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he had thrown his rider into the sea; his friends went into mourning, and a successor was appointed to his office. Meanwhile, the poor president spent a heavy time in the vault of the castle. He was imprisoned, and solitary; receiving his food through an aperture in the wall, and never hearing the sound of a human voice, save when a shepherd called his dog, by the name of Batty, and when a female domestic called upon Maudge, the cat. These, he concluded were invocations of spirits; for he held himself to be in the dungeon of a sorcerer. At length, after three months had elapsed, the lawsuit was decided in favour of Lord Traquair; and Will was directed to set the president at liberty. Accordingly, he entered the vault at dead of night, seized the president, muffled him once more in the cloak, without speaking a single word, and, using the same mode of transportation, conveyed him to Leith sands, and set down the astonished judge on the very spot where he had taken him up. The joy of his friends, and the less agreeable surprise of his successor, may be easily conceived, when he appeared in court, to reclaim his office and honours. All embraced his own persuasion, that he had been spirited away by witchcraft; nor could he himself be convinced of the contrary, until, many years afterwards, happening to travel in Annandale, his ears were saluted once more with the sounds of Maudge and Batty—the only notes which had solaced his long confinement. This led to a discovery of the whole story ; but, in those disorderly times, it was only laughed at, as a fair ruse de guerre.
Wild and strange as this tradition may seem, there is little doubt of its foundation in fact. The judge, upon whose person this extraordinary stratagem was practised was Sir Alexander Gibson, Lord Durie, collector of the reports, well known in the Scottish law, under the title of Durie's Decisions. He was advanced to the station of an ordinary Lord of Session, 10th July 1621, and died, at his own house of Durie, July 1646. Betwixt these periods this whimsical adventure must have happened; a date which corresponds with that of the tradition.
"We may frame," says Forbes, "a rational conjecture of his great learning and parts, not only from his Collection of the Decisions of the Session, from July 1621, till July 1642, but also from the following circumstances:—1. In a tract of more as twenty years, he was frequently chosen vicepresident, and no other lord in that time. 2. 'Tis commonly reported, that some party, in a considerable action before the Session, finding that the Lord Durie could not be persuaded to think his plea good, fell upon a stratagem to prevent the influence and weight which his lordship might have to his prejudice, by causing some strong masked men kidnap him, in the Links of Leith, at his diversion on a Saturday afternoon, and transport him to some blind and obscure room in the country, where he was detained captive, without the benefit of daylight, a matter of three months (though otherwise civilly and well entertained); during which time his lady and children went in mourning for him as dead. But after the cause aforesaid was decided, the Lord Durie was carried back by incognitos, and dropt in the same place where he had been taken up."—Foebes's Journal of the Session, Edinb. 1714. Preface, p. 28.
Tradition ascribes to Christie's Will another memorable feat, which seems worthy of being recorded. It is well known, that, during the troubles of Charles I. the Earl of Traquair continued unalterably fixed in his attachment to his unfortunate master, in whose service he hazarded his person and impoverished his estate. It was of consequence, it is said, to the King's service, that a certain packet, containing papers of importance, should be transmitted to him from Scotland. But the task was a difficult one, as the Parliamentary leaders used their utmost endeavours to prevent any communication betwixt the King and his Scottish friends. Traquair, in this strait, again had recourse to the services of Christie's Will; who undertook the commission, conveyed the papers safely to his majesty, and received an answer, to be delivered to Lord Traquair. But, in the mean time, his embassy had taken air, and Cromwell had despatched orders to intercept him at Carlisle. Christie's Will, unconscious of his danger, halted in the town to refresh his horse, and then pursued his journey. But, as soon as he began to pass the long, high, and narrow bridge which crosses the Eden at Carlisle, either end of the pass was occupied by a party of Parliamentary soldiers, who were lying in wait for him. The Borderer disdained to resign his enterprise, even in these desperate circumstances; and at once forming his resolution, spurred his horse over the parapet. The river was in high flood. Will sunk —the soldiers shouted—he emerged again, and guiding his horse to a steep bank, called the Stanners, or Stanhouse, endeavoured to land, but ineffectually, owing to his heavy horseman's cloak, now drenched in water. Will cut the loop, and the horse, feeling himself disembarrassed, made a desperate exertion, and succeeded in gaining the bank. Our hero set off, at full speed, pursued by the troopers, who had for a time stood motionless in astonishment at his temerity. Will, however, was well mounted; and, having got the start, he kept it, menacing, with his pistols, any pursuer who seemed likely to gain on him,—an artifice which succeeded, although the arms were wet and useless. He was chased to the Biver Eske, which he swam without hesitation; and, finding himself on Scottish ground, and in the neighbourhood of friends, he turned on the northern bank, and, in the true spirit of a Border rider, invited his followers to come through, and drink with him. After this taunt, he proceeded on his journey, and faithfully accomplished his mission. Such were the exploits of the very last Border freebooter of any note.
The reader is not to regard the ballad as of genuine and unmixed antiquity, though some stanzas are current upon the Border, in a corrupted state. They have been eked and joined together, in the rude and ludicrous manner of the original; but as it must be considered as, on the whole, a modern ballad, it is transferred to this department of the work.