The Black Dwarf HTML version

Chapter 9
So spak the knicht; the geaunt sed,
Lend forth with the, the sely maid,
And mak me quile of the and sche;
For glaunsing ee, or brow so brent,
Or cheek with rose and lilye blent,
Me lists not ficht with the. --- ROMANCE OF THE FALCON.
The tower, before which the party now stood, was a small square building, of the
most gloomy aspect. The walls were of great thickness, and the windows, or slits
which served the purpose of windows, seemed rather calculated to afford the
defenders the means of employing missile weapons, than for admitting air or light
to the apartments within. A small battlement projected over the walls on every
side, and afforded farther advantage of defence by its niched parapet, within
which arose a steep roof, flagged with grey stones. A single turret at one angle,
defended by a door studded with huge iron nails, rose above the battlement, and
gave access to the roof from within, by the spiral staircase which it enclosed. It
seemed to the party that their motions were watched by some one concealed
within this turret; and they were confirmed in their belief when, through a narrow
loophole, a female hand was seen to wave a handkerchief, as if by way of signal
to them. Hobbie was almost out of his senses with joy and eagerness.
"It was Grace's hand and arm," he said; "I can swear to it amang a thousand.
There is not the like of it on this side of the Lowdens--We'll have her out, lads, if
we should carry off the Tower of Westburnflat stane by stane."
Earnscliff, though he doubted the possibility of recognising a fair maiden's hand
at such a distance from the eye of the lover, would say nothing to damp his
friend's animated hopes, and it was resolved to summon the garrison.
The shouts of the party, and the winding of one or two horns, at length brought to
a loophole, which flanked the entrance, the haggard face of an old woman.
"That's the Reiver's mother," said one of the Elliots; "she's ten times waur than
himsell, and is wyted for muckle of the ill he does about the country."
"Wha are ye? what d'ye want here?" were the queries of the respectable
"We are seeking William Graeme of Westburnflat," said Earnscliff.
"He's no at hame," returned the old dame.
"When did he leave home?" pursued Earnscliff.
"I canna tell," said the portress.
"When will he return?" said Hobbie Elliot.
"I dinna ken naething about it," replied the inexorable guardian of the keep.
"Is there anybody within the tower with you?" again demanded Earnscliff.
"Naebody but mysell and baudrons," said the old woman.
"Then open the gate and admit us," said Earnscliff; "I am a justice of peace, and
in search of the evidence of a felony."
"Deil be in their fingers that draws a bolt for ye," retorted the portress; "for mine
shall never do it. Thinkna ye shame o' yoursells, to come here siccan a band o'