Part 1 out of 5
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By Sir Walter Scott
Wiser Raymondus, in his closet pent,
Laughs at such danger and adventurement
When half his lands are spent in golden smoke,
And now his second hopeful glasse is broke,
But yet, if haply his third furnace hold,
Devoteth all his pots and pans to gold.*
* The author cannot remember where these lines are to be found: perhaps
in Bishop Hall's Satires. [They occur in Book iv. Satire iii.]
About a week after the adventures commemorated in our last chapter, Mr.
Oldbuck, descending to his breakfast-parlour, found that his womankind
were not upon duty, his toast not made, and the silver jug, which was
wont to receive his libations of mum, not duly aired for its reception.
"This confounded hot-brained boy!" he said to himself; "now that he
begins to get out of danger, I can tolerate this life no longer. All goes
to sixes and sevens--an universal saturnalia seems to be proclaimed in my
peaceful and orderly family. I ask for my sister--no answer. I call, I
shout--I invoke my inmates by more names than the Romans gave to their
deities--at length Jenny, whose shrill voice I have heard this half-hour
lilting in the Tartarean regions of the kitchen, condescends to hear me
and reply, but without coming up stairs, so the conversation must be
continued at the top of my lungs. "--Here he again began to hollow aloud
--"Jenny, where's Miss Oldbuck?"
"Miss Grizzy's in the captain's room."
"Umph!--I thought so--and where's my niece?"
"Miss Mary's making the captain's tea."
"Umph! I supposed as much again--and where's Caxon?"
"Awa to the town about the captain's fowling-gun, and his setting-dog."
"And who the devil's to dress my periwig, you silly jade?--when you knew
that Miss Wardour and Sir Arthur were coming here early after breakfast,
how could you let Caxon go on such a Tomfool's errand?"
"Me! what could I hinder him?--your honour wadna hae us contradict the
captain e'en now, and him maybe deeing?"
"Dying!" said the alarmed Antiquary,--"eh! what? has he been worse?"
"Na, he's no nae waur that I ken of."*
* It is, I believe, a piece of free-masonry, or a point of conscience,
among the Scottish lower orders, never to admit that a patient is doing
better. The closest approach to recovery which they can be brought to
allow, is, that the pairty inquired after is "Nae waur."
"Then he must be better--and what good is a dog and a gun to do here, but
the one to destroy all my furniture, steal from my larder, and perhaps
worry the cat, and the other to shoot somebody through the head. He has
had gunning and pistolling enough to serve him one while, I should
Here Miss Oldbuck entered the parlour, at the door of which Oldbuck was
carrying on this conversation, he bellowing downward to Jenny, and she
again screaming upward in reply.
"Dear brother," said the old lady, "ye'll cry yoursell as hoarse as a
corbie--is that the way to skreigh when there's a sick person in the
"Upon my word, the sick person's like to have all the house to himself,--
I have gone without my breakfast, and am like to go without my wig; and I
must not, I suppose, presume to say I feel either hunger or cold, for
fear of disturbing the sick gentleman who lies six rooms off, and who
feels himself well enough to send for his dog and gun, though he knows I
detest such implements ever since our elder brother, poor Williewald,
marched out of the world on a pair of damp feet, caught in the
Kittlefitting-moss. But that signifies nothing; I suppose I shall be
expected by and by to lend a hand to carry Squire Hector out upon his
litter, while he indulges his sportsmanlike propensities by shooting my
pigeons, or my turkeys--I think any of the _ferae naturae_ are safe from
him for one while."
Miss M'Intyre now entered, and began to her usual morning's task of
arranging her uncle's breakfast, with the alertness of one who is too
late in setting about a task, and is anxious to make up for lost time.
But this did not avail her. "Take care, you silly womankind--that mum's
too near the fire--the bottle will burst; and I suppose you intend to
reduce the toast to a cinder as a burnt-offering for Juno, or what do you
call her--the female dog there, with some such Pantheon kind of a name,
that your wise brother has, in his first moments of mature reflection,
ordered up as a fitting inmate of my house (I thank him), and meet
company to aid the rest of the womankind of my household in their daily
conversation and intercourse with him."
"Dear uncle, don't be angry about the poor spaniel; she's been tied up at
my brother's lodgings at Fairport, and she's broke her chain twice, and
came running down here to him; and you would not have us beat the
faithful beast away from the door?--it moans as if it had some sense of
poor Hector's misfortune, and will hardly stir from the door of his
"Why," said his uncle, "they said Caxon had gone to Fairport after his
dog and gun."
"O dear sir, no," answered Miss M'Intyre, "it was to fetch some dressings
that were wanted, and Hector only wished him to bring out his gun, as he
was going to Fairport at any rate."
"Well, then, it is not altogether so foolish a business, considering what
a mess of womankind have been about it--Dressings, quotha?--and who is to
dress my wig?--But I suppose Jenny will undertake"--continued the old
bachelor, looking at himself in the glass--"to make it somewhat decent.
And now let us set to breakfast--with what appetite we may. Well may I
say to Hector, as Sir Isaac Newton did to his dog Diamond, when the
animal (I detest dogs) flung down the taper among calculations which had
occupied the philosopher for twenty years, and consumed the whole mass of
materials--Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the mischief thou hast
"I assure you, sir," replied his niece, "my brother is quite sensible of
the rashness of his own behaviour, and allows that Mr. Lovel behaved very
"And much good that will do, when he has frightened the lad out of the
country! I tell thee, Mary, Hector's understanding, and far more that of
feminity, is inadequate to comprehend the extent of the loss which he has
occasioned to the present age and to posterity--_aureum quidem opus_--a
poem on such a subject, with notes illustrative of all that is clear, and
all that is dark, and all that is neither dark nor clear, but hovers in
dusky twilight in the region of Caledonian antiquities. I would have made
the Celtic panegyrists look about them. Fingal, as they conceitedly term
Fin-Mac-Coul, should have disappeared before my search, rolling himself
in his cloud like the spirit of Loda. Such an opportunity can hardly
again occur to an ancient and grey-haired man; and to see it lost by the
madcap spleen of a hot-headed boy! But I submit--Heaven's will be done!"
Thus continued the Antiquary to _maunder,_ as his sister expressed it,
during the whole time of breakfast, while, despite of sugar and honey,
and all the comforts of a Scottish morning tea-table, his reflections
rendered the meal bitter to all who heard them. But they knew the nature
of the man. "Monkbarns's bark," said Miss Griselda Oldbuck, in
confidential intercourse with Miss Rebecca Blattergowl, "is muckle waur
than his bite."
In fact, Mr. Oldbuck had suffered in mind extremely while his nephew was
in actual danger, and now felt himself at liberty, upon his returning
health, to indulge in complaints respecting the trouble he had been put
to, and the interruption of his antiquarian labours. Listened to,
therefore, in respectful silence, by his niece and sister, he unloaded
his discontent in such grumblings as we have rehearsed, venting many a
sarcasm against womankind, soldiers, dogs, and guns, all which implements
of noise, discord, and tumult, as he called them, he professed to hold in
This expectoration of spleen was suddenly interrupted by the noise of a
carriage without, when, shaking off all sullenness at the sound, Oldbuck
ran nimbly up stairs and down stairs, for both operations were necessary
ere he could receive Miss Wardour and her father at the door of his
A cordial greeting passed on both sides. And Sir Arthur, referring to his
previous inquiries by letter and message, requested to be particularly
informed of Captain M'Intyre's health.
"Better than he deserves," was the answer--"better than he deserves, for
disturbing us with his vixen brawls, and breaking God's peace and the
"The young gentleman," Sir Arthur said, "had been imprudent; but he
understood they were indebted to him for the detection of a suspicious
character in the young man Lovel."
"No more suspicious than his own," answered the Antiquary, eager in his
favourites defence;--"the young gentleman was a little foolish and
headstrong, and refused to answer Hector's impertinent interrogatories--
that is all. Lovel, Sir Arthur, knows how to choose his confidants
better--Ay, Miss Wardour, you may look at me--but it is very true;--it
was in my bosom that he deposited the secret cause of his residence at
Fairport; and no stone should have been left unturned on my part to
assist him in the pursuit to which he had dedicated himself."
On hearing this magnanimous declaration on the part of the old Antiquary,
Miss Wardour changed colour more than once, and could hardly trust her
own ears. For of all confidants to be selected as the depositary of love
affairs,--and such she naturally supposed must have been the subject of
communication,--next to Edie Ochiltree, Oldbuck seemed the most uncouth
and extraordinary; nor could she sufficiently admire or fret at the
extraordinary combination of circumstances which thus threw a secret of
such a delicate nature into the possession of persons so unfitted to be
entrusted with it. She had next to fear the mode of Oldbuck's entering
upon the affair with her father, for such, she doubted not, was his
intention. She well knew that the honest gentleman, however vehement in
his prejudices, had no great sympathy with those of others, and she had
to fear a most unpleasant explosion upon an _e'claircissement_ taking
place between them. It was therefore with great anxiety that she heard
her father request a private interview, and observed Oldbuck readily
arise and show the way to his library. She remained behind, attempting to
converse with the ladies of Monkbarns, but with the distracted feelings
of Macbeth, when compelled to disguise his evil conscience by listening
and replying to the observations of the attendant thanes upon the storm
of the preceding night, while his whole soul is upon the stretch to
listen for the alarm of murder, which he knows must be instantly raised
by those who have entered the sleeping apartment of Duncan. But the
conversation of the two virtuosi turned on a subject very different from
that which Miss Wardour apprehended.
"Mr. Oldbuck," said Sir Arthur, when they had, after a due exchange of
ceremonies, fairly seated themselves in the _sanctum sanctorum_ of the
Antiquary,--"you, who know so much of my family matters, may probably be
surprised at the question I am about to put to you."
"Why, Sir Arthur, if it relates to money, I am very sorry, but"--
"It does relate to money matters, Mr. Oldbuck."
"Really, then, Sir Arthur," continued the Antiquary, "in the present
state of the money-market--and stocks being so low"--
"You mistake my meaning, Mr. Oldbuck," said the Baronet; "I wished to ask
your advice about laying out a large sum of money to advantage."
"The devil!" exclaimed the Antiquary; and, sensible that his involuntary
ejaculation of wonder was not over and above civil, he proceeded to
qualify it by expressing his joy that Sir Arthur should have a sum of
money to lay out when the commodity was so scarce. "And as for the mode
of employing it," said he, pausing, "the funds are low at present, as I
said before, and there are good bargains of land to be had. But had you
not better begin by clearing off encumbrances, Sir Arthur?--There is the
sum in the personal bond--and the three notes of hand," continued he,
taking out of the right-hand drawer of his cabinet a certain red
memorandum-book, of which Sir Arthur, from the experience of former
frequent appeals to it, abhorred the very sight--"with the interest
thereon, amounting altogether to--let me see"--
"To about a thousand pounds," said Sir Arthur, hastily; "you told me the
amount the other day."
"But there's another term's interest due since that, Sir Arthur, and it
amounts (errors excepted) to eleven hundred and thirteen pounds, seven
shillings, five pennies, and three-fourths of a penny sterling--But look
over the summation yourself."
"I daresay you are quite right, my dear sir," said the Baronet, putting
away the book with his hand, as one rejects the old-fashioned civility
that presses food upon you after you have eaten till you nauseate--
"perfectly right, I dare say; and in the course of three days or less you
shall have the full value--that is, if you choose to accept it in
"Bullion! I suppose you mean lead. What the deuce! have we hit on the
vein then at last? But what could I do with a thousand pounds' worth, and
upwards, of lead? The former abbots of Trotcosey might have roofed their
church and monastery with it indeed--but for me"--
"By bullion," said the Baronet, "I mean the precious metals,--gold and
"Ay! indeed?--and from what Eldorado is this treasure to be imported?"
"Not far from hence," said Sir Arthur, significantly. "And naow I think
of it, you shall see the whole process, on one small condition."
"And what is that?" craved the Antiquary.
"Why, it will be necessary for you to give me your friendly assistance,
by advancing one hundred pounds or thereabouts."
Mr. Oldbuck, who had already been grasping in idea the sum, principal and
interest, of a debt which he had long regarded as wellnigh desperate, was
so much astounded at the tables being so unexpectedly turned upon him,
that he could only re-echo, in an accent of wo and surprise, the words,
"Advance one hundred pounds!"
"Yes, my good sir," continued Sir Arthur; "but upon the best possible
security of being repaid in the course of two or three days."
There was a pause--either Oldbuck's nether jaw had not recovered its
position, so as to enable him to utter a negative, or his curiosity kept
"I would not propose to you," continued Sir Arthur, "to oblige me thus
far, if I did not possess actual proofs of the reality of those
expectations which I now hold out to you. And I assure you, Mr. Oldbuck,
that in entering fully upon this topic, it is my purpose to show my
confidence in you, and my sense of your kindness on many former
Mr. Oldbuck professed his sense of obligation, but carefully avoided
committing himself by any promise of farther assistance.
"Mr. Dousterswivel," said Sir Arthur, "having discovered"--
Here Oldbuck broke in, his eyes sparkling with indignation. "Sir Arthur,
I have so often warned you of the knavery of that rascally quack, that I
really wonder you should quote him to me."
"But listen--listen," interrupted Sir Arthur in his turn, "it will do you
no harm. In short, Dousterswivel persuaded me to witness an experiment
which he had made in the ruins of St. Ruth--and what do you think we
"Another spring of water, I suppose, of which the rogue had beforehand
taken care to ascertain the situation and source."
"No, indeed--a casket of gold and silver coins--here they are."
With that, Sir Arthur drew from his pocket a large ram's horn, with a
copper cover, containing a considerable quantity of coins, chiefly
silver, but with a few gold pieces intermixed. The Antiquary's eyes
glistened as he eagerly spread them out on the table.
"Upon my word--Scotch, English, and foreign coins, of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries, and some of them _rari--et rariores--etiam
rarissimi!_ Here is the bonnet-piece of James V., the unicorn of James
II.,--ay, and the gold festoon of Queen Mary, with her head and the
Dauphin's. And these were really found in the ruins of St. Ruth?"
"Most assuredly--my own eyes witnessed it."
"Well," replied Oldbuck; "but you must tell me the when--the where-the
"The when," answered Sir Arthur, "was at midnight the last full moon--the
where, as I have told you, in the ruins of St. Ruth's priory--the how,
was by a nocturnal experiment of Dousterswivel, accompanied only by
"Indeed!" said Oldbuck; "and what means of discovery did you employ?"
"Only a simple suffumigation," said the Baronet, "accompanied by availing
ourselves of the suitable planetary hour."
"Simple suffumigation? simple nonsensification--planetary hour? planetary
fiddlestick! _Sapiens dominabitur astris._ My dear Sir Arthur, that
fellow has made a gull of you above ground and under ground, and he would
have made a gull of you in the air too, if he had been by when you was
craned up the devil's turnpike yonder at Halket-head--to be sure the
transformation would have been then peculiarly _apropos._"
"Well, Mr. Oldbuck, I am obliged to you for your indifferent opinion of
my discernment; but I think you will give me credit for having seen what
I _say_ I saw."
"Certainly, Sir Arthur," said the Antiquary,--"to this extent at least,
that I know Sir Arthur Wardour will not say he saw anything but what he
_thought_ he saw."
"Well, then," replied the Baronet, "as there is a heaven above us, Mr.
Oldbuck, I saw, with my own eyes, these coins dug out of the chancel of
St. Ruth at midnight. And as to Dousterswivel, although the discovery be
owing to his science, yet, to tell the truth, I do not think he would
have had firmness of mind to have gone through with it if I had not been
"Ay! indeed?" said Oldbuck, in the tone used when one wishes to hear the
end of a story before making any comment.
"Yes truly," continued Sir Arthur--"I assure you I was upon my guard--we
did hear some very uncommon sounds, that is certain, proceeding from
among the ruins."
"Oh, you did?" said Oldbuck; "an accomplice hid among them, I suppose?"
"Not a jot," said the Baronet;--"the sounds, though of a hideous and
preternatural character, rather resembled those of a man who sneezes
violently than any other--one deep groan I certainly heard besides; and
Dousterswivel assures me that he beheld the spirit Peolphan, the Great
Hunter of the North--(look for him in your Nicolaus Remigius, or Petrus
Thyracus, Mr. Oldbuck)--who mimicked the motion of snuff-taking and its
"These indications, however singular as proceeding from such a personage,
seem to have been _apropos_ to the matter," said the Antiquary; "for you
see the case, which includes these coins, has all the appearance of being
an old-fashioned Scottish snuff-mill. But you persevered, in spite of the
terrors of this sneezing goblin?"
"Why, I think it probable that a man of inferior sense or consequence
might have given way; but I was jealous of an imposture, conscious of the
duty I owed to my family in maintaining my courage under every
contingency, and therefore I compelled Dousterswivel, by actual and
violent threats, to proceed with what he was about to do;--and, sir, the
proof of his skill and honesty is this parcel of gold and silver pieces,
out of which I beg you to select such coins or medals as will best suit
"Why, Sir Arthur, since you are so good, and on condition you will permit
me to mark the value according to Pinkerton's catalogue and appreciation,
against your account in my red book, I will with pleasure select"--
"Nay," said Sir Arthur Wardour, "I do not mean you should consider them
as anything but a gift of friendship and least of all would I stand by
the valuation of your friend Pinkerton, who has impugned the ancient and
trustworthy authorities upon which, as upon venerable and moss-grown
pillars, the credit of Scottish antiquities reposed."
"Ay, ay," rejoined Oldbuck, "you mean, I suppose, Mair and Boece, the
Jachin and Boaz, not of history but of falsification and forgery. And
notwithstanding all you have told me, I look on your friend Dousterswivel
to be as apocryphal as any of them."
"Why then, Mr. Oldbuck," said Sir Arthur, "not to awaken old disputes, I
suppose you think, that because I believe in the ancient history of my
country, I have neither eyes nor ears to ascertain what modern events
pass before me?"
"Pardon me, Sir Arthur," rejoined the Antiquary; "but I consider all the
affectation of terror which this worthy gentleman, your coadjutor, chose
to play off, as being merely one part of his trick or mystery. And with
respect to the gold or silver coins, they are so mixed and mingled in
country and date, that I cannot suppose they could be any genuine hoard,
and rather suppose them to be, like the purses upon the table of
--Money placed for show,
Like nest-eggs, to make clients lay,
And for his false opinions pay.--
It is the trick of all professions, my dear Sir Arthur. Pray, may I ask
you how much this discovery cost you?"
"About ten guineas."
"And you have gained what is equivalent to twenty in actual bullion, and
what may be perhaps worth as much more to such fools as ourselves, who
are willing to pay for curiosity. This was allowing you a tempting profit
on the first hazard, I must needs admit. And what is the next venture he
"An hundred and fifty pounds;--I have given him one-third part of the
money, and I thought it likely you might assist me with the balance."
"I should think that this cannot be meant as a parting blow--is not of
weight and importance sufficient; he will probably let us win this hand
also, as sharpers manage a raw gamester.--Sir Arthur, I hope you believe
I would serve you?"
"Certainly, Mr. Oldbuck; I think my confidence in you on these occasions
leaves no room to doubt that."
"Well, then, allow me to speak to Dousterswivel. If the money can be
advanced usefully and advantageously for you, why, for old
neighbourhood's sake, you shall not want it but if, as I think, I can
recover the treasure for you without making such an advance, you will,
I presume, have no objection!"
"Unquestionably, I can have none whatsoever."
"Then where is Dousterswivel?" continued the Antiquary.
"To tell you the truth, he is in my carriage below; but knowing your
prejudice against him"--
"I thank Heaven, I am not prejudiced against any man, Sir Arthur: it is
systems, not individuals, that incur my reprobation." He rang the bell.
"Jenny, Sir Arthur and I offer our compliments to Mr. Dousterswivel, the
gentleman in Sir Arthur's carriage, and beg to have the pleasure of
speaking with him here."
Jenny departed and delivered her message. It had been by no means a part
of the project of Dousterswivel to let Mr. Oldbuck into his supposed
mystery. He had relied upon Sir Arthur's obtaining the necessary
accommodation without any discussion as to the nature of the application,
and only waited below for the purpose of possessing himself of the
deposit as soon as possible, for he foresaw that his career was drawing
to a close. But when summoned to the presence of Sir Arthur and Mr.
Oldbuck, he resolved gallantly to put confidence in his powers of
impudence, of which, the reader may have observed, his natural share was
--And this Doctor,
Your sooty smoky-bearded compeer, he
Will close you so much gold in a bolt's head,
And, on a turn, convey in the stead another
With sublimed mercury, that shall burst i' the heat,
And all fly out _in fumo._--
"How do you do, goot Mr. Oldenbuck? and I do hope your young gentleman,
Captain M'Intyre, is getting better again? Ach! it is a bat business when
young gentlemens will put lead balls into each other's body."
"Lead adventures of all kinds are very precarious, Mr. Dousterswivel; but
I am happy to learn," continued the Antiquary, "from my friend Sir
Arthur, that you have taken up a better trade, and become a discoverer of
"Ach, Mr. Oldenbuck, mine goot and honoured patron should not have told a
word about dat little matter; for, though I have all reliance--yes,
indeed, on goot Mr. Oldenbuck's prudence and discretion, and his great
friendship for Sir Arthur Wardour--yet, my heavens! it is an great
"More ponderous than any of the metal we shall make by it, I fear,"
"Dat is just as you shall have de faith and de patience for de grand
experiment--If you join wid Sir Arthur, as he is put one hundred and
fifty--see, here is one fifty in your dirty Fairport bank-note--you put
one other hundred and fifty in de dirty notes, and you shall have de pure
gold and silver, I cannot tell how much."
"Nor any one for you, I believe," said the Antiquary. "But, hark you, Mr.
Dousterswivel: Suppose, without troubling this same sneezing spirit with
any farther fumigations, we should go in a body, and having fair
day-light and our good consciences to befriend us, using no other
conjuring implements than good substantial pick-axes and shovels, fairly
trench the area of the chancel in the ruins of St. Ruth, from one end to
the other, and so ascertain the existence of this supposed treasure,
without putting ourselves to any farther expense--the ruins belong to Sir
Arthur himself, so there can be no objection--do you think we shall
succeed in this way of managing the matter?"
"Bah!--you will not find one copper thimble--But Sir Arthur will do his
pleasure. I have showed him how it is possible--very possible--to have de
great sum of money for his occasions--I have showed him de real
experiment. If he likes not to believe, goot Mr. Oldenbuck, it is nothing
to Herman Dousterswivel--he only loses de money and de gold and de
silvers--dat is all."
Sir Arthur Wardour cast an intimidated glance at Oldbuck who, especially
when present, held, notwithstanding their frequent difference of opinion,
no ordinary influence over his sentiments. In truth, the Baronet felt,
what he would not willingly have acknowledged, that his genius stood
rebuked before that of the Antiquary. He respected him as a shrewd,
penetrating, sarcastic character--feared his satire, and had some
confidence in the general soundness of his opinions. He therefore looked
at him as if desiring his leave before indulging his credulity.
Dousterswivel saw he was in danger of losing his dupe, unless he could
make some favourable impression on the adviser.
"I know, my goot Mr. Oldenbuck, it is one vanity to speak to you about de
spirit and de goblin. But look at this curious horn;--I know, you know de
curiosity of all de countries, and how de great Oldenburgh horn, as they
keep still in the Museum at Copenhagen, was given to de Duke of
Oldenburgh by one female spirit of de wood. Now I could not put one trick
on you if I were willing--you who know all de curiosity so well--and dere
it is de horn full of coins;--if it had been a box or case, I would have
"Being a horn," said Oldbuck, "does indeed strengthen your argument. It
was an implement of nature's fashioning, and therefore much used among
rude nations, although, it may be, the metaphorical horn is more frequent
in proportion to the progress of civilisation. And this present horn," he
continued, rubbing it upon his sleeve, "is a curious and venerable relic,
and no doubt was intended to prove a _cornucopia,_ or horn of plenty, to
some one or other; but whether to the adept or his patron, may be justly
"Well, Mr. Oldenbuck, I find you still hard of belief--but let me assure
you, de monksh understood de _magisterium._"
"Let us leave talking of the _magisterium,_ Mr. Dousterswivel, and think
a little about the magistrate. Are you aware that this occupation of
yours is against the law of Scotland, and that both Sir Arthur and myself
are in the commission of the peace?"
"Mine heaven! and what is dat to de purpose when I am doing you all de
goot I can?"
"Why, you must know that when the legislature abolished the cruel laws
against witchcraft, they had no hope of destroying the superstitious
feelings of humanity on which such chimeras had been founded; and to
prevent those feelings from being tampered with by artful and designing
persons, it is enacted by the ninth of George the Second, chap. 5, that
whosoever shall pretend, by his alleged skill in any occult or crafty
science, to discover such goods as are lost, stolen or concealed, he
shall suffer punishment by pillory and imprisonment, as a common cheat
"And is dat de laws?" asked Dousterswivel, with some agitation.
"Thyself shall see the act," replied the Antiquary.
"Den, gentlemens, I shall take my leave of you, dat is all; I do not like
to stand on your what you call pillory--it is very bad way to take de
air, I think; and I do not like your prisons no more, where one cannot
take de air at all."
"If such be your taste, Mr. Dousterswivel," said the Antiquary, "I advise
you to stay where you are, for I cannot let you go, unless it be in the
society of a constable; and, moreover, I expect you will attend us just
now to the ruins of St. Ruth, and point out the place where you propose
to find this treasure."
"Mine heaven, Mr. Oldenbuck! what usage is this to your old friend, when
I tell you so plain as I can speak, dat if you go now, you will not get
so much treasure as one poor shabby sixpence?"
"I will try the experiment, however, and you shall be dealt with
according to its success,--always with Sir Arthur's permission."
Sir Arthur, during this investigation, had looked extremely embarrassed,
and, to use a vulgar but expressive phrase, chop-fallen. Oldbuck's
obstinate disbelief led him strongly to suspect the imposture of
Dousterswivel, and the adept's mode of keeping his ground was less
resolute than he had expected. Yet he did not entirely give him up.
"Mr. Oldbuck," said the Baronet, "you do Mr. Dousterswivel less than
justice. He has undertaken to make this discovery by the use of his art,
and by applying characters descriptive of the Intelligences presiding
over the planetary hour in which the experiment is to be made; and you
require him to proceed, under pain of punishment, without allowing him
the use of any of the preliminaries which he considers as the means of
"I did not say that exactly--I only required him to be present when we
make the search, and not to leave us during the interval. I fear he may
have some intelligence with the Intelligences you talk of, and that
whatever may be now hidden at Saint Ruth may disappear before we get
"Well, gentlemens," said Dousterswivel, sullenly, "I will make no
objections to go along with you but I tell you beforehand, you shall not
find so much of anything as shall be worth your going twenty yard from
your own gate."
"We will put that to a fair trial," said the Antiquary; and the Baronet's
equipage being ordered, Miss Wardour received an intimation from her
father, that she was to remain at Monkbarns until his return from an
airing. The young lady was somewhat at a loss to reconcile this direction
with the communication which she supposed must have passed between Sir
Arthur and the Antiquary; but she was compelled, for the present, to
remain in a most unpleasant state of suspense.
The journey of the treasure-seekers was melancholy enough. Dousterswivel
maintained a sulky silence, brooding at once over disappointed
expectation and the risk of punishment; Sir Arthur, whose golden dreams
had been gradually fading away, surveyed, in gloomy prospect, the
impending difficulties of his situation; and Oldbuck, who perceived that
his having so far interfered in his neighbours affairs gave the Baronet a
right to expect some actual and efficient assistance, sadly pondered to
what extent it would be necessary to draw open the strings of his purse.
Thus each being wrapped in his own unpleasant ruminations, there was
hardly a word said on either side, until they reached the Four
Horse-shoes, by which sign the little inn was distinguished. They
procured at this place the necessary assistance and implements for
digging, and, while they were busy about these preparations, were
suddenly joined by the old beggar, Edie Ochiltree.
"The Lord bless your honour," began the Blue-Gown, with the genuine
mendicant whine, "and long life to you!--weel pleased am I to hear that
young Captain M'Intyre is like to be on his legs again sune--Think on
your poor bedesman the day."
"Aha, old true-penny!" replied the Antiquary. "Why, thou hast never come
to Monkbarns since thy perils by rock and flood--here's something for
thee to buy snuff,"--and, fumbling for his purse, he pulled out at the
same time the horn which enclosed the coins.
"Ay, and there's something to pit it in," said the mendicant, eyeing the
ram's horn--"that loom's an auld acquaintance o' mine. I could take my
aith to that sneeshing-mull amang a thousand--I carried it for mony a
year, till I niffered it for this tin ane wi' auld George Glen, the
dammer and sinker, when he took a fancy till't doun at Glen-Withershins
"Ay! indeed?" said Oldbuck;--"so you exchanged it with a miner? but I
presume you never saw it so well filled before"--and opening it, he
showed the coins.
"Troth, ye may swear that, Monkbarns: when it was mine it neer had abune
the like o' saxpenny worth o' black rappee in't at ance. But I reckon
ye'll be gaun to mak an antic o't, as ye hae dune wi' mony an orra thing
besides. Od, I wish anybody wad mak an antic o' me; but mony ane will
find worth in rousted bits o' capper and horn and airn, that care unco
little about an auld carle o' their ain country and kind."
"You may now guess," said Oldbuck, turning to Sir Arthur, "to whose good
offices you were indebted the other night. To trace this cornucopia of
yours to a miner, is bringing it pretty near a friend of ours--I hope we
shall be as successful this morning, without paying for it."
"And whare is your honours gaun the day," said the mendicant, "wi' a'
your picks and shules?--Od, this will be some o' your tricks, Monkbarns:
ye'll be for whirling some o' the auld monks down by yonder out o' their
graves afore they hear the last call--but, wi' your leave, I'se follow ye
at ony rate, and see what ye mak o't."
The party soon arrived at the ruins of the priory, and, having gained the
chancel, stood still to consider what course they were to pursue next.
The Antiquary, meantime, addressed the adept.
"Pray, Mr. Dousterswivel, what is your advice in this matter? Shall we
have most likelihood of success if we dig from east to west, or from west
to east?--or will you assist us with your triangular vial of May-dew, or
with your divining-rod of witches-hazel?--or will you have the goodness
to supply us with a few thumping blustering terms of art, which, if they
fail in our present service, may at least be useful to those who have not
the happiness to be bachelors, to still their brawling children withal?"
"Mr. Oldenbuck," said Dousterswivel, doggedly, "I have told you already
that you will make no good work at all, and I will find some way of mine
own to thank you for your civilities to me--yes, indeed."
"If your honours are thinking of tirling the floor," said old Edie, "and
wad but take a puir body's advice, I would begin below that muckle stane
that has the man there streekit out upon his back in the midst o't."
"I have some reason for thinking favourably of that plan myself," said
"And I have nothing to say against it," said Oldbuck: "it was not unusual
to hide treasure in the tombs of the deceased--many instances might be
quoted of that from Bartholinus and others."
The tombstone, the same beneath which the coins had been found by Sir
Arthur and the German, was once more forced aside, and the earth gave
easy way to the spade.
"It's travell'd earth that," said Edie, "it howks gae eithly--I ken it
weel, for ance I wrought a simmer wi' auld Will Winnet, the bedral, and
howkit mair graves than ane in my day; but I left him in winter, for it
was unco cald wark; and then it cam a green Yule, and the folk died thick
and fast--for ye ken a green Yule makes a fat kirkyard; and I never dowed
to bide a hard turn o' wark in my life--sae aff I gaed, and left Will to
delve his last dwellings by himsell for Edie."
The diggers were now so far advanced in their labours as to discover that
the sides of the grave which they were clearing out had been originally
secured by four walls of freestone, forming a parallelogram, for the
reception, probably, of the coffin.
"It is worth while proceeding in our labours," said the Antiquary to Sir
Arthur, "were it but for curiosity's sake. I wonder on whose sepulchre
they have bestowed such uncommon pains."
"The arms on the shield," said Sir Arthur, and sighed as he spoke it,
"are the same with those on Misticot's tower, supposed to have been built
by Malcolm the usurper. No man knew where he was buried, and there is an
old prophecy in our family, that bodes us no good when his grave shall be
"I wot," said the beggar, "I have often heard that when I was a bairn--
If Malcolm the Misticot's grave were fun',
The lands of Knockwinnock were lost and won."
Oldbuck, with his spectacles on his nose, had already knelt down on the
monument, and was tracing, partly with his eye, partly with his finger,
the mouldered devices upon the effigy of the deceased warrior. "It is the
Knockwinnock arms, sure enough," he exclaimed, "quarterly with the coat
"Richard, called the red-handed Wardour, married Sybil Knockwinnock, the
heiress of the Saxon family, and by that alliance," said Sir Arthur,
"brought the castle and estate into the name of Wardour, in the year of
"Very true, Sir Arthur; and here is the baton-sinister, the mark of
illegitimacy, extended diagonally through both coats upon the shield.
Where can our eyes have been, that they did not see this curious monument
"Na, whare was the through-stane, that it didna come before our een till
e'enow?" said Ochiltree; "for I hae ken'd this auld kirk, man and bairn,
for saxty lang years, and I neer noticed it afore; and it's nae sic mote
neither, but what ane might see it in their parritch."
All were now induced to tax their memory as to the former state of the
ruins in that corner of the chancel, and all agreed in recollecting a
considerable pile of rubbish which must have been removed and spread
abroad in order to malke the tomb visible. Sir Arthur might, indeed, have
remembered seeing the monument on the former occasion, but his mind was
too much agitated to attend to the circumstance as a novelty.
While the assistants were engaged in these recollections and discussions,
the workmen proceeded with their labour. They had already dug to the
depth of nearly five feet, and as the flinging out the soil became more
and more difficult, they began at length to tire of the job.
"We're down to the till now," said one of them, "and the neer a coffin or
onything else is here--some cunninger chiel's been afore us, I reckon;"--
and the labourer scrambled out of the grave.
"Hout, lad," said Edie, getting down in his room--"let me try my hand for
an auld bedral;--ye're gude seekers, but ill finders."
So soon as he got into the grave, he struck his pike-staff forcibly down;
it encountered resistance in its descent, and the beggar exclaimed, like
a Scotch schoolboy when he finds anything, "Nae halvers and quarters--
hale o' mine ain and 'nane o' my neighbour's."
Everybody, from the dejected Baronet to the sullen adept, now caught the
spirit of curiosity, crowded round the grave, and would have jumped into
it, could its space have contained them. The labourers, who had begun to
flag in their monotonous and apparently hopeless task, now resumed their
tools, and plied them with all the ardour of expectation. Their shovels
soon grated upon a hard wooden surface, which, as the earth was cleared
away, assumed the distinct form of a chest, but greatly smaller than that
of a coffin. Now all hands were at work to heave it out of the grave, and
all voices, as it was raised, proclaimed its weight and augured its
value. They were not mistaken.
When the chest or box was placed on the surface, and the lid forced up by
a pickaxe, there was displayed first a coarse canvas cover, then a
quantity of oakum, and beneath that a number of ingots of silver. A
general exclamation hailed a discovery so surprising and unexpected. The
Baronet threw his hands and eyes up to heaven, with the silent rapture of
one who is delivered from inexpressible distress of mind. Oldbuck, almost
unable to credit his eyes, lifted one piece of silver after another.
There was neither inscription nor stamp upon them, excepting one, which
seemed to be Spanish. He could have no doubt of the purity and great
value of the treasure before him. Still, however, removing piece by
piece, he examined row by row, expecting to discover that the lower
layers were of inferior value; but he could perceive no difference in
this respect, and found himself compelled to admit, that Sir Arthur had
possessed himself of bullion to the value, perhaps of a thousand pounds
sterling. Sir Arthur now promised the assistants a handsome recompense
for their trouble, and began to busy himself about the mode of conveying
this rich windfall to the Castle of Knockwinnock, when the adept,
recovering from his surprise, which had squalled that exhibited by any
other individual of the party, twitched his sleeve, and having offered
his humble congratulations, turned next to Oldbuck with an air of
"I did tell you, my goot friend, Mr. Oldenbuck, dat I was to seek
opportunity to thank you for your civility; now do you not think I have
found out vary goot way to return thank?"
"Why, Mr. Dousterswivel, do you pretend to have had any hand in our good
success?--you forget you refused us all aid of your science, man; and you
are here without your weapons that should have fought the battle which
you pretend to have gained in our behalf: you have used neither charm,
lamen, sigil, talisman, spell, crystal, pentacle, magic mirror, nor
geomantic figure. Where be your periapts, and your abracadabras man? your
Mayfern, your vervain,
Your toad, your crow, your dragon, and your panther,
Your sun, your moon, your firmament, your adrop,
Your Lato, Azoch, Zernich, Chibrit, Heautarit,
With all your broths, your menstrues, your materials,
Would burst a man to name?--
Ah! rare Ben Jonson! long peace to thy ashes for a scourge of the quacks
of thy day!--who expected to see them revive in our own?"
The answer of the adept to the Antiquary's tirade we must defer to our
_Clause._--You now shall know the king o' the beggars' treasure:--
Yes--ere to-morrow you shall find your harbour
Here,--fail me not, for if I live I'll fit you.
The Beggar's Bush.
The German, determined, it would seem, to assert the vantage-ground on
which the discovery had placed him, replied with great pomp and
stateliness to the attack of the Antiquary.
"Maister Oldenbuck, all dis may be very witty and comedy, but I have
nothing to say--nothing at all--to people dat will not believe deir own
eye-sights. It is vary true dat I ave not any of de things of de art, and
it makes de more wonder what I has done dis day. But I would ask of you,
mine honoured and goot and generous patron, to put your hand into your
right-hand waistcoat pocket, and show me what you shall find dere."
Sir Arthur obeyed his direction, and pulled out the small plate of silver
which he had used under the adept's auspices upon the former occasion.
"It is very true," said Sir Arthur, looking gravely at the Antiquary;
"this is the graduated and calculated sigil by which Mr. Dousterswivel
and I regulated our first discovery."
"Pshaw! pshaw! my dear friend," said Oldbuck, "you are too wise to
believe in the influence of a trumpery crown-piece, beat out thin, and a
parcel of scratches upon it. I tell thee, Sir Arthur, that if
Dousterswivel had known where to get this treasure himself, you would not
have been lord of the least share of it."
"In troth, please your honour," said Edie, who put in his word on all
occasions, "I think, since Mr. Dunkerswivel has had sae muckle merit in
discovering a' the gear, the least ye can do is to gie him that o't
that's left behind for his labour; for doubtless he that kend where to
find sae muckle will hae nae difficulty to find mair."
Dousterswivel's brow grew very dark at this proposal of leaving him to
his "ain purchase," as Ochiltree expressed it; but the beggar, drawing
him aside, whispered a word or two in his ear, to which he seemed to give
Meanwhile Sir Arthur, his heart warm with his good fortune, said aloud,
"Never mind our friend Monkbarns, Mr. Dousterswivel, but come to the
Castle to-morrow, and I'll convince you that I am not ungrateful for the
hints you have given me about this matter--and the fifty Fairport dirty
notes, as you call them, are heartily at your service. Come, my lads, get
the cover of this precious chest fastened up again."
But the cover had in the confusion fallen aside among the rubbish, or the
loose earth which had been removed from the grave--in short, it was not
to be seen.
"Never mind, my good lads, tie the tarpaulin over it, and get it away to
the carriage.--Monkbarns, will you walk? I must go back your way to take
up Miss Wardour."
"And, I hope, to take up your dinner also, Sir Arthur, and drink a glass
of wine for joy of our happy adventure. Besides, you should write about
the business to the Exchequer, in case of any interference on the part of
the Crown. As you are lord of the manor, it will be easy to get a deed of
gift, should they make any claim. We must talk about it, though."
"And I particularly recommend silence to all who are present," said Sir
Arthur, looking round. All bowed and professed themselves dumb.
"Why, as to that," said Monkbarns, "recommending secrecy where a dozen of
people are acquainted with the circumstance to be concealed, is only
putting the truth in masquerade, for the story will be circulated under
twenty different shapes. But never mind--we will state the true one to
the Barons, and that is all that is necessary."
"I incline to send off an express to-night," said the Baronet.
"I can recommend your honour to a sure hand," said Ochiltree; "little
Davie Mailsetter, and the butcher's reisting powny."
"We will talk over the matter as we go to Monkbarns," said Sir Arthur.
"My lads" (to the work-people), "come with me to the Four Horse-shoes,
that I may take down all your names.--Dousterswivel, I won't ask you to
go down to Monkbarns, as the laird and you differ so widely in opinion;
but do not fail to come to see me to-morrow."
Dousterswivel growled out an answer, in which the words, "duty,"--"mine
honoured patron,"--and "wait upon Sir Arthurs,"--were alone
distinguishable; and after the Baronet and his friend had left the ruins,
followed by the servants and workmen, who, in hope of reward and whisky,
joyfully attended their leader, the adept remained in a brown study by
the side of the open grave.
"Who was it as could have thought this?" he ejaculated unconsciously.
"Mine heiligkeit! I have heard of such things, and often spoken of such
things--but, sapperment! I never, thought to see them! And if I had gone
but two or dree feet deeper down in the earth--mein himmel! it had been
all mine own--so much more as I have been muddling about to get from this
Here the German ceased his soliloquy, for, raising his eyes, he
encountered those of Edie Ochiltree, who had not followed the rest of the
company, but, resting as usual on his pike-staff, had planted himself on
the other side of the grave. The features of the old man, naturally
shrewd and expressive almost to an appearance of knavery, seemed in this
instance so keenly knowing, that even the assurance of Dousterswivel,
though a professed adventurer, sunk beneath their glances. But he saw the
necessity of an e'claircissement, and, rallying his spirits, instantly
began to sound the mendicant on the occurrences of the day. "Goot Maister
"Edie Ochiltree, nae maister--your puir bedesman and the king's,"
answered the Blue-Gown.
"Awell den, goot Edie, what do you think of all dis?"
"I was just thinking it was very kind (for I darena say very simple) o'
your honour to gie thae twa rich gentles, wha hae lands and lairdships,
and siller without end, this grand pose o' silver and treasure (three
times tried in the fire, as the Scripture expresses it), that might hae
made yoursell and ony twa or three honest bodies beside, as happy and
content as the day was lang."
"Indeed, Edie, mine honest friends, dat is very true; only I did not
know, dat is, I was not sure, where to find the gelt myself."
"What! was it not by your honours advice and counsel that Monkbarns and
the Knight of Knockwinnock came here then?"
"Aha--yes; but it was by another circumstance. I did not know dat dey
would have found de treasure, mine friend; though I did guess, by such a
tintamarre, and cough, and sneeze, and groan, among de spirit one other
night here, dat there might be treasure and bullion hereabout. Ach, mein
himmel! the spirit will hone and groan over his gelt, as if he were a
Dutch Burgomaster counting his dollars after a great dinner at the
"And do you really believe the like o' that, Mr. Dusterdeevil !--a
skeelfu' man like you--hout fie!"
"Mein friend," answered the adept, foreed by circumstances to speak
something nearer the truth than he generally used to do, "I believed it
no more than you and no man at all, till I did hear them hone and moan
and groan myself on de oder night, and till I did this day see de cause,
which was an great chest all full of de pure silver from Mexico--and what
would you ave nae think den?"
"And what wad ye gie to ony ane," said Edie, "that wad help ye to sic
another kistfu' o' silver!"
"Give?--mein himmel!--one great big quarter of it."
"Now if the secret were mine," said the mendicant, "I wad stand out for a
half; for you see, though I am but a puir ragged body, and couldna carry
silver or gowd to sell for fear o' being taen up, yet I could find mony
folk would pass it awa for me at unco muckle easier profit than ye're
"Ach, himmel!--Mein goot friend, what was it I said?--I did mean to say
you should have de tree quarter for your half, and de one quarter to be
my fair half."
"No, no, Mr. Dusterdeevil, we will divide equally what we find, like
brother and brother. Now, look at this board that I just flung into the
dark aisle out o' the way, while Monkbarns was glowering ower a' the
silver yonder. He's a sharp chiel Monkbarns--I was glad to keep the like
o' this out o' his sight. Ye'll maybe can read the character better than
me--I am nae that book learned, at least I'm no that muckle in practice."
With this modest declaration of ignorance, Ochiltree brought forth from
behind a pillar the cover of the box or chest of treasure, which, when
forced from its hinges, had been carelessly flung aside during the ardour
of curiosity to ascertain the contents which it concealed, and had been
afterwards, as it seems, secreted by the mendicant. There was a word and
a number upon the plank, and the beggar made them more distinct by
spitting upon his ragged blue handkerchief, and rubbing off the clay by
which the inscription was obscured. It was in the ordinary black letter.
"Can ye mak ought o't?" said Edie to the adept.
"S," said the philosopher, like a child getting his lesson in the primer
--"S, T, A, R, C, H,--_Starch!_--dat is what de woman-washers put into de
neckerchers, and de shirt collar."
"Search!" echoed Ochiltree; "na, na, Mr. Dusterdeevil, ye are mair of a
conjuror than a clerk--it's _search,_ man, _search_--See, there's the
_Ye_ clear and distinct."
"Aha! I see it now--it is _search--number one._ Mein himmel! then there
must be a _number two,_ mein goot friend: for _search_ is what you call
to seek and dig, and this is but _number one!_ Mine wort, there is one
great big prize in de wheel for us, goot Maister Ochiltree."
"Aweel, it may be sae; but we canna howk fort enow--we hae nae shules,
for they hae taen them a' awa--and it's like some o' them will be sent
back to fling the earth into the hole, and mak a' things trig again. But
an ye'll sit down wi' me a while in the wood, I'se satisfy your honour
that ye hae just lighted on the only man in the country that could hae
tauld about Malcolm Misticot and his hidden treasure--But first we'll rub
out the letters on this board, for fear it tell tales."
And, by the assistance of his knife, the beggar erased and defaced the
characters so as to make them quite unintelligible, and then daubed the
board with clay so as to obliterate all traces of the erasure.
Dousterswivel stared at him in ambiguous silence. There was an
intelligence and alacrity about all the old man's movements, which
indicated a person that could not be easily overreached, and yet (for
even rogues acknowledge in some degree the spirit of precedence) our
adept felt the disgrace of playing a secondary part, and dividing
winnings with so mean an associate. His appetite for gain, however, was
sufficiently sharp to overpower his offended pride, and though far more
an impostor than a dupe, he was not without a certain degree of personal
faith even in the gross superstitions by means of which he imposed upon
others. Still, being accustomed to act as a leader on such occasions, he
felt humiliated at feeling himself in the situation of a vulture
marshalled to his prey by a carrion-crow.--"Let me, however, hear this
story to an end," thought Dousterswivel, "and it will be hard if I do not
make mine account in it better as Maister Edie Ochiltrees makes
The adept, thus transformed into a pupil from a teacher of the mystic
art, followed Ochiltree in passive acquiescence to the Prior's Oak--a
spot, as the reader may remember, at a short distance from the ruins,
where the German sat down, and silence waited the old man's
"Maister Dustandsnivel," said the narrator, "it's an unco while since I
heard this business treated anent;--for the lairds of Knockwinnock,
neither Sir Arthur, nor his father, nor his grandfather--and I mind a wee
bit about them a'--liked to hear it spoken about; nor they dinna like it
yet--But nae matter; ye may be sure it was clattered about in the
kitchen, like onything else in a great house, though it were forbidden in
the ha'--and sae I hae heard the circumstance rehearsed by auld servants
in the family; and in thir present days, when things o' that auld-warld
sort arena keepit in mind round winter fire-sides as they used to be, I
question if there's onybody in the country can tell the tale but mysell--
aye out-taken the laird though, for there's a parchment book about it, as
I have heard, in the charter-room at Knockwinnock Castle."
"Well, all dat is vary well--but get you on with your stories, mine goot
friend," said Dousterswivel.
"Aweel, ye see," continued the mendicant, "this was a job in the auld
times o' rugging and riving through the hale country, when it was ilka
ane for himsell, and God for us a'--when nae man wanted property if he
had strength to take it, or had it langer than he had power to keep it.
It was just he ower her, and she ower him, whichever could win upmost, a'
through the east country here, and nae doubt through the rest o' Scotland
in the self and same manner.
"Sae in these days Sir Richard Wardour came into the land, and that was
the first o' the name ever was in this country. There's been mony o' them
sin' syne; and the maist, like him they ca'd Hell-in-Harness, and the
rest o' them, are sleeping down in yon ruins. They were a proud dour set
o' men, but unco brave, and aye stood up for the weel o' the country, God
sain them a'--there's no muckle popery in that wish. They ca'd them the
Norman Wardours, though they cam frae the south to this country. So this
Sir Richard, that they ca'd Red-hand, drew up wi' the auld Knockwinnock
o' that day--for then they were Knockwinnocks of that Ilk--and wad fain
marry his only daughter, that was to have the castle and the land. Laith,
laith was the lass--(Sybil Knockwinnock they ca'd her that tauld me the
tale)--laith, laith was she to gie into the match, for she had fa'en a
wee ower thick wi' a cousin o' her ain that her father had some ill-will
to; and sae it was, that after she had been married to Sir Richard jimp
four months--for marry him she maun, it's like--ye'll no hinder her
gieing them a present o' a bonny knave bairn. Then there was siccan a
ca'-thro', as the like was never seen; and she's be burnt, and he's be
slain, was the best words o' their mouths. But it was a' sowdered up
again some gait, and the bairn was sent awa, and bred up near the
Highlands, and grew up to be a fine wanle fallow, like mony ane that
comes o' the wrang side o' the blanket; and Sir Richard wi' the Red-hand,
he had a fair offspring o'his ain, and a was lound and quiet till his
head was laid in the ground. But then down came Malcolm Misticot--(Sir
Arthur says it should be _Misbegot,_ but they aye ca'd him Misticot that
spoke o't lang syne)--down cam this Malcolm, the love-begot, frae
Glen-isla, wi' a string o' lang-legged Highlanders at his heels, that's
aye ready for onybody's mischief, and he threeps the castle and lands are
his ain as his mother's eldest son, and turns a' the Wardours out to the
hill. There was a sort of fighting and blude-spilling about it, for the
gentles took different sides; but Malcolm had the uppermost for a lang
time, and keepit the Castle of Knockwinnock, and strengthened it, and
built that muckle tower that they ca' Misticot's tower to this day."
"Mine goot friend, old Mr. Edie Ochiltree." interrupted the German, "this
is all as one like de long histories of a baron of sixteen quarters in
mine countries; but I would as rather hear of de silver and gold."
"Why, ye see," continued the mendicant, "this Malcolm was weel helped by
an uncle, a brother o' his father's, that was Prior o' St. Ruth here; and
muckle treasure they gathered between them, to secure the succession of
their house in the lands of Knockwinnock. Folk said that the monks in
thae days had the art of multiplying metals--at ony rate, they were very
rich. At last it came to this, that the young Wardour, that was
Red-hand's son, challenged Misticot to fight with him in the lists as
they ca'd them--that's no lists or tailor's runds and selvedges o'
claith, but a palin'-thing they set up for them to fight in like
game-cocks. Aweel, Misticot was beaten, and at his brother's mercy--but
he wadna touch his life, for the blood of Knockwinnock that was in baith
their veins: so Malcolm was compelled to turn a monk, and he died soon
after in the priory, of pure despite and vexation. Naebody ever kenn'd
whare his uncle the prior earded him, or what he did wi' his gowd and
silver, for he stood on the right o' halie kirk, and wad gie nae account
to onybody. But the prophecy gat abroad in the country, that whenever
Misticot's grave was fund out, the estate of Knockwinnock should be lost
"Ach! mine goot old friend, Maister Edie, and dat is not so very
unlikely, if Sir Arthurs will quarrel wit his goot friends to please Mr.
Oldenbuck.--And so you do tink dat dis golds and silvers belonged to goot
Mr. Malcolm Mishdigoat?"
"Troth do I, Mr. Dousterdeevil."
"And you do believe dat dere is more of dat sorts behind?"
"By my certie do I--How can it be otherwise?--_Search--No. I_--that is as
muckle as to say, search and ye'll find number twa. Besides, yon kist is
only silver, and I aye heard that' Misticot's pose had muckle yellow gowd
"Den, mine goot friends," said the adept, jumping up hastily, "why do we
not set about our little job directly?"
"For twa gude reasons," answered the beggar, who quietly kept his sitting
posture;--"first, because, as I said before, we have naething to dig wi',
for they hae taen awa the picks and shules; and, secondly, because there
will be a wheen idle gowks coming to glower at the hole as lang as it is
daylight, and maybe the laird may send somebody to fill it up--and ony
way we wad be catched. But if you will meet me on this place at twal
o'clock wi' a dark lantern, I'll hae tools ready, and we'll gang quietly
about our job our twa sells, and naebody the wiser for't."
"Be--be--but, mine goot friend," said Dousterswivel, from whose
recollection his former nocturnal adventure was not to be altogether
erased, even by the splendid hopes which Edie's narrative held forth, "it
is not so goot or so safe, to be about goot Maister Mishdigoat's grabe at
dat time of night--you have forgot how I told you de spirits did hone and
mone dere. I do assure you, dere is disturbance dere."
"If ye're afraid of ghaists," answered the mendicant, coolly, "I'll do
the job mysell, and bring your share o' the siller to ony place you like
"No--no--mine excellent old Mr. Edie,--too much trouble for you--I will
not have dat--I will come myself--and it will be bettermost; for, mine
old friend, it was I, Herman Dousterswivel, discovered Maister
Mishdigoat's grave when I was looking for a place as to put away some
little trumpery coins, just to play one little trick on my dear friend
Sir Arthur, for a little sport and pleasures. Yes, I did take some what
you call rubbish, and did discover Maister Mishdigoat's own monumentsh--
It's like dat he meant I should be his heirs--so it would not be civility
in me not to come mineself for mine inheritance."
"At twal o'clock, then," said the mendicant, "we meet under this tree.
I'll watch for a while, and see that naebody meddles wi' the grave--it's
only saying the laird's forbade it--then get my bit supper frae Ringan
the poinder up by, and leave to sleep in his barn; and I'll slip out at
night, and neer be mist."
"Do so, mine goot Maister Edie, and I will meet you here on this very
place, though all de spirits should moan and sneeze deir very brains
So saying he shook hands with the old man, and with this mutual pledge of
fidelity to their appointment, they separated for the present.
--See thou shake the bags
Of hoarding abbots; angels imprisoned
Set thou at liberty--
Bell, book, and candle, shall not drive me back,
If gold and silver beckon to come on.
The night set in stormy, with wind and occasional showers of rain. "Eh,
sirs," said the old mendicant, as he took his place on the sheltered side
of the large oak-tree to wait for his associate--"Eh, sirs, but human
nature's a wilful and wilyard thing!--Is it not an unco lucre o' gain wad
bring this Dousterdivel out in a blast o' wind like this, at twal o'clock
at night, to thir wild gousty wa's?--and amna I a bigger fule than
himsell to bide here waiting for him?"
Having made these sage reflections, he wrapped himself close in his
cloak, and fixed his eye on the moon as she waded amid the stormy and
dusky clouds, which the wind from time to time drove across her surface.
The melancholy and uncertain gleams that she shot from between the
passing shadows fell full upon the rifted arches and shafted windows of
the old building, which were thus for an instant made distinctly visible
in their ruinous state, and anon became again a dark, undistinguished,
and shadowy mass. The little lake had its share of these transient beams
of light, and showed its waters broken, whitened, and agitated under the
passing storm, which, when the clouds swept over the moon, were only
distinguished by their sullen and murmuring plash against the beach. The
wooded glen repeated, to every successive gust that hurried through its
narrow trough, the deep and various groan with which the trees replied to
the whirlwind, and the sound sunk again, as the blast passed away, into a
faint and passing murmur, resembling the sighs of an exhausted criminal
after the first pangs of his torture are over. In these sounds,
superstition might have found ample gratification for that State of
excited terror which she fears and yet loves. But such feeling is made no
part of Ochiltree's composition. His mind wandered back to the scenes of
"I have kept guard on the outposts baith in Germany and America," he said
to himself, "in mony a waur night than this, and when I ken'd there was
maybe a dozen o' their riflemen in the thicket before me. But I was aye
gleg at my duty--naebody ever catched Edie sleeping."
As he muttered thus to himself, he instinctively shouldered his trusty
pike-staff, assumed the port of a sentinel on duty, and, as a step
advanced towards the tree, called, with a tone assorting better with his
military reminiscences than his present state--"Stand! who goes there?"
"De devil, goot Edie," answered Dousterswivel, "why does you speak so
loud as a baarenhauter, or what you call a factionary--I mean a
"Just because I thought I was a sentinel at that moment," answered the
mendicant. "Here's an awsome night! Hae ye brought the lantern and a pock
for the siller?"
"Ay-ay, mine goot friend," said the German, "here it is--my pair of what
you call saddlebag; one side will be for you, one side for me;--I will
put dem on my horse to save you de trouble, as you are old man."
"Have you a horse here, then?" asked Edie Ochiltree.
"O yes, mine friend--tied yonder by de stile," responded the adept.
"Weel, I hae just ae word to the bargain--there sall nane o' my gear gang
on your beast's back."
"What was it as you would be afraid of?" said the foreigner.
"Only of losing sight of horse, man, and money," again replied the
"Does you know dat you make one gentlemans out to be one great rogue?"
"Mony gentlemen," replied Ochiltree, "can make that out for themselves--
But what's the sense of quarrelling?--If ye want to gang on, gang on--if
no--I'll gae back to the gude ait-straw in Ringan Aikwood's barn that I
left wi' right ill-will e'now, and I'll pit back the pick and shule whar
I got them."
Dousterswivel deliberated a moment, whether, by suffering Edie to depart,
he might not secure the whole of the expected wealth for his own
exclusive use. But the want of digging implements, the uncertainty
whether, if he had them, he could clear out the grave to a sufficient
depth without assistance, and, above all, the reluctance which he felt,
owing to the experience of the former night, to venture alone on the
terrors of Misticot's grave, satisfied him the attempt would be
hazardous. Endeavouring, therefore, to assume his usual cajoling tone,
though internally incensed, he begged "his goot friend Maister Edie
Ochiltrees would lead the way, and assured him of his acquiescence in all
such an excellent friend could propose."
"Aweel, aweel, then," said Edie, "tak gude care o' your feet amang the
lang grass and the loose stones. I wish we may get the light keepit in
neist, wi' this fearsome wind--but there's a blink o' moonlight at
Thus saying, old Edie, closely accompanied by the adept, led the way
towards the ruins, but presently made a full halt in front of them.
"Ye're a learned man, Mr. Dousterdeevil, and ken muckle o' the marvellous
works o' nature--Now, will ye tell me ae thing?--D'ye believe in ghaists
and spirits that walk the earth?--d'ye believe in them, ay or no?"
"Now, goot Mr. Edie," whispered Dousterswivel, in an expostulatory tone
of voice, "is this a times or a places for such a questions?"
"Indeed is it, baith the tane and the t'other, Mr. Dustanshovel; for I
maun fairly tell ye, there's reports that auld Misticot walks. Now this
wad be an uncanny night to meet him in, and wha kens if he wad be ower
weel pleased wi' our purpose of visiting his pose?"
"_Alle guten Geister_"--muttered the adept, the rest of the conjuration
being lost in a tremulous warble of his voice,--"I do desires you not to
speak so, Mr. Edie; for, from all I heard dat one other night, I do much
"Now I," said Ochiltree, entering the chancel, and flinging abroad his
arm with an air of defiance, "I wadna gie the crack o' my thumb for him
were he to appear at this moment: he's but a disembodied spirit, as we
are embodied anes."
"For the lofe of heavens," said Dousterswivel, "say nothing at all
neither about somebodies or nobodies!"
"Aweel," said the beggar (expanding the shade of the lantern), "here's
the stane, and, spirit or no spirit, I'se be a wee bit deeper in the
grave;" and he jumped into the place from which the precious chest had
that morning been removed. After striking a few strokes, he tired, or
affected to tire, and said to his companion, "I'm auld and failed now,
and canna keep at it--time about's fair play, neighbour; ye maun get in
and tak the shule a bit, and shule out the loose earth, and then I'll tak
turn about wi' you."
Dousterswivel accordingly took the place which the beggar had evacuated,
and toiled with all the zeal that awakened avarice, mingled with the
anxious wish to finish the undertaking and leave the place as soon as
possible, could inspire in a mind at once greedy, suspicious, and
Edie, standing much at his ease by the side of the hole, contented
himself with exhorting his associate to labour hard. "My certie! few ever
wrought for siccan a day's wage; an it be but--say the tenth part o' the
size o' the kist, No. I., it will double its value, being filled wi' gowd
instead of silver. Od, ye work as if ye had been bred to pick and shule--
ye could win your round half-crown ilka day. Tak care o' your taes wi'
that stane!" giving a kick to a large one which the adept had heaved out
with difficulty, and which Edie pushed back again to the great annoyance
of his associate's shins.
Thus exhorted by the mendicant, Dousterswivel struggled and laboured
among the stones and stiff clay, toiling like a horse, and internally
blaspheming in German. When such an unhallowed syllable escaped his lips,
Edie changed his battery upon him.
"O dinna swear! dinna swear! Wha kens whals listening!--Eh! gude guide
us, what's you!--Hout, it's just a branch of ivy flightering awa frae the
wa'; when the moon was in, it lookit unco like a dead man's arm wi' a
taper in't--I thought it was Misticot himsell. But never mind, work you
away--fling the earth weel up by out o' the gate--Od, if ye're no as
clean a worker at a grave as Win Winnet himsell! What gars ye stop now?--
ye're just at the very bit for a chance."
"Stop!" said the German, in a tone of anger and disappointment, "why, I
am down at de rocks dat de cursed ruins (God forgife me!) is founded
"Weel," said the beggar, "that's the likeliest bit of ony. It will be but
a muckle through-stane laid doun to kiver the gowd--tak the pick till't,
and pit mair strength, man--ae gude down-right devvel will split it, I'se
warrant ye--Ay, that will do Od, he comes on wi' Wallace's straiks!"
In fact, the adept, moved by Edie's exhortations, fetched two or three
desperate blows, and succeeded in breaking, not indeed that against which
he struck, which, as he had already conjectured, was the solid rock, but
the implement which he wielded, jarring at the same time his arms up to
"Hurra, boys!--there goes Ringan's pick-axe!" cried Edie "it's a shame o'
the Fairport folk to sell siccan frail gear. Try the shule--at it again,
The adept, without reply, scrambled out of the pit, which was now about
six feet deep, and addressed his associate in a voice that trembled with
anger. "Does you know, Mr. Edies Ochiltrees, who it is you put off your
gibes and your jests upon?"
"Brawly, Mr. Dusterdeevil--brawly do I ken ye, and has done mony a day;
but there's nae jesting in the case, for I am wearying to see ae our
treasures; we should hae had baith ends o' the pockmanky filled by this
time--I hope it's bowk eneugh to haud a' the gear?"
"Look you, you base old person," said the incensed philosopher, "if you
do put another jest upon me, I will cleave your skull-piece with this
"And whare wad my hands and my pike-staff be a' the time?" replied Edie,
in a tone that indicated no apprehension. "Hout, tout, Maister
Dusterdeevil, I haena lived sae lang in the warld neither, to be shuled
out o't that gate. What ails ye to be cankered, man, wi' your friends?
I'll wager I'll find out the treasure in a minute;" and he jumped into
the pit, and took up the spade.
"I do swear to you," said the adept, whose suspicions were now fully
awake, "that if you have played me one big trick, I will give you one big
beating, Mr. Edies."
"Hear till him now!" said Ochiltree, "he kens how to gar folk find out
the gear--Od, I'm thinking he's been drilled that way himsell some day."
At this insinuation, which alluded obviously to the former scene betwixt
himself and Sir Arthur, the philosopher lost the slender remnant of
patience he had left, and being of violent passions, heaved up the
truncheon of the broken mattock to discharge it upon the old man's head.
The blow would in all probability have been fatal, had not he at whom it
was aimed exclaimed in a stern and firm voice, "Shame to ye, man!--do ye
think Heaven or earth will suffer ye to murder an auld man that might be
your father?--Look behind ye, man!"
Dousterswivel turned instinctively, and beheld, to his utter
astonishment, a tall dark figure standing close behind him. The
apparition gave him no time to proceed by exorcism or otherwise, but
having instantly recourse to the _voie de fait,_ took measure of the
adept's shoulders three or four times with blows so substantial, that he
fell under the weight of them, and remained senseless for some minutes
between fear and stupefaction. When he came to himself, he was alone in
the ruined chancel, lying upon the soft and damp earth which had been
thrown out of Misticot's grave. He raised himself with a confused
sensation of anger, pain, and terror, and it was not until he had sat
upright for some minutes, that he could arrange his ideas sufficiently to
recollect how he came there, or with what purpose. As his recollection
returned, he could have little doubt that the bait held out to him by
Ochiltree, to bring him to that solitary spot, the sarcasms by which he
had provoked him into a quarrel, and the ready assistance which he had at
hand for terminating it in the manner in which it had ended, were all
parts of a concerted plan to bring disgrace and damage on Herman
Dousterswivel. He could hardly suppose that he was indebted for the
fatigue, anxiety, and beating which he had undergone, purely to the
malice of Edie Ochiltree singly, but concluded that the mendicant had
acted a part assigned to him by some person of greater importance. His
suspicions hesitated between Oldbuck and Sir Arthur Wardour. The former
had been at no pains to conceal a marked dislike of him--but the latter
he had deeply injured; and although he judged that Sir Arthur did not
know the extent of his wrongs towards him, yet it was easy to suppose he
had gathered enough of the truth to make him desirous of revenge.
Ochiltree had alluded to at least one circumstance which the adept had
every reason to suppose was private between Sir Arthur and himself, and
therefore must have been learned from the former. The language of Oldbuck
also intimated a conviction of his knavery, which Sir Arthur heard
without making any animated defence. Lastly, the way in which
Dousterswivel supposed the Baronet to have exercised his revenge, was not
inconsistent with the practice of other countries with which the adept
was better acquainted than with those of North Britain. With him, as with
many bad men, to suspect an injury, and to nourish the purpose of
revenge, was one and the same movement. And before Dousterswivel had
fairly recovered his legs, he had mentally sworn the ruin of his
benefactor, which, unfortunately, he possessed too much the power of
But although a purpose of revenge floated through his brain, it was no
time to indulge such speculations. The hour, the place, his own
situation, and perhaps the presence or near neighbourhood of his
assailants, made self-preservation the adept's first object. The lantern
had been thrown down and extinguished in the scuffle. The wind, which
formerly howled so loudly through the aisles of the ruin, had now greatly
fallen, lulled by the rain, which was descending very fast. The moon,
from the same cause, was totally obscured, and though Dousterswivel had
some experience of the ruins, and knew that he must endeavour to regain
the eastern door of the chancel, yet the confusion of his ideas was such,
that he hesitated for some time ere he could ascertain in what direction
he was to seek it. In this perplexity, the suggestions of superstition,
taking the advantage of darkness and his evil conscience, began again to
present themselves to his disturbed imagination. "But bah!" quoth he
valiantly to himself, "it is all nonsense all one part of de damn big
trick and imposture. Devil! that one thick-skulled Scotch Baronet, as I
have led by the nose for five year, should cheat Herman Dousterswivel!"
As he had come to this conclusion, an incident occurred which tended
greatly to shake the grounds on which he had adopted it. Amid the
melancholy _sough_ of the dying wind, and the plash of the rain-drops on
leaves and stones, arose, and apparently at no great distance from the
listener, a strain of vocal music so sad and solemn, as if the departed
spirits of the churchmen who had once inhabited these deserted rains were
mourning the solitude and desolation to which their hallowed precincts
had been abandoned. Dousterswivel, who had now got upon his feet, and was
groping around the wall of the chancel, stood rooted to the ground on the
occurrence of this new phenomenon. Each faculty of his soul seemed for
the moment concentred in the sense of hearing, and all rushed back with
the unanimous information, that the deep, wild, and prolonged chant which
he now heard, was the appropriate music of one of the most solemn dirges
of the Church of Rome. Why performed in such a solitude, and by what
class of choristers, were questions which the terrified imagination of
the adept, stirred with all the German superstitions of nixies,
oak-kings, wer-wolves, hobgoblins, black spirits and white, blue spirits
and grey, durst not even attempt to solve.
Another of his senses was soon engaged in the investigation. At the
extremity of one of the transepts of the church, at the bottom of a few
descending steps, was a small iron-grated door, opening, as far as he
recollected, to a sort of low vault or sacristy. As he cast his eye in
the direction of the sound, he observed a strong reflection of red light
glimmering through these bars, and against the steps which descended to
them. Dousterswivel stood a moment uncertain what to do; then, suddenly
forming a desperate resolution, he moved down the aisle to the place from
which the light proceeded.
Fortified with the sign of the cross, and as many exorcisms as his memory
could recover, he advanced to the grate, from which, unseen, he could see
what passed in the interior of the vault. As he approached with timid and
uncertain steps, the chant, after one or two wild and prolonged cadences,
died away into profound silence. The grate, when he reached it, presented
a singular spectacle in the interior of the sacristy. An open grave, with
four tall flambeaus, each about six feet high, placed at the four
corners--a bier, having a corpse in its shroud, the arms folded upon the
breast, rested upon tressels at one side of the grave, as if ready to be
interred--a priest, dressed in his cope and stole, held open the service
book--another churchman in his vestments bore a holy-water sprinkler, and
two boys in white surplices held censers with incense--a man, of a figure
once tall and commanding, but now bent with age or infirmity, stood alone
and nearest to the coffin, attired in deep mourning--such were the most
prominent figures of the group. At a little distance were two or three
persons of both sexes, attired in long mourning hoods and cloaks; and
five or six others in the same lugubrious dress, still farther removed
from the body, around the walls of the vault, stood ranged in motionless
order, each bearing in his hand a huge torch of black wax. The smoky
light from so many flambeaus, by the red and indistinct atmosphere which
it spread around, gave a hazy, dubious, and as it were phantom-like
appearance to the outlines of this singular apparition, The voice of the
priest--loud, clear, and sonorous--now recited, from the breviary which
he held in his hand, those solemn words which the ritual of the Catholic
church has consecrated to the rendering of dust to dust. Meanwhile,
Dousterswivel, the place, the hour, and the surprise considered, still
remained uncertain whether what he saw was substantial, or an unearthly
representation of the rites to which in former times these walls were
familiar, but which are now rarely practised in Protestant countries, and
almost never in Scotland. He was uncertain whether to abide the
conclusion of the ceremony, or to endeavour to regain the chancel, when a
change in his position made him visible through the grate to one of the
attendant mourners. The person who first espied him indicated his
discovery to the individual who stood apart and nearest the coffin, by a
sign, and upon his making a sign in reply, two of the group detached
themselves, and, gliding along with noiseless steps, as if fearing to
disturb the service, unlocked and opened the grate which separated them
from the adept. Each took him by an arm, and exerting a degree of force,
which he would have been incapable of resisting had his fear permitted
him to attempt opposition, they placed him on the ground in the chancel,
and sat down, one on each side of him, as if to detain him. Satisfied he
was in the power of mortals like himself, the adept would have put some
questions to them; but while one pointed to the vault, from which the
sound of the priest's voice was distinctly heard, the other placed his
finger upon his lips in token of silence, a hint which the German thought
it most prudent to obey. And thus they detained him until a loud
Alleluia, pealing through the deserted arches of St. Ruth, closed the
singular ceremony which it had been his fortune to witness.
When the hymn had died away with all its echoes, the voice of one of the
sable personages under whose guard the adept had remained, said, in a
familiar tone and dialect, "Dear sirs, Mr. Dousterswivel, is this you?
could not ye have let us ken an ye had wussed till hae been present at
the ceremony?--My lord couldna tak it weel your coming blinking and
jinking in, in that fashion."
"In de name of all dat is gootness, tell me what you are?" interrupted
the German in his turn.
"What I am? why, wha should I be but Ringan Aikwood, the Knockwinnock
poinder?--and what are ye doing here at this time o' night, unless ye
were come to attend the leddy's burial?"
"I do declare to you, mine goot Poinder Aikwood," said the German,
raising himself up, "that I have been this vary nights murdered, robbed,
and put in fears of my life."
"Robbed! wha wad do sic a deed here?--Murdered! od ye speak pretty blithe
for a murdered man--Put in fear! what put you in fear, Mr.
"I will tell you, Maister Poinder Aikwood Ringan, just dat old miscreant
dog villain blue-gown, as you call Edie Ochiltrees."
"I'll neer believe that," answered Ringan;--"Edie was ken'd to me, and my
father before me, for a true, loyal, and sooth-fast man; and, mair by
token, he's sleeping up yonder in our barn, and has been since ten at
e'en--Sae touch ye wha liket, Mr. Dousterswivel, and whether onybody
touched ye or no, I'm sure Edie's sackless."
"Maister Ringan Aikwood Poinders, I do not know what you call sackless,--
but let alone all de oils and de soot dat you say he has, and I will tell
you I was dis night robbed of fifty pounds by your oil and sooty friend,
Edies Ochiltree; and he is no more in your barn even now dan I ever shall
be in de kingdom of heafen."
"Weel, sir, if ye will gae up wi' me, as the burial company has
dispersed, we'se mak ye down a bed at the lodge, and we'se see if Edie's
at the barn. There was twa wild-looking chaps left the auld kirk when we
were coming up wi' the corpse, that's certain; and the priest, wha likes
ill that ony heretics should look on at our church ceremonies, sent twa
o' the riding saulies after them; sae we'll hear a' about it frae them."
Thus speaking, the kindly apparition, with the assistance of the mute
personage, who was his son, disencumbered himself of his cloak, and
prepared to escort Dousterswivel to the place of that rest which the
adept so much needed.
"I will apply to the magistrates to-morrow," said the adept; "oder, I
will have de law put in force against all the peoples."
While he thus muttered vengeance against the cause of his injury, he
tottered from among the ruins, supporting himself on Ringan and his son,
whose assistance his state of weakness rendered very necessary.
When they were clear of the priory, and had gained the little meadow in
which it stands, Dousterswivel could perceive the torches which had
caused him so much alarm issuing in irregular procession from the ruins,
and glancing their light, like that of the _ignis fatuus,_ on the banks
of the lake. After moving along the path for some short space with a
fluctuating and irregular motion, the lights were at once extinguished.
"We aye put out the torches at the Halie-cross Well on sic occasions,"
said the forester to his guest. And accordingly no farther visible sign
of the procession offered itself to Dousterswivel, although his ear could
catch the distant and decreasing echo of horses' hoofs in the direction
towards which the mourners had bent their course.
O weel may the boatie row
And better may she speed,
And weel may the boatie row
That earns the bairnies' bread!
The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
The boatie rows fu' weel,
And lightsome be their life that bear
The merlin and the creel!
We must now introduce our reader to the interior of the fisher's cottage
mentioned in chapter eleventh of this edifying history. I wish I could
say that its inside was well arranged, decently furnished, or tolerably
clean. On the contrary, I am compelled to admit, there was confusion,--
there was dilapidation,--there was dirt good store. Yet, with all this,
there was about the inmates, Luckie Mucklebackit and her family, an
appearance of ease, plenty, and comfort, that seemed to warrant their old
sluttish proverb, "The clartier the cosier." A huge fire, though the
season was summer, occupied the hearth, and served at once for affording
light, heat, and the means of preparing food. The fishing had been
successful, and the family, with customary improvidence, had, since
unlading the cargo, continued an unremitting operation of broiling and
frying that part of the produce reserved for home consumption, and the
bones and fragments lay on the wooden trenchers, mingled with morsels of
broken bannocks and shattered mugs of half-drunk beer. The stout and
athletic form of Maggie herself, bustling here and there among a pack of
half-grown girls and younger children, of whom she chucked one now here
and another now there, with an exclamation of "Get out o' the gate, ye
little sorrow!" was strongly contrasted with the passive and
half-stupified look and manner of her husband's mother, a woman advanced
to the last stage of human life, who was seated in her wonted chair close
by the fire, the warmth of which she coveted, yet hardly seemed to be
sensible of--now muttering to herself, now smiling vacantly to the
children as they pulled the strings of her _toy_ or close cap, or
twitched her blue checked apron. With her distaff in her bosom, and her
spindle in her hand, she plied lazily and mechanically the old-fashioned
Scottish thrift, according to the old-fashioned Scottish manner. The
younger children, crawling among the feet of the elder, watched the
progress of grannies spindle as it twisted, and now and then ventured to
interrupt its progress as it danced upon the floor in those vagaries
which the more regulated spinning-wheel has now so universally
superseded, that even the fated Princess in the fairy tale might roam
through all Scotland without the risk of piercing her hand with a
spindle, and dying of the wound. Late as the hour was (and it was long
past midnight), the whole family were still on foot, and far from
proposing to go to bed; the dame was still busy broiling car-cakes on the
girdle, and the elder girl, the half-naked mermaid elsewhere
commemorated, was preparing a pile of Findhorn haddocks (that is,
haddocks smoked with green wood), to be eaten along with these relishing
While they were thus employed, a slight tap at the door, accompanied with
the question, "Are ye up yet, sirs?" announced a visitor. The answer,
"Ay, ay,--come your ways ben, hinny," occasioned the lifting of the
latch, and Jenny Rintherout, the female domestic of our Antiquary, made
"Ay, ay," exclaimed the mistress of the family--"Hegh, sirs! can this be
you, Jenny?--a sight o' you's gude for sair een, lass."
"O woman, we've been sae ta'en up wi' Captain Hector's wound up by, that
I havena had my fit out ower the door this fortnight; but he's better
now, and auld Caxon sleeps in his room in case he wanted onything. Sae,
as soon as our auld folk gaed to bed, I e'en snodded my head up a bit,
and left the house-door on the latch, in case onybody should be wanting
in or out while I was awa, and just cam down the gate to see an there was
ony cracks amang ye."
"Ay, ay," answered Luckie Mucklebackit, "I see you hae gotten a' your
braws on; ye're looking about for Steenie now--but he's no at hame the
night; and ye'll no do for Steenie, lass--a feckless thing like you's no
fit to mainteen a man."
"Steenie will no do for me," retorted Jenny, with a toss of her head that
might have become a higher-born damsel; "I maun hae a man that can
mainteen his wife."
"Ou ay, hinny--thae's your landward and burrows-town notions. My certie!
--fisherwives ken better--they keep the man, and keep the house, and keep
the siller too, lass."
"A wheen poor drudges ye are," answered the nymph of the land to the
nymph of the sea. "As sune as the keel o' the coble touches the sand,
deil a bit mair will the lazy fisher loons work, but the wives maun kilt
their coats, and wade into the surf to tak the fish ashore. And then the
man casts aff the wat and puts on the dry, and sits down wi' his pipe and
his gill-stoup ahint the ingle, like ony auld houdie, and neer a turn
will he do till the coble's afloat again! And the wife she maun get the
scull on her back, and awa wi' the fish to the next burrows-town, and
scauld and ban wi'ilka wife that will scauld and ban wi'her till it's
sauld--and that's the gait fisher-wives live, puir slaving bodies."
"Slaves?--gae wa', lass!--ca' the head o' the house slaves? little ye ken
about it, lass. Show me a word my Saunders daur speak, or a turn he daur
do about the house, without it be just to tak his meat, and his drink,
and his diversion, like ony o' the weans. He has mair sense than to ca'
anything about the bigging his ain, frae the rooftree down to a crackit
trencher on the bink. He kens weel eneugh wha feeds him, and cleeds him,
and keeps a' tight, thack and rape, when his coble is jowing awa in the
Firth, puir fallow. Na, na, lass!--them that sell the goods guide the
purse--them that guide the purse rule the house. Show me ane o' yer bits
o' farmer-bodies that wad let their wife drive the stock to the market,
and ca' in the debts. Na, na."
"Aweel, aweel, Maggie, ilka land has its ain lauch--But where's Steenie
the night, when a's come and gane? And where's the gudeman?"*
* Note G. Gyneocracy.
"I hae putten the gudeman to his bed, for he was e'en sair forfain; and
Steenie's awa out about some barns-breaking wi' the auld gaberlunzie,
Edie Ochiltree: they'll be in sune, and ye can sit doun."
"Troth, gudewife" (taking a seat), "I haena that muckle time to stop--but
I maun tell ye about the news. Yell hae heard o' the muckle kist o' gowd
that Sir Arthur has fund down by at St. Ruth?--He'll be grander than ever
now--he'll no can haud down his head to sneeze, for fear o' seeing his
"Ou ay--a' the country's heard o' that; but auld Edie says that they ca'
it ten times mair than ever was o't, and he saw them howk it up. Od, it
would be lang or a puir body that needed it got sic a windfa'."
"Na, that's sure eneugh.--And yell hae heard o' the Countess o' Glenallan
being dead and lying in state, and how she's to be buried at St. Ruth's
as this night fa's, wi' torch-light; and a' the popist servants, and
Ringan Aikwood, that's a papist too, are to be there, and it will be the
grandest show ever was seen."
"Troth, hinny," answered the Nereid, "if they let naebody but papists
come there, it'll no be muckle o' a show in this country, for the auld
harlot, as honest Mr. Blattergowl ca's her, has few that drink o' her cup
o' enchantments in this corner o' our chosen lands.--But what can ail
them to bury the auld carlin (a rudas wife she was) in the night-time?--I
dare say our gudemither will ken."
Here she exalted her voice, and exclaimed twice or thrice, "Gudemither!
gudemither!" but, lost in the apathy of age and deafness, the aged sibyl
she addressed continued plying her spindle without understanding the
appeal made to her.
"Speak to your grandmither, Jenny--Od, I wad rather hail the coble half a
mile aff, and the nor-wast wind whistling again in my teeth."
"Grannie," said the little mermaid, in a voice to which the old woman was
better accustomed, "minnie wants to ken what for the Glenallan folk aye
bury by candle-light in the ruing of St. Ruth!"
The old woman paused in the act of twirling the spindle, turned round to
the rest of the party, lifted her withered, trembling, and clay-coloured
band, raised up her ashen-hued and wrinkled face, which the quick motion
of two light-blue eyes chiefly distinguished from the visage of a corpse,
and, as if catching at any touch of association with the living world,
answered, "What gars the Glenallan family inter their dead by torchlight,
said the lassie?--Is there a Glenallan dead e'en now?"
"We might be a' dead and buried too," said Maggie, "for onything ye wad
ken about it;"--and then, raising her voice to the stretch of her
mother-in-law's comprehension, she added,
"It's the auld Countess, gudemither."
"And is she ca'd hame then at last?" said the old woman, in a voice that
seemed to be agitated with much more feeling than belonged to her extreme
old age, and the general indifference and apathy of her manner--"is she
then called to her last account after her lang race o' pride and power?--
O God, forgie her!"
"But minnie was asking ye," resumed the lesser querist, "what for the
Glenallan family aye bury their dead by torch-light?"
"They hae aye dune sae," said the grandmother, "since the time the Great
Earl fell in the sair battle o' the Harlaw, when they say the coronach
was cried in ae day from the mouth of the Tay to the Buck of the Cabrach,
that ye wad hae heard nae other sound but that of lamentation for the
great folks that had fa'en fighting against Donald of the Isles. But the
Great Earl's mither was living--they were a doughty and a dour race, the
women o' the house o' Glenallan--and she wad hae nae coronach cried for
her son, but had him laid in the silence o' midnight in his place o'
rest, without either drinking the dirge, or crying the lament. She said
he had killed enow that day he died, for the widows and daughters o' the
Highlanders he had slain to cry the coronach for them they had lost, and
for her son too; and sae she laid him in his gave wi' dry eyes, and
without a groan or a wail. And it was thought a proud word o' the family,
and they aye stickit by it--and the mair in the latter times, because in
the night-time they had mair freedom to perform their popish ceremonies
by darkness and in secrecy than in the daylight--at least that was the
case in my time; they wad hae been disturbed in the day-time baith by the
law and the commons of Fairport--they may be owerlooked now, as I have
heard: the warlds changed--I whiles hardly ken whether I am standing or
sitting, or dead or living."
And looking round the fire, as if in a state of unconscious uncertainty
of which she complained, old Elspeth relapsed into her habitual and
mechanical occupation of twirling the spindle.
"Eh, sirs!" said Jenny Rintherout, under her breath to her gossip, "it's
awsome to hear your gudemither break out in that gait--it's like the dead
speaking to the living."
"Ye're no that far wrang, lass; she minds naething o' what passes the
day--but set her on auld tales, and she can speak like a prent buke. She
kens mair about the Glenallan family than maist folk--the gudeman's
father was their fisher mony a day. Ye maun ken the papists make a great
point o' eating fish--it's nae bad part o' their religion that, whatever
the rest is--I could aye sell the best o' fish at the best o' prices for
the Countess's ain table, grace be wi' her! especially on a Friday--But
see as our gudemither's hands and lips are ganging--now it's working in
her head like barm--she'll speak eneugh the night. Whiles she'll no speak
a word in a week, unless it be to the bits o' bairns."
"Hegh, Mrs. Mucklebackit, she's an awsome wife!" said Jenny in reply.
"D'ye think she's a'thegither right? Folk say she downa gang to the kirk,
or speak to the minister, and that she was ance a papist but since her
gudeman's been dead, naebody kens what she is. D'ye think yoursell that
she's no uncanny?"
"Canny, ye silly tawpie! think ye ae auld wife's less canny than anither?
unless it be Alison Breck--I really couldna in conscience swear for her;
I have kent the boxes she set fill'd wi' partans, when"--
"Whisht, whisht, Maggie," whispered Jenny--"your gudemither's gaun to
"Wasna there some ane o' ye said," asked the old sibyl, "or did I dream,
or was it revealed to me, that Joscelind, Lady Glenallan, is dead, an'
buried this night?"
"Yes, gudemither," screamed the daughter-in-law, "it's e'en sae."
"And e'en sae let it be," said old Elspeth; "she's made mony a sair heart
in her day--ay, e'en her ain son's--is he living yet?"
"Ay, he's living yet; but how lang he'll live--however, dinna ye mind his
coming and asking after you in the spring, and leaving siller?"
"It may be sae, Magge--I dinna mind it--but a handsome gentleman he was,
and his father before him. Eh! if his father had lived, they might hae
been happy folk! But he was gane, and the lady carried it in--ower and
out-ower wi' her son, and garr'd him trow the thing he never suld hae
trowed, and do the thing he has repented a' his life, and will repent
still, were his life as lang as this lang and wearisome ane o' mine."
"O what was it, grannie?"--and "What was it, gudemither?"--and "What was
it, Luckie Elspeth?" asked the children, the mother, and the visitor, in
"Never ask what it was," answered the old sibyl, "but pray to God that ye
arena left to the pride and wilfu'ness o' your ain hearts: they may be as
powerful in a cabin as in a castle--I can bear a sad witness to that. O
that weary and fearfu' night! will it never gang out o' my auld head!--
Eh! to see her lying on the floor wi' her lang hair dreeping wi' the salt
water!--Heaven will avenge on a' that had to do wi't. Sirs! is my son out
wi' the coble this windy e'en?"
"Na, na, mither--nae coble can keep the sea this wind; he's sleeping in
his bed out-ower yonder ahint the hallan."
"Is Steenie out at sea then?"
"Na, grannie--Steenie's awa out wi' auld Edie Ochiltree, the gaberlunzie;
maybe they'll be gaun to see the burial."
"That canna be," said the mother of the family; "we kent naething o't
till Jock Rand cam in, and tauld us the Aikwoods had warning to attend--
they keep thae things unco private--and they were to bring the corpse a'
the way frae the Castle, ten miles off, under cloud o' night. She has
lain in state this ten days at Glenallan House, in a grand chamber a'
hung wi' black, and lighted wi' wax cannle."
"God assoilzie her!" ejaculated old Elspeth, her head apparently still
occupied by the event of the Countess's death; "she was a hard-hearted
woman, but she's gaen to account for it a', and His mercy is infinite--
God grant she may find it sae!" And she relapsed into silence, which she
did not break again during the rest of the evening.
"I wonder what that auld daft beggar carle and our son Steenie can be
doing out in sic a nicht as this," said Maggie Mucklebackit; and her
expression of surprise was echoed by her visitor. "Gang awa, ane o' ye,
hinnies, up to the heugh head, and gie them a cry in case they're within
hearing; the car-cakes will be burnt to a cinder."
The little emissary departed, but in a few minutes came running back with
the loud exclamation, "Eh, Minnie! eh, grannie! there's a white bogle
chasing twa black anes down the heugh."
A noise of footsteps followed this singular annunciation, and young
Steenie Mucklebackit, closely followed by Edie Ochiltree, bounced into
the hut. They were panting and out of breath. The first thing Steenie did
was to look for the bar of the door, which his mother reminded him had
been broken up for fire-wood in the hard winter three years ago; "for
what use," she said, "had the like o' them for bars?"
"There's naebody chasing us," said the beggar, after he had taken his
breath: "we're e'en like the wicked, that flee when no one pursueth."
"Troth, but we were chased," said Steenie, "by a spirit or something
"It was a man in white on horseback," said Edie, "for the soft grund that
wadna bear the beast, flung him about, I wot that weel; but I didna think
my auld legs could have brought me aff as fast; I ran amaist as fast as
if I had been at Prestonpans."*
* [This refers to the flight of the government forces at the battle of
"Hout, ye daft gowks!" said Luckie Mucklebackit, "it will hae been some
o' the riders at the Countess's burial."
"What!" said Edie, "is the auld Countess buried the night at St. Ruth's?
Ou, that wad be the lights and the noise that scarr'd us awa; I wish I
had ken'd--I wad hae stude them, and no left the man yonder--but they'll
take care o' him. Ye strike ower hard, Steenie I doubt ye foundered the
"Neer a bit," said Steenie, laughing; "he has braw broad shouthers, and I
just took measure o' them wi' the stang. Od, if I hadna been something
short wi' him, he wad hae knockit your auld hams out, lad."
"Weel, an I win clear o' this scrape," said Edie, "I'se tempt Providence
nae mair. But I canna think it an unlawfu' thing to pit a bit trick on
sic a landlouping scoundrel, that just lives by tricking honester folk."
"But what are we to do with this?" said Steenie, producing a pocket-book.
"Od guide us, man," said Edie in great alarm, "what garr'd ye touch the
gear? a very leaf o' that pocket-book wad be eneugh to hang us baith."
"I dinna ken," said Steenie; "the book had fa'en out o' his pocket, I
fancy, for I fand it amang my feet when I was graping about to set him on
his logs again, and I just pat it in my pouch to keep it safe; and then
came the tramp of horse, and you cried, Rin, rin,' and I had nae mair
thought o' the book."
"We maun get it back to the loon some gait or other; ye had better take
it yoursell, I think, wi' peep o' light, up to Ringan Aikwood's. I wadna