Seligor's Castle, fun for all the children of the world.
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They may be old and a lot of things have been
replaced by more modern ones.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
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
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
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
She and her mother
exchanged horror-stricken glances; some words of
reproof was said. Did the servants
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 !"
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
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
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
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