Page images

Lord William inquired of the young man, at what distance from his castle he supposed the first division of this Allanrod's troops might now be?

He replied, that he had for some days past been an unobserved spy of their progress, and that he conjectured them to be now at the distance of about thirty miles." Thus," continued he, "according to the speed they usually proceed at, they will reach this castle by noon on the day following the


Lord William next demanded of him to point out the exact route in which they were advancing. This he readily answered, and particularized the spots where he supposed the first division, headed by Allanrod, would halt on that and on the following night.

To the baron's questions of what had been the rank, title, or name of Allanrod, before he had taken upon him those he now bore? the youth declared himself unable to reply; and lord William then commanded him into safe custody. telling him that he should deliberate on what use to make of the information he had brought him.

Why the freebooter Allanrod should bear a greater and acknowledged hatred to him, than even to the government to which he was a rebel, was an enigma which lord William found himself unable to solve. He dismissed his attendants, and being left alone with his leaders, submitted to their judgment the propriety of following the advice given him by the deserter from Allanrod's camp.


All the leaders, and in particular Irwin, declared it their opinion, that the tale of his misfortunes had worn the appearance of having proceeded from a heart unacquainted with deceit; they could see also, they said, no motive but his hatred to Allanrod for the step he had taken, since in the very moment he had declared himself on their side, solely because they were the foes of Allanrod, he had not endeavoured to impose himself upon them for a friend to the English cause, which one well schooled in the lessons of hypocrisy would doubtless have made his first point of information, as the one most likely to ingratiate himself into their favour.

The baron coincided in their opinion; but there were still two nights and a day before them for action ere (as the deserter had said) the enemy could gain the castle; accordingly he determined to give the present night to cool reflection upon his pillow, and not to form his resolution till it was past. Before he retired to his chamber, he again called the youth into his presence; again he heard his tale, and was still more convinced that it appeared the tale of nature and of truth; so forcibly did the countenance and emotions of Donald (for such was the young man's name) present themselves as vouchers for the veracity of his words.

Lord William arose with the dawn, resolved to march and surprise the division of the enemy headed by Allanrod, which the youth Donald had described as the most advanced body in their quarters that night.

Donald was again questioned on the strength of this advanced body; and having positively asserted that it consisted of not more than eighty men, lord William resolved to take with him only one hundred and twenty of his own soldiers, in order to leave his castle in the better security during his absence.

According to the custom in those days, his one hundred and twenty companions, with their leaders or captains, destined for this enterprise, and whoin he had selected from amongst his best men, were divided into fifty mounted as cavalry with matchlocks, forty foot with pikes and broad-swords, and a body of about thirty archers and slingers, who brought up the rear; these were intended to be placed in ambush, and to commence the charge with a shower of arrows on the first onset.

Every thing being prepared for their departure, it was agreed, as the distance they had to journey could not exceed fifteen, or at most eighteen miles, to begin their march under cover of the night, that they might have a greater chance of keeping themselves concealed, and bursting upon the enemy unexpectedly.

During the whole of the day, lord William had been employed in superintending the preparations for his march; towards the approach of evening, he entered the apartment of his daughter, to bid her farewell previously to his departure. The child of woe, he found the beauteous Rosalind hanging over that lute, of which the tones had

no longer power to sooth her aching breast, where eternal sorrow had settled its abode; of the hue of grief were her garments, like the colour of the fortune which had marked her fate; a sable robe flowing to her feet alone composed her dress, save the single band of pearls which confined its folds round her waist; her light brown hair hung in unrestrained tresses upon her shoulders; her blue and heavenly eyes were dimmed with weeping; a faint tinge of the rose's hue still painted her cheek, just sufficiently to recall to remembrance how beautiful it had once been; and her neck of milky whiteness, even, when not contrasted with her sable robe, gained from it the pureness and lustre of unfallen snow.

The baron took the hand of his daughter, and leading her back to the seat from which she had arisen at his entrance, he placed himself by her side. A silence of some minutes ensued; but the eyes of each were eloquent. "How happy had been my life, had a daughter been obedient to my will!" passed in the eyes of lord William; and -"How wretched has the exercise of parental authority made his child!" in those of Rosalind.

"You have doubtless heard, my Rosalind," lord William at last began, "that the temper of the times calls me from my castle; the enterprise upon which I am now setting out, I am taught to believe, is one of little hazard to the safety of my troops or myself; but the fate of the field is uncertain, and however secure of victory in my opinion,

it may be the will of Providence that I shall never return. Will my daughter vouchsafe a parting embrace to a father whom she may never again behold?"

"Heaven avert the evil that you mention!" returned Rosalind. "You have been cruel, very, very cruel to your only child; but I cannot forget that you are my father, though you have so severely used the authority of a parent over a child towards me."

Should I return in triumph, the conqueror of my sovereign's foes wilt thou quit this garb of woe, cast off these frowns of sorrow, and consent once more to visit with me that court, of which thy youth and beauty would be the grace, and to which my gracious mistress has so oft invited me to bring thee?" asked lord William.

[ocr errors]

"Do I ever, my father," returned Rosalind, reproach you with the miseries that load my aching heart?-do I ever breathe a sigh of malice aimed at your feelings? Never, witness Heaven, have I done this! be then the reward of my patient sufferings, that my future days be those of obscurity!-force me not into busy life, where my wretchedness would be exposed to the every unfeeling eye. Oh, in this one point, 'tis all that I have left to ask, do not constrain my feelings!"

gaze of

Lord William returned a cool reply to the request of his daughter, and then proceeded to inform her that she need not be under any dread from the

« PreviousContinue »