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Stories From the Ballads Told to the Children by  Mary MacGregor


 

 

THE LAIRD O' LOGIE

[104] IT was when James the Sixth was king in Scotland that the young Wemyss of Logie got into sore trouble.

Wemyss of Logie was one of the king's courtiers; a tall, handsome lad he was, and a favourite with both king and queen.

Now King James had brought his wife, Queen Anne, across the sea to Scotland. Her home was in Denmark, and when she came, a royal bride, to Scotland, she brought with her a few fair Danish maids. She thought it would be dull in her new home unless she had some of her own country-folk around her.

Among these maids was a tall, beautiful girl named Margaret Twynlace. Her the queen loved well, and oft would she speak with Margaret of their old free life in the country over the sea.

[105] It chanced on a day that the young Laird of Logie was in attendance upon the king, and the Danish maid, Margaret Twynlace, in waiting upon the queen; and that day they two looked at each other, and yet another day they two talked to each other, indeed many were the times they met. And before long it was well known at court that the young Laird of Logie loved the Danish maid Margaret, and would marry her an he could.

But now trouble befell the young laird. He had been seen talking with the Earl of Bothwell, and he a traitor to the king. Nor was it alone that Wemyss of Logie had been seen to speak with Bothwell. It was even said that he had letters written by the traitor in his room at Holyrood.

No sooner had this rumour reached the king than orders were given to search both young Logie himself and the room in which he was used to sleep.

On his person no letters were found, but in his room, flung carelessly into his trunk, [106] lay a packet of letters tied and sealed. And the seal was that of the traitor, the Earl of Bothwell.

The young laird was taken at once before the king. He spoke in his usual fearless tones.

"It is true," said he, "that I have ofttimes spoken to the Earl of Bothwell, and it is true that I received from him the sealed packet which was found in my trunk. But of that which is written in the packet know I nought. The seal is, as you see, unbroken. Nor knew I that the earl was still acting as traitor," added the lad, as he saw displeasure written on the face of the king.

But despite all he could say, the young laird was arrested as a traitor and thrown into prison. Margaret Twynlace with her own eyes saw Sir John Carmichael, keeper of the prison, turn the key in the lock.

Margaret went quickly to the queen's house, but there did she neither sew nor sing. She sat twining her fingers in and out, while she cried, "Woe is me that ever I was [107] born, or that ever I left my home in Denmark. I would I had never seen the young Laird of Logie." And then Margaret wept bitterly, for having seen the young laird, she loved him well.

When the queen came to her bower, she was grieved to see her favourite maid in tears. Yet had she no comfort to offer her, for well she knew that, even should he wish it, little power had the king to save the young Laird of Logie.

But the queen spoke kindly to the maid, and told her that she, Margaret, might e'en go herself to King James to beg for the life of the young Laird of Logie. For it was well known that the sentence passed on him would be death.

Then Margaret Twynlace wiped from her face all traces of her tears. She put on her soft green silk gown, and she combed out her bonny yellow hair. Thus she went into the presence of the king and fell on her knee before him.

"Why, May Margaret," said the king, "is it [108] thou? What dost thou at my feet, my bonny maid ?"

"Ah, sire," cried she, "I have come to beg of thee a boon. Nor ever since I came over the sea have I begged of thee until now. Give me, I beseech of thee, the life of the young Laird of Logie."

"Alas, May Margaret," cried the king, "that cannot I do! An thou gavest to me all the gold that is in Scotland yet could I not save the lad."

Then Margaret Twynlace turned away and crept back to the queen's bower. Yet now no tears fell from her blue eyes, for if neither king nor queen could help the young Laird of Logie, she herself would save him from death.

She would wait until night, when the king and queen slumbered, and then she would carry out her plan. A brave plan it was, for Margaret Twynlace was no coward maid.

Quiet and patient she waited in the little ante-room, close to the queen's bedchamber, waited until she felt sure the royal pair were [109] fast asleep. Then tripping lightly on tiptoe, she stole into the bedroom, where, as she had guessed, both king and queen were slumbering sound.

She crossed the room, quiet as any mouse, and reached the toilet table. There lay the king's gold comb, and close to it the little pearl knife, the king's wedding gift to his queen.

Back tripped Margaret, still on tiptoe, to the ante-room, and stood, her breath coming quick.

Had she roused the king or queen? Was that the bed creaking?

No. there was not a sound. The royal pair slept sound as before.

Then downstairs in the dark fled Margaret, down to the room where Sir John Carmichael lay slumbering, without a thought of his prisoner, the young Laird of Logie.

Loud did the maiden knock at his door, loud and long, until at last Sir John was roused.

"Sir John," cried the maid, "haste thee and [110] wake thy prisoner, the young Laird of Logie, for the king would speak to him this very moment. Open the door, for here be the tokens he sends to thee," and Margaret held out to Carmichael the gold comb and the pearl knife.

Now, when Sir John had opened the door, he saw the tokens that the maid held out to him. He knew them well and hastened to do the king's will, rubbing his sleepy eyes the while, and muttering under his breath, 'The king holds audience at strange hours; yet must his orders be obeyed.'

He took the great key in his hand and went to the prison door. Margaret followed close, her heart bounding, not wholly in fear, nor yet wholly in hope.

Sir John turned the prison lock and roused the young Laird of Logie from his dreams, saying only, "The king would speak with thee, without delay."

Thus in the dead of night Margaret led the captain and his prisoner to the door of the ante-room.

[111] "Wait thou here, Sir John," said the maid, "until thy prisoner returns."

The young laird started as Margaret spoke. He had not guessed that the maid wrapped in the rough cloak was his own dear Margaret Twynlace.

But Sir John noticed nothing. He was wondering how long it would be ere he would be again in his comfortable bed.

Margaret drew the prisoner into her own little room. He tried to speak, but not a word would she let him utter. She led him to the window, and showed him a rope which she herself had fastened there.

She pushed a purse of gold into his hand, a pistol into his belt, and bade him shoot when he was free, that she might know that he was safe. "Then haste," said Margaret, "haste with all thy might to the pier at Leith. Ships wilt thou find there in plenty to carry thee into a safe haven."

The young Laird of Logie would fain have tarried with the brave Danish maid, but not a moment was there to lose. The king [112] might wake, Sir John might grow impatient and come in search of his prisoner; thus whispered the maid as she urged young Wemyss of Logie to flee.

He knew she spoke the truth, and he slipped down the rope, and in a moment was standing on the ground. He hastened to the palace gates, and getting safely through, he stayed only to fire his pistol that Margaret Twynlace might know that no evil had befallen.

When Margaret heard the shot she stole softly downstairs and stood at the hall door gazing wistfully after the young Laird of Logie. Yet not long dare she tarry there, lest the queen should need her services. Noiselessly she crept back into the ante-room. Hark! what was that? The king was moving! Indeed, the pistol-shot had roused King James, and he jumped out of bed crying, "That pistol was fired by none other than the young Laird of Logie."


[Illustration]

SHE STOOD AT THE HALL DOOR GAZING WISTFULLY AFTER THE YOUNG LAIRD OF LOGIE.

He shouted for his guards and bade them [113] go send their captain, Sir John Carmichael, to his presence.

Sir John, fearing nothing, came before the king, and falling on his knee before him he said, 'Sire, what is thy will?'

"Where is thy prisoner, where is the young Laird of Logie?" demanded the king.

Sir John stared. Had not the king himself sent for his prisoner?

"The young Laird of Logie!" he said. "Sire, thou didst send thy tokens to me, a golden comb, a pearl knife. See, they are here," and Sir John drew them from his pocket and held them up before the bewildered king.

"And with the tokens came an order to send my prisoner at once to thy presence. I brought him to the door of the ante-room, where I was bidden to wait thy will."

"If thou hast played me false, Carmichael, if thou hast played me false," said the king, "thou shalt thyself be tried to-morrow in the court of justice in place of the prisoner, the young Laird of Logie."

[114] Then Carmichael hastened to the door of the ante-room as fast as ever he could go. And he called out, "O young Wemyss of Logie, an thou art within, come out, for I must speak to thee."

Margaret Twynlace smiled to herself as she opened the door of the ante-room. Carmichael stepped into the room, stopped short, and stared. The open window, the rope that hung there, told him all he had come to ask. He stared, but never a word did he find to say.

Then maid Margaret laughed aloud and clapped her hands for glee.

"Dost wish thy prisoner, the Laird of Logie?" she cried. "Thou shalt not see him again for many a long day. Long ere the morning dawned he was on board one of the ships at Leith, and now he is sailing on the sea. He is free, he is free!"

King James did not punish the brave Danish maid. Nor when he heard from Queen Anne all that the maid had done did he blame Sir John Carmichael.

[115] Indeed ere many months had passed away the king sent a pardon to the young laird. Then was he not long in coming back to bonny Scotland to marry brave Margaret Twynlace, who had saved his life.


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