The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 14
As, to the Autumn breeze's bugle sound,
Various and vague the dry leaves dance their round;
Or, from the garner-door, on ether borne,
The chaff flies devious from the winnow'd corn;
So vague, so devious, at the breath of heaven,
From their fix'd aim are mortal counsels driv'n.
WE left Caleb Balderstone in the extremity of triumph at the success of his
various achievements for the honour of the house of Ravenswood. When he had
mustered and marshalled his dishes of divers kinds, a more royal provision had
not been seen in Wolf's Crag since the funeral feast of its deceased lord. Great
was the glory of the serving-man, as he "decored" the old oaken table with a
clean cloth, and arranged upon it carbonaded venison and roasted wild-fowl, with
a glance, every now and then, as if to upbraid the incredulity of his master and
his guests; and with many a story, more or less true, was Lockhard that evening
regaled concerning the ancient grandeur of Wolf's Crag, and the sway of its
barons over the country in their neighbourhood.
"A vassal scarce held a calf or a lamb his ain, till he had first asked if the Lord of
Ravenswood was pleased to accept it; and they were obliged to ask the lord's
consent before they married in these days, and mony a merry tale they tell about
that right as weel as others. And although," said Caleb, "these times are not like
the gude auld times, when authority had its right, yet true it is, Mr. Lockhard, and
you yoursell may partly have remarked, that we of the house of Ravenswood do
our endeavour in keeping up, by all just and lawful exertion of our baronial
authority, that due and fitting connexion betwixt superior and vassal, whilk is in
some danger of falling into desuetude, owing to the general license and misrule
of these present unhappy times."
"Umph!" said Mr. Lockhard; "and if I may inquire, Mr. Balderstone, pray do you
find your people at the village yonder amenable? for I must needs say, that at
Ravenswood Castle, now pertaining to my master the Lord Keeper, ye have not
left behind ye the most compliant set of tenantry."
"Ah! but Mr. Lockhard," replied Caleb, "ye must consider there has been a
change of hands, and the auld lord might expect twa turns frae them, when the
new-comer canna get ane. A dour and fractious set they were, thae tenants of
Ravenswood, and ill to live wi' when they dinna ken their master; and if your
master put them mad ance, the whole country will not put them down."
"Troth," said Mr. Lockhard, "an such be the case, I think the wisest thing for us a '
wad be to hammer up a match between your young lord and our winsome young
leddy up-bye there; and Sir William might just stitch your auld barony to her
gown-sleeve, and he wad sune cuitle another out o' somebody else, sic a lang
head as he has."