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Wilson's Border Tales
The Clergyman's Daughter

Hanging and marriage, they say, go by destiny. Of the first, being a very ugly subject, we do not choose to say anything; but it is certain that the last is frequently the offspring of curious chances. A remarkable instance of this occurred, about seventy years ago, in the case of a young lady, the daughter of a Highland clergyman, in one of the remote western isles of Scotland.

The name of this clergyman was M’Ivor. A worthy and good man he was, but one little known to fame. His situation was a distant and obscure one, and but rarely visited by strangers. The island itself is only some ten or fifteen miles in circumference. The number of its inhabitants does not— at least did not at the time of which we speak—exceed 150 in number.

At the head of a little bay, by which the island is indented near its centre, on the east side, the minister’s "modest mansion rose." It was a plain two-story house, with a slate roof and bright white-washed walls. From the sea, its appearance was attractive, although, perhaps, this arose as much from the circumstance of its standing alone as from any superior elegance of which it could boast. It was, in truth, a very homely domicile; but it was unrivalled—there being no other slate-roofed house in the island, nor one in any way approaching it in pretension; and hence the dignity in which it rejoiced.

Mr M’Ivor’s daughter, whose name was Mary, was a fair-haired, beautiful girl of some seventeen years of age, or thereabouts. Remote and obscure as her situation was, and equally obscure as her destiny was likely to be, Mary’s education had not been neglected. Her father, who was a learned and accomplished man, had early imbued her with a taste for polite literature, and had taught her to read the French and Italian languages with readiness and fluency.

To complete her education, and to afford her an opportunity of seeing a little of the world, he had sent her to Edinburgh for two successive seasons, where she had added to her other accomplishments a very competent knowledge of music and drawing.

Mary M’Ivor had now returned to her father’s house for good and all; or, at least, until some of those changes should occur by which the course of human life is chequered. Yet did the fair girl seem, from the circumstances in which she was placed, to be one of those flowers which are doomed to—

"Waste their sweetness on the desert air;"

for who would think of seeking, or expect to find, so lovely and accomplished a being in so rude and remote a corner of the world? But odd things will happen. They are happening every day. Few, however, more odd have occurred, as the reader, we think, will allow, than that this lonely flower should; in less than twelve’ months from the period at which we first introduce her to the reader, be seen blooming in some of the gayest saloons of Paris, attracting and commanding the admiration of all; that Mary M’Ivor, the daughter of an obscure Highland clergyman, should, within that time, be mistress of one of the most magnificent chateaus on the banks of the Seine. Yet so it was.

One stormy afternoon, a vessel was driven, by stress of weather, into the little bay, at the head of which stood the minister’s manse. Shortly after the vessel came to anchor, a boat pushed off from her and made for the shore.

Mr M’Ivor, on perceiving, from the window of his study; the boat approaching, hastened down stairs, called to his daughter Mary to throw her plaid around her, and to accompany him to the shore to receive the strangers, and to invite them to the manse—a hospitality which the worthy man extended to every stranger who visited the island. The persons in the boat, besides the men who rowed her, were the captain of the vessel, and a tall, swarthy, gentlemanly-looking young man, having the appearance of a foreigner; and such he really was. Mr M’Ivor having introduced himself and his daughter to the strangers, invited them to the manse. The invitation was at once accepted, and with many expressions of thanks.

Hitherto the conversation had been conducted, on the part of the strangers, entirely by the captain, who was an Englishman; his companion, if such a term will apply to one whom he seemed to treat with the utmost deference and respect, understanding nothing of the English language. The captain now informed Mr M’Ivor that his passenger was a French nobleman, the Count de l’Orme. That he had taken a passage by him at Bordeaux for Liverpool, on an intended visit to England, and that they had been thus far driven out of their course by contrary winds.

On learning these particulars, Mr M’Ivor, who spoke French with tolerable fluency, immediately addressed the count in that language. The latter, at once surprised and delighted to find his native tongue understood by their proposed entertainer, became lively, cheerful, and communicative. But when he discovered—which he soon did, by her looks of intelligence, and her earnest attention to what he and her father were saying—that the fair girl who leant on the arm of the latter, also understood the French language; his delight knew no bounds.

From that moment, he directed the most pointed attentions to her, and with the graceful manners of the ancient chivalry of France, sought, and not in vain, to render himself agreeable in the eyes of Mary M’Ivor.

In the meantime, the party proceeded to the manse, beguiling the way with a lively conversation, in which the blushing little island maiden was led to take a part, by the courtesies and gallantries of the noble stranger.

On gaining the manse, the visitors were ushered into the minister’s comfortable little parlour, where they were hospitably entertained until a pretty late hour of the night, when the count proposed that he and the captain should return on board. To this proposal their kind-hearted host would not listen, but insisted that they should take up their quarters in the manse till the vessel sailed. His guests, at first, objected to this arrangement; but it was finally settled that the captain should return on board, and that the count should remain.

From the moment in which the count first saw Miss M’Ivor, he appeared to have been struck with her beauty; for frequent and earnest were the gazes which he fixed on her fair countenance, and the subsequent discovery of her accomplishments, her refined tastes, and highly cultivated mind, which his residence at the manse enabled him to make, completed the conquest which her beauty had begun.

For a week, the vessel by which the Count de l’Orme was passenger was detained by contrary winds in the little bay of Machray; and, during all this time, the latter was an inmate of the manse.

But was it, indeed, adverse winds that detained the vessel so long? We doubt it. Well, then, if truth must be told, it was not. On the very next day she might have sailed, but a word in the captain’s ear from the count, with a whisper of sample indemnification to himself and owners, kept the ship at her anchors for a week.

Ere that week had expired, however, the Count de l’Orme had, with the consent of her father, made offer of his hand to Mary M’Ivor. It was accepted, and in a month after, the count, who had in the meantime fulfilled his intention of visiting England, and who had, during the same interval, made the necessary arrangements for his marriage, returned with a friend to the lonely little Scottish isle to claim his island bride.

The ceremony of their marriage was performed by Miss M’Ivor’s father.

In fourteen days after, the Countess de l’Orme was installed in the magnificent Chateau de Chauvergne, on the banks of the Seine, as mistress of all its wealth, and of the fair domains that spread far and wide around it.

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