St. Andrews, Lochleven Castle, And Dunfermline
( Originally Published 1912 )
PROMPTLY at nine-forty-four o'clock on a misty morning, the number thirteen was displayed, and a man inside the little green box called out Philip's and John's names. At St. Andrews golf links one must await one's turn.
The caddies also divide opportunities, it seems, for young and old were alike lined up in order behind an iron rail. The one who came forward must have been aged about seventy-five, but he stepped off as briskly as possible. At St. Andrews most people live for the " ancient and royal game," and for that alone.
" Well, I'd rather have a little younger caddie," muttered John, as he selected his driver from among the other clubs, " but I suppose he'll have to do ! "
Considering the presence of their anxious friends and the crowd of interested spectators, the two boys made a fairly respectable start, and then they were off across the sand dunes by the ocean, Mrs. Pitt, Barbara, and Betty following under their sun-umbrellas.
" How proud John must be to be playing on the oldest links in the whole world. I wish I could play, too, but I don't know how! " Betty was stepping lightly over the close-cut lawn of a putting-green, as she spoke. " How many years have people been playing here, did you say? "
" Oh, it was several hundred years ago that the Scottish national game was first played, and these old links have been famous ever since. There is a new course now, but most people still prefer to play on this ancient one which is quite free to all. You have only to ballot for a place. There are great golf meetings here in May and October, and then the town is crowded; but at any time throughout the whole summer, St. Andrews probably ranks as the most fashionable resort in all Scotland. Look out for the ball, Barbara! A man's just going to drive ! "
At St. Andrews all roads seem to lead to the links; near by are the pavilions with their music, and the beach with its benches and its booths for the sale of ices and sweets; hotels and shops also face this open field, the starting-off place for the golfers. At all hours of the day and into the evening, too, for the twilights are very long, men, women, and even children may be seen wending their way in this direction, each carrying a golf-bag of well-worn sticks and each wearing a determined air as he strides along. Golf at St. Andrews is a business as well as a pastime.
The day was very warm and close; instead of lifting, the mist grew denser until it covered the sun. Mrs. Pitt was trying in vain to persuade the boys not to go around again, when the rain began and settled the question.
" Oh, come along, Philip ! " John cried, mop-ping his forehead energetically; " you don't mind a little rain! There's some fellows starting off just the same !
But even as they discussed it the rain came harder and harder and their aged caddie, still fresh, admitted that the weather would " maybe be saft a wee." Reluctantly the two sportsmen were led away to their lunch.
That afternoon, in spite of the rain, they bravely went back into the town and then followed South Street straight to the cathedral.
" I want to show you boys what was here at St. Andrews before golf was invented; yes, even as long ago as that ! " said Mrs. Pitt, leading the way past many old closes, or alleys, and quaint houses with red-tiled roofs.
Indeed, having turned one's back upon the hotels, the links, and the tourists, one finds nothing that even mildly suggests the modern. Old houses, gateways, walls, carvings, castle, cathedral, and university constitute the real town of St. Andrews, long the center of the Scottish Church, and the seat of one of Scotland's four oldest universities.
John was bitterly disappointed and could not help feeling that he had been deceived. " I thought St. Andrews was a place where a fellow could play golf and enjoy himself," said he.
" Oh, but he might be keen for cathedrals, too, at least between games, John," argued Philip dutifully, pulling him along after the others.
High on a bluff above the water stands the cathedral founded by Bishop Arnold who was Bishop of St. Andrews from 1159-1163, in the reign of Malcolm III. But within its borders remain a smaller building and a high, square tower which at first glance appear to be much more modern than the ruin of the vast cathedral. Strongly built of gray stone this little church and huge tower of St. Regulus contrast strangely with the crumbling cathedral walls of a warm reddish tone; yet the smaller edifice is much older, dating from no one exactly knows what early times.
" The chronicles of the monks tell of its mythical origin," said Mrs. Pitt, stepping close to a sheltering wall for protection against the rain. " They say that in 307, the monk Regulus, being warned in a dream of some calamity which should befall the remains of St. Andrew the Martyr, took possession of a part of them and sailed westward from the Holy Land until he reached these rocks. -There is a cave below this cliff where the saint's bones rested until Regulus built the tower and church to receive them. If this were proved true," she added, " the date of the little church would be four hundred years earlier than that of any other building in Scotland."
" It's a very nice story, anyway," said Betty approvingly. " Let's believe it."
The townspeople now use the cathedral grounds as a kind of park; children play around the bases of the ancient pillars of the nave and women perch on broken bits of the transept wall, knitting busily. There are a number of graves and monuments, one tablet being to the memory of Tom Morris, the famous golfer, with a relief showing him grasping a golf-stick.
" I say! " exclaimed Philip, " a man named Tom Morris still plays golf and keeps a shop near the links where you can buy sticks exactly like the ones old Tom used. He's a descendant. Did you know it, John? "
Near the cathedral entrance is a beautiful gateway called the Pends, or Great Gate, which doubtless once led to some religious building; in the neighboring Dean's Court is another gateway bearing the coat of arms of George Douglas of Lochleven.
Fancy ! the boy who helped Mary Queen of Scots escape from Lochleven Castle ! " said Barbara promptly. " I've always liked him! "
St. Andrews Castle is very finely situated overhanging the sea, and like the majority of those in Scotland it has its host of memories. At first it was the quiet home of the Bishops of St. Andrews, but its splendid position soon attracted the attention of kings and warriors. Edward I of England took it in 1298; here James III of Scotland was born ; from its ram-parts John Knox, the reformer, once saw the approach of a French fleet; and here was the martyrdom of George Wishart who died for his faith, and the murder of Cardinal Beaton, who had cruelly brought about Wishart's death.
Its associations with Wishart and Cardinal Beaton are the most interesting pages of the castle's history," remarked Mrs. Pitt; " some-time you will study much about these two men and then you'll remember St. Andrews."
As at the cathedral, people use the ruined castle as a pleasure ground. Although it was raining hard, ladies were contentedly sitting on the benches, reading or sewing under their umbrellas; nurses in long blue or brown capes and bonnets with streamers strolled about with their charges ; and larger children, carrying little wet bundles, it was plain to see had been in bathing.
In an alley leading towards the old colleges they encountered a number of people watching an escaped gray and rose-colored parrot which had lighted upon the top of a gray old wall. A man was trying in every possible way to capture it, but was finally forced to see it fly away into an adjoining garden.
" My, I didn't know they could fly like that ! " burst out John. " I guess some old lady's pretty mad ! "
As it was very late and very rainy they did not fully appreciate the blackened, carved buildings of the old university and its church, but Mrs. Pitt told them how it had been founded five hundred years ago, lacking only a few months.
" Do any of you realize," she asked, " that until about the year 1370, not one nobleman in the country could so much as write his own name? Forty years later this university was founded and so much was it needed that when the troublous times came to destroy both the castle and great cathedral, the little university lived on ; it struggled much, but it still lived. There are now several colleges included in the university, St. Mary's, St. Salvator's, and St. Leonard's, and their buildings are scattered about this old town in quaint nooks and corners. It would take more time than we can give to explore them all, but I think I have made it clear for what St. Andrews stands, aside from its golfing."
The following morning they took train for Kinross on Lochleven. In their carriage was a small boy, whose father and mother had been to his school to bring him home for the summer holidays. The boy was clinging fast to a book which had been awarded him that morning at the " prize-giving."
" Oh, they give you prizes like that at Commencement, do they? Let's see the book ! ' Bacon's Essays ' ! What can you do with that? " demanded John, a little rudely. " To-day's July 25th, too! It must be awful not to have vacation begin until then. When do you have to go back to school?
The boy was very intelligent in spite of his youthful kilt and bare knees. He told John that the holidays would last until September 25th only, but that he had a month free at Christmas time and another at Easter. He had spent one vacation at Aberdeen, he told them with much pride, a big, important, busy place, all built of gray granite. In the moonlight it looked like a fairy city>
Soon he turned back to his parents, however, and John and Betty were amused to hear much familiar talk about the masters and about plans for the holidays. The father could not keep his hands off his boy, try as he would, and he was continually telling him stories about the old black cat or the new green dachshund.
" I've never seen a green one before, have you? " he would ask, at which joke the boy always giggled appreciatively.
The two parties separated at a junction, and soon Mrs. Pitt and the others stepped down at Kinross.
" Baedeker says that Lochleven has the finest fishing in the British Isles," announced Betty, forgetting for a moment what a hard thing that would be for her brother to hear.
But this time John was reasonable. He realized that they had come to see the ruin of a castle which stands on an island in the gray loch, and that see it they must in the two short hours before their train should leave.
The loch was gray because of a cloudy sky and a high wind. People in the village seemed greatly astonished that any lady should wish to cross the rough waters to see a bit of tumbling ruin, but at last Mrs. Pitt did discover two idle fishermen who agreed to row them over for five shillings. It proved not at all dangerous, only a trifle unpleasant, this tossing about on the white-capped waves; it was not easy to make a landing at the frail wooden pier, but they jumped eagerly to shore and went towards the castle.
Under a doorway in a long, high wall they passed, and then found themselves in the castle courtyard, now grass-grown and surrounded by the ancient ramparts on which one may walk through the tall weeds. In the midst of the court rises the old five-storied keep, an excellent example of the fourteenth-century style.
" Why, the door isn't on the ground floor ! " exclaimed Betty; " how funny! How could they get in? "
" It is true that the keep has a basement, then a first floor on a level with the court, and no main entrance except in the second floor which it needed a ladder to reach," Mrs. Pitt explained. " It was probably for greater safety and may be seen in a good many keeps of the period."
The children explored the dungeons, and then crossed to a ruined tower opposite where were Mary Queen of Scots' apartments during her imprisonment. Here they loitered long, talking of Queen Mary.
" She was only twenty-five at the time," said Mrs. Pitt, " and yet, think of the experiences she had had ! Her mother was French, you remember, and Mary was sent to France when a little child. She dearly loved that country during her whole life. Mary was married, when still very young, to the Dauphin of France, and for a short time she was Queen; but her husband died, and she came home to be Queen of Scotland, which must have seemed like a very cold and uncivilized country to her. But I mustn't try to tell you her whole story now ! Just before she came here, her second husband, Lord Darnley, had been assassinated. Civil war followed, for the people suspected their Queen of having planned this murder in order that she might be free to marry the Earl of Bothwell, who, also, may have had his share in the plot. Mary fell into the hands of her enemies and was brought here to be a prisoner at the castle of Lord and Lady Douglas of Lochleven."
" But she escaped from here," put in Betty, who was very familiar with that famous Waver-ley novel, " The Abbot," in which Scott tells of Mary's adventures in this castle.
Yes, after several attempts, she actually did escape," began Mrs. Pitt; and then they recalled young George Douglas, son of the Lord and Lady of the castle, who served his Queen so faithfully. His father guessed towards what end the boy was working, and forbade him to enter the castle. He, therefore, took lodgings in the town and calmly went on with his plans. Once Mary almost got away by disguising her-self in the poor clothes of the laundress who had come to deliver her work. Seated in the boat, the Queen's face was covered, but at some rude advance of a boatman she put up her hands and was instantly recognized. Although the rowers refused to take the Queen to her destination, realizing her helplessness they did promise not to tell of her attempted escape.
" But it was Willie Douglas, the orphan, who took the castle keys from beside Sir William Douglas's plate while he was eating his dinner and gave them to the Queen. They locked the gates after them and threw the keys into the lake."
" No, no, John ! It wasn't just like that," corrected Betty, producing a leather copy of " The Abbot " which no one knew she had brought. " Wait until I find the place ! I'll read it to you. It was really Willie Douglas who did so much to help, but in the book he's Roland Graeme, you know. It's a much nicer name ! There, this is where it tells about how he got the keys," and they all listened while she read :
` The keys had, with the wonted ceremonial, been presented to the Lady Lochleven. She stood with her back to the casement, which, like that of the Queen's apartments, commanded a view of Kinross, with the church, which stands at some distance from the town, and nearer to the lake, then connected with the town by straggling cottages. With her back to this casement, then, and her face to the table, on which the keys lay for an instant while she tasted the various dishes which were placed there, stood the Lady of Lochleven, more provokingly intent than usual—so at least it seemed to her prisoners—upon the huge and heavy bunch of iron, the implements of their restraint. Just when, having finished her ceremony as taster of the Queen's table, she was about to take up the keys, the page [Roland Graeme], who stood beside her, and had handed her the dishes in succession, looked sideways to the churchyard, and ex-claimed he saw corpse-candles in the church-yard. The Lady of Lochleven was not without a touch, though a slight one, of the superstitions of the time; the fate of her sons made her alive to omens, and a corpse-light, as it was called, in the family burial-place boded death. She turned her head towards the casement—saw a distant glimmering—forgot her charge for one second, and in that second were lost the whole fruits of her former vigilance. The page held the forged keys under his cloak, and with great dexterity exchanged them for the real ones. His utmost address could not prevent a slight clash as he took up the latter bunch. " Who touches the keys? " said the Lady; and while the page answered that the sleeve of his coat had stirred them, she looked round, possessed herself of the bunch which now occupied the place of the genuine keys, and again turned to gaze on the supposed corpse-candles.' "
" I say, Roland Graeme was clever! " cried Philip enthusiastically.
" Mother, here's a picture of Mary going down the castle steps directly into the boat. How could she when this tower is such a long way from the water? " asked Barbara, who had taken the book from Betty to look it over.
But the island was much smaller then, and these walls rose from the water's edge. The loch was once drained, too; I believe that ac-counts for the change."
" I'm going to begin reading ` The Abbot ' all over again right away, even if I have read it five times already ! " declared Betty, as they went back to the boat.
The fishermen were so bent upon having an extra shilling apiece because of their long wait that they almost made Mrs. Pitt lose the Edinburgh express. Wild as Betty was to arrive there, she was forced to stop over one train at ancient Dunfermline to see the Bruce's grave in the old abbey, the second church on this site, the first having been built by Queon Margaret, sainted wife of Malcolm Canmore. A fine brass tablet, placed there more than five hundred years after Bruce's death, now marks the spot where he lies.
" You told us that they buried his heart at Melrose," said John; " thought they left the rest of him in the Holy Land ! "
Adjoining the abbey grounds is an old palace where King Charles I of England was born; it has a splendid old gateway under which the street now passes. Opposite, by way of contrast, is Pittencrieff Park, a pretty little glen presented to the town by Andrew Carnegie, who was born close by in a tiny cottage with dormer windows.
At a place called Queensferry, so named be-cause Queen Margaret used to land there when on her way from Edinburgh to her abbey of Dunfermline, their train began the crossing of the famous Forth Bridge over the great bay called the Firth of Forth. This bridge has been pronounced the greatest construction of the world, but John refused to believe that it is any more remarkable than the new bridges at New York until Mrs. Pitt quoted some figures which convinced him.
" I understand there is a bridge being built over the St. Lawrence at Quebec which will surpass this, however," said she, as the train again reached the shore and hurried on towards the city.
So about ten o'clock that evening they arrived in Edinburgh, and Betty was able to peep from her window at that wholly delightful place which has never entirely outgrown Walter Scott's name for it,—" mine own romantic town."