cunning leer which the old Bluegown, Edie Ochiltree, now and then cast upon them.
"Hear til him," he whispered to Sir Arthur Wardour—"hear til him; the poor mon's gone clean gyte with his saxpennies and his old penny bodies! odd, but it gars me laugh whiles!"
Both Sir Arthur and his lovely daughter, Isabel, smiled at the earnestness of the old man, and slipping some money into his hand, the latter bade him come up to the castle in the morning.
At this moment radiant in spirituelle beauty, glorious Die Vernon, like another Grace Greenwood, swept past me, followed by Rashleigh, and half a score of the Osbaldistons. She was, indeed, a lovely creature. The dark-green riding-dress she wore fitting so perfectly her light, elegant figure, served but to enhance the brilliancy of her complexion, blooming with health and exercise. Her long black hair, free from the little hat which hung carelessly upon her arm, fell around her in beautiful profusion, and even the golden-tipped riding-whip she held so gracefully in her little hand, seemed as a wand to draw her worshipers around her.
Turning suddenly and finding herself so closely followed by Rashleigh, her beautiful eyes flashed disdainfully, and linking her arm within that of Clara Mowbray, who, with the gay party from St. Ronan's Well, were just entering the saloon, she waved her hand to her cousin, forbidding his nearer approach, and, with the step of a deer, she was gone.
An oath whistled through the teeth of Rashleigh, and his dark features contracted into a terrible frown.
"Hout, mon—dinna be fashed! Bide a bit—bide a bit! as my father, the deacon—"
"Ah, Bailie, are you there?" cried Rashleigh, impatiently; "why I thought you were hanging from the trees around the cave of your robber kinsman, Rob."
Ere the worthy Nicol Jarvie could reply to this uncourteous address, the smiling Mr. Winterblossom approached, and in the name of the goddess, Lady Penelope Penfeather, commanded the presence of the angered Rashleigh at the shrine of her beauty. This changed the current of his thoughts, and with all that grace of manner and eloquence of lip and eye, which no one knew better how to assume, he followed to the little group of which the Lady Penelope and her rival, Lady Binks, formed the attraction. But whatever may have been the gallant things he was saying, they were soon ended in the bustle consequent upon the sudden rushing in of the brave Captain McTurk, followed by the enraged Meg Dods, with no less a weapon in her hand than a broom-stick, with which she was striving to belabor the shoulders of the unhappy McTurk.
"Hegh, sirs!" she cried, brandishing it above her head, "I'll gar ye to know ye're not coming flisking to an honest woman's house setting folks by the lugs. Keep to your ain whillying hottle here, ye ne'er-do-weel, or I'll mak' windle-strae o' your banes—and what for no?"
Happily for the gallant captain, Old Touchwood here interposed, and by dint of coaxing and threats of joining himself to the gay company at the Spring, the irascible Meg was finally marched off.
A deep sigh near me caused me to look around, and there, as pure and as lovely as the water-lily drooping from its fragile stem, sat poor Lucy Ashton. And like that beautiful flower, the lily of the wave, seemed the love of that unhappy maid:
"Quivering to the blast
Through every nerve—yet rooted deep and fast
Midst life's dark sea."
Her eyes were cast down, and her rich veil of golden tresses sweeping around her. At a little distance, with folded arms and bent brows, stood the Laird of Ravenswood, yet unable to approach the broken-hearted girl, as her proud, unfeeling mother, the stately Lady Ashton, kept close guard over her; and it made me shudder to behold, also, the old hag, Ailsie Gourley, crouching down by her bonny mistress, and stroking the lily-white hand which hung so listless at her side, mumbling the while what seemed to me must be some incantation to the Evil One.
"Wae's me—wae's me!" exclaimed that prince of serving-men, Caleb Balderstone, at this moment presenting himself before his master; "and is your honor, then, not ganging hame when Mysie the puir old body's in the dead thraw! Hech, sirs, but its awfu'! Ane of the big sacks o' siller—a' gowd, ye maun ken, which them gawky chields and my ain sell were lifting to your honor's chaumer, cam down on her head! Eh! but it gars me greet—ah! wull-a-wins, we maun a' dee!"
"Ah, she is a bonny thing, but ye ken she is a wee bit daft, puir lassie!" cried Madge Wildfire, smirking and bowing, to catch the eye of Jeanie Deans, who, leaning on the arm of her betrothed, Reuben Butler, stood gazing with tearful eyes upon that wreck of hope and love exhibited in the person of the ill-fated Lucy of Lammermoor.
Bless that sweet, meek face of Jeanie Deans! Many a lovelier—many a fairer were in that assemblage, yet not one more winning or truthful. The honest, pure heart shone from those mild blue eyes; one might know she could make any sacrifice for those she loved, and that guided and guarded by her own innocence and steadfast truth, neither crowns nor sceptres could daunt her from her noble purpose.
And there, too, was Effie. Not Effie, the Lily of St. Leonards, such as she was when gayly tending her little flock on St. Leonard's Craigs—not Effie, the poor, wretched criminal of the Tolbooth—but Effie, the rich and beautiful Lady Staunton, receiving with all the ease and elegance of a high-born dame the homage of the nobles surrounding her, of whom none shone more conspicuous than his grace the Duke of Argyle, on whose arm she was leaning.
With the step and bearing of a queen a noble lady now approached, and as, unattended by knight or dame, she moved gracefully through the brilliant crowd, every eye was turned on her with admiration.
Need I say it was Rebecca, the Jewess.
A rich turban of yellow silk, looped at the side by an aigrette of diamonds, and confining a beautiful ostrich plume, was folded over her polished brow, from which her long, raven tresses floated in beautiful curls around her superb neck and shoulders. A simarre of crimson silk, studded with jewels, and gathered to her slender waist by a magnificent girdle of fine gold, reached below the hips, where it was met by a flowing robe of silver tissue bordered with pearls. In queenly dignity she was about to pass from the saloon, when the noble Richard of the Lion Heart stepped hastily forward, and respectfully saluted her. He still wore his sable armor, and with his visor thrown back, had for some time been negligently reclining against one of the lofty pillars, a careless spectator of the scene around him. The lovely Jewess paused, and with graceful ease replied to the address of the monarch; but at that moment the voice of Ivanhoe, speaking to Rowena, fell on her ear—and with a hurried reverence to Cœur de Lion, she glided from the apartment.
"No, Ivanhoe," thought I, "thou hast not done wisely—beautiful as is the fair Rowena, to whom thy troth stands plighted—thou shouldst have won the peerless Rebecca for thy bride."
I was aroused from the revery into which I had unconsciously fallen by a hoarse voice at my elbow repeating a Pater Noster, and turning around, I beheld the jovial Friar of Copmanhurst, one hand grasping a huge oaken cudgel, the other swiftly running over his rosary.
Mary of Avenel next appeared, and (or it may have been fancy) near her floated the airy vision of the White Lady.
There was Sir Piercie Shafton, too, and the miller's black-eyed daughter. The voice of the knight was low and apparently his words were tender; for poor Mysie Happer, with cheeks like a fresh-blown rose, and sparkling eyes, drank in with her whole soul the honeyed accents of the Euphoist.