The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 26
Why flames yon far summit--why shoot to the blast
Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast?
'Tis the fire-shower of ruin, all dreadfully driven
From thine eyrie, that beacons the darkness of Heaven.
THE circumstances announced in the conclusion of the last chapter will account
for the ready and cheerful reception of the Marquis of A---- and the Master of
Ravenswood in the village of Wolf's Hope. In fact, Caleb had no sooner
announced the conflagration of the tower than the whole hamlet were upon foot
to hasten to extinguish the flames. And although that zealous adherent diverted
their zeal by intimating the formidable contents of the subterranean apartments,
yet the check only turned their assiduity into another direction. Never had there
been such slaughtering of capons, and fat geese, and barndoor fowls; never
such boiling of "reested" hams; never such making of car-cakes and sweet
scones, Selkirk bannocks, cookies, and petticoat-tails--delicacies little known to
the present generation. Never had there been such a tapping of barrels, and
such uncorking of greybeards, in the village of Wolf's Hope. All the inferior
houses were thrown open for the reception of the Marquis's dependants, who
came, it was thought, as precursors of the shower of preferment which hereafter
was to leave the rest of Scotland dry, in order to distil its rich dews on the village
of Wolf's Hope under Lammermoor. The minister put in his claim to have the
guests of distinction lodged at the manse, having his eye, it was thought, upon a
neighbouring preferment, where the incumbent was sickly; but Mr. Balderstone
destined that honour to the cooper, his wife, and wife's mother, who danced for
joy at the preferences thus assigned them.
Many a beck and many a bow welcomed these noble guests to as good
entertainment as persons of such rank could set before such visitors; and the old
dame, who had formerly lived in Ravenswood Castle, and knew, as she said, the
ways of the nobility, was in no whit wanting in arranging matters, as well as
circumstances permitted, according to the etiquette of the times. The cooper's
house was so roomy that each guest had his separate retiring-room, to which
they were ushered with all due ceremony, while the plentiful supper was in the
act of being placed upon the table.
Ravenswood no sooner found himself alone than, impelled by a thousand
feelings, he left the apartment, the house, and the village, and hastily retraced his
steps to the brow of the hill, which rose betwixt the village and screened it from
the tower, in order to view the final fall of the house of his fathers. Some idle boys
from the hamlet had taken the same direction out of curiosity, having first
witnessed the arrival of the coach and six and its attendants. As they ran one by
one past the Master, calling to each other to "Come and see the auld tower blaw
up in the lift like the peelings of an ingan," he could not but feel himself moved
with indignation. "And these are the sons of my father's vassals," he said--"of
men bound, both by law and gratitude, to follow our steps through battle, and fire,