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The conduct of Ravenswood did not alleviate his apprehensions. To the butler's trembling entreaties, that he would take some refreshment, he at first returned no answer, and then suddenly and fiercely demanding wine, he drank, contrary to his habits, a very large draught. Seeing that his master would eat nothing, the old man affectionately entreated that he would permit him to light him to his chamber. It was not until the request was three or four times repeated, that Ravenswood made a mute sign of compliance. But when Balderston conducted him to an apartment which had been comfortably fitted up, and which, since his return, he had usually occupied, , Ravenswood stopped short on the threshold.
" Not here,” said he, sternly, "show me the room in which my father died; the room in which she slept the night they were at the castle.”
Who, sir?” said Caleb, too terrified to preserve his presence of mind.
“She, Lucy Ashton !-would you kill me, old man, by forcing me to repeat her name ?”
Caleb would have said something of the disrepair of the chamber, but was silenced by the irritable impatience which was expressed in his master's countenance; he lighted the way trembling and in silence, placed the lamp on the table of the deserted room, and was about to attempt some arrangement of the bed, when his master bid him begone in a tone that admitted of no delay. The old man retired, not to rest, but to prayer; and from time to time crept to the door of
the apartment, in order to find out whether Ravenswood had gone to repose.
His measured heavy step upon the floor was only interrupted by deep groans; and the repeated stamps of the heel of his heavy boot, intimated, too clearly, that the wretched inmate was abandoning himself at such moments to paroxysms of uncontrolled agony. The old man thought that the morning for which he longed would never have dawned; but time, whose course rolls on with equal current, however it may seem more rapid or more slow to mortal apprehension, brought the dawn at last, and spread a ruddy light on the broad verge of the glistening ocean. It was early in November, and the weather was serene for the season of the year. But an easterly wind had prevailed during the night, and the advancing tide rolled nearer than usual to the foot of the crags on which the castle was founded.
With the first peep of light, Caleb Balderston again resorted to the door of Ravenswood's sleeping apartment, through a chink of which he observed him engaged in measuring the length of two or three swords which lay in a closet adjoining to the apartment. He muttered to himself, -as he selected one of these weapons,
“ It is shorter let him have this advantage, as he has every other.”
Caleb Balderston knew too well, from what he witnessed, upon what enterprise his master was bound, and how vain all interference on his part must necessarily prove.
He had but time to retreat from the door, so nearly was he surprised by his master suddenly coming out and descending to the stables. The faithful domestic followed ; and from the dishevelled appearance of his master's dress, and his ghastly look, was confirmed in his conjecture that he had passed the night without sleep or repose. He found him busily engaged in saddling his horse, a service from which Caleb, though with faltering voice and trembling hands, offered to relieve him. Ravenswood rejected his assistance by a mute sign, and having led the animal into the court, was just about to mount him, when the old domestic's fear giving way to the strong attachment which was the principal passion of his mind, he flung himself suddenly at Ravenswood's feet, and clasped his knees, while he exclaimed, “Oh, sir! Oh, master ! kill me if you will, but do not go out on this dreadful errand! Oh! my dear master, wait but this day-the Marquis of A comes to-morrow, and all will be remedied.”
“ You have no longer a master, Caleb,” said Ravenswood, endeavouring to extricate himself; “Why, old man, would you cling to a falling tower ?"
“But I have a master,” cried Caleb, still holding him fast,“ while the heir of Ravenswood breathes. I am but a servant; but I was born your father's-your grandfather's servant-I was born for the family-I have lived for them-I would die for them !-Stay but at home, and all will be well !"
“Well, fool! well !” said Ravenswood; “vain old man, nothing hereafter in life will be well with me, and happiest is the hour that shall soonest close it !"
So saying, he extricated himself from the old man's hold, threw himself on his horse, and rode out at the gate; but instantly turning back, he threw towards Caleb, who hastened to meet him, a heavy purse of gold.
“ Caleb !" he said with a ghastly smile,“ I make you my executor;" and again turning his bridle, he resumed his course down the hill.
The gold fell unheeded on the pavement, for the old man ran to observe the course which was taken by his master, who turned to the left down a small and broken path, which gained the sea-shore through a cleft in the rock, and led to a sort of cove, where, in former times, the boats of the castle were wont to be moored. Observing him take this course, Caleb hastened to the eastern battlement, which commanded the prospect of the whole sands, very near as far as the village of Wolf's-hope. He could easily see his master riding in that direction, as fast as the horse could carry him. The prophecy at once rushed on Balderston's mind, that the Lord of Ravenswood should perish on the Kelpie's Flow, which lay half way betwixt the tower and the links, or sand knolls, to the northward of Wolf's-hope. He saw him accordingly reach the fatal spot, but he never saw him pass
farther. Colonel Ashton, frantic for revenge, was already in the field, pacing the turf with eagerness, and looking with impatience towards the tower for the arrival of his antagonist. The sun had now risen, and showed its broad disk above the eastern sea, so that he could easily discern the horseman who rode towards him with speed which argued impatience equal to his own. At once the figure became invisible, as if it had melted into the air. He rubbed his eyes, as if he had witnessed an apparition, and then hastened to the spot, near which he was met by Balderston, who came from the opposite direction. No trace whatever of horse or rider could be discerned ; it only appeared that the late winds and high tides had greatly extended the usual bounds of the quicksand, and that the unfortunate horseman, as appeared from the hoof-tracks, in his precipitated haste, had not attended to keep on the firm sands on the foot of the rock, but had taken the shortest and most dangerous course. One only vestige of his fate appeared. A large sable feather had been detached from his hat, and the rippling waves of the rising tide wafted it to Caleb's feet.
The old man took it up, dried it, and placed it in his bosom.
The inhabitants of Wolf's-hope were now alarmed, and crowded to the place, some on shore, and some in boats, but their search availed nothing. The tenacious depths of the quicksand, as is usual in such cases, retained its prey.
THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN FIELD.
Next morn the Baron climbed the tower