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قراءة كتاب The Three Perils of Man; or, War, Women, and Witchcraft, Vol. 2 (of 3)

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The Three Perils of Man; or, War, Women, and Witchcraft, Vol. 2 (of 3)

The Three Perils of Man; or, War, Women, and Witchcraft, Vol. 2 (of 3)

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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THE
THREE PERILS OF MAN;
OR,
War, Women, and Witchcraft.
A BORDER ROMANCE.

By JAMES HOGG,
AUTHOR OF "WINTER-EVENING TALES," "BROWNIE OF
BODSBECK," "QUEEN'S WAKE," &c. &c.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

Beshrew me if I dare open it.

Fletcher.

LONDON:
LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN,
PATERNOSTER-ROW.

1822.

John Moir, Printer, Edinburgh, 1822.

THE
THREE PERILS OF MAN.

CHAPTER I.

He was a base and a cruel knight,
As ever my two eyes did see;
And all that he did, and all that he said,
It was by the might of glamourye.
But yet his gear was o' the goude
As it waved and wampished in the wind;
And the coal-black steed he rode upon,
It was fleeter than the bonny hind.

Ballad of Sir Colin Brand.

The distance from Melrose to the castle of Aikwood being only about nine English miles, our party came in view of it before sun-set. It was one of those dead calm winter evenings, not uncommon at that season, when the slightest noise is heard at a distance, and the echoes are all abroad.

As they drew near to the huge dark-looking pile, silence prevailed among them more and more. All was so still that even that beautiful valley seemed a waste. There was no hind whistling at the plough; no cattle nor sheep grazing on the holms of Aikwood; no bustle of servants, kinsmen, or their grooms, as at the castles of other knights. It seemed as if the breath of the enchanter, or his eye, had been infectious, and had withered all within its influence, whether of vegetable, animal, or human life. The castle itself scarcely seemed to be the abode of man; the massy gates were all locked; no porter was in attendance; and there was only one small piping smoke issuing from one of the turrets.

"Gude faith! callans," said Charlie, "that's a douth and an awsome looking bigging. I wish we were fairly in, and safely out again."

"Is that now to be my residence, Yardbire?" said the beautiful Delany. "Will you go away, and leave Elias and me in that frightsome and desolate looking mansion?"

"If the great Master gie us a civil answer," said Charlie, not well wotting what to say,—"and desire to have you for his handmaiden, or rather the mistress of his castle, to overlook the other maids, and the spinning and weaving concerns like, then we have orders to leave you. But, if he should be cross, and crabbit, and paughty wi' us, ye're in gude hands, and we'll no quat wi' you sae easily."

"Thou art in good hands indeed," said the friar: "But, alas! what is man! a flower of the field that the hand of the mower cutteth down and leaveth to decay: A shadow; a sound that passeth away and is not. But, maiden, thou art in better hands than ours; in hands that will not leave the innocent and guiltless to perish. There is an arm around thee that thou seest not: there is a guardian with a sword behind thee and before thee, of whom thou art not aware. Therefore have thou no fear, for no evil shall befal thee."

"Methinks I could live any where, and be void of fear, if but suffered to be in your presence," said Delany: "There is something in what you have told me that goes to my heart, and on it I think I can rely."

"Blessed be thou, my daughter!" said he; "yea, and blessed shalt thou be in thy generation"—

"Hear to that!" said the poet aside: "Still on one subject! It is all over with some body!"

—"But thou art perhaps going into a place of danger, and evil things may await thee. Here, take thou this, and keep it in thy bosom; and, by the blessing of the Holy Virgin, it shall shield thee from all malevolent spirits, all enchantments, and all dangers of the wicked one; the time may come when thou shalt more thoroughly understand the great things contained in this book."

As he said this, he put into her hand a small gilded copy of the Four Evangelists, which she kissed and put into her bosom. All the rest saw this, and took it for a book of the Black Art.

By this time they were drawing near to the gate at Aikwood, where all continued silent and still as formerly. Notwithstanding of this, Charlie's horse, Corby, began to cock his ears and snort in a terrible manner. Stout-hearted as Charlie war, his countenance began to alter; but he uttered not a word farther than coaxing Corby to proceed. The mule leading the way altogether regardless, the horses jogged on after him, example going farther than precept, whether with man or beast. All the horses were, however, become restive, though none of them was half so fierce as Corby. He continued to force down his head, as if smelling the ground; anon capering and snuffing the air, snorting aloud, and moving with an elasticity rather like a thing of spirit than of joints and bones. "Gude faith, Corby, my man," said Charlie, as he patted his mane, "a' isna right here! Wend on, ye camstairy thief: what the deil ails ye? But, gude sauf us! ane should take care wha they name here. They say, an speak o' the deil he'll appear."

The old proverb had scarcely left Charlie's lips, when, all at once, they beheld three pages in black livery standing ranged before the gate, although the moment before there was no living creature there. They seemed to have arisen out of the ground, and as they rose they bowed their heads in a sarcastic way to the embassy. The appearance of the pages, and the motion that they made were both accomplished in the same moment of time, and at the motion every one of the horses broke away, like so many scared wildfowl, some one way, and some another. Charlie tried to restrain Corby with the whole might of his capacious arm; but the impatient animal plunged and bounded into the air with such violence, that his rider was obliged to give him head, and away he sprung like a roe over field and river, straining every nerve to be out of sight of Aikwood, while Charlie's warrior cloak, that hung only by the shoulder clasp, flapped so far behind him that he appeared like a black cloud skimming the valley. Though none of the other horses made equal speed with Corby, every one ran as fast as it could, and all to the eastward, though far asunder.

The mule, on the contrary, never moved nor concerned himself about the matter. He indeed held forward his long ears, and took a serious look of the pages, as of some sort of beings he did not more than generally understand. Nevertheless he despised them, and looked about with apparent astonishment and derision at the madness and folly of his associates. The friar, finding himself left with his mule and the three pages thus unaccountably, began to address the latter; but they only imitated his motions, and made wry faces, without returning him any answer. The mule had by this time taken another serious look at them, and disliking them exceedingly, he sidled towards them with all his mettle, and tried to hit them with his heels. The urchins then raised such an eldritch

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