The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 20
Lovelier in her own retired abode
....than Naiad by the side
Of Grecian brook--or Lady of the Mere
Lone sitting by the shores of old romance.
THE meditations of Ravenswood were of a very mixed complexion. He saw
himself at once in the very dilemma which he had for some time felt
apprehensive he might be placed in. The pleasure he felt in Lucy's company had
indeed approached to fascination, yet it had never altogether surmounted his
internal reluctance to wed with the daughter of his father's foe; and even in
forgiving Sir William Ashton the injuries which his family had received, and giving
him credit for the kind intentions he professed to entertain, he could not bring
himself to contemplate as possible an alliance betwixt their houses. Still, he felt
that Alice poke truth, and that his honour now required he should take an instant
leave of Ravenswood Castle, or become a suitor of Lucy Ashton. The possibility
of being rejected, too, should he make advances to her wealthy and powerful
father--to sue for the hand of an Ashton and be refused--this were a
consummation too disgraceful. "I wish her well," he said to himself, "and for her
sake I forgive the injuries her father has done to my house; but I will never--no,
never see her more!"
With one bitter pang he adopted this resolution, just as he came to where two
paths parted: the one to the Mermaiden's Fountain, where he knew Lucy waited
him, the other leading to the castle by another and more circuitous road. He
paused an instant when about to take the latter path, thinking what apology he
should make for conduct which must needs seem extraordinary, and had just
muttered to himself, "Sudden news from Edinburgh--any pretext will serve; only
let me dally no longer here," when young Henry came flying up to him, half out of
breath: "Master, Master you must give Lucy your arm back to the castle, for I
cannot give her mine; for Norman is waiting for me, and I am to go with him to
make his ring-walk, and I would not stay away for a gold Jacobus; and Lucy is
afraid to walk home alone, though all the wild nowt have been shot, and so you
must come away directly."
Betwixt two scales equally loaded, a feather's weight will turn the scale. "It is
impossible for me to leave the young lady in the wood alone," said Ravenswood;
"to see her once more can be of little consequence, after the frequent meetings
we have had. I ought, too, in courtesy, to apprise her of my intention to quit the
And having thus satisfied himself that he was taking not only a wise, but an
absolutely necessary, step, he took the path to the fatal fountain. Henry no
sooner saw him on the way to join his sister than he was off like lightning in
another direction, to enjoy the society of the forester in their congenial pursuits.
Ravenswood, not allowing himself to give a second thought to the propriety of his