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to the Castle of Avenel. There will be a change ere they see me again, he thought to himself; I shall wear the coat of plate instead of the buff jerkin, and the steel morion for the bonnet and feather. They will be bold that may venture to break a gibe on the man-at-arms for the follies of the page; and I trust, that ere we return I shall have done something more worthy of note, than hallooing a hound after a deer, or scrambling a crag for a kite's nest. He could not, indeed, help marvelling that his grandmother, with all her religious prejudices, leaning it would seem to the other side, had consented so readily to his re-entering the service of the House of Avenel; and yet more, at the mysterious joy with which she took leave of him at the Abbey.
« Heaven," said the dame, as she kissed her young relation, and bade him farewell, « works its own work, even by the hands of those of our enemies who think themselves the strongest and the wisest. Thou, my child, be ready to act upon the call of thy religion and country; and remember, each earthly bond which thou canst form is, compared to the ties which bind thee to them, like the loose flax to the twisted cable. Thou hast not forgot the face or form of the damsel, Catherine Seyton?>>
Roland would have replied in the negative, but the word seemed to stick in his throat, and Magdalen continued her exhortations.
Thou must not forget her, my son; and here I entrust thee with a token, which I trust thou
wilt speedily find an opportunity of delivering with care and secrecy into her own hand.»
She put here into Roland's hand a very small packet, of which she again enjoined him to take the strictest care, and to suffer it to be seen by no one save Catherine Seyton, who, she again (unnecessarily) reminded him, was the young maiden he had met on the preceding day. She then bestowed on him her solemn benediction, and bade God speed him.
There was something in her manner and her conduct which implied mystery; but Roland Græme was not of an age or temper to waste much time in endeavouring to decypher her' meaning. All that was obvious to his perception in the present journey, promised pleasure and novelty. He rejoiced that he was travelling towards Edinburgh, in order to assume the character of a man, and lay aside that of a boy. He was delighted to think that he would have an opportunity of rejoining Catherine Seyton, whose bright eyes and lively manners had made so favourable an impression on his imagination; and, as an inexperienced, yet high-spirited youth, entering for the first time upon active life, his heart bounded at the thought, that he was about to see all those scenes of courtly splendour and warlike adventures, of which the followers of Sir Halbert used to boast on their occasional visits to Avenel, to the wonderment and envy of those who, like Roland, knew courts and camps only by hearsay, and were condemned
to the solitary sports and almost monastic seclusion of Avenel, surrounded by its lonely lake, and embosomed among its pathless mountains. They shall mention my name, he said to himself, if the risk of my life can purchase me opportunities of distinction, and Catherine Seyton's saucy eye shall rest with more respect on the distinguished soldier, than that with which she laughed to scorn the raw and inexperienced page.-There was wanting but one accessary to complete the sense of rapturous excitation, and he possessed it by being once more mounted on the back of a fiery and active horse, instead of plodding along on foot, as had been the case during the preceding days.
Impelled by the liveliness of his own spirits, which so many circumstances tended naturally to exalt, Roland Græme's voice and his laughter were soon distinguished amid the trampling of the horses of the retinue, and more than once. attracted the attention of their leader, who re- : marked with satisfaction, that the youth replied with good-humoured raillery to such of the train as jested with him on his dismissal and return to the service of the House of Avenel.
«I thought the holly-branch in your bonnet had been blighted, Master Roland ;» said one of the men-at-arms.
Only pinched with half an hour's frost; you see it flourishes as green as ever.»
<< It is too grave a plant to flourish on so hot a soil as that head-piece of thine, Master Roland
Græme,» retorted the other, who was an old equerry of Sir Halbert Glendinning.
a If it will not flourish alone," said Roland, « I will mix it with the laurel and the myrtle-and I will carry them so near the sky, that it shall make amends for their stinted growth.»
Thus speaking, he dashed his spurs into his horse's sides, and, checking him at the same time, compelled him to execute a lofty caracole. Sir Halbert Glendinning looked at the demeanour of his new attendant with that sort of melancholy pleasure with which those who have long followed the pursuits of life, and are sensible of their vanity, regard the gay, young, and buoyant spirits, to whom life, as yet, is only hope and promise.
In the meanwhile, Adam Woodcock, the falconer, stripped of his masquing habit, and attired, according to his rank and calling, in a green jerkin, with a bag on the one side, and a short hanger on the other, a glove on his left hand which reached half way up his arm, and a bonnet and feather upon his head, came after the party as fast as his active little galloway-nag could trot, and immediately entered into parley with Roland Græme.
« So, my youngster, you are once more under shadow of the holly-branch?»
«< And in case to repay you, my good friend,» answered Roland, « your ten groats of silver.»
« Which, but an hour since," said the falconer, "you had nearly paid me with ten inches of steel.
On my faith, it is written in the book of our destiny, that I must brook your dagger, after all.»
Nay, speak not of that, my good friend,» said the youth, «< I would rather have broached my own bosom than yours; but who could have known you in the mumming dress wore?»>> "Yes," the falconer resumed, for both as a poet and actor he had his own professional share of self-conceit,« I think I was as good an Howleglas as ever played part at a Shrovetide revelry, and not a much worse Abbot of Unreason. I defy the Old Enemy to unmask me when I choose to keep my vizard on. What the devil brought the knight on us before we had the game out? You would have heard me hollo my own new ballad with a voice should have reached to Berwick. But, I pray you, Master Roland, be less free of cold steel on slight occasions; for, but for the stuffing of my reverend doublet, I had only left the kirk to take my place in the kirk-yard.»
"Nay, spare me that feud,» said Roland Græme, « we shall have no time to fight it out; for, by our lord's command, I am bound for Edinburgh.>>
"I know it," said Adam Woodcock, «and even therefore we shall have time to solder up this rent by the way, for Sir Halbert has appointed me your companion and guide. »
Ay; and with what purpose?" said the
« That," said the falconer, «is a question I