The Fair Maid of Perth (or St. Valentine's Day) is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. Inspired by the strange, but historically true, story of the Battle of the North Inch, it is set in Perth (then called 'Saint Johnstone') and other parts of Scotland around 1400.
The book had been intended to include two other stories in the same volume, "My Aunt Margaret's Mirror" and "Death of the Laird's Jock", which was to have been titled St. Valentine's Eve.
The fair maid of the title is Catharine Glover, daughter of a glovemaker in Perth, who kisses Henry Gow/Smith, the armourer, while he is sleeping, on Valentine's Day. But Catharine has caught the eye of the Duke of Rothesay, and when Gow interrupts an attempted abduction, the armourer is drawn simultaneously into royal intrigue and highland feud.
The armourer, Henry Gow, had excited the jealousy of the apprentice Conachar by spending the evening with the glover and his daughter and was returning to their house at dawn, that he might be the first person she saw on St Valentine's morning, when he encountered a party of courtiers in the act of placing a ladder against her window. Having cut off the hand of one, and seized another, who, however, managed to escape, he left the neighbours to pursue the rest, and was saluted by Catharine as her lover. The citizens waited on the provost, who, having heard their grievance, issued a challenge of defiance to the offenders.
Meanwhile the King, who occupied apartments in the convent, having confessed to the prior, was consulting with his brother, when the Earl of March arrived to intimate his withdrawal to the English Border, followed into the courtyard by Louise, and afterwards by the Duke of Rothesay, whose dalliance with the maiden was interrupted by the Earl of Douglas ordering his followers to seize and scourge her. Henry Gow, however, was at hand, and the prince, having committed her to his protection, attended his father's council, at which it was determined that the hostile Clans Chattan and Quhele ("Kay") should be invited to settle their feud by a combat between an equal number of their bravest men in the royal presence, and a commission was issued for the suppression of heresy. The old monarch, having learnt that his son was one of those who had attempted to force their way into the glover's house, insisted that he should dismiss his Master of the Horse, who encouraged all his follies; and while Catharine, who had listened to the Lollard teaching of Father Clement, was being urged by him to favour the secret suit of the Prince, her other lover, Conachar, who had rejoined his clan, appeared to carry off her councillor from arrest as an apostate reformer.
The armourer had maimed the Prince's Master of the Horse, Sir John Ramorny, whose desire for revenge was encouraged by the apothecary, Dwining. An assassin named Bonthron undertook to waylay and murder Henry Gow. On Shrovetide evening old Simon was visited by a party of morrice-dancers, headed by Proudfute, who lingered behind to confirm a rumour that Henry Gow had been seen escorting a merry maiden to his house, and then proceeded thither to apologise for having divulged the secret. On his way home in the armourer's coat and cap, as a protection against other revellers, he received a blow from behind and fell dead on the spot. About the same time Sir John was roused from the effects of a narcotic by the arrival of the Prince, who made light of his sufferings, and whom he horrified by suggesting that he should cause the death of his uncle, and seize his father's throne.
The fate of Proudfute, whose body was at first mistaken for that of the armourer, excited general commotion in the city; while Catharine, on hearing the news, rushed to her lover's house and was folded in his arms. Her father then accompanied him to the town council, where he was chosen as the widow's champion, and the Provost repaired to the King's presence to demand a full inquiry. At a council held the following day, trial by ordeal of bier-right, or by combat, was ordered; and suspicion having fallen on Ramorny's household, each of his servants was required to pass before the corpse, in the belief that the wounds would bleed afresh as the culprit approached. Bonthron, however, chose the alternative of combat, and, having been struck down by Gow, was led away to be hanged. But Dwining had arranged that he should merely be suspended so that he could breathe and during the night he and Sir John's page Eviot cut him down and carried him off.
Catharine had learnt that she and her father were both suspected by the commission; and the Provost having offered to place her under the care of The Douglas's daughter, the deserted wife of the Prince, the old glover sought the protection of his former apprentice, who was now the chieftain of his clan. Having returned from his father's funeral, Conachar pleaded for the hand of Catharine, without which he felt he should disgrace himself in the approaching combat with the Clan Chattan. Simon, however, reminded him that she was betrothed to the armourer, and his foster father promised to screen him in the conflict. At the instigation of his uncle, the Prince had been committed to the custody of the Earl of Errol; but, with the Duke's connivance, he was enticed by Ramorny and the apothecary to escape to the castle of Falkland, and, with the help of Bonthron, was starved to death there. Catharine and Louise, however, discovered his fate, and communicated with The Douglas, who overpowered the garrison, and hanged the murderers.
The meeting of the hostile champions had been arranged with great pomp, with barriers erected on three sides of the Inch, in an attempt to keep spectators off the battlefield, and the Tay forming the natural fourth side to the north. The Gilded Arbour summerhouse of the Dominican Friary, which afforded those inside an excellent view of the Inch, was adapted into a grandstand for the King and his entourage. Henry Gow, having consented to supply Eachin (Conachar) with a suit of armour, volunteered to take the place of one of the Clan Chattan who failed to appear. A terrible conflict ensued, during which Torquil and his eight sons all fell defending their chief, who at last fled from the battle-ground unwounded and dishonoured. On hearing of Rothesay's death, Robert III resigned his sceptre to his wily and ambitious brother, and later died broken-hearted when his younger son James was captured by the English king. Albany transferred the regency to his son; but, nineteen years afterwards, the rightful heir returned, and the usurperexpiated his own and his father's guilt on the scaffold. The warrants against Simon and his daughter, and Father Clement, were cancelled by the intervention of the Earl of Douglas, and the Church was conciliated with Dwining's ill-gotten wealth. Conachar either became a hermit, or, legend has it, was spirited away by the fairies. Scotland boasts of many distinguished descendants from Henry Gow and his spouse the Fair Maid of Perth.
The Surgeon's Daughter
Gideon Gray was a surgeon who lived in Fife in the late 18th century. The surgeon's services were unexpectedly sought by a pregnant woman and her husband, who arrived in the village, as strangers, just before she gave birth. The following day the father left, and within a month the mother was carried off by her father, who persuaded Mr Gray to undertake the care and education of the boy, and deposited a thousand pounds in trust for him. Four years afterwards Mrs Gray died in giving birth to a daughter, and the two children were brought up together. At the age of fourteen Richard, who had been led by his nurse to believe himself born to wealth and honour, was informed by his guardian of his real position, and, after consulting with Mr Lawford and his companion Tom Hillary, he decided to remain an inmate of Mr Gray's family as his apprentice, with Hartley as a fellow pupil. As they grew up both the young men fell in love with Menie, and when the doctor proposed that Hartley should become his partner, and endeavour to secure her affections, it transpired that she and Richard were already secretly engaged. Hartley determined to make a voyage to India, and learnt with astonishment that his rival, at the instigation of Hillary, who was now a captain in the Company's service, intended to spend two years there before marrying, in the hope of realising a fortune.
Having obtained the money left by his grandfather in Mr Gray's hands, and enlisted as a recruit, he sailed from Edinburgh with his friend for the depot at Ryde; but, on recovering from a drinking bout before landing, he found himself in the military hospital, deserted by Tom Hillary, and robbed of all his belongings. Hartley, however, was acting as one of the medical officers, and, having earned the gratitude of the commandant, General Witherington, by successfully treating two of his children who were suffering from small-pox, was able to obtain a commission for his fellow-student. The general and his wife had discovered that Richard was their first-born, and when he was introduced to them the shock of hearing him describe himself as an orphan, deserted by his parents, caused the death of his mother, upon which the father was seized with a fit of frenzy, and on recovering could not face his son again. Hartley had, however, been previously entrusted with his history, as well as a gift of money for him, and they sailed together for Madras. Having killed his colonel in a duel, Richard fled to the court of a native prince, while Hartley obtained great reputation as a medical practitioner. One of his patients was Barak el Hadji, who promised him his influence with Hyder Ali, should he at any time need it.
Some months afterwards he was startled by the presence of Menie Gray at a public breakfast, chaperoned by the Begum, who, he learnt, was the wealthy widow of a Rajah. At a private interview with his old master's daughter, Hartley elicited from her that she had come out at Richard's invitation to be married, and was on her way to meet him in Mysore. Mistrusting her lover, he offered his protection should she need it, and the next day he received a note from her telling him she was sold to Tippoo Saib. Unable to obtain an audience of the governor, Hartley resolved to solicit the intervention of Hyder Ali, and, having reached Seringapatam, he sought the aid of El Hadji, who introduced him to another Fakir of higher rank. Following his directions, he accompanied a troop of native cavalry to Tippoo's encampment near Bangalore, and witnessed his return thither, escorted by a magnificent bodyguard, including artillery and elephants. The Begum, who had previously arrived with her retinue, and Menie under her protection, was at once invited to an interview with the prince in his garden the following day. Accordingly at noon the discharge of cannon announced that he had left his palace; and on the arrival of his visitor, attended by Richard as her principal officer, she was conducted to a cushion on his right hand. An attendant then proclaimed the appointment of Richard as governor of the city, and the Begum in return presented Tippoo with the litter containing Menie.
The old Fakir, however, came forward, and, throwing off his disguise, ascended the throne as Hyder Ali. Having reproved his son, he commanded him to restore the gift to the care of Hartley, but allowed the ceremony of investiture to proceed. As Richard, however, who had plotted with Paupiah to betray his trust, was about to mount the elephant in waiting for him, the Rajah made a sign, upon which the animal seized him by the neck with its trunk, and crushed him to death with its foot. The Begum was then ordered to bear her share in compensating her intended victim for the indignity she had suffered, and afterwards deprived of her power and riches. Menie returned to her native village, and the gallant Hartley died from a distemper caught in the courageous pursuit of his profession.