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Sat, 07 Feb 2009
A beautiful but old story from Scotland
This story is copied from Volume 8 of Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia, may I take this opportunity to mention to all you parents out there.
If you ever find a copy of any of Arthur Mee's wonderful books, do buy it. Charity shops and car boot sales are an excellent source for finding fantastic books like this.
They may be old and a lot of things have been replaced by more modern ones.
But if you want Nursery Rhymes and Poems, History, so many, many things.


Twelve o'clock strikes. Clouds are flying across the Moon, but sometimes she shines clear on the castle, Presently a short figure leaves the shadow  of the walls and hurries into the cover of some bushes.
        Who was it skulking along in the gloom ? A dwarf ? A spy ? What is happening ? 
That pile of stone is Redbraes Castle, and this is Scotland in 1678. The land is full of fugitives, of plots and traitors. Have you forgotten how, the reformation, Scotsmen bound themselves by a Covenant to resist Popery and foster the Protestant faith? When Charles the Second was allowed to return from exile he signed the Covernant, and signed it again on his coronation. But now that he is in is secure in power he has denounced the Covenanters, and sends soldiers to hunt them to their death like wild beasts.
        And that little slinking figure? It is a girl age thirteen called Grizel Hume. That great castle is her father's, but she goes in mortal terror. Suppose she met a soldier, a tinker, a poacher, who would spy on her, and take blood money for betraying her secret ? The little girl's knees tremble, and her heart beats so loudly that she thinks it can be heard a mile off. She carries a little bungle of cold, greasy food, smuggled from her plate during meal time. It was terrible when one of the little ones cried: "Oh greedy Grizel! She has eaten all her meat already."
    She and her mother exchanged horror-stricken glances; some words of reproof was said. Did the servants notice?
      What was that ? She stands stock still, unable to breathe. Again the noise behind the hedge. Then a cat slips through and runs across the road, a wing dangling from her mouth. Grizel wants to laugh out loud in her relief, but she steals on in silence. How long and open the way seems each night ! But she must not think of that. Why, she did something far more difficult a year ago.
       Robert Baillie lay in Edinburgh prison, innocent but doomed. Sir Patrick Hume had an important message for him, yet to go to Edinburgh was to fall into the soldiers' hands.
So 12 year old Grizel was sent, for who would suspect her ? Who would guess that she had taken part in the struggle for free conscience since she was 10 years old, or think her capable of taking part in a perilous plot ?
       She was frightened then, as she was now, but did she not slip into the cell behind the warder and crouch in the dark corner safely after all ? Once more she saw the astonished faces of Baillie and the little boy who shared her father's imprisonment. Ah! where were they now ? The soldiers had dragged Baillie, dying and in his night clothes, to the scaffold, where he was hanged and quartered. If they caught her father - but no, they should not. She had got safely out of Edinburgh prison, and she would somehow carry this through, also.
      Oh, they are sad times ! She wonders if one day a time will come when every man may hold his true opinion unpunished, and no children watch for the soldiers who will drag their father out to death. How happy such children will be - if they remember !
      Now a spire rises out of the trees, and gravestones shine in the moonlight. Everything is very still apart from a whimpering wind. Grizel stops, checks her panting and waits for a cloud. As soon as the moon is veiled she darts across the churchyard, picking her way neatly among the graves and then cowering against the church door, slowly, cautiously, opens it. She is safely inside. A glance about the empty place and tiptoes across the aisle.
      She is hidden in the shadow; now she is vanished. Where has she gone?
   Grizel has crept into the family vault. Something stirs in the darkness, and a voice whispers her name. Fumbling hands find her, and her eyes and her arms are clasped round someone's neck.
      "Father," she breathes. "How are you ? Not chilled to much I hope, you must be famished? Look, here is your poor food."
      As he eats Grizel sits in the cold darkness and whispers cheerfully. The soldiers are still here. Again today they searched every nook and cranny of Redbraes. But they will go, and the evil times will pass, and right will triump ! She tells him of the children's quaint sayings, gives him news of the estate, and discusses various plans for his escape.
      As last she kisses him goodbye till tomorrow night; then leaving him with the ancestors whose honour he keeps untarnished at so dreadful a price, she begins her return journey.
                                           *                        *                        *                         *

      Some years have passed; and we are in the parlour of a small Dutch house. A very beautiful girl is patching a coat while she hears her brothers lessons. Her own faded dress is darned at the elbows, but she rises with the air of a great lady when a visitor comes in.
      The stranger is a tall, handsome youth who wears a cavalier- like finery of the Prince of Orange's Guards. As she salutes her the girl says:
       "My father and mother are out walking, sir. I am sorry. Can I in some way serve you?"
To her surprise the youth answers with a Scottish accent: "I am heartily sorry too, mistress. I came to pay my humble duty to Sir Patrick, who was my father's  friend. Will you tell him ? My name is George Baillie."
      The girl starts, glows and exclaims: "Sir this is not our first meeting !
      Then the youth cries: "I remember! The dungeon in Edinburgh ! "
They sit and talk of their fathers. Sometimes they are sad and wrathful, but they never regret all they have lost in a great cause. She tells him how, after his father's death his executioners hunted  down Sir Patrick; how he hid in the in the family vault; how afterwards she and one other scrapped a hole in the earthen cellar floor at Redbraes, as he lay there; how at last he escaped to Holland; how his possesions were all seized, how she and her mother went to London; begging for enough to live on, and got a hundred and fifty pounds; how the family suceeded in getting to Holland, all but one girl, and how Grizel returned to Scotland to rescue her. Now they were bitterly poor, but they were all united and all free.
      In the midst of such talk Sir Patrick returns, and when he knows the guardsman's name cries out: " No one could be more welcome to me !"
  The years of poverty and exile go peacefully by. Grizel and George love one another, and even if they have little hope of marriage, they are content not to ask too much good fortune of life. Then her father is safe, they are betrothed and that is enough.
Her heroism and beauty make Grizel's story read like a romantic fairy tale, nevertheless it is the truth, even to the happy ever after because....
        Let us return to Scotland. It is fourteen years since we saw Grizel steal out in the moonlight. Now the sun shines on banners and flowers, scarves and feathers, sleek horses and painted harness, as a procession sets out for the church where the bells are pealing loud enough to crack themselves. Charles and James have gone: the Prince of Orange is King of England, and Sir Patrick Hume is nnow Earl of Marchmont, Lord Chancellor of Scotland. At his side rides Lady Grizel, the most courted beauty in two countries. But her bridal white today is for no brilliant wedding; in the Church it is only George Baillie who waits for her.
                         And so we can all say "And they both lived happily ever after."

Lady Grizel Baillie Biography

Lady Grizel Baillie
(1665—1746) was a Scottish song-writer, the eldest daughter of Sir Patrick Hume or Home of Polwarth, afterwards earl of Marchmont. She was born at Redbraes Castle, Berwickshire, on December 25 1665.

When she was twelve years old she carried letters from her father to the Scottish patriot, Robert Baillie of Jerviswood, who was then in prison. Home's friendship for Baillie made him a suspected man, and the king's troops occupied Redbraes Castle. He remained in hiding for some time in a churchyard, where his daughter kept him supplied with food, but on hearing of the execution of Baillie (1684) he fled to the United Provinces, where his family soon after joined him. They returned to Scotland at the Revolution.

Lady Grizel married in 1692 George Baillie, son of the patriot. She died on December 6 1746. She had two daughters, Grizel, who married Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope, and Rachel, Lady, Binning. Lady Murray had in her possession a manuscript of her mother's in prose and verse. Some of the songs had been printed in Allan Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany. "And werena my heart light I wad dee," the most famous of Lady Grizel's songs, originally appeared in Orpheus Caledonius (1725).

Posted 14:04

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