skins are sometimes of great size, and we without thoroughfare and without trade; few bave measured one which was nine feet sev- leave it and still fewer think of going there, en inches from tip to tip. The leopard skins for there one feels as if on the very verge of are exclusively used for military purposes, society; for there, even by day, reigns a and the jaguar's are preferred for rugs. monastic gloom, a desertion, a melancholy,

a uniform and voiceless silence, broken only From the Dublin University Magazine.

by the croak of the gleds and the cawing of A LEGEND OF THE EAST NEUK OF FIFE.

the clamorous gulls nestling on the old church JT was a cold night in the March of the tower, while the sea booms in

tower, while the sea booms incessantly as it I year 1708. The hour of ten had tolled | rolls on the rocky beach. from the old Gothic tower of the Collegiate But there was a time when it was otherChurch; beating on his drum, the drummer wise; when the hum of commerce rose around in the livery of the burgh had proceeded from its sculptured cross, and there was a daily busthe Market-cross to the ruins of St. David's tle in the chambers of its Town-hall, for there Castle, and from thence to the chapel of St. a portly provost and bailies with a battalion of Rufus, and having made one long roll or flour- seventeen corpulent councillors sat solemnly ish at the point from whence his peregrina- deliberating on the affairs of the burgh; and tion began, he adjourned to the Thane of swelling with a municipal importance that Fife to procure a dram, while the good folks was felt throughout the whole East Neuk of of Crail composed themselves for the night, Fife; for, in those days, the bearded Russ and the barring of doors and windows announ- and red-haired Dane, the Norwarer, and the ced that those who were within had resolved Hollander, laden with merchandise, furled to make themselves comfortable and secure, their sails in that deserted harbor, where while those unfortunate wights that were now scarcely a fisherboat is seen; for on without were likely to remain so.

Crail, as on all its sister towns along the Hollowly the German Sea was booming on coast, fell surely and heavily the terrible the rocks of the harbor; and from its hazy blight of 1707, and now it is hastening rapidsurface a cold east wind swept over the flat, 1 ly to insignificance and decay. bleak coast of Crail; a star peeped at times. On the sad changes a year had brought between the flying clouds, and even the moon abont, Spiggot pondered sadly, and was only looked forth once, but immediately veiled her roused from his dreamy mood by the sudden face again, as if one glance at the iron shore apparition of a traveller on horseback standand barren scenery, unenlivened by hedge or ing before him ; for so long and so soft was tree, were quite enough to prevent her from the grass of the street that his approach had looking again,

been unheard by the dreamer, whose mind The town drummer had received his dram was wandering after the departed glories of and withdrawn, and Master Spiggot, the the East Neuk. gudeman or landlord of the Thane of Fife. “A cold night, landlord, for such I take the principal tavern, and only inn or hostel you to be," said the stranger, in a bold and in the burgh, was taking a last view of the cheerful voice, as he dismounted. main street, and considering the propriety of "A canld night and a dreary too,” sighed closing for the night. It was broad, spacious, poor Boniface, as he bowed, and hastening to and is still overlooked by many a tall and seize the stranger's bridle, buckled it to a gable-ended mansion, whose antique and mas- ring at the doorcheek; “but the sicht of a sive aspect announces that, like other Fife-visitor does gude to my heart; step in, sir. shire burghs before the Union in the preced- A warm posset that was simmering in the ing year, it had seen better days. Indeed, parlor for myself is at your service, and I'll the honse then occupied by Master Spiggot set the stall-boy to corn your beast and stahimself, and from which his sign bearing the ble it." panoplied Thane at full gallop on a capari- “I thank yon, gudeman; but for unharsoned steed swung creaking in the night nessing it matters not, as I must ride onward; wind, was one of those ancient edifices, and but I will take the posset with thanks, for I in former days had belonged to the provost am chilled to death by my long ride along of the adjoining kirk; but this was (as Spig- this misty coast." got said " in the auld warld times o' the Spiggot looked intently at the traveller as Papistrie."

he stooped, and entering the low-arched door The gudeman shook his white head solemn- / which was surmounted by an old monastic ly and sadly, as he looked down the empty legend, trod into the bar with a heavy clankthoroughfare.

ing stride, for he was accoutred with jack“There was a time," he muttered, and boots and gilded spurs. His rocquelaure was paused.

of scarlet cloth, warmly furred, and the long Silent and desolate as any in the ruins of curls of his Ramillies wig flowed over it. His Thebes, the street was half covered with beaver was looped upon three sides with weeds and rank grass that grew between the something of a military air, and one long stones, and Spiggot could see thein waving white feather that adorned it, floated down in the dim starlight.

his back, for the dew was heavy on it. He Crail is an out-of-the-way place. It is was a handsome man, about forty years of age, well sunburned, with a keen dark eye,! “Good again-give him my most humble and close-clipped moustache, which indicated commendations, and ask him to share thy that he had served in foreign wars. He threw boasted posset of wine with me." his hat and long jewelled rapier aside, and on “What name did you say, sir ?” removing his rocquelaure, discovered a white “Thou inquisitive varlet, I said no dame," velvet coat more richly covered with lace replied the gentleman, with a smile. “In than any that Spiggot had ever seen even in these times men do not lightly give their the palmiest days of Crail.

naines to each other, when the land is swarmAccording to the fashion of Queen Anne's ing with Jacobite plotters and government courtiers, it was without a collar, to display spies, disguised Jesuits, and Presbyterian tythe long white cravat of point d'Espagne, rants. I may be the Devil or the Pope for without cuffs, and edged from top to bottom all thou knowest." with broad bars of lace, clasps and buttons “Might ye no be the Pretender?” said Spigof silver the whole length; being compressed got, with a sour smile. at the waist by a very ornamental belt fasten- “Nay, I have a better travelling name than ed by a large gold buckle.

that; but say to this gentleman that the Ma"Your honor canna think of riding on to-jor of Marshal Orkney's Dragoons requests night," urged Boniface; "and if a Crail-ca- the pleasure of sharing a stoup of wine with pon done just to perfection, and a stoup of him." the best wine, at least siccan wine as we get “Sir, it mattereth little whether ye give by the east seas, since that vile incorporating your name or no," replied the host bitterly; Union "

for we are a' nameless now. Twelve months “ Vile and damnable! say I," interrupted ago we were true Scottish men, but nou—" the stranger.

"Our king is an exile-our crown is buried “True for ye, sir," said Spiggot with a kin- for ever, and our brave soldiers are banished dling eye; “but if these puir viands can in- to far and foreign wars, while the grass is duce ye to partake of the hospitality of my growing green in the streets of our capital puir hostel, that like our gude burrowtoun is ay, green as it is at this hour in your burgh no just what it has been-"

| of Crail; but hence to the stranger; yet say Gudeman, 'tis impossible, for I must ride not,” added the traveller, bitterly and proud30 soon as I have imbibed thy posset." ly, “that in his warmth the Scottish cavalier

"As ye please, sir—your honor's will be has betrayed himself.” done. Our guests are now, even as the visits While the speaker amused himself with exof angels, unco few and far between; and arnining & printed proclamation concerning thus, when one comes, we are loath to part the “Tiend Commissioners and Transplantawith him. There is a deep pitfall, and an tion off Paroch Kirkis,” which was pasted ugly gullyhole where the burn crosses the over the stone mantelpiece of the bar, the road at the town-head, and if ye miss the landlord returned with the foreign gentlepath, the rocks by the beach are steep, and man's thanks, and an invitation to his chamin a night like this—".

ber, whither the Major immediately repaired; "Host of mine," laughed the traveller, “I following the host up a narrow stone spiral know right well every rood of the way, and stair to a snugly wainscotted room, against by keeping to the left near the Auldlees may the well-grated windows of which a sudden avoid both the blackpit and the sea-beach," shower was now beginning to patter.

“Your honor kens the country hereawa. The foreigner, who was supping on a Crailthen,” said Spiggot with surprise.

capon (in other words a broiled haddock) and "Of old, perhaps, I knew it as well as thee." stoup of Bourdeaux wine, arose at their en

The gudeinan of the Thane scrutinized the trance, and bowed with an air that was untraveller's face keenly, but failed to recognize disguisedly continental. He was a man above him, and until this moment he thought that six feet, with a long straight nose, over which no man in the East Neuk was unknown to his dark eyebrows met and formed one unhim; but here his inspection was at fault. broken line. He wore a suit of green Ge

“And hast thou no visitors with thee now, noese velvet, so richly laced that little of the friend host ?” he asked of Spiggot.

| cloth was visible; a full-bottomed wig, and “One only, gude sir, who came here on a a small corslet of the brightest steel (over brown horse about nightfall. He is an unco' which hung the ends of his cravat), as well foreign-looking man, but has been asking the as a pair of silver-mounted cavalry pistols that way to the castle o' Balcomie.”

lay on the table, together with his unmista"Ha! and thou didst tell of this plaguy kable bearing, decided the Major of Orkney's pitfall, I warrant."

that the stranger was a brother of the sword. - Assuredly, your honor, in kindness I did “Fair sir, little introduction is necessary but hint of it.”

between us, as, I believe, we have both fol"And thereupon he stayed. Balcomie lowed the drum in our time," said the Major, indeed! and what manner of man is he?" shaking the curls of his Ramillie wig with the

“By the corslet which he wears under his air of a man who has decided on what he says. coat, and the jaunty cock of his beaver, I “I have served, Monsieur," replied the forwould say he had been a soldier."

| eigner, “under Marlborough and Eugene."

"Ah! in French Flanders? Landlord- versation from a point which evidently seemgudeman, harkee; a double stoup of this ed nnpleasant to the stranger. “'Twas sharp, wine; I have found a comrade to-night-be short, and decisive, as all cavalry affairs should quick and put my horse to stall, I will not be. You will of course remember that unride hence for an hour or so. What regi- pleasant affair of Wandenberg's troopers, who ment, sir?

were accused of permitting a French prisoner "I was first under Grouvestien in the Horse to escape. It caused a great excitement in of Driesberg."

the British camp, where some condemned the " Then you were on the left of the second dragoons, others Van Wandenberg, and not a column at Ramillies-on that glorious 12th few our great Marlborough himself.” of May," said the Major, drawing the high- “I did hear something of it," said the stranbacked chair which the host handed him, and ger in a low voice. spreading out his legs before the fire, which “The prisoner whose escape was permitted burned merrily in the basket-grate on the was, I believe, the father of the youths who hearth, " and latterly_”.

captured hiin, a circumstance which might at “Under Wandenberg."

least have won them mercy-" *Ah! an old tyrannical dog."

"From the Baron!" A dark cloud gathered on the stranger's “I forgot me—he was indeed merciless." lofty brow.

“But as I left his dragoons, and indeed the - I belonged to the Earl of Orkney's Grey | army about that time, I will be glad to hear Dragoons," said the Major; "and remember your account of the affair." old Wandenberg making a bold charge in that “It is a very unpleasant story—the more brilliant onfall when we passed the lines of so as I was somewhat concerned in it myself," Monsieur le Mareschal Villars at Pont-a-Ven- said the Major, slowly filling his long stemdin, and pushed on to the plains of Lens.” med glass, and watching the white worm iu

"That was before we invested Doway and its stalk, so intently as he recalled all the cirFort-Escharpe, where old Albergotti so ably cumstances he was about to relate, that he commanded ten thousand well-beaten sol- did not observe the face of the French gendiers."

tleman, which was pale as death; and after " And then Villars drew off from his posi- a short pause, he began as follows: tion at sunset and encamped on the plain be- ' “In the onfall at Pont-a-Vendin, it hapfore Arras."

pened that two young Frenchmen who sery* Thon forgettest, comrade, that previous- ed as gentlemen volunteers with you in the ly he took up a position in rear of Escharpe.” dragoon regiinent of Van Wandenberg, had

"True; but now I ain right into the very | permitted-low, or why, I pretend not to say melée of those old affairs, and the mind car--the escape of a certain prisoner of distincries one on like a rocket. Your health, sir— tion. Some said he was no other than M. le by the way, I am still ignorant of your name." Mareschal Villars himself. They claimed a

"I have such very particular reasons for court martial, but the old Baron, who was a concealing it in this neighborhood, that,” savage-hearted Dutchman, insisted that they

“Do not think me inquisitive; in these should be given up unconditionally to his own times men should not pry too closely." mercy, and in an evil moment of heedlessness

"Monsieur will pardon me I hope." or haste, Marlborough consented, and sent

“No apology is necessary, save from my-ine (I was his Aid-de-Camp) with a written self, for now my curiosity is thoroughly and order to that effect, addressed to Colonel the most impertinently whetted, to find a French- Baron Van Wandenberg, whose regiment of man in this part of the world, here in this horse I met en route for St. Venant, about out-o'-the-way place, where no one comes to, nightfall on a cold and snowy evening in the and no one goes from, on a bleak promontory month of November. of the German Sea, the East Neuk of Fife.” “Snow covered the whole country, which

"Monsieur will again excuse me; but I have was all a dead level, and a cold, leaden-colmost particular business with a gentleman in ored sky met the white horizon in one unbrothis neighorhood; and having travelled all ken line, save where the leafless poplars of the way from Paris, expressly to have it set- some far-off village stood up, the landmarks tled, I beg that I may be excused the pain of of the plain. In broad flakes the snow fell prevarication. The circumstance of my hay- fast, and directing their march by a distant ing served under the great Duke of Malbor- spire, the Dutch troopers rode slowly over ough against my own King and countrymen the deepening fields. They were all muffled is sufficiently explained when I acquaint in dark blue cloaks, on the capes of which you, that I was then a French Protestant the snow was freezing, while the breath of refugee; but now, without changing my reli- the men and horses curled like steam in the gion, I have King Louis's gracious pardon and thickening and darkening air. . kind protection extended to me.”

"Muffled to the nose in a well furred roc"And so you were with Wandenberg when quelaure, with my wig tied to keep the snow his troopers inade that daring onfall at Pont- from its curls, and my bat flapped over my a-Vendin, and drove back the horse picquets | face, I rode as fast as the deep snow would of Villars," said the Major, to lead the con- permit, and passing the rear of the column

where, moody and disarmed, the two poor in the falling snow flakes, their lurid and fitFrench volunteers were riding under care of ful glare was thrown on the close array of an escort, I spurred to the Baron who rode the Dutch dragoons, on their great cumbrous in front near the kettle drums, and delivered hats, on the steeple crowns of which, I have my order; as I did so, recalling with sadness said, the snow was gathering in cones, and the anxious and wistful glance given me by the pale features of the two prisoners, altothe prisoners as I passed them.

gether imparting a wild, unearthly, and ter"Wandenberg, who had no more shape rible effect to the scene about to be enacted than a huge hogshead, received the dispatch on that wide and desolate moor. with a growl of satisfaction. He would have “By order of Van Wandenberg, three halbowed, but his neck was too short. I cannot berts were fixed into the frozen earth, with but laugh when I remember his strange as their points bound together by a thong, after pect. In form he looked nearly as broad as which the dismounted trumpeters layed hands he was long, being nearly eight feet in girth, on one of the young Frenchmen, whom they and completely enveloped in a rough blue proceeded to strip of his coat and vest. rocquelaure, which imparted to his figure the “Disarmed and surrounded, aware of the roundness of a ball. His face, reddened by utter futility of resistance, the unfortunate skiedam and the frost, was glowing like crim-volunteer offered none, but gazed wistfully son, while the broad beaver hat that over- and imploringly at me, and sure I am, that in shadowed it, and the feathers with which the my lowering brow and kindling eyes, he must beaver was edged, were incrusted with the have seen the storm that was gathering in my snow that was rapidly formning a pyramid on heart. its crown, imparting to his whole aspect al “Dieu vous benisse, Monsieur Officer," drollery at which I could have laughed heart- cried the Frenchman in a mournful voice, ily, had not his well-known acuteness and fe- while shuddering with cold and horror as he rocity awed me into a becoming gravity of was stripped to his shirt; save me from this demeanor; and delivering my dispatch with foul disgrace, and my prayers—yea, my life a tolerably good grace, I reined back my shall be for ever at your disposal, horse to await any reply he inight be pleased “Good comrade,' said I, 'entreat me not, to send the Duke.

for here, I am powerless.' "His dull Dutch eyes glared with sudden "Baron,' he exclaimed; 'I am a gentleanger and triumph, as he folded the docu- man—a gentleman of old France, and I dare ment, and surveyed the manacled prisoners. thee to lay thy damnable scourge upon me.' Thereafter he seized his speaking trumpet, ""Ach Gott! dare-do you say dare? ve and thundered out

| vill ze!' laughed Van Wandenberg, as the "Ruyters-halt! form open column of prisoner was dragged forward and about to troops, trot!'

be forcibly trussed to the halberts by the " It was done as rapidly as heavily armed trumpeters, when animated to the very verge Dutchmen on fat slow horses knee deep among of insanity, he suddenly freed himself, and snow could perform it, and then wheeling rushing like a madman upon the Baron, struck them into line, he gave the orders

him from his horse by one blow of his clench"Forward the tanks—form circle-sling ed hand. The horse snorted, the Dutch troopmusquetoons !--trumpeters ride to the centre ers opened their saucer eyes wider still, as and dismount.'

the great and corpulent mass fell heavily "By these unexpected maneuvres, I sud-among the deepening snow, and in an instant denly found myself inclosed in a hollow cir- the foot of the Frenchmen was pressed upon cle of the Dutch horsemen, and thus, as it his throat, while he exclaimed: were, compelled to become a spectator of the “If I slay thee, thou hireling dog, as I scene that ensued, though I had his Grace of have often slain thy clodpated countrymen in Marlborough's urgent orders to rejoin him other days,' and the Frenchman laughed without delay on the road to Aire.”

fiercely, by St. Denis! I will have one foe" • And—and you saw

man less on this side of Hell!'. “Such a specimen of discipline as neither “Gott in Himmel! ach! mein tuyvel! the devil nor De Martinet ever dreamed of; | mein—mein Gott!'gasped the Dutchman as he but thoroughly Dutch I warrant you. foundered beneath the heel of the vengefal

"I have said it was intensely cold, and and infuriated Frenchman, who was deterthat the night was closing; but the whiteness mined on destroying him, till a blow from of the snow that covered the vast plain, with the baton of an officer, stretched him almost the broad red circle of the half-obscured moon senseless among the snow, where he was imthat glimmered through the fast falling flakes mediately grasped by the trumpeters, disrobed as it rose behind a distant spire, cast a dim of his last remaining garment, and bound light upon the place where the Dutchmen strongly to the halberts. halted. But deeming that insufficient, Van “Meanwhile the other prisoner had been Wandenberg ordered half a dozen torches to pinioned and resolutely held by his escort, be lighted, for his troopers always had such otherwise he would undoubtedly have fallen things with them, being useful by night for also upon Van Wandenberg, who choking various purposes, and hissing and sputtering with a tempest of passion that was too great to find utterance in words, had gathered up our breaths were ascending like steam. Yes! bis rotund figure, and with an agility won there was one other sound, and it was a derful in a man of his years and vast obesity, horrible one-the monotonous whiz of the so heavily armed, in a buff coat and jack- scourge, as it cut the keen frosty air and deboots ribbed with iron, a heavy sword and scended on the lacerated back of the fainting cloak, clambered on the back of his horse, as prisoner. Sir, I see that my story disturbs a clown would clirnb up a wall; and with a you. visage alternating between purple and blue, “A corpulent Provost Mareschal, with a by the effects of rage and strangulation, he pair of enormous moustachios, amid which surveyed the prisoner for a moment in si- the month of his meerschaum was inserted, lence, and there gleamed in his piggish gray stood by smoking with admirable coolness, eyes an expression of fury and pain, bitter- and marking the time with his cane, while a Tiess and triumph combined, and he was only drummer tapped on his kettledrum, and four able to articulate one word

trumpeters had, each in succession, given their • "Flog.'

twenty-five lashes and withdrawn; twice had “On the handsome young Frenchman's the knotted scourge been coagulated with dark curly hair, glistening with the whitening blood, and twice had it been washed in the snow that fell upon it, and on his tender skin snow that now rose high around the feet of reddening in the frosty atmosphere, on the our champing and impatient horses; and now swelling muscles of his athletic form, on a the fifth torturer approached, but still the half-healed sabre wound, and on the linea- compressed lips and clammy tongue of the ments of a face that then expressed the ex-prond Frenchman refused to implore mercy. tremity of mental agony, fell full the waver- His head was bowed down on his breast, his ing light of the uplifted torches. The Dutch, body hung pendant from the cords that enaccustomed to every species of extra-judicial circled his swollen and livid wrists; his back cruelty by sea and land, looked on with the from neck to waist was one mass of lacerated most grave stolidity and apathetic indiffer- flesh, on which the feathery snowflakes were ence; while I felt an astonishment and indig- melting; for the agony he endured must have nation that rapidly gave place to undisguised | been like unto a stream of molton lead pourhorror.

ling over him; but no groan, no entreaty es"Flog!'

caped hiin, and still the barbarous punish"The other prisoner uttered a groan that ment proceeded. seemed to come from his very heart, and then “I have remarked that there is no event covered his ears and eyes with his hands. too horrible or too sad to be without a little Wielded by a muscular trumpeter, an immense of the ridiculous in it, and this was discerniscourge of many-knotted cords was brought I ble here. down with one full sweep on the white back “One trumpeter, who appeared to have of the victim, and nine livid bars, each red, more humanity, or perhaps less skill than his as if seared by a hot iron, rose under the in-predecessors, and did not exert himself suffliction, and again the terrible instrument was ficiently, was soundly beaten by the rattan of reared by the trumpeter at the full stretch of the trumpet-major, while the latter was cashis sinewy arm.

tigated by the Provost Mareschal, who, in "Monsieur will be aware, that until the turn for remissness of duty, received sundry late Revolution of 1688, this kind of punish- blows from the speaking-trumpet of the Bament was unknown here and elsewhere, save ron; so they were all laying soundly on each in Holland; and though I have seen soldiers other for a time. run the gauntlet, ride the mare, and beaten “Morbleu !' said the Frenchmen, with a by the martinets, I shall never, oli, no! never grim smile, ''twas quite in the Dutch taste, forget the sensation of horror with which that.' this (to me) new punishment of the poor “The Provost Mareschal continued to mark Frenchman inspired me; and, sure I am, that the time with the listless apathy of an autoonr great Duke of Marlborough could in no maton; the smoke curled from his meersway have anticipated it.

chaum, the drum continued to tap-tap-tap, " Accustomed, as I have said, to every kind until it seemed to sound like thunder to my of cruel severity, unmoved and stoically the strained ears, for every sense was painfully Dutch looked on with their gray, lacklustre excited. All count had long been lost, but eyes, dull, unmeaning, and passionless in their when several hundred lashes had been given, stolidity, contrasting strongly with the ex- Van Wandenberg and half his Dutchman pression of startled horror depicted in the were asleep in their saddles. strained eyeballs and bent brows of the vic- “ It was now snowing thick and fast, but tim's brother, when after a time he dared to still this hideous dream continued, and still look on this revolting punishment. Save an the scourging went on. ill-repressed sob, or half-nuttered interjection “At last the altered sound of the lash and from the suffering man, no other sound broke the terrible aspect of the victim, who, after the stillness of the place, where a thousand giving one or two convulsive shudders, threw horsemen stood in close order, but the sput back his head with glazed eyes and jaw retering of the torches, in the red light of which I laxed, caused the trumpeter to recede a pace

« VorigeDoorgaan »