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The Bride of Lammermoor

Chapter 5
Is she a Capulet?
O dear account! my life is my foe's debt.
THE Lord Keeper walked for nearly a quarter of a mile in profound silence. His
daughter, naturally timid, and bred up in those ideas of filial awe and implicit
obedience which were inculcated upon the youth of that period, did not venture to
interrupt his meditations.
"Why do you look so pale, Lucy?" said her father, turning suddenly round and
breaking silence.
According to the ideas of the time, which did not permit a young woman to offer
her sentiments on any subject of importance unless required to do so, Lucy was
bound to appear ignorant of the meaning of all that had passed betwixt Alice and
her father, and imputed the emotion he had observed to the fear of the wild cattle
which grazed in that part of the extensive chase through which they were now
Of these animals, the descendants of the savage herds which anciently roamed
free in the Caledonian forests,. it was formerly a point of state to preserve a few
in the parks of the Scottish nobility. Specimens continued within the memory of
man to be kept at least at three houses of distinction--Hamilton, namely,
Drumlanrig, and Cumbernauld. They had degenerated from the ancient race in
size and strength, if we are to judge from the accounts of old chronicles, and
from the formidable remains frequently discovered in bogs and morasses when
drained and laid open. The bull had lost the shaggy honours of his mane, and the
race was small and light made, in colour a dingy white, or rather a pale yellow,
with black horns and hoofs. They retained, however, in some measure, the
ferocity of their ancestry, could not be domesticated on account of their antipathy
to the human race, and were often dangerous if approached unguardedly, or
wantonly disturbed. It was this last reason which has occasioned their being
extirpated at the places we have mentioned, where probably they would
otherwise have been retained as appropriate inhabitants of a Scottish woodland,
and fit tenants for a baronial forest. A few, if I mistake not, are still preserved at
Chillingham Castle, in Northumberland, the seat of the Earl of Tankerville.
It was to her finding herself in the vicinity of a group of three or four of these
animals, that Lucy thought proper to impute those signs of fear which had arisen
in her countenance for a different reason. For she had been familiarised with the
appearance of the wil cattle during her walks in the chase; and it was not then, as
it may be now, a necessary part of a young lady's demeanour to indulge in
causeless tremors of the nerves. On the present occasion, however, she
speedily found cause for real terror.
Lucy had scarcely replied to her father in the words we have mentioned, and he
was just about to rebuke her supposed timidity, when a bull, stimulated either by
the scarlet colour of Miss Ashton's mantle, or by one of those fits of capricious
ferocity to which their dispositions are liable, detached himself suddenly from the