The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

. (page 59 of 75)
Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 59 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Till love Gregor come hanie?''

"Your father'll shoe your fair foot,

Your mother glove your han' ;
Your sister lace your middle jimp

Wi' a new-made London ban' ;

"Your brethren will kame your yellow hair

Wi' a new-made silver kame ;
And the King o' Heaven will father your bairn,

Till love Gregor come hame."

*' O gin I had a bonnie ship,

And men to sail wi' me,
It's I wad gang to my true love,

Sin he winna come to me !"

Her father's gien her a bonnie ship,

And sent her to the stran' ;
She's taen her young son in her arms,

And turn'd her back to the Ian'.

She hadna been on the sea sailiu'

Aboon a month or more,
Till landed had she her bonnie ship

Near her true-lover's door.

The nicht was dark, the wind blew cauld,

And her love was fast asleep,
And the bairn that was in her twa arms

Fu' sair began to greet.



Lang stood she at her true-love's door,

And lang tirl'd at the pin ;
At length up gat his fause mother,

Says, " Wha's that wad be in?"

"O. it is Annie of Lochroyan,

Your love, come o'er the sea,
But and your young son in her arms ;

So open the door to me."

"Awa, awa, ye ill woman,

You're nae come here for gude ;
You're but a witch, or a vile warlock,

Or mermaid o' the flude."

"I'm nae witch or vile warlock,

Or mermaiden," said she;
"I'm but your Annie of Lochroyan ;

O, of en the door to me !"

"O gin ye be Annie of Lochroyan,

As I trust not ye be,
What taiken can ye gie that e'er

I kept your companie?"

"O dinna ye mind, love Gregor," she says,

"When we sat at the wine,
How we changed the napkins frae our necks;

It's nae sae lang sinsyne?

"And yours was gude, and gude enough,

But nae sae gude as mine ;
For yours was o' the cambrick clear,

But mine o' the silk sae fine.

"And dinna ye mind, love Gregor," she says,

"As we twa sat at dine,
How we changed the rings frae our fingers,

And I can shew thee thine :

"And yours was gude, and gude enough,

Yet nae sae gude as mine ;
For yours was o' the gude red goud,

But mine o' the diamonds fine.

"Sae open the door, now. love Gregor,

And open it wi' speed ;
Or your young son, that is in my arms,

For cauld will soon be dead."

"Awa, awa, ye ill woman;

Gae frae my door for shame,
For I hae gotten anither fair love,

Sae ye may hie you hame."

" O hae ye gotten anither fair love,

For a' the oaths you sware?
Then fare ye weel, now, fause Gregor,

For me ye's never see mair;"

O, hooly hooly gaed she back,

As the day began to reep ;
She set her foot on good ship board,

And sair sair did she weep.

"Tak down, tak down the mast o 1 goud,

Set up the mast o' tree ;
111 sets it a forsaken lady

To sail sae gallantlie.

" Tak down, tak down the sails o' silk,

Set up the sails o' skin ;
111 sets the outside to be gay,

When there's sic grief within ! "

Love Gregor started frae his sleep,

And to his mother did say,
" I dreamt a dream this night, mother,

That makes my heart richt wae ;

" I dreamt that Annie of Lochroyan,

The flower o' a' her kin,
Was standin' mournin' at my door,

But nane wad let her in."

" O there was a woman stood at the door,

Wi' a bairn intill her arm ;
But I wadna let her within the bower,

For fear she had done you harm."

O quickly, quickly raise he up,

And fast ran to the strand ;
And there he saw her, fair Annie,

Was sailing frae the land.

And "hey, Annie!" and "how, Annie!

O, Annie, winna ye bide?"
But aye the louder that he cried "Annie "

The higher rair'd the tide.

And "hey, Annie!" and "how, Annie!

O, Annie, speak to me !"
But aye the louder that he cried " Annie,' 1

The louder rair'd the sea.

The wind grew loud, and the sea grew rough,
And the ship was rent in twain ;

And soon he saw her, fair Annie,
Come floating o'er the main.

He saw his young son in her arms,

Baith toss'd aboon the tide ;
He wrang his hands, and fast he ran,

And plunged in the sea sae wide.

He catch'd her by the yellow hair,

And drew her to the strand;
But cauld and stiff was every limb,

Before he reach'd the land.

O first he kiss'd her cherry cheek,

And syne he kiss'd her chin,
And sair he kiss'd her ruby lips ;

But there was nae breath within.

Old Ballad,





In the year 1832, when the Belgians revolted
against their sovereign the King of Holland,
and fears were entertained throughout Europe
that this revolutionary movement might spread
to other nations and cause serious troubles, the
governments of England and France agreed to
interfere and put an end to the contention.
Consequently a large army marched across the
French frontier, and finding that the ancient
city of Antwerp was the head-quarters of the
insurgents, forthwith proceeded to subdue it.
The strong citadel alone held out for the
king. When the commander was summoned
to surrender it and the garrison to the insur-
gents, the curt refusal of General Chass6
brought about a siege which will ever remain
one of the most memorable in the history
of the world; but as it is not my intention to
linger over this siege or this period of history,
it will suffice to say that during an incessant
bombardment of twenty days the entire works
of the citadel, which had been built regardless
of expense and time by the great Duke of Alva,
in 1570, were demolished. The celebrated
citadel was a heap of ruins, and it required
more than four years to rebuild what had been
destroyed in less than four weeks. While the
work of rebuilding was going on, a party of
workmen who were busy at one of the lunettes
or small triangular outworks suddenly cleared
away from among the rubbish a small cross of
white marble, which had been simply but beau-
tifully cut. A cannon-ball had shattered it
partly, but it was evident from the moss that
had grown over and around it that hundreds
of years had passed over this simple record of
noble deed. It was evident that a number of
letters were cut in the stone. The words were
illegible, but after some difficulty the following
inscription was deciphered: "Here lieth Maid
Marian, who died for her friends, November,
1581." The old cross, about which the very
oldest people fancied they had at some time
heard a story, had been respected by all soldiers,
although no one knew what it meant, or why
it had been placed on that secluded spot. Some
years later there was found in the city records
the following simple tale, which is generally
believed to be the history of the marble cross.

In the days when the Netherlands were
beset by their great enemy the haughty, over-
bearing, and aggressive Spaniards, Antwerp,
the strong, the prosperous, the liberty-loving

city, with its almost impregnable fortress or
citadel, was one of the great strongholds of the
Protestant faith. It was jealously guarded as
a jewel of great price, and the Prince of Orange,
the leader of the insurrection, had placed within
the citadel a band of his own trusty musketeers,
upon whose valour and faith he could rely,
although like their commander, Colonel Solms,
they were rough and ready at their work, and
no very refined gentlemen even in those days.
When the garrison marched into the citadel
with flying colours and a gay clangour of horns,
to relieve the burgher guard which had fulfilled
the arduous duty hitherto, they found estab-
lished in the principal building a small family
of three, who were particularly recommended
by the old civic commander to the newly-
installed Colonel Solms. Solms, a stout veteran,
with a florid face and a habitual scowl that ter-
rified most people who knew him not, glanced
at the somewhat stupid old husband, who
carried a large bunch of keys and smiled re-
spectfully and good-naturedly glanced at the
buxom, motherly, neat woman his wife, who
dropped a stiff but not awkward curtsey, and
looked with some curiosity at the new soldiers
and glanced at the young daughter, who
stood in the door of their dwelling half-room,
half- kitchen and then a shadow of a smile
somewhat relieved the scowl. The daughter,
as prim and spruce and neat as her mother,
but some thirty years younger, with fresh,
rosy cheeks, jet black hair, a snow-white little
cap and neckerchief, and a closely-fitting un-
pretentious dress that made her look like a little
fairy evidently pleased the old colonel, for
he nodded them a return fo their salute, and
intimated to the retiring commander that he
would be content with their services.

And content he was. The old veteran, who
had been present at half a hundred battles, and
lived the life of a hunted deer for many years,
found himself too pleasantly at home in his new
abode, and almost left off growling. At first
he had his suspicions of the old man Martin
Reyder but when that personage somewhat
pompously introduced himself as head cellar-
keeper and warder, and showed the commander
his thorough knowledge of the wine-cellar, Solms
became convinced that Martin might be a use-
ful man. Dame Reyder and her daughter
Marian at the same time so executed their
duties, and kept his apartments and those of
his officers so neat and clean, that the gentle-
men as by intuition began to treat the two
women with more consideration and gentleness
than they had hitherto bestowed on the. sex.
Notwithstanding this, however, eomplicationa



might have easily arisen, had not Marian pos-
sessed one excellent quality. She never allowed
any one, from the highest to the lowest, to
treat her otherwise than respectfully in word
or deed. She had a pretty but determined
way of putting every one down who attempted
any liberties, and in a very short time had
gained such influence over the men that not
one of them dared to lift a finger against her.
Strange to say, during the year that elapsed
before the incident I am about to relate, Marian
spent a happy life among the rough soldiers.
She frequently went out of her way to assist
them when they were sick, or to make them
more comfortable, or to look after their cooking;
but though she was thus always amongst them,
she had not found a lover, and had resolutely
refused, it was reported, an offer from one of
the lieutenants, which puzzled gossips not a

Gossips knowing generally very little, and
in this case nothing at all, their puzzle was
not easily explained. There was a cloud hang-
ing over the small Reydcr family, which was
never as much as whispered about, but which
oppressed Marian more than she herself liked
to confess. There was a fourth member of th
family, not dead, and yet to them not living,
not amongst those for whom they could weep
and pray, and yet amongst those that occasion
hot and bitter tears. There was a son, Joseph,
educated with all care, as indeed Marian had
also been, who, abusing his opportunities, had
falsely turned traitor for money ; betrayed
his country's, his city's cause for gain. The
father discovered it, taxed his son with it,
summoned him to return the money, and on
refusal, spurned him out of the house. Marian,
who with strange perversity had clung to her
scoundrel of a brother, interceded for him with
her mother went on her knees to her father.
Dame Reycler wept sorely, but dared not dis-
obey ; and old Martin, leaving his daughter on
her knees, pronounced a curse that well-nigh ex-
tinguished her reason. The staunch old patriot
prayed from Heaven calamities and punish-
ments upon his son's head for his iniquity,
and swore that he would not accept him unless
he returned broken in heart, lame in body,
with gray hairs and repentant, to atone for the
great wrong he had done the city of his birth
and the honour of his family.

Several years had elapsed since then, and
Marian alone had kept up a stealthy com-
munication with the brother she would not
renounce. One autumn evening, about a year
after the arrival of the new garrison, Marian
seemed to have received some new spirit. Her


gaiety and curious fits of pensiveness were
noticed by others besides her mother. At
night, when they were sitting alone by the
fire, Dame Reyder ventured to ask for an ex-
planation, and then poor Marian's heart gushed
out in joy at having at last obtained what she
had yearned for so long. She showed her
mother a letter of Joseph's, in which he con-
fessed his wrong, told her how he had been dread-
fully ill, and being now a cripple, how his only
wish was to be reconciled to his father; that
he was hiding in the city, and if she could get
him inside the fortress, that he had no doubt
he could get his father's forgiveness. After
some hesitation she had written to him that
if he came the next morning at the little
Watergate as a poor provision merchant who
had undertaken to supply the garrison with
fruit, she would enable him to come inside by
stealth, and assist him in effecting his pur-

In the eager discussion which the revelation
of this bold plan originated, Dame Reyder was
at first stoutly against it.

" I warn you, Marian," said her mother in
a whisper, " I feel as if no good can come from
it. You know how strict Colonel Solms is,
and that he only allows us to receive visits
after a formal permission being granted. And
now you are going to bring Joseph himself in
here. You might as well open the gates at
once and ask Duke Alra with his whole army
to march in."

"0 fie, mother," said Marian, "have you
so forgotten your own son? Have you no
love and no pity left for my brother? Do you
not see that he is repenting, and that he has
at last been punished for his folly, and only
wants to see you once again to ask your for-

" My forgiveness!" said Dame Reyder, shak-
ing her head with a sigh. " If I knew that
he was sincere, and really wanted my forgive-
ness, God forbid that I should restrain him.
But why let him come here in the very lion's
den. We can go to him in Antwerp, where,
if he really be so much reduced and suffering,
he will have no need to stir, and we can see
him without being seen."

" Xay," said the daughter again, "if we
go there he will be found out, whereas if he
comes here where nobody knows him, I can
easily smuggle him in early to-morrow morning
at the little Watergate, of which I have told
him, and he can see us and talk with us here
without any one knowing it. Only say that
you will allow me, mother dear, and that you
w.ll not tell father until Joseph is here, for



else he might spoil it all. Oh, this estrange-
ment has weighed so heavily upon me that I
shall thank Heaven when it has been cleared
away. Do, good mother mine, help me."

The entreaties of the affectionate girl were
so eloquent that Dame Reyder at last promised
to assist her, notwithstanding her inward
conviction that some mighty and wonderful
change must have come over her son Joseph,
to make him at last so humble, affectionate,
and repentant.

The events of the next day convinced not
only her but everybody else that the change
had not been so wonderful as she for a moment
fondly imagined, and that the villanous nature
of her offspring had become worse rather than
better. When next morning the light of day
had driven away the nightly fogs and vapours,
Marian softly opened her window and looked
out, ready dressed for her enterprise. She was
full of hope, and there shone a light in her
eyes that made her look beautiful. It was
still much too early for the arrival of any
trades-people from town, but in her anxiety
she went down-stairs, opened the door, and
stepped out daintily on to the large quadrangle.
Here she was met by the sergeant of the guard,
who had already noticed her at the window,
and endeavoured to attract her attention. The
sergeant, although a good soldier, was a some-
what rough customer, and his attentions were
frequently so annoying that Marian had a
strong dislike for him. This morning she
would fain have passed him with a polite re-
turn for his greeting, but the gallant veteran
was too great an admirer of the little maid.
He had been up the greater part of the night,
and the strong beer which he had quaffed dur-
ing that time may have somewhat muddled
his brain. Enough be it, that not content
with the modest greeting of the girl, the ser-
geant stepped forward and took her hand,
while his strong arm encircled her waist, and
his black beard approached her lips with dan-
gerous proximity. Marian, however, was not
the girl to lose her presence of mind. She
uttered a slight exclamation of surprise, and
with a lithe and quick movement disengaged
herself from the encircling arm. The sergeant,
who had made sure of his prize, had not ob-
served that his foot rested on a slippery stone;
but Marian, with the quickness of a little
tigress, smacked his face and gave him a
sudden push on the shoulder which made him
lose his balance. The stout fellow threw up
his arms, and, amidst the roars of the guard
who were looking on, stretched his uncouth
length in the biggest mud-puddle of the quad-

rangle. Marian tripped away, leaving the
rash soldier to pick himself out of the dirt
with the facetious assistance of some of his
comrades, who exasperated him by their pro-
testations of sympathy, and compelled him to
withdraw to his room, swearing vengeance on
the girl. The opportunity was not long wanting.

When Marian saw that her inopportune ad-
mirer had departed, she walked slowly and in
her usual manner in the direction of the gate,
where the trades-people generally deposited
their goods for her inspection. It was too early
for their arrival, however, a fact which the
sentry at the gate immediately remarked when
he saw the young housekeeper advancing.
Marian had foreseen this, and informed the
soldier with the greatest unconcern that she
had ordered a poor fellow to be at the little
Watergate somewhat earlier than usual, because
she had long promised to help him, and she
did not wish to raise any jealousy between him
and the usual purveyors.

"Ah, Marian," said the sentry, shaking his
head, " you are too kind-hearted. I verily
believe you wfould put money into the hand
of every vagabond who had a piteous tale to

" And why not?" said she, with a bound of
her heart; "this poor fellow has not only a
piteous tale: the look of him is piteous enough.
A strong fellow like yourself can do anything
in this wide world; but those poor creatures
whom Heaven has not favoured must struggle
and drag themselves onward through life, poor
things, with difficulty. If he comes, good
Master Michel, you will not turn him off as
others do, with rude words, will you? Let him
in, that I may take him to our garden."

"Let him in!" said Michel, elevating his
eyebrows. "I know not that I can let him
in, for it is contrary to orders. But I can ask
the sergeant, and if he be willing I have naught
to say."

Marian, however, shook her head quickly
and decisively.

" Ask the sergeant." She laughed. "Why,
did you not see how. I made him fall into the
mud ; he will not allow it. Besides, the poor
fellow will only come in for a few moments,
and I can take him by the back way, and up
the old staircase, where the governor will not
see us. I will be back here in half-an-hour."

"Well, I will see," the sentry said, and
Marian had gone away almost certain of suc-
cess Michel, however, had some misgiving
in his soul, at what he felt to be mysterious,
and referred the matter to his superior, who
passed by not very long afterwards. The in-



jured sergeant listened with curiosity, and put
his finger to his broad nose with a knowing
look. He stood silent for some minutes, and
then questioned the sentry closely as to what
Marian had said, and whether she seemed eager
or not. At last he ordered Michel to let him
know when the fellow arrived, and to allow
Marian, without saying a word, to conduct her
lame protege whither she liked.

The half-hour had scarcely elapsed when
Marian was at the little gate looking out for
the extraordinary individual, whom she had
now full hopes of smuggling in. Presently
she could see at some distance in the fields the
figure of a man making his way with difficulty
on crutches towards the spot where the little
boat lay. In one hand he carried a basket
containing some vegetables, which it seemed
he could only carry with an effort. As soon
as the girl saw him she waved her kerchief,
and motioned him to make haste. The crutches
moved with redoubled energy, and made such
progress that the honest Michel, who regarded
the scene with some curiosity, muttered to
himself that before the poor fellow had met
with his misfortune he must have been pos-
sessed of considerable strength. So any one
would have thought who saw him wriggle into
the little boat, for with one good long pull at
the oars the light thing darted across the broad
moat and flew half-way up against the landing-
place. Somewhat astonished at this vigour
Marian stepped back and saw her brother jump
out of the boat with greater ease than she would
have given him credit for. But his crutches
were under him at once, and turning to the
girl he thanked her in a low voice for her gra-
ciousncss in favouring a poor cripple. The
fellow's face was certainly not prepossessing.
Lean and sallow, with prominent cheek-bones
and hollow eager eyes that habitually looked
to the ground, a rough yellow beard, that
scarcely hid the meanness of his thin lips,
such was Joseph. His clothes hung about him
in loose disorderly fashion, and his appearance
altogether was that of a man whom Heaven
had not favoured. Marian snatched up the
basket, and advancing with a light step ordered
the man to follow her, which he did, protesting
at the same time that she was going too fast.
The instant they had started Michel the sentry
turned round and waved his hat to one of his
comrades, who was on the look-out. The sign
was seen, and the comrade disappeared.

Marian and her brother meanwhile were ad-
vancing quickly under the inner wall of the
fortress, to a point where they could mount by
a few planks which had been put there tem-

porarily, to the covered way, following which
they could reach the yard where was the en-
trance to the cellars and subterranean passages,
and once there the stair and the stables would
allow her to reach the kitchen unobserved.
The covered way had already been reached, and
Marian was turning round to say a word of
encouragement to her brother, when she started
violently and blushed on seeing her way blocked
by the figure of the sergeant, who sauntered
towards her with a triumphant smile. "Why,
Mistress Marian," said he with feigned aston-
ishment, "what do you bring us here? Has
this gentleman found more favour in your eyes
than any one inside these walls? Will you
be pleased to make him known to me?"

" Oh, pleaseyou, Master Fellsper," said Marian
somewhat flurriedly, " this is only a poor
citizen of the town, whom I promised to show
what kind of fruit and vegetables we require
for the governor, the which he has duly pro-
mised to deliver to us, with but small profit
to himself."

" Oh, indeed," answered Fellsper, eyeing the
new-comer, who had dropped his head on his
chest, "and pray what /night his name be?"
Marian was silent, for thL contingency she had
overlooked. Presently, however, she faltered,
" I believe I heard him say that it was Joseph."
"Joseph!" repeated the revengeful soldier,
" and truly he is an ill-looking cur to have
such a name. You know, Mistress Marian,
what strict orders the governor has given about
strangers. If he had been some pretty youth,
j now, I might have been content; but by the
' pope's head, I must have him before our com-
mander, for methinks he has a villanous lame
look about him. Here, Antonio!"

Ere the bewildered girl could utter a word

or arrest the action of her enemy, half-a-dozen

pikemen, headed by the rollicking Antonio,

advanced from round the corner, where they

had evidently been waiting, and surrounded

Joseph. The unhappy fellow threw a rapid

glance around him, saw his way barred on all

I sides by walls of earth, brick, or iron, and col-

i lapsed immediately into a still more hopeless

state of lameness than before, so that a couple

! of soldiers found themselves conscientiously

I obliged to catch him by the collar and hoist

him up occasionally.

"Come on, lads," cried Fellsper, "we're in
luck. The governor is just sunning himself
in the yard higher up before he goes to inspect
the ammunition, so we shall not have very far
to go. He's in a bad humour this morning,
Mistress Marian, I promise you, and he will

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 59 of 75)