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Having taken means to intercept Sir Henry Fairfax's messenger on his way to France, Hildebrand repaired, at the close of the evening, to the waterfall, where he hoped to find some traces of Michael's foul offence. He searched in vain for memorials of the children in the neighbourhood of the gulf, and then ascended to the castle. Here all was solitude. He passed along a ruined gallery, ascended a massive staircase, but nothing was to be seen but the blank walls. He was about retracing his steps when a door suddenly flew open, light gleamed from a gallery within, and the voice of children burst upon his guilty ear. He cast within the door of the apartment a hurried glance, and saw the innocents he had doomed to destruction bounding joyously through the room, and their nurse, Alice, sitting smiling at their pastime. Goaded by insatiate revenge, he drew a poniard from his vest, and rushed on the unoffending offspring of his benefactor. Alice shrieked! She attempted to throw herself between them and their foe, but was too far off to accomplish her purpose; his arm was too sure, and his stroke too sudden; but ere the steel had pierced its victims, that arm was arrested I He looked around, and a female figure, loosely enveloped in a dark cloak, had again rescued them from death. It was the same form that had before interposed to snatch them from the fangs of their remorseless enemy. In the sudden spring she made her garment flew aside. Hildebrand gazed, silently, but with a look of horror too wild and intense to be conceived. He seemed to recognize the intruder: his lips moved rapidly, at he made a convulsed effort to speak—
'Thee, whom the waves had swallowed! Have the seas and waters given up their dead?' he faintly exclaimed, almost gasping for utterance.
It was the much injured and persecuted wife of Sir Henry Fairfax, who now stood before the ahashed miscreant.
'Away!' she cried, 'to Heaven I leave my vengeance and thy crime! Hence, to thy home! Thine, did I say? Soon, monster! shalt thou be chased from thy lair, and the wronged victim regain bis right.'
Hildebrand, awed and confounded, retraced his path, deeply brooding over some more cunning plot to ensnare his prey. He had passed the bridge, and on attempting to remount his steed, his attention was directed to a cloud of dust, and a pale glimmer of arms in ihe evening light. Two horsemen emerged, their steeds studded with gouts of foam, and in an instant one of them alighted before the arch hypocrite. It was Sir Henry Fairfax!
Hildebrand, seeing that flight was in vain and resistance unavailing, rushed towards the bridge, and, ere his purpose could be anticipated, precipitated himself into the water.
In another moment Sir Henry had clasped to his heart his wife and children: when his lady fled from Ravendale Castle, in order to elude the search of her tormentor, who had the audacity to threaten by force to make her bis wife, she threw off her cloak and headdress, laying them on the river's brink, that it might appear as though she had accomplished her own destruction. To the care of the faithful Alice she had committed her children, and likewise the secret of her concealment. Alice was in continual correspondence with her unfortunate mistress; and had that morning conveyed to her master, by his messenger, the secret of Lady Fairfax's concealment.
Sir Henry's timely return was owing to an unexexpected exchange of prisoners, which took place soon after the departure of his servant for England. Once at liberty, he hastened home, and opportunely had met his messenger ou the London road. On learning the treachery of Hildebrand and the situation of his family he urged his steed to his utmost, and encouraged his followers to imitate his example. Their arrival was opportune, and the joy of his lady unbounded. Next day he restored her to Ravendale Castle and all its splendour. The peasantry celebrated the event with rejoicings, and the memory of Hildebrand Wentworth was, ever after, held in deserved detestation.
THE BLACK CAVE OF THE M'DONALUS,
A LEGEND OF EIO.
Upon the blast of night a sound fell sad upon mine car; The voice of strife, the shriek of death, the clang ot sword and spear.
Among the inhabitants of that cluster of islands on the western coast of Scotland, called the Hebrides, are still current many romantic legends illustrative of feudal manners and vehement passions. These sequestered people still listen, with eager intensity, to the story of other days, and the blue eye of the young Highlander glistens with animation when he hears the elders of the land relate the tale of flood and field, and the wild commotion of other days, when all men recognized the good old plan, that
'He should take who had the power,
Not long since, during an excursion to the western coast, I stopped on the little island of Eig. It is romantic, without being what is generally considered extremely picturesque: there are neither flowery dales nor waving forests, but there are objects more magnificent. The cataract and the mountain stream keep up a perpetual music, which harmonises well with the rugged scene, and the scream of the eagle from its eyry among the rocks accords with a place where every thing around is wildly magnificent. Adjoining Eig is another and a smaller island, of a more pastoral character; but the associations connected with it relate to any thing rather than rustic tranquillity. Within it is shown a dark cave, the entrance to which is extremely narrow, affording ingress to not more than one person at a time. The interior, however, is capaeious, and, according to the tradition of the islanders, superhuman sounds of weal and anguish are nightly to be heard issuing from its narrow aperture. A fair-haired mountaineer, who undertook to be my guide to this cavern, approached it with superstitious awe, and, as we rowed from the island, related to me the following legend :—
When a clan of the M'Donalds possessed Kg, this little island served as a kind of out-farm where the cattle were pastured during the summer months, and it was the business of the fair daughters of the M'Donalds to proceed thither for the purpose of milking the kine. One evening a joyous party had concluded this business of pastoral innocence, and were amusing themselves on the green sward with harmless, but boisterous mirth, when the sound of a pibroch was heard at some distance. Their shouts of laughter were instantly suspended, and they listened attentively.
'It is the young chieftain,' said Mary, 'who has come with his tail in old Allan's boat to take us home,' and her eyes, bright and blue, glistened with animation as she spoke; for Mary, the fairest of Eig's charming daughters, was beloved by the young M'Donald.
Her gay companions were of the same opinion, and, snatching up their milk pails, they hastened towards the shore. They had not advanced far when the music sounded nearer to them, aud, as they turned the angle of a projecting rock, their astonished eyes encountered not the well-known plaid of the M'Donald's but the dark tartan of the M'Leods. With a wild scream they dashed their vessels on the ground, and simultaneously fled; but, though terror lent them a momentary energy, their speed was unavailing: a dozen highlanders quickly overtook them, and their chief soon held the affrighted M ary in his grasp.
'Unhand me, dark chief of M'Leod,' said she, as she disengaged herself from his hand; 'methinks thee and the M'Donald seldom meet but on the brown moor foot to foot, and your hands seldom grasp each other save in the grasp of death—you once met on the broad heaths of Mornish—'
'True, maiden,' interrupted M'Leod, ' we did meet; but then thy chief, thy minion, was surrounded by his hundreds, and even then did I not bear thee, shrieking, from amidst their clashing steels, whose blue points drank my blood in torrents? Yes, I bore thee to the bright green sward, where, faint with loss of blood, and reeling with the deep, dark gashes on my brow, I sunk to the ground, and when my dizzy senses awoke thou wert gone; the sea danced brightly on the prows that bore thee off, and I lay cold and stiffened in my gore; but now, girl, thou art my own; thy chief is not here now; and were he here—heavens that he were! he should not tear you from me.'
In the mean time the M'Donalds were congregated round the wassail bowl. Each grew more clamorous as the liquor circulated, and they had resolved on a predatory excursion to the main land, when Allan, the aged boatman, rusbed into the place, exclaiming, 'Death to the M'Leods!'
* Death to the M'Leods!' repeated the clansmen, starting to their feet, while every man had his hand on his claymore.
'Death to the M'Leods!' again exclaimed Allan, 'they have seized upon the daughters of Eig—'
'Upon Mary?' interrupted the young chief;' speak, Allan, has Mary fallen into the power of M'Leod V
'Even so,' was the reply. 'Going, as I was wont, to the island to bring home the maidens, I heard cries of distress, and espied the dark tartan of the M'Leod—'
* Enough,' interrupted the chieftain, and, in a fe-v minutes, the little strait between the islands was covered with the boats of the M'Donalds. The evening had not yet fallen, and the M'Leods had not quitted the island. When they saw their hereditary enemy advancing, their minstrel struck up their war song, and fierce was the encounter which ensued. The M'Donalds, however, triumphed, and the chief of the M'Leods was among the slain.
Sweet was the meeting between children and parents when the valiant M'Donalds leturned to Eig; but their rejoicing was interrupted by the appearance of a hostile fleet. The M'Leods, thirsting for revenge, had returned, and long was the war which they waged against the Chieftain of Eig. The M'Donalds made a brave resistance, but their courage could not sup