Lizzie Lindsay by Mary MacGregor
In the fair city of Edinburgh there lived many many years ago a
beautiful maiden named Lizzie Lindsay. Her home was in the
Canongate, which is now one of the poorest parts of the city.
But in the days when Lizzie danced and sang, and made her
father's and mother's heart rejoice, the Canongate was the home
of all the richest lords and ladies.
For close to the Canongate was Holyrood, the palace where the
king held his court. And it was well, thought the lords and
ladies of long ago, to live near the palace where there were many
gay sights to be seen.
Lizzie had been a bonny wee girl, and as she grew up she grew
bonnier still, until, not only in Edinburgh, but far and wide
throughout the country, people would speak of her beauty. Even
the folk who dwelt away over the hills in the Highlands heard of
the beauty of Lizzie Lindsay.
Dame Lindsay loved her daughter well, and gave her beautiful
gowns of silk and velvet. Her father, too, would bring her home
many a sparkling jewel, many a brilliant gem. It seemed as though
Lizzie Lindsay had all that her heart could wish.
Certainly she did not wish to leave her home in the Canongate,
for though lord after lord, noble after noble begged for her
hand, Lizzie but tossed her beautiful head high in the air as she
said them nay.
But though it was well known that the lovely maiden had kind
looks and gentle words to spare for none save only her dear
father and her doting mother, yet still the lords and nobles
would dance more gladly with Lizzie than with any other maiden.
And a ball, even a ball given by the court at the palace of
Holyrood, seemed to be less gladsome were it known that the fair
maiden would not be there.
Now, as I have told you, the fame of Lizzie Lindsay's beauty had
spread even to the Highlands. And Donald, the young laird of
Kingcaussie, heard that she was fairer than any other maiden in
the land, and that she was haughtier and more wilful as well. For
she would have nought to say, to any of the rich suitors who
Then Donald, who was tall and handsome, and who was used to have
his own way, smiled as he heard of Lizzie's wilful spirit and her
great beauty. He made up his mind that he would go to Edinburgh
and try to win as his bride the bonnie lassie who would have
nought to do with noble or with lord.
The young laird lived with his father and mother in a castle
built high amid the heather-covered hills, and little until now
had Donald cared for city ways or city walls. To hunt the deer,
to chase the roe, to spend the long hours from early morn until
even among the heathery moors which were all his own, had been
happiness enough for him.
But now, now the glory faded from the heather, and the hunt and
chase lost their delight. Sir Donald's heart was in the fair city
of Edinburgh with beautiful Lizzie Lindsay, whom, though he had
not seen, he loved.
At length one day the young laird went to his lady mother and,
kissing her hand right courteously, he begged her to grant him a
boon. For Donald had been well trained, and, though he was no
longer a boy, he did not dream of leaving his home among the
hills until he had gained his mother's consent.
'Grant me a boon, lady mother,' said the young laird. 'Send me
away to the fair city of Edinburgh, for it is there that my true
love dwells. And if ye will do this I will bring you home a
daughter more beautiful than any other maiden in the land.'
Now the young laird's mother had heard of Lizzie Lindsay, and it
may be that she was glad that her son should wish to bring to the
castle so beautiful a bride. Yet she had no wish for the maiden
to be won by aught save by love for her dear son alone.
Lizzie had refused to wed with lord or noble, it was true, yet
the broad lands, the ancient castle of the MacDonalds, might
please her fancy. But the Lady of Kingcaussie determined that
neither for land nor for castle should bonnie Lizzie Lindsay come
to the Highlands.
When she saw young Donald at her side, and heard him begging
leave to go to the fair city of Edinburgh, she smiled as she
looked into his eager face, and answered slowly, 'My son, ye
shall go to Edinburgh an it please you, and so ye are able ye
shall bring back with you Lizzie Lindsay as your bride. A fairer
maiden, I can well believe, has never graced these walls. Yet, if
ye go, it shall not be as Sir Donald MacDonald, the heir to broad
lands and ancient castles, but as a simple stranger, without
riches and without rank. Then, if ye do win your bride, it will
be through love alone,' said his mother gravely. But her eyes
shone bright and glad, for she thought that there was not a
maiden in all the land who would not be proud to wed her son,
though he had neither riches nor lands.
As for the old laird, he laughed when he heard why his son had
grown weary at the hunt and listless at the chase. He laughed and
cried, 'Let the lad go to the city; before a year has passed away
he will be home again and the beautiful Lizzie Lindsay with him.'
For his old father, too, thought that no maiden could refuse to
love his bonny self-willed son.
Well, young Donald was too anxious to be off and away to
Edinburgh to be grieved to go as a simple Highlander. Before the
day was over he had said farewell to his light-hearted old father
and to his gentle lady mother, and clad in a rough tartan kilt
and without a servant to follow him, the young laird was off to
the fair city of Edinburgh.
When Donald reached Edinburgh he wondered how he would see the
maiden of whose beauty and of whose cleverness he had so often
He had not long to wait, for he had scarce been a day in the city
when he heard that a great ball was to be given and to be graced
by the presence of the fair maiden whom he hoped to win as his
Donald made up his mind that he too would go to the ball, and it
was easy for him to do this, as there were many in the city who
knew the young laird.
When he entered the ballroom he saw that the lords and nobles
were dressed in suits of velvet or silk and satins, while he wore
only his kilt of rough tartan.
The lords and ladies too stared at the tall handsome young
Highlander in his strange garments, and some, who did not know
him, forgot their good manners and smiled and nudged each other
as he passed down the room.
But the young laird had no thought to spare for the crowd. He was
making his way to the circle, in the midst of which stood Lizzie
Lindsay. He had heard too often of the beautiful maiden not to be
sure it was she as soon as his eyes fell upon her face.
Young Donald, in his homespun tartan, stood on the outskirt of
the little crowd that surrounded her, listening. The lords in
their gay suits were doing their utmost to win the goodwill of
the maiden, but their flattery and foolish words seemed to give
her little pleasure. Indeed she was too used to them to find them
aught but a weariness.
Soon Donald was bowing before the maiden he had left his home to
win, and begging her to dance with him. And something in the
bright eyes and gallant bearing of young Donald pleased the
petted maiden, and, despite his rough suit, she had nought but
smiles for the young stranger from the Highlands.
The lords, in their silks and velvets, opened their eyes wide in
astonishment as Lizzie glided past them with young Donald; the
ladies smiled and flouted her, but the maiden paid no heed to
their words or looks.
Donald was not flattering her as she was used to be flattered, he
was telling her of the country in which he dwelt. And Lizzie as
she listened heard the hum of the bees, smelt the fragrance of
the heather. Nay, she even forgot the ballroom, and she was out
on the silent moorland or climbing the steep mountains side by
side with the young stranger whose face was so eager, whose eyes
were so bright. She was stooping to pluck the wildflowers that
grew in the nooks of some sheltered glen, or she was kilting her
dainty gown and crossing the mountain streamlets, and ever the
tall, young stranger was by her side.
Before the ball was over Donald knew that Lizzie Lindsay's home
was in the Canongate, and he had begged to be allowed to see her
Lizzie had no wish to lose sight of the bright young Highlander,
and she told him gaily that if he came to the Canongate to see
her he should be welcome, both to her and her dear father and
When the dance ended the young laird went to his lodgings, and
his heart was light and his dreams glad. His old father had
thought he might be in Edinburgh a year ere he won his bride. But
young Donald murmured to himself that it would scarce be twelve
long months before he was back again to the Highlands with his
bonny Lizzie Lindsay.
The next day Donald was at the Canongate betimes, and Lizzie
welcomed him merrily, and her father and mother looked in kindly
fashion at the young stranger, for indeed Donald had the gift of
But neither father nor mother dreamed that the country clad
youth would win their beautiful daughter's hand, for had she not
refused it to many a lordly earl and noble knight.
'Will ye come to the Highlands with me, Lizzie
Yet the more Lizzie heard about the Highlands, the more she
longed to be there with young Donald by her side.
At length a day came when Donald, with little fear and much hope
in his heart, asked the maiden if she would go with him to the
'We will feed on curds and whey,' cried the daring young Donald;
'your cheeks will grow more pink, and your brow more white with
our simple fare. Your bed shall be made on the fresh green
bracken and my plaid shall wrap you round. Will ye come to the
Highlands with me, Lizzie Lindsay?'
Now Lizzie had listened to young Donald's words with joy, but
also with some fear. Her food had been of the daintiest, her bed
of the softest down, and the young stranger, who was indeed
scarce a stranger now, had, it seemed, but little to offer her
save his love. Yet Lizzie still wished to go to the Highlands.
But when Dame Lindsay heard what young Donald had said she
hardened her heart against the bonny young Highlander.
'Ye shall speak no more to my daughter,' she cried, 'until ye
have told me where your home is, and how many broad lands are
your own?' For it seemed to the old dame that a penniless lad
would never dare to win her daughter, when lords and nobles had
wooed her in vain.
But Donald's head was high, and he seemed to feel no shame as he
answered the old dame bravely—
'My name is Donald MacDonald, and I hold it high in honour. My
father is an old shepherd and my mother a dairymaid. Yet kind and
gentle will they be to your beautiful daughter if she will come
with me to the Highlands.'
Dame Lindsay could scarce believe she had heard aright. Her
daughter marry a shepherd lad! Nay, that should never be, though
indeed the lad was a bonny one and brave.
Then in her anger she bade young Donald begone. 'If ye do steal
away my daughter, then, without doubt ye shall hang for it!' she
The young laird turned haughtily on his heel. He had little
patience, nor could his spirit easily brook such scorn as the old
Dame flung at him.
He turned on his heel and he said, 'There is no law in Edinburgh
city this day which can hang me.'
But before he could say more Lizzie was by his side. 'Come to my
room, Donald,' she pleaded; and as he looked at the beautiful
girl the young laird's wrath vanished as quickly as it had come.
'Come to my room for an hour until I draw a fair picture of you
to hang in my bower. Ye shall have ten guineas if you will but
'Your golden guineas I will not have!' cried Donald quickly. 'I
have plenty of cows in the Highlands, and they are all my own.
Come with me, Lizzie, and we will feed on curds and whey, and
thou shalt have a bonnie blue plaid with red and green strips.
Come with me, Lizzie Lindsay; we will herd the wee lambs
Yet, though Lizzie loved young Donald MacDonald, she still
hesitated to leave her kind parents and her beautiful home.
She sat in her bower and she said to her maid, 'Helen, what shall
I do, for my heart is in the Highlands with Donald?'
Then the maid, who was wellnigh as beautiful as her mistress,
cried, 'Though I were a princess and sat upon a throne, yet would
I leave all to go with young Donald MacDonald.'
'O Helen!' cried Lizzie, 'would ye leave your chests full of
jewels and silk gowns, and would ye leave your father and mother,
and all your friends to go away with a Highland laddie who wears
nought but a homespun kilt?'
But before her maid could answer her, Lizzie had sprung from her
chair, saying, 'Yet I think he must be a wizard, and have
enchanted me, for, come good or come ill, I must e'en go to the
Then early one morning Lizzie tied up her silk robes in a bundle
and clad herself in one of Helen's plain gowns. With her bundle
over her arm, Lizzie Lindsay was off to the Highlands with Donald
Donald's heart was glad as he left the fair city of Edinburgh
behind him, Lizzie by his side. He had so much to tell his
beautiful bride, so much, too, to show her, that at first the
road seemed neither rough nor long.
But as the hours passed the way grew rougher, the hills steeper,
and Lizzie's strength began to fail. Her shoes, too, which were
not made for such rough journeys, were soon so worn that her feet
grew hot and blistered.
'Alas!' sighed Lizzie Lindsay, 'I would I were back in Edinburgh,
sitting alone in my bower.'
'We are but a few miles away from the city,' said Donald; 'will
you even now go back?'
But the tears trickled slowly down the maiden's cheeks, and she
sobbed, 'Now would I receive no welcome from my father, no kiss
from my mother, for sore displeased will they be that I have left
them for you, Donald MacDonald.'
On and on they trudged in silence, and as evening crept on Donald
cried aloud, 'Dry your tears now, Lizzie, for there before us is
our home,' and he pointed to a tiny cottage on the side of the
An old woman stood at the door, gazing down the hill, and as they
drew near she came forward with outstretched hands. 'Welcome, Sir
Donald,' she said, 'welcome home to your own.'
'She spoke in Gaelic, as Highlanders do, so Lizzie did not know
what she said.
Sir Donald whispered quickly in the same language, 'Hush, call me
only Donald, and pretend that I am your son.' The old woman,
though sore dismayed at having to treat the young laird in so
homely a way, promised to do his bidding.
Then Donald turned to Lizzie. 'Here mother,' he said, 'is my
lady-love, whom I have won in the fair city of Edinburgh.'
The old woman drew Lizzie into the cottage, and spoke kindly to
her, but the maiden's heart sank. For a peat fire smouldered on
the hearth and the room was filled with smoke. There was no easy
chair, no couch on which to rest her weary body, so Lizzie
dropped down on to a heap of green turf.
Her sadness did not seem to trouble Donald. He seemed gayer,
happier, every moment.
'We are hungry, mother,' he said; 'make us a good supper of curds
and whey, and then make us a bed of green rushes and cover us
with yonder grey plaids.'
The old woman moved about eagerly as though overjoyed to do all
that she could for her son and his young bride.
Curds and whey was a supper dainty enough for a queen, as Lizzie
whispered to her shepherd lad with a little sigh. Even the bed of
green rushes could not keep her awake. No sooner had she lain
down than, worn out with her long journey, she fell fast asleep,
nor did she awake until the sun was high in the sky.
As she awoke she heard Donald's voice. He was reproaching her,
and she had not been used to reproach.
'It would have been well,' said Donald, 'that you had risen an
hour ago to milk the cows, to tend the flock.'
The tears gathered in Lizzie's eyes and trickled down her cheeks.
'Alas, alas!' she sighed, 'I would I had never left my home, for
here I am of little use. I have never milked a cow, nor do I know
how to begin, and flocks have I never tended. Alas that I ever
came to the Highlands! Yet well do I love Donald MacDonald, and
long and dull would the days have been had he left me behind him
'Shed no more tears, Lizzie,' said Donald gently. 'Get up and
dress yourself in your silk gown, for to-day I will take you over
the hills of Kingcaussie and show you the glens and dales where
I used to play when I was but a little lad.'
Then Lizzie dried her tears and soon she was up and dressed in
her finest gown, and leaning on Donald's arm she wandered with
him over the heathery hills until they reached a noble castle.
Joyously then laughed the young laird, as he bade Lizzie gaze all
around her and be glad.
'I am the lord of all you see, Lizzie,' cried he, 'for this
castle is my home and the mountains are my own broad lands.'
Then joyously too laughed Lizzie Lindsay, for she knew that her
shepherd lad was none other than the far-famed Sir Donald
At that moment the castle gates were flung wide, and the old
Laird of Kingcaussie came out to greet the bride.
'Ye are welcome, Lizzie Lindsay, welcome to our castle,' he said
right courteously. 'Many were the lords and nobles who begged for
your hand, but it is young Donald, my son, who has won it, with
no gift save the glance of his bonny blue eyes.' And the old
laird laughed merrily as he looked up at his son.
The laird's gracious mother too came down to greet her, and well
was she pleased that her boy had won the beautiful maiden he
As for Lizzie Lindsay, she sent to Edinburgh to fetch her father
and mother, that they might see for themselves how wise their
daughter had been to follow Donald MacDonald to the Highlands.