The Antiquary, Volume 2 by Sir Walter Scott

This eBook was produced by David Widger THE ANTIQUARY By Sir Walter Scott VOLUME TWO. CHAPTER FIRST. Wiser Raymondus, in his closet pent, Laughs at such danger and adventurement When half his lands are spent in golden smoke, And now his second hopeful glasse is broke, But yet, if haply his third furnace hold, Devoteth
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This eBook was produced by David Widger [widger@cecomet.net]

THE ANTIQUARY

By Sir Walter Scott

VOLUME TWO.

CHAPTER FIRST.

Wiser Raymondus, in his closet pent, Laughs at such danger and adventurement When half his lands are spent in golden smoke, And now his second hopeful glasse is broke, But yet, if haply his third furnace hold, Devoteth all his pots and pans to gold.*

* The author cannot remember where these lines are to be found: perhaps in Bishop Hall’s Satires. [They occur in Book iv. Satire iii.]

About a week after the adventures commemorated in our last chapter, Mr. Oldbuck, descending to his breakfast-parlour, found that his womankind were not upon duty, his toast not made, and the silver jug, which was wont to receive his libations of mum, not duly aired for its reception.

“This confounded hot-brained boy!” he said to himself; “now that he begins to get out of danger, I can tolerate this life no longer. All goes to sixes and sevens–an universal saturnalia seems to be proclaimed in my peaceful and orderly family. I ask for my sister–no answer. I call, I shout–I invoke my inmates by more names than the Romans gave to their deities–at length Jenny, whose shrill voice I have heard this half-hour lilting in the Tartarean regions of the kitchen, condescends to hear me and reply, but without coming up stairs, so the conversation must be continued at the top of my lungs. “–Here he again began to hollow aloud –“Jenny, where’s Miss Oldbuck?”

“Miss Grizzy’s in the captain’s room.”

“Umph!–I thought so–and where’s my niece?”

“Miss Mary’s making the captain’s tea.”

“Umph! I supposed as much again–and where’s Caxon?”

“Awa to the town about the captain’s fowling-gun, and his setting-dog.”

“And who the devil’s to dress my periwig, you silly jade?–when you knew that Miss Wardour and Sir Arthur were coming here early after breakfast, how could you let Caxon go on such a Tomfool’s errand?”

“Me! what could I hinder him?–your honour wadna hae us contradict the captain e’en now, and him maybe deeing?”

“Dying!” said the alarmed Antiquary,–“eh! what? has he been worse?”

“Na, he’s no nae waur that I ken of.”*

* It is, I believe, a piece of free-masonry, or a point of conscience, among the Scottish lower orders, never to admit that a patient is doing better. The closest approach to recovery which they can be brought to allow, is, that the pairty inquired after is “Nae waur.”

“Then he must be better–and what good is a dog and a gun to do here, but the one to destroy all my furniture, steal from my larder, and perhaps worry the cat, and the other to shoot somebody through the head. He has had gunning and pistolling enough to serve him one while, I should think.”

Here Miss Oldbuck entered the parlour, at the door of which Oldbuck was carrying on this conversation, he bellowing downward to Jenny, and she again screaming upward in reply.

“Dear brother,” said the old lady, “ye’ll cry yoursell as hoarse as a corbie–is that the way to skreigh when there’s a sick person in the house?”

“Upon my word, the sick person’s like to have all the house to himself,– I have gone without my breakfast, and am like to go without my wig; and I must not, I suppose, presume to say I feel either hunger or cold, for fear of disturbing the sick gentleman who lies six rooms off, and who feels himself well enough to send for his dog and gun, though he knows I detest such implements ever since our elder brother, poor Williewald, marched out of the world on a pair of damp feet, caught in the Kittlefitting-moss. But that signifies nothing; I suppose I shall be expected by and by to lend a hand to carry Squire Hector out upon his litter, while he indulges his sportsmanlike propensities by shooting my pigeons, or my turkeys–I think any of the _ferae naturae_ are safe from him for one while.”

Miss M’Intyre now entered, and began to her usual morning’s task of arranging her uncle’s breakfast, with the alertness of one who is too late in setting about a task, and is anxious to make up for lost time. But this did not avail her. “Take care, you silly womankind–that mum’s too near the fire–the bottle will burst; and I suppose you intend to reduce the toast to a cinder as a burnt-offering for Juno, or what do you call her–the female dog there, with some such Pantheon kind of a name, that your wise brother has, in his first moments of mature reflection, ordered up as a fitting inmate of my house (I thank him), and meet company to aid the rest of the womankind of my household in their daily conversation and intercourse with him.”

“Dear uncle, don’t be angry about the poor spaniel; she’s been tied up at my brother’s lodgings at Fairport, and she’s broke her chain twice, and came running down here to him; and you would not have us beat the faithful beast away from the door?–it moans as if it had some sense of poor Hector’s misfortune, and will hardly stir from the door of his room.”

“Why,” said his uncle, “they said Caxon had gone to Fairport after his dog and gun.”

“O dear sir, no,” answered Miss M’Intyre, “it was to fetch some dressings that were wanted, and Hector only wished him to bring out his gun, as he was going to Fairport at any rate.”

“Well, then, it is not altogether so foolish a business, considering what a mess of womankind have been about it–Dressings, quotha?–and who is to dress my wig?–But I suppose Jenny will undertake”–continued the old bachelor, looking at himself in the glass–“to make it somewhat decent. And now let us set to breakfast–with what appetite we may. Well may I say to Hector, as Sir Isaac Newton did to his dog Diamond, when the animal (I detest dogs) flung down the taper among calculations which had occupied the philosopher for twenty years, and consumed the whole mass of materials–Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the mischief thou hast done!”

“I assure you, sir,” replied his niece, “my brother is quite sensible of the rashness of his own behaviour, and allows that Mr. Lovel behaved very handsomely.”

“And much good that will do, when he has frightened the lad out of the country! I tell thee, Mary, Hector’s understanding, and far more that of feminity, is inadequate to comprehend the extent of the loss which he has occasioned to the present age and to posterity–_aureum quidem opus_–a poem on such a subject, with notes illustrative of all that is clear, and all that is dark, and all that is neither dark nor clear, but hovers in dusky twilight in the region of Caledonian antiquities. I would have made the Celtic panegyrists look about them. Fingal, as they conceitedly term Fin-Mac-Coul, should have disappeared before my search, rolling himself in his cloud like the spirit of Loda. Such an opportunity can hardly again occur to an ancient and grey-haired man; and to see it lost by the madcap spleen of a hot-headed boy! But I submit–Heaven’s will be done!”

Thus continued the Antiquary to _maunder,_ as his sister expressed it, during the whole time of breakfast, while, despite of sugar and honey, and all the comforts of a Scottish morning tea-table, his reflections rendered the meal bitter to all who heard them. But they knew the nature of the man. “Monkbarns’s bark,” said Miss Griselda Oldbuck, in confidential intercourse with Miss Rebecca Blattergowl, “is muckle waur than his bite.”

In fact, Mr. Oldbuck had suffered in mind extremely while his nephew was in actual danger, and now felt himself at liberty, upon his returning health, to indulge in complaints respecting the trouble he had been put to, and the interruption of his antiquarian labours. Listened to, therefore, in respectful silence, by his niece and sister, he unloaded his discontent in such grumblings as we have rehearsed, venting many a sarcasm against womankind, soldiers, dogs, and guns, all which implements of noise, discord, and tumult, as he called them, he professed to hold in utter abomination.

This expectoration of spleen was suddenly interrupted by the noise of a carriage without, when, shaking off all sullenness at the sound, Oldbuck ran nimbly up stairs and down stairs, for both operations were necessary ere he could receive Miss Wardour and her father at the door of his mansion.

A cordial greeting passed on both sides. And Sir Arthur, referring to his previous inquiries by letter and message, requested to be particularly informed of Captain M’Intyre’s health.

“Better than he deserves,” was the answer–“better than he deserves, for disturbing us with his vixen brawls, and breaking God’s peace and the King’s.”

“The young gentleman,” Sir Arthur said, “had been imprudent; but he understood they were indebted to him for the detection of a suspicious character in the young man Lovel.”

“No more suspicious than his own,” answered the Antiquary, eager in his favourites defence;–“the young gentleman was a little foolish and headstrong, and refused to answer Hector’s impertinent interrogatories– that is all. Lovel, Sir Arthur, knows how to choose his confidants better–Ay, Miss Wardour, you may look at me–but it is very true;–it was in my bosom that he deposited the secret cause of his residence at Fairport; and no stone should have been left unturned on my part to assist him in the pursuit to which he had dedicated himself.”

On hearing this magnanimous declaration on the part of the old Antiquary, Miss Wardour changed colour more than once, and could hardly trust her own ears. For of all confidants to be selected as the depositary of love affairs,–and such she naturally supposed must have been the subject of communication,–next to Edie Ochiltree, Oldbuck seemed the most uncouth and extraordinary; nor could she sufficiently admire or fret at the extraordinary combination of circumstances which thus threw a secret of such a delicate nature into the possession of persons so unfitted to be entrusted with it. She had next to fear the mode of Oldbuck’s entering upon the affair with her father, for such, she doubted not, was his intention. She well knew that the honest gentleman, however vehement in his prejudices, had no great sympathy with those of others, and she had to fear a most unpleasant explosion upon an _e’claircissement_ taking place between them. It was therefore with great anxiety that she heard her father request a private interview, and observed Oldbuck readily arise and show the way to his library. She remained behind, attempting to converse with the ladies of Monkbarns, but with the distracted feelings of Macbeth, when compelled to disguise his evil conscience by listening and replying to the observations of the attendant thanes upon the storm of the preceding night, while his whole soul is upon the stretch to listen for the alarm of murder, which he knows must be instantly raised by those who have entered the sleeping apartment of Duncan. But the conversation of the two virtuosi turned on a subject very different from that which Miss Wardour apprehended.

“Mr. Oldbuck,” said Sir Arthur, when they had, after a due exchange of ceremonies, fairly seated themselves in the _sanctum sanctorum_ of the Antiquary,–“you, who know so much of my family matters, may probably be surprised at the question I am about to put to you.”

“Why, Sir Arthur, if it relates to money, I am very sorry, but”–

“It does relate to money matters, Mr. Oldbuck.”

“Really, then, Sir Arthur,” continued the Antiquary, “in the present state of the money-market–and stocks being so low”–

“You mistake my meaning, Mr. Oldbuck,” said the Baronet; “I wished to ask your advice about laying out a large sum of money to advantage.”

“The devil!” exclaimed the Antiquary; and, sensible that his involuntary ejaculation of wonder was not over and above civil, he proceeded to qualify it by expressing his joy that Sir Arthur should have a sum of money to lay out when the commodity was so scarce. “And as for the mode of employing it,” said he, pausing, “the funds are low at present, as I said before, and there are good bargains of land to be had. But had you not better begin by clearing off encumbrances, Sir Arthur?–There is the sum in the personal bond–and the three notes of hand,” continued he, taking out of the right-hand drawer of his cabinet a certain red memorandum-book, of which Sir Arthur, from the experience of former frequent appeals to it, abhorred the very sight–“with the interest thereon, amounting altogether to–let me see”–

“To about a thousand pounds,” said Sir Arthur, hastily; “you told me the amount the other day.”

“But there’s another term’s interest due since that, Sir Arthur, and it amounts (errors excepted) to eleven hundred and thirteen pounds, seven shillings, five pennies, and three-fourths of a penny sterling–But look over the summation yourself.”

“I daresay you are quite right, my dear sir,” said the Baronet, putting away the book with his hand, as one rejects the old-fashioned civility that presses food upon you after you have eaten till you nauseate– “perfectly right, I dare say; and in the course of three days or less you shall have the full value–that is, if you choose to accept it in bullion.”

“Bullion! I suppose you mean lead. What the deuce! have we hit on the vein then at last? But what could I do with a thousand pounds’ worth, and upwards, of lead? The former abbots of Trotcosey might have roofed their church and monastery with it indeed–but for me”–

“By bullion,” said the Baronet, “I mean the precious metals,–gold and silver.”

“Ay! indeed?–and from what Eldorado is this treasure to be imported?”

“Not far from hence,” said Sir Arthur, significantly. “And naow I think of it, you shall see the whole process, on one small condition.”

“And what is that?” craved the Antiquary.

“Why, it will be necessary for you to give me your friendly assistance, by advancing one hundred pounds or thereabouts.”

Mr. Oldbuck, who had already been grasping in idea the sum, principal and interest, of a debt which he had long regarded as wellnigh desperate, was so much astounded at the tables being so unexpectedly turned upon him, that he could only re-echo, in an accent of wo and surprise, the words, “Advance one hundred pounds!”

“Yes, my good sir,” continued Sir Arthur; “but upon the best possible security of being repaid in the course of two or three days.”

There was a pause–either Oldbuck’s nether jaw had not recovered its position, so as to enable him to utter a negative, or his curiosity kept him silent.

“I would not propose to you,” continued Sir Arthur, “to oblige me thus far, if I did not possess actual proofs of the reality of those expectations which I now hold out to you. And I assure you, Mr. Oldbuck, that in entering fully upon this topic, it is my purpose to show my confidence in you, and my sense of your kindness on many former occasions.”

Mr. Oldbuck professed his sense of obligation, but carefully avoided committing himself by any promise of farther assistance.

“Mr. Dousterswivel,” said Sir Arthur, “having discovered”–

Here Oldbuck broke in, his eyes sparkling with indignation. “Sir Arthur, I have so often warned you of the knavery of that rascally quack, that I really wonder you should quote him to me.”

“But listen–listen,” interrupted Sir Arthur in his turn, “it will do you no harm. In short, Dousterswivel persuaded me to witness an experiment which he had made in the ruins of St. Ruth–and what do you think we found?”

“Another spring of water, I suppose, of which the rogue had beforehand taken care to ascertain the situation and source.”

“No, indeed–a casket of gold and silver coins–here they are.”

With that, Sir Arthur drew from his pocket a large ram’s horn, with a copper cover, containing a considerable quantity of coins, chiefly silver, but with a few gold pieces intermixed. The Antiquary’s eyes glistened as he eagerly spread them out on the table.

“Upon my word–Scotch, English, and foreign coins, of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and some of them _rari–et rariores–etiam rarissimi!_ Here is the bonnet-piece of James V., the unicorn of James II.,–ay, and the gold festoon of Queen Mary, with her head and the Dauphin’s. And these were really found in the ruins of St. Ruth?”

“Most assuredly–my own eyes witnessed it.”

“Well,” replied Oldbuck; “but you must tell me the when–the where-the how.”

“The when,” answered Sir Arthur, “was at midnight the last full moon–the where, as I have told you, in the ruins of St. Ruth’s priory–the how, was by a nocturnal experiment of Dousterswivel, accompanied only by myself.”

“Indeed!” said Oldbuck; “and what means of discovery did you employ?”

“Only a simple suffumigation,” said the Baronet, “accompanied by availing ourselves of the suitable planetary hour.”

“Simple suffumigation? simple nonsensification–planetary hour? planetary fiddlestick! _Sapiens dominabitur astris._ My dear Sir Arthur, that fellow has made a gull of you above ground and under ground, and he would have made a gull of you in the air too, if he had been by when you was craned up the devil’s turnpike yonder at Halket-head–to be sure the transformation would have been then peculiarly _apropos._”

“Well, Mr. Oldbuck, I am obliged to you for your indifferent opinion of my discernment; but I think you will give me credit for having seen what I _say_ I saw.”

“Certainly, Sir Arthur,” said the Antiquary,–“to this extent at least, that I know Sir Arthur Wardour will not say he saw anything but what he _thought_ he saw.”

“Well, then,” replied the Baronet, “as there is a heaven above us, Mr. Oldbuck, I saw, with my own eyes, these coins dug out of the chancel of St. Ruth at midnight. And as to Dousterswivel, although the discovery be owing to his science, yet, to tell the truth, I do not think he would have had firmness of mind to have gone through with it if I had not been beside him.”

“Ay! indeed?” said Oldbuck, in the tone used when one wishes to hear the end of a story before making any comment.

“Yes truly,” continued Sir Arthur–“I assure you I was upon my guard–we did hear some very uncommon sounds, that is certain, proceeding from among the ruins.”

“Oh, you did?” said Oldbuck; “an accomplice hid among them, I suppose?”

“Not a jot,” said the Baronet;–“the sounds, though of a hideous and preternatural character, rather resembled those of a man who sneezes violently than any other–one deep groan I certainly heard besides; and Dousterswivel assures me that he beheld the spirit Peolphan, the Great Hunter of the North–(look for him in your Nicolaus Remigius, or Petrus Thyracus, Mr. Oldbuck)–who mimicked the motion of snuff-taking and its effects.”

“These indications, however singular as proceeding from such a personage, seem to have been _apropos_ to the matter,” said the Antiquary; “for you see the case, which includes these coins, has all the appearance of being an old-fashioned Scottish snuff-mill. But you persevered, in spite of the terrors of this sneezing goblin?”

“Why, I think it probable that a man of inferior sense or consequence might have given way; but I was jealous of an imposture, conscious of the duty I owed to my family in maintaining my courage under every contingency, and therefore I compelled Dousterswivel, by actual and violent threats, to proceed with what he was about to do;–and, sir, the proof of his skill and honesty is this parcel of gold and silver pieces, out of which I beg you to select such coins or medals as will best suit your collection.”

“Why, Sir Arthur, since you are so good, and on condition you will permit me to mark the value according to Pinkerton’s catalogue and appreciation, against your account in my red book, I will with pleasure select”–

“Nay,” said Sir Arthur Wardour, “I do not mean you should consider them as anything but a gift of friendship and least of all would I stand by the valuation of your friend Pinkerton, who has impugned the ancient and trustworthy authorities upon which, as upon venerable and moss-grown pillars, the credit of Scottish antiquities reposed.”

“Ay, ay,” rejoined Oldbuck, “you mean, I suppose, Mair and Boece, the Jachin and Boaz, not of history but of falsification and forgery. And notwithstanding all you have told me, I look on your friend Dousterswivel to be as apocryphal as any of them.”

“Why then, Mr. Oldbuck,” said Sir Arthur, “not to awaken old disputes, I suppose you think, that because I believe in the ancient history of my country, I have neither eyes nor ears to ascertain what modern events pass before me?”

“Pardon me, Sir Arthur,” rejoined the Antiquary; “but I consider all the affectation of terror which this worthy gentleman, your coadjutor, chose to play off, as being merely one part of his trick or mystery. And with respect to the gold or silver coins, they are so mixed and mingled in country and date, that I cannot suppose they could be any genuine hoard, and rather suppose them to be, like the purses upon the table of Hudibras’s lawyer–

–Money placed for show,
Like nest-eggs, to make clients lay, And for his false opinions pay.–

It is the trick of all professions, my dear Sir Arthur. Pray, may I ask you how much this discovery cost you?”

“About ten guineas.”

“And you have gained what is equivalent to twenty in actual bullion, and what may be perhaps worth as much more to such fools as ourselves, who are willing to pay for curiosity. This was allowing you a tempting profit on the first hazard, I must needs admit. And what is the next venture he proposes?”

“An hundred and fifty pounds;–I have given him one-third part of the money, and I thought it likely you might assist me with the balance.”

“I should think that this cannot be meant as a parting blow–is not of weight and importance sufficient; he will probably let us win this hand also, as sharpers manage a raw gamester.–Sir Arthur, I hope you believe I would serve you?”

“Certainly, Mr. Oldbuck; I think my confidence in you on these occasions leaves no room to doubt that.”

“Well, then, allow me to speak to Dousterswivel. If the money can be advanced usefully and advantageously for you, why, for old neighbourhood’s sake, you shall not want it but if, as I think, I can recover the treasure for you without making such an advance, you will, I presume, have no objection!”

“Unquestionably, I can have none whatsoever.”

“Then where is Dousterswivel?” continued the Antiquary.

“To tell you the truth, he is in my carriage below; but knowing your prejudice against him”–

“I thank Heaven, I am not prejudiced against any man, Sir Arthur: it is systems, not individuals, that incur my reprobation.” He rang the bell. “Jenny, Sir Arthur and I offer our compliments to Mr. Dousterswivel, the gentleman in Sir Arthur’s carriage, and beg to have the pleasure of speaking with him here.”

Jenny departed and delivered her message. It had been by no means a part of the project of Dousterswivel to let Mr. Oldbuck into his supposed mystery. He had relied upon Sir Arthur’s obtaining the necessary accommodation without any discussion as to the nature of the application, and only waited below for the purpose of possessing himself of the deposit as soon as possible, for he foresaw that his career was drawing to a close. But when summoned to the presence of Sir Arthur and Mr. Oldbuck, he resolved gallantly to put confidence in his powers of impudence, of which, the reader may have observed, his natural share was very liberal.

CHAPTER SECOND.

–And this Doctor,
Your sooty smoky-bearded compeer, he Will close you so much gold in a bolt’s head, And, on a turn, convey in the stead another With sublimed mercury, that shall burst i’ the heat, And all fly out _in fumo._–
The Alchemist.

“How do you do, goot Mr. Oldenbuck? and I do hope your young gentleman, Captain M’Intyre, is getting better again? Ach! it is a bat business when young gentlemens will put lead balls into each other’s body.”

“Lead adventures of all kinds are very precarious, Mr. Dousterswivel; but I am happy to learn,” continued the Antiquary, “from my friend Sir Arthur, that you have taken up a better trade, and become a discoverer of gold.”

“Ach, Mr. Oldenbuck, mine goot and honoured patron should not have told a word about dat little matter; for, though I have all reliance–yes, indeed, on goot Mr. Oldenbuck’s prudence and discretion, and his great friendship for Sir Arthur Wardour–yet, my heavens! it is an great ponderous secret.”

“More ponderous than any of the metal we shall make by it, I fear,” answered Oldbuck.

“Dat is just as you shall have de faith and de patience for de grand experiment–If you join wid Sir Arthur, as he is put one hundred and fifty–see, here is one fifty in your dirty Fairport bank-note–you put one other hundred and fifty in de dirty notes, and you shall have de pure gold and silver, I cannot tell how much.”

“Nor any one for you, I believe,” said the Antiquary. “But, hark you, Mr. Dousterswivel: Suppose, without troubling this same sneezing spirit with any farther fumigations, we should go in a body, and having fair day-light and our good consciences to befriend us, using no other conjuring implements than good substantial pick-axes and shovels, fairly trench the area of the chancel in the ruins of St. Ruth, from one end to the other, and so ascertain the existence of this supposed treasure, without putting ourselves to any farther expense–the ruins belong to Sir Arthur himself, so there can be no objection–do you think we shall succeed in this way of managing the matter?”

“Bah!–you will not find one copper thimble–But Sir Arthur will do his pleasure. I have showed him how it is possible–very possible–to have de great sum of money for his occasions–I have showed him de real experiment. If he likes not to believe, goot Mr. Oldenbuck, it is nothing to Herman Dousterswivel–he only loses de money and de gold and de silvers–dat is all.”

Sir Arthur Wardour cast an intimidated glance at Oldbuck who, especially when present, held, notwithstanding their frequent difference of opinion, no ordinary influence over his sentiments. In truth, the Baronet felt, what he would not willingly have acknowledged, that his genius stood rebuked before that of the Antiquary. He respected him as a shrewd, penetrating, sarcastic character–feared his satire, and had some confidence in the general soundness of his opinions. He therefore looked at him as if desiring his leave before indulging his credulity. Dousterswivel saw he was in danger of losing his dupe, unless he could make some favourable impression on the adviser.

“I know, my goot Mr. Oldenbuck, it is one vanity to speak to you about de spirit and de goblin. But look at this curious horn;–I know, you know de curiosity of all de countries, and how de great Oldenburgh horn, as they keep still in the Museum at Copenhagen, was given to de Duke of Oldenburgh by one female spirit of de wood. Now I could not put one trick on you if I were willing–you who know all de curiosity so well–and dere it is de horn full of coins;–if it had been a box or case, I would have said nothing.”

“Being a horn,” said Oldbuck, “does indeed strengthen your argument. It was an implement of nature’s fashioning, and therefore much used among rude nations, although, it may be, the metaphorical horn is more frequent in proportion to the progress of civilisation. And this present horn,” he continued, rubbing it upon his sleeve, “is a curious and venerable relic, and no doubt was intended to prove a _cornucopia,_ or horn of plenty, to some one or other; but whether to the adept or his patron, may be justly doubted.”

“Well, Mr. Oldenbuck, I find you still hard of belief–but let me assure you, de monksh understood de _magisterium._”

“Let us leave talking of the _magisterium,_ Mr. Dousterswivel, and think a little about the magistrate. Are you aware that this occupation of yours is against the law of Scotland, and that both Sir Arthur and myself are in the commission of the peace?”

“Mine heaven! and what is dat to de purpose when I am doing you all de goot I can?”

“Why, you must know that when the legislature abolished the cruel laws against witchcraft, they had no hope of destroying the superstitious feelings of humanity on which such chimeras had been founded; and to prevent those feelings from being tampered with by artful and designing persons, it is enacted by the ninth of George the Second, chap. 5, that whosoever shall pretend, by his alleged skill in any occult or crafty science, to discover such goods as are lost, stolen or concealed, he shall suffer punishment by pillory and imprisonment, as a common cheat and impostor.”

“And is dat de laws?” asked Dousterswivel, with some agitation.

“Thyself shall see the act,” replied the Antiquary.

“Den, gentlemens, I shall take my leave of you, dat is all; I do not like to stand on your what you call pillory–it is very bad way to take de air, I think; and I do not like your prisons no more, where one cannot take de air at all.”

“If such be your taste, Mr. Dousterswivel,” said the Antiquary, “I advise you to stay where you are, for I cannot let you go, unless it be in the society of a constable; and, moreover, I expect you will attend us just now to the ruins of St. Ruth, and point out the place where you propose to find this treasure.”

“Mine heaven, Mr. Oldenbuck! what usage is this to your old friend, when I tell you so plain as I can speak, dat if you go now, you will not get so much treasure as one poor shabby sixpence?”

“I will try the experiment, however, and you shall be dealt with according to its success,–always with Sir Arthur’s permission.”

Sir Arthur, during this investigation, had looked extremely embarrassed, and, to use a vulgar but expressive phrase, chop-fallen. Oldbuck’s obstinate disbelief led him strongly to suspect the imposture of Dousterswivel, and the adept’s mode of keeping his ground was less resolute than he had expected. Yet he did not entirely give him up.

“Mr. Oldbuck,” said the Baronet, “you do Mr. Dousterswivel less than justice. He has undertaken to make this discovery by the use of his art, and by applying characters descriptive of the Intelligences presiding over the planetary hour in which the experiment is to be made; and you require him to proceed, under pain of punishment, without allowing him the use of any of the preliminaries which he considers as the means of procuring success.”

“I did not say that exactly–I only required him to be present when we make the search, and not to leave us during the interval. I fear he may have some intelligence with the Intelligences you talk of, and that whatever may be now hidden at Saint Ruth may disappear before we get there.”

“Well, gentlemens,” said Dousterswivel, sullenly, “I will make no objections to go along with you but I tell you beforehand, you shall not find so much of anything as shall be worth your going twenty yard from your own gate.”

“We will put that to a fair trial,” said the Antiquary; and the Baronet’s equipage being ordered, Miss Wardour received an intimation from her father, that she was to remain at Monkbarns until his return from an airing. The young lady was somewhat at a loss to reconcile this direction with the communication which she supposed must have passed between Sir Arthur and the Antiquary; but she was compelled, for the present, to remain in a most unpleasant state of suspense.

The journey of the treasure-seekers was melancholy enough. Dousterswivel maintained a sulky silence, brooding at once over disappointed expectation and the risk of punishment; Sir Arthur, whose golden dreams had been gradually fading away, surveyed, in gloomy prospect, the impending difficulties of his situation; and Oldbuck, who perceived that his having so far interfered in his neighbours affairs gave the Baronet a right to expect some actual and efficient assistance, sadly pondered to what extent it would be necessary to draw open the strings of his purse. Thus each being wrapped in his own unpleasant ruminations, there was hardly a word said on either side, until they reached the Four Horse-shoes, by which sign the little inn was distinguished. They procured at this place the necessary assistance and implements for digging, and, while they were busy about these preparations, were suddenly joined by the old beggar, Edie Ochiltree.

“The Lord bless your honour,” began the Blue-Gown, with the genuine mendicant whine, “and long life to you!–weel pleased am I to hear that young Captain M’Intyre is like to be on his legs again sune–Think on your poor bedesman the day.”

“Aha, old true-penny!” replied the Antiquary. “Why, thou hast never come to Monkbarns since thy perils by rock and flood–here’s something for thee to buy snuff,”–and, fumbling for his purse, he pulled out at the same time the horn which enclosed the coins.

“Ay, and there’s something to pit it in,” said the mendicant, eyeing the ram’s horn–“that loom’s an auld acquaintance o’ mine. I could take my aith to that sneeshing-mull amang a thousand–I carried it for mony a year, till I niffered it for this tin ane wi’ auld George Glen, the dammer and sinker, when he took a fancy till’t doun at Glen-Withershins yonder.”

“Ay! indeed?” said Oldbuck;–“so you exchanged it with a miner? but I presume you never saw it so well filled before”–and opening it, he showed the coins.

“Troth, ye may swear that, Monkbarns: when it was mine it neer had abune the like o’ saxpenny worth o’ black rappee in’t at ance. But I reckon ye’ll be gaun to mak an antic o’t, as ye hae dune wi’ mony an orra thing besides. Od, I wish anybody wad mak an antic o’ me; but mony ane will find worth in rousted bits o’ capper and horn and airn, that care unco little about an auld carle o’ their ain country and kind.”

“You may now guess,” said Oldbuck, turning to Sir Arthur, “to whose good offices you were indebted the other night. To trace this cornucopia of yours to a miner, is bringing it pretty near a friend of ours–I hope we shall be as successful this morning, without paying for it.”

“And whare is your honours gaun the day,” said the mendicant, “wi’ a’ your picks and shules?–Od, this will be some o’ your tricks, Monkbarns: ye’ll be for whirling some o’ the auld monks down by yonder out o’ their graves afore they hear the last call–but, wi’ your leave, I’se follow ye at ony rate, and see what ye mak o’t.”

The party soon arrived at the ruins of the priory, and, having gained the chancel, stood still to consider what course they were to pursue next. The Antiquary, meantime, addressed the adept.

“Pray, Mr. Dousterswivel, what is your advice in this matter? Shall we have most likelihood of success if we dig from east to west, or from west to east?–or will you assist us with your triangular vial of May-dew, or with your divining-rod of witches-hazel?–or will you have the goodness to supply us with a few thumping blustering terms of art, which, if they fail in our present service, may at least be useful to those who have not the happiness to be bachelors, to still their brawling children withal?”

“Mr. Oldenbuck,” said Dousterswivel, doggedly, “I have told you already that you will make no good work at all, and I will find some way of mine own to thank you for your civilities to me–yes, indeed.”

“If your honours are thinking of tirling the floor,” said old Edie, “and wad but take a puir body’s advice, I would begin below that muckle stane that has the man there streekit out upon his back in the midst o’t.”

“I have some reason for thinking favourably of that plan myself,” said the Baronet.

“And I have nothing to say against it,” said Oldbuck: “it was not unusual to hide treasure in the tombs of the deceased–many instances might be quoted of that from Bartholinus and others.”

The tombstone, the same beneath which the coins had been found by Sir Arthur and the German, was once more forced aside, and the earth gave easy way to the spade.

“It’s travell’d earth that,” said Edie, “it howks gae eithly–I ken it weel, for ance I wrought a simmer wi’ auld Will Winnet, the bedral, and howkit mair graves than ane in my day; but I left him in winter, for it was unco cald wark; and then it cam a green Yule, and the folk died thick and fast–for ye ken a green Yule makes a fat kirkyard; and I never dowed to bide a hard turn o’ wark in my life–sae aff I gaed, and left Will to delve his last dwellings by himsell for Edie.”

The diggers were now so far advanced in their labours as to discover that the sides of the grave which they were clearing out had been originally secured by four walls of freestone, forming a parallelogram, for the reception, probably, of the coffin.

“It is worth while proceeding in our labours,” said the Antiquary to Sir Arthur, “were it but for curiosity’s sake. I wonder on whose sepulchre they have bestowed such uncommon pains.”

“The arms on the shield,” said Sir Arthur, and sighed as he spoke it, “are the same with those on Misticot’s tower, supposed to have been built by Malcolm the usurper. No man knew where he was buried, and there is an old prophecy in our family, that bodes us no good when his grave shall be discovered.”

“I wot,” said the beggar, “I have often heard that when I was a bairn–

If Malcolm the Misticot’s grave were fun’, The lands of Knockwinnock were lost and won.”

Oldbuck, with his spectacles on his nose, had already knelt down on the monument, and was tracing, partly with his eye, partly with his finger, the mouldered devices upon the effigy of the deceased warrior. “It is the Knockwinnock arms, sure enough,” he exclaimed, “quarterly with the coat of Wardour.”

“Richard, called the red-handed Wardour, married Sybil Knockwinnock, the heiress of the Saxon family, and by that alliance,” said Sir Arthur, “brought the castle and estate into the name of Wardour, in the year of God 1150.”

“Very true, Sir Arthur; and here is the baton-sinister, the mark of illegitimacy, extended diagonally through both coats upon the shield. Where can our eyes have been, that they did not see this curious monument before?”

“Na, whare was the through-stane, that it didna come before our een till e’enow?” said Ochiltree; “for I hae ken’d this auld kirk, man and bairn, for saxty lang years, and I neer noticed it afore; and it’s nae sic mote neither, but what ane might see it in their parritch.”

All were now induced to tax their memory as to the former state of the ruins in that corner of the chancel, and all agreed in recollecting a considerable pile of rubbish which must have been removed and spread abroad in order to malke the tomb visible. Sir Arthur might, indeed, have remembered seeing the monument on the former occasion, but his mind was too much agitated to attend to the circumstance as a novelty.

While the assistants were engaged in these recollections and discussions, the workmen proceeded with their labour. They had already dug to the depth of nearly five feet, and as the flinging out the soil became more and more difficult, they began at length to tire of the job.

“We’re down to the till now,” said one of them, “and the neer a coffin or onything else is here–some cunninger chiel’s been afore us, I reckon;”– and the labourer scrambled out of the grave.

“Hout, lad,” said Edie, getting down in his room–“let me try my hand for an auld bedral;–ye’re gude seekers, but ill finders.”

So soon as he got into the grave, he struck his pike-staff forcibly down; it encountered resistance in its descent, and the beggar exclaimed, like a Scotch schoolboy when he finds anything, “Nae halvers and quarters– hale o’ mine ain and ‘nane o’ my neighbour’s.”

Everybody, from the dejected Baronet to the sullen adept, now caught the spirit of curiosity, crowded round the grave, and would have jumped into it, could its space have contained them. The labourers, who had begun to flag in their monotonous and apparently hopeless task, now resumed their tools, and plied them with all the ardour of expectation. Their shovels soon grated upon a hard wooden surface, which, as the earth was cleared away, assumed the distinct form of a chest, but greatly smaller than that of a coffin. Now all hands were at work to heave it out of the grave, and all voices, as it was raised, proclaimed its weight and augured its value. They were not mistaken.

When the chest or box was placed on the surface, and the lid forced up by a pickaxe, there was displayed first a coarse canvas cover, then a quantity of oakum, and beneath that a number of ingots of silver. A general exclamation hailed a discovery so surprising and unexpected. The Baronet threw his hands and eyes up to heaven, with the silent rapture of one who is delivered from inexpressible distress of mind. Oldbuck, almost unable to credit his eyes, lifted one piece of silver after another. There was neither inscription nor stamp upon them, excepting one, which seemed to be Spanish. He could have no doubt of the purity and great value of the treasure before him. Still, however, removing piece by piece, he examined row by row, expecting to discover that the lower layers were of inferior value; but he could perceive no difference in this respect, and found himself compelled to admit, that Sir Arthur had possessed himself of bullion to the value, perhaps of a thousand pounds sterling. Sir Arthur now promised the assistants a handsome recompense for their trouble, and began to busy himself about the mode of conveying this rich windfall to the Castle of Knockwinnock, when the adept, recovering from his surprise, which had squalled that exhibited by any other individual of the party, twitched his sleeve, and having offered his humble congratulations, turned next to Oldbuck with an air of triumph.

“I did tell you, my goot friend, Mr. Oldenbuck, dat I was to seek opportunity to thank you for your civility; now do you not think I have found out vary goot way to return thank?”

“Why, Mr. Dousterswivel, do you pretend to have had any hand in our good success?–you forget you refused us all aid of your science, man; and you are here without your weapons that should have fought the battle which you pretend to have gained in our behalf: you have used neither charm, lamen, sigil, talisman, spell, crystal, pentacle, magic mirror, nor geomantic figure. Where be your periapts, and your abracadabras man? your Mayfern, your vervain,

Your toad, your crow, your dragon, and your panther, Your sun, your moon, your firmament, your adrop, Your Lato, Azoch, Zernich, Chibrit, Heautarit, With all your broths, your menstrues, your materials, Would burst a man to name?–

Ah! rare Ben Jonson! long peace to thy ashes for a scourge of the quacks of thy day!–who expected to see them revive in our own?”

The answer of the adept to the Antiquary’s tirade we must defer to our next chapter.

CHAPTER THIRD.

_Clause._–You now shall know the king o’ the beggars’ treasure:– Yes–ere to-morrow you shall find your harbour Here,–fail me not, for if I live I’ll fit you. The Beggar’s Bush.

The German, determined, it would seem, to assert the vantage-ground on which the discovery had placed him, replied with great pomp and stateliness to the attack of the Antiquary.

“Maister Oldenbuck, all dis may be very witty and comedy, but I have nothing to say–nothing at all–to people dat will not believe deir own eye-sights. It is vary true dat I ave not any of de things of de art, and it makes de more wonder what I has done dis day. But I would ask of you, mine honoured and goot and generous patron, to put your hand into your right-hand waistcoat pocket, and show me what you shall find dere.”

Sir Arthur obeyed his direction, and pulled out the small plate of silver which he had used under the adept’s auspices upon the former occasion. “It is very true,” said Sir Arthur, looking gravely at the Antiquary; “this is the graduated and calculated sigil by which Mr. Dousterswivel and I regulated our first discovery.”

“Pshaw! pshaw! my dear friend,” said Oldbuck, “you are too wise to believe in the influence of a trumpery crown-piece, beat out thin, and a parcel of scratches upon it. I tell thee, Sir Arthur, that if Dousterswivel had known where to get this treasure himself, you would not have been lord of the least share of it.”

“In troth, please your honour,” said Edie, who put in his word on all occasions, “I think, since Mr. Dunkerswivel has had sae muckle merit in discovering a’ the gear, the least ye can do is to gie him that o’t that’s left behind for his labour; for doubtless he that kend where to find sae muckle will hae nae difficulty to find mair.”

Dousterswivel’s brow grew very dark at this proposal of leaving him to his “ain purchase,” as Ochiltree expressed it; but the beggar, drawing him aside, whispered a word or two in his ear, to which he seemed to give serious attention,

Meanwhile Sir Arthur, his heart warm with his good fortune, said aloud, “Never mind our friend Monkbarns, Mr. Dousterswivel, but come to the Castle to-morrow, and I’ll convince you that I am not ungrateful for the hints you have given me about this matter–and the fifty Fairport dirty notes, as you call them, are heartily at your service. Come, my lads, get the cover of this precious chest fastened up again.”

But the cover had in the confusion fallen aside among the rubbish, or the loose earth which had been removed from the grave–in short, it was not to be seen.

“Never mind, my good lads, tie the tarpaulin over it, and get it away to the carriage.–Monkbarns, will you walk? I must go back your way to take up Miss Wardour.”

“And, I hope, to take up your dinner also, Sir Arthur, and drink a glass of wine for joy of our happy adventure. Besides, you should write about the business to the Exchequer, in case of any interference on the part of the Crown. As you are lord of the manor, it will be easy to get a deed of gift, should they make any claim. We must talk about it, though.”

“And I particularly recommend silence to all who are present,” said Sir Arthur, looking round. All bowed and professed themselves dumb.

“Why, as to that,” said Monkbarns, “recommending secrecy where a dozen of people are acquainted with the circumstance to be concealed, is only putting the truth in masquerade, for the story will be circulated under twenty different shapes. But never mind–we will state the true one to the Barons, and that is all that is necessary.”

“I incline to send off an express to-night,” said the Baronet.

“I can recommend your honour to a sure hand,” said Ochiltree; “little Davie Mailsetter, and the butcher’s reisting powny.”

“We will talk over the matter as we go to Monkbarns,” said Sir Arthur. “My lads” (to the work-people), “come with me to the Four Horse-shoes, that I may take down all your names.–Dousterswivel, I won’t ask you to go down to Monkbarns, as the laird and you differ so widely in opinion; but do not fail to come to see me to-morrow.”

Dousterswivel growled out an answer, in which the words, “duty,”–“mine honoured patron,”–and “wait upon Sir Arthurs,”–were alone distinguishable; and after the Baronet and his friend had left the ruins, followed by the servants and workmen, who, in hope of reward and whisky, joyfully attended their leader, the adept remained in a brown study by the side of the open grave.

“Who was it as could have thought this?” he ejaculated unconsciously. “Mine heiligkeit! I have heard of such things, and often spoken of such things–but, sapperment! I never, thought to see them! And if I had gone but two or dree feet deeper down in the earth–mein himmel! it had been all mine own–so much more as I have been muddling about to get from this fool’s man.”

Here the German ceased his soliloquy, for, raising his eyes, he encountered those of Edie Ochiltree, who had not followed the rest of the company, but, resting as usual on his pike-staff, had planted himself on the other side of the grave. The features of the old man, naturally shrewd and expressive almost to an appearance of knavery, seemed in this instance so keenly knowing, that even the assurance of Dousterswivel, though a professed adventurer, sunk beneath their glances. But he saw the necessity of an e’claircissement, and, rallying his spirits, instantly began to sound the mendicant on the occurrences of the day. “Goot Maister Edies Ochiltrees”–

“Edie Ochiltree, nae maister–your puir bedesman and the king’s,” answered the Blue-Gown.

“Awell den, goot Edie, what do you think of all dis?”

“I was just thinking it was very kind (for I darena say very simple) o’ your honour to gie thae twa rich gentles, wha hae lands and lairdships, and siller without end, this grand pose o’ silver and treasure (three times tried in the fire, as the Scripture expresses it), that might hae made yoursell and ony twa or three honest bodies beside, as happy and content as the day was lang.”

“Indeed, Edie, mine honest friends, dat is very true; only I did not know, dat is, I was not sure, where to find the gelt myself.”

“What! was it not by your honours advice and counsel that Monkbarns and the Knight of Knockwinnock came here then?”

“Aha–yes; but it was by another circumstance. I did not know dat dey would have found de treasure, mine friend; though I did guess, by such a tintamarre, and cough, and sneeze, and groan, among de spirit one other night here, dat there might be treasure and bullion hereabout. Ach, mein himmel! the spirit will hone and groan over his gelt, as if he were a Dutch Burgomaster counting his dollars after a great dinner at the Stadthaus.”

“And do you really believe the like o’ that, Mr. Dusterdeevil !–a skeelfu’ man like you–hout fie!”

“Mein friend,” answered the adept, foreed by circumstances to speak something nearer the truth than he generally used to do, “I believed it no more than you and no man at all, till I did hear them hone and moan and groan myself on de oder night, and till I did this day see de cause, which was an great chest all full of de pure silver from Mexico–and what would you ave nae think den?”

“And what wad ye gie to ony ane,” said Edie, “that wad help ye to sic another kistfu’ o’ silver!”

“Give?–mein himmel!–one great big quarter of it.”

“Now if the secret were mine,” said the mendicant, “I wad stand out for a half; for you see, though I am but a puir ragged body, and couldna carry silver or gowd to sell for fear o’ being taen up, yet I could find mony folk would pass it awa for me at unco muckle easier profit than ye’re thinking on.”

“Ach, himmel!–Mein goot friend, what was it I said?–I did mean to say you should have de tree quarter for your half, and de one quarter to be my fair half.”

“No, no, Mr. Dusterdeevil, we will divide equally what we find, like brother and brother. Now, look at this board that I just flung into the dark aisle out o’ the way, while Monkbarns was glowering ower a’ the silver yonder. He’s a sharp chiel Monkbarns–I was glad to keep the like o’ this out o’ his sight. Ye’ll maybe can read the character better than me–I am nae that book learned, at least I’m no that muckle in practice.”

With this modest declaration of ignorance, Ochiltree brought forth from behind a pillar the cover of the box or chest of treasure, which, when forced from its hinges, had been carelessly flung aside during the ardour of curiosity to ascertain the contents which it concealed, and had been afterwards, as it seems, secreted by the mendicant. There was a word and a number upon the plank, and the beggar made them more distinct by spitting upon his ragged blue handkerchief, and rubbing off the clay by which the inscription was obscured. It was in the ordinary black letter.

“Can ye mak ought o’t?” said Edie to the adept.

“S,” said the philosopher, like a child getting his lesson in the primer –“S, T, A, R, C, H,–_Starch!_–dat is what de woman-washers put into de neckerchers, and de shirt collar.”

“Search!” echoed Ochiltree; “na, na, Mr. Dusterdeevil, ye are mair of a conjuror than a clerk–it’s _search,_ man, _search_–See, there’s the _Ye_ clear and distinct.”

“Aha! I see it now–it is _search–number one._ Mein himmel! then there must be a _number two,_ mein goot friend: for _search_ is what you call to seek and dig, and this is but _number one!_ Mine wort, there is one great big prize in de wheel for us, goot Maister Ochiltree.”

“Aweel, it may be sae; but we canna howk fort enow–we hae nae shules, for they hae taen them a’ awa–and it’s like some o’ them will be sent back to fling the earth into the hole, and mak a’ things trig again. But an ye’ll sit down wi’ me a while in the wood, I’se satisfy your honour that ye hae just lighted on the only man in the country that could hae tauld about Malcolm Misticot and his hidden treasure–But first we’ll rub out the letters on this board, for fear it tell tales.”

And, by the assistance of his knife, the beggar erased and defaced the characters so as to make them quite unintelligible, and then daubed the board with clay so as to obliterate all traces of the erasure.

Dousterswivel stared at him in ambiguous silence. There was an intelligence and alacrity about all the old man’s movements, which indicated a person that could not be easily overreached, and yet (for even rogues acknowledge in some degree the spirit of precedence) our adept felt the disgrace of playing a secondary part, and dividing winnings with so mean an associate. His appetite for gain, however, was sufficiently sharp to overpower his offended pride, and though far more an impostor than a dupe, he was not without a certain degree of personal faith even in the gross superstitions by means of which he imposed upon others. Still, being accustomed to act as a leader on such occasions, he felt humiliated at feeling himself in the situation of a vulture marshalled to his prey by a carrion-crow.–“Let me, however, hear this story to an end,” thought Dousterswivel, “and it will be hard if I do not make mine account in it better as Maister Edie Ochiltrees makes proposes.”

The adept, thus transformed into a pupil from a teacher of the mystic art, followed Ochiltree in passive acquiescence to the Prior’s Oak–a spot, as the reader may remember, at a short distance from the ruins, where the German sat down, and silence waited the old man’s communication.

“Maister Dustandsnivel,” said the narrator, “it’s an unco while since I heard this business treated anent;–for the lairds of Knockwinnock, neither Sir Arthur, nor his father, nor his grandfather–and I mind a wee bit about them a’–liked to hear it spoken about; nor they dinna like it yet–But nae matter; ye may be sure it was clattered about in the kitchen, like onything else in a great house, though it were forbidden in the ha’–and sae I hae heard the circumstance rehearsed by auld servants in the family; and in thir present days, when things o’ that auld-warld sort arena keepit in mind round winter fire-sides as they used to be, I question if there’s onybody in the country can tell the tale but mysell– aye out-taken the laird though, for there’s a parchment book about it, as I have heard, in the charter-room at Knockwinnock Castle.”

“Well, all dat is vary well–but get you on with your stories, mine goot friend,” said Dousterswivel.

“Aweel, ye see,” continued the mendicant, “this was a job in the auld times o’ rugging and riving through the hale country, when it was ilka ane for himsell, and God for us a’–when nae man wanted property if he had strength to take it, or had it langer than he had power to keep it. It was just he ower her, and she ower him, whichever could win upmost, a’ through the east country here, and nae doubt through the rest o’ Scotland in the self and same manner.

“Sae in these days Sir Richard Wardour came into the land, and that was the first o’ the name ever was in this country. There’s been mony o’ them sin’ syne; and the maist, like him they ca’d Hell-in-Harness, and the rest o’ them, are sleeping down in yon ruins. They were a proud dour set o’ men, but unco brave, and aye stood up for the weel o’ the country, God sain them a’–there’s no muckle popery in that wish. They ca’d them the Norman Wardours, though they cam frae the south to this country. So this Sir Richard, that they ca’d Red-hand, drew up wi’ the auld Knockwinnock o’ that day–for then they were Knockwinnocks of that Ilk–and wad fain marry his only daughter, that was to have the castle and the land. Laith, laith was the lass–(Sybil Knockwinnock they ca’d her that tauld me the tale)–laith, laith was she to gie into the match, for she had fa’en a wee ower thick wi’ a cousin o’ her ain that her father had some ill-will to; and sae it was, that after she had been married to Sir Richard jimp four months–for marry him she maun, it’s like–ye’ll no hinder her gieing them a present o’ a bonny knave bairn. Then there was siccan a ca’-thro’, as the like was never seen; and she’s be burnt, and he’s be slain, was the best words o’ their mouths. But it was a’ sowdered up again some gait, and the bairn was sent awa, and bred up near the Highlands, and grew up to be a fine wanle fallow, like mony ane that comes o’ the wrang side o’ the blanket; and Sir Richard wi’ the Red-hand, he had a fair offspring o’his ain, and a was lound and quiet till his head was laid in the ground. But then down came Malcolm Misticot–(Sir Arthur says it should be _Misbegot,_ but they aye ca’d him Misticot that spoke o’t lang syne)–down cam this Malcolm, the love-begot, frae Glen-isla, wi’ a string o’ lang-legged Highlanders at his heels, that’s aye ready for onybody’s mischief, and he threeps the castle and lands are his ain as his mother’s eldest son, and turns a’ the Wardours out to the hill. There was a sort of fighting and blude-spilling about it, for the gentles took different sides; but Malcolm had the uppermost for a lang time, and keepit the Castle of Knockwinnock, and strengthened it, and built that muckle tower that they ca’ Misticot’s tower to this day.”

“Mine goot friend, old Mr. Edie Ochiltree.” interrupted the German, “this is all as one like de long histories of a baron of sixteen quarters in mine countries; but I would as rather hear of de silver and gold.”

“Why, ye see,” continued the mendicant, “this Malcolm was weel helped by an uncle, a brother o’ his father’s, that was Prior o’ St. Ruth here; and muckle treasure they gathered between them, to secure the succession of their house in the lands of Knockwinnock. Folk said that the monks in thae days had the art of multiplying metals–at ony rate, they were very rich. At last it came to this, that the young Wardour, that was Red-hand’s son, challenged Misticot to fight with him in the lists as they ca’d them–that’s no lists or tailor’s runds and selvedges o’ claith, but a palin’-thing they set up for them to fight in like game-cocks. Aweel, Misticot was beaten, and at his brother’s mercy–but he wadna touch his life, for the blood of Knockwinnock that was in baith their veins: so Malcolm was compelled to turn a monk, and he died soon after in the priory, of pure despite and vexation. Naebody ever kenn’d whare his uncle the prior earded him, or what he did wi’ his gowd and silver, for he stood on the right o’ halie kirk, and wad gie nae account to onybody. But the prophecy gat abroad in the country, that whenever Misticot’s grave was fund out, the estate of Knockwinnock should be lost and won.”

“Ach! mine goot old friend, Maister Edie, and dat is not so very unlikely, if Sir Arthurs will quarrel wit his goot friends to please Mr. Oldenbuck.–And so you do tink dat dis golds and silvers belonged to goot Mr. Malcolm Mishdigoat?”

“Troth do I, Mr. Dousterdeevil.”

“And you do believe dat dere is more of dat sorts behind?”

“By my certie do I–How can it be otherwise?–_Search–No. I_–that is as muckle as to say, search and ye’ll find number twa. Besides, yon kist is only silver, and I aye heard that’ Misticot’s pose had muckle yellow gowd in’t.”

“Den, mine goot friends,” said the adept, jumping up hastily, “why do we not set about our little job directly?”

“For twa gude reasons,” answered the beggar, who quietly kept his sitting posture;–“first, because, as I said before, we have naething to dig wi’, for they hae taen awa the picks and shules; and, secondly, because there will be a wheen idle gowks coming to glower at the hole as lang as it is daylight, and maybe the laird may send somebody to fill it up–and ony way we wad be catched. But if you will meet me on this place at twal o’clock wi’ a dark lantern, I’ll hae tools ready, and we’ll gang quietly about our job our twa sells, and naebody the wiser for’t.”

“Be–be–but, mine goot friend,” said Dousterswivel, from whose recollection his former nocturnal adventure was not to be altogether erased, even by the splendid hopes which Edie’s narrative held forth, “it is not so goot or so safe, to be about goot Maister Mishdigoat’s grabe at dat time of night–you have forgot how I told you de spirits did hone and mone dere. I do assure you, dere is disturbance dere.”

“If ye’re afraid of ghaists,” answered the mendicant, coolly, “I’ll do the job mysell, and bring your share o’ the siller to ony place you like to appoint.”

“No–no–mine excellent old Mr. Edie,–too much trouble for you–I will not have dat–I will come myself–and it will be bettermost; for, mine old friend, it was I, Herman Dousterswivel, discovered Maister Mishdigoat’s grave when I was looking for a place as to put away some little trumpery coins, just to play one little trick on my dear friend Sir Arthur, for a little sport and pleasures. Yes, I did take some what you call rubbish, and did discover Maister Mishdigoat’s own monumentsh– It’s like dat he meant I should be his heirs–so it would not be civility in me not to come mineself for mine inheritance.”

“At twal o’clock, then,” said the mendicant, “we meet under this tree. I’ll watch for a while, and see that naebody meddles wi’ the grave–it’s only saying the laird’s forbade it–then get my bit supper frae Ringan the poinder up by, and leave to sleep in his barn; and I’ll slip out at night, and neer be mist.”

“Do so, mine goot Maister Edie, and I will meet you here on this very place, though all de spirits should moan and sneeze deir very brains out.”

So saying he shook hands with the old man, and with this mutual pledge of fidelity to their appointment, they separated for the present.

CHAPTER FOURTH.

–See thou shake the bags Of hoarding abbots; angels imprisoned Set thou at liberty–
Bell, book, and candle, shall not drive me back, If gold and silver beckon to come on. King John.

The night set in stormy, with wind and occasional showers of rain. “Eh, sirs,” said the old mendicant, as he took his place on the sheltered side of the large oak-tree to wait for his associate–“Eh, sirs, but human nature’s a wilful and wilyard thing!–Is it not an unco lucre o’ gain wad bring this Dousterdivel out in a blast o’ wind like this, at twal o’clock at night, to thir wild gousty wa’s?–and amna I a bigger fule than himsell to bide here waiting for him?”

Having made these sage reflections, he wrapped himself close in his cloak, and fixed his eye on the moon as she waded amid the stormy and dusky clouds, which the wind from time to time drove across her surface. The melancholy and uncertain gleams that she shot from between the passing shadows fell full upon the rifted arches and shafted windows of the old building, which were thus for an instant made distinctly visible in their ruinous state, and anon became again a dark, undistinguished, and shadowy mass. The little lake had its share of these transient beams of light, and showed its waters broken, whitened, and agitated under the passing storm, which, when the clouds swept over the moon, were only distinguished by their sullen and murmuring plash against the beach. The wooded glen repeated, to every successive gust that hurried through its narrow trough, the deep and various groan with which the trees replied to the whirlwind, and the sound sunk again, as the blast passed away, into a faint and passing murmur, resembling the sighs of an exhausted criminal after the first pangs of his torture are over. In these sounds, superstition might have found ample gratification for that State of excited terror which she fears and yet loves. But such feeling is made no part of Ochiltree’s composition. His mind wandered back to the scenes of his youth.

“I have kept guard on the outposts baith in Germany and America,” he said to himself, “in mony a waur night than this, and when I ken’d there was maybe a dozen o’ their riflemen in the thicket before me. But I was aye gleg at my duty–naebody ever catched Edie sleeping.”

As he muttered thus to himself, he instinctively shouldered his trusty pike-staff, assumed the port of a sentinel on duty, and, as a step advanced towards the tree, called, with a tone assorting better with his military reminiscences than his present state–“Stand! who goes there?”

“De devil, goot Edie,” answered Dousterswivel, “why does you speak so loud as a baarenhauter, or what you call a factionary–I mean a sentinel?”

“Just because I thought I was a sentinel at that moment,” answered the mendicant. “Here’s an awsome night! Hae ye brought the lantern and a pock for the siller?”

“Ay-ay, mine goot friend,” said the German, “here it is–my pair of what you call saddlebag; one side will be for you, one side for me;–I will put dem on my horse to save you de trouble, as you are old man.”

“Have you a horse here, then?” asked Edie Ochiltree.

“O yes, mine friend–tied yonder by de stile,” responded the adept.

“Weel, I hae just ae word to the bargain–there sall nane o’ my gear gang on your beast’s back.”

“What was it as you would be afraid of?” said the foreigner.

“Only of losing sight of horse, man, and money,” again replied the gaberlunzie.

“Does you know dat you make one gentlemans out to be one great rogue?”

“Mony gentlemen,” replied Ochiltree, “can make that out for themselves– But what’s the sense of quarrelling?–If ye want to gang on, gang on–if no–I’ll gae back to the gude ait-straw in Ringan Aikwood’s barn that I left wi’ right ill-will e’now, and I’ll pit back the pick and shule whar I got them.”

Dousterswivel deliberated a moment, whether, by suffering Edie to depart, he might not secure the whole of the expected wealth for his own exclusive use. But the want of digging implements, the uncertainty whether, if he had them, he could clear out the grave to a sufficient depth without assistance, and, above all, the reluctance which he felt, owing to the experience of the former night, to venture alone on the terrors of Misticot’s grave, satisfied him the attempt would be hazardous. Endeavouring, therefore, to assume his usual cajoling tone, though internally incensed, he begged “his goot friend Maister Edie Ochiltrees would lead the way, and assured him of his acquiescence in all such an excellent friend could propose.”

“Aweel, aweel, then,” said Edie, “tak gude care o’ your feet amang the lang grass and the loose stones. I wish we may get the light keepit in neist, wi’ this fearsome wind–but there’s a blink o’ moonlight at times.”

Thus saying, old Edie, closely accompanied by the adept, led the way towards the ruins, but presently made a full halt in front of them.

“Ye’re a learned man, Mr. Dousterdeevil, and ken muckle o’ the marvellous works o’ nature–Now, will ye tell me ae thing?–D’ye believe in ghaists and spirits that walk the earth?–d’ye believe in them, ay or no?”

“Now, goot Mr. Edie,” whispered Dousterswivel, in an expostulatory tone of voice, “is this a times or a places for such a questions?”

“Indeed is it, baith the tane and the t’other, Mr. Dustanshovel; for I maun fairly tell ye, there’s reports that auld Misticot walks. Now this wad be an uncanny night to meet him in, and wha kens if he wad be ower weel pleased wi’ our purpose of visiting his pose?”

“_Alle guten Geister_”–muttered the adept, the rest of the conjuration being lost in a tremulous warble of his voice,–“I do desires you not to speak so, Mr. Edie; for, from all I heard dat one other night, I do much believes”–

“Now I,” said Ochiltree, entering the chancel, and flinging abroad his arm with an air of defiance, “I wadna gie the crack o’ my thumb for him were he to appear at this moment: he’s but a disembodied spirit, as we are embodied anes.”

“For the lofe of heavens,” said Dousterswivel, “say nothing at all neither about somebodies or nobodies!”

“Aweel,” said the beggar (expanding the shade of the lantern), “here’s the stane, and, spirit or no spirit, I’se be a wee bit deeper in the grave;” and he jumped into the place from which the precious chest had that morning been removed. After striking a few strokes, he tired, or affected to tire, and said to his companion, “I’m auld and failed now, and canna keep at it–time about’s fair play, neighbour; ye maun get in and tak the shule a bit, and shule out the loose earth, and then I’ll tak turn about wi’ you.”

Dousterswivel accordingly took the place which the beggar had evacuated, and toiled with all the zeal that awakened avarice, mingled with the anxious wish to finish the undertaking and leave the place as soon as possible, could inspire in a mind at once greedy, suspicious, and timorous.

Edie, standing much at his ease by the side of the hole, contented himself with exhorting his associate to labour hard. “My certie! few ever wrought for siccan a day’s wage; an it be but–say the tenth part o’ the size o’ the kist, No. I., it will double its value, being filled wi’ gowd instead of silver. Od, ye work as if ye had been bred to pick and shule– ye could win your round half-crown ilka day. Tak care o’ your taes wi’ that stane!” giving a kick to a large one which the adept had heaved out with difficulty, and which Edie pushed back again to the great annoyance of his associate’s shins.

Thus exhorted by the mendicant, Dousterswivel struggled and laboured among the stones and stiff clay, toiling like a horse, and internally blaspheming in German. When such an unhallowed syllable escaped his lips, Edie changed his battery upon him.

“O dinna swear! dinna swear! Wha kens whals listening!–Eh! gude guide us, what’s you!–Hout, it’s just a branch of ivy flightering awa frae the wa’; when the moon was in, it lookit unco like a dead man’s arm wi’ a taper in’t–I thought it was Misticot himsell. But never mind, work you away–fling the earth weel up by out o’ the gate–Od, if ye’re no as clean a worker at a grave as Win Winnet himsell! What gars ye stop now?– ye’re just at the very bit for a chance.”

“Stop!” said the German, in a tone of anger and disappointment, “why, I am down at de rocks dat de cursed ruins (God forgife me!) is founded upon.”

“Weel,” said the beggar, “that’s the likeliest bit of ony. It will be but a muckle through-stane laid doun to kiver the gowd–tak the pick till’t, and pit mair strength, man–ae gude down-right devvel will split it, I’se warrant ye–Ay, that will do Od, he comes on wi’ Wallace’s straiks!”

In fact, the adept, moved by Edie’s exhortations, fetched two or three desperate blows, and succeeded in breaking, not indeed that against which he struck, which, as he had already conjectured, was the solid rock, but the implement which he wielded, jarring at the same time his arms up to the shoulder-blades.

“Hurra, boys!–there goes Ringan’s pick-axe!” cried Edie “it’s a shame o’ the Fairport folk to sell siccan frail gear. Try the shule–at it again, Mr. Dusterdeevil.”

The adept, without reply, scrambled out of the pit, which was now about six feet deep, and addressed his associate in a voice that trembled with anger. “Does you know, Mr. Edies Ochiltrees, who it is you put off your gibes and your jests upon?”

“Brawly, Mr. Dusterdeevil–brawly do I ken ye, and has done mony a day; but there’s nae jesting in the case, for I am wearying to see ae our treasures; we should hae had baith ends o’ the pockmanky filled by this time–I hope it’s bowk eneugh to haud a’ the gear?”

“Look you, you base old person,” said the incensed philosopher, “if you do put another jest upon me, I will cleave your skull-piece with this shovels!”

“And whare wad my hands and my pike-staff be a’ the time?” replied Edie, in a tone that indicated no apprehension. “Hout, tout, Maister Dusterdeevil, I haena lived sae lang in the warld neither, to be shuled out o’t that gate. What ails ye to be cankered, man, wi’ your friends? I’ll wager I’ll find out the treasure in a minute;” and he jumped into the pit, and took up the spade.

“I do swear to you,” said the adept, whose suspicions were now fully awake, “that if you have played me one big trick, I will give you one big beating, Mr. Edies.”

“Hear till him now!” said Ochiltree, “he kens how to gar folk find out the gear–Od, I’m thinking he’s been drilled that way himsell some day.”

At this insinuation, which alluded obviously to the former scene betwixt himself and Sir Arthur, the philosopher lost the slender remnant of patience he had left, and being of violent passions, heaved up the truncheon of the broken mattock to discharge it upon the old man’s head. The blow would in all probability have been fatal, had not he at whom it was aimed exclaimed in a stern and firm voice, “Shame to ye, man!–do ye think Heaven or earth will suffer ye to murder an auld man that might be your father?–Look behind ye, man!”

Dousterswivel turned instinctively, and beheld, to his utter astonishment, a tall dark figure standing close behind him. The apparition gave him no time to proceed by exorcism or otherwise, but having instantly recourse to the _voie de fait,_ took measure of the adept’s shoulders three or four times with blows so substantial, that he fell under the weight of them, and remained senseless for some minutes between fear and stupefaction. When he came to himself, he was alone in the ruined chancel, lying upon the soft and damp earth which had been thrown out of Misticot’s grave. He raised himself with a confused sensation of anger, pain, and terror, and it was not until he had sat upright for some minutes, that he could arrange his ideas sufficiently to recollect how he came there, or with what purpose. As his recollection returned, he could have little doubt that the bait held out to him by Ochiltree, to bring him to that solitary spot, the sarcasms by which he had provoked him into a quarrel, and the ready assistance which he had at hand for terminating it in the manner in which it had ended, were all parts of a concerted plan to bring disgrace and damage on Herman Dousterswivel. He could hardly suppose that he was indebted for the fatigue, anxiety, and beating which he had undergone, purely to the malice of Edie Ochiltree singly, but concluded that the mendicant had acted a part assigned to him by some person of greater importance. His suspicions hesitated between Oldbuck and Sir Arthur Wardour. The former had been at no pains to conceal a marked dislike of him–but the latter he had deeply injured; and although he judged that Sir Arthur did not know the extent of his wrongs towards him, yet it was easy to suppose he had gathered enough of the truth to make him desirous of revenge. Ochiltree had alluded to at least one circumstance which the adept had every reason to suppose was private between Sir Arthur and himself, and therefore must have been learned from the former. The language of Oldbuck also intimated a conviction of his knavery, which Sir Arthur heard without making any animated defence. Lastly, the way in which Dousterswivel supposed the Baronet to have exercised his revenge, was not inconsistent with the practice of other countries with which the adept was better acquainted than with those of North Britain. With him, as with many bad men, to suspect an injury, and to nourish the purpose of revenge, was one and the same movement. And before Dousterswivel had fairly recovered his legs, he had mentally sworn the ruin of his benefactor, which, unfortunately, he possessed too much the power of accelerating.

But although a purpose of revenge floated through his brain, it was no time to indulge such speculations. The hour, the place, his own situation, and perhaps the presence or near neighbourhood of his assailants, made self-preservation the adept’s first object. The lantern had been thrown down and extinguished in the scuffle. The wind, which formerly howled so loudly through the aisles of the ruin, had now greatly fallen, lulled by the rain, which was descending very fast. The moon, from the same cause, was totally obscured, and though Dousterswivel had some experience of the ruins, and knew that he must endeavour to regain the eastern door of the chancel, yet the confusion of his ideas was such, that he hesitated for some time ere he could ascertain in what direction he was to seek it. In this perplexity, the suggestions of superstition, taking the advantage of darkness and his evil conscience, began again to present themselves to his disturbed imagination. “But bah!” quoth he valiantly to himself, “it is all nonsense all one part of de damn big trick and imposture. Devil! that one thick-skulled Scotch Baronet, as I have led by the nose for five year, should cheat Herman Dousterswivel!”

As he had come to this conclusion, an incident occurred which tended greatly to shake the grounds on which he had adopted it. Amid the melancholy _sough_ of the dying wind, and the plash of the rain-drops on leaves and stones, arose, and apparently at no great distance from the listener, a strain of vocal music so sad and solemn, as if the departed spirits of the churchmen who had once inhabited these deserted rains were mourning the solitude and desolation to which their hallowed precincts had been abandoned. Dousterswivel, who had now got upon his feet, and was groping around the wall of the chancel, stood rooted to the ground on the occurrence of this new phenomenon. Each faculty of his soul seemed for the moment concentred in the sense of hearing, and all rushed back with the unanimous information, that the deep, wild, and prolonged chant which he now heard, was the appropriate music of one of the most solemn dirges of the Church of Rome. Why performed in such a solitude, and by what class of choristers, were questions which the terrified imagination of the adept, stirred with all the German superstitions of nixies, oak-kings, wer-wolves, hobgoblins, black spirits and white, blue spirits and grey, durst not even attempt to solve.

Another of his senses was soon engaged in the investigation. At the extremity of one of the transepts of the church, at the bottom of a few descending steps, was a small iron-grated door, opening, as far as he recollected, to a sort of low vault or sacristy. As he cast his eye in the direction of the sound, he observed a strong reflection of red light glimmering through these bars, and against the steps which descended to them. Dousterswivel stood a moment uncertain what to do; then, suddenly forming a desperate resolution, he moved down the aisle to the place from which the light proceeded.

Fortified with the sign of the cross, and as many exorcisms as his memory could recover, he advanced to the grate, from which, unseen, he could see what passed in the interior of the vault. As he approached with timid and uncertain steps, the chant, after one or two wild and prolonged cadences, died away into profound silence. The grate, when he reached it, presented a singular spectacle in the interior of the sacristy. An open grave, with four tall flambeaus, each about six feet high, placed at the four corners–a bier, having a corpse in its shroud, the arms folded upon the breast, rested upon tressels at one side of the grave, as if ready to be interred–a priest, dressed in his cope and stole, held open the service book–another churchman in his vestments bore a holy-water sprinkler, and two boys in white surplices held censers with incense–a man, of a figure once tall and commanding, but now bent with age or infirmity, stood alone and nearest to the coffin, attired in deep mourning–such were the most prominent figures of the group. At a little distance were two or three persons of both sexes, attired in long mourning hoods and cloaks; and five or six others in the same lugubrious dress, still farther removed from the body, around the walls of the vault, stood ranged in motionless order, each bearing in his hand a huge torch of black wax. The smoky light from so many flambeaus, by the red and indistinct atmosphere which it spread around, gave a hazy, dubious, and as it were phantom-like appearance to the outlines of this singular apparition, The voice of the priest–loud, clear, and sonorous–now recited, from the breviary which he held in his hand, those solemn words which the ritual of the Catholic church has consecrated to the rendering of dust to dust. Meanwhile, Dousterswivel, the place, the hour, and the surprise considered, still remained uncertain whether what he saw was substantial, or an unearthly representation of the rites to which in former times these walls were familiar, but which are now rarely practised in Protestant countries, and almost never in Scotland. He was uncertain whether to abide the conclusion of the ceremony, or to endeavour to regain the chancel, when a change in his position made him visible through the grate to one of the attendant mourners. The person who first espied him indicated his discovery to the individual who stood apart and nearest the coffin, by a sign, and upon his making a sign in reply, two of the group detached themselves, and, gliding along with noiseless steps, as if fearing to disturb the service, unlocked and opened the grate which separated them from the adept. Each took him by an arm, and exerting a degree of force, which he would have been incapable of resisting had his fear permitted him to attempt opposition, they placed him on the ground in the chancel, and sat down, one on each side of him, as if to detain him. Satisfied he was in the power of mortals like himself, the adept would have put some questions to them; but while one pointed to the vault, from which the sound of the priest’s voice was distinctly heard, the other placed his finger upon his lips in token of silence, a hint which the German thought it most prudent to obey. And thus they detained him until a loud Alleluia, pealing through the deserted arches of St. Ruth, closed the singular ceremony which it had been his fortune to witness.

When the hymn had died away with all its echoes, the voice of one of the sable personages under whose guard the adept had remained, said, in a familiar tone and dialect, “Dear sirs, Mr. Dousterswivel, is this you? could not ye have let us ken an ye had wussed till hae been present at the ceremony?–My lord couldna tak it weel your coming blinking and jinking in, in that fashion.”

“In de name of all dat is gootness, tell me what you are?” interrupted the German in his turn.

“What I am? why, wha should I be but Ringan Aikwood, the Knockwinnock poinder?–and what are ye doing here at this time o’ night, unless ye were come to attend the leddy’s burial?”

“I do declare to you, mine goot Poinder Aikwood,” said the German, raising himself up, “that I have been this vary nights murdered, robbed, and put in fears of my life.”

“Robbed! wha wad do sic a deed here?–Murdered! od ye speak pretty blithe for a murdered man–Put in fear! what put you in fear, Mr. Dousterswivel?”

“I will tell you, Maister Poinder Aikwood Ringan, just dat old miscreant dog villain blue-gown, as you call Edie Ochiltrees.”

“I’ll neer believe that,” answered Ringan;–“Edie was ken’d to me, and my father before me, for a true, loyal, and sooth-fast man; and, mair by token, he’s sleeping up yonder in our barn, and has been since ten at e’en–Sae touch ye wha liket, Mr. Dousterswivel, and whether onybody touched ye or no, I’m sure Edie’s sackless.”

“Maister Ringan Aikwood Poinders, I do not know what you call sackless,– but let alone all de oils and de soot dat you say he has, and I will tell you I was dis night robbed of fifty pounds by your oil and sooty friend, Edies Ochiltree; and he is no more in your barn even now dan I ever shall be in de kingdom of heafen.”

“Weel, sir, if ye will gae up wi’ me, as the burial company has dispersed, we’se mak ye down a bed at the lodge, and we’se see if Edie’s at the barn. There was twa wild-looking chaps left the auld kirk when we were coming up wi’ the corpse, that’s certain; and the priest, wha likes ill that ony heretics should look on at our church ceremonies, sent twa o’ the riding saulies after them; sae we’ll hear a’ about it frae them.”

Thus speaking, the kindly apparition, with the assistance of the mute personage, who was his son, disencumbered himself of his cloak, and prepared to escort Dousterswivel to the place of that rest which the adept so much needed.

“I will apply to the magistrates to-morrow,” said the adept; “oder, I will have de law put in force against all the peoples.”

While he thus muttered vengeance against the cause of his injury, he tottered from among the ruins, supporting himself on Ringan and his son, whose assistance his state of weakness rendered very necessary.

When they were clear of the priory, and had gained the little meadow in which it stands, Dousterswivel could perceive the torches which had caused him so much alarm issuing in irregular procession from the ruins, and glancing their light, like that of the _ignis fatuus,_ on the banks of the lake. After moving along the path for some short space with a fluctuating and irregular motion, the lights were at once extinguished.

“We aye put out the torches at the Halie-cross Well on sic occasions,” said the forester to his guest. And accordingly no farther visible sign of the procession offered itself to Dousterswivel, although his ear could catch the distant and decreasing echo of horses’ hoofs in the direction towards which the mourners had bent their course.

CHAPTER FIFTH.

O weel may the boatie row And better may she speed,
And weel may the boatie row That earns the bairnies’ bread! The boatie rows, the boatie rows, The boatie rows fu’ weel,
And lightsome be their life that bear The merlin and the creel!
Old Ballad.

We must now introduce our reader to the interior of the fisher’s cottage mentioned in chapter eleventh of this edifying history. I wish I could say that its inside was well arranged, decently furnished, or tolerably clean. On the contrary, I am compelled to admit, there was confusion,– there was dilapidation,–there was dirt good store. Yet, with all this, there was about the inmates, Luckie Mucklebackit and her family, an appearance of ease, plenty, and comfort, that seemed to warrant their old sluttish proverb, “The clartier the cosier.” A huge fire, though the season was summer, occupied the hearth, and served at once for affording light, heat, and the means of preparing food. The fishing had been successful, and the family, with customary improvidence, had, since unlading the cargo, continued an unremitting operation of broiling and frying that part of the produce reserved for home consumption, and the bones and fragments lay on the wooden trenchers, mingled with morsels of broken bannocks and shattered mugs of half-drunk beer. The stout and athletic form of Maggie herself, bustling here and there among a pack of half-grown girls and younger children, of whom she chucked one now here and another now there, with an exclamation of “Get out o’ the gate, ye little sorrow!” was strongly contrasted with the passive and half-stupified look and manner of her husband’s mother, a woman advanced to the last stage of human life, who was seated in her wonted chair close by the fire, the warmth of which she coveted, yet hardly seemed to be sensible of–now muttering to herself, now smiling vacantly to the children as they pulled the strings of her _toy_ or close cap, or twitched her blue checked apron. With her distaff in her bosom, and her spindle in her hand, she plied lazily and mechanically the old-fashioned Scottish thrift, according to the old-fashioned Scottish manner. The younger children, crawling among the feet of the elder, watched the progress of grannies spindle as it twisted, and now and then ventured to interrupt its progress as it danced upon the floor in those vagaries which the more regulated spinning-wheel has now so universally superseded, that even the fated Princess in the fairy tale might roam through all Scotland without the risk of piercing her hand with a spindle, and dying of the wound. Late as the hour was (and it was long past midnight), the whole family were still on foot, and far from proposing to go to bed; the dame was still busy broiling car-cakes on the girdle, and the elder girl, the half-naked mermaid elsewhere commemorated, was preparing a pile of Findhorn haddocks (that is, haddocks smoked with green wood), to be eaten along with these relishing provisions.

While they were thus employed, a slight tap at the door, accompanied with the question, “Are ye up yet, sirs?” announced a visitor. The answer, “Ay, ay,–come your ways ben, hinny,” occasioned the lifting of the latch, and Jenny Rintherout, the female domestic of our Antiquary, made her appearance.

“Ay, ay,” exclaimed the mistress of the family–“Hegh, sirs! can this be you, Jenny?–a sight o’ you’s gude for sair een, lass.”

“O woman, we’ve been sae ta’en up wi’ Captain Hector’s wound up by, that I havena had my fit out ower the door this fortnight; but he’s better now, and auld Caxon sleeps in his room in case he wanted onything. Sae, as soon as our auld folk gaed to bed, I e’en snodded my head up a bit, and left the house-door on the latch, in case onybody should be wanting in or out while I was awa, and just cam down the gate to see an there was ony cracks amang ye.”

“Ay, ay,” answered Luckie Mucklebackit, “I see you hae gotten a’ your braws on; ye’re looking about for Steenie now–but he’s no at hame the night; and ye’ll no do for Steenie, lass–a feckless thing like you’s no fit to mainteen a man.”

“Steenie will no do for me,” retorted Jenny, with a toss of her head that might have become a higher-born damsel; “I maun hae a man that can mainteen his wife.”

“Ou ay, hinny–thae’s your landward and burrows-town notions. My certie! –fisherwives ken better–they keep the man, and keep the house, and keep the siller too, lass.”

“A wheen poor drudges ye are,” answered the nymph of the land to the nymph of the sea. “As sune as the keel o’ the coble touches the sand, deil a bit mair will the lazy fisher loons work, but the wives maun kilt their coats, and wade into the surf to tak the fish ashore. And then the man casts aff the wat and puts on the dry, and sits down wi’ his pipe and his gill-stoup ahint the ingle, like ony auld houdie, and neer a turn will he do till the coble’s afloat again! And the wife she maun get the scull on her back, and awa wi’ the fish to the next burrows-town, and scauld and ban wi’ilka wife that will scauld and ban wi’her till it’s sauld–and that’s the gait fisher-wives live, puir slaving bodies.”

“Slaves?–gae wa’, lass!–ca’ the head o’ the house slaves? little ye ken about it, lass. Show me a word my Saunders daur speak, or a turn he daur do about the house, without it be just to tak his meat, and his drink, and his diversion, like ony o’ the weans. He has mair sense than to ca’ anything about the bigging his ain, frae the rooftree down to a crackit trencher on the bink. He kens weel eneugh wha feeds him, and cleeds him, and keeps a’ tight, thack and rape, when his coble is jowing awa in the Firth, puir fallow. Na, na, lass!–them that sell the goods guide the purse–them that guide the purse rule the house. Show me ane o’ yer bits o’ farmer-bodies that wad let their wife drive the stock to the market, and ca’ in the debts. Na, na.”

“Aweel, aweel, Maggie, ilka land has its ain lauch–But where’s Steenie the night, when a’s come and gane? And where’s the gudeman?”*

* Note G. Gyneocracy.

“I hae putten the gudeman to his bed, for he was e’en sair forfain; and Steenie’s awa out about some barns-breaking wi’ the auld gaberlunzie, Edie Ochiltree: they’ll be in sune, and ye can sit doun.”

“Troth, gudewife” (taking a seat), “I haena that muckle time to stop–but I maun tell ye about the news. Yell hae heard o’ the muckle kist o’ gowd that Sir Arthur has fund down by at St. Ruth?–He’ll be grander than ever now–he’ll no can haud down his head to sneeze, for fear o’ seeing his shoon.”

“Ou ay–a’ the country’s heard o’ that; but auld Edie says that they ca’ it ten times mair than ever was o’t, and he saw them howk it up. Od, it would be lang or a puir body that needed it got sic a windfa’.”

“Na, that’s sure eneugh.–And yell hae heard o’ the Countess o’ Glenallan being dead and lying in state, and how she’s to be buried at St. Ruth’s as this night fa’s, wi’ torch-light; and a’ the popist servants, and Ringan Aikwood, that’s a papist too, are to be there, and it will be the grandest show ever was seen.”

“Troth, hinny,” answered the Nereid, “if they let naebody but papists come there, it’ll no be muckle o’ a show in this country, for the auld harlot, as honest Mr. Blattergowl ca’s her, has few that drink o’ her cup o’ enchantments in this corner o’ our chosen lands.–But what can ail them to bury the auld carlin (a rudas wife she was) in the night-time?–I dare say our gudemither will ken.”

Here she exalted her voice, and exclaimed twice or thrice, “Gudemither! gudemither!” but, lost in the apathy of age and deafness, the aged sibyl she addressed continued plying her spindle without understanding the appeal made to her.

“Speak to your grandmither, Jenny–Od, I wad rather hail the coble half a mile aff, and the nor-wast wind whistling again in my teeth.”

“Grannie,” said the little mermaid, in a voice to which the old woman was better accustomed, “minnie wants to ken what for the Glenallan folk aye bury by candle-light in the ruing of St. Ruth!”

The old woman paused in the act of twirling the spindle, turned round to the rest of the party, lifted her withered, trembling, and clay-coloured band, raised up her ashen-hued and wrinkled face, which the quick motion of two light-blue eyes chiefly distinguished from the visage of a corpse, and, as if catching at any touch of association with the living world, answered, “What gars the Glenallan family inter their dead by torchlight, said the lassie?–Is there a Glenallan dead e’en now?”

“We might be a’ dead and buried too,” said Maggie, “for onything ye wad ken about it;”–and then, raising her voice to the stretch of her mother-in-law’s comprehension, she added,

“It’s the auld Countess, gudemither.”

“And is she ca’d hame then at last?” said the old woman, in a voice that seemed to be agitated with much more feeling than belonged to her extreme old age, and the general indifference and apathy of her manner–“is she then called to her last account after her lang race o’ pride and power?– O God, forgie her!”

“But minnie was asking ye,” resumed the lesser querist, “what for the Glenallan family aye bury their dead by torch-light?”

“They hae aye dune sae,” said the grandmother, “since the time the Great Earl fell in the sair battle o’ the Harlaw, when they say the coronach was cried in ae day from the mouth of the Tay to the Buck of the Cabrach, that ye wad hae heard nae other sound but that of lamentation for the great folks that had fa’en fighting against Donald of the Isles. But the Great Earl’s mither was living–they were a doughty and a dour race, the women o’ the house o’ Glenallan–and she wad hae nae coronach cried for her son, but had him laid in the silence o’ midnight in his place o’ rest, without either drinking the dirge, or crying the lament. She said he had killed enow that day he died, for the widows and daughters o’ the Highlanders he had slain to cry the coronach for them they had lost, and for her son too; and sae she laid him in his gave wi’ dry eyes, and without a groan or a wail. And it was thought a proud word o’ the family, and they aye stickit by it–and the mair in the latter times, because in the night-time they had mair freedom to perform their popish ceremonies by darkness and in secrecy than in the daylight–at least that was the case in my time; they wad hae been disturbed in the day-time baith by the law and the commons of Fairport–they may be owerlooked now, as I have heard: the warlds changed–I whiles hardly ken whether I am standing or sitting, or dead or living.”

And looking round the fire, as if in a state of unconscious uncertainty of which she complained, old Elspeth relapsed into her habitual and mechanical occupation of twirling the spindle.

“Eh, sirs!” said Jenny Rintherout, under her breath to her gossip, “it’s awsome to hear your gudemither break out in that gait–it’s like the dead speaking to the living.”

“Ye’re no that far wrang, lass; she minds naething o’ what passes the day–but set her on auld tales, and she can speak like a prent buke. She kens mair about the Glenallan family than maist folk–the gudeman’s father was their fisher mony a day. Ye maun ken the papists make a great point o’ eating fish–it’s nae bad part o’ their religion that, whatever the rest is–I could aye sell the best o’ fish at the best o’ prices for the Countess’s ain table, grace be wi’ her! especially on a Friday–But see as our gudemither’s hands and lips are ganging–now it’s working in her head like barm–she’ll speak eneugh the night. Whiles she’ll no speak a word in a week, unless it be to the bits o’ bairns.”

“Hegh, Mrs. Mucklebackit, she’s an awsome wife!” said Jenny in reply. “D’ye think she’s a’thegither right? Folk say she downa gang to the kirk, or speak to the minister, and that she was ance a papist but since her gudeman’s been dead, naebody kens what she is. D’ye think yoursell that she’s no uncanny?”

“Canny, ye silly tawpie! think ye ae auld wife’s less canny than anither? unless it be Alison Breck–I really couldna in conscience swear for her; I have kent the boxes she set fill’d wi’ partans, when”–

“Whisht, whisht, Maggie,” whispered Jenny–“your gudemither’s gaun to speak again.”

“Wasna there some ane o’ ye said,” asked the old sibyl, “or did I dream, or was it revealed to me, that Joscelind, Lady Glenallan, is dead, an’ buried this night?”

“Yes, gudemither,” screamed the daughter-in-law, “it’s e’en sae.”

“And e’en sae let it be,” said old Elspeth; “she’s made mony a sair heart in her day–ay, e’en her ain son’s–is he living yet?”

“Ay, he’s living yet; but how lang he’ll live–however, dinna ye mind his coming and asking after you in the spring, and leaving siller?”

“It may be sae, Magge–I dinna mind it–but a handsome gentleman he was, and his father before him. Eh! if his father had lived, they might hae been happy folk! But he was gane, and the lady carried it in–ower and out-ower wi’ her son, and garr’d him trow the thing he never suld hae trowed, and do the thing he has repented a’ his life, and will repent still, were his life as lang as this lang and wearisome ane o’ mine.”

“O what was it, grannie?”–and “What was it, gudemither?”–and “What was it, Luckie Elspeth?” asked the children, the mother, and the visitor, in one breath.

“Never ask what it was,” answered the old sibyl, “but pray to God that ye arena left to the pride and wilfu’ness o’ your ain hearts: they may be as powerful in a cabin as in a castle–I can bear a sad witness to that. O that weary and fearfu’ night! will it never gang out o’ my auld head!– Eh! to see her lying on the floor wi’ her lang hair dreeping wi’ the salt water!–Heaven will avenge on a’ that had to do wi’t. Sirs! is my son out wi’ the coble this windy e’en?”

“Na, na, mither–nae coble can keep the sea this wind; he’s sleeping in his bed out-ower yonder ahint the hallan.”

“Is Steenie out at sea then?”

“Na, grannie–Steenie’s awa out wi’ auld Edie Ochiltree, the gaberlunzie; maybe they’ll be gaun to see the burial.”

“That canna be,” said the mother of the family; “we kent naething o’t till Jock Rand cam in, and tauld us the Aikwoods had warning to attend– they keep thae things unco private–and they were to bring the corpse a’ the way frae the Castle, ten miles off, under cloud o’ night. She has lain in state this ten days at Glenallan House, in a grand chamber a’ hung wi’ black, and lighted wi’ wax cannle.”

“God assoilzie her!” ejaculated old Elspeth, her head apparently still occupied by the event of the Countess’s death; “she was a hard-hearted woman, but she’s gaen to account for it a’, and His mercy is infinite– God grant she may find it sae!” And she relapsed into silence, which she did not break again during the rest of the evening.

“I wonder what that auld daft beggar carle and our son Steenie can be doing out in sic a nicht as this,” said Maggie Mucklebackit; and her expression of surprise was echoed by her visitor. “Gang awa, ane o’ ye, hinnies, up to the heugh head, and gie them a cry in case they’re within hearing; the car-cakes will be burnt to a cinder.”

The little emissary departed, but in a few minutes came running back with the loud exclamation, “Eh, Minnie! eh, grannie! there’s a white bogle chasing twa black anes down the heugh.”

A noise of footsteps followed this singular annunciation, and young Steenie Mucklebackit, closely followed by Edie Ochiltree, bounced into the hut. They were panting and out of breath. The first thing Steenie did was to look for the bar of the door, which his mother reminded him had been broken up for fire-wood in the hard winter three years ago; “for what use,” she said, “had the like o’ them for bars?”

“There’s naebody chasing us,” said the beggar, after he had taken his breath: “we’re e’en like the wicked, that flee when no one pursueth.”

“Troth, but we were chased,” said Steenie, “by a spirit or something little better.”

“It was a man in white on horseback,” said Edie, “for the soft grund that wadna bear the beast, flung him about, I wot that weel; but I didna think my auld legs could have brought me aff as fast; I ran amaist as fast as if I had been at Prestonpans.”*

* [This refers to the flight of the government forces at the battle of Prestonpans, 1745.]

“Hout, ye daft gowks!” said Luckie Mucklebackit, “it will hae been some o’ the riders at the Countess’s burial.”

“What!” said Edie, “is the auld Countess buried the night at St. Ruth’s? Ou, that wad be the lights and the noise that scarr’d us awa; I wish I had ken’d–I wad hae stude them, and no left the man yonder–but they’ll take care o’ him. Ye strike ower hard, Steenie I doubt ye foundered the chield.”

“Neer a bit,” said Steenie, laughing; “he has braw broad shouthers, and I just took measure o’ them wi’ the stang. Od, if I hadna been something short wi’ him, he wad hae knockit your auld hams out, lad.”

“Weel, an I win clear o’ this scrape,” said Edie, “I’se tempt Providence nae mair. But I canna think it an unlawfu’ thing to pit a bit trick on sic a landlouping scoundrel, that just lives by tricking honester folk.”

“But what are we to do with this?” said Steenie, producing a pocket-book.

“Od guide us, man,” said Edie in great alarm, “what garr’d ye touch the gear? a very leaf o’ that pocket-book wad be eneugh to hang us baith.”

“I dinna ken,” said Steenie; “the book had fa’en out o’ his pocket, I fancy, for I fand it amang my feet when I was graping about to set him on his logs again, and I just pat it in my pouch to keep it safe; and then came the tramp of horse, and you cried, Rin, rin,’ and I had nae mair thought o’ the book.”

“We maun get it back to the loon some gait or other; ye had better take it yoursell, I think, wi’ peep o’ light, up to Ringan Aikwood’s. I wadna