Part 8 out of 10
she'll no be taen wi' them unless she likes, for a' that.'
'And how comes that?' said Bertram.
'Ou, I dinna ken; I daur say it's nonsense, but they say she has gathered
the fern-seed, and can gang ony gate she likes, like Jock the
Giant-killer in the ballant, wi' his coat o' darkness and his shoon o'
swiftness. Ony way she's a kind o' queen amang the gipsies; she is mair
than a hundred year auld, folk say, and minds the coming in o' the
moss-troopers in the troublesome times when the Stuarts were put awa.
Sae, if she canna hide hersell, she kens them that can hide her weel
eneugh, ye needna doubt that. Od, an I had kenn'd it had been Meg
Merrilies yon night at Tibb Mumps's, I wad taen care how I crossed her.'
Bertram listened with great attention to this account, which tallied so
well in many points with what he had himself seen of this gipsy sibyl.
After a moment's consideration he concluded it would be no breach of
faith to mention what he had seen at Derncleugh to a person who held Meg
in such reverence as Dinmont obviously did. He told his story
accordingly, often interrupted by ejaculations, such as, 'Weel, the like
o' that now!' or, 'Na, deil an that's no something now!'
When our Liddesdale friend had heard the whole to an end, he shook his
great black head--'Weel, I'll uphaud there's baith gude and ill amang the
gipsies, and if they deal wi' the Enemy, it's a' their ain business and
no ours. I ken what the streeking the corpse wad be, weel eneugh. Thae
smuggler deevils, when ony o' them's killed in a fray, they 'll send for
a wife like Meg far eneugh to dress the corpse; od, it's a' the burial
they ever think o'! and then to be put into the ground without ony
decency, just like dogs. But they stick to it, that they 'll be streekit,
and hae an auld wife when they're dying to rhyme ower prayers, and
ballants, and charms, as they ca' them, rather than they'll hae a
minister to come and pray wi' them--that's an auld threep o' theirs; and
I am thinking the man that died will hae been ane o' the folk that was
shot when they burnt Woodbourne.'
'But, my good friend, Woodbourne is not burnt,' said Bertram.
'Weel, the better for them that bides in't,' answered the store-farmer.
'Od, we had it up the water wi' us that there wasna a stane on the tap o'
anither. But there was fighting, ony way; I daur to say it would be fine
fun! And, as I said, ye may take it on trust that that's been ane o' the
men killed there, and that it's been the gipsies that took your pockmanky
when they fand the chaise stickin' in the snaw; they wadna pass the like
o' that, it wad just come to their hand like the bowl o' a pint stoup.'
'But if this woman is a sovereign among them, why was she not able to
afford me open protection, and to get me back my property?'
'Ou, wha kens? she has muckle to say wi' them, but whiles they'll tak
their ain way for a' that, when they're under temptation. And then
there's the smugglers that they're aye leagued wi', she maybe couldna
manage them sae weel. They're aye banded thegither; I've heard that the
gipsies ken when the smugglers will come aff, and where they're to land,
better than the very merchants that deal wi' them. And then, to the boot
o' that, she's whiles cracked-brained, and has a bee in her head; they
say that, whether her spaeings and fortune-tellings be true or no, for
certain she believes in them a' hersell, and is aye guiding hersell by
some queer prophecy or anither. So she disna aye gang the straight road
to the well. But deil o' sic a story as yours, wi' glamour and dead folk
and losing ane's gate, I ever heard out o' the tale-books! But whisht, I
hear the keeper coming.'
Mac-Guffog accordingly interrupted their discourse by the harsh harmony
of the bolts and bars, and showed his bloated visage at the opening door.
'Come, Mr. Dinmont, we have put off locking up for an hour to oblige ye;
ye must go to your quarters.'
'Quarters, man? I intend to sleep here the night. There's a spare bed in
the Captain's room.'
'It's impossible!' answered the keeper.
'But I say it IS possible, and that I winna stir; and there's a dram t'
Mac-Guffog drank off the spirits and resumed his objection. 'But it's
against rule, sir; ye have committed nae malefaction.'
'I'll break your head,' said the sturdy Liddesdale man, 'if ye say ony
mair about it, and that will be malefaction eneugh to entitle me to ae
night's lodging wi' you, ony way.'
'But I tell ye, Mr. Dinmont,' reiterated the keeper, 'it's against rule,
and I behoved to lose my post.'
'Weel, Mac-Guffog,' said Dandie, 'I hae just twa things to say. Ye ken
wha I am weel eneugh, and that I wadna loose a prisoner.'
'And how do I ken that?' answered the jailor.
'Weel, if ye dinna ken that,' said the resolute farmer, 'ye ken this: ye
ken ye're whiles obliged to be up our water in the way o' your business.
Now, if ye let me stay quietly here the night wi' the Captain, I'se pay
ye double fees for the room; and if ye say no, ye shall hae the best
sark-fu' o' sair banes that ever ye had in your life the first time ye
set a foot by Liddel Moat!'
'Aweel, aweel, gudeman,' said Mac-Guffog, 'a wilfu' man maun hae his way;
but if I am challenged for it by the justices, I ken wha sall bear the
wyte,' and, having sealed this observation with a deep oath or two, he
retired to bed, after carefully securing all the doors of the bridewell.
The bell from the town steeple tolled nine just as the ceremony was
'Although it's but early hours,' said the farmer, who had observed that
his friend looked somewhat pale and fatigued, 'I think we had better lie
down, Captain, if ye're no agreeable to another cheerer. But troth, ye're
nae glass-breaker; and neither am I, unless it be a screed wi' the
neighbours, or when I'm on a ramble.'
Bertram readily assented to the motion of his faithful friend, but, on
looking at the bed, felt repugnance to trust himself undressed to Mrs.
Mac-Guffog's clean sheets.
'I'm muckle o' your opinion, Captain,' said Dandie. 'Od, this bed looks
as if a' the colliers in Sanquhar had been in't thegither. But it'll no
win through my muckle coat.' So saying, he flung himself upon the frail
bed with a force that made all its timbers crack, and in a few moments
gave audible signal that he was fast asleep. Bertram slipped off his coat
and boots and occupied the other dormitory. The strangeness of his
destiny, and the mysteries which appeared to thicken around him, while he
seemed alike to be persecuted and protected by secret enemies and
friends, arising out of a class of people with whom he had no previous
connexion, for some time occupied his thoughts. Fatigue, however,
gradually composed his mind, and in a short time he was as fast asleep as
his companion. And in this comfortable state of oblivion we must leave
them until we acquaint the reader with some other circumstances which
occurred about the same period.
Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence? or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting?
Speak, I charge you.
Upon the evening of the day when Bertram's examination had taken place,
Colonel Mannering arrived at Woodbourne from Edinburgh. He found his
family in their usual state, which probably, so far as Julia was
concerned, would not have been the case had she learned the news of
Bertram's arrest. But as, during the Colonel's absence, the two young
ladies lived much retired, this circumstance fortunately had not reached
Woodbourne. A letter had already made Miss Bertram acquainted with the
downfall of the expectations which had been formed upon the bequest of
her kinswoman. Whatever hopes that news might have dispelled, the
disappointment did not prevent her from joining her friend in affording a
cheerful reception to the Colonel, to whom she thus endeavoured to
express the deep sense she entertained of his paternal kindness. She
touched on her regret that at such a season of the year he should have
made, upon her account, a journey so fruitless.
'That it was fruitless to you, my dear,' said the Colonel, 'I do most
deeply lament; but for my own share, I have made some valuable
acquaintances, and have spent the time I have been absent in Edinburgh
with peculiar satisfaction; so that on that score there is nothing to be
regretted. Even our friend the Dominie is returned thrice the man he was,
from having sharpened his wits in controversy with the geniuses of the
'Of a surety,' said the Dominie, with great complacency, 'I did wrestle,
and was not overcome, though my adversary was cunning in his art.'
'I presume,' said Miss Mannering, 'the contest was somewhat fatiguing,
'Very much, young lady; howbeit I girded up my loins and strove against
'I can bear witness,' said the Colonel; 'I never saw an affair better
contested. The enemy was like the Mahratta cavalry: he assailed on all
sides, and presented no fair mark for artillery; but Mr. Sampson stood to
his guns notwithstanding, and fired away, now upon the enemy and now upon
the dust which he had raised. But we must not fight our battles over
again to-night; to-morrow we shall have the whole at breakfast.'
The next morning at breakfast, however, the Dominie did not make his
appearance. He had walked out, a servant said, early in the morning. It
was so common for him to forget his meals that his absence never deranged
the family. The housekeeper, a decent old-fashioned Presbyterian matron,
having, as such, the highest respect for Sampson's theological
acquisitions, had it in charge on these occasions to take care that he
was no sufferer by his absence of mind, and therefore usually waylaid him
on his return, to remind him of his sublunary wants, and to minister to
their relief. It seldom, however, happened that he was absent from two
meals together, as was the case in the present instance. We must explain
the cause of this unusual occurrence.
The conversation which Mr. Pleydell had held with Mr. Mannering on the
subject of the loss of Harry Bertram had awakened all the painful
sensations which that event had inflicted upon Sampson. The affectionate
heart of the poor Dominie had always reproached him that his negligence
in leaving the child in the care of Frank Kennedy had been the proximate
cause of the murder of the one, the loss of the other, the death of Mrs.
Bertram, and the ruin of the family of his patron. It was a subject which
he never conversed upon, if indeed his mode of speech could be called
conversation at any time; but it was often present to his imagination.
The sort of hope so strongly affirmed and asserted in Mrs. Bertram's last
settlement had excited a corresponding feeling in the Dominie's bosom,
which was exasperated into a sort of sickening anxiety by the discredit
with which Pleydell had treated it. 'Assuredly,' thought Sampson to
himself, 'he is a man of erudition, and well skilled in the weighty
matters of the law; but he is also a man of humorous levity and
inconsistency of speech, and wherefore should he pronounce ex cathedra,
as it were, on the hope expressed by worthy Madam Margaret Bertram of
All this, I say, the Dominie THOUGHT to himself; for had he uttered half
the sentence, his jaws would have ached for a month under the unusual
fatigue of such a continued exertion. The result of these cogitations was
a resolution to go and visit the scene of the tragedy at Warroch Point,
where he had not been for many years; not, indeed, since the fatal
accident had happened. The walk was a long one, for the Point of Warroch
lay on the farther side of the Ellangowan property, which was interposed
between it and Woodbourne. Besides, the Dominie went astray more than
once, and met with brooks swoln into torrents by the melting of the snow,
where he, honest man, had only the summer recollection of little
At length, however, he reached the woods which he had made the object of
his excursion, and traversed them with care, muddling his disturbed
brains with vague efforts to recall every circumstance of the
catastrophe. It will readily be supposed that the influence of local
situation and association was inadequate to produce conclusions different
from those which he had formed under the immediate pressure of the
occurrences themselves. 'With many a weary sigh, therefore, and many a
groan,' the poor Dominie returned from his hopeless pilgrimage, and
weariedly plodded his way towards Woodbourne, debating at times in his
altered mind a question which was forced upon him by the cravings of an
appetite rather of the keenest, namely, whether he had breakfasted that
morning or no? It was in this twilight humour, now thinking of the loss
of the child, then involuntarily compelled to meditate upon the somewhat
incongruous subject of hung beef, rolls, and butter, that his route,
which was different from that which he had taken in the morning,
conducted him past the small ruined tower, or rather vestige of a tower,
called by the country people the Kaim of Derncleugh.
The reader may recollect the description of this ruin in the
twenty-seventh chapter, as the vault in which young Bertram, under the
auspices of Meg Merrilies, witnessed the death of Hatteraick's
lieutenant. The tradition of the country added ghostly terrors to the
natural awe inspired by the situation of this place, which terrors the
gipsies who so long inhabited the vicinity had probably invented, or at
least propagated, for their own advantage. It was said that, during the
times of the Galwegian independence, one Hanlon Mac-Dingawaie, brother to
the reigning chief, Knarth Mac-Dingawaie, murdered his brother and
sovereign, in order to usurp the principality from his infant nephew, and
that, being pursued for vengeance by the faithful allies and retainers of
the house, who espoused the cause of the lawful heir, he was compelled to
retreat, with a few followers whom he had involved in his crime, to this
impregnable tower called the Kaim of Derucleugh, where he defended
himself until nearly reduced by famine, when, setting fire to the place,
he and the small remaining garrison desperately perished by their own
swords, rather than fall into the hands of their exasperated enemies.
This tragedy, which, considering the wild times wherein it was placed,
might have some foundation in truth, was larded with many legends of
superstition and diablerie, so that most of the peasants of the
neighbourhood, if benighted, would rather have chosen to make a
considerable circuit than pass these haunted walls. The lights, often
seen around the tower, when used as the rendezvous of the lawless
characters by whom it was occasionally frequented, were accounted for,
under authority of these tales of witchery, in a manner at once
convenient for the private parties concerned and satisfactory to the
Now it must be confessed that our friend Sampson, although a profound
scholar and mathematician, had not travelled so far in philosophy as to
doubt the reality of witchcraft or apparitions. Born, indeed, at a time
when a doubt in the existence of witches was interpreted as equivalent to
a justification of their infernal practices, a belief of such legends had
been impressed upon the Dominie as an article indivisible from his
religious faith, and perhaps it would have been equally difficult to have
induced him to doubt the one as the other. With these feelings, and in a
thick misty day, which was already drawing to its close, Dominie Sampson
did not pass the Kaim of Derncleugh without some feelings of tacit
What, then, was his astonishment when, on passing the door--that door
which was supposed to have been placed there by one of the latter Lairds
of Ellangowan to prevent presumptuous strangers from incurring the
dangers of the haunted vault--that door, supposed to be always locked,
and the key of which was popularly said to be deposited with the
presbytery--that door, that very door, opened suddenly, and the figure of
Meg Merrilies, well known, though not seen for many a revolving year, was
placed at once before the eyes of the startled Dominie! She stood
immediately before him in the footpath, confronting him so absolutely
that he could not avoid her except by fairly turning back, which his
manhood prevented him from thinking of.
'I kenn'd ye wad be here,' she said, with her harsh and hollow voice; 'I
ken wha ye seek; but ye maun do my bidding.'
'Get thee behind me!' said the alarmed Dominie. 'Avoid ye! Conjuro te,
scelestissima, nequissima, spurcissima, iniquissima atque miserrima,
Meg stood her ground against this tremendous volley of superlatives,
which Sampson hawked up from the pit of his stomach and hurled at her in
thunder. 'Is the carl daft,' she said, 'wi' his glamour?'
'Conjuro,' continued the Dominie, 'abjuro, contestor atque viriliter
'What, in the name of Sathan, are ye feared for, wi' your French
gibberish, that would make a dog sick? Listen, ye stickit stibbler, to
what I tell ye, or ye sail rue it while there's a limb o' ye hings to
anither! Tell Colonel Mannering that I ken he's seeking me. He kens, and
I ken, that the blood will be wiped out, and the lost will be found,
And Bertram's right and Bertram's might
Shall meet on Ellangowan height.
Hae, there's a letter to him; I was gaun to send it in another way. I
canna write mysell; but I hae them that will baith write and read, and
ride and rin for me. Tell him the time's coming now, and the weird's
dreed, and the wheel's turning. Bid him look at the stars as he has
looked at them before. Will ye mind a' this?'
'Assuredly,' said the Dominie, 'I am dubious; for, woman, I am perturbed
at thy words, and my flesh quakes to hear thee.'
'They'll do you nae ill though, and maybe muckle gude.'
'Avoid ye! I desire no good that comes by unlawful means.'
'Fule body that thou art,' said Meg, stepping up to him, with a frown of
indignation that made her dark eyes flash like lamps from under her bent
brows--'Fule body! if I meant ye wrang, couldna I clod ye ower that
craig, and wad man ken how ye cam by your end mair than Frank Kennedy?
Hear ye that, ye worricow?'
'In the name of all that is good,' said the Dominie, recoiling, and
pointing his long pewter-headed walking cane like a javelin at the
supposed sorceress--'in the name of all that is good, bide off hands! I
will not be handled; woman, stand off, upon thine own proper peril!
Desist, I say; I am strong; lo, I will resist!' Here his speech was cut
short; for Meg, armed with supernatural strength (as the Dominie
asserted), broke in upon his guard, put by a thrust which he made at her
with his cane, and lifted him into the vault, 'as easily,' said he, 'as I
could sway a Kitchen's Atlas.'
'Sit down there,' she said, pushing the half-throttled preacher with some
violence against a broken chair--'sit down there and gather your wind and
your senses, ye black barrow-tram o' the kirk that ye are. Are ye fou or
'Fasting, from all but sin,' answered the Dominie, who, recovering his
voice, and finding his exorcisms only served to exasperate the
intractable sorceress, thought it best to affect complaisance and
submission, inwardly conning over, however, the wholesome conjurations
which he durst no longer utter aloud. But as the Dominie's brain was by
no means equal to carry on two trains of ideas at the same time, a word
or two of his mental exercise sometimes escaped and mingled with his
uttered speech in a manner ludicrous enough, especially as the poor man
shrunk himself together after every escape of the kind, from terror of
the effect it might produce upon the irritable feelings of the witch.
Meg in the meanwhile went to a great black cauldron that was boiling on a
fire on the floor, and, lifting the lid, an odour was diffused through
the vault which, if the vapours of a witch's cauldron could in aught be
trusted, promised better things than the hell-broth which such vessels
are usually supposed to contain. It was, in fact, the savour of a goodly
stew, composed of fowls, hares, partridges, and moor-game boiled in a
large mess with potatoes, onions, and leeks, and from the size of the
cauldron appeared to be prepared for half a dozen of people at least. 'So
ye hae eat naething a' day?' said Meg, heaving a large portion of this
mess into a brown dish and strewing it savourily with salt and pepper.
[Footnote: See Note 4.]
'Nothing,' answered the Dominie, 'scelestissima!--that is, gudewife.'
'Hae then,' said she, placing the dish before him, 'there's what will
warm your heart.'
'I do not hunger, malefica--that is to say, Mrs. Merrilies!' for he said
unto himself,' the savour is sweet, but it hath been cooked by a Canidia
or an Ericthoe.'
'If ye dinna eat instantly and put some saul in ye, by the bread and the
salt, I'll put it down your throat wi' the cutty spoon, scaulding as it
is, and whether ye will or no. Gape, sinner, and swallow!'
Sampson, afraid of eye of newt, and toe of frog, tigers' chaudrons, and
so forth, had determined not to venture; but the smell of the stew was
fast melting his obstinacy, which flowed from his chops as it were in
streams of water, and the witch's threats decided him to feed. Hunger and
fear are excellent casuists.
'Saul,' said Hunger, 'feasted with the witch of Endor.' 'And,' quoth
Fear, 'the salt which she sprinkled upon the food showeth plainly it is
not a necromantic banquet, in which that seasoning never occurs.' 'And,
besides,' says Hunger, after the first spoonful, 'it is savoury and
'So ye like the meat?' said the hostess.
'Yea,' answered the Dominie, 'and I give thee thanks,
sceleratissima!--which means, Mrs. Margaret.'
'Aweel, eat your fill; but an ye kenn'd how it was gotten ye maybe wadna
like it sae weel.' Sampson's spoon dropped in the act of conveying its
load to his mouth. 'There's been mony a moonlight watch to bring a' that
trade thegither,' continued Meg; 'the folk that are to eat that dinner
thought little o' your game laws.'
'Is that all?' thought Sampson, resuming his spoon and shovelling away
manfully; 'I will not lack my food upon that argument.'
'Now ye maun tak a dram?'
'I will,' quoth Sampson, 'conjuro te--that is, I thank you heartily,' for
he thought to himself, in for a penny in for a pound; and he fairly drank
the witch's health in a cupful of brandy. When he had put this copestone
upon Meg's good cheer, he felt, as he said, 'mightily elevated, and
afraid of no evil which could befall unto him.'
'Will ye remember my errand now?' said Meg Merrilies; 'I ken by the cast
o' your ee that ye're anither man than when you cam in.'
'I will, Mrs. Margaret,' repeated Sampson, stoutly; 'I will deliver unto
him the sealed epistle, and will add what you please to send by word of
'Then I'll make it short,' says Meg. 'Tell him to look at the stars
without fail this night, and to do what I desire him in that letter, as
he would wish
That Bertram's right and Bertram's might
Should meet on Ellangowan height.
I have seen him twice when he saw na me; I ken when he was in this
country first, and I ken what's brought him back again. Up an' to the
gate! ye're ower lang here; follow me.'
Sampson followed the sibyl accordingly, who guided him about a quarter of
a mile through the woods, by a shorter cut than he could have found for
himself; then they entered upon the common, Meg still marching before him
at a great pace, until she gained the top of a small hillock which
overhung the road.
'Here,' she said, 'stand still here. Look how the setting sun breaks
through yon cloud that's been darkening the lift a' day. See where the
first stream o' light fa's: it's upon Donagild's round tower, the auldest
tower in the Castle o' Ellangowan; that's no for naething! See as it's
glooming to seaward abune yon sloop in the bay; that's no for naething
neither. Here I stood on this very spot,' said she, drawing herself up so
as not to lose one hair-breadth of her uncommon height, and stretching
out her long sinewy arm and clenched hand--'here I stood when I tauld the
last Laird o' Ellangowan what was coming on his house; and did that fa'
to the ground? na, it hit even ower sair! And here, where I brake the
wand of peace ower him, here I stand again, to bid God bless and prosper
the just heir of Ellangowan that will sune be brought to his ain; and the
best laird he shall be that Ellangowan has seen for three hundred years.
I'll no live to see it, maybe; but there will be mony a blythe ee see it
though mine be closed. And now, Abel Sampson, as ever ye lo'ed the house
of Ellangowan, away wi' my message to the English Colonel, as if life and
death were upon your haste!'
So saying, she turned suddenly from the amazed Dominie and regained with
swift and long strides the shelter of the wood from which she had issued
at the point where it most encroached upon the common. Sampson gazed
after her for a moment in utter astonishment, and then obeyed her
directions, hurrying to Woodbourne at a pace very unusual for him,
exclaiming three times, 'Prodigious! prodigious! pro-di-gi-ous!'
It is not madness
That I have utter'd, bring me to the test,
And I the matter will re-word, which madness
Would gambol from.
As Mr. Sampson crossed the hall with a bewildered look, Mrs. Allan, the
good housekeeper, who, with the reverent attention which is usually
rendered to the clergy in Scotland, was on the watch for his return,
sallied forth to meet him--'What's this o't now, Mr. Sampson, this is
waur than ever! Ye'll really do yoursell some injury wi' these lang
fasts; naething's sae hurtful to the stamach, Mr. Sampson. If ye would
but put some peppermint draps in your pocket, or let Barnes cut ye a
'Avoid thee!' quoth the Dominie, his mind running still upon his
interview with Meg Merrilies, and making for the dining-parlour.
'Na, ye needna gang in there, the cloth's been removed an hour syne, and
the Colonel's at his wine; but just step into my room, I have a nice
steak that the cook will do in a moment.'
'Exorciso te!' said Sampson; 'that is, I have dined.'
'Dined! it's impossible; wha can ye hae dined wi', you that gangs out nae
'With Beelzebub, I believe,' said the minister.
'Na, then he's bewitched for certain,' said the housekeeper, letting go
her hold; 'he's bewitched, or he's daft, and ony way the Colonel maun
just guide him his ain gate. Wae's me! Hech, sirs! It's a sair thing to
see learning bring folk to this!' And with this compassionate ejaculation
she retreated into her own premises.
The object of her commiseration had by this time entered the
dining-parlour, where his appearance gave great surprise. He was mud up
to the shoulders, and the natural paleness of his hue was twice as
cadaverous as usual, through terror, fatigue, and perturbation of mind.
'What on earth is the meaning of this, Mr. Sampson?' said Mannering, who
observed Miss Bertram looking much alarmed for her simple but attached
'Exorciso,' said the Dominie.
'How, sir?' replied the astonished Colonel.
'I crave pardon, honourable sir! but my wits---'
'Are gone a wool-gathering, I think; pray, Mr. Sampson, collect yourself,
and let me know the meaning of all this.'
Sampson was about to reply, but finding his Latin formula of exorcism
still came most readily to his tongue, he prudently desisted from the
attempt, and put the scrap of paper which he had received from the gipsy
into Mannering's hand, who broke the seal and read it with surprise.
'This seems to be some jest,' he said, 'and a very dull one.'
'It came from no jesting person,' said Mr. Sampson.
'From whom then did it come?' demanded Mannering.
The Dominie, who often displayed some delicacy of recollection in cases
where Miss Bertram had an interest, remembered the painful circumstances
connected with Meg Merrilies, looked at the young ladies, and remained
silent. 'We will join you at the tea-table in an instant, Julia,' said
the Colonel; 'I see that Mr. Sampson wishes to speak to me alone. And now
they are gone, what, in Heaven's name, Mr. Sampson, is the meaning of all
'It may be a message from Heaven,' said the Dominie, 'but it came by
Beelzebub's postmistress. It was that witch, Meg Merrilies, who should
have been burned with a tar-barrel twenty years since for a harlot,
thief, witch, and gipsy.'
'Are you sure it was she?' said the Colonel with great interest.
'Sure, honoured sir? Of a truth she is one not to be forgotten, the like
o' Meg Merrilies is not to be seen in any land.'
The Colonel paced the room rapidly, cogitating with himself. 'To send out
to apprehend her; but it is too distant to send to Mac-Morlan, and Sir
Robert Hazlewood is a pompous coxcomb; besides, the chance of not finding
her upon the spot, or that the humour of silence that seized her before
may again return. No, I will not, to save being thought a fool, neglect
the course she points out. Many of her class set out by being impostors
and end by becoming enthusiasts, or hold a kind of darkling conduct
between both lines, unconscious almost when they are cheating themselves
or when imposing on others. Well, my course is a plain one at any rate;
and if my efforts are fruitless, it shall not be owing to over-jealousy
of my own character for wisdom.'
With this he rang the bell, and, ordering Barnes into his private
sitting-room, gave him some orders, with the result of which the reader
may be made hereafter acquainted.
We must now take up another adventure, which is also to be woven into the
story of this remarkable day.
Charles Hazlewood had not ventured to make a visit at Woodbourne during
the absence of the Colonel. Indeed, Mannering's whole behaviour had
impressed upon him an opinion that this would be disagreeable; and such
was the ascendency which the successful soldier and accomplished
gentleman had attained over the young man's conduct, that in no respect
would he have ventured to offend him. He saw, or thought he saw, in
Colonel Mannering's general conduct, an approbation of his attachment to
Miss Bertram. But then he saw still more plainly the impropriety of any
attempt at a private correspondence, of which his parents could not be
supposed to approve, and he respected this barrier interposed betwixt
them both on Mannering's account and as he was the liberal and zealous
protector of Miss Bertram. 'No,' said he to himself, 'I will not endanger
the comfort of my Lucy's present retreat until I can offer her a home of
With this valorous resolution, which he maintained although his horse,
from constant habit, turned his head down the avenue of Woodbourne, and
although he himself passed the lodge twice every day, Charles Hazlewood
withstood a strong inclination to ride down just to ask how the young
ladies were, and whether he could be of any service to them during
Colonel Mannering's absence. But on the second occasion he felt the
temptation so severe that he resolved not to expose himself to it a third
time; and, contenting himself with sending hopes and inquiries and so
forth to Woodbourne, he resolved to make a visit long promised to a
family at some distance, and to return in such time as to be one of the
earliest among Mannering's visitors who should congratulate his safe
arrival from his distant and hazardous expedition to Edinburgh.
Accordingly he made out his visit, and, having arranged matters so as to
be informed within a few hours after Colonel Mannering reached home, he
finally resolved to take leave of the friends with whom he had spent the
intervening time, with the intention of dining at Woodbourne, where he
was in a great measure domesticated; and this (for he thought much more
deeply on the subject than was necessary) would, he flattered himself,
appear a simple, natural, and easy mode of conducting himself.
Fate, however, of which lovers make so many complaints, was in this case
unfavourable to Charles Hazlewood. His horse's shoes required an
alteration, in consequence of the fresh weather having decidedly
commenced. The lady of the house where he was a visitor chose to indulge
in her own room till a very late breakfast hour. His friend also insisted
on showing him a litter of puppies which his favourite pointer bitch had
produced that morning. The colours had occasioned some doubts about the
paternity--a weighty question of legitimacy, to the decision of which
Hazlewood's opinion was called in as arbiter between his friend and his
groom, and which inferred in its consequences which of the litter should
be drowned, which saved. Besides, the Laird himself delayed our young
lover's departure for a considerable time, endeavouring, with long and
superfluous rhetoric, to insinuate to Sir Robert Hazlewood, through the
medium of his son, his own particular ideas respecting the line of a
meditated turnpike road. It is greatly to the shame of our young lover's
apprehension that, after the tenth reiterated account of the matter, he
could not see the advantage to be obtained by the proposed road passing
over the Lang Hirst, Windy Knowe, the Goodhouse Park, Hailziecroft, and
then crossing the river at Simon's Pool, and so by the road to
Kippletringan; and the less eligible line pointed out by the English
surveyor, which would go clear through the main enclosures at Hazlewood,
and cut within a mile or nearly so of the house itself, destroying the
privacy and pleasure, as his informer contended, of the grounds. In
short, the adviser (whose actual interest was to have the bridge built as
near as possible to a farm of his own) failed in every effort to attract
young Hazlewood's attention until he mentioned by chance that the
proposed line was favoured by 'that fellow Glossin,' who pretended to
take a lead in the county. On a sudden young Hazlewood became attentive
and interested; and, having satisfied himself which was the line that
Glossin patronised, assured his friend it should not be his fault if his
father did not countenance any other instead of that. But these various
interruptions consumed the morning. Hazlewood got on horseback at least
three hours later than he intended, and, cursing fine ladies, pointers,
puppies, and turnpike acts of parliament, saw himself detained beyond the
time when he could with propriety intrude upon the family at Woodbourne.
He had passed, therefore, the turn of the road which led to that mansion,
only edified by the distant appearance of the blue smoke curling against
the pale sky of the winter evening, when he thought he beheld the Dominie
taking a footpath for the house through the woods. He called after him,
but in vain; for that honest gentleman, never the most susceptible of
extraneous impressions, had just that moment parted from Meg Merrilies,
and was too deeply wrapt up in pondering upon her vaticinations to make
any answer to Hazlewood's call. He was therefore obliged to let him
proceed without inquiry after the health of the young ladies, or any
other fishing question, to which he might by good chance have had an
answer returned wherein Miss Bertram's name might have been mentioned.
All cause for haste was now over, and, slackening the reins upon his
horse's neck, he permitted the animal to ascend at his own leisure the
steep sandy track between two high banks, which, rising to a considerable
height, commanded at length an extensive view of the neighbouring
Hazlewood was, however, so far from eagerly looking forward to this
prospect, though it had the recommendation that great part of the land
was his father's, and must necessarily be his own, that his head still
turned backward towards the chimneys of Woodbourne, although at every
step his horse made the difficulty of employing his eyes in that
direction become greater. From the reverie in which he was sunk he was
suddenly roused by a voice, too harsh to be called female, yet too shrill
for a man: 'What's kept you on the road sae lang? Maun ither folk do your
He looked up. The spokeswoman was very tall, had a voluminous
handkerchief rolled round her head, grizzled hair flowing in elf-locks
from beneath it, a long red cloak, and a staff in her hand, headed with a
sort of spear-point; it was, in short, Meg Merrilies. Hazlewood had never
seen this remarkable figure before; he drew up his reins in astonishment
at her appearance, and made a full stop. 'I think,' continued she, 'they
that hae taen interest in the house of Ellangowan suld sleep nane this
night; three men hae been seeking ye, and you are gaun hame to sleep in
your bed. D' ye think if the lad-bairn fa's, the sister will do weel? Na,
'I don't understand you, good woman,' said Hazlewood. 'If you speak of
Miss---, I mean of any of the late Ellangowan family, tell me what I can
do for them.'
'Of the late Ellangowan family?' she answered with great vehemence--'of
the LATE Ellangowan family! and when was there ever, or when will there
ever be, a family of Ellangowan but bearing the gallant name of the bauld
'But what do you mean, good woman?'
'I am nae good woman; a' the country kens I am bad eneugh, and baith they
and I may be sorry eneugh that I am nae better. But I can do what good
women canna, and daurna do. I can do what would freeze the blood o' them
that is bred in biggit wa's for naething but to bind bairns' heads and to
hap them in the cradle. Hear me: the guard's drawn off at the
custom-house at Portanferry, and it's brought up to Hazlewood House by
your father's orders, because he thinks his house is to be attacked this
night by the smugglers. There's naebody means to touch his house; he has
gude blood and gentle blood--I say little o' him for himsell--but there's
naebody thinks him worth meddling wi'. Send the horsemen back to their
post, cannily and quietly; see an they winna hae wark the night, ay will
they: the guns will flash and the swords will glitter in the braw moon.'
'Good God! what do you mean?' said young Hazlewood; 'your words and
manner would persuade me you are mad, and yet there is a strange
combination in what you say.'
'I am not mad!' exclaimed the gipsy; 'I have been imprisoned for
mad--scourged for mad--banished for mad--but mad I am not. Hear ye,
Charles Hazlewood of Hazlewood: d'ye bear malice against him that wounded
'No, dame, God forbid; my arm is quite well, and I have always said the
shot was discharged by accident. I should be glad to tell the young man
'Then do what I bid ye,' answered Meg Merrilies, 'and ye 'll do him mair
gude than ever he did you ill; for if he was left to his ill-wishers he
would be a bloody corpse ere morn, or a banished man; but there's Ane
abune a'. Do as I bid you; send back the soldiers to Portanferry. There's
nae mair fear o' Hazlewood House than there's o' Cruffel Fell.' And she
vanished with her usual celerity of pace.
It would seem that the appearance of this female, and the mixture of
frenzy and enthusiasm in her manner, seldom failed to produce the
strongest impression upon those whom she addressed. Her words, though
wild, were too plain and intelligible for actual madness, and yet too
vehement and extravagant for sober-minded communication. She seemed
acting under the influence of an imagination rather strongly excited than
deranged; and it is wonderful how palpably the difference in such cases
is impressed upon the mind of the auditor. This may account for the
attention with which her strange and mysterious hints were heard and
acted upon. It is certain, at least, that young Hazlewood was strongly
impressed by her sudden appearance and imperative tone. He rode to
Hazlewood at a brisk pace. It had been dark for some time before he
reached the house, and on his arrival there he saw a confirmation of what
the sibyl had hinted.
Thirty dragoon horses stood under a shed near the offices, with their
bridles linked together. Three or four soldiers attended as a guard,
while others stamped up and down with their long broadswords and heavy
boots in front of the house. Hazlewood asked a non-commissioned officer
from whence they came.
'Had they left any guard there?'
'No; they had been drawn off by order of Sir Robert Hazlewood for defence
of his house against an attack which was threatened by the smugglers.'
Charles Hazlewood instantly went in quest of his father, and, having paid
his respects to him upon his return, requested to know upon what account
he had thought it necessary to send for a military escort. Sir Robert
assured his son in reply that, from the information, intelligence, and
tidings which had been communicated to, and laid before him, he had the
deepest reason to believe, credit, and be convinced that a riotous
assault would that night be attempted and perpetrated against Hazlewood
House by a set of smugglers, gipsies, and other desperadoes.
'And what, my dear sir,' said his son, 'should direct the fury of such
persons against ours rather than any other house in the country?'
'I should rather think, suppose, and be of opinion, sir,' answered Sir
Robert, 'with deference to your wisdom and experience, that on these
occasions and times the vengeance of such persons is directed or levelled
against the most important and distinguished in point of rank, talent,
birth, and situation who have checked, interfered with, and
discountenanced their unlawful and illegal and criminal actions or
Young Hazlewood, who knew his father's foible, answered, that the cause
of his surprise did not lie where Sir Robert apprehended, but that he
only wondered they should think of attacking a house where there were so
many servants, and where a signal to the neighbouring tenants could call
in such strong assistance; and added, that he doubted much whether the
reputation of the family would not in some degree suffer from calling
soldiers from their duty at the custom-house to protect them, as if they
were not sufficiently strong to defend themselves upon any ordinary
occasion. He even hinted that, in case their house's enemies should
observe that this precaution had been taken unnecessarily, there would be
no end of their sarcasms.
Sir Robert Hazlewood was rather puzzled at this intimation, for, like
most dull men, he heartily hated and feared ridicule. He gathered himself
up and looked with a sort of pompous embarrassment, as if he wished to be
thought to despise the opinion of the public, which in reality he
'I really should have thought,' he said, 'that the injury which had
already been aimed at my house in your person, being the next heir and
representative of the Hazlewood family, failing me--I should have thought
and believed, I say, that this would have justified me sufficiently in
the eyes of the most respectable and the greater part of the people for
taking such precautions as are calculated to prevent and impede a
repetition of outrage.'
'Really, sir,' said Charles, 'I must remind you of what I have often said
before, that I am positive the discharge of the piece was accidental.'
'Sir, it was not accidental,' said his father, angrily; 'but you will be
wiser than your elders.'
'Really, sir,' replied Hazlewood, 'in what so intimately concerns
'Sir, it does not concern you but in a very secondary degree; that is, it
does not concern you, as a giddy young fellow who takes pleasure in
contradicting his father; but it concerns the country, sir, and the
county, sir, and the public, sir, and the kingdom of Scotland, in so far
as the interest of the Hazlewood family, sir, is committed and interested
and put in peril, in, by, and through you, sir. And the fellow is in safe
custody, and Mr. Glossin thinks---'
'Mr. Glossin, sir?'
'Yes, sir, the gentleman who has purchased Ellangowan; you know who I
mean, I suppose?'
'Yes, sir,' answered the young man; 'but I should hardly have expected to
hear you quote such authority. Why, this fellow--all the world knows him
to be sordid, mean, tricking, and I suspect him to be worse. And you
yourself, my dear sir, when did you call such a person a gentleman in
your life before?'
'Why, Charles, I did not mean gentleman in the precise sense and meaning,
and restricted and proper use, to which, no doubt, the phrase ought
legitimately to be confined; but I meant to use it relatively, as marking
something of that state to which he has elevated and raised himself; as
designing, in short, a decent and wealthy and estimable sort of a
'Allow me to ask, sir,' said Charles, 'if it was by this man's orders
that the guard was drawn from Portanferry?'
'Sir,' replied the Baronet, 'I do apprehend that Mr. Glossin would not
presume to give orders, or even an opinion, unless asked, in a matter in
which Hazlewood House and the house of Hazlewood--meaning by the one this
mansion-house of my family, and by the other, typically, metaphorically,
and parabolically, the family itself,--I say, then, where the house of
Hazlewood, or Hazlewood House, was so immediately concerned.'
'I presume, however, sir,' said the son, 'this Glossin approved of the
'Sir,' replied his father, 'I thought it decent and right and proper to
consult him as the nearest magistrate as soon as report of the intended
outrage reached my ears; and although he declined, out of deference and
respect, as became our relative situations, to concur in the order, yet
he did entirely approve of my arrangement.'
At this moment a horse's feet were heard coming very fast up the avenue.
In a few minutes the door opened, and Mr. Mac-Morlan presented himself.
'I am under great concern to intrude, Sir Robert, but---'
'Give me leave, Mr. Mac-Morlan,' said Sir Robert, with a gracious
flourish of welcome; 'this is no intrusion, sir; for, your situation as
sheriff-substitute calling upon you to attend to the peace of the county,
and you, doubtless, feeling yourself particularly called upon to protect
Hazlewood House, you have an acknowledged and admitted and undeniable
right, sir, to enter the house of the first gentleman in Scotland
uninvited--always presuming you to be called there by the duty of your
'It is indeed the duty of my office,' said Mac-Morlan, who waited with
impatience an opportunity to speak, 'that makes me an intruder.'
'No intrusion!' reiterated the Baronet, gracefully waving his hand.
'But permit me to say, Sir Robert,' said the sheriff-substitute, 'I do
not come with the purpose of remaining here, but to recall these soldiers
to Portanferry, and to assure you that I will answer for the safety of
'To withdraw the guard from Hazlewood House!' exclaimed the proprietor in
mingled displeasure and surprise; 'and YOU will be answerable for it!
And, pray, who are you, sir, that I should take your security and caution
and pledge, official or personal, for the safety of Hazlewood House? I
think, sir, and believe, sir, and am of opinion, sir, that if any one of
these family pictures were deranged or destroyed or injured it would be
difficult for me to make up the loss upon the guarantee which you so
obligingly offer me.'
'In that case I shall be sorry for it, Sir Robert,' answered the
downright Mac-Morlan; 'but I presume I may escape the pain of feeling my
conduct the cause of such irreparable loss, as I can assure you there
will be no attempt upon Hazlewood House whatever, and I have received
information which induces me to suspect that the rumour was put afloat
merely in order to occasion the removal of the soldiers from Portanferry.
And under this strong belief and conviction I must exert my authority as
sheriff and chief magistrate of police to order the whole, or greater
part of them, back again. I regret much that by my accidental absence a
good deal of delay has already taken place, and we shall not now reach
Portanferry until it is late.'
As Mr. Mac-Morlan was the superior magistrate, and expressed himself
peremptory in the purpose of acting as such, the Baronet, though highly
offended, could only say, 'Very well, sir; it is very well. Nay, sir,
take them all with you; I am far from desiring any to be left here, sir.
We, sir, can protect ourselves, sir. But you will have the goodness to
observe, sir, that you are acting on your own proper risk, sir, and
peril, sir, and responsibility, sir, if anything shall happen or befall
to Hazlewood House, sir, or the inhabitants, sir, or to the furniture and
'I am acting to the best of my judgment and information, Sir Robert,'
said Mac-Morlan, 'and I must pray of you to believe so, and to pardon me
accordingly. I beg you to observe it is no time for ceremony; it is
already very late.'
But Sir Robert, without deigning to listen to his apologies, immediately
employed himself with much parade in arming and arraying his domestics.
Charles Hazlewood longed to accompany the military, which were about to
depart for Portanferry, and which were now drawn up and mounted by
direction and under the guidance of Mr. Mac-Morlan, as the civil
magistrate. But it would have given just pain and offence to his father
to have left him at a moment when he conceived himself and his
mansion-house in danger. Young Hazlewood therefore gazed from a window
with suppressed regret and displeasure, until he heard the officer give
the word of command--'From the right to the front, by files, m-a-rch.
Leading file, to the right wheel. Trot.' The whole party of soldiers then
getting into a sharp and uniform pace, were soon lost among the trees,
and the noise of the hoofs died speedily away in the distance.
Wi' coulters and wi' forehammers
We garr'd the bars bang merrily,
Until we came to the inner prison,
Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie.
Old Border Ballad.
We return to Portanferry, and to Bertram and his honest-hearted friend,
whom we left most innocent inhabitants of a place built for the guilty.
The slumbers of the farmer were as sound as it was possible.
But Bertram's first heavy sleep passed away long before midnight, nor
could he again recover that state of oblivion. Added to the uncertain and
uncomfortable state of his mind, his body felt feverish and oppressed.
This was chiefly owing to the close and confined air of the small
apartment in which they slept. After enduring for some time the broiling
and suffocating feeling attendant upon such an atmosphere, he rose to
endeavour to open the window of the apartment, and thus to procure a
change of air. Alas! the first trial reminded him that he was in jail,
and that the building being contrived for security, not comfort, the
means of procuring fresh air were not left at the disposal of the
Disappointed in this attempt, he stood by the unmanageable window for
some time. Little Wasp, though oppressed with the fatigue of his journey
on the preceding day, crept out of bed after his master, and stood by him
rubbing his shaggy coat against his legs, and expressing by a murmuring
sound the delight which he felt at being restored to him. Thus
accompanied, and waiting until the feverish feeling which at present
agitated his blood should subside into a desire for warmth and slumber,
Bertram remained for some time looking out upon the sea.
The tide was now nearly full, and dashed hoarse and near below the base
of the building. Now and then a large wave reached even the barrier or
bulwark which defended the foundation of the house, and was flung up on
it with greater force and noise than those which only broke upon the
sand. Far in the distance, under the indistinct light of a hazy and often
overclouded moon, the ocean rolled its multitudinous complication of
waves, crossing, bursting, and mingling with each other.
'A wild and dim spectacle,' said Bertram to himself, 'like those crossing
tides of fate which have tossed me about the world from my infancy
upwards. When will this uncertainty cease, and how soon shall I be
permitted to look out for a tranquil home, where I may cultivate in
quiet, and without dread and perplexity, those arts of peace from which
my cares have been hitherto so forcibly diverted? The ear of Fancy, it is
said, can discover the voice of sea-nymphs and tritons amid the bursting
murmurs of the ocean; would that I could do so, and that some siren or
Proteus would arise from these billows to unriddle for me the strange
maze of fate in which I am so deeply entangled! Happy friend!' he said,
looking at the bed where Dinmont had deposited his bulky person, 'thy
cares are confined to the narrow round of a healthy and thriving
occupation! Thou canst lay them aside at pleasure, and enjoy the deep
repose of body and mind which wholesome labour has prepared for thee!'
At this moment his reflections were broken by little Wasp, who,
attempting to spring up against the window, began to yelp and bark most
furiously. The sounds reached Dinmont's ears, but without dissipating the
illusion which had transported him from this wretched apartment to the
free air of his own green hills. 'Hoy, Yarrow, man! far yaud, far yaud!'
he muttered between his teeth, imagining, doubtless, that he was calling
to his sheep-dog, and hounding him in shepherds' phrase against some
intruders on the grazing. The continued barking of the terrier within was
answered by the angry challenge of the mastiff in the courtyard, which
had for a long time been silent, excepting only an occasional short and
deep note, uttered when the moon shone suddenly from among the clouds.
Now his clamour was continued and furious, and seemed to be excited by
some disturbance distinct from the barking of Wasp, which had first given
him the alarm, and which, with much trouble, his master had contrived to
still into an angry note of low growling.
At last Bertram, whose attention was now fully awakened, conceived that
he saw a boat upon the sea, and heard in good earnest the sound of oars
and of human voices mingling with the dash of the billows. 'Some
benighted fishermen,' he thought, 'or perhaps some of the desperate
traders from the Isle of Man. They are very hardy, however, to approach
so near to the custom-house, where there must be sentinels. It is a large
boat, like a long-boat, and full of people; perhaps it belongs to the
revenue service.' Bertram was confirmed in this last opinion by observing
that the boat made for a little quay which ran into the sea behind the
custom-house, and, jumping ashore one after another, the crew, to the
number of twenty hands, glided secretly up a small lane which divided the
custom-house from the bridewell, and disappeared from his sight, leaving
only two persons to take care of the boat.
The dash of these men's oars at first, and latterly the suppressed sounds
of their voices, had excited the wrath of the wakeful sentinel in the
courtyard, who now exalted his deep voice into such a horrid and
continuous din that it awakened his brute master, as savage a ban-dog as
himself. His cry from a window, of 'How now, Tearum, what's the matter,
sir? down, d--n ye, down!' produced no abatement of Tearum's
vociferation, which in part prevented his master from hearing the sounds
of alarm which his ferocious vigilance was in the act of challenging. But
the mate of the two-legged Cerberus was gifted with sharper ears than her
husband. She also was now at the window. 'B--t ye, gae down and let loose
the dog,' she said; 'they're sporting the door of the custom-house, and
the auld sap at Hazlewood House has ordered off the guard. But ye hae nae
mair heart than a cat.' And down the Amazon sallied to perform the task
herself, while her helpmate, more jealous of insurrection within doors
than of storm from without, went from cell to cell to see that the
inhabitants of each were carefully secured.
These latter sounds with which we have made the reader acquainted had
their origin in front of the house, and were consequently imperfectly
heard by Bertram, whose apartment, as we have already noticed, looked
from the back part of the building upon the sea. He heard, however, a
stir and tumult in the house, which did not seem to accord with the stern
seclusion of a prison at the hour of midnight, and, connecting them with
the arrival of an armed boat at that dead hour, could not but suppose
that something extraordinary was about to take place. In this belief he
shook Dinmont by the shoulder. 'Eh! Ay! Oh! Ailie, woman, it's no time to
get up yet,' groaned the sleeping man of the mountains. More roughly
shaken, however, he gathered himself up, shook his ears, and asked, 'In
the name of Providence what's the matter?'
'That I can't tell you,' replied Bertram; 'but either the place is on
fire or some extraordinary thing is about to happen. Are you not sensible
of a smell of fire? Do you not hear what a noise there is of clashing
doors within the house and of hoarse voices, murmurs, and distant shouts
on the outside? Upon my word, I believe something very extraordinary has
taken place. Get up, for the love of Heaven, and let us be on our guard.'
Dinmont rose at the idea of danger, as intrepid and undismayed as any of
his ancestors when the beacon-light was kindled. 'Od, Captain, this is a
queer place! they winna let ye out in the day, and they winna let ye
sleep in the night. Deil, but it wad break my heart in a fortnight. But,
Lordsake, what a racket they're making now! Od, I wish we had some light.
Wasp, Wasp, whisht, hinny; whisht, my bonnie man, and let's hear what
they're doing. Deil's in ye, will ye whisht?'
They sought in vain among the embers the means of lighting their candle,
and the noise without still continued. Dinmont in his turn had recourse
to the window--'Lordsake, Captain! come here. Od, they hae broken the
Bertram hastened to the window, and plainly saw a miscellaneous crowd of
smugglers, and blackguards of different descriptions, some carrying
lighted torches, others bearing packages and barrels down the lane to the
boat that was lying at the quay, to which two or three other fisher-boats
were now brought round. They were loading each of these in their turn,
and one or two had already put off to seaward. 'This speaks for itself,'
said Bertram; 'but I fear something worse has happened. Do you perceive a
strong smell of smoke, or is it my fancy?'
'Fancy?' answered Dinmont, 'there's a reek like a killogie. Od, if they
burn the custom-house it will catch here, and we'll lunt like a
tar-barrel a' thegither. Eh! it wad be fearsome to be burnt alive for
naething, like as if ane had been a warlock! Mac-Guffog, hear ye!'
roaring at the top of his voice; 'an ye wad ever hae a haill bane in your
skin, let's out, man, let's out!'
The fire began now to rise high, and thick clouds of smoke rolled past
the window at which Bertram and Dinmont were stationed. Sometimes, as the
wind pleased, the dim shroud of vapour hid everything from their sight;
sometimes a red glare illuminated both land and sea, and shone full on
the stern and fierce figures who, wild with ferocious activity, were
engaged in loading the boats. The fire was at length triumphant, and
spouted in jets of flame out at each window of the burning building,
while huge flakes of flaming materials came driving on the wind against
the adjoining prison, and rolling a dark canopy of smoke over all the
neighbourhood. The shouts of a furious mob resounded far and wide; for
the smugglers in their triumph were joined by all the rabble of the
little town and neighbourhood, now aroused and in complete agitation,
notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, some from interest in the free
trade, and most from the general love of mischief and tumult natural to a
Bertram began to be seriously anxious for their fate. There was no stir
in the house; it seemed as if the jailor had deserted his charge, and
left the prison with its wretched inhabitants to the mercy of the
conflagration which was spreading towards them. In the meantime a new and
fierce attack was heard upon the outer gate of the correction house,
which, battered with sledge-hammers and crows, was soon forced. The
keeper, as great a coward as a bully, with his more ferocious wife, had
fled; their servants readily surrendered the keys. The liberated
prisoners, celebrating their deliverance with the wildest yells of joy,
mingled among the mob which had given them freedom.
In the midst of the confusion that ensued three or four of the principal
smugglers hurried to the apartment of Bertram with lighted torches, and
armed with cutlasses and pistols. 'Der deyvil,' said the leader, 'here's
our mark!' and two of them seized on Bertram; but one whispered in his
ear,' Make no resistance till you are in the street.' The same individual
found an instant to say to Dinmont--'Follow your friend, and help when
you see the time come.'
In the hurry of the moment Dinmont obeyed and followed close. The two
smugglers dragged Bertram along the passage, downstairs, through the
courtyard, now illuminated by the glare of fire, and into the narrow
street to which the gate opened, where in the confusion the gang were
necessarily in some degree separated from each other. A rapid noise, as
of a body of horse advancing, seemed to add to the disturbance. 'Hagel
and wetter, what is that?' said the leader; 'keep together, kinder; look
to the prisoner.' But in spite of his charge the two who held Bertram
were the last of the party.
The sounds and signs of violence were heard in front. The press became
furiously agitated, while some endeavoured to defend themselves, others
to escape; shots were fired, and the glittering broadswords of the
dragoons began to appear flashing above the heads of the rioters. 'Now,'
said the warning whisper of the man who held Bertram's left arm, the same
who had spoken before, 'shake off that fellow and follow me.'
Bertram, exerting his strength suddenly and effectually, easily burst
from the grasp of the man who held his collar on the right side. The
fellow attempted to draw a pistol, but was prostrated by a blow of
Dinmont's fist, which an ox could hardly have received without the same
humiliation. 'Follow me quick,' said the friendly partizan, and dived
through a very narrow and dirty lane which led from the main street.
No pursuit took place. The attention of the smugglers had been otherwise
and very disagreeably engaged by the sudden appearance of Mac-Morlan and
the party of horse. The loud, manly voice of the provincial magistrate
was heard proclaiming the Riot Act, and charging 'all those unlawfully
assembled to disperse at their own proper peril.' This interruption
would, indeed, have happened in time sufficient to have prevented the
attempt, had not the magistrate received upon the road some false
information which led him to think that the smugglers were to land at the
bay of Ellangowan. Nearly two hours were lost in consequence of this
false intelligence, which it may be no lack of charity to suppose that
Glossin, so deeply interested in the issue of that night's daring
attempt, had contrived to throw in Mac-Morlan's way, availing himself of
the knowledge that the soldiers had left Hazlewood House, which would
soon reach an ear so anxious as his.
In the meantime, Bertram followed his guide, and was in his turn followed
by Dinmont. The shouts of the mob, the trampling of the horses, the
dropping pistol-shots, sunk more and more faintly upon their ears, when
at the end of the dark lane they found a post-chaise with four horses.
'Are you here, in God's name?' said the guide to the postilion who drove
'Ay, troth am I,' answered Jock Jabos, 'and I wish I were ony gate else.'
'Open the carriage then. You, gentlemen, get into it; in a short time
you'll be in a place of safety, and (to Bertram) remember your promise to
the gipsy wife!'
Bertram, resolving to be passive in the hands of a person who had just
rendered him such a distinguished piece of service, got into the chaise
as directed. Dinmont followed; Wasp, who had kept close by them, sprung
in at the same time, and the carriage drove off very fast. 'Have a care
o' me,' said Dinmont, 'but this is the queerest thing yet! Od, I trust
they'll no coup us. And then what's to come o' Dumple? I would rather be
on his back than in the Deuke's coach, God bless him.'
Bertram observed, that they could not go at that rapid rate to any very
great distance without changing horses, and that they might insist upon
remaining till daylight at the first inn they stopped at, or at least
upon being made acquainted with the purpose and termination of their
journey, and Mr. Dinmont might there give directions about his faithful
horse, which would probably be safe at the stables where he had left him.
'Aweel, aweel, e'en sae be it for Dandie. Od, if we were ance out o' this
trindling kist o' a thing, I am thinking they wad find it hard wark to
gar us gang ony gate but where we liked oursells.'
While he thus spoke the carriage, making a sudden turn, showed them
through the left window the village at some distance, still widely
beaconed by the fire, which, having reached a store-house wherein spirits
were deposited, now rose high into the air, a wavering column of
brilliant light. They had not long time to admire this spectacle, for
another turn of the road carried them into a close lane between
plantations, through which the chaise proceeded in nearly total darkness,
but with unabated speed.
The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter,
And aye the ale was growing better
We must now return to Woodbourne, which, it may be remembered, we left
just after the Colonel had given some directions to his confidential
servant. When he returned, his absence of mind, and an unusual expression
of thought and anxiety upon his features, struck the ladies, whom he
joined in the drawing-room. Mannering was not, however, a man to be
questioned, even by those whom he most loved, upon the cause of the
mental agitation which these signs expressed. The hour of tea arrived,
and the party were partaking of that refreshment in silence when a
carriage drove up to the door, and the bell announced the arrival of a
visitor. 'Surely,' said Mannering, 'it is too soon by some hours.'
There was a short pause, when Barnes, opening the door of the saloon,
announced Mr. Pleydell. In marched the lawyer, whose well-brushed black
coat and well-powdered wig, together with his point ruffles, brown silk
stockings, highly-varnished shoes, and gold buckles, exhibited the pains
which the old gentleman had taken to prepare his person for the ladies'
society. He was welcomed by Mannering with a hearty shake by the hand.
'The very man I wished to see at this moment!'
'Yes,' said the Counsellor, 'I told you I would take the first
opportunity; so I have ventured to leave the court for a week in session
time--no common sacrifice; but I had a notion I could be useful, and I
was to attend a proof here about the same time. But will you not
introduce me to the young ladies? Ah! there is one I should have known at
once from her family likeness! Miss Lucy Bertram, my love, I am most
happy to see you.' And he folded her in his arms, and gave her a hearty
kiss on each side of the face, to which Lucy submitted in blushing
'On n'arrete pas dans un si beau chemin,' continued the gay old
gentleman, and, as the Colonel presented him to Julia, took the same
liberty with that fair lady's cheek. Julia laughed, coloured, and
disengaged herself. 'I beg a thousand pardons,' said the lawyer, with a
bow which was not at all professionally awkward; 'age and old fashions
give privileges, and I can hardly say whether I am most sorry just now at
being too well entitled to claim them at all, or happy in having such an
opportunity to exercise them so agreeably.'
'Upon my word, sir,' said Miss Mannering, laughing, 'if you make such
flattering apologies we shall begin to doubt whether we can admit you to
shelter yourself under your alleged qualifications.'
'I can assure you, Julia,' said the Colonel, 'you are perfectly right. My
friend the Counsellor is a dangerous person; the last time I had the
pleasure of seeing him he was closeted with a fair lady who had granted
him a tete-a-tete at eight in the morning.'
'Ay, but, Colonel,' said the Counsellor, 'you should add, I was more
indebted to my chocolate than my charms for so distinguished a favour
from a person of such propriety of demeanour as Mrs. Rebecca.'
'And that should remind me, Mr. Pleydell,' said Julia, 'to offer you tea;
that is, supposing you have dined.'
'Anything, Miss Mannering, from your hands,' answered the gallant
jurisconsult; 'yes, I have dined; that is to say, as people dine at a
'And that is indifferently enough,' said the Colonel, with his hand upon
the bell-handle; 'give me leave to order something.'
'Why, to say truth, 'replied Mr. Pleydell, 'I had rather not. I have been
inquiring into that matter, for you must know I stopped an instant below
to pull off my boot-hose, "a world too wide for my shrunk shanks,"'
glancing down with some complacency upon limbs which looked very well for
his time of life, 'and I had some conversation with your Barnes and a
very intelligent person whom I presume to be the housekeeper; and it was
settled among us, tota re perspecta,--I beg Miss Mannering's pardon for
my Latin,--that the old lady should add to your light family supper the
more substantial refreshment of a brace of wild ducks. I told her (always
under deep submission) my poor thoughts about the sauce, which concurred
exactly with her own; and, if you please, I would rather wait till they
are ready before eating anything solid.'
'And we will anticipate our usual hour of supper,' said the Colonel.
'With all my heart,' said Pleydell, 'providing I do not lose the ladies'
company a moment the sooner. I am of counsel with my old friend Burnet;
[Footnote: See Note 5] I love the coena, the supper of the ancients, the
pleasant meal and social glass that wash out of one's mind the cobwebs
that business or gloom have been spinning in our brains all day.'
The vivacity of Mr. Pleydell's look and manner, and the quietness with
which he made himself at home on the subject of his little epicurean
comforts, amused the ladies, but particularly Miss Mannering, who
immediately gave the Counsellor a great deal of flattering attention; and
more pretty things were said on both sides during the service of the
tea-table than we have leisure to repeat.
As soon as this was over, Mannering led the Counsellor by the arm into a
small study which opened from the saloon, and where, according to the
custom of the family, there were always lights and a good fire in the
'I see,'said Mr. Pleydell, 'you have got something to tell me about the
Ellangowan business. Is it terrestrial or celestial? What says my
military Albumazar? Have you calculated the course of futurity? have you
consulted your ephemerides, your almochoden, your almuten?'
'No, truly, Counsellor,' replied Mannering, 'you are the only Ptolemy I
intend to resort to upon the present occasion. A second Prospero, I have
broken my staff and drowned my book far beyond plummet depth. But I have
great news notwithstanding. Meg Merrilies, our Egyptian sibyl, has
appeared to the Dominie this very day, and, as I conjecture, has
frightened the honest man not a little.'
'Ay, and she has done me the honour to open a correspondence with me,
supposing me to be as deep in astrological mysteries as when we first
met. Here is her scroll, delivered to me by the Dominie.'
Pleydell put on his spectacles. 'A vile greasy scrawl, indeed; and the
letters are uncial or semi-uncial, as somebody calls your large text
hand, and in size and perpendicularity resemble the ribs of a roasted
pig; I can hardly make it out.'
'Read aloud,' said Mannering.
'I will try,' answered the Lawyer. '"YOU ARE A GOOD SEEKER, BUT A BAD
FINDER; YOU SET YOURSELF TO PROP A FALLING HOUSE, BUT HAD A GEY GUESS IT
WOULD RISE AGAIN. LEND YOUR HAND TO THE WORK THAT'S NEAR, AS YOU LENT
YOUR EE TO THE WEIRD THAT WAS FAR. HAVE A CARRIAGE THIS NIGHT BY TEN
O'CLOCK AT THE END OF THE CROOKED DYKES AT PORTANFERRY, AND LET IT BRING
THE FOLK TO WOODBOURNE THAT SHALL ASK THEM, IF THEY BE THERE IN GOD'S
NAME."--Stay, here follows some poetry--
"DARK SHALL BE LIGHT,
AND WRONG DONE TO RIGHT,
WHEN BERTRAM'S RIGHT AND BERTRAM'S MIGHT
SHALL MEET ON ELLANGOWAN'S HEIGHT."
A most mystic epistle truly, and closes in a vein of poetry worthy of the
Cumaean sibyl. And what have you done?'
'Why,' said Mannering, rather reluctantly, 'I was loth to risk any
opportunity of throwing light on this business. The woman is perhaps
crazed, and these effusions may arise only from visions of her
imagination; but you were of opinion that she knew more of that strange
story than she ever told.'
'And so,' said Pleydell, 'you sent a carriage to the place named?'
'You will laugh at me if I own I did,' replied the Colonel.
'Who, I?' replied the Advocate. 'No, truly, I think it was the wisest
thing you could do.'
'Yes,' answered Mannering, well pleased to have escaped the ridicule he
apprehended; 'you know the worst is paying the chaise-hire. I sent a
post-chaise and four from Kippletringan, with instructions corresponding
to the letter; the horses will have a long and cold station on the
outpost to-night if our intelligence be false.'
'Ay, but I think it will prove otherwise,' said the Lawyer. 'This woman
has played a part till she believes it; or, if she be a thorough-paced
impostor, without a single grain of self-delusion to qualify her knavery,
still she may think herself bound to act in character; this I know, that
I could get nothing out of her by the common modes of interrogation, and
the wisest thing we can do is to give her an opportunity of making the
discovery her own way. And now have you more to say, or shall we go to
'Why, my mind is uncommonly agitated,' answered the Colonel, 'and--but I
really have no more to say; only I shall count the minutes till the
carriage returns; but you cannot be expected to be so anxious.'
'Why, no; use is all in all,' said the more experienced lawyer; 'I am
much interested certainly, but I think I shall be able to survive the
interval, if the ladies will afford us some music.'
'And with the assistance of the wild ducks, by and by?' suggested
'True, Colonel; a lawyer's anxiety about the fate of the most interesting
cause has seldom spoiled either his sleep or digestion. [Footnote: See
Note 6.] And yet I shall be very eager to hear the rattle of these wheels
on their return, notwithstanding.'
So saying, he rose and led the way into the next room, where Miss
Mannering, at his request, took her seat at the harpsichord, Lucy
Bertram, who sung her native melodies very sweetly, was accompanied by
her friend upon the instrument, and Julia afterwards performed some of
Scarlatti's sonatas with great brilliancy. The old lawyer, scraping a
little upon the violoncello, and being a member of the gentlemen's
concert in Edinburgh, was so greatly delighted with this mode of spending
the evening that I doubt if he once thought of the wild ducks until
Barnes informed the company that supper was ready.
'Tell Mrs. Allan to have something in readiness,' said the Colonel; 'I
expect--that is, I hope--perhaps some company may be here to-night; and
let the men sit up, and do not lock the upper gate on the lawn until I
'Lord, sir,' said Julia, 'whom can you possibly expect to-night?'
'Why, some persons, strangers to me, talked of calling in the evening on
business,' answered her father, not without embarrassment, for he would
have little brooked a disappointment which might have thrown ridicule on
his judgment; 'it is quite uncertain.'
'Well, we shall not pardon them for disturbing our party,' said Julia,
'unless they bring as much good-humour and as susceptible hearts as my
friend and admirer, for so he has dubbed himself, Mr. Pleydell.'
'Ah, Miss Julia,' said Pleydell, offering his arm with an air of
gallantry to conduct her into the eating-room, 'the time has been, when I
returned from Utrecht in the year 1738--'
'Pray don't talk of it,' answered the young lady; 'we like you much
better as you are. Utrecht, in Heaven's name! I daresay you have spent
all the intervening years in getting rid so completely of the effects of
your Dutch education.'
'O forgive me, Miss Mannering,' said the Lawyer, 'the Dutch are a much
more accomplished people in point of gallantry than their volatile
neighbours are willing to admit. They are constant as clock-work in their
'I should tire of that,' said Julia.
'Imperturbable in their good temper,' continued Pleydell.
'Worse and worse,' said the young lady.
'And then,' said the old beau garcon, 'although for six times three
hundred and sixty-five days your swain has placed the capuchin round your
neck, and the stove under your feet, and driven your little sledge upon
the ice in winter, and your cabriole through the dust in summer, you may
dismiss him at once, without reason or apology, upon the two thousand one
hundred and ninetieth day, which, according to my hasty calculation, and
without reckoning leap-years, will complete the cycle of the supposed
adoration, and that without your amiable feelings having the slightest
occasion to be alarmed for the consequences to those of Mynheer.'
'Well,' replied Julia,' that last is truly a Dutch recommendation, Mr.
Pleydell; crystal and hearts would lose all their merit in the world if
it were not for their fragility.'
'Why, upon that point of the argument, Miss Mannering, it is as difficult
to find a heart that will break as a glass that will not; and for that
reason I would press the value of mine own, were it not that I see Mr.
Sampson's eyes have been closed, and his hands clasped for some time,
attending the end of our conference to begin the grace. And, to say the
truth, the appearance of the wild ducks is very appetising.' So saying,
the worthy Counsellor sat himself to table, and laid aside his gallantry
for awhile to do honour to the good things placed before him. Nothing
further is recorded of him for some time, excepting an observation that
the ducks were roasted to a single turn, and that Mrs. Allan's sauce of
claret, lemon, and cayenne was beyond praise.
'I see,' said Miss Mannering, 'I have a formidable rival in Mr.
Pleydell's favour, even on the very first night of his avowed
'Pardon me, my fair lady,' answered the Counsellor, 'your avowed rigour
alone has induced me to commit the solecism of eating a good supper in
your presence; how shall I support your frowns without reinforcing my
strength? Upon the same principle, and no other, I will ask permission to
drink wine with you.'
'This is the fashion of Utrecht also, I suppose, Mr. Pleydell?'
'Forgive me, madam,' answered the Counsellor; 'the French themselves, the
patterns of all that is gallant, term their tavern-keepers restaurateurs,
alluding, doubtless, to the relief they afford the disconsolate lover
when bowed down to the earth by his mistress's severity. My own case
requires so much relief that I must trouble you for that other wing, Mr.
Sampson, without prejudice to my afterwards applying to Miss Bertram for
a tart. Be pleased to tear the wing, sir, instead of cutting it off. Mr.
Barnes will assist you, Mr. Sampson; thank you, sir; and, Mr. Barnes, a
glass of ale, if you please.'
While the old gentleman, pleased with Miss Mannering's liveliness and
attention, rattled away for her amusement and his own, the impatience of
Colonel Mannering began to exceed all bounds. He declined sitting down at
table, under pretence that he never eat supper; and traversed the parlour
in which they were with hasty and impatient steps, now throwing up the
window to gaze upon the dark lawn, now listening for the remote sound of
the carriage advancing up the avenue. At length, in a feeling of
uncontrollable impatience, he left the room, took his hat and cloak, and
pursued his walk up the avenue, as if his so doing would hasten the
approach of those whom he desired to see. 'I really wish,' said Miss
Bertram,' Colonel Mannering would not venture out after nightfall. You
must have heard, Mr. Pleydell, what a cruel fright we had.'
'O, with the smugglers?' replied the Advocate; 'they are old friends of
mine. I was the means of bringing some of them to justice a long time
since, when sheriff of this county.'
'And then the alarm we had immediately afterwards,' added Miss Bertram,
'from the vengeance of one of these wretches.'
'When young Hazlewood was hurt; I heard of that too.'
'Imagine, my dear Mr. Pleydell,' continued Lucy, 'how much Miss Mannering
and I were alarmed when a ruffian, equally dreadful for his great
strength and the sternness of his features, rushed out upon us!'
'You must know, Mr. Pleydell,' said Julia, unable to suppress her
resentment at this undesigned aspersion of her admirer, 'that young
Hazlewood is so handsome in the eyes of the young ladies of this country
that they think every person shocking who comes near him.'
'Oho!' thought Pleydell, who was by profession an observer of tones and
gestures,' there's something wrong here between my young
friends.'--'Well, Miss Mannering, I have not seen young Hazlewood since
he was a boy, so the ladies may be perfectly right; but I can assure you,
in spite of your scorn, that if you want to see handsome men you must go
to Holland; the prettiest fellow I ever saw was a Dutchman, in spite of
his being called Vanbost, or Vanbuster, or some such barbarous name. He
will not be quite so handsome now, to be sure.'
It was now Julia's turn to look a little out of countenance at the chance
hit of her learned admirer, but that instant the Colonel entered the
room. 'I can hear nothing of them yet,' he said; 'still, however, we will
not separate. Where is Dominie Sampson?'
'Here, honoured sir.'
'What is that book you hold in your hand, Mr. Sampson?'
'It's even the learned De Lyra, sir. I would crave his honour Mr.
Pleydell's judgment, always with his best leisure, to expound a disputed
'I am not in the vein, Mr. Sampson,' answered Pleydell; 'here's metal
more attractive. I do not despair to engage these two young ladies in a
glee or a catch, wherein I, even I myself, will adventure myself for the
bass part. Hang De Lyra, man; keep him for a fitter season.'
The disappointed Dominie shut his ponderous tome, much marvelling in his
mind how a person possessed of the lawyer's erudition could give his mind
to these frivolous toys. But the Counsellor, indifferent to the high
character for learning which he was trifling away, filled himself a large
glass of Burgundy, and, after preluding a little with a voice somewhat
the worse for the wear, gave the ladies a courageous invitation to join
in 'We be Three Poor Mariners,' and accomplished his own part therein
with great eclat.
'Are you not withering your roses with sitting up so late, my young
ladies?' said the Colonel.
'Not a bit, sir,' answered Julia; 'your friend Mr. Pleydell threatens to
become a pupil of Mr. Sampson's to-morrow, so we must make the most of
our conquest to-night.'
This led to another musical trial of skill, and that to lively
conversation. At length, when the solitary sound of one o'clock had long
since resounded on the ebon ear of night, and the next signal of the
advance of time was close approaching, Mannering, whose impatience had
long subsided into disappointment and despair, looked at his watch and
said, 'We must now give them up,' when at that instant--But what then
befell will require a separate chapter.
JUSTICE This does indeed confirm each circumstance
The gipsy told!
No orphan, nor without a friend art thou.
I am thy father, HERE'S thy mother, THERE
Thy uncle, THIS thy first cousin, and THESE
Are all thy near relations!
As Mannering replaced his watch, he heard a distant and hollow sound. 'It
is a carriage for certain; no, it is but the sound of the wind among the
leafless trees. Do come to the window, Mr. Pleydell.' The Counsellor,
who, with his large silk handkerchief in his hand, was expatiating away
to Julia upon some subject which he thought was interesting, obeyed the
summons, first, however, wrapping the handkerchief round his neck by way
of precaution against the cold air. The sound of wheels became now very
perceptible, and Pleydell, as if he had reserved all his curiosity till
that moment, ran out to the hall. The Colonel rung for Barnes to desire
that the persons who came in the carriage might be shown into a separate
room, being altogether uncertain whom it might contain. It stopped,
however, at the door before his purpose could be fully explained. A
moment after Mr. Pleydell called out, 'Here's our Liddesdale friend, I
protest, with a strapping young fellow of the same calibre.' His voice
arrested Dinmont, who recognised him with equal surprise and pleasure.
'Od, if it's your honour we'll a' be as right and tight as thack and rape
can make us.'
But while the farmer stopped to make his bow, Bertram, dizzied with the
sudden glare of light, and bewildered with the circumstances of his
situation, almost unconsciously entered the open door of the parlour, and
confronted the Colonel, who was just advancing towards it. The strong
light of the apartment left no doubt of his identity, and he himself was
as much confounded with the appearance of those to whom he so
unexpectedly presented himself as they were by the sight of so utterly
unlooked-for an object. It must be remembered that each individual
present had their own peculiar reasons for looking with terror upon what
seemed at first sight a spectral apparition. Mannering saw before him the
man whom he supposed he had killed in India; Julia beheld her lover in a
most peculiar and hazardous situation; and Lucy Bertram at once knew the
person who had fired upon young Hazlewood. Bertram, who interpreted the
fixed and motionless astonishment of the Colonel into displeasure at his
intrusion, hastened to say that it was involuntary, since he had been
hurried hither without even knowing whither he was to be transported.
'Mr. Brown, I believe!' said Colonel Mannering.
'Yes, sir,' replied the young man, modestly, but with firmness, 'the same
you knew in India; and who ventures to hope, that what you did then know
of him is not such as should prevent his requesting you would favour him
with your attestation to his character as a gentleman and man of honour.'
'Mr. Brown, I have been seldom--never--so much surprised; certainly, sir,
in whatever passed between us you have a right to command my favourable
At this critical moment entered the Counsellor and Dinmont. The former
beheld to his astonishment the Colonel but just recovering from his first
surprise, Lucy Bertram ready to faint with terror, and Miss Mannering in
an agony of doubt and apprehension, which she in vain endeavoured to
disguise or suppress. 'What is the meaning of all this?' said he; 'has
this young fellow brought the Gorgon's head in his hand? let me look at
him. By Heaven!' he muttered to himself, 'the very image of old
Ellangowan! Yes, the same manly form and handsome features, but with a
world of more intelligence in the face. Yes! the witch has kept her
word.' Then instantly passing to Lucy, 'Look at that man, Miss Bertram,
my dear; have you never seen any one like him?'
Lucy had only ventured one glance at this object of terror, by which,
however, from his remarkable height and appearance, she at once
recognised the supposed assassin of young Hazlewood, a conviction which
excluded, of course, the more favourable association of ideas which might
have occurred on a closer view. 'Don't ask me about him, sir,' said she,
turning away her eyes; 'send him away, for Heaven's sake! we shall all be
'Murdered! where's the poker?' said the Advocate in some alarm; 'but
nonsense! we are three men besides the servants, and there is honest
Liddesdale, worth half-a-dozen, to boot; we have the major vis upon our
side. However, here, my friend Dandie--Davie--what do they call you? keep
between that fellow and us for the protection of the ladies.'
'Lord! Mr. Pleydell,' said the astonished farmer, 'that's Captain Brown;
d 'ye no ken the Captain?'
'Nay, if he's a friend of yours we may be safe enough,' answered
Pleydell; 'but keep near him.'
All this passed with such rapidity that it was over before the Dominie
had recovered himself from a fit of absence, shut the book which he had
been studying in a corner, and, advancing to obtain a sight of the
strangers, exclaimed at once upon beholding Bertram, 'If the grave can
give up the dead, that is my dear and honoured master!'
'We're right after all, by Heaven! I was sure I was right,' said the
Lawyer; 'he is the very image of his father. Come, Colonel, what do you
think of, that you do not bid your guest welcome? I think--I believe--I
trust we're right; never saw such a likeness! But patience; Dominie, say
not a word. Sit down, young gentleman.'
'I beg pardon, sir; if I am, as I understand, in Colonel Mannering's
house, I should wish first to know if my accidental appearance here gives
offence, or if I am welcome?'
Mannering instantly made an effort. 'Welcome? most certainly, especially
if you can point out how I can serve you. I believe I may have some
wrongs to repair towards you, I have often suspected so; but your sudden
and unexpected appearance, connected with painful recollections,
prevented my saying at first, as I now say, that whatever has procured me
the honour of this visit, it is an acceptable one.'
Bertram bowed with an air of distant yet civil acknowledgment to the
grave courtesy of Mannering.
'Julia, my love, you had better retire. Mr. Brown, you will excuse my
daughter; there are circumstances which I perceive rush upon her
Miss Mannering rose and retired accordingly; yet, as she passed Bertram,
could not suppress the words, 'Infatuated! a second time!' but so
pronounced as to be heard by him alone. Miss Bertram accompanied her
friend, much surprised, but without venturing a second glance at the
object of her terror. Some mistake she saw there was, and was unwilling
to increase it by denouncing the stranger as an assassin. He was known,
she saw, to the Colonel, and received as a gentleman; certainly he either
was not the person she suspected or Hazlewood was right in supposing the
The remaining part of the company would have formed no bad group for a
skilful painter. Each was too much embarrassed with his own sensations to
observe those of the others. Bertram most unexpectedly found himself in
the house of one whom he was alternately disposed to dislike as his
personal enemy and to respect as the father of Julia. Mannering was
struggling between his high sense of courtesy and hospitality, his joy at
finding himself relieved from the guilt of having shed life in a private
quarrel, and the former feelings of dislike and prejudice, which revived
in his haughty mind at the sight of the object against whom he had
entertained them. Sampson, supporting his shaking limbs by leaning on the
back of a chair, fixed his eyes upon Bertram with a staring expression of
nervous anxiety which convulsed his whole visage. Dinmont, enveloped in
his loose shaggy great-coat, and resembling a huge bear erect upon his
hinder legs, stared on the whole scene with great round eyes that
witnessed his amazement.
The Counsellor alone was in his element: shrewd, prompt, and active, he
already calculated the prospect of brilliant success in a strange,
eventful, and mysterious lawsuit, and no young monarch, flushed with
hopes, and at the head of a gallant army, could experience more glee when
taking the field on his first campaign. He bustled about with great
energy, and took the arrangement of the whole explanation upon himself.
'Come, come, gentlemen, sit down; this is all in my province; you must
let me arrange it for you. Sit down, my dear Colonel, and let me manage;
sit down, Mr. Brown, aut quocunque alio nomine vocaris; Dominie, take
your seat; draw in your chair, honest Liddesdale.'
'I dinna ken, Mr. Pleydell,' said Dinmont, looking at his dreadnought
coat, then at the handsome furniture of the room; 'I had maybe better
gang some gate else, and leave ye till your cracks, I'm no just that weel
The Colonel, who by this time recognised Dandie, immediately went up and
bid him heartily welcome; assuring him that, from what he had seen of him
in Edinburgh, he was sure his rough coat and thick-soled boots would
honour a royal drawing-room.
'Na, na, Colonel, we're just plain up-the-country folk; but nae doubt I
would fain hear o' ony pleasure that was gaun to happen the Captain, and
I'm sure a' will gae right if Mr. Pleydell will take his bit job in
'You're right, Dandie; spoke like a Hieland [Footnote: It may not be
unnecessary to tell southern readers that the mountainous country in the
south western borders of Scotland is called Hieland, though totally
different from the much more mountainous and more extensive districts of
the north, usually called Hielands.] oracle; and now be silent. Well, you
are all seated at last; take a glass of wine till I begin my catechism
methodically. And now,' turning to Bertram, 'my dear boy, do you know who
or what you are?'
In spite of his perplexity the catechumen could not help laughing at this
commencement, and answered, 'Indeed, sir, I formerly thought I did; but I
own late circumstances have made me somewhat uncertain.'
'Then tell us what you formerly thought yourself.'
'Why, I was in the habit of thinking and calling myself Vanbeest Brown,
who served as a cadet or volunteer under Colonel Mannering, when he
commanded the--regiment, in which capacity I was not unknown to him.'
'There,' said the Colonel, 'I can assure Mr. Brown of his identity; and
add, what his modesty may have forgotten, that he was distinguished as a
young man of talent and spirit.'
'So much the better, my dear sir,' said Mr. Pleydell; 'but that is to
general character. Mr. Brown must tell us where he was born.'
'In Scotland, I believe, but the place uncertain.'
'In Holland, certainly.'
'Do you remember nothing of your early life before you left Scotland?'
'Very imperfectly; yet I have a strong idea, perhaps more deeply
impressed upon me by subsequent hard usage, that I was during my
childhood the object of much solicitude and affection. I have an
indistinct remembrance of a good-looking man whom I used to call papa,
and of a lady who was infirm in health, and who, I think, must have been
my mother; but it is an imperfect and confused recollection. I remember
too a tall, thin, kind-tempered man in black, who used to teach me my
letters and walk out with me; and I think the very last time--'
Here the Dominie could contain no longer. While every succeeding word
served to prove that the child of his benefactor stood before him, he had
struggled with the utmost difficulty to suppress his emotions; but when
the juvenile recollections of Bertram turned towards his tutor and his
precepts he was compelled to give way to his feelings. He rose hastily
from his chair, and with clasped hands, trembling limbs, and streaming
eyes, called out aloud, 'Harry Bertram! look at me; was I not the man?'
'Yes!' said Bertram, starting from his seat as if a sudden light had
burst in upon his mind; 'yes; that was my name! And that is the voice and
the figure of my kind old master!'
The Dominie threw himself into his arms, pressed him a thousand times to
his bosom in convulsions of transport which shook his whole frame, sobbed
hysterically, and at length, in the emphatic language of Scripture,
lifted up his voice and wept aloud. Colonel Mannering had recourse to his
handkerchief; Pleydell made wry faces, and wiped the glasses of his
spectacles; and honest Dinmont, after two loud blubbering explosions,
exclaimed, 'Deil's in the man! he's garr'd me do that I haena done since
my auld mither died.'
'Come, come,' said the Counsellor at last, 'silence in the court. We have
a clever party to contend with; we must lose no time in gathering our
information; for anything I know there may be something to be done before
'I will order a horse to be saddled if you please,' said the Colonel.
'No, no, time enough, time enough. But come, Dominie, I have allowed you
a competent space to express your feelings. I must circumduce the term;
you must let me proceed in my examination.'
The Dominie was habitually obedient to any one who chose to impose
commands upon him: he sunk back into his chair, spread his chequered
handkerchief over his face, to serve, as I suppose, for the Grecian
painter's veil, and, from the action of his folded hands, appeared for a
time engaged in the act of mental thanksgiving. He then raised his eyes
over the screen, as if to be assured that the pleasing apparition had not
melted into air; then again sunk them to resume his internal act of
devotion, until he felt himself compelled to give attention to the
Counsellor, from the interest which his questions excited.
'And now,' said Mr. Pleydell, after several minute inquiries concerning
his recollection of early events--'and now, Mr. Bertram,--for I think we
ought in future to call you by your own proper name--will you have the
goodness to let us know every particular which you can recollect
concerning the mode of your leaving Scotland?'
'Indeed, sir, to say the truth, though the terrible outlines of that day
are strongly impressed upon my memory, yet somehow the very terror which
fixed them there has in a great measure confounded and confused the
details. I recollect, however, that I was walking somewhere or other, in
a wood, I think--'
'O yes, it was in Warroch wood, my dear,' said the Dominie.
'Hush, Mr. Sampson,' said the Lawyer.
'Yes, it was in a wood,' continued Bertram, as long past and confused
ideas arranged themselves in his reviving recollection; 'and some one was
with me; this worthy and affectionate gentleman, I think.'
'O, ay, ay, Harry, Lord bless thee; it was even I myself.'
'Be silent, Dominie, and don't interrupt the evidence,' said Pleydell.
'And so, sir?' to Bertram.
'And so, sir,' continued Bertram, 'like one of the changes of a dream, I
thought I was on horseback before my guide.'
'No, no,' exclaimed Sampson, 'never did I put my own limbs, not to say
thine, into such peril.'
'On my word, this is intolerable! Look ye, Dominie, if you speak another
word till I give you leave, I will read three sentences out of the Black
Acts, whisk my cane round my head three times, undo all the magic of this
night's work, and conjure Harry Bertram back again into Vanbeest Brown.'
'Honoured and worthy sir,' groaned out the Dominie, 'I humbly crave
pardon; it was but verbum volans.'
'Well, nolens volens, you must hold your tongue,' said Pleydell.
'Pray, be silent, Mr. Sampson,' said the Colonel; 'it is of great
consequence to your recovered friend that you permit Mr. Pleydell to
proceed in his inquiries.'
'I am mute,' said the rebuked Dominie.
'On a sudden,' continued Bertram, 'two or three men sprung out upon us,
and we were pulled from horseback. I have little recollection of anything
else, but that I tried to escape in the midst of a desperate scuffle, and
fell into the arms of a very tall woman who started from the bushes and
protected me for some time; the rest is all confusion and dread, a dim
recollection of a sea-beach and a cave, and of some strong potion which
lulled me to sleep for a length of time. In short, it is all a blank in
my memory until I recollect myself first an ill-used and half-starved
cabin-boy aboard a sloop, and then a schoolboy in Holland, under the
protection of an old merchant, who had taken some fancy for me.'
'And what account,' said Mr. Pleydell, 'did your guardian give of your
'A very brief one,' answered Bertram, 'and a charge to inquire no
farther. I was given to understand that my father was concerned in the
smuggling trade carried on on the eastern coast of Scotland, and was
killed in a skirmish with the revenue officers; that his correspondents
in Holland had a vessel on the coast at the time, part of the crew of
which were engaged in the affair, and that they brought me off after it
was over, from a motive of compassion, as I was left destitute by my
father's death. As I grew older there was much of this story seemed
inconsistent with my own recollections, but what could I do? I had no
means of ascertaining my doubts, nor a single friend with whom I could
communicate or canvass them. The rest of my story is known to Colonel
Mannering: I went out to India to be a clerk in a Dutch house; their
affairs fell into confusion; I betook myself to the military profession,
and, I trust, as yet I have not disgraced it.'
'Thou art a fine young fellow, I'll be bound for thee,' said Pleydell,
'and since you have wanted a father so long, I wish from my heart I could
claim the paternity myself. But this affair of young Hazlewood--'
'Was merely accidental,' said Bertram. 'I was travelling in Scotland for
pleasure, and, after a week's residence with my friend Mr. Dinmont, with
whom I had the good fortune to form an accidental acquaintance--'
"It was my gude fortune that," said Dinmont. "Odd, my brains wad hae been
knockit out by twa black-guards if it hadna been for his four quarters."
"Shortly after we parted at the town of----I lost my baggage by thieves,
and it was while residing at Kippletringan I accidentally met the young
gentleman. As I was approaching to pay my respects to Miss Mannering,
whom I had known in India, Mr. Hazlewood, conceiving my appearance none
of the most respectable, commanded me rather haughtily to stand back, and
so gave occasion to the fray, in which I had the misfortune to be the
accidental means of wounding him. And now, sir, that I have answered all
"No, no, not quite all," said Pleydell, winking sagaciously; "there are
some interrogatories which I shall delay till to-morrow, for it is time,
I believe, to close the sederunt for this night, or rather morning."
"Well, then, sir," said the young man, "to vary the phrase, since I have
answered all the questions which you have chosen to ask to-night, will
you be so good as to tell me who you are that take such interest in my
affairs, and whom you take me to be, since my arrival has occasioned such
"Why, sir, for myself," replied the Counsellor, "I am Paulus Pleydell, an
advocate at the Scottish bar; and for you, it is not easy to say
distinctly who you are at present, but I trust in a short time to hail
you by the title of Henry Bertram, Esq., representative of one of the
oldest families in Scotland, and heir of Tailzie and provision to the
estate of Ellangowan. Ay," continued he, shutting his eyes and speaking
to himself, "we must pass over his father, and serve him heir to his
grandfather Lewis, the entailer; the only wise man of his family, that I
ever heard of."
They had now risen to retire to their apartments for the night, when
Colonel Mannering walked up to Bertram, as he stood astonished at the
Counsellor's words. "I give you joy," he said, "of the prospects which
fate has opened before you. I was an early friend of your father, and
chanced to be in the house of Ellangowan, as unexpectedly as you are now
in mine, upon the very night in which you were born. I little knew this
circumstance when--but I trust unkindness will be forgotten between us.
Believe me, your appearance here as Mr. Brown, alive and well, has
relieved me from most painful sensations; and your right to the name of
an old friend renders your presence as Mr. Bertram doubly welcome."
"And my parents?" said Bertram.
"Are both no more; and the family property has been sold, but I trust may
be recovered. Whatever is wanted to make your right effectual I shall be
most happy to supply."
"Nay, you may leave all that to me," said the Counsellor; "'t is my
vocation, Hal; I shall make money of it."
"I'm sure it's no for the like o'me," observed Dinmont, "to speak to you
gentlefolks; but if siller would help on the Captain's plea, and they say
nae plea gangs ain weel without it--"
"Except on Saturday night," said Pleydell.
"Ay, but when your honour wadna take your fee ye wadna hae the cause
neither, sae I'll ne'er fash you on a Saturday at e'en again. But I was
saying, there's some siller in the spleuchan that's like the Captain's
ain, for we've aye counted it such, baith Ailie and me."
'No, no, Liddesdale; no occasion, no occasion whatever. Keep thy cash to
stock thy farm.'
'To stock my farm? Mr. Pleydell, your honour kens mony things, but ye
dinna ken the farm o' Charlie's Hope; it's sae weel stockit already that
we sell maybe sax hundred pounds off it ilka year, flesh and fell the
gither; na, na.'
'Can't you take another then?'
'I dinna ken; the Deuke's no that fond o' led farms, and he canna bide to
put away the auld tenantry; and then I wadna like mysell to gang about
whistling [Footnote: See Note 7.] and raising the rent on my neighbours.'
'What, not upon thy neighbour at Dawston--Devilstone--how d 'ye call the