صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

nook, such a one in which tradition says, wind and the coming tide. · The hills (and tradition is sometimes malicious) stood so close together that I could onthe priesthood of the Romish church ly see a long and narrow vista of ocean, loved to erect their altars, and set up with the waves leaping and rolling their carved images, and collect the but I heard the chafing of the waters riches of the earth. The valley was a against cliff and promontory, and that good arrow-flight across, the sidessloped kind of hollow and mournful sound up into hills covered with verdure as which waves raise when they fall on a soft, and, by the nibbling of sheep, as rocky and a caverned shore. Of man's short as the down of velvet; here and habitation, or handy work, I could see there a stray garden flower,—and here no trace; and I said to my companion, and there, a plum or a wild apple tree “ Where is the hall of the Herons ? contrived to struggle for existence,-- where is the chapel of our lady : --where and told with the return of spring the is the tower of the lake I hear of story of the ancient glory of ihe place them in tale and in song, and their In the bosom lay a lake, deep and cool, foundations seem indeed to have hand and so clear, that, without seeing the no securer resting place than what vabottom, which the peasants placed at grant verse and varying story give." the distance of many a fathom, you “ Alas !” said the old man, “ to me might see the whole shaggy outline of the vale presents more vivid images of the pastoral hills reflected quietly on its | ancient glory,--and there are marks of bosom. Many green shrubs, bearing the name and hand of Heron, which fruit or flower, flourished along the wa- nothing may efface, though the winds ter-edge,-and the chafing of the lake and storms of many years have passed freaked its borders into innumerable lit over them.” And he arose, and, leantle nooks and tongues, where the wild ing on my arm, descended with slow ducks' young--an orange tawny brood, and hesitating steps to a projecting -moved, half seen, half hid, among ledge of rock which shot forward into the water grass and the broad leaves of the valley, and, pointing to a gray mass the lake lily. The flocks moved to and below, said, “ That is the vaulted hall fro on the valley-side. --a stray deer of the Herons,” I looked more intentlooked timorously down from a woody ly, and saw the remains of a strong shelf above, while high overhead on tower,-its roof of massy stone had rethe summit of a cliff, where the ancient sisted rain and storni, and men's spirit gods of the land were once worshipped, of destruction for centuries, and a thousat a pair of black eagles pruning their sand slender trees, and crawling shrubs, wings, and meditating a flight to remote and blossoming flowers streamed out pastures for food for their young. Their from every joint, opening even from shadows and mine lay scattered along the top of the tower down to the water the quiet and scarce moving waters. edge.“ There," said my companion,

Eastward, the vale expanded, and is the tower of Sir Hugh Heron ;then, soddenly closing, allowed scarce to you it may seem nothing but a heap room for a small clear stream to pour of rock and rubbish,--but to me every from the lake down a deep and woody foot length of ground, and every piece ravine, from which it escaped into a of jointed stone, and every flower and beautiful bay, shaped out like a crescent fruit-tree utter tale and history. My from the mainland. Between two green eyes are old :-but you may see the and conical hills, covered half way to Aight of broad steps descending from the summits with natural wood, which the tower gate to the lake,--they are seemed never to have felt the axe, I covered with that bush of trailing bramsaw the eastern sea, bright with the ble. From the foot of the stairs a pavemorning sun, and agitated by a gentle ment of solid stone, not broader than

for a man and boy to walk abreast, shot was small, but it was wondrous fair, and into the bosom of the lake, and led to shaped by man's piety and perseverance the tower, which tradition says was a out of the solid rock. Many pilgrims place of refuge in times of feudal com came and blessed it;-death-bed sormotion and open war. The tower of rows and the remorse of old age endowthe lake has been gradually swallowed ed it largely, and made it the richest up by the waters. Over its cope stone shrine in all the north country. It was many fathoms of water roll now, but I on the floor of that chapel that Hugh have heard my father say, that when the Heron burnt a fire of cinnamon for he was a boy it was still visible above seven years beside the body of the lady thie lake; now the flood has risen against he loved, and our forefathers believed, the valley, and that castle, though once that at the end of the seventh year the on a cliff where the eagle would have body was born away,-and the breath chosen to build, has now its very thresh- of living life breathed into it, and it beold washed by the waves when the wind came a ministering spirit.” My old puts them in motion.”

companion looked me stedfastly in the The old man again leaned upon me, face, shook his head, and after a short and I was conducted along a kind of silence, said, “ Ye may smile, for it is winding way to the summit of another the fashion of the youth of this age to rock, towards the eastern end of the give credence to nothing, -and ye may valley. “There,” stands Hugh Heron's call me superstitious,---which may be I arm-chair ;-—a man cannot sit in it now am,-yet there's more matter for marwithout wetting his feet in the lake;- velling and sorrow about this place than it once overlooked it as high as the top for smiling and mirth.” I assured my of yon ash tree,-below it lay the Cave gray-headed friend that I had too deep of Repentance, but ancient sanctity, a sympathy with all things which traand frequent prayers, and the presence dition embalmed (and she never emof holy relics, could not save it from the balmed ought but the purest and the changes of nature, and the lake fills it best,) to make them matters for mirth. now, and will for ever. But here is an It was my chief wish to tell the story of image which the rudest hind respects;" Hugh Heron in strict accordance with and he pointed out on the face of the popular belief, and to reflect back to perpendicular rock beside us, the shape the people a distinct image of provinof a cross cut deep and sharp in the cial history. For this purpose I had stone, —while before it knelt the figure composed in a rude manner the tale in of an armed man-his sword and hel- myown mind; I would proceed to relate met, in which seemed a heron plume, it to him, with the hope that where lay at his knees; his face was turned to other men's memories had failed, his the earth, and his hands were clasped would be found perfect, and that his in agony. Many wild flowers, and more knowledge of all the varieties of the particularly the honeysuckle, then form- legend might enable me to infuse more ing for bloom, showered themselves of character and incident into the simdown over the face of the crag, and ple narrative. The old man smiled crawled along the ground at our feet. and shook his head, and I proceeded

“ That,” said my companion, is the at his request to whisper my version in i figure of Hugh Heron, and here it is his ear ;-he seemed to have a dread of

said he came forth before the sun, and open speech in a place where to him continued on his knees till the hunter every rock and stone breathed the hiswas on the hill. Now look down the tory of the house of Heron. valley,--ye may see the ruins amongst . During the wars of the two roses, the wild plum-trees and briars yet, (for traditional story has ever imperfect there stood the chapel of our lady,-it dates,) there lived a young knight,

named Sir Hugh Heron, and his castle | dogs the feetest feet and the suresi stood in a small valley which bore his mouths, and their arrows few more family name. Before he was eighteen, sharp and sure than any in Cumberpersonal beauty and deeds of arms made land,—though it was the dwelling of him talked of from Tweed to Trent. the Howards, and Dacres, and Lowthers, His father had perished in battle with and Graemes." the Scots when Lord Maxwell wasted “ Have you ever heard," said my old Cumberland, and left him to the love friend, “ that they drew a bow or few of his mother, a daughter of the noble a hawk against one of the wild herons house of Dacre, who caused him to be of their native lake? No, no ; none trained to arms, and to all chivalrous that bore the name would ever do that; exercises. He accompanied Lord How--they left the noble and beautiful ard, and assisted in ravaging the fron birds to breed and bring forth by the tier of Scotland : and when, on his re borders of the lake ;-there was a curse turn, he was drawn into an ambush by denounced against the house of Heron, the Johnstones and Carlyles on the if they rifled a nest, or harmed but a river Eden, he fought with such despe- feather of their namesake bird ;-even ration, that the Laird of Lochwood re the plumes of the heron, which waved turned to Scotland with but ten follow- | above their helmets in battle, were those ers, and Hugh Heron made his way shed from the bird's wing,--and the home with only seven.”

merit of the plume was the more, if it “ I have stood on the spot where that happened to be shed when the fowl fierce skirmish happened,” said my old Hew, and was caught before it reached friend, " and a sweet little corner of the ground. I have seen myself the border earth it is,-a place for the wild herons of the lake, seated like a pastime of children and the sport of fock of doves, on the ruins of that old fairies. It is called the fighting fold to castle, and they drooped their wings, this very day, and one who has held the and laid their bills on their breasts, and plough on the spot,-for graves, and sat so grey and motionless, that ye fairy rings, and holy knolls, and all, would have thought they were stricken are ploughed now,-told me that spear into stone,- I have heard that such points, and spurs, and arrowheads are things have been." 'turned up by the share.”

“ There is a wild tale told," I said, “ One of the seven companions of “ of the ancestor of the house of Heron, Hugh Heron in this adventure,” I re who was lesta child by rovers on a lonesumed, “ was a youth of his own blood, ly island on the Scottish coast, where and bearing his own name, several he was fed and nursed by a pair of years older,—and neither so fair in wild herons. The scarlet mantle in person, nor gifted in mind, but bold which he was wrapt, and the gems and and enterprising, a seeker of perils, and chains of gold and pearl which lay beexceedingly skilful with the sword and side him were commonly shown when byw. The peasantry who sought to a bridal happened in the house of Heron, distinguish the kinsmen by some de and the story of his nursing formed one scriptive to-name, called the latter Ay- of our early and popular romances. mer the Black, and the former Hugh All that I can gather is that the herons the Fair,--and some scrupled not to say covered him with their wings by night, that their hearts and minds correspond and sought him food by day, till he ed with the colours which described grew up à fair and graceful child, and their persons. If they were companions rose to great renown, and took the name in the battle-field, they were also com of his strange protectors. He is men. rades in the chase, and their hawks tioned in old charters by the name of had the fairest and boldest fight-their Eustace de Heron. The romance went

[ocr errors]

on to say that his feathered benefactors were humbling themselves on the floor never forsook him ;-in the battle they of our lady's chapel when the rovers hovered over his head,-in the tourna arrived. The pirates lingered for a moment they came down with a scream, ment, for a hymn was then singing in and sought to annoy the enemy,—and honour of our lady,—the pious minstrel they sat like watchers on the top of his had recorded the riches of the shrine, castle by night, and built their nest, -the munificence of the pilgrims,and brought forth their young on the and the generosity of the gallant house summit of one of the towers. A min- of Heron,-nor were the Howards, and strel's curse,—and the more weighty Dacres, and other valiant names of old wrath of heaven are denounced against Cumberland forgotten. 6. This is a long all those who shall touch but a heron's pious inventory, my lads,” said the wing, or rob a heron's nest.”

leader of the pirates,

66 of riches and • Romance do you call it?" said my relics which we shall enjoy. The gold companion, “ it is as true to the truti we can spend ashore ; and as for the as the light is to the morning, and Skid- relics, why, we are exposed to storms daw to the Solway side. I have heard by sea and onslaughts by land, and we the ballad of Eustace the Heron a thou may as well have such trinkets near us sand times in bower and in hall; and when the wind is high. And now I if it is a romance, what call ye Chevy think on't, couldn't we as well capsize Chace, and William of Cloudeslie ? a handy companion of a monk, -who That herd never lucks that herries a might patter a bit of prayer for us, hanheron's nest, and that hunter never pros- dle a partizan or boarding pike on a pers who shoots one of these noble pinch, and drink a stoup, of wine or birds. There was Dick Dobson of Sol- mead, and sing us a merry ballad when tra-side, and young

Wat Forster of we come back from a cruize. I think Derwent, and Adam Ridderford of Ri we might make room for such like gear. dentown, and Percie Redmain of Hern But by the deep sea, and the trade shaw, what got they by scorning old wind, 'I think this inventory is right şayes and minstrel curses, I would fain long. Why, the old chanter makes know ? crippled limbs and a broken too many tacks as he sails down the neck-bone."

current of the story. I must cut this “It happened one night," I conti- poetic yarn short,--so follow me, my nued, “ that some lawless sea rovers merry men all, and whip out your sailed into the bay : they had heard, boarding tools ;-now, by your leave, perchance, of the rich shrine of our

my pious masters.'

And with a blow lady, and resolved to spoil it. They of his foot he made the chapel door had coasted along Scotland, and, though ring against the wall, and in he burst, repulsed in various attempts, they suc followed by a score or more of his comceeded in others, and pillaged several rades. But instead of shrieking nuns villages, and took some small places of and trembling priests, they saw a sight strength, which they plundered and which daunted the boldest. There burnt. Now it befel that Midsummer knelt young Hugh Heron at the head of eve was ever a time of festivity with the his friends and vassals, and the gleanhouse of Heron, and, as they were a ing of their armour filled all the chapel devout as well as a valiant race, they with light. In a moment they were on concluded their evenings of mirth in their feet,their swords out, and well humility and prayer. The two Herons, they proved their love to the shrine of the fair and the black, with several of our lady that night,-lor blow, and their comrades, had been tilting with shout, and hurried feet, and the groans the spear, and proving each other's of wounded men, filled all the vale skill with the sword, and arned thus, downward to the sea side."

" I have heard old dame Eden,”. gazed upon her till the storm subsided said my companion, “ tell the story of in his soul, and mercy and kindness the attack on our lady's chapel, but returned again to his looks. He never neither shield, nor sword, nor burnished gazed upon a fairer face. His kinsman mail, nor battle-shout were in all her came to his side. • What ails you,' tale,--and it was a curious tale enough. ] he said, even now I saw you with The blessed relics, she said, found de flushed brow and Aashing eyes, and a fenders in a flood of marvellous light frame which seemed expanded beyond which rushed out of the chapel door, that of a mortal, smiting down and and smote the rovers sore, and pursued sparing not,—and now the red blood and destroyed them,—and the groans of has left your face, and your eyes can the mariners were heard afar off. And look on nothing but this young lady, the wondrous light flashed on the waters, as if they were under the influence of and smote the vessel, and away she sorcery.' Sir Hugh heeded not the sailed along the ocean, and was doom words of his kinsman, but replying raed to float for a season in flames, to be ther to the looks of the captive, said, a witter and a warning to all workers of • Arise lady, against all will I protect evil. I cannot say that I wholly credit thee;' and he kissed her white forehead the tale, though I sometimes see strange with the awe of one who offers salutawild lights shining along the waters, tion to some precious relic. and we know evil men have been smit “ The young lady arose trembling, en and afflicted, and set up as a world's and with her eyes cast down, and clingwonder.”

ing to his arm as if she clung for her “Foremost and fiercest of all,” I said, life.—- I will carry you, lady,' he said, “ went Sir Hugh Heron,-through the 'to my mother's tower,-for I see you gorge of the valley,_over the wild sea are not of the kin of those wild shore,-mid-thigh deep into the waters, and lawless rovers, and with her you he followed and sought,—whoever he may remain till your kindred learn what hit went down, and none could stand hath befallen you. And bearing her before him. The leader of the rovers ashore he left his kinsman and retainers attempted to escape with a few of the to spoil the rovers' shallop—and gold, bravest of his followers, and had reach and jewels, and rich dresses, and suits ed the deck of his shallop, and had of armour, and the best tempered weagiven the word to move, when Sir Hugh pons were found in great store. Some stood on the deck beside him. The were offered up at the shrine of our combat between them was fierce and lady, and the remainder were carried to brief, and as he struck the rover down, Heron tower. When lady Heron saw a slender girl richly dressed, who was her son bearing so young and beautiful sleeping among a heap of furs and em a creature in his arms, she came and broidered mantles, sprung up, uttered supported her into her chamber, and a wild cry, and clasping him round the comforted her, and told her that she knees, looked up with streaming and had fallen into honourable hands, and imploring eyes for protection and mer questioned her of her country and her cy. There stood the youth, his bloody kindred. And the young maiden answord in his hand, his eyes burning swered in a voice low and sweet, and with the agitation and fury of the fight, in the gentle Doric of the North Counand around him lay the bodies of his try, that she was the daughter of the enemies, their limbs yet quivering with knight of Corehead, and her maiden departing life, and their blood floating name was Beatrice. Her brother had all the deck. With his left hand he marched with the Lord of Lochwood shed back a fleece of dark and disor against the forayers of the border;-her dered locks from the lady's brow, and father had loosed his dogs at the foot of

« السابقةمتابعة »