Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

of armed soldiers. His eye, for a moment, restlessly wandered o'er the august and solemn scene, and he felt dejected and oppressed. At last, through his sorrowful tears, he, enraptured, caught sight of the prisoner, and from his ashy lips there burst the thrilling cry, “My Mother !” Then, by strong impulse borne along, and dashing aside the arms of the soldiery, he rushed among the wondering crowd, and strove, with fondest affection, to embrace her who was dearer to him than life itself. But the officers of the Court overpowered him, and forcibly placed him face to face with the enraged Judges, who lost no time in commencing their interrogatories.

He was then solemnly asked if ever he had seen that sorceress at the bar at any time plying her wicked incantations, and if he knew that King James was doomed to die by her invoked conspiracy?

The Lord of Glamis not only passionately denied these charges against his mother, but, to end the sad suspense, declared aloud his firm, unalterable belief in her innocence.

The Judges looked incredulous; and the prosecutor could not brook to lose his victim, the latter thus fiercely giving vent to his ungovernable rage and bitter disappointment

Though all these charges have been denied, escape she shall not ; for soon, yea, on the early morrow, like the vilest of malefactors, shall she be bound to the stake or gallows-tree, burnt by the blazing, crackling flames, and dogs be left to lick her blood !"

This brutal speech changed in an instant the feelings of the savage throng, superstition's mystic power regaining com. pletely the mastery over them. They even chid the passing hour, so impatient had they become to glut their eye on the expectant, fearful tragedy.

Addressing the prisoner, the Judges fiercely exclaimed“ Confess thy crime.” “Oh! innocent !” she firm replied.

The instruments of torture were, dark and grim, again displayed, and the vile doomsters, with a ready will, at once

[ocr errors]

66 Oh!

proceeded to the exercise of their nefarious skill. Seizing young Glamis-who, meanwhile, had calmly viewed the dread preparations of death-they rudely and fiercely tortured him with savage glee, and mocked, with bitter irony, his writhing and excruciating agony, while, ever between his wild and piercing cries, the prisoner still firmly replied to all entreaties to confess—

cease to torture one so dear to my heart. No agonising grief, no slavish fear, can ever compel me, in my own defence, vilely to disprove my innocence.”

Enraged at the coolness of Lady Glamis, and her declarations of conscious innocence, the brutal Judges frowned the more savagely on the fair prisoner, and, ordering Glamis to be more firmly bound, and other means of torture to be tried to make him testify against his mother, they leaned back in their chairs, assured of a hopeful and successful result.

The sensitive flesh of the young witness was now savagely torn by formidable pinchers, prepared and sharpened for the occasion; his bones, full of sap and marrow, were broken on the wheel; and, shorn of all his pristine strength he helplessly lay a bleeding mass of shapeless, almost insensate clay! Still, other instruments of torture were gleefully brought by the cruel and merciless doomsters, and these were successfully plied with hellish energy, till from his ghastly, reeking wounds the blood gushed forth in purple streams, and from his tortured bosom there fitfully and mournfully came at intervals the stifled groans of deepest agony.

Hush! what wild and thrilling shriek was that ? Awestruck, and dumb with terror, the crowd sways to and fro in eager, keen expectancy of some weird, unearthly revelation ! The prosecutor is effectually cowed into silence, and the stricken judges, for the moment like the leaves of the aspen, shake and tremble with visible emotion.

All eyes are directed to the dock, for it was from thence the shriek proceeded :

Guilty! guilty !” Lady Glamis energetically exclaimed

[ocr errors]

SO

[ocr errors]

“ Save! oh, save my son! Dishonoured be my name,

if be his be left spotless and unstained ! For him—my son, my only son-I give up life ; for him I give up hope ; for him I give up—all."

That very night the impatient, bloodthirsty throng with blazing torches sped along to the Castle Hill, where Lady Glamis was summarily doomed to die. And there, resigned and cheerful, bound to the blazing stake she stood ; her lovely form arrayed in the white robes of purity, her hands clasped firm upon her spotless breast, and her bright, longing eye upturned and rapturously fixed upon the star-lit far off sky! So heaven-like, so spiritual and ethereal, and yet so intensely human did she seem, that a revulsion of feeling was caused thereby in the heart of everyone who beheld her; and when the burning faggots crackling, and mercilessly fierce, roared and rioted in their furious rage around their resigned and silent victim, all, from the heart, deplored that one so bright in beauty's bloom should meet with a doom so very fearful and so very sad !

Dread silence reigned over that great living sea of waving heads, which luridly shone in the dark, sulphureous gloom, until, like the dread, dark shadows of the tomb, the whirling and ever-thickening murky smoke cast its funereal mantle over the dismal scene, and the winds, aroused from their ominous repose, howled sweeping past in eerie cadence, like damned spirits in their throes of hopeless agony! Soon, however, the tempest ceased as suddenly as it arose ; and in the intervening calm the stifling canopy of smoke cleared gradually away, and the bright red flames lit up, as before, the angel form of the fair sufferer; but,

The fire had scorch'd her bosom fair,
Dishevelled hung her raven hair ;
And yet, with sweet, angelic air,
Still to the blazing pile she clung,
While to her God high praise she sung ;
And when her voice grew faint and low,
Soft music sweet was heard to flow,
And then, by angels' chariots driven,
She wing'd her flight to God and heaven!

CHAPTER X.

THE FORESTER'S DAUGHTER.

“ 'Tis sad to see the eye forget its ray,

And sorrow sit where smiles were wont to play ;
'Tis sad, when youth is fair, and fresh, and warm,
And life is fraught with every sweeter charm,
To see it close the lips and droop the head,
Wane from the earth, and mingle with the dead.

Montgomery.

Many and strong are the emotions awakened in the minds of these who are removed to a distance from the scenes of their youth by the soul-stirring yet simple words, the “village green!” What delightful visions of innocent enjoyments and happy meetings, and loud and hearty merriment, and ringing laughter, and shouts of gladsome joy, float in welcome vision before the jaded mind, oft vibrating anew its tuneless chords, and ministering a sad and melancholy joy, which dispels for a time the clouds of sorrow and disappointment which darken the present and obscure the future from the view ! Beautiful vision of the past! How often in the lonely midnight hour, when all around was hushed in quiet and refreshing sleep, hast thou come to me with thy soft and silvery voices, as from a far-off land, and with thy retrospective scenes of innocence, and purity, and love, soothing, like some angel of the sky, my wearied and troubled spirit to calm and peaceful repose! Beloved vision of the past ! though thou bringest pain as well as joy, still, O, hover o'er my chequered path with thy golden sunny wings, and whisper in gentlest tone the tales of other years when life itself was young; and cease not thy welcome visits till I sleep with the mouldering dead in the lone churchyard of my fathers, where at last the world will cease from troubling, and where the weary will be at rest.

Standing on the bridge at Glamis and looking southward towards the Hunter Hill, there was not a more joyous sight to be seen in the days of yore than that of the youngsters of the parish disporting themselves, after the weary hours with participles and verbs in the small, ill-ventilated school, in all the joyous and boisterous ecstasy of pure and happy hearts, at foot-ball, racing, or leap-the-frog, and then, exhausted with their frolicsome play, wending each his several way to his home in the strath or the glen. Strange as it may seem, however, there are comparatively few of those who romped and walked, in apparently soul-knit and loving friendship together, in the morning of life, who, after the lapse of years, retain the slightest remembrance of each other, far less the cherished friendships of their youth, at one time thought to be so lasting and sincere.

After the roystering play of the village green, and before wending my way along the base of the Hunter Hill to

my

home in the glen, it was my custom to rest for a while in the sweet cottage of the forester, Hector Wood, whose eldest daughter, Eliza, my playmate and companion at school, always brought me on these occasions, enriched with her sunniest and sweetest smiles, a basin of whey or sweet milk, as a welcome refresher after my victories or mishaps in the mimic field of battle. Sometimes Eliza would laughingly accompany meashort way on my return to watch with me the quick and graceful motions of the pretty minnows disporting themselves in the quiet shady pools of the burn; to pull the purple bells, the graceful ferns, and starlike anemones, which lined and beautified our woodland path; or to gather, in their season, the wild raspberries, small, yet lusciously sweet, which grew in abundance on the sunny slopes of the far-stretching hill.

On these occasions my young companion arrayed herself in neither bonnet nor cloak, but romped about in all the

F

« ElőzőTovább »