Part 4 out of 5
"You knew, however, of the box of treasure being there?" continued
"Dear sir," answered Edie, assuming a countenance of great simplicity,
"what likelihood is there o'that? d'ye think sae puir an auld creature as
me wad hae kend o' sic a like thing without getting some gude out o't?--
and ye wot weel I sought nane and gat nane, like Michael Scott's man.
What concern could I hae wi't?"
"That's just what I want you to explain to me," said Oldbuck; "for I am
positive you knew it was there."
"Your honour's a positive man, Monkbarns--and, for a positive man, I must
needs allow ye're often in the right."
"You allow, then, Edie, that my belief is well founded?"
Edie nodded acquiescence.
"Then please to explain to me the whole affair from beginning to end,"
said the Antiquary.
"If it were a secret o' mine, Monkbarns," replied the beggar, "ye suldna
ask twice; for I hae aye said ahint your back, that for a' the nonsense
maggots that ye whiles take into your head, ye are the maist wise and
discreet o' a' our country gentles. But I'se een be open-hearted wi' you,
and tell you that this is a friend's secret, and that they suld draw me
wi' wild horses, or saw me asunder, as they did the children of Ammon,
sooner than I would speak a word mair about the matter, excepting this,
that there was nae ill intended, but muckle gude, and that the purpose
was to serve them that are worth twenty hundred o' me. But there's nae
law, I trow, that makes it a sin to ken where ither folles siller is, if
we didna pit hand til't oursell?"
Oldbuck walked once or twice up and down the room in profound thought,
endeavouring to find some plausible reason for transactions of a nature
so mysterious--but his ingenuity was totally at fault. He then placed
himself before the prisoner.
"This story of yours, friend Edie, is an absolute enigma, and would
require a second OEdipus to solve it--who OEdipus was, I will tell you
some other time if you remind me--However, whether it be owing to the
wisdom or to the maggots with which you compliment me, I am strongly
disposed to believe that you have spoken the truth, the rather that you
have not made any of those obtestations of the superior powers, which I
observe you and your comrades always make use of when you mean to deceive
folks. "(Here Edie could not suppress a smile.) "If, therefore, you will
answer me one question, I will endeavour to procure your liberation."
"If yell let me hear the question," said Edie, with the caution of a
canny Scotchman, "I'll tell you whether I'll answer it or no."
"It is simply," said the Antiquary, "Did Dousterswivel know anything
about the concealment of the chest of bullion?"
"He, the ill-fa'ard loon!" answered Edie, with much frankness of manner--
"there wad hae been little speerings o't had Dustansnivel ken'd it was
there--it wad hae been butter in the black dog's hause."
"I thought as much," said Oldbuck. "Well, Edie, if I procure your
freedom, you must keep your day, and appear to clear me of the bail-bond,
for these are not times for prudent men to incur forfeitures, unless you
can point out another _Aulam auri plenam quadrilibrem_--another _Search,
"Ah!" said the beggar, shaking his head, "I doubt the bird's flown that
laid thae golden eggs--for I winna ca' her goose, though that's the gait
it stands in the story-buick--But I'll keep my day, Monkbarns; ye'se no
loss a penny by me--And troth I wad fain be out again, now the weather's
fine--and then I hae the best chance o' hearing the first news o' my
"Well, Edie, as the bouncing and thumping beneath has somewhat ceased, I
presume Bailie Littlejohn has dismissed his military preceptor, and has
retired from the labours of Mars to those of Themis--I will have some
conversation with him--But I cannot and will not believe any of those
wretched news you were telling me."
"God send your honour may be right!" said the mendicant, as Oldbuck left
The Antiquary found the magistrate, exhausted with the fatigues of the
drill, reposing in his gouty chair, humming the air, "How merrily we live
that soldiers be!" and between each bar comforting himself with a
spoonful of mock-turtle soup. He ordered a similar refreshment for
Oldbuck, who declined it, observing, that, not being a military man, he
did not feel inclined to break his habit of keeping regular hours for
meals--"Soldiers like you, Bailie, must snatch their food as they find
means and time. But I am sorry to hear ill news of young Taffril's brig."
"Ah, poor fellow!" said the bailie, "he was a credit to the town--much
distinguished on the first of June."
"But," said Oldbuck, "I am shocked to hear you talk of him in the
"Troth, I fear there may be too much reason for it, Monkbarns;--and yet
let us hope the best. The accident is said to have happened in the
Rattray reef of rocks, about twenty miles to the northward, near
Dirtenalan Bay--I have sent to inquire about it--and your nephew run out
himself as if he had been flying to get the Gazette of a victory."
Here Hector entered, exclaiming as he came in, "I believe it's all a
damned lie--I can't find the least authority for it, but general rumour."
"And pray, Mr. Hector," said his uncle, "if it had been true, whose fault
would it have been that Lovel was on board?"
"Not mine, I am sure," answered Hector; "it would have been only my
"Indeed!" said his uncle, "I should not have thought of that."
"Why, sir, with all your inclination to find me in the wrong," replied
the young soldier, "I suppose you will own my intention was not to blame
in this case. I did my best to hit Lovel, and if I had been successful,
'tis clear my scrape would have been his, and his scrape would have been
"And whom or what do you intend to hit now, that you are lugging with you
that leathern magazine there, marked Gunpowder?"
"I must be prepared for Lord Glenallan's moors on the twelfth, sir," said
"Ah, Hector! thy great _chasse,_ as the French call it, would take place
Omne cum Proteus pecus egit altos
Could you meet but with a martial _phoca,_ instead of an unwarlike
"The devil take the seal, sir, or _phoca,_ if you choose to call it so!
It's rather hard one can never hear the end of a little piece of folly
"Well, well," said Oldbuck, "I am glad you have the grace to be ashamed
of it--as I detest the whole race of Nimrods, I wish them all as well
matched. Nay, never start off at a jest, man--I have done with the
_phoca_--though, I dare say, the Bailie could tell us the value of
seal-skins just now."
"They are up," said the magistrate, "they are well up--the fishing has
been unsuccessful lately."
"We can bear witness to that," said the tormenting Antiquary, who was
delighted with the hank this incident had given him over the young
sportsman: One word more, Hector, and
We'll hang a seal-skin on thy recreant limbs.
Aha, my boy! Come, never mind it; I must go to business.--Bailie, a word
with you: you must take bail--moderate bail, you understand--for old
"You don't consider what you ask," said the Bailie; "the offence is
assault and robbery."
"Hush! not a word about it," said the Antiquary. "I gave you a hint
before--I will possess you more fully hereafter--I promise you, there is
"But, Mr. Oldbuck, if the state is concerned, I, who do the whole
drudgery business here, really have a title to be consulted, and until I
"Hush! hush!" said the Antiquary, winking and putting his finger to his
nose,--"you shall have the full credit, the entire management, whenever
matters are ripe. But this is an obstinate old fellow, who will not hear
of two people being as yet let into his mystery, and he has not fully
acquainted me with the clew to Dousterswivel's devices."
"Aha! so we must tip that fellow the alien act, I suppose?"
"To say truth, I wish you would."
"Say no more," said the magistrate; "it shall forthwith be done--he shall
be removed _tanquam suspect_--I think that's one of your own phrases,
"It is classical, Bailie--you improve."
"Why, public business has of late pressed upon me so much, that I have
been obliged to take my foreman into partnership. I have had two several
correspondences with the Under Secretary of State--one on the proposed
tax on Riga hemp-seed, and the other on putting down political societies.
So you might as well communicate to me as much as you know of this old
fellow's discovery of a plot against the state."
"I will, instantly, when I am master of it," replied Oldbuck---"I hate
the trouble of managing such matters myself. Remember, however, I did not
say decidedly a plot against the state I only say I hope to discover, by
this man's means, a foul plot."
"If it be a plot at all, there must be treason in it, or sedition at
least," said the Bailie--"Will you bail him for four hundred merks?"
"Four hundred merks for an old Blue-Gown! Think on the act 1701
regulating bail-bonds!--Strike off a cipher from the sum--I am content to
bail him for forty merks."
"Well, Mr. Oldbuck, everybody in Fairport is always willing to oblige
you--and besides, I know that you are a prudent man, and one that would
be as unwilling to lose forty, as four hundred merks. So I will accept
your bail, _meo periculo_--what say you to that law phrase again? I had
it from a learned counsel. I will vouch it, my lord, he said, _meo
"And I will vouch for Edie Ochiltree, _meo periculo,_ in like manner,"
said Oldbuck. "So let your clerk draw out the bail-bond, and I will sign
When this ceremony had been performed, the Antiquary communicated to Edie
the joyful tidings that he was once more at liberty, and directed him to
make the best of his way to Monkbarns House, to which he himself returned
with his nephew, after having perfected their good work.
Full of wise saws and modern instances.
As You Like It.
"I wish to Heaven, Hector," said the Antiquary, next morning after
breakfast, "you would spare our nerves, and not be keeping snapping that
arquebuss of yours."
"Well, sir, I'm sure I'm sorry to disturb you," said his nephew, still
handling his fowling-piece;--"but it's a capital gun--it's a Joe Manton,
that cost forty guineas."
"A fool and his money are soon parted, nephew--there is a Joe Miller for
your Joe Manton," answered the Antiquary; "I am glad you have so many
guineas to throw away."
"Every one has their fancy, uncle,--you are fond of books."
"Ay, Hector," said the uncle, "and if my collection were yours, you would
make it fly to the gunsmith, the horse-market, the dog-breaker,--
_Coemptos undique nobiles libros--mutare loricis Iberis._"
"I could not use your books, my dear uncle," said the young soldier,
"that's true; and you will do well to provide for their being in better
hands. But don't let the faults of my head fall on my heart--I would not
part with a Cordery that belonged to an old friend, to get a set of
horses like Lord Glenallan's."
"I don't think you would, lad--I don't think you would," said his
softening relative. "I love to tease you a little sometimes; it keeps up
the spirit of discipline and habit of subordination--You will pass your
time happily here having me to command you, instead of Captain, or
Colonel, or Knight in Arms,' as Milton has it; and instead of the
French," he continued, relapsing into his ironical humour, "you have the
_Gens humida ponti_--for, as Virgil says,
Sternunt se somno diversae in littore phocae;
which might be rendered,
Here phocae slumber on the beach,
Within our Highland Hector's reach.
Nay, if you grow angry, I have done. Besides, I see old Edie in the
court-yard, with whom I have business. Good-bye, Hector--Do you remember
how she splashed into the sea like her master Proteus, _et se jactu dedit
aequor in altum_?"
M'Intyre,--waiting, however, till the door was shut,--then gave way to
the natural impatience of his temper.
"My uncle is the best man in the world, and in his way the kindest; but
rather than hear any more about that cursed _phoca,_ as he is pleased to
call it, I would exchange for the West Indies, and never see his face
Miss M'Intyre, gratefully attached to her uncle, and passionately fond of
her brother, was, on such occasions, the usual envoy of reconciliation.
She hastened to meet her uncle on his return, before he entered the
"Well, now, Miss Womankind, what is the meaning of that imploring
countenance?--has Juno done any more mischief?"
"No, uncle; but Juno's master is in such fear of your joking him about
the seal--I assure you, he feels it much more than you would wish;--it's
very silly of him, to be sure; but then you can turn everybody so sharply
"Well, my dear," answered Oldbuck, propitiated by the compliment, "I will
rein in my satire, and, if possible, speak no more of the _phoca_--I will
not even speak of sealing a letter, but say _umph,_ and give a nod to you
when I want the wax-light--I am not _monitoribus asper,_ but, Heaven
knows, the most mild, quiet, and easy of human beings, whom sister,
niece, and nephew, guide just as best pleases them."
With this little panegyric on his own docility, Mr. Oldbuck entered the
parlour, and proposed to his nephew a walk to the Mussel-crag. "I have
some questions to ask of a woman at Mucklebackit's cottage," he observed,
"and I would willingly have a sensible witness with me--so, for fault of
a better, Hector, I must be contented with you."
"There is old Edie, sir, or Caxon--could not they do better than me?"
answered M'Intyre, feeling somewhat alarmed at the prospect of a long
_tete-a-tete_ with his uncle.
"Upon my word, young man, you turn me over to pretty companions, and I am
quite sensible of your politeness," replied Mr. Oldbuck. "No, sir, I
intend the old Blue-Gown shall go with me--not as a competent witness,
for he is, at present, as our friend Bailie Littlejohn says (blessings on
his learning!) _tanquam suspectus,_ and you are _suspicione major,_ as
our law has it."
"I wish I were a major, sir," said Hector, catching only the last, and,
to a soldier's ear, the most impressive word in the sentence,--"but,
without money or interest, there is little chance of getting the step."
"Well, well, most doughty son of Priam," said the Antiquary, "be ruled by
your friends, and there's no saying what may happen--Come away with me,
and you shall see what may be useful to you should you ever sit upon a
"I have been on many a regimental court-martial, sir," answered Captain
M'Intyre. "But here's a new cane for you."
"Much obliged, much obliged."
"I bought it from our drum-major," added M'Intyre, "who came into our
regiment from the Bengal army when it came down the Red Sea. It was cut
on the banks of the Indus, I assure you."
"Upon my word, 'tis a fine ratan, and well replaces that which the _ph_--
Bah! what was I going to say?"
The party, consisting of the Antiquary, his nephew, and the old beggar,
now took the sands towards Mussel-crag--the former in the very highest
mood of communicating information, and the others, under a sense of
former obligation, and some hope for future favours, decently attentive
to receive it. The uncle and nephew walked together, the mendicant about
a step and a half behind, just near enough for his patron to speak to him
by a slight inclination of his neck, and without the trouble of turning
round. (Petrie, in his Essay on Good-breeding, dedicated to the
magistrates of Edinburgh, recommends, upon his own experience, as tutor
in a family of distinction, this attitude to all led captains, tutors,
dependants, and bottle-holders of every description. ) Thus escorted, the
Antiquary moved along full of his learning, like a lordly man of war, and
every now and then yawing to starboard and larboard to discharge a
broadside upon his followers.
"And so it is your opinion," said he to the mendicant, "that this
windfall--this _arca auri,_ as Plautus has it, will not greatly avail Sir
Arthur in his necessities?"
Unless he could find ten times as much," said the beggar, "and that I am
sair doubtful of;--I heard Puggie Orrock, and the tother thief of a
sheriff-officer, or messenger, speaking about it--and things are ill aff
when the like o' them can speak crousely about ony gentleman's affairs. I
doubt Sir Arthur will be in stane wa's for debt, unless there's swift
help and certain."
"You speak like a fool," said the Antiquary.--"Nephew, it is a remarkable
thing, that in this happy country no man can be legally imprisoned for
"Indeed, sir?" said M'Intyre; "I never knew that before--that part of our
law would suit some of our mess well."
"And if they arena confined for debt," said Ochiltree, "what is't that
tempts sae mony puir creatures to bide in the tolbooth o' Fairport
yonder?--they a' say they were put there by their creditors--Od! they
maun like it better than I do, if they're there o' free will."
"A very natural observation, Edie, and many of your betters would make
the same; but it is founded entirely upon ignorance of the feudal system.
Hector, be so good as to attend, unless you are looking out for another--
Ahem!" (Hector compelled himself to give attention at this hint. ) "And
you, Edie, it may be useful to you _reram cognoscere causas._ The nature
and origin of warrant for caption is a thing _haud alienum a Scaevolae
studiis._--You must know then, once more, that nobody can be arrested in
Scotland for debt."
"I haena muckle concern wi' that, Monkbarns," said the old man, "for
naebody wad trust a bodle to a gaberlunzie."
"I pr'ythee, peace, man--As a compulsitor, therefore, of payment, that
being a thing to which no debtor is naturally inclined, as I have too
much reason to warrant from the experience I have had with my own,--we
had first the letters of four forms, a sort of gentle invitation, by
which our sovereign lord the king, interesting himself, as a monarch
should, in the regulation of his subjects' private affairs, at first by
mild exhortation, and afterwards by letters of more strict enjoinment and
more hard compulsion--What do you see extraordinary about that bird,
Hector?--it's but a seamaw."
"It's a pictarnie, sir," said Edie.
"Well, what an if it were--what does that signify at present?--But I see
you're impatient; so I will waive the letters of four forms, and come to
the modern process of diligence.--You suppose, now, a man's committed to
prison because he cannot pay his debt? Quite otherwise: the truth is, the
king is so good as to interfere at the request of the creditor, and to
send the debtor his royal command to do him justice within a certain
time--fifteen days, or six, as the case may be. Well, the man resists and
disobeys: what follows? Why, that he be lawfully and rightfully declared
a rebel to our gracious sovereign, whose command he has disobeyed, and
that by three blasts of a horn at the market-place of Edinburgh, the
metropolis of Scotland. And he is then legally imprisoned, not on account
of any civil debt, but because of his ungrateful contempt of the royal
mandate. What say you to that, Hector?--there's something you never knew
* The doctrine of Monkbarns on the origin of imprisonment for civil debt
in Scotland, may appear somewhat whimsical, but was referred to, and
admitted to be correct, by the Bench of the Supreme Scottish Court, on
5th December 1828, in the case of Thom _v._ Black. In fact, the Scottish
law is in this particular more jealous of the personal liberty of the
subject than any other code in Europe.
"No, uncle; but, I own, if I wanted money to pay my debts, I would rather
thank the king to send me some, than to declare me a rebel for not doing
what I could not do."
"Your education has not led you to consider these things," replied his
uncle; "you are incapable of estimating the elegance of the legal
fiction, and the manner in which it reconciles that duress, which, for
the protection of commerce, it has been found necessary to extend towards
refractory debtors, with the most scrupulous attention to the liberty of
"I don't know, sir," answered the unenlightened Hector; "but if a man
must pay his debt or go to jail, it signifies but little whether he goes
as a debtor or a rebel, I should think. But you say this command of the
king's gives a license of so many days--Now, egad, were I in the scrape,
I would beat a march and leave the king and the creditor to settle it
among themselves before they came to extremities."
"So wad I," said Edie; "I wad gie them leg-bail to a certainty."
"True," replied Monkbarns; "but those whom the law suspects of being
unwilling to abide her formal visit, she proceeds with by means of a
shorter and more unceremonious call, as dealing with persons on whom
patience and favour would be utterly thrown away."
"Ay," said Ochiltree, "that will be what they ca' the fugie-warrants--I
hae some skeel in them. There's Border-warrants too in the south country,
unco rash uncanny things;--I was taen up on ane at Saint James's Fair,
and keepit in the auld kirk at Kelso the haill day and night; and a cauld
goustie place it was, I'se assure ye.--But whatna wife's this, wi' her
creel on her back? It's puir Maggie hersell, I'm thinking."
It was so. The poor woman's sense of her loss, if not diminished, was
become at least mitigated by the inevitable necessity of attending to the
means of supporting her family; and her salutation to Oldbuck was made in
an odd mixture between the usual language of solicitation with which she
plied her customers, and the tone of lamentation for her recent calamity.
"How's a' wi' ye the day, Monkbarns? I havena had the grace yet to come
down to thank your honour for the credit ye did puir Steenie, wi' laying
his head in a rath grave, puir fallow. "--Here she whimpered and wiped
her eyes with the corner of her blue apron--"But the fishing comes on no
that ill, though the gudeman hasna had the heart to gang to sea himsell--
Atweel I would fain tell him it wad do him gude to put hand to wark--but
I'm maist fear'd to speak to him--and it's an unco thing to hear ane o'
us speak that gate o' a man--However, I hae some dainty caller haddies,
and they sall be but three shillings the dozen, for I hae nae pith to
drive a bargain ennow, and maun just tak what ony Christian body will
gie, wi' few words and nae flyting."
"What shall we do, Hector?" said Oldbuck, pausing: "I got into disgrace
with my womankind for making a bad bargain with her before. These
maritime animals, Hector, are unlucky to our family."
"Pooh, sir, what would you do?--give poor Maggie what she asks, or allow
me to send a dish of fish up to Monkbarns."
And he held out the money to her; but Maggie drew back her hand. "Na, na,
Captain; ye're ower young and ower free o' your siller--ye should never
tak a fish-wife's first bode; and troth I think maybe a flyte wi' the
auld housekeeper at Monkbarns, or Miss Grizel, would do me some gude--And
I want to see what that hellicate quean Jenny Ritherout's doing--folk
said she wasna weel--She'll be vexing hersell about Steenie, the silly
tawpie, as if he wad ever hae lookit ower his shouther at the like
o'her!--Weel, Monkbarns, they're braw caller haddies, and they'll bid me
unco little indeed at the house if ye want crappit-heads the day."
And so on she paced with her burden,--grief, gratitude for the sympathy
of her betters, and the habitual love of traffic and of gain, chasing
each other through her thoughts.
"And now that we are before the door of their hut," said Ochiltree, "I
wad fain ken, Monkbarns, what has gar'd ye plague yoursell wi' me a' this
length? I tell ye sincerely I hae nae pleasure in ganging in there. I
downa bide to think how the young hae fa'en on a' sides o' me, and left
me an useless auld stump wi' hardly a green leaf on't."
"This old woman," said Oldbuck, "sent you on a message to the Earl of
Glenallan, did she not?"
"Ay!" said the surprised mendicant; "how ken ye that sae weel?"
"Lord Glenallan told me himself," answered the Antiquary; "so there is no
delation--no breach of trust on your part; and as he wishes me to take
her evidence down on some important family matters, I chose to bring you
with me, because in her situation, hovering between dotage and
consciousness, it is possible that your voice and appearance may awaken
trains of recollection which I should otherwise have no means of
exciting. The human mind--what are you about, Hector?"
"I was only whistling for the dog, sir," replied the Captain "she always
roves too wide--I knew I should be troublesome to you."
"Not at all, not at all," said Oldbuck, resuming the subject of his
disquisition--"the human mind is to be treated like a skein of ravelled
silk, where you must cautiously secure one free end before you can make
any progress in disentangling it."
"I ken naething about that," said the gaberlunzie; "but an my auld
acquaintance be hersell, or anything like hersell, she may come to wind
us a pirn. It's fearsome baith to see and hear her when she wampishes
about her arms, and gets to her English, and speaks as if she were a
prent book, let a-be an auld fisher's wife. But, indeed, she had a grand
education, and was muckle taen out afore she married an unco bit beneath
hersell. She's aulder than me by half a score years--but I mind weel
eneugh they made as muckle wark about her making a half-merk marriage wi'
Simon Mucklebackit, this Saunders's father, as if she had been ane o' the
gentry. But she got into favour again, and then she lost it again, as I
hae heard her son say, when he was a muckle chield; and then they got
muckle siller, and left the Countess's land, and settled here. But things
never throve wi' them. Howsomever, she's a weel-educate woman, and an she
win to her English, as I hae heard her do at an orra time, she may come
to fickle us a'."
Life ebbs from such old age, unmarked and silent,
As the slow neap-tide leaves yon stranded galley.--
Late she rocked merrily at the least impulse
That wind or wave could give; but now her keel
Is settling on the sand, her mast has ta'en
An angle with the sky, from which it shifts not.
Each wave receding shakes her less and less,
Till, bedded on the strand, she shall remain
Useless as motionless.
As the Antiquary lifted the latch of the hut, he was surprised to hear
the shrill tremulous voice of Elspeth chanting forth an old ballad in a
wild and doleful recitative.
"The herring loves the merry moonlight,
The mackerel loves the wind,
But the oyster loves the dredging sang,
For they come of a gentle kind."
A diligent collector of these legendary scraps of ancient poetry, his
foot refused to cross the threshold when his ear was thus arrested, and
his hand instinctively took pencil and memorandum-book. From time to time
the old woman spoke as if to the children--"Oh ay, hinnies, whisht!
whisht! and I'll begin a bonnier ane than that--
"Now haud your tongue, baith wife and carle,
And listen, great and sma',
And I will sing of Glenallan's Earl
That fought on the red Harlaw.
"The cronach's cried on Bennachie,
And doun the Don and a',
And hieland and lawland may mournfu' be
For the sair field of Harlaw.--
I dinna mind the neist verse weel--my memory's failed, and theres unco
thoughts come ower me--God keep us frae temptation!"
Here her voice sunk in indistinct muttering.
"It's a historical ballad," said Oldbuck, eagerly, "a genuine and
undoubted fragment of minstrelsy! Percy would admire its simplicity--
Ritson could not impugn its authenticity."
"Ay, but it's a sad thing," said Ochiltree, "to see human nature sae far
owertaen as to be skirling at auld sangs on the back of a loss like
"Hush! hush!" said the Antiquary--"she has gotten the thread of the story
again. "--And as he spoke, she sung--
"They saddled a hundred milk-white steeds,
They hae bridled a hundred black,
With a chafron of steel on each horse's head,
And a good knight upon his back. "--
"Chafron!" exclaimed the Antiquary,--"equivalent, perhaps, to
_cheveron;_--the word's worth a dollar,"--and down it went in his red
"They hadna ridden a mile, a mile,
A mile, but barely ten,
When Donald came branking down the brae
Wi' twenty thousand men.
"Their tartans they were waving wide,
Their glaives were glancing clear,
Their pibrochs rung frae side to side,
Would deafen ye to hear.
"The great Earl in his stirrups stood
That Highland host to see:
Now here a knight that's stout and good
May prove a jeopardie:
"What wouldst thou do, my squire so gay,
That rides beside my reyne,
Were ye Glenallan's Earl the day,
And I were Roland Cheyne?
"To turn the rein were sin and shame,
To fight were wondrous peril,
What would ye do now, Roland Cheyne,
Were ye Glenallan's Earl?'
Ye maun ken, hinnies, that this Roland Cheyne, for as poor and auld as I
sit in the chimney-neuk, was my forbear, and an awfu' man he was that
dayin the fight, but specially after the Earl had fa'en, for he blamed
himsell for the counsel he gave, to fight before Mar came up wi' Mearns,
and Aberdeen, and Angus."
Her voice rose and became more animated as she recited the warlike
counsel of her ancestor--
"Were I Glenallan's Earl this tide,
And ye were Roland Cheyne,
The spur should be in my horse's side,
And the bridle upon his mane.
"If they hae twenty thousand blades,
And we twice ten times ten,
Yet they hae but their tartan plaids,
And we are mail-clad men.
"My horse shall ride through ranks sae rude,
As through the moorland fern,
Then neer let the gentle Norman blude
Grow cauld for Highland kerne.'"
"Do you hear that, nephew?" said Oldbuck;--"you observe your Gaelic
ancestors were not held in high repute formerly by the Lowland warriors."
"I hear," said Hector, "a silly old woman sing a silly old song. I am
surprised, sir, that you, who will not listen to Ossian's songs of Selma,
can be pleased with such trash. I vow, I have not seen or heard a worse
halfpenny ballad; I don't believe you could match it in any pedlar's pack
in the country. I should be ashamed to think that the honour of the
Highlands could be affected by such doggrel. "--And, tossing up his head,
he snuffed the air indignantly.
Apparently the old woman heard the sound of their voices; for, ceasing
her song, she called out, "Come in, sirs, come in--good-will never halted
at the door-stane."
They entered, and found to their surprise Elspeth alone, sitting "ghastly
on the hearth," like the personification of Old Age in the Hunter's song
of the Owl,* "wrinkled, tattered, vile, dim-eyed, discoloured, torpid."
* See Mrs. Grant on the Highland Superstitions, vol. ii. p. 260, for this
fine translation from the Gaelic.
"They're a' out," she said, as they entered; "but an ye will sit a blink,
somebody will be in. If ye hae business wi' my gude-daughter, or my son,
they'll be in belyve,--I never speak on business mysell. Bairns, gie them
seats--the bairns are a' gane out, I trow,"--looking around her;--"I was
crooning to keep them quiet a wee while since; but they hae cruppen out
some gate. Sit down, sirs, they'll be in belyve;" and she dismissed her
spindle from her hand to twirl upon the floor, and soon seemed
exclusively occupied in regulating its motion, as unconscious of the
presence of the strangers as she appeared indifferent to their rank or
"I wish," said Oldbuck, "she would resume that canticle, or legendary
fragment. I always suspected there was a skirmish of cavalry before the
main battle of the Harlaw. "*
* Note H. Battle of Harlaw.
"If your honour pleases," said Edie, "had ye not better proceed to the
business that brought us a' here? I'se engage to get ye the sang ony
"I believe you are right, Edie--_Do manus_--I submit. But how shall we
manage? She sits there the very image of dotage. Speak to her, Edie--try
if you can make her recollect having sent you to Glenallan House."
Edie rose accordingly, and, crossing the floor, placed himself in the
same position which he had occupied during his former conversation with
her. "I'm fain to see ye looking sae weel, cummer; the mair, that the
black ox has tramped on ye since I was aneath your roof-tree."
"Ay," said Elspeth; but rather from a general idea of misfortune, than
any exact recollection of what had happened,--"there has been distress
amang us of late--I wonder how younger folk bide it--I bide it ill. I
canna hear the wind whistle, and the sea roar, but I think I see the
coble whombled keel up, and some o' them struggling in the waves!--Eh,
sirs; sic weary dreams as folk hae between sleeping and waking, before
they win to the lang sleep and the sound! I could amaist think whiles my
son, or else Steenie, my oe, was dead, and that I had seen the burial.
Isna that a queer dream for a daft auld carline? What for should ony o'
them dee before me?--it's out o' the course o' nature, ye ken."
"I think you'll make very little of this stupid old woman," said Hector,
--who still nourished, perhaps, some feelings of the dislike excited by
the disparaging mention of his countrymen in her lay--"I think you'll
make but little of her, sir; and it's wasting our time to sit here and
listen to her dotage."
"Hector," said the Antiquary, indignantly, "if you do not respect her
misfortunes, respect at least her old age and grey hairs: this is the
last stage of existence, so finely treated by the Latin poet--
Membrorum damno major dementia, quae neo
Nomina, servorum, nec vultus agnoscit amici,
Cum queis preterita coenavit nocte, nec illos
Quos genuit, quos ecluxit."
"That's Latin!" said Elspeth, rousing herself as if she attended to the
lines, which the Antiquary recited with great pomp of diction--"that's
Latin!" and she cast a wild glance around her--"Has there a priest fund
me out at last?"
"You see, nephew, her comprehension is almost equal to your own of that
"I hope you think, sir, that I knew it to be Latin as well as she did?"
"Why, as to that--But stay, she is about to speak."
"I will have no priest--none," said the beldam, with impotent vehemence;
"as I have lived I will die--none shall say that I betrayed my mistress,
though it were to save my soul!"
"That bespoke a foul conscience," said the mendicant;--"I wuss she wad
mak a clean breast, an it were but for her sake;" and he again assailed
"Weel, gudewife, I did your errand to the Yerl."
"To what Earl? I ken nae Earl;--I ken'd a Countess ance--I wish to Heaven
I had never ken'd her! for by that acquaintance, neighbour, their cam,"--
and she counted her withered fingers as she spoke "first Pride, then
Malice, then Revenge, then False Witness; and Murder tirl'd at the
door-pin, if he camna ben. And werena thae pleasant guests, think ye, to
take up their quarters in ae woman's heart? I trow there was routh o'
"But, cummer," continued the beggar, "it wasna the Countess of Glenallan
I meant, but her son, him that was Lord Geraldin."
"I mind it now," she said; "I saw him no that langsyne, and we had a
heavy speech thegither. Eh, sirs! the comely young lord is turned as auld
and frail as I am: it's muckle that sorrow and heartbreak, and crossing
of true love, will do wi' young blood. But suldna his mither hae lookit
to that hersell?--we were but to do her bidding, ye ken. I am sure
there's naebody can blame me--he wasna my son, and she was my mistress.
Ye ken how the rhyme says--I hae maist forgotten how to sing, or else the
tune's left my auld head--
"He turn'd him right and round again,
Said, Scorn na at my mither;
Light loves I may get mony a ane,
But minnie neer anither.
Then he was but of the half blude, ye ken, and her's was the right
Glenallan after a'. Na, na, I maun never maen doing and suffering for the
Countess Joscelin--never will I maen for that."
Then drawing her flax from the distaff, with the dogged air of one who is
resolved to confess nothing, she resumed her interrupted occupation.
"I hae heard," said the mendicant, taking his cue from what Oldbuck had
told him of the family history--"I hae heard, cummer, that some ill
tongue suld hae come between the Earl, that's Lord Geraldin, and his
"Ill tongue?" she said in hasty alarm; "and what had she to fear frae an
ill tongue?--she was gude and fair eneugh--at least a' body said sae. But
had she keepit her ain tongue aff ither folk, she might hae been living
like a leddy for a' that's come and gane yet."
"But I hae heard say, gudewife," continued Ochiltree, "there was a
clatter in the country, that her husband and her were ower sibb when they
"Wha durst speak o' that?" said the old woman hastily; "wha durst say
they were married?--wha ken'd o' that?--Not the Countess--not I. If they
wedded in secret, they were severed in secret--They drank of the
fountains of their ain deceit."
"No, wretched beldam!" exclaimed Oldbuck, who could keep silence no
longer, "they drank the poison that you and your wicked mistress prepared
"Ha, ha!" she replied, "I aye thought it would come to this. It's but
sitting silent when they examine me--there's nae torture in our days; and
if there is, let them rend me!--It's ill o' the vassal's mouth that
betrays the bread it eats."
"Speak to her, Edie," said the Antiquary; "she knows your voice, and
answers to it most readily."
"We shall mak naething mair out o' her," said Ochiltree. "When she has
clinkit hersell down that way, and faulded her arms, she winna speak a
word, they say, for weeks thegither. And besides, to my thinking, her
face is sair changed since we cam in. However, I'se try her ance mair to
satisfy your honour.--So ye canna keep in mind, cummer, that your auld
mistress, the Countess Joscelin, has been removed?"
"Removed!" she exclaimed; for that name never failed to produce its usual
effect upon her; "then we maun a' follow--a' maun ride when she is in the
saddle. Tell them to let Lord Geraldin ken we're on before them. Bring my
hood and scarf--ye wadna hae me gang in the carriage wi' my leddy, and my
hair in this fashion?"
She raised her shrivelled arms, and seemed busied like a woman who puts
on her cloak to go abroad, then dropped them slowly and stiffly; and the
same idea of a journey still floating apparently through her head, she
proceeded, in a hurried and interrupted manner,--"Call Miss Neville--What
do you mean by Lady Geraldin? I said Eveline Neville, not Lady Geraldin--
there's no Lady Geraldin; tell her that, and bid her change her wet gown,
and no' look sae pale. Bairn! what should she do wi' a bairn?--maidens
hae nane, I trow.--Teresa--Teresa--my lady calls us!--Bring a candle;--
the grand staircase is as mirk as a Yule midnight--We are coming, my
lady!"--With these words she sunk back on the settle, and from thence
sidelong to the floor. *
* Note I. Elspeth's death.
Edie ran to support her, but hardly got her in his arms, before he said,
"It's a' ower--she has passed away even with that last word."
"Impossible," said Oldbuck, hastily advancing, as did his nephew. But
nothing was more certain. She had expired with the last hurried word that
left her lips; and all that remained before them were the mortal relics
of the creature who had so long struggled with an internal sense of
concealed guilt, joined to all the distresses of age and poverty.
"God grant that she be gane to a better place!" said Edie, as he looked
on the lifeless body; "but oh! there was something lying hard and heavy
at her heart. I have seen mony a ane dee, baith in the field o' battle,
and a fair-strae death at hame; but I wad rather see them a' ower again,
as sic a fearfu' flitting as hers!"
"We must call in the neighbours," said Oldbuck, when he had somewhat
recovered his horror and astonishment, "and give warning of this
additional calamity. I wish she could have been brought to a confession.
And, though of far less consequence, I could have wished to transcribe
that metrical fragment. But Heaven's will must be done!"
They left the hut accordingly, and gave the alarm in the hamlet, whose
matrons instantly assembled to compose the limbs and arrange the body of
her who might be considered as the mother of their settlement. Oldbuck
promised his assistance for the funeral.
"Your honour," said Alison Breck, who was next in age to the deceased,
"suld send doun something to us for keeping up our hearts at the
lykewake, for a' Saunders's gin, puir man, was drucken out at the burial
o' Steenie, and we'll no get mony to sit dry-lipped aside the corpse.
Elspeth was unco clever in her young days, as I can mind right weel, but
there was aye a word o' her no being that chancy. Ane suldna speak ill o'
the dead--mair by token, o' ane's cummer and neighbour--but there was
queer things said about a leddy and a bairn or she left the
Craigburnfoot. And sae, in gude troth, it will be a puir lykewake, unless
your honour sends us something to keep us cracking."
"You shall have some whisky," answered Oldbuck, "the rather that you have
preserved the proper word for that ancient custom of watching the dead.--
You observe, Hector, this is genuine Teutonic, from the Gothic
_Leichnam,_ a corpse. It is quite erroneously called _Late-wake,_ though
Brand favours that modern corruption and derivation."
"I believe," said Hector to himself, "my uncle would give away Monkbarns
to any one who would come to ask it in genuine Teutonic! Not a drop of
whisky would the old creatures have got, had their president asked it for
the use of the _Late-wake._"
While Oldbuck was giving some farther directions, and promising
assistance, a servant of Sir Arthur's came riding very hard along the
sands, and stopped his horse when he saw the Antiquary. "There had
something," he said, "very particular happened at the Castle"--(he could
not, or would not, explain what)--"and Miss Wardour had sent him off
express to Monkbarns, to beg that Mr. Oldbuck would come to them without
a moment's delay."
"I am afraid," said the Antiquary, "his course also is drawing to a
close. What can I do?"
"Do, sir?" exclaimed Hector, with his characteristic impatience,--"get on
the horse, and turn his head homeward--you will be at Knockwinnock Castle
in ten minutes."
"He is quite a free goer," said the servant, dismounting to adjust the
girths and stirrups,--"he only pulls a little if he feels a dead weight
"I should soon be a dead weight _off_ him, my friend," said the
Antiquary.--"What the devil, nephew, are you weary of me? or do you
suppose me weary of my life, that I should get on the back of such a
Bucephalus as that? No, no, my friend, if I am to be at Knockwinnock
to-day, it must be by walking quietly forward on my own feet, which I
will do with as little delay as possible. Captain M'Intyre may ride that
animal himself, if he pleases."
"I have little hope I could be of any use, uncle, but I cannot think of
their distress without wishing to show sympathy at least--so I will ride
on before, and announce to them that you are coming.--I'll trouble you
for your spurs, my friend."
"You will scarce need them, sir," said the man, taking them off at the
same time, and buckling them upon Captain Mlntyre's heels, "he's very
frank to the road."
Oldbuck stood astonished at this last act of temerity, "are you mad,
Hector?" he cried, "or have you forgotten what is said by Quintus
Curtius, with whom, as a soldier, you must needs be familiar,--_Nobilis
equus umbra quidem virgae regitur; ignavus ne calcari quidem excitari
potest;_ which plainly shows that spurs are useless in every case, and, I
may add, dangerous in most."
But Hector, who cared little for the opinion of either Quintus Curtius or
of the Antiquary, upon such a topic, only answered with a heedless "Never
fear--never fear, sir."
With that he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, struck his armed heels
Against the panting sides of his poor jade,
Up to the rowel-head; and starting so,
He seemed in running to devour the way,
Staying no longer question.
"There they go, well matched," said Oldbuck, looking after them as they
started--"a mad horse and a wild boy, the two most unruly creatures in
Christendom! and all to get half an hour sooner to a place where nobody
wants him; for I doubt Sir Arthur's griefs are beyond the cure of our
light horseman. It must be the villany of Dousterswivel, for whom Sir
Arthur has done so much; for I cannot help observing, that, with some
natures, Tacitus's maxim holdeth good: _Beneficia eo usque laeta sunt dum
videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antevenere, pro gratia odium
redditur,_--from which a wise man might take a caution, not to oblige any
man beyond the degree in which he may expect to be requited, lest he
should make his debtor a bankrupt in gratitude."
Murmuring to himself such scraps of cynical philosophy, our Antiquary
paced the sands towards Knockwinnock; but it is necessary we should
outstrip him, for the purpose of explaining the reasons of his being so
anxiously summoned thither.
So, while the Goose, of whom the fable told,
Incumbent, brooded o'er her eggs of gold,
With hand outstretched, impatient to destroy,
Stole on her secret nest the cruel Boy,
Whose gripe rapacious changed her splendid dream,
--For wings vain fluttering, and for dying scream.
The Loves of the Sea-weeds.
From the time that Sir Arthur Wardour had become possessor of the
treasure found in Misticot's grave, he had been in a state of mind more
resembling ecstasy than sober sense. Indeed, at one time his daughter had
become seriously apprehensive for his intellect; for, as he had no doubt
that he had the secret of possessing himself of wealth to an unbounded
extent, his language and carriage were those of a man who had acquired
the philosopher's stone. He talked of buying contiguous estates, that
would have led him from one side of the island to the other, as if he
were determined to brook no neighbour save the sea. He corresponded with
an architect of eminence, upon a plan of renovating the castle of his
forefathers on a style of extended magnificence that might have rivalled
that of Windsor, and laying out the grounds on a suitable scale. Troops
of liveried menials were already, in fancy, marshalled in his halls, and
--for what may not unbounded wealth authorize its possessor to aspire
to?--the coronet of a marquis, perhaps of a duke, was glittering before
his imagination. His daughter--to what matches might she not look
forward? Even an alliance with the blood-royal was not beyond the sphere
of his hopes. His son was already a general--and he himself whatever
ambition could dream of in its wildest visions.
In this mood, if any one endeavoured to bring Sir Arthur down to the
regions of common life, his replies were in the vein of Ancient Pistol--
A fico for the world, and worldlings base
I speak of Africa and golden joys!
The reader may conceive the amazement of Miss Wardour, when, instead of
undergoing an investigation concerning the addresses of Lovel, as she had
expected from the long conference of her father with Mr. Oldbuck, upon
the morning of the fated day when the treasure was discovered, the
conversation of Sir Arthur announced an imagination heated with the hopes
of possessing the most unbounded wealth. But she was seriously alarmed
when Dousterswivel was sent for to the Castle, and was closeted with her
father--his mishap condoled with--his part taken, and his loss
compensated. All the suspicions which she had long entertained respecting
this man became strengthened, by observing his pains to keep up the
golden dreams of her father, and to secure for himself, under various
pretexts, as much as possible out of the windfall which had so strangely
fallen to Sir Arthur's share.
Other evil symptoms began to appear, following close on each other.
Letters arrived every post, which Sir Arthur, as soon as he had looked at
the directions, flung into the fire without taking the trouble to open
them. Miss Wardour could not help suspecting that these epistles, the
contents of which seemed to be known to her father by a sort of
intuition, came from pressing creditors. In the meanwhile, the temporary
aid which he had received from the treasure dwindled fast away. By far
the greater part had been swallowed up by the necessity of paying the
bill of six hundred pounds, which had threatened Sir Arthur with instant
distress. Of the rest, some part was given to the adept, some wasted upon
extravagances which seemed to the poor knight fully authorized by his
full-blown hopes,--and some went to stop for a time the mouths of such
claimants as, being weary of fair promises, had become of opinion with
Harpagon, that it was necessary to touch something substantial. At length
circumstances announced but too plainly, that it was all expended within
two or three days after its discovery; and there appeared no prospect of
a supply. Sir Arthur, naturally impatient, now taxed Dousterswivel anew
with breach of those promises through which he had hoped to convert all
his lead into gold. But that worthy gentleman's turn was now served; and
as he had grace enough to wish to avoid witnessing the fall of the house
which he had undermined, he was at the trouble of bestowing a few learned
terms of art upon Sir Arthur, that at least he might not be tormented
before his time. He took leave of him, with assurances that he would
return to Knockwinnock the next morning, with such information as would
not fail to relieve Sir Arthur from all his distresses.
"For, since I have consulted in such matters, I ave never," said Mr.
Herman Dousterswivel, "approached so near de _arcanum,_ what you call de
great mystery,--de Panchresta--de Polychresta--I do know as much of it as
Pelaso de Taranta, or Basilius--and either I will bring you in two and
tree days de No. III. of Mr. Mishdigoat, or you shall call me one knave
myself, and never look me in de face again no more at all."
The adept departed with this assurance, in the firm resolution of making
good the latter part of the proposition, and never again appearing before
his injured patron. Sir Arthur remained in a doubtful and anxious state
of mind. The positive assurances of the philosopher, with the hard words
Panchresta, Basilius, and so forth, produced some effect on his mind. But
he had been too often deluded by such jargon, to be absolutely relieved
of his doubt, and he retired for the evening into his library, in the
fearful state of one who, hanging over a precipice, and without the means
of retreat, perceives the stone on which he rests gradually parting from
the rest of the crag, and about to give way with him.
The visions of hope decayed, and there increased in proportion that
feverish agony of anticipation with which a man, educated in a sense of
consequence, and possessed of opulence,--the supporter of an ancient
name, and the father of two promising children,--foresaw the hour
approaching which should deprive him of all the splendour which time had
made familiarly necessary to him, and send him forth into the world to
struggle with poverty, with rapacity, and with scorn. Under these dire
forebodings, his temper, exhausted by the sickness of delayed hope,
became peevish and fretful, and his words and actions sometimes expressed
a reckless desperation, which alarmed Miss Wardour extremely. We have
seen, on a former occasion, that Sir Arthur was a man of passions lively
and quick, in proportion to the weakness of his character in other
respects; he was unused to contradiction, and if he had been hitherto, in
general, good-humoured and cheerful, it was probably because the course
of his life had afforded no such frequent provocation as to render his
On the third morning after Dousterswivel's departure, the servant, as
usual, laid on the breakfast table the newspaper and letters of the day.
Miss Wardour took up the former to avoid the continued ill-humour of her
father, who had wrought himself into a violent passion, because the toast
"I perceive how it is," was his concluding speech on this interesting
subject,--"my servants, who have had their share of my fortune, begin to
think there is little to be made of me in future. But while I _am_ the
scoundrel's master I will be so, and permit no neglect--no, nor endure a
hair's-breadth diminution of the respect I am entitled to exact from
"I am ready to leave your honour's service this instant," said the
domestic upon whom the fault had been charged, "as soon as you order
payment of my wages."
Sir Arthur, as if stung by a serpent, thrust his hand into his pocket,
and instantly drew out the money which it contained, but which was short
of the man's claim. "What money have you got, Miss Wardour?" he said, in
a tone of affected calmness, but which concealed violent agitation.
Miss Wardour gave him her purse; he attempted to count the bank notes
which it contained, but could not reckon them. After twice miscounting
the sum, he threw the whole to his daughter, and saying, in a stern
voice, "Pay the rascal, and let him leave the house instantly!" he strode
out of the room.
The mistress and servant stood alike astonished at the agitation and
vehemence of his manner.
"I am sure, ma'am, if I had thought I was particularly wrang, I wadna hae
made ony answer when Sir Arthur challenged me. I hae been lang in his
service, and he has been a kind master, and you a kind mistress, and I
wad like ill ye should think I wad start for a hasty word. I am sure it
was very wrang o' me to speak about wages to his honour, when maybe he
has something to vex him. I had nae thoughts o' leaving the family in
"Go down stair, Robert," said his mistress--"something has happened to
fret my father--go down stairs, and let Alick answer the bell."
When the man left the room, Sir Arthur re-entered, as if he had been
watching his departure. "What's the meaning of this?" he said hastily, as
he observed the notes lying still on the table--"Is he not gone? Am I
neither to be obeyed as a master or a father?"
"He is gone to give up his charge to the housekeeper, sir,--I thought
there was not such instant haste."
"There _is_ haste, Miss Wardour," answered her father, interrupting her;
--"What I do henceforth in the house of my forefathers, must be done
speedily, or never."
He then sate down, and took up with a trembling hand the basin of tea
prepared for him, protracting the swallowing of it, as if to delay the
necessity of opening the post-letters which lay on the table, and which
he eyed from time to time, as if they had been a nest of adders ready to
start into life and spring upon him.
"You will be happy to hear," said Miss Wardour, willing to withdraw her
father's mind from the gloomy reflections in which he appeared to be
plunged, "you will be happy to hear, sir, that Lieutenant Taffril's
gun-brig has got safe into Leith Roads--I observe there had been
apprehensions for his safety--I am glad we did not hear them till they
"And what is Taffril and his gun-brig to me?"
"Sir!" said Miss Wardour in astonishment; for Sir Arthur, in his ordinary
state of mind, took a fidgety sort of interest in all the gossip of the
day and country.
"I say," he repeated in a higher and still more impatient key, "what do I
care who is saved or lost? It's nothing to me, I suppose?"
"I did not know you were busy, Sir Arthur; and thought, as Mr. Taffril is
a brave man, and from our own country, you would be happy to hear"--
"Oh, I am happy--as happy as possible--and, to make you happy too, you
shall have some of my good news in return." And he caught up a letter.
"It does not signify which I open first--they are all to the same tune."
He broke the seal hastily, ran the letter over, and then threw it to his
daughter. "Ay--I could not have lighted more happily!--this places the
Miss Wardour, in silent terror, took up the letter. "Read it--read it
aloud!" said her father; "it cannot be read too often; it will serve to
break you in for other good news of the same kind."
She began to read with a faltering voice, "Dear Sir."
"He _dears_ me too, you see, this impudent drudge of a writer's office,
who, a twelvemonth since, was not fit company for my second table--I
suppose I shall be dear Knight' with him by and by."
"Dear Sir," resumed Miss Wardour; but, interrupting herself, "I see the
contents are unpleasant, sir--it will only vex you my reading them
"If you will allow me to know my own pleasure, Miss Wardour, I entreat
you to go on--I presume, if it were unnecessary, I should not ask you to
take the trouble."
"Having been of late taken into copartnery," continued Miss Wardour,
reading the letter, "by Mr. Gilbert Greenhorn, son of your late
correspondent and man of business, Girnigo Greenhorn, Esq., writer to the
signet, whose business I conducted as parliament-house clerk for many
years, which business will in future be carried on under the firm of
Greenhorn and Grinderson (which I memorandum for the sake of accuracy in
addressing your future letters), and having had of late favours of yours,
directed to my aforesaid partner, Gilbert Greenhorn, in consequence of
his absence at the Lamberton races, have the honour to reply to your said
"You see my friend is methodical, and commences by explaining the causes
which have procured me so modest and elegant a correspondent. Go on--I
can bear it."
And he laughed that bitter laugh which is perhaps the most fearful
expression of mental misery. Trembling to proceed, and yet afraid to
disobey, Miss Wardour continued to read--"I am for myself and partner,
sorry we cannot oblige you by looking out for the sums you mention, or
applying for a suspension in the case of Goldiebirds' bond, which would
be more inconsistent, as we have been employed to act as the said
Goldiebirds' procurators and attorneys, in which capacity we have taken
out a charge of horning against you, as you must be aware by the schedule
left by the messenger, for the sum of four thousand seven hundred and
fifty-six pounds five shillings and sixpence one-fourth of a penny
sterling, which, with annual-rent and expenses effeiring, we presume will
be settled during the currency of the charge, to prevent further trouble.
Same time, I am under the necessity to observe our own account, amounting
to seven hundred and sixty-nine pounds ten shillings and sixpence, is
also due, and settlement would be agreeable; but as we hold your rights,
title-deeds, and documents in hypothec, shall have no objection to give
reasonable time--say till the next money term. I am, for myself and
partner, concerned to add, that Messrs. Goldiebirds' instructions to us
are to proceed _peremptorie_ and _sine mora,_ of which I have the
pleasure to advise you, to prevent future mistakes, reserving to
ourselves otherwise to age' as accords. I am, for self and partner, dear
sir, your obliged humble servant, Gabriel Grinderson, for Greenhorn and
"Ungrateful villain!" said Miss Wardour.
"Why, no--it's in the usual rule, I suppose; the blow could not have been
perfect if dealt by another hand--it's all just as it should be,"
answered the poor Baronet, his affected composure sorely belied by his
quivering lip and rolling eye--"But here's a postscript I did not notice
--come, finish the epistle."
"I have to add (not for self but partner) that Mr. Greenhorn will
accommodate you by taking your service of plate, or the bay horses, if
sound in wind and limb, at a fair appreciation, in part payment of your
"G--d confound him!" said Sir Arthur, losing all command of himself at
this condescending proposal: "his grandfather shod my father's horses,
and this descendant of a scoundrelly blacksmith proposes to swindle me
out of mine! But I will write him a proper answer."
And he sate down and began to write with great vehemence, then stopped
and read aloud:--"Mr. Gilbert Greenhorn,--in answer to two letters of a
late date, I received a letter from a person calling himself Grinderson,
and designing himself as your partner. When I address any one, I do not
usually expect to be answered by deputy--I think I have been useful to
your father, and friendly and civil to yourself, and therefore am now
surprised--And yet," said he, stopping short, "why should I be surprised
at that or anything else? or why should I take up my time in writing to
such a scoundrel?--I shan't be always kept in prison, I suppose; and to
break that puppy's bones when I get out, shall be my first employment."
"In prison, sir?" said Miss Wardour, faintly.
"Ay, in prison to be sure. Do you make any question about that? Why, Mr.
what's his name's fine letter for self and partner seems to be thrown
away on you, or else you have got four thousand so many hundred pounds,
with the due proportion of shillings, pence, and half-pence, to pay that
aforesaid demand, as he calls it."
"I, sir? O if I had the means!--But where's my brother?--why does he not
come, and so long in Scotland? He might do something to assist us."
"Who, Reginald?--I suppose he's gone with Mr. Gilbert Greenhorn, or some
such respectable person, to the Lamberton races--I have expected him this
week past; but I cannot wonder that my children should neglect me as well
as every other person. But I should beg your pardon, my love, who never
either neglected or offended me in your life."
And kissing her cheek as she threw her arms round his neck, he
experienced that consolation which a parent feels, even in the most
distressed state, in the assurance that he possesses the affection of a
Miss Wardour took the advantage of this revulsion of feeling, to
endeavour to soothe her father's mind to composure. She reminded him that
he had many friends.
"I had many once," said Sir Arthur; "but of some I have exhausted their
kindness with my frantic projects; others are unable to assist me--others
are unwilling. It is all over with me. I only hope Reginald will take
example by my folly."
"Should I not send to Monkbarns, sir?" said his daughter.
"To what purpose? He cannot lend me such a sum, and would not if he
could, for he knows I am otherwise drowned in debt; and he would only
give me scraps of misanthropy and quaint ends of Latin."
"But he is shrewd and sensible, and was bred to business, and, I am sure,
always loved this family."
"Yes, I believe he did. It is a fine pass we are come to, when the
affection of an Oldbuck is of consequence to a Wardour! But when matters
come to extremity, as I suppose they presently will--it may be as well to
send for him. And now go take your walk, my dear--my mind is more
composed than when I had this cursed disclosure to make. You know the
worst, and may daily or hourly expect it. Go take your walk--I would
willingly be alone for a little while."
When Miss Wardour left the apartment, her first occupation was to avail
herself of the half permission granted by her father, by despatching to
Monkbarns the messenger, who, as we have already seen, met the Antiquary
and his nephew on the sea-beach.
Little recking, and indeed scarce knowing, where she was wandering,
chance directed her into the walk beneath the Briery Bank, as it was
called. A brook, which in former days had supplied the castle-moat with
water, here descended through a narrow dell, up which Miss Wardour's
taste had directed a natural path, which was rendered neat and easy of
ascent, without the air of being formally made and preserved. It suited
well the character of the little glen, which was overhung with thickets
and underwood, chiefly of larch and hazel, intermixed with the usual
varieties of the thorn and brier. In this walk had passed that scene of
explanation between Miss Wardour and Lovel which was overheard by old
Edie Ochiltree. With a heart softened by the distress which approached
her family, Miss Wardour now recalled every word and argument which Lovel
had urged in support of his suit, and could not help confessing to
herself, it was no small subject of pride to have inspired a young man of
his talents with a passion so strong and disinterested. That he should
have left the pursuit of a profession in which he was said to be rapidly
rising, to bury himself in a disagreeable place like Fairport, and brood
over an unrequited passion, might be ridiculed by others as romantic, but
was naturally forgiven as an excess of affection by the person who was
the object of his attachment. Had he possessed an independence, however
moderate, or ascertained a clear and undisputed claim to the rank in
society he was well qualified to adorn, she might now have had it in her
power to offer her father, during his misfortunes, an asylum in an
establishment of her own. These thoughts, so favourable to the absent
lover, crowded in, one after the other, with such a minute recapitulation
of his words, looks, and actions, as plainly intimated that his former
repulse had been dictated rather by duty than inclination. Isabella was
musing alternately upon this subject, and upon that of her father's
misfortunes, when, as the path winded round a little hillock covered with
brushwood, the old Blue-Gown suddenly met her.
With an air as if he had something important and mysterious to
communicate, he doffed his bonnet, and assumed the cautious step and
voice of one who would not willingly be overheard. "I hae been wishing
muckle to meet wi' your leddyship--for ye ken I darena come to the house
"I heard indeed," said Miss Wardour, dropping an alms into the bonnet--"I
heard that you had done a very foolish, if not a very bad thing, Edie--
and I was sorry to hear it."
"Hout, my bonny leddy--fulish? A' the world's fules--and how should auld
Edie Ochiltree be aye wise?--And for the evil--let them wha deal wi'
Dousterswivel tell whether he gat a grain mair than his deserts."
"That may be true, Edie, and yet," said Miss Wardour, "you may have been
"Weel, weel, we'se no dispute that e'ennow--it's about yoursell I'm gaun
to speak. Div ye ken what's hanging ower the house of Knockwinnock?"
"Great distress, I fear, Edie," answered Miss Wardour; "but I am
surprised it is already so public."
"Public!--Sweepclean, the messenger, will be there the day wi' a' his
tackle. I ken it frae ane o' his concurrents, as they ca' them, that's
warned to meet him; and they'll be about their wark belyve; whare they
clip, there needs nae kame--they shear close eneugh."
"Are you sure this bad hour, Edie, is so very near?--come, I know, it
"It's e'en as I tell you, leddy. But dinna be cast down--there's a heaven
ower your head here, as weel as in that fearful night atween the
Ballyburghness and the Halket-head. D'ye think He, wha rebuked the
waters, canna protect you against the wrath of men, though they be armed
with human authority?"
"It is indeed all we have to trust to."
"Ye dinna ken--ye dinna ken: when the night's darkest, the dawn's
nearest. If I had a gude horse, or could ride him when I had him, I
reckon there wad be help yet. I trusted to hae gotten a cast wi' the
Royal Charlotte, but she's coupit yonder, it's like, at Kittlebrig. There
was a young gentleman on the box, and he behuved to drive; and Tam Sang,
that suld hae mair sense, he behuved to let him, and the daft callant
couldna tak the turn at the corner o' the brig; and od! he took the
curbstane, and he's whomled her as I wad whomle a toom bicker--it was a
luck I hadna gotten on the tap o' her. Sae I came down atween hope and
despair, to see if ye wad send me on."
"And, Edie--where would ye go?" said the young lady.
"To Tannonburgh, my leddy" (which was the first stage from Fairport, but
a good deal nearer to Knockwinnock), "and that without delay--it's a' on
your ain business."
"Our business, Edie? Alas! I give you all credit for your good meaning;
"There's nae _buts_ about it, my leddy, for gang I maun," said the
"But what is it that you would do at Tannonburgh?--or how can your going
there benefit my father's affairs?"
"Indeed, my sweet leddy," said the gaberlunzie, "ye maun just trust that
bit secret to auld Edie's grey pow, and ask nae questions about it.
Certainly if I wad hae wared my life for you yon night, I can hae nae
reason to play an ill pliskie t'ye in the day o' your distress."
"Well, Edie, follow me then," said Miss Wardour, "and I will try to get
you sent to Tannonburgh."
"Mak haste then, my bonny leddy--mak haste, for the love o' goodness!"--
and he continued to exhort her to expedition until they reached the
Let those go see who will--I like it not--
For, say he was a slave to rank and pomp,
And all the nothings he is now divorced from
By the hard doom of stern necessity:
Yet it is sad to mark his altered brow,
Where Vanity adjusts her flimsy veil
O'er the deep wrinkles of repentant anguish.
When Miss Wardour arrived in the court of the Castle, she was apprized by
the first glance that the visit of the officers of the law had already
taken place. There was confusion, and gloom and sorrow, and curiosity
among the domestics, while the retainers of the law went from place to
place, making an inventory of the goods and chattels falling under their
warrant of distress, or poinding, as it is called in the law of Scotland.
Captain M'Intyre flew to her, as, struck dumb with the melancholy
conviction of her father's ruin, she paused upon the threshold of the
"Dear Miss Wardour," he said, "do not make yourself uneasy; my uncle is
coming immediately, and I am sure he will find some way to clear the
house of these rascals."
"Alas! Captain M'Intyre, I fear it will be too late."
"No," answered Edie, impatiently--"could I but get to Tannonburgh. In the
name of Heaven, Captain, contrive some way to get me on, and ye'll do
this poor ruined family the best day's doing that has been done them
since Redhand's days--for as sure as e'er an auld saw came true,
Knockwinnock house and land will be lost and won this day."
"Why, what good can you do, old man?" said Hector.
But Robert, the domestic with whom Sir Arthur had been so much displeased
in the morning, as if he had been watching for an opportunity to display
his zeal, stepped hastily forward and said to his mistress, "If you
please, ma'am, this auld man, Ochiltree, is very skeely and auld-farrant
about mony things, as the diseases of cows and horse, and sic like, and I
am sure be disna want to be at Tannonburgh the day for naething, since he
insists on't this gate; and, if your leddyship pleases, I'll drive him
there in the taxed-cart in an hour's time. I wad fain be of some use--I
could bite my very tongue out when I think on this morning."
"I am obliged to you, Robert," said Miss Wardour; "and if you really
think it has the least chance of being useful"---
"In the name of God," said the old man, "yoke the cart, Robie, and if I
am no o' some use, less or mair, I'll gie ye leave to fling me ower
Kittlebrig as ye come back again. But, O man, haste ye, for time's
precious this day."
Robert looked at his mistress as she retired into the house, and seeing
he was not prohibited, flew to the stable-yard, which was adjacent to the
court, in order to yoke the, carriage; for, though an old beggar was the
personage least likely to render effectual assistance in a case of
pecuniary distress, yet there was among the common people of Edie's
circle, a general idea of his prudence and sagacity, which authorized
Robert's conclusion that he would not so earnestly have urged the
necessity of this expedition had he not been convinced of its utility.
But so soon as the servant took hold of a horse to harness him for the
taxed-cart, an officer touched him on the shoulder--"My friend, you must
let that beast alone--he's down in the schedule."
"What!" said Robert, "am I not to take my master's horse to go my young
"You must remove nothing here," said the man of office, "or you will be
liable for all consequences."
"What the devil, sir," said Hector, who having followed to examine
Ochiltree more closely on the nature of his hopes and expectations,
already began to bristle like one of the terriers of his own native
mountains, and sought but a decent pretext for venting his displeasure,
"have you the impudence to prevent the young lady's servant from obeying
There was something in the air and tone of the young soldier, which
seemed to argue that his interference was not likely to be confined to
mere expostulation; and which, if it promised finally the advantages of a
process of battery and deforcement, would certainly commence with the
unpleasant circumstances necessary for founding such a complaint. The
legal officer, confronted with him of the military, grasped with one
doubtful hand the greasy bludgeon which was to enforce his authority, and
with the other produced his short official baton, tipped with silver, and
having a movable ring upon it--"Captain M'Intyre,--Sir, I have no quarrel
with you,--but if you interrupt me in my duty, I will break the wand of
peace, and declare myself deforced."
"And who the devil cares," said Hector, totally ignorant of the words of
judicial action, "whether you declare yourself divorced or married? And
as to breaking your wand, or breaking the peace, or whatever you call it,
all I know is, that I will break your bones if you prevent the lad from
harnessing the horses to obey his mistress's orders."
"I take all who stand here to witness," said the messenger, "that I
showed him my blazon, and explained my character. He that will to Cupar
maun to Cupar,"--and he slid his enigmatical ring from one end of the
baton to the other, being the appropriate symbol of his having been
forcibly interrupted in the discharge of his duty.
Honest Hector, better accustomed to the artillery of the field than to
that of the law, saw this mystical ceremony with great indifference; and
with like unconcern beheld the messenger sit down to write out an
execution of deforcement. But at this moment, to prevent the well-meaning
hot-headed Highlander from running the risk of a severe penalty, the
Antiquary arrived puffing and blowing, with his handkerchief crammed
under his hat, and his wig upon the end of his stick.
"What the deuce is the matter here?" he exclaimed, hastily adjusting his
head-gear; "I have been following you in fear of finding your idle
loggerhead knocked against one rock or other, and here I find you parted
with your Bucephalus, and quarrelling with Sweepclean. A messenger,
Hector, is a worse foe than a _phoca,_ whether it be the _phoca barbata,_
or the _phoca vitulina_ of your late conflict."
"D--n the _phoca,_ sir," said Hector, "whether it be the one or the
other--I say d--n them both particularly! I think you would not have me
stand quietly by and see a scoundrel like this, because he calls himself
a king's messenger, forsooth--(I hope the king has many better for his
meanest errands)--insult a young lady of family and fashion like Miss
"Rightly argued, Hector," said the Antiquary; "but the king, like other
people, has now and then shabby errands, and, in your ear, must have
shabby fellows to do them. But even supposing you unacquainted with the
statutes of William the Lion, in which _capite quarto versu quinto,_ this
crime of deforcement is termed _despectus Domini Regis_--a contempt, to
wit, of the king himself, in whose name all legal diligence issues,--
could you not have inferred, from the information I took so much pains to
give you to-day, that those who interrupt officers who come to execute
letters of caption, are _tanquam participes criminis rebellionis?_ seeing
that he who aids a rebel, is himself, _quodammodo,_ an accessory to
rebellion--But I'll bring you out of this scrape."
He then spoke to the messenger, who, upon his arrival, had laid aside all
thoughts of making a good by-job out of the deforcement, and accepted Mr.
Oldbuck's assurances that the horse and taxed-cart should be safely
returned in the course of two or three hours.
"Very well, sir," said the Antiquary, "since you are disposed to be so
civil, you shall have another job in your own best way--a little cast of
state politics--a crime punishable _per Legem Juliam,_ Mr. Sweepclean--
Hark thee hither."
And after a whisper of five minutes, he gave him a slip of paper, on
receiving which, the messenger mounted his horse, and, with one of his
assistants, rode away pretty sharply. The fellow who remained seemed to
delay his operations purposely, proceeded in the rest of his duty very
slowly, and with the caution and precision of one who feels himself
overlooked by a skilful and severe inspector.
In the meantime, Oldbuck, taking his nephew by the arm, led him into the
house, and they were ushered into the presence of Sir Arthur Wardour,
who, in a flutter between wounded pride, agonized apprehension, and vain
attempts to disguise both under a show of indifference, exhibited a
spectacle of painful interest.
"Happy to see you, Mr. Oldbuck--always happy to see my friends in fair
weather or foul," said the poor Baronet, struggling not for composure,
but for gaiety--an affectation which was strongly contrasted by the
nervous and protracted grasp of his hand, and the agitation of his whole
demeanour--"I am happy to see you. You are riding, I see--I hope in this
confusion your horses are taken good care of--I always like to have my
friend's horses looked after--Egad! they will have all my care now, for
you see they are like to leave me none of my own--he! he! he! eh, Mr.
This attempt at a jest was attended by a hysterical giggle, which poor
Sir Arthur intended should sound as an indifferent laugh.
"You know I never ride, Sir Arthur," said the Antiquary.
"I beg your pardon; but sure I saw your nephew arrive on horseback a
short time since. We must look after officers' horses, and his was as
handsome a grey charger as I have seen."
Sir Arthur was about to ring the bell, when Mr. Oldbuck said, "My nephew
came on your own grey horse, Sir Arthur."
"Mine!" said the poor Baronet; "mine was it? then the sun had been in my
eyes. Well, I'm not worthy having a horse any longer, since I don't know
my own when I see him."
"Good Heaven!" thought Oldbuck, "how is this man altered from the formal
stolidity of his usual manner!--he grows wanton under adversity--_Sed
pereunti mille figurae._"--He then proceeded aloud--"Sir Arthur, we must
necessarily speak a little on business."
"To be sure," said Sir Arthur; "but it was so good that I should not know
the horse I have ridden these five years--ha! ha! ha!"
"Sir Arthur," said the Antiquary, "don't let us waste time which is
precious; we shall have, I hope, many better seasons for jesting--
_desipere in loco_ is the maxim of Horace. I more than suspect this has
been brought on by the villany of Dousterswivel."
"Don't mention his name, sir!" said Sir Arthur; and his manner entirely
changed from a fluttered affectation of gaiety to all the agitation of
fury; his eyes sparkled, his mouth foamed, his hands were clenched--
"don't mention his name, sir," he vociferated, "unless you would see me
go mad in your presence! That I should have been such a miserable dolt--
such an infatuated idiot--such a beast endowed with thrice a beast's
stupidity, to be led and driven and spur-galled by such a rascal, and
under such ridiculous pretences!--Mr. Oldbuck, I could tear myself when I
think of it."
"I only meant to say," answered the Antiquary, "that this fellow is like
to meet his reward; and I cannot but think we shall frighten something
out of him that may be of service to you. He has certainly had some
unlawful correspondence on the other side of the water."
"Has he?--has he?--has he indeed?--then d--n the house-hold goods,
horses, and so forth--I will go to prison a happy man, Mr. Oldbuck. I
hope in heaven there's a reasonable chance of his being hanged?"
"Why, pretty fair," said Oldbuck, willing to encourage this diversion, in
hopes it might mitigate the feelings which seemed like to overset the
poor man's understanding; "honester men have stretched a rope, or the law
has been sadly cheated--But this unhappy business of yours--can nothing
be done? Let me see the charge."
He took the papers; and, as he read them, his countenance grew hopelessly
dark and disconsolate. Miss Wardour had by this time entered the
apartment, and fixing her eyes on Mr. Oldbuck, as if she meant to read
her fate in his looks, easily perceived, from the change in his eye, and
the dropping of his nether-jaw, how little was to be hoped.
"We are then irremediably ruined, Mr. Oldbuck?" said the young lady.
"Irremediably?--I hope not--but the instant demand is very large, and
others will, doubtless, pour in."
"Ay, never doubt that, Monkbarns," said Sir Arthur; "where the slaughter
is, the eagles will be gathered together. I am like a sheep which I have
seen fall down a precipice, or drop down from sickness--if you had not
seen a single raven or hooded crow for a fortnight before, he will not
lie on the heather ten minutes before half-a-dozen will be picking out
his eyes (and he drew his hand over his own), and tearing at his
heartstrings before the poor devil has time to die. But that d--d
long-scented vulture that dogged me so long--you have got him fast, I
"Fast enough," said the Antiquary; "the gentleman wished to take the
wings of the morning, and bolt in the what d'ye call it,--the coach and
four there. But he would have found twigs limed for him at Edinburgh. As
it is, he never got so far, for the coach being overturned--as how could
it go safe with such a Jonah?--he has had an infernal tumble, is carried
into a cottage near Kittlebrig, and to prevent all possibility of escape,
I have sent your friend Sweepclean to bring him back to Fairport _in
nomine regis,_ or to act as his sick-nurse at Kittlebrig, as is most
fitting. And now, Sir Arthur, permit me to have some conversation with
you on the present unpleasant state of your affairs, that we may see what
can be done for their extrication;" and the Antiquary led the way into
the library, followed by the unfortunate gentleman.
They had been shut up together for about two hours, when Miss Wardour
interrupted them with her cloak on as if prepared for a journey. Her
countenance was very pale, yet expressive of the composure which
characterized her disposition.
"The messenger is returned, Mr. Oldbuck."
"Returned?--What the devil! he has not let the fellow go?"
"No--I understand he has carried him to confinement; and now he is
returned to attend my father, and says he can wait no longer."
A loud wrangling was now heard on the staircase, in which the voice of
Hector predominated. "You an officer, sir, and these ragamuffins a party!
a parcel of beggarly tailor fellows--tell yourselves off by nine, and we
shall know your effective strength."
The grumbling voice of the man of law was then heard indistinctly
muttering a reply, to which Hector retorted--"Come, come, sir, this won't
do;--march your party, as you call them, out of this house directly, or
I'll send you and them to the right about presently."
"The devil take Hector," said the Antiquary, hastening to the scene of
action; "his Highland blood is up again, and we shall have him fighting a
duel with the bailiff. Come, Mr. Sweepclean, you must give us a little
time--I know you would not wish to hurry Sir Arthur."
"By no means, sir," said the messenger, putting his hat off, which he had
thrown on to testify defiance of Captain M'Intyre's threats; "but your
nephew, sir, holds very uncivil language, and I have borne too much of it
already; and I am not justified in leaving my prisoner any longer after
the instructions I received, unless I am to get payment of the sums
contained in my diligence." And he held out the caption, pointing with
the awful truncheon, which he held in his right hand, to the formidable
line of figures jotted upon the back thereof.
Hector, on the other hand, though silent from respect to his uncle,
answered this gesture by shaking his clenched fist at the messenger with
a frown of Highland wrath.
"Foolish boy, be quiet," said Oldbuck, "and come with me into the room--
the man is doing his miserable duty, and you will only make matters worse
by opposing him.--I fear, Sir Arthur, you must accompany this man to
Fairport; there is no help for it in the first instance--I will accompany
you, to consult what further can be done--My nephew will escort Miss
Wardour to Monkbarns, which I hope she will make her residence until
these unpleasant matters are settled."
"I go with my father, Mr. Oldbuck," said Miss Wardour firmly--"I have
prepared his clothes and my own--I suppose we shall have the use of the
"Anything in reason, madam," said the messenger; "I have ordered it out,
and it's at the door--I will go on the box with the coachman--I have no
desire to intrude--but two of the concurrents must attend on horseback."
"I will attend too," said Hector, and he ran down to secure a horse for
"We must go then," said the Antiquary.
"To jail," said the Baronet, sighing involuntarily. "And what of that?"
he resumed, in a tone affectedly cheerful--"it is only a house we can't
get out of, after all--Suppose a fit of the gout, and Knockwinnock would
be the same--Ay, ay, Monkbarns--we'll call it a fit of the gout without
the d--d pain."
But his eyes swelled with tears as he spoke, and his faltering accent
marked how much this assumed gaiety cost him. The Antiquary wrung his
hand, and, like the Indian Banians, who drive the real terms of an
important bargain by signs, while they are apparently talking of
indifferent matters, the hand of Sir Arthur, by its convulsive return of
the grasp, expressed his sense of gratitude to his friend, and the real
state of his internal agony.--They stepped slowly down the magnificent
staircase--every well-known object seeming to the unfortunate father and
daughter to assume a more prominent and distinct appearance than usual,
as if to press themselves on their notice for the last time.
At the first landing-place, Sir Arthur made an agonized pause; and as he
observed the Antiquary look at him anxiously, he said with assumed
dignity--"Yes, Mr. Oldbuck, the descendant of an ancient line--the
representative of Richard Redhand and Gamelyn de Guardover, may be
pardoned a sigh when he leaves the castle of his fathers thus poorly
escorted. When I was sent to the Tower with my late father, in the year
1745, it was upon a charge becoming our birth--upon an accusation of high
treason, Mr. Oldbuck;--we were escorted from Highgate by a troop of
life-guards, and committed upon a secretary of state's warrant; and now,
here I am, in my old age, dragged from my household by a miserable
creature like that" (pointing to the messenger), "and for a paltry
concern of pounds, shillings, and pence."
"At least," said Oldbuck, "you have now the company of a dutiful
daughter, and a sincere friend, if you will permit me to say so, and that
may be some consolation, even without the certainty that there can be no
hanging, drawing, or quartering, on the present occasion. But I hear that
choleric boy as loud as ever. I hope to God he has got into no new
broil!--it was an accursed chance that brought him here at all."
In fact, a sudden clamour, in which the loud voice and somewhat northern
accent of Hector was again preeminently distinguished, broke off this
conversation. The cause we must refer to the next chapter.
Fortune, you say, flies from us--She but circles,
Like the fleet sea-bird round the fowler's skiff,--
Lost in the mist one moment, and the next
Brushing the white sail with her whiter wing,
As if to court the aim.--Experience watches,
And has her on the wheel--
The shout of triumph in Hector's warlike tones was not easily
distinguished from that of battle. But as he rushed up stairs with a
packet in his hand, exclaiming, "Long life to an old soldier! here comes
Edie with a whole budget of good news!" it became obvious that his
present cause of clamour was of an agreeable nature. He delivered the
letter to Oldbuck, shook Sir Arthur heartily by the hand, and wished Miss
Wardour joy, with all the frankness of Highland congratulation. The
messenger, who had a kind of instinctive terror for Captain M'Intyre,
drew towards his prisoner, keeping an eye of caution on the soldier's
"Don't suppose I shall trouble myself about you, you dirty fellow," said
the soldier; "there's a guinea for the fright I have given you; and here
comes an old _forty-two_ man, who is a fitter match for you than I am."
The messenger (one of those dogs who are not too scornful to eat dirty
puddings) caught in his hand the guinea which Hector chucked at his face;
and abode warily and carefully the turn which matters were now to take.
All voices meanwhile were loud in inquiries, which no one was in a hurry
"What is the matter, Captain M'Intyre?" said Sir Arthur.
"Ask old Edie," said Hector;--"I only know all's safe and well."
"What is all this, Edie?" said Miss Wardour to the mendicant.
"Your leddyship maun ask Monkbarns, for he has gotten the yepistolary
"God save the king!" exclaimed the Antiquary at the first glance at the
contents of his packet, and, surprised at once out of decorum,
philosophy, and phlegm, he skimmed his cocked hat in the air, from which
it descended not again, being caught in its fall by a branch of the
chandelier. He next, looking joyously round, laid a grasp on his wig,
which he perhaps would have sent after the beaver, had not Edie stopped
his hand, exclaiming "Lordsake! he's gaun gyte!--mind Caxon's no here to
repair the damage."
Every person now assailed the Antiquary, clamouring to know the cause of
so sudden a transport, when, somewhat ashamed of his rapture, he fairly
turned tail, like a fox at the cry of a pack of hounds, and ascending the
stair by two steps at a time, gained the upper landing-place, where,
turning round, he addressed the astonished audience as follows:--
"My good friends, _favete linguis_--To give you information, I must
first, according to logicians, be possessed of it myself; and, therefore,
with your leaves, I will retire into the library to examine these papers
--Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour will have the goodness to step into the
parlour--Mr. Sweepclean, _secede paulisper,_ or, in your own language,
grant us a supersedere of diligence for five minutes--Hector, draw off
your forces, and make your bear-garden flourish elsewhere--and, finally,
be all of good cheer till my return, which will be _instanter._"
The contents of the packet were indeed so little expected, that the
Antiquary might be pardoned, first his ecstasy, and next his desire of
delaying to communicate the intelligence they conveyed, until it was
arranged and digested in his own mind.
Within the envelope was a letter addressed to Jonathan Oldbuck, Esq. of
Monkbarns, of the following purport:--
"Dear Sir,--To you, as my father's proved and valued friend, I venture to
address myself, being detained here by military duty of a very pressing
nature. You must by this time be acquainted with the entangled state of
our affairs; and I know it will give you great pleasure to learn, that I
am as fortunately as unexpectedly placed in a situation to give effectual
assistance for extricating them. I understand Sir Arthur is threatened
with severe measures by persons who acted formerly as his agents; and, by
advice of a creditable man of business here, I have procured the enclosed
writing, which I understand will stop their proceedings until their claim
shall be legally discussed, and brought down to its proper amount. I also
enclose bills to the amount of one thousand pounds to pay any other
pressing demands, and request of your friendship to apply them according
to your discretion. You will be surprised I give you this trouble, when
it would seem more natural to address my father directly in his own
affairs. But I have yet had no assurance that his eyes are opened to the
character of a person against whom you have often, I know, warned him,
and whose baneful influence has been the occasion of these distresses.
And as I owe the means of relieving Sir Arthur to the generosity of a
matchless friend, it is my duty to take the most certain measures for the
supplies being devoted to the purpose for which they were destined,--and
I know your wisdom and kindness will see that it is done. My friend, as
he claims an interest in your regard, will explain some views of his own
in the enclosed letter. The state of the post-office at Fairport being
rather notorious, I must send this letter to Tannonburgh; but the old man
Ochiltree, whom particular circumstances have recommended as trustworthy,
has information when the packet is likely to reach that place, and will
take care to forward it. I expect to have soon an opportunity to
apologize in person for the trouble I now give, and have the honour to be
your very faithful servant,
"Reginald Gamelyn Wardour."
"Edinburgh, 6th August, 179-."
The Antiquary hastily broke the seal of the enclosure, the contents of
which gave him equal surprise and pleasure. When he had in some measure
composed himself after such unexpected tidings, he inspected the other
papers carefully, which all related to business--put the bills into his
pocket-book, and wrote a short acknowledgment to be despatched by that
day's post, for he was extremely methodical in money matters--and lastly,
fraught with all the importance of disclosure, he descended to the
"Sweepclean," said he, as he entered, to the officer who stood
respectfully at the door, "you must sweep yourself clean out of
Knockwinnock Castle, with all your followers, tag-rag and bob-tail. Seest
thou this paper, man?"
"A sist on a bill o' suspension," said the messenger, with a disappointed
look;--"I thought it would be a queer thing if ultimate diligence was to
be done against sic a gentleman as Sir Arthur--Weel, sir, I'se go my ways
with my party--And who's to pay my charges?"
"They who employed thee," replied Oldbuck, "as thou full well dost know.
--But here comes another express: this is a day of news, I think."
This was Mr. Mailsetter on his mare from Fairport, with a letter for Sir
Arthur, another to the messenger, both of which, he said, he was directed
to forward instantly. The messenger opened his, observing that Greenhorn
and Grinderson were good enough men for his expenses, and here was a
letter from them desiring him to stop the diligence. Accordingly, he
immediately left the apartment, and staying no longer than to gather his
posse together, he did then, in the phrase of Hector, who watched his
departure as a jealous mastiff eyes the retreat of a repulsed beggar,
Sir Arthur's letter was from Mr. Greenhorn, and a curiosity in its way.
We give it, with the worthy Baronet's comments.
"Sir--[Oh! I am _dear_ sir no longer; folks are only dear to Messrs.
Greenhorn and Grinderson when they are in adversity]--Sir, I am much
concerned to learn, on my return from the country, where I was called on
particular business [a bet on the sweepstakes, I suppose], that my
partner had the impropriety, in my absence, to undertake the concerns of
Messrs. Goldiebirds in preference to yours, and had written to you in an
unbecoming manner. I beg to make my most humble apology, as well as Mr.
Grindersons--[come, I see he can write for himself and partner too]--and
trust it is impossible you can think me forgetful of, or ungrateful for,
the constant patronage which my family [_his_ family! curse him for a
puppy!] have uniformly experienced from that of Knockwinnock. I am sorry
to find, from an interview I had this day with Mr. Wardour, that he is
much irritated, and, I must own, with apparent reason. But in order to
remedy as much as in me lies the mistake of which he complains [pretty
mistake, indeed! to clap his patron into jail], I have sent this express
to discharge all proceedings against your person or property; and at the
same time to transmit my respectful apology. I have only to add, that Mr.
Grinderson is of opinion, that if restored to your confidence, he could
point out circumstances connected with Messrs. Goldiebirds' present claim
which would greatly reduce its amount [so, so, willing to play the rogue
on either side]; and that there is not the slightest hurry in settling
the balance of your accompt with us; and that I am, for Mr. G. as well as
myself, Dear Sir [O ay, he has written himself into an approach to
familiarity], your much obliged and most humble servant,
"Well said, Mr. Gilbert Greenhorn," said Monkbarns; "I see now there is
some use in having two attorneys in one firm. Their movements resemble
those of the man and woman in a Dutch baby-house. When it is fair weather
with the client, out comes the gentleman partner to fawn like a spaniel;
when it is foul, forth bolts the operative brother to pin like a
bull-dog. Well, I thank God that my man of business still wears an
equilateral cocked hat, has a house in the Old Town, is as much afraid of
a horse as I am myself, plays at golf of a Saturday, goes to the kirk of
a Sunday, and, in respect he has no partner, hath only his own folly to
"There are some writers very honest fellows," said Hector; "I should like
to hear any one say that my cousin, Donald M'Intyre, Strathtudlem's
seventh son (the other six are in the army), is not as honest a fellow"--
"No doubt, no doubt, Hector, all the M'Intyres are so; they have it by
patent, man--But I was going to say, that in a profession where unbounded
trust is necessarily reposed, there is nothing surprising that fools
should neglect it in their idleness, and tricksters abuse it in their
knavery. But it is the more to the honour of those (and I will vouch for
many) who unite integrity with skill and attention, and walk honourably
upright where there are so many pitfalls and stumbling-blocks for those
of a different character. To such men their fellow citizens may safely
entrust the care of protecting their patrimonial rights, and their
country the more sacred charge of her laws and privileges."
"They are best aff, however, that hae least to do with them," said
Ochiltree, who had stretched his neck into the parlour door; for the
general confusion of the family not having yet subsided, the domestics,
like waves after the fall of a hurricane, had not yet exactly regained
their due limits, but were roaming wildly through the house.
"Aha, old Truepenny, art thou there?" said the Antiquary. "Sir Arthur,
let me bring in the messenger of good luck, though he is but a lame one.
You talked of the raven that scented out the slaughter from afar; but
here's a blue pigeon (somewhat of the oldest and toughest, I grant) who
smelled the good news six or seven miles off, flew thither in the
taxed-cart, and returned with the olive branch."
"Ye owe it o' to puir Robie that drave me;--puir fallow," said the
beggar, "he doubts he's in disgrace wi' my leddy and Sir Arthur."
Robert's repentant and bashful face was seen over the mendicant's
"In disgrace with me?" said Sir Arthur--"how so?"--for the irritation
into which he had worked himself on occasion of the toast had been long
forgotten. "O, I recollect--Robert, I was angry, and you were wrong;--go
about your work, and never answer a master that speaks to you in a
"Nor any one else," said the Antiquary; "for a soft answer turneth away
"And tell your mother, who is so ill with the rheumatism, to come down to
the housekeeper to-morrow," said Miss Wardour, "and we will see what can
be of service to her."