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ertheless-— for the leech, look you, when the body was
found, was commanded by the magistrates to probe the
wound with his instnunents, and how could the poor
dead corpse Imow that that was done with good pur-

^' Ay, truly, cummer ; and as poor gossip Oliver often
mistook friends for enemies while he was in life, his
judgment cannot be thought to have mended now."

Dwining heard no more, being now forced up stairs
into a species of garret, where Magdalen sat on her
widowed bed, clasping to her bosom her infant, which,
already black in the face, and uttering the gasping crow-
ing sound, which gives the popular name to the com-
plaint, seemed on the point of rendering up its brief
existence. A Dominican monk sat near the bed, hold-
ing the other chUd in his arms, and seeming from time
to time to speak a word or two of spiritual consolation,
or intermingle some observation on die child's disorder.

The medicmer cast upon the good father a single
glance, filled with that ineffable disdain which men of
science entertain against interlopers. His own aid was
instant and efficacious ; he snatched the child from the
despairing mother, stripped its throat, and opened a vein^
which, as it bled freely, relieved the little padent instan-

6* VOL. II.


66 n. rAlttNTlNli's DAt.

taneously. In a brief sp^e evfefy dafagei^ottd spnptom
disappeared, and Dwining, having bbtind tip the rein,
replaced the infant in the arms of the half distracted

The pckwr woman*9 distress for her husband's loss,
which had been suspended during the extremity of the
child's danger, now returned on Magdalen with the force
of an augmented torrent, which has borne down the dam-
dike that for a while interrupted its waves.

" Oh, learned sir," she said, " you se^ a poor woman
of her that you once knew a richer-^But the hands that
restored this bairn to my arms must not leave this house
empty. Generous, kind Master Dwining, accept of his
beads— they are made of ebony and silver— he aye liked
to have his things as handsome as any gentleman — and
liker he was in all his ways to a gentleman dian any one
of his standing, and even so came of it."

With these words, in a mute passion of grief, she
pressed to her breast and to her lips the chaplet of her
deceased husband, and proceeded to thrust it into Dwin-
ing's hands.

" Take it," she said, "for the love of on6 Who loved
you well. — Ah ! he used ever to say, if ever man could
be brought back from the brink of the grave, it must be
by Master Dwining*s guidance. — And his ain bairn is
brought back this blessed day, and he is lying there stark
and stifi^ and kens naething of its health and sickness !
O, woe is me, and wala wa ! — But take the beads, and
think on his puir soul, as you put them through your
fingers ; he will be freed from purgatory the sooner that
good people pray to assoilzie him."

" Take back your besids, cummer — I know no leger
demain^ — can do no conjuring tricks," said the mediciner
who, more moved than perhaps his rugged nature had
anticipated, endeavoured to avoid receiving the ill-omen-
ed gift. But his last words gave offence to the church-
man, whose presence he had not recollected when he
uttered them.

" How now, sir leech !" said the Dominican 5 " do
you call prayers for the dead juggling tricks ? I know

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«T. VALEirriNE's DAT. 6t

that Chaucer, the English Maker, says of you meilitiin*
ers, that your study is but little on the Bible. Oti^
mother, the Church, hatb nodded of late, but her eyes
are now opened to discern friends from foes ; and be
well assured — ^"

" Nay, reverend father," said Dwining, <* you take me
at too great advantage. I said I could do no miracles,
and was about to add, that as the church certainly couM
work such conclusions, those rich beads should be de-
posited in your hands, to be applied as they may best
benefit the soul of the deceased."

He dropped the beads into the Dominican's hand, and
escaped from the house of mourning.

** This was a strangely dmed visit," he said to him-
self, when he got safe out of doors. *' I hold such .things
cheap as any can ; yet, though it is but a silly fancy, I am
^ad { saved the squalling chfld's life.-— But I roust to my
friend Smotherwell, whom I have no doubt to bring to my
purpose in the matter of Bonthron ^ and thus on this occa-
sion I shall save two lives, and have destroyed only one."


Lo ! Where be lies embaltfked in gofe^

Hw wound to Heaven cries ;
The floodgates of kis blood imt^oire

For vengeance from the skies^


The High Church of St. John in Perth, being that
of the patron saint of the burgh, had been selected by
the Magistrates as that in which the community was
likely to have most fair play for the display of the or-
deal. The churches and convents of the Dominicans^
Carthusians, and others of the regular clergy, had been
highly endowed by the king and nobles, and therefore it
was the universal cry of the city-council, that , ** th^ir ain
good auld St. John," of whose good grace& they thoiight
themselves sure, ought to be fully confided in, and pre-

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98 9T, Vj|kLKi«TiK£'9 DkY*

fenred to the new pa^ronsi fost Vfhom the DommicaiiSf
Carthusians, CanneUtes, and odiers, had founded newer
seats around the Fair City. The disputes betwerai the
regular and secular clergy added to the jealousy which
dictated this choice of the spot in which Heaved was to
display a species of miracle, upon a direct ajqpeal to the
divine decision in a case of doubtful guilt ; and the town**
elerk was as anxious that the church of St« John ^lould
be preferred, as if there had been a faction in the body
of saints for and against the interests of the beautiful
town of Perth.

Many, thereftwre, were the petty intrigues entered into
and disconcerted, for the purpose of fixing on the church.
But the Magistrates, considering it as a matter touching
in a close degree the honour of the city, determined,
with judicious confidence in the justice and impartiality
of their patron, to confide the issue to the influ^ice ,of
St. John.

It was, therefore, after high mass had been perfumed,
with the greatest solemnity of which circumstances ren-
dered the ceremony capable, and after the most repeated
and fervent prayers had been offered to Heaven by the
crowded assembly, that preparations were made for ap-
pealing to the direct judgment of Heaven on the myste-
rious murder of the unfortunate Bonnet-maker.

The scene presented that effect of imposing solemnity,
which the rites of the Catholic church are so weD quali-
fied to produce. The eastern window, richly and vari-
ously painted, streamed down a torrent of chequered
light upon the high altar. On the bier placed before it
Were stretched the mortal remains of the murdered man,
his arms folded on his breast, and his palms joined to-
gether, widi the fingers pointed upwards, as if the sense-
less clay was itself appealing to Heaven for vengeance,
against those who had violently divorced the immortal
spirit fi*om its mangled tenement.

Close to the bier was placed the throne, which sup-
ported Robert of Scotland, and his brother Albany.
The Prince sat upon a lower stool, beside his father :

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8Ti tAU^TUTB^^S UAt. 69

an flrrsiigeinem wiith otc^ioaei liaim ob^dnratidir, ts
Albany's seat being little distinguished from that of the
King; the heir-apparentf tho^b of fcdl age^ seened to he
degraded beneath tns uncle in the »gbt of &e assemfolejd
people of Perth. The bier was so {^ced^ a» to leave
the riew of the body it sustained open to the gr«ater pan
of the multitude asseid^ed in the church.

At the head of the bier stood the Knight df Kinfauns^
the cballengerf and at th# foot the young Earl of Craw^
ford, as representing the defendants The eridence of
the Duke qf Rothsay in esputgatiol^^ ad it wa» termed^
of Sir John Ratnomy^ bad exempted bim from the ne^
cessity of attendane^ as a party subjected to the ordeal ^
and bis illness served as a reason for hi& remaitiing at
bonie. His houseboM^ including those wbo, though im^
mediately in waiting upon 1^ John, were accoynted the
Prince's domestics, and bad not yet received their dis^
missal, amounted to eight or ten persons^ moot of them
esteemed men of profligate habits, and who might there*'
fore be dejBimed capable, in the riot of a festival evenings
of committing the riaugker of the Bonnet-maker. They
were drawn li^ in a row on the Idt side of the church,
and wore a species of white cassock,resembliiigtbedres9
of a penitentiary. All eyes being bent cm them, seveiaJ
of this band seemed so much disconcerted^ as to excite
cmcHig the spectators strong prepossessions of their guilt.
The real murderer bad a cotmtenance incapable of be^
traymg him, — a sidlen, dark kx>k, which neither the feasi
•or wine-cup could enliven, and whicb the peril of dis -
covery and death could not render dejected.

We have already noticed the posture of the dead body.
The face was bare, as were the breast and arms^ The
rest of the corpse was shrouded in a winding-sheet of
tiie finest linen, so diat, if blood should flow from any
place which was covered, it could not fail to be instantly

High mass having been performed, followed by a sol-
enm invocation to the Deity, that he would be jrieased to
protect the innocent, and make known the guilty, Eviot,

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TO ,^T* YJkLE2nrkKfi^« bait*

Sir John Rainorny's peq^ei was summoned to imilei^ llitt
ordeal*^ He advanced with aniS-Bessared^step. P^a|)^
he thought his internal consciousness that Bontfaron musi
have been the assassin, might be sufficient to implicate
him in die murder, though he was not iUreclly accessaiy
lo it. He paused before the bier ; and his voice faltered^
as he swore by aH Aat was created in ^^even days and
seven nights, by heaven, by hell^ by hb part of paradise,
and by die Ood and author of all, that he was free and
sacld^ of the bloody deed done upon the coqxse before
which he stood, and on whose breast he made die s^n of
the cross, in evidence of die appeal. No consequences
ensued. . The body remained stiff as before ; the curdled
wounds gave no si^ of blood*

The Citizens looked on each other with faces of bhmk
disappointment. They had persuaded themselves of
Evict's guilt 5 and their suspicbns had been confirmed Iqr
his irresolute manner. Their surprise at his escape was
therefore extreme* The other followers of Ramomy took
heart, and advanced to take the oath, with .a boklness
which increased, as one by one they performed the ordeal,
and were declared, by the voice of the judges^ firee and
innocent of every suspicion attaching to them on account
of the death of Oliver Proudfiite.

But there was^ one individual, who did not partake that
increasing confidence. The name of " Bon^ron — Bott-
thron !" sounded three times through the aisles of the
church ; but he who owned it acknowledged the call no
otherwise than by a sort of shuffling motion with his feel,
as if he had been suddenly afiTected with a fit of the palsy.

" Speak, dog," whispered Eviot, " or prepare for a
dog's death !"

But the murderer's bi'ain was so much disturbed by
the sight before him, that the judges, beholding his de-
portment, doubted whether to ordain him to be dragged
before the bier, or to pronounce judgment in default ; and
it was not, until he was asked for die last time, whether
he would submit to the ordeal, that he answered, with
his usual brevity, —

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" I will not ;— what do I Jcnow what juggling tricks
may be practised to take a poor man's life ? — I offer the
combat to any man who says I harmed that dead body."

And, according to usual form, he threw his glove upon
the £o(^ of the church.

Henry Smith stepped forward, amidst the murmMred
applauses of his fellow'-citizens, which eyen die august
presence could not entirely suppress ; and lifting the ruf-
fian's glove, which he j^ced in his bonnet, laid down his
own in the usual form, as a gs^e of b^e* But Bon-
thron raised it not.

** He is no match for me," growled the savage, " nor
fit to lift my gbve. I follow the Prince of Scotland, m
attending on his Master of Horse. This fellow is a
wretched mechanic."

Here the Prince interrupted him. " Thou follow wze,
caitiff ! I discharge thee from my service on the spot. —
Take him in hand, Smith, and beat him as thou didst never
thump anvil ! — ^The villain is both guilty and recreant. It
sickens me even to look at him ; and if my royal father
will be ruled by me, he will give the parties two handsome
Scottish axes, and we will see which of th'em turns out
the best fellow before the day is half an hour older,"

This was readily assented to by the Earl of Crawford
and Sir Patrick Chairteris, the godfathers of the parties,
who, as the combatants were men of inferior rank, agreed
that they should fight in steel caps, buff jackets, and with
axes ; and that as soon as they could be prepared for the

The lists were appointed in the Skinners' Yards,^^ a
neighbouring space of ground, occupied by the corpora-
tion from which it had die name, and who quickly clear-
ed a space of about -thirty feet by twenty-five, for the
combatants. Thither thronged tlie nobles, priests, and
commons, — all excepting the old king, who, detesting
such scenes of blood, retired to his residence, and devolv-
ed the charge of the field upon the Earl of Errol, Lord
High Constable, to whose ofiice it more particularly be-
longed. The Duke of Albany watched the whole pro-
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t2 gT* valentine's D1Y«

ceeclbg With a close dtod wary eye. His nephew gave
the scene the heedless degree of notice which correspond-
ed with his character.

When the combatants appeared in the lists, nothing
could be more striking than the contrast betwixt the man-
ly, cheerful countenance of the Smith, whose sparkling
bright eye seemed already beaming with the victcary be
hoped for, and the sullen, downcast aspect of the brutal
Bonthron, who looked as if he were some obscene bird,
driven into sunshme out of the shelter of its darksome
haunts. T^hey made oath severally, each to the truth of
his quarrel 5 a ceremony which Henry Gow performed
with serene and manly confidence-*-Bonthron with a dog-
ged resolution, which induced the Duke of Rothsay to
say to the High Constable, " Didst thou ever, my dear
Errol, behold such a mixture of malignity, cruelty, and I
think fear, as in that fellow's countenance ?"

"He is not comely,'* said the Earl, " but a powerful
knave as I have seen."

** I'll gage a hogshead of wine with you, my good lord,
that he loses the day. Henry the armourer is as strong
as he, and much more active. And then look at his bold
bearing ! There is something in that other fellow that is
loathsome to look upon. Let them yoke presently, my
dear Constable^ for I am sick of beholding him."

The High Constable then addressed the widow, who,
in her deep weeds, and having her children still beside
her, occupied a chair within the lists :— " Woman, do
you willingly accept of this man, Henry the Smith, to do
battle as your champion in this cause ?"

" I do — I do, most willingly," answered Magdalen
Proudfute ; " and may the blesang of God and St. John
give him strength and fortune, since he strikes for the
orphan and fatherless !"

" Then I pronounce this a fenced field of battle," said
the Constable aloud. " Let no one dare, upon peril of
his life, to interrupt this combat by word, speech, or look.
— Sound, trumpets, and fight, combatants !"


ST. VALfiNTI««*« DAT. 73

The trumpets flourished, and the combatants, advanc-
ing from the opposite end of the lists, with a steady and
even pace, looked at each other attentively, well skilled
in judging from the modon of the eye, the direction in
which a blow was meditated. They halted opposite to, and
within reach of, each other, and in turn made more'tban
one feint to strike, in order to ascertain the activity and
vigilance of the opponent. At lengthy whether weary of
these manoeuvres, or fearing lest in a contest so conducted,
his unwieldy strength would be foiled by the activity of the
Smith, Bonthron heaved up his axe for a downright blow,
adding the whole strength of his sturdy arms to the weight
of the weapon in its descent. The Smith, however,
avoided the stroke by stepping aside ; for it was too forcible
to be oHitroUed by any guard which he could have inter-
posed. Ere B<»ithron r^covelred guard, Henry struck
him a sidling bk>w on die steel head-piece, which pros-
trated him on the ground.

'' Confess, or die," said the victor, placing his foot on
the body of the vanquished, and holding to hiis throat the
point of the axe, which terminated in a spike or poniard.

'^ I will confess," said the villain, glaring wildly up-
ward on the sky. " Let me rise."

" Not till you have yielded," said Harry Smith.

'' I do yield," again murmured Bonthron, and Henry
proclaimed aloud that bis antagcmist was defeated.

The Dukes of Rothsay and Albany, the High Consta-
ble, and the Dominican Prior, now entered tl^e lists, and
addressing Bonthron, demanded if he acknowledged him-
self vanquished.

^' I do," answered the miscreant.

" And guilty of the murder of Oliver Proudfute ?"

" 1 am — but I mistook him for another."

" And whom didst thou intend to slaj ?" said th() Prior.
'^ Confess, my son, and merit thy pardon in another world ^
for with this thou hast litde more to do."

" I took the shin man," answered the discomfited com-

7 VOL. II.


74 ST. yAI«B9TI9K 9 DAT.

batanti ** for him whose band has struck me domi, whose
foot now presses me,"

" Blessed be the samts !" said the Prior ; " now aU
those whc ^oubt the virtue of the Iwly ordeal, may have
their eyes opened to their error. Lo, he is trapped in the
snare which he laid for the guiltless."

* I scarce ever saw the man before," said the Smith.
^ I never did wrong to him or his. — Ask him, an it please
your reverence, why he should have thought of dajring
me treacherously." y

" It is a fitting question," answered the Prior. — ** Give
glory where it is due, my son, even though it is manifest-
ed by thy shame. For what reascHi would'st thou have
waylaid this armourer, who says he never wronged thee ?"

" He had wronged him whom I served," answered
Bonthron ; " and I meditated the deed by his conunand."

« By whose command ?" asked die Prior.

Bonthron was silent for an instant^ then growled out,—
" He is too mighty for me to name."

" Hearken, my son," said the churchman ; ** tarry but
a brief hour, and the mighty and the mean of this earth
shall to thee alike be empty sounds. The sledge is even
now preparing to drag tiiee to the place of execution.
Therefore, son, once more I charge thee to consult thy
soul's weal by glorifying Heaven, and speaking the truth.
Was it thy master, Sir John Ramomy, that stirred thee
to so foul a deed ?"

" No," answered the prostrate villam, " it was a greater
than he." And at the same time he pointed with his fin-
ger to the Prince.

" Wretch !" said the astonished Duke of Rothsay :
" do you dare to hint that / was your instigator ?"

" You yourself, my lord," answered the unblushing

" Die in thy falsehood, accursed slave !" said the
Prince ; and, drawing his sword, he would have pierced
his calumniator, had not the Liord High Constable intei-
posed with word and action.



** Your Grace must forgive my discna/png mine office
-—this caitiff must be delivered into the nands of the ex-
ecutioner. He is unfit to be dealt with by any other,
much less by your Highmess."

** What,' noble Earl," said Albany, aAOua, ana with much
real or a^cted emotion, " would you let the dog pass
aKve from hence, to poison the people's ears with false
accusations against the Prince of Scotland ? — I say, cut
him to mammocks upon the spot !"

" Your Highness will pardon me," said the Earl of
Errol ; " I must protect him till his doom is executed."

** Then let him be gagged instantly," said Albany. —
" And you, my royal nephew, why stand you there fixed
in a^onishment ? Call your resolution up— speak to the
prisoner — swear — ^protest by all that is sacred that you
knew not of this felon deed. — See how the people look on
each other, and whisper apart ! My Kfe on't that this lie
spreads faster than any gospel truth.— Speak to them,
royal kinsman, no matter what you say, so you be constant
in denial."

" What, sir," said Rodisay, starting from his pause of
suiprise and mortification, and turning haughtily towards
his uncle ; ** would you have me gage my royal word
against that of an abject recreant ? Let those who can be-
lieve the son of their sovereign, the descendant of Bruce,
capable of laying ambush for the life of a poor mechanic,
enjoy the pleasure of thinking the villain's tale true."

" That will not I for one," said the Smith, bluntly. " 1
never did aught but what was in honour towards his royal
Grace the Duke of Rothsay, and never received unkind-
less from him, in word, look, or deed ; and I cannot think
he would have given aim to such base practice."

" Was it in honour that you threw his Highness from
the ladder in Curfew Street, upon Eastern's Even ?" said
Bontkron ; " or think you the favour was received kindly
or unkindly ?"

This was so boldly said, and seemed so plausible, that
it shook the Smith's opinion of the Prince's innocence.


76 ST. VATlliNTlIiB's DAY.

*^ Aia3, my lord," said he, looldng sorrowfoUy towards
Rothsajr, ^' could your Higlmess seek tn mooceot fellow's
life for domg his duty by a helpless iBfiideu ? - J would
rather have died in these lists, thao Uve to hear it said of
the Bruce's heir !"

<^ Thou art a good fellow, Smith," said the Prince ;
^' but I cannot expect thee to judge more wisely than
others. — Away with that convict to the gallows, and gib-
bet him alive an you will, that he may speak falsehood and
spread scandal on us to the last protonged moment of his
existence !"

So saying, the Prince turned away from the lists, dis-
daining to notice tlie gloomy looks east towards him, as
the crowd made slow and reluctant way for him to pass,
and expressing neither surprise nor displeasure at a deep
hollow murmur, or groan, which accompanied bis retreat.
Only a few (d his own imtnetdiale foUowers Mended him
from the field, though various persons of distioeticm had
come there in his train. Evctn jthe lower class of citizens
ceased to follow the unhappy Prince, whose former indif-
ferent reputation had exposed Urn to 3o many ohaiges of
impropriety and levity, aod around wln^m th^e seemed
now darkening suspicions of the most «<trocious nature.

He took his slow and thoii^htiul way to the church of
the Dominicans ; but the HI news, wUch fly proverbially
fast, had reached his father's place of retirement, before
he himself appeared. On ei^ti^ring the palace and in-
q'liring for the King, the Duke of Rotbsay was surprised
to be informed that he was in deep^onsidtation vrith the
Duke of Albany, who, mounting oq horseback as the
Prince jeft the lists, had reached the convent before him.
He was about to use the privilege of his rank and birth,
to enter the royal apartment, when MacLewis, the com-
mander of the guard of Brandanes, gave him to under-
stand, in the most respectful terms, that be had special
instructions which forbade his admittance.

^^ Go at least, MaeLewis, and let thejin know that I wait
tlieir pleasure," said llie Prinee. " If my uncle desires
*'^ have the credit of shutting the father's apartment

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against the son, it will gratify him to know t^t i am at-
tending in the outer h^ like a lackey »"

^< May it please you^" said MacLewis, with hesitation,
^< if your Highne^ would consent to retire just now, and
to wait awhile in patience, I will send to acquaint you when
the Duke of Alkmy goes ; and I doubt not that his JflsL-
jesty will then admit your Grace to his pree^ence. At
present, your High^ies^ piust forgive me, — ^it is impossible
you can have access."

^^ I understand you, MacLewis ; but go, nevertheless,
and obey my commfuads*''

The cMfficer went accordm^y, and returned with a mes-
sage, that the King was indisposed, and on the pomt of
retiring to his private chamber ; but that the Duke of Al-

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