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Wilson's Border Tales
The Baron's Vow

The Lady Margaret was a Scottish baronsí daughter, lovely in feature, and the idol of her father. When she was but a child, the baron had entered into a compact with the Thane of Glendhu, a neighbouring chief, that, at a marriageable age, she should wed his son. At the Thaneís death, the lad was sent abroad to receive his education, and learn the art of war. The Lady Margaret grew a beauty, and many were the suitors for her hand; but on none but the young Ranald, nephew to the Thane of Glendhu, would she look with favouring eyes. The baron now repented of his compact, but it was too late.

As the natal day of Margaret drew near, the day on which she would become nineteen, great were the preparations of the baron. Oxen were ordered to be slaughtered, beer was brewed, and many articles of luxury were sent for to the neighbouring town. The morning of the expected day arrived; and then her father told her that her lover, the young Thane of Glendhu, who had just come to Scotland, had been invited to the grand ball which he purposed giving in the evening. At the same time, he said that his orders were that all should be masked. "This," added he, "I have done that no one may see the workings of your countenance when you receive the Thane." It was in vain that the afflicted Lady Margaret pled most movingly for a private meeting; but her father was deaf to her entreaties, while he affirmed, that his precaution of the mask would do away with all objections, and was so peremptory in the matter, that, as usual, she acquiesced; and having thanked and kissed his dutiful daughter, he withdrew from her with renewed youth in his step and joy in his eye.

Now "there was wassail in the baronís hall," and music, mirth, and rivalry. The evening wore on; and, at length, the Thane of Glendhu was announced. Surrounded by his retainers, he entered the hall with a bold step, amid the baronís welcomings, and took his seat. He was also masked. It was not long ere he sought the Lady Margaret, and led her out to dance. Nor were there any present whose eyes did not follow them with admiration. The dance ended, the Thane led her to a seat, and, sitting down beside her, began to question her of her love, for he had heard of her affection for young Ranald. Lady Margaret confessed all, and told him that though she had no heart to give, for her fatherís sake, she would be his wife, if he accepted her on these terms. But now her father told her in her ear, she must presently prepare to keep her word, as this must be her bridal night. Her lover, too, pressed on his suit to have it so. The priest was called for; but ere the ceremony began, the baron desired that all should unmask. What was the joy of the Lady Margaret to behold, when the Thaneís mask was removed, the features of Ranald, who, his cousin being dead, was now the Thane of Glendhu. And now was the castle filled with joyous greetings; and many a wassail bowl was drained to the health and happiness of the noble Thane, and that of a lovely bride.

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