse to fetch the minister; it was the fairest of winter days; mild, yet clear; and Ronald, who had the enviable talent of appropriating and finding pleasure in every common blessing, almost flattered himself it had been sent to grace the splendid funeral he meant to give to the wandering stranger.

It was noon when the minister, Ronald, his wife and daughter, together with the orphan and his nurse, embarked in the same boat that was to convey the remains of the stranger to her last home. In another boat was the piper, who professionally attended the burial; and old Moome, and such other inhabitants of the hamlet as age and virtue had rendered most respectable. Several other boats, promiscuously crowded with men and women from the farms round the lake, closed the procession; for at that time the custom of females attending females still prevailed, though now almost fallen into disuse.

The little vessels glided slowly over the lake, the dashing of the oars measured by the melancholy notes of the bagpipe, whose longdrawn dolorous tones, imitating the expression of human sorrow, now died away in faint hollow murmurs, and again burst on the ear with all tħe broken impetuosity, of impassioned grief. It was a scene of powerful interest; and the poor Highlanders, whose passions are all of the liveliest and most ardent kind, and susceptible of any impulse through the medium of their national music, appeared grieved in a manner which to a stranger must have seemed either affected or absurd. But it was not the simple feeling of pity for the untimely fate of the unfortunate wanderer, though they truly mourned her destiny; it was not merely the helpless state of the infant orphan, though their hearts tenderly allowed his claim; it was the remembrance of other years that swept over their minds with a power so strong, yet so tender, -it was the view of that sacred isle where reposed the dust of their chiefs, those departed heroes who had advanced the name of Macalbyn to so high a pitch of glory among the clans of the country, -it was the venerable figure of the Lady, who stood alone on the beach, like the guardian genius of the place,-the Lady, the last of Macalbyn's line, deserted in her old age,-it was the hills of their fathers — those lofty mountains which, for ages immemorial, had been the scene of their departed glory,—that combined to awaken the high and solemn enthusiasm of the national character:

* This is an abridged account of a vision, or rather spirit, seen by a woman in one of the isles a few years ago. Many of her predictions are already fulfilled; she lives to witness the daily fulfilment of others; and the accomplishment of the whole is devoutly expected by her all-believing countrymen. With a licence common to all expounders of visions, some alterations have been made in the above, to suit particular purposes; but they are very few,

her arms.

but, above all, it was the “ Coronach of Macalbyn,” that touched a chord in every bosom, which vibrated the deepest tones of sorrow; and The last of the Clan wept together as they slowly approached the ground which, in their eyes, was hallowed.

Lady Augusta bowed a silent welcome, and the mourning train proceeded to her cottage. There they halted. They would first witness the baptism of the orphan, for the presence of the inanimate mother was dear to superstitious tenderness.

“Let him be named Norman," said the Lady, “it was the name of him who last-it was the name of the youngest son of Macalbyn.”

Tears were all the reply; and the simple ceremony was performed. The Lady kissed, and blessed the little orphan whom she took to

"Be thou happier than he whose name thou bearest.” Had the Lady added another word, her feelings might have overpowered that habitual self-control she struggled to maintain ; and she gave the infant to the attendants. The sleeping innocent was carried round the kindly circle, receiving mingled embraces and benedictions; and they proceeded to the spot set apart as a last refuge for the misfortunes of his mother.

She is taken away from the evil to come,” said the Lady, as, bending over the grave, she wiped away a sympathizing, and not ungrateful tear. * Blessed are they who die in youth, they are at rest from trouble !" Her mind reverted to her early sorrows, and another tear trembled on her eye-lash.

The shovelled earth now rattled hollowly on the coffin. That ghastly sound !--for a moment it chilled the current of life in every bosom. Gradually it became more obtuse ; some of the attendants wept, and the earth was fast closing over all that had been mortal of the early victim of misfortune. Another minute, and it was all over! and the sweeping blast strewed the lingering yellow leaves of autumn on the turf which wrapped her cold remains. The Highlanders bowed profoundly, and slowly retired from the grave.

The Lady kept the infant Norman, his nurse, and Mary, for the remainder of the day; and the rest of the party proceeded to Ronald's barn, where the feast was spread. Trout of the lake, grouse from the moors, the fowls, cheese, and other rural dainties, contributed by friendly neighbours on similar occasions, furnished a table in the wilderness; and by the potent aid of Ronald's shell, a scene very different from the preceding was exhibited. It was the second act of a Highland funeral.


« PreviousContinue »