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Title: Collected Stories
Author: James Hogg
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Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
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Collected Stories
James Hogg

Table of Contents

The Expedition To Hell
Mary Burnet


There is no phenomenon in nature less understood, and about which
greater nonsense is written than dreaming. It is a strange thing. For
my part I do not understand it, nor have I any desire to do so; and I
firmly believe that no philosopher that ever wrote knows a particle
more about it than I do, however elaborate and subtle the theories he
may advance concerning it. He knows nor even what sleep is, nor can he
define its nature, so as to enable any common mind to comprehend him;
and how then, can he define that ethereal part of it, wherein the soul
holds intercourse with the external world?--how, in that stare of
abstraction, some ideas force themselves upon us, in spite of all our
efforts to get rid of them; while others, which we have resolved to
bear about with us by night as well as by day, refuse us their
fellowship, even at periods when we most require their aid?

No, no; the philosopher knows nothing about either; and if he says he
does; I entreat you not to believe him. He does not know what mind is;
even his own mind, to which one would think he has the most direct
access: far less can he estimate the operations and powers of that of
any other intelligent being. He does not even know, with all his
subtlety, whether it be a power distinct from his body, or essentially
the same, and only incidentally and temporarily endowed with different
qualities. He sets himself to discover at what period of his existence
the union was established. He is baffled; for Consciousness refuses
the intelligence, declaring, that she cannot carry him far enough back
to ascertain it. He tries to discover the precise moment when it is
dissolved, but on this Consciousness is altogether silent; and all is
darkness and mystery: for the origin, the manner of continuance, and
the time and mode of breaking up of the union between soul and body,
are in reality undiscoverable by our natural faculties--are not
patent, beyond the possibility of mistake: but whosoever can read his
Bible, and solve a dream, can do either, without being subjected to
any material error.

It is on this ground that I like to contemplate, not the theory of
dreams, but the dreams themselves; because they prove to the
unlettered man, in a very forcible manner, a distinct existence of the
soul, and its lively and rapid intelligence with external nature, as
well as with a world of spirits with which it has no acquaintance,
when the body is lying dormant, and the same to the soul as if
sleeping in death.

I account nothing of any dream that relates to the actions of the day;
the person is not sound asleep who dreams about these things; there is
no division between matter and mind, but they are mingled together in
a sort of chaos--what a farmer would call compost--fermenting and
disturbing one another. I find that in all dreams of that kind, men of
every profession have dreams peculiar to their own occupations; and,
in the country, at least, their import is generally understood. Every
man's body is a barometer. A thing made up of the elements must be
affected by their various changes and convulsions; and so the body
assuredly is. When I was a shepherd, and all the comforts of my life
depended so much on good or bad weather, the first thing I did every
morning was strictly to overhaul the dreams of the night; and I found
that I could calculate better from them than from the appearance and
changes of the sky. I know a keen sportsman who pretends that his
dreams never deceive him. If the dream is of angling, or pursuing
salmon in deep waters, he is sure of rain; but if fishing on dry
ground, or in waters so low that the fish cannot get from him, it
forebodes drought; hunting or shooting hares is snow, and moorfowl
wind, But the most extraordinary professional dream on record is,
without all doubt, that well-known one of George Dobson, coach-driver
in Edinburgh, which I shall here relate; for though it did nor happen
in the shepherd's cot, it has often been recited there.

George was part proprietor and driver of a hackneycoach in Edinburgh,
when such vehicles were scarce; and one day a gentleman, whom he knew,
came to him and said: 'George, you must drive me and my son here out
to---, a certain place that he named, somewhere in the vicinity of

'Sir,' said George, 'I never heard tell of such a place, and I cannot
drive you to it unless you give me very particular directions.'

'It is false,' returned the gentleman; 'there is no man in Scotland
who knows the road to that place better than you do. You have never
driven on any other road all your life; and I insist on you taking

'Very well, sir,' said George, 'I'll drive you to hell, if you have a
mind; only you are to direct me on the road.'

'Mount and drive on, then,' said the other; 'and no fear of the road.'

George did so, and never in his life did he see his horses go at such
a noble rate; they snorted, they pranced, and they flew on; and as the
whole road appeared to lie down-hill, he deemed that he should soon
come to his journey's end. Still he drove on at the same rate, far,
far down---hill--and so fine an open road he never travelled--till by
degrees it grew so dark that he could not see to drive any farther. He
called to the gentleman, inquiring what he should do; who answered
that this was the place they were bound to, so he might draw up,
dismiss them, and return. He did so, alighted from the dickie,
wondered at his foaming horses, and forthwith opened the coach-door,
held the rim of his hat with the one hand and with the other demanded
his fare.

'You have driven us in fine style, George,' said the elder gentleman,
'and deserve to be remembered; but it is needless for us to settle
just now, as you must meet us here again tomorrow precisely at twelve

'Very well, sir,' said George; 'there is likewise an old account, you
know, and some toll-money;' which indeed there was.

'It shall be all settled tomorrow, George, and moreover, I fear there
will be some toll-money today.'

'I perceived no tolls today, your honour,' said George.

'But I perceived one, and not very far back neither, which I suspect
you will have difficulty in repassing without a regular ticket. What a
pity I have no change on me!'

'I never saw it otherwise with your honour,' said George, jocularly;
'what a pity it is you should always suffer yourself to run short of

'I will give you that which is as good, George,' said the gentleman;
and he gave him a ticket written with red ink, which the honest
coachman could not read. He, however, put it into his sleeve, and
inquired of his employer where that same toll was which he had not
observed, and how it was that they did not ask from him as he came
through? The gentleman replied, by informing George that there was no
road out of that domain, and that whoever entered it must either
remain in it, or return by the same path; so they never asked any toll
till the person's return, when they were at times highly capricious;
but that the ticket he had given him would answer his turn. And he
then asked George if he did not perceive a gate, with a number of men
in black standing about it.

'Oho! Is yon the spot?' says George; 'then, I assure your honour, yon
is no toll-gate, but a private entrance into a great man's mansion;
for do not I know two or three of the persons yonder to be gentlemen
of the law, whom I have driven often and often? and as good fellows
they are too as any I know--men who never let themselves run short of
change! Good day--Twelve o'clock tomorrow?'

'Yes, twelve o'clock noon, precisely;' and with that, George's
employer vanished in the gloom, and left him to wind his way out of
that dreary labyrinth the best way he could. He found it no easy
matter, for his lamps were not lighted, and he could not see a yard
before him--he could nor even perceive his horses' ears; and what was
worse, there was a rushing sound, like that of a town on fire, all
around him, that stunned his senses, so that he could not tell whether
his horses were moving or standing still. George was in the greatest
distress imaginable, and was glad when he perceived the gate before
him, with his two identical friends, men of the law, still standing.
George drove boldly up, accosted them by their names, and asked what
they were doing there; they made him no answer, but pointed to the
gate and the keeper. George was terrified to look at this latter
personage, who now came up and seized his horses by the reins,
refusing to let him pass. In order to introduce himself, in some
degree, to this austere toll-man, George asked him, in a jocular
manner, how he came to employ his two eminent friends as assistant

'Because they are among the last comers,' replied the ruffian,
churlishly. 'You will be an assistant here tomorrow.'

'The devil I will, sir.'

'Yes, the devil you will, sir.'

'I'll be d--d if I do then--that I will!'

'Yes, you'll be d--d if you do--that you will.'

'Let my horses go in the meantime, then, sir, that I may proceed on my


'Nay!--Dare you say nay to me, sir? My name is George Dobson of the
Pleasance, Edinburgh, coach-driver, and coach-proprietor too; and no
man shall say nay to me, as long as I can pay my way. I have his
Majesty's licence, and I'll go and come as I choose--and that I will.
Let go my horses there, and tell me what is your demand.'

'Well, then, I'll let your horses go,' said the keeper: 'But I'll keep
yourself for a pledge.' And with that he let go the horses, and seized
honest George by the throat, who struggled in vain to disengage
himself, and swore, and threatened, according to his own confession,
most bloodily.

His horses flew off like the wind so swiftly, that the coach seemed
flying in the air and scarcely bounding on the earth once in a quarter
of a mile. George was in furious wrath, for he saw that his grand
coach and harness would all be broken to pieces, and his gallant pair
of horses maimed or destroyed; and how was his family's bread now to
be won!--He struggled, threatened, and prayed in vain;--the
intolerable toll--man was deaf to all remonstrances. He once more
appealed to his two genteel acquaintances of the law, reminding them
how he had of late driven them to Roslin on a Sunday, along with two
ladies, who he supposed, were their sisters, from their familiarity,
when not another coachman in town would engage with them. But the
gentlemen, very ungenerously, only shook their heads, and pointed to
the gate. George's circumstances now became desperate, and again he
asked the hideous toll-man what right he had to detain him, and what
were his charges.

'What right have I to detain you, sir, say you? Who are you that make
such a demand here? Do you know where you are, sir?'.'No, faith, I do
not,' returned George; 'I wish I did. But I shall know, and make you
repent your insolence too. My name, I told you, is George Dobson,
licensed coach-hirer in Pleasance, Edinburgh; and to get full redress
of you for this unlawful interruption, I only desire to know where I

'Then, sir, if it can give you so much satisfaction to know where you
are,' said the keeper, with a malicious grin, 'you shall know, and you
may take instruments by the hands of your two friends there
instituting a legal prosecution. Your redress, you may be assured,
will be most ample, when I inform you that you are in HELL! and out at
this gate you pass no more.

This was rather a damper to George, and he began to perceive that
nothing would be gained in such a place by the strong hand, so he
addressed the inexorable toll-man, whom he now dreaded more than ever,
in the following terms: 'But I must go home at all events, you know,
sir, to unyoke my two horses, and put them up, and to inform Chirsty
Halliday my wife, of my engagement. And, bless me! I never recollected
till this moment, that I am engaged to be back here tomorrow at twelve
o'clock, and see, here is a free ticket for my passage this way.

The keeper took the ticket with one hand, but still held George with
the other. 'Oho! were you in with our honourable friend, Mr R---of L--
y?' said he. 'He has been on our books for a long while;--however,
this will do, only you must put your name to it likewise; and the
engagement is this--You, by this instrument, engage your soul, that
you will return here by tomorrow at noon.'

'Catch me there, billy!' says George. 'I'll engage no such thing,
depend on it;--that I will not.'

'Then remain where you are,' said the keeper, 'for there is no other
alternative. We like best for people to come here in their own way--in
the way of their business;' and with that he flung George backwards,
heels-over-head down hill, and closed the gate.

George finding all remonstrance vain, and being desirous once more to
see the open day, and breathe the fresh air, and likewise to see
Chirsty Halliday, his wife, and set his house and stable in some
order, came up again, and in utter desperation signed the bond, and
was suffered to depart. He then bounded away on the track of his
horses with more than ordinary swiftness, in hopes to overtake them;
and always now and then uttered a loud Wo! in hopes they might hear
and obey, though he could not come in sight of them. But George's
grief was but beginning; for at a well-known and dangerous spot, where
there was a ran-yard on the one hand, and a quarry on the other, he
came to his gallant steeds overturned, the coach smashed to pieces,
Dawtie with two of her legs broken, and Duncan dead. This was more
than the worthy coachman could bear, and many degrees worse than being
in hell. There, his pride and manly spirit bore him up against the
worst of treatment; but here his heart entirely failed him, and he
laid himself down, with his face on his two hands, and wept bitterly,
bewailing, in the most deplorable terms, his two gallant horses,
Dawtie and Duncan.

While lying in this inconsolable state, some one took hold of his
shoulder, and shook it; and a well-known voice said to him, 'Geordie!
what is the matter wi' ye, Geordie?' George was provoked beyond
measure at the insolence of the question, for he knew the voice to be
that of Chirsty Halliday, his wife. 'I think you needna ask that,
seeing what you see,' said George. 'O, my poor Dawtie, where are a'
your jinkings and prancings now, your moopings and your wincings? I'll
ne'er be a proud man again--bereaved o' my bonny pair!'

'Get up, George; get up, and bestir yourself,' said Chirsty Halliday,
his wife. 'You are wanted directly to bring the Lord President to the
Parliament House. It is a great storm, and he must be there by nine o
clock--Get up--rouse yourself, and make ready--his servant is waiting
for you.

'Woman, you are demented!' cried George. 'How can I go and bring in
the Lord President, when my coach is broken in pieces, my poor Dawtie
lying with twa of her legs broken, and Duncan dead? And, moreover, I
have a previous engagement, for I am obliged to be in hell before
twelve o clock.'

Chirsty Halliday now laughed outright, and continued long in a fit of
laughter; but George never moved his head from the pillow, but lay and
groaned--for, in fact, he was all this while lying snug in his bed;
while the tempest without was roaring with great violence, and which
circumstance may perhaps account for the rushing and deafening sound
which astounded him so much in hell. But so deeply was he impressed
with the idea of the reality of his dream, that he would do nothing
but lie and moan, persisting and believing in the truth of all he had
seen. His wife now went and informed her neighbours of her husband's
plight, and of his singular engagement with Mr R---of L--y at twelve
o'clock. She persuaded one friend to harness the horses, and go for
the Lord President; but all the rest laughed immoderately at poor
coachy's predicament. It was, however, no laughing matter to him; he
never raised his head, and his wife becoming uneasy about the frenzied
state of his mind, made him repeat every circumstance of his adventure
to her (for he would never believe or admit that it was a dream),
which he did in the terms above narrated; and she perceived or dreaded
that he was becoming somewhat feverish.

She went out, and told Dr Wood of her husband's malady, and of his
solemn engagement to be in hell at twelve o'clock.

'He maunna keep it, deane. He maunna keep that engagement at no rate,'
said Dr Wood. 'Set back the clock an hour or twa, to drive him past
the time, and I'll ca' in the course of my rounds.

Are ye sure he hasna been drinking hard?' She assured him he had not.
'Weel, weel, ye maun tell him that he maunna keep that engagement at
no rate. Set back the clock, and I'll come and see him. It is a frenzy
that maunna be trifled with. Ye mauna laugh at it, deane--maunna laugh
at it.

Maybe a nervish fever, wha kens.'

The Doctor and Chirsty left the house together, and as their road lay
the same way for a space, she fell a telling him of the two young
lawyers whom George saw standing at the gate of hell, and whom the
porter had described as two of the last comers. When the Doctor heard
this, he stayed his hurried, stooping pace in one moment, turned full
round on the woman, and fixing his eyes on her, that gleamed with a
deep unstable lustre, he said, 'What's that ye were saying, deane?
What's that ye were saying? Repeat it again to me, every word.' She
did so. On which the Doctor held up his hands, as if palsied with
astonishment, and uttered some fervent ejaculations. 'I'll go with you
straight,' said he, 'Before I visit another patient. This is
wonderfu'! it is terrible! The young gentlemen are both at rest--both
lying corpses at this time!

Fine young men--I attended them both--died of the same exterminating
disease--Oh, this is wonderful; this is wonderful!'

The Doctor kept Chirsty half running all the way down the High Street
and St Mary's Wynd, at such a pace did he walk, never lifting his eyes
from the pavement, but always exclaiming now and then, 'It is
wonderfu' most wonderfu'!' At length, prompted by woman's natural
curiosity, Chirsty inquired at the Doctor if he knew any thing of
their friend Mr R---of L--y. But he shook his head, and replied, 'Na,
na, deane--ken naething about him. He and his son are baith in
London--ken naething about him; but the tither is awfu'--it is
perfectly awfu'!'

When Dr Wood reached his patient he found him very low, but only a
little feverish; so he made all haste to wash his head with vinegar
and cold water, and then he covered the crown with a treacle plaster,
and made the same application to the soles of his feet, awaiting the

George revived a little, when the Doctor tried to cheer him up by
joking him about his dream; but on mention of that he groaned, and
shook his head. 'So you are convinced, dearie, that it is nae dream?'
said the Doctor.

'Dear sir, how could it be a dream?' said the patient. 'I was there in
person, with Mr R---and his son; and see, here are the marks of the
porter's fingers on my throat.' Dr Wood looked, and distinctly saw two
or three red spots on one side of his throat, which confounded him not
a little.

'I assure you, sir,' continued George, 'it was no dream, which I know
to my sad experience. I have lost my coach and horses--and what more
have I?--signed the bond with my own hand, and in person entered into
the most solemn and terrible engagement.

But ye're no to keep it, I tell ye,' said Dr Wood; 'ye're no to keep
it at no rate. It is a sin to enter into a compact wi' the deil, but
it is a far greater ane to keep it. Sae let Mr R---and his son bide
where they are yonder, for ye sanna stir a foot to bring them out the

'Oh, oh, Doctor!' groaned the poor fellow, 'this is not a thing to be
made a jest o'! I feel that it is an engagement that I cannot break.
Go I must, and that very shortly. Yes, yes, go I must, and go I will,
although I should borrow David Barclay's pair.' With that he turned
his face towards the wall, groaned deeply, and fell into a lethargy,
while Dr Wood caused them to let him alone, thinking if he would sleep
out the appointed time, which was at hand, he would be safe; but all
the time he kept feeling his pulse and by degrees showed symptoms of
uneasiness. His wife ran for a clergyman of famed abilities, to pray
and converse with her husband, in hopes by that means to bring him to
his senses; but after his arrival, George never spoke more, save
calling to his horses, as if encouraging them to run with great speed;
and thus in imagination driving at full career to keep his
appointment, he went off in a paroxysm, after a terrible struggle,
precisely within a few minutes of twelve o'clock.

A circumstance not known at the time of George's death made this
singular professional dream the more remarkable and unique in all its
parts. It was a terrible storm on the night of the dream, as has been
already mentioned, and during the time of the hurricane, a London
smack went down off Wearmouth about three in the morning. Among the
sufferers were the Hon. Mr R---of L--y, and his son! George could not
know aught of this at break of day, for it was nor known in Scotland
till the day of his interment; and as little knew he of the deaths of
the two young lawyers, who both died of the small-pox the evening


The following incidents are related as having occurred at a shepherd's
house, not a hundred miles from St. Mary's Loch; but, as the
descendants of one of the families still reside in the vicinity, I
deem it requisite to use names which cannot be recognised, save by
those who have heard the story.

John Allanson, the farmer's son of Inverlawn, was a handsome, roving,
and incautious young man, enthusiastic, amorous, and fond of
adventure, and one who could hardly be said to fear the face of either
man, woman, or spirit. Among other love adventures, he fell a-courting
Mary Burnet, of Kirkstyle, a most beautiful and innocent maiden, and
one who had been bred up in rural simplicity. She loved him, but yet
she was afraid of him; and though she had no objection to meeting with
him among others, yet she carefully avoided meeting him alone, though
often and earnestly urged to it. One day, the young man, finding an
opportunity, at Our Lady's Chapel, after mass, urged his suit for a
private meeting so ardently, and with so many vows of love and sacred
esteem, that Mary was so far won as to promise, that perhaps she would
come and meet him.

The trysting place was a little green sequestered spot, on the very
verge of the lake, well known to many an angler, and to none better
than the writer of this old tale; and the hour appointed, the time
when the King's Elwand (now foolishly termed the Belt of Orion) set
his first golden knob above the hill. Allanson came too early; and he
watched the sky with such eagerness and devotion, that he thought
every little star that arose in the south-east the top knob of the
King's Elwand. At last the Elwand did arise in good earnest, and then
the youth, with a heart palpitating with agitation, had nothing for it
but to watch the heathery brow by which bonny Mary Burnet was to
descend. No Mary Burnet made her appearance, even although the King's
Elwand had now measured its own equivocal length five or six times up
the lift.

Young Allanson now felt all the most poignant miseries of
disappointment; and, as the story goes, uttered in his heart an
unhallowed wish--he wished that some witch or fairy would influence
his Mary to come to him in spite of her maidenly scruples. This wish
was thrice repeated with all the energy of disappointed love. It was
thrice repeated, and no more, when, behold, Mary appeared on the brae,
with wild and eccentric motions, speeding to the appointed place.
Allanson's excitement seems to have been more than he was able to
bear, as he instantly became delirious with joy, and always professed
that he could remember nothing of their first meeting, save that Mary
remained silent, and spoke not a word, either good or bad. In a short
time she fell a-sobbing and weeping, refusing to be comforted, and
then, uttering a piercing shriek, sprung up, and ran from him with
amazing speed.

At this part of the loch, which, as I said, is well known to many, the
shore is overhung by a precipitous cliff, of no great height, but
still inaccessible, either from above or below. Save in a great
drought, the water comes to within a yard of the bottom of this cliff,
and the intermediate space is filled with rough unshapely pieces of
rock fallen from above. Along this narrow and rude space, hardly
passable by the angler at noon, did Mary bound with the swiftness of a
kid, although surrounded with darkness. Her lover, pursuing with all
his energy, called out, "Mary! Mary! my dear Mary, stop and speak with
me. I'll conduct you home, or anywhere you please, but do not run from
me. Stop, my dearest Mary--stop!"

Mary would not stop; but ran on, till, coming to a little cliff that
jutted into the lake, round which there was no passage, and,
perceiving that her lover would there overtake her, she uttered
another shriek, and plunged into the lake. The loud sound of her fall
into the still water rung in the young man's ears like the knell of
death and if before he was crazed with love, he was now as much so
with despair. He saw her floating lightly away from the shore towards
the deepest part of the loch but, in a short time, she began to sink,
and gradually disappeared, without uttering a throb or a cry. A good
while previous to this, Allanson had flung off his bonnet, shoes, and
coat, and plunged in. He swam to the place where Mary disappeared but
there was neither boil nor gurgle on the water, nor even a bell of
departing breath, to mark the place where his beloved had sunk. Being
strangely impressed, at that trying moment, with a determination to
live or die with her, he tried to dive, in hopes either to bring her
up or to die in her arms; and he thought of their being so found on
the shore of the lake, with a melancholy satisfaction; but by no
effort of his could he reach the bottom, nor knew he what distance he
was still from it. With an exhausted frame, and a despairing heart, he
was obliged again to seek the shore, and, dripping wet as he was, and
half-naked, he ran to her father's house with the woeful tidings.
Everything there was quiet. The old shepherd's family, of whom Mary
was the youngest, and sole daughter, were all sunk in silent repose;
and oh, how the distracted lover wept at the thoughts of wakening them
to hear the doleful tidings! But waken them he must; so, going to the
little window close by the goodman's bed, he called, in a melancholy
tone, "Andrew! Andrew Burnet, are you waking?"

"Troth, man, I think I be; or, at least, I'm half-and-half. What hast
thou to say to auld Andrew Burnet at this time o' night?"

"Are you waking, I say?"

"Gudewife, am I waking? Because if I be, tell that stravaiger sae.
He'll maybe tak your word for it, for mine he winna tak."

"O Andrew, none of your humour to-night; I bring you tidings the most
woeful, the most dismal, the most heart-rending, that ever were
brought to an honest man's door."

"To his window, you mean," cried Andrew, bolting out of bed, and
proceeding to the door. "Gude sauff us, man, come in, whaever you be,
and tell us your tidings face to face; and then we'll can better judge
of the truth of them. If they be in concord Wi' your voice, they are
melancholy indeed. Have the reavers come, and are our kye driven?"

"Oh, alas! waur than that--a thousand times waur than that! Your
daughter--your dear beloved and only daughter, Mary---"

"What of Mary?" cried the good-man. "What of Mary?" cried her mother,
shuddering and groaning with terror; and at the same time she kindled
a light.

The sight of their neighbour, half-naked, and dripping with wet, and
madness and despair in his looks, sent a chillness to their hearts,
that held them in silence, and they were unable to utter a word, till
he went on thus "Mary is gone; your darling and mine is lost, and
sleeps this night in a watery grave--and I have been her destroyer!"

"Thou art mad, John Allanson," said the old man, vehemently, "raving
mad; at least I hope so. Wicked as thou art, thou hadst not the heart
to kill my dear child. O yes, you are mad--God be thankful, you are
mad. I see it in your looks and demeanour. Heaven be praised, you are
mad You are mad; but you'll get better again. But what do I say?"
continued he, as recollecting himself--"We can soon convince our own
senses. Wife, lead the way to our daughter's bed."

With a heart throbbing with terror and dismay, old Jean Linton led the
way to Mary's chamber, followed by the two men, who were eagerly
gazing, one over each of her shoulders. Mary's little apartment was in
the farther end of the long narrow cottage; and as soon as they
entered it, they perceived a form lying on the bed, with the
bedclothes drawn over its head; and on the lid of Mary's little chest,
that stood at the bedside, her clothes were lying neatly folded, as
they wont to be. Hope seemed to dawn on the faces of the two old
people when they beheld this, but the lover's heart sunk still deeper
in despair. The father called her name, but the form on the bed
returned no answer; however, they all heard distinctly sobs, as of one
weeping. The old man then ventured to pull down the clothes from her
face; and, strange to say, there indeed lay Mary Burnet, drowned in
tears, yet apparently nowise surprised at the ghastly appearance of
the three naked figures. Allanson gasped for breath, for he remained
still incredulous. He touched her clothes--he lifted her robes one by
one--and all of them were dry, neat, and dean, and had no appearance
of having sunk in the lake.

There can be no doubt that Allanson was confounded by the strange
event that had befallen him, and felt like one struggling with a
frightful vision, or some energy beyond the power of man to
comprehend. Nevertheless the assurance that Mary was there in life,
weeping although she was, put him once more beside himself with joy;
and he kneeled at her bedside, beseeching permission but to kiss her
hand. She, however, repulsed him with disdain, saying with great
emphasis "You are a bad man, John Allanson, and I entreat you to go
out of my sight. The sufferings that I have undergone this night have
been beyond the power of flesh and blood to endure; and by some cursed
agency of yours have these sufferings been brought about. I therefore
pray you, in His name, whose law you have transgressed, to depart out
of my sight."

Wholly overcome by conflicting passions, by circumstances so contrary
to one another, and so discordant with everything either in the works
of Nature or Providence, the young man could do nothing but stand like
a rigid statue, with his hands lifted up, and his visage like that of
a corpse, until led away by the two old people from their daughter's
apartment. Then they lighted up a fire to dry him, and began to
question him with the most intense curiosity; but they could elicit
nothing from him, but the most disjointed exclamations--such as, "Lord
in Heaven, what can be the meaning of this?" And at other times: "It
is all the enchantment of the devil; the evil spirits have got
dominion over me!"

Finding they could make nothing or him, they began to form conjectures
of their own. Jean affirmed that it had been the Mermaid of the loch
that had come to him in Mary's shape, to allure him to his
destruction; but Andrew Burnet, setting his bonnet to one side, and
raising his left hand to a level with it, so that he might have full
scope to motion and flourish, suiting his action to his words, thus
began, with a face of sapience never to be excelled:

"Gudewife, it doth strike me that thou art very wide of the mark. It
must have been a spirit of a great deal higher quality than a meer-
maiden, who played this extraordinary prank. The meer-maiden is not a
spirit, but a beastly sensitive creature, with a malicious spirit
within it. Now, what influence could a cauld clatch of a creature like
that, wi' a tail like a great saumont-fish, hae ower our bairn, either
to make her happy or unhappy? Or where could it borrow her claes,
Jean? Tell me that. Na, na, Jean Linton, depend on it, the spirit that
courtit wi' poor sinfu' Jock there, has been a fairy; but whether a
good ane or an ill ane, it is hard to determine."

Andrew's disquisition was interrupted by the young man falling into a
fit of trembling that was fearful to look at, and threatened soon to
terminate his existence. Jean ran for the family cordial, observing by
the way, that "though he was a wicked person, he was still a fellow-
creature, and might live to repent;" and influenced by this spark of
genuine humanity, she made him swallow two horn-spoonfuls of strong
aquavite. Andrew then put a piece of scarlet thread round each wrist,
and taking a strong rowan-tree staff in his hand, he conveyed his
trembling and astonished guest home, giving him at parting this sage

"I'll tell you what it is, Jock Allanson--ye hae run a near risk o'
perdition, and, escaping that for the present, o' losing your right
reason. But take an auld man's advice--never gang again out by night
to beguile ony honest man's daughter, lest a worse thing befall thee."

Next morning Mary dressed herself more neatly than usual, but there
was manifestly a deep melancholy settled on her lovely face, and at
times the unbidden tear would start into her eye. She spoke no word,
either good or bad, that ever her mother could recollect, that whole
morning; but she once or twice observed her daughter gazing at her, as
with an intense and melancholy interest. About nine o'clock in the
morning, she took a hay-raik over her shoulder, and went down to a
meadow at the east end of the loch, to coil a part of her father's
hay, her father and brother engaging to join her about noon, when they
came from the sheepfold. As soon as old Andrew came home, his wife and
he, as was natural, instantly began to converse on the events of the
preceding night; and in the course of their conversation Andrew said,
"Gudeness be about us' Jean, was not yon an awfu' speech o' our
bairn's to young Jock Allanson last night?"

"Ay, it was a downsetter, gudeman, and spoken like a good Christian

"I'm no sae sure o' that, Jean Linton. My good woman, Jean Linton, I'm
no sae sure o' that. Yon speech has gi'en me a great deal o' trouble
o' heart; for d'ye ken, an' take my life--ay, an' take your life,
Jean--nane o' us can tell whether it was in the Almighty's name or the
devil's that she discharged her lover."

"O fy, Andrew, how can ye say sae? How can ye doubt that it was in the
Almighty's name?"

"Couldna she have said sae then, and that wad hae put it beyond a'
doubt? And that wad hae been the natural way too; but instead of that
she says, 'I pray you, in the name of him whose law you have
transgressed, to depart out o' my sight.' I confess I'm terrified when
I think about yon speech, Jean Linton. Didna she say too that 'her
sufferings had been beyond what flesh and blood could have endured?'
What was she but flesh and blood. Didna that remark infer that she was
something mair than a mortal creature? Jean Linton, Jean Linton! what
will you say if it should turn out that our daughter is drowned, and
that yon was the fairy we had in the house a' the night and this

"O haud your tongue, Andrew Burnet, and dinna make my heart cauld
within me. We hae aye trusted in the Lord yet, and he has never
forsaken us, nor will he yet gie the Wicked One power ower us or

"Ye say very well, Jean, and we maun e'en hope for the best," quoth
old Andrew; and away he went, accompanied by his son Alexander, to
assist their beloved Mary on the meadow.

No sooner had Andrew set his head over the bents, and come in view of
the meadow, than he said to his son, "I wish Jock Allanson maunna hae
been east-the-loch fishing for geds the day, for I think my Mary has
made very little progress in the meadow."

"She's ower muckle ta'en up about other things this while to mind her
wark," said Alexander; "I wadna wonder, father, if that lassie gangs a
black gate yet."

Andrew uttered a long and a deep sigh, that seemed to ruffle the very
fountains of life, and, without speaking another word, walked on to
the hayfield. It was three hours since Mary had left home, and she
ought at least to have put up a dozen coils of hay each hour. But, in
place of that, she had put up only seven altogether, and the last was
unfinished. Her own hay-raik, that had an M and a B neatly cut on the
head of it, was leaning on the unfinished coil, and Mary was wanting.
Her brother, thinking she had hid herself from them in sport, ran from
one coil to another, calling her many bad names, playfully; but after
he had turned them all up, and several deep swathes besides, she was
not to be found. This young man, who slept in the byre, knew nothing
of the events of the foregoing night, the old people and Allanson
having mutually engaged to keep them a profound secret, and he had
therefore less reason than his father to be seriously alarmed. When
they began to work at the hay Andrew could work none; he looked this
way and that way, but in no way could he see Mary approaching; so he
put on his coat and went away home, to pour his sorrows into the bosom
of his wife; and, in the meantime, he desired his son to run to all
the neighbouring farming-houses and cots, every one, and make
inquiries if anybody had seen Mary.

When Andrew went home and informed his wife that their darling was
missing, the grief and astonishment of the aged couple knew no bounds.
They sat down and wept together, and declared over and over that this
act of Providence was too strong for them, and too high to be
understood. Jean besought her husband to kneel instantly, and pray
urgently to God to restore their child to them; but he declined it, on
account of the wrong frame of his mind, for he declared, that his rage
against John Allanson was so extreme as to unfit him for approaching
the throne of his Maker. "But if the profligate refuses to listen to
the entreaties of an injured parent," added he, "he shall feel the
weight of an injured father's arm."

Andrew went straight away to Inverlawn, though without he least hope
of finding young Allanson at home; but, on reaching the place, to his
amazement, he found the young man lying ill of a burning fever, raving
incessantly of witches, spirits, and Mary Burnet. To such a height had
his frenzy arrived, that when Andrew went there, it required three men
to hold him in the bed. Both his parents testified their opinions
openly, that their son was bewitched, or possessed of a demon, and the
whole family was thrown into the greatest consternation. The good old
shepherd, finding enough of grief there already, was obliged to
confine his to his own bosom, and return disconsolate to his little
family circle, in which there was a woeful blank that night.

His son returned also from a fruitless search. No one had seen any
traces of his sister, but an old crazy woman, at a place called
Oxcleuch, said that she had seen her go by in a grand chariot with
young Jock Allanson, toward the Birkhill Path, and by that time they
were at the Cross of Dumgree. The young man said he asked her what
sort of a chariot it was, as there was never such a thing in that
country as a chariot, nor yet a road for one. But she replied that he
was widely mistaken, for that a great number of chariots sometimes
passed that way, though never any of them returned. Those words
appearing to be merely the ravings of superannuation, they were not
regarded; but when no other traces of Mary could be found, old Andrew
went up to consult this crazy dame once more, but he was not able to
bring any such thing to her recollection. She spoke only in parables,
which to him were incomprehensible.

Bonny Mary Burnet was lost. She left her father's house at nine
o'clock on a Wednesday morning, 17th of September, neatly dressed in a
white jerkin and green bonnet, with her hay-raik over her shoulder;
and that was the last sight she was doomed ever to see of her native
cottage. She seemed to have had some presentiment of this, as appeared
from her demeanour that morning before she left it. Mary Burnet of
Kirkstyle was lost, and great was the sensation produced over the
whole country by the mysterious event. There was a long ballad extant
at one period on the melancholy catastrophe, which was supposed to
have been composed by the chaplain of St. Mary's; but I have only
heard tell of it, without ever hearing it sung or recited. Many of the
verses concluded thus:

"But Bonny Mary Burnet

We will never see again."

The story soon got abroad, with all its horrid circumstances (and
there is little doubt that it was grievously exaggerated), and there
was no obloquy that was not thrown on the survivor, who certainly in
some degree deserved it, for, instead of growing better, he grew ten
times more wicked than he was before. In one thing the whole country
agreed, that it had been the real Mary Burnet who was drowned in the
loch, and that the being which was found in her bed, lying weeping and
complaining of suffering, and which vanished the next day, had been a
fairy, an evil spirit, or a changeling of some sort, for that it never
spoke save once, and that in a mysterious manner; nor did it partake
of any food with the rest of the family. Her father and mother knew
not what to say or what to think, but they wandered through this weary
world like people wandering in a dream. Everything that belonged to
Mary Burnet was kept by her parents as the most sacred relics, and
many a tear did her aged mother shed over them. Every article of her
dress brought the once comely wearer to mind. Andrew often said, "That
to have lost the darling child of their old age in any way would have
been a great trial, but to lose her in the way that they had done, was
really mair than human frailty could endure."

Many a weary day did he walk by the shores of the loch, looking
eagerly for some vestige of her garments, and though he trembled at
every appearance, yet did he continue to search on. He had a number of
small bones collected, that had belonged to lambs and other minor
animals, and, haply, some of them to fishes, from a fond supposition
that they might once have formed joints of her toes or fingers. These
he kept concealed in a little bag, in order, as he said, "to let the
doctors see them." But no relic, besides these, could he ever discover
of Mary's body.

Young Allanson recovered from his raging fever scarcely in the manner
of other men, for he recovered all at once, after a few days' raving
and madness. Mary Burnet, it appeared, was by him no more remembered.
He grew ten times more wicked than before, and hesitated at no means
of accomplishing his unhallowed purposes. The devout shepherds and
cottages around detested him; and, both in their families and in the
wild, when there was no ear to hear but that of Heaven, they prayed
protection from his devices, as if he had been the Wicked One; and
they all prophesied that he would make a bad end.

One fine day about the middle of October, when the days begin to get
very short, and the nights long and dark, on a Friday morning, the
next year but one after Mary Burnet was lost, a memorable day in the
fairy annals, John Allanson, younger of Inverlawn, went to a great
hiring fair at a village called Moffat in Annandale, in order to hire
a housemaid. His character was so notorious, that not one young woman
in the district would serve in his father's house; so away he went to
the fair at Moffat, to hire the prettiest and loveliest girl he could
there find, with the intention of ruining her as soon as she came
home, This is no supposititious accusation, for he acknowledged his
plan to Mr. David Welch of Cariferan, who rode down to the market with
him, and seemed to boast of it, and dwell on it with delight. But the
maidens of Annandale had a guardian angel in the fair that day, of
which neither he nor they were aware.

Allanson looked through the hiring-market, and through the hiring-
market, and at length fixed on one young woman, which indeed was not
difficult to do, for there was no such form there for elegance and
beauty. Mr. Welch stood still and eyed him. He took the beauty aside.
She was clothed in green, and as lovely as a new-blown rose.

"Are you to hire, pretty maiden?"

"Yes, sir."

"Will you hire with me?"

"I care not though I do. But if I hire with you, it must be for a long

"Certainly. The longer the better. What are your wages to be?"

"You know, if I hire, I must be paid in kind. I must have the first
living creature that I see about Inverlawn to myself."

"I wish it may be me, then. But what do you know about Inverlawn?"

"I think I should know about it."

"Bless me! I know the face as well as I know my own, and better. But
the name has somehow escaped me. Pray, may I I ask your name?"

"Hush! hush!" said she solemnly, and holding up her hand at the same
time. "Hush, hush, you had better say nothing about that here."

"I am in utter amazement," he exclaimed. "What is the meaning of this?
I conjure you to tell me your name!"

"It is Mary Burnet," said she, in a soft whisper; and at the same time
she let down a green veil over her face.

If Allanson's death-warrant had been announced to him at that moment,
it could not have deprived him so completely of sense and motion. His
visage changed into that of a corpse, his jaws fell down, and his eyes
became glazed, so as apparently to throw no reflections inwardly. Mr.
Welch, who had kept his eye steadily on them all the while, perceived
his comrade's dilemma, and went up to him. "Allanson? Mr. Allanson?
What is the matter with you, man?" said he. "Why, the girl has
bewitched you, and turned you into a statue!"

Allanson made some sound in his throat, as if attempting to speak, but
his tongue refused its office, and he only jabbered. Mr. Welch,
conceiving that he was seized with some fit, or about to faint,
supported him into the Johnston Arms; but he either could not, or
would not grant him any explanation. Welch being, however, resolved to
see the maiden in green once more, persuaded Allanson, after causing
him to drink a good deal, to go out into the hiring-market again, in
search of her. They ranged the market through and through, but the
maiden in green was gone, and not to be found. She had vanished in the
crowd the moment she divulged her name, and even though Welch had his
eye fixed on her, he could not discover which way she went. Allanson
appeared to be in a kind of stupor as well as terror, but when he
found that she had left the market, he began to recover himself, and
to look out again for the top of the market.

He soon found one more beautiful than the last. She was like a sylph,
clothed in robes of pure snowy white, with green ribands. Again he
pointed this new flower out to Mr. David Welch, who declared that such
a perfect model of beauty he had never in his life seen. Allanson,
being resolved to have this one at any wages, took her aside, and put
the usual question: "Do you wish to hire, pretty maiden?"

"Yes, sir."

"Will you hire with me?"

"I care not though I do."

"What, then, are your wages to be? Come--say? And be reasonable; I am
determined not to part with you for a trifle."

"My wages must be in a kind; I work on no other conditions. Pray, how
are all the good people about Inverlawn?"

Allanson's breath began to cut, and a chillness to creep through his
whole frame, and he answered, with a faltering tongue: "I thank you--
much in their ordinary way."

"And your aged neighbours," rejoined she, "are they still alive and

"I--I--I think they are," said he, panting for breath. "But I am at a
loss to know whom I am indebted to for these kind recollections."

"What," said she, "have you so soon forgot Mary Burnet of Kirkstyle?"

Allanson started as if a bullet had gone through his heart. The lovely
sylph-like form glided into the crowd, and left the astounded
libertine once more standing like a rigid statue, until aroused by his
friend, Mr. Welch. He tried a third fair one, and got the same
answers, and the same name given. Indeed, the first time ever I heard
the tale, it bore that he tried seven, who all turned out to be Mary
Burnets of Kirkstyle; but I think it unlikely that he would try so
many, as he must long ere that time have been sensible that he
laboured under some power of enchantment. However, when nothing else
would do, he helped himself to a good proportion of strong drink.
While he was thus engaged, a phenomenon of beauty and grandeur came
into the fair, that caught the sole attention of all present. This was
a lovely dame, riding in a gilded chariot, with two livery-men before,
and two behind, clothed in green and gold; and never sure was there so
splendid a meteor seen in a Moffat fair. The word instantly circulated
in the market, that this was the Lady Elizabeth Douglas, eldest
daughter to the Earl of Morton, who then sojourned at Auchincastle, in
the vicinity of Moffat, and which lady at that time was celebrated as
a great beauty all over Scotland. She was afterwards Lady Keith; and
the mention of this name in the tale, as it were by mere accident,
fixes the era of it in the reign of James the Fourth, at the very time
that fairies, brownies, and witches, were at the rifest in Scotland.

Every one in the market believed the lady to be the daughter of the
Earl of Morton; and when she came to the Johnston Arms, a gentleman in
green came out bareheaded, and received her out of the carriage. All
the crowd gazed at such unparalleled beauty and grandeur, but none was
half so much overcome as Allanson. He had never conceived aught half
so lovely either in earth, or heaven, or fairyland; and while he stood
in a burning fever of admiration, think of his astonishment, and the
astonishment of the countless crowd that looked on, when this
brilliant and matchless beauty beckoned him towards her! He could not
believe his senses, but looked this way and that way to see how others
regarded the affair but she beckoned him a second time, with such a
winning courtesy and smile, that immediately he pulled off his beaver
cap and hasted up to her; and without more ado she gave him her arm,
and the two walked into the hostel.

Allanson conceived that he was thus distinguished by Lady Elizabeth
Douglas, the flower of the land, and so did all the people of the
market; and greatly they wondered who the young farmer could be that
was thus particularly favoured; for it ought to have been mentioned
that he had not one personal acquaintance in the fair save Mr. David
Welch of Cariferan. The first thing the lady did was to inquire kindly
after his health. Allanson thanked her ladyship with all the courtesy
he was master of; and being by this time persuaded that she was in
love with him, he became as light as if treading on the air. She next
inquired after his father and mother. Oho? thought he to himself, poor
creature, she is terribly in for it but her love shall not be thrown
away upon a backward or ungrateful object. He answered her with great
politeness, and at length began to talk of her noble father and young
Lord William, but she cut him short by asking if he did not recognise

"Oh, yes! He knew who her ladyship was, and remembered that he had
seen her comely face often before, although he could not, at that
particular moment, recall to his memory the precise time or places of
their meeting."

She next asked for his old neighbours of Kirkstyle, and if they were
still in life and health Allanson felt as if his heart were a piece of
ice. A chillness spread over his whole frame he sank back on a seat,
and remained motionless; but the beautiful and adorable creature
soothed him with kind words, till he again gathered courage to speak.

"What?" said he; "and has it been your own lovely self who has been
playing tricks on me this whole day?"

"A first love is not easily extinguished, Mr. Allanson," said she.
"You may guess from my appearance, that I have been fortunate in life;
but, for all that, my first love for you has continued the same,
unaltered and unchanged, and you must forgive the little freedoms I
used to-day to try your affections, and the effects my appearance
would have on you."

"It argues something for my good taste, however, that I never pitched
on any face for beauty to-day but your own," said he. "But now that we
have met once more, we shall not so easily part again. I will devote
the rest of my life to you, only let me know the place of your abode."

"It is hard by," said she, "only a very little space from this and
happy, happy, would I be to see you there to-night, were it proper or
convenient. But my lord is at present from home and in a distant

"I should not conceive that any particular hindrance to my visit,"
said he.

With great apparent reluctance she at length consented to admit of his
visit, and offered to leave one of her gentlemen, whom she could
trust, to be his conductor; but this he positively refused. It was his
desire, he said, that no eye of man should see him enter or leave her
happy dwelling. She said he was a self-willed man, but should have his
own way; and after giving him such directions as would infallibly lead
him to her mansion, she mounted her chariot and was driven away.

Allanson was uplifted above every sublunary concern. Seeking out his
friend, David Welch, he imparted to him his extraordinary good
fortune, but he did not tell him that she was not the Lady Elizabeth
Douglas. Welch insisted on accompanying him on the way, and refused to
turn back till he came to the very point of the road next to the
lady's splendid mansion; and in spite of all that Allanson could say,
Welch remained there till he saw his comrade enter the court gate,
which glowed with lights as innumerable as the stars of the firmament.

Allanson had promised to his father and mother to be home on the
morning after the fair to breakfast. He came not either that day or
the next; and the third day the old man mounted his white pony, and
rode away towards Moffat in search of his son. He called at Cariferan
on his way, and made inquiries at Mr. Welch. The latter manifested
some astonishment that the young man had not returned; nevertheless he
assured his father of his safety, and desired him to return home; and
then with reluctance confessed that the young man was engaged in an
amour with the Earl of Morton's beautiful daughter; that he had gone
to the castle by appointment, and that he, David Welch, had
accompanied him to the gate, and seen him enter, and it was apparent
that his reception had been a kind one, since he had tarried so long.

Mr. Welch, seeing the old man greatly distressed, was persuaded to
accompany him on his journey, as the last who had seen his son, and
seen him enter the castle. On reaching Moffat they found his steed
standing at the hostel, whither it had returned on the night of the
fair, before the company broke up; but the owner had not been heard of
since seen in company with Lady Elizabeth Douglas. The old man set out
for Auchincastle, taking Mr. David Welch along with him; but long ere
they reached the place, Mr. Welch assured him he would not find his
son there, as it was nearly in a different direction that they rode on
the evening of the fair. However, to the castle they went, and were
admitted to the Earl, who, after hearing the old man's tale, seemed to
consider him in a state of derangement. He sent for his daughter
Elizabeth, and questioned her concerning her meeting with the son of
the old respectable countryman--of her appointment with him on the
night of the preceding Friday, and concluded by saying he hoped she
had him still in safe concealment about the castle.

The lady, hearing her father talk in this manner, and seeing the
serious and dejected looks of the old man, knew not what to say, and
asked an explanation. But Mr. Welch put a stop to it by declaring to
old Allanson that the Lady Elizabeth was not the lady with whom his
son made the appointment, for he had seen her, and would engage to
know her again among ten thousand; nor was that the castle towards
which he had accompanied his son, nor any thing like it. "But go with
me," continued he, "and, though I am a stranger in this district, I
think I can take you to the very place."

They set out again; and Mr. Welch traced the road from Moffat, by
which young Allanson and he had gone, until, after travelling several
miles, they came to a place where a road struck off to the right at an
angle. "Now I know we are right," said Welch; "for here we stopped,
and your son intreated me to return, which I refused, and accompanied
him to yon large tree, and a little way beyond it, from whence I saw
him received in at the splendid gate. We shall be in sight of the
mansion in three minutes."

They passed on to the tree, and a space beyond it; but then Mr. Welch
lost the use of his speech, as he perceived that there was neither
palace nor gate there, but a tremendous gulf; fifty fathoms deep, and
a dark stream foaming and boiling below.

"How is this?" said old Allanson. "There is neither mansion nor
habitation of man here!" Welch's tongue for a long time refused its
office, and he stood like a statue, gazing on the altered and awful
scene. "He only, who made the spirits of men," said he, at last, "and
all the spirits that sojourn in the earth and air, can tell how his
is. We are wandering in a world of enchantment, and have been
influenced by some agencies above human nature, or without its pale;
for here of a certainty did I take leave of your son--and there, in
that direction, and apparently either on the verge of that gulf, or
the space above it, did I see him received in at the court gate of a
mansion, splendid beyond all conception. How can human comprehension
make anything of this?"

They went forward to the verge, Mr. Welch leading the way to the very
spot on which he saw the gate opened, and there they found marks where
a horse had been plunging. Its feet had been over the brink, but it
seemed to have recovered itself, and deep, deep down, and far within,
lay the mangled corpse of John Allanson; and in this manner,
mysterious beyond all example, terminated the career of that wicked
and flagitious young man. What a beautiful moral may be extracted from
this fairy tale!

But among all these turnings and windings, there is no account given,
you will say, of the fate of Mary Burnet; for this last appearance of
hers at Moffat seems to have been altogether a phantom or illusion.
Gentle and kind reader, I can give you no account of the fate of that
maiden; for though the ancient fairy tale proceeds, it seems to me to
involve her fate in ten times more mystery than what we have hitherto
seen of it.

The yearly return of the day on which Mary was lost, was observed as a
day of mourning by her aged and disconsolate parents-a day of sorrow,
of fasting, and humiliation. Seven years came and passed away, and the
seventh returning day of fasting and prayer was at hand. On the
evening previous to it, old Andrew was moving along the sands of the
loch, still looking for some relic of his beloved Mary, when he was
aware of a little shrivelled old man, who came posting towards him.
The creature was not above five spans in height, and had a face
scarcely like that of a human creature; but he was, nevertheless,
civil in his deportment, and sensible in speech. He bade Andrew a good
evening, and asked him what he was looking for. Andrew answered, that
he was looking for that which he should never find.

"Pray, what is your name, ancient shepherd?" said the stranger; "for
methinks I should know something of you, and perhaps have a commission
to you."

"Alas! why should you ask after my name?" said Andrew. "My name is now
nothing to any one."

"Had not you once a beautiful daughter, named Mary?" said the

"It is a heartrending question, man," said Andrew; "but certes, I had
once a beloved daughter named Mary."

"What became or her?" asked the stranger.

Andrew shook his head, turned round, and began to move away; it was a
theme that his heart could not brook. He sauntered along the loch
sands, his dim eye scanning every white pebble as he passed along.
There was a hopelessness in his stooping form, his gait, his eye, his
feature--in every step that he took there was a hopeless apathy. The
dwarf followed him, and began to expostulate with him. "Old man, I see
you are pining under some real or fancied affliction," said he. "But
in continuing to do so, you are neither acting according to the
dictates of reason nor true religion. What is man that he should fret,
or the son of man that he should repine, under the chastening hand of
his Maker?"

"I am far frae justifying myself," returned Andrew, surveying his
shrivelled monitor with some degree of astonishment. "But there are
some feelings that neither reason nor religion can o'er-master; and
there are some that a parent may cherish without sin."

"I deny the position," said the stranger, "taken either absolutely or
relatively. All repining under the Supreme decree is leavened with
unrighteousness. But, subtleties aside, I ask you, as I did before,
What became of your daughter?"

"Ask the Father of her spirit, and the framer of her body," said
Andrew solemnly; "ask Him into whose hands I committed her from
childhood. He alone knows what became of her, but I do not."

"How long is it since you lost her?"

"It is seven years to-morrow!"

"Ay! you remember the time well. And you have mourned for her all that

"Yes; and I will go down to the grave mourning for my only daughter,
the child of my age, and of all my affection. Oh, thou unearthly-
looking monitor, knowest thou aught of my darling child? for if thou
dost, thou wilt know that she was not like other women. There was a
simplicity and a purity about my Mary, that was hardly consistent with
our frail nature."

"Wouldst thou like to see her again?" said the dwarf.

Andrew turned round, his whole frame shaking as with a palsy, and
gazed on the audacious imp. "See her again, creature!" cried he
vehemently. "Would I like to see her again, sayest thou?"

"I said so," said the dwarf, "and I say further, Dost thou know this
token? Look, and see if thou dost!"

Andrew took the token, and looked at it, then at the shrivelled
stranger, and then at the token again; and at length he burst into
tears, and wept aloud; but they were tears of joy, and his weeping
seemed to have some breathings of laughter intermingled in it. And
still as he kissed the token, he called out in broken and convulsive
sentences "Yes, auld body, I do know it!--I do know it--I do know it!
It is indeed the same golden Edward, with three holes in it, with
which I presented my Mary on her birthday, in her eighteenth year, to
buy a new suit for the holidays. But when she took it she said--ay, I
mind weel what my bonny woman said. 'It is sae bonny and sae
kenspeckle,' said she, 'that I think I'll keep it for the sake of the
giver.' O dear, dear! Blessed little creature, tell me how she is, and
where she is? Is she living, or is she dead?"

"She is living, and in good health," said the dwarf; "and better, and
braver, and happier, and lovelier than ever; and if you make haste,
you will see her and her family at Moffat tomorrow afternoon. They are
to pass there on a journey, but it is an express one, and I am sent to
you with that token, to inform you of the circumstance, that you may
have it in your power to see and embrace your beloved daughter once
before you die."

"And am I to meet my Mary at Moffat? Come away, little, dear, welcome
body, thou blessed of heaven, come away, and taste of an auld
shepherd's best cheer, and I'll gang foot for foot with you to Moffat,
and my auld wife shall gang foot for foot with us too. I tell you,
little, blessed, and welcome crile, come alone with me."

"I may not tarry to enter your house, or taste of your cheer, good
shepherd," said the being. "May plenty still be within your walls, and
a thankful heart to enjoy it! But my directions are neither to taste
meat nor drink in this country, but to haste back to her that sent me.
Go--haste, and make ready, for you have no time to lose."

"At what time will she be there?" cried Andrew, flinging the plaid
from him to run home with the tidings.

"Precisely when the shadow of the Holy Cross fails due east," cried
the dwarf; and turning round, he hasted on his way.

When old Jean Linton saw her husband corning hobbling and running home
without his plaid, and having his doublet flying wide open, she had no
doubt that he had lost his wits; and, full of anxiety, she met him at
the side of the kail-yard. "Gudeness preserve us a' in our right
senses, Andrew Burnet, what's the matter wi' you, Andrew Burnet?"

"Stand out o' my gate, wife, for, d'ye see, I am rather in a haste,
Jean Linton."

"I see that indeed, gudeman; but stand still, and tell me what has
putten you in sic a haste. Ir ye dementit?"

"Na, na gudewife, Jean Linton, I'm no dementit--I'm only gaun away
till Moffat."

"O, gudeness pity the poor auld body How can ye gang to Moffat, man?
Or what have ye to do at Moffat? Dinna ye mind that the morn is the
day o' our solemnity?"

"Haud out o' my gate, auld wife, and dinna speak o' solemnities to me.
I'll keep it at Moffat the morn. Ay, gudewife, and ye shall keep it at
Moffat, too. What d'ye think o' that, woman? Too-whoo! ye dinna ken
the metal that's in an auld body till it be tried."

"Andrew--Andrew Burnet!"

"Get awa' wi' your frightened looks, woman; and haste ye, gang and
fling me out my Sabbath-day claes. And, Jean Linton, my woman, d'ye
hear, gang and pit on your bridal gown, and your silk hood, for ye
maun be at Moffat the morn too; and it is mair nor time we were awa'.
Dinna look sae surprised, woman, till I tell ye, that our ain Mary is
to meet us at Moffat the morn."

"Oh, Andrew I dinna sport wi' the feelings of an auld forsaken heart!"

"Gude forbid, my auld wife, that I should ever sport wi' feelings o'
yours," cried Andrew, bursting into tears; "they are a' as sacred to
me as breathings frae the Throne o' Grace. But it is true that I tell
ye; our dear bairn is to meet us at Moffat the morn, wi' a son in
every hand; and we maun e'en gang and see her aince again, and kiss
her and bless her afore we dee."

The tears now rushed from the old woman's eyes like fountains, and
dropped from her sorrow-worn cheeks to the earth, and then, as with a
spontaneous movement, she threw her skirt over her head, kneeled down
at her husband's feet, and poured out her soul in thanksgiving to her
Maker. She then rose up, quite deprived of her senses through joy, and
ran crouching away on the road, towards Moffat, as if hasting beyond
her power to be at it. But Andrew brought her back; and they prepared
themselves for their journey.

Kirkstyle being twenty miles from Moffat, they set out on the
afternoon of Tuesday, the 16th of September; slept that night at a
place called Turnbery Shiel, and were in Moffat next day by noon.
Wearisome was the remainder of the day to that aged couple; they
wandered about conjecturing by what road their daughter would come,
and how she would come attended. "I have made up my mind on baith
these matters," said Andrew; "at first I thought it was likely that
she would come out of the east, because a' our blessings come frae
that airt; but finding now that would be o'er near to the very road we
hae come oursells, I now take it for granted she'll come frae the
south; and I just think I see her leading a bonny boy in every hand,
and a servant lass carrying a bit bundle ahint her."

The two now walked out on all the southern roads, in hopes to meet
their Mary, but always returned to watch the shadow of the Holy Cross;
and, by the time it fell due east, they could do nothing but stand in
the middle of the street, and look round them in all directions. At
length, about half a mile out on the Dumfries road, they perceived a
poor beggar woman approaching with two children following close to
her, and another beggar a good way behind. Their eyes were instantly
riveted on these objects; for Andrew thought he perceived his friend
the dwarf in the one that was behind; and now all other earthly
objects were to them nothing, save these approaching beggars. At that
moment a gilded chariot entered the village from the south, and drove
by them at full speed, having two livery-men before, and two behind,
clothed in green and gold, "Ach-wow! the vanity of worldly grandeur"
ejaculated Andrew, as the splendid vehicle went thundering by; but
neither he nor his wife deigned to look at it farther, their whole
attention being fixed on the group of beggars. "Ay, it is just my
woman," said Andrew, "it is just hersell; I ken her gang yet, sair
pressed down wi' poortith although she be. But I dinna care how poor
she be, for baith her and hers sall be welcome to my fireside as lang
as I hae ane."

While their eyes were thus strained, and their hearts melting with
tenderness and pity, Andrew felt something embracing his knees, and,
on looking down, there was his Mary, blooming in splendour and beauty,
kneeling at his feet. Andrew uttered a loud hysterical scream of joy,
and clasped her to his bosom; and old Jean Linton stood trembling,
with her arms spread, but durst not close them on so splendid a
creature, till her daughter first enfolded her in a fond embrace, and
then she hung upon her and wept. It was a wonderful event--a
restoration without a parallel. They indeed beheld their Mary, their
long-lost darling; they held her in their embraces, believed in her
identity, and were satisfied. Satisfied, did I say? They were happy
beyond the lot of mortals. She had just alighted from her chariot;
and, perceiving her aged parents standing together, she ran and
kneeled at their feet They now retired into the hostel, where Mary
presented her two sons to her father and mother. They spent the
evening in every social endearment; and Mary loaded the good old
couple with rich presents, watched over them till midnight, when they
both fell into a deep and happy sleep, and then she remounted her
chariot, and was driven away. If she was any more seen in Scotland, I
never heard of it; but her parents rejoiced in the thoughts of her
happiness till the day of their death.


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