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“ That's may-be no sae canny to tell,” said the precentor, with solemnity.
Upon being urged, however, to speak out, he preluded with two or three large puffs of tobacco-smoke, and out of the cloudy sanctuary which these whiffs formed around him, delivered the following legend, having cleared his voice with one or two hems, and imitating, as near as he could, the eloquence which weekly thundered over his head from the pulpit.
“What we are now to deliver, my brethren,-hem, I mean, my good friends, was not done in a corner, and may serve, as an answer to witch-advocates, atheists, and misbelievers of all kinds.-Ye must know that the worshipful Laird of Ellan gowan was not so preceese as he might have been in clearing his land of witches, (concerning whom it is said, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,') nor of those who had familiar spirits, and consulted with divination and sorcery, and lots, which is the fashion with the Egyptians,
as they call themselves, and other unhap. py bodies, in this our country. And the Laird was three years married without having a family--and he was 50 left to himsell, that it was thought he held ower muckle trocking and communing wi' that Meg Merrilies, wha was the most notorious witch in all Galloway and Dumfriesshire baith.”
« Aweel I wot there's something in that,” said Mrs Mac-Candlish ; " I've kend him order her twa glasses o’ brandy in this very house." : “ Aweel, gude wife, the less I lee Sae the lady was wi' bairn at last, and in the night when she should have been delivered, there comes to the door of the ha house--the Place of Ellangowan as they · ca'd-an ancient man, strangely habited, and asked for quarters. His head, and his legs, and his arms, were bare, although it was winter time o' the year, and he had a grey beard three quarters lang. Weel, he was admitted; and when the lady was
delivered, he craved to know, the very mo ment of the hour of the birth, and he went out and consulted the stars.' And when he came back, he tells the Laird, that the Evil One wad have power over the knave-bairn that was' that night born, and he charged hin that the babe should be bred up in the ways of piety, and that he should aye hae a godly minister at his elbow, to pray wi' the bairn and for him. And the aged man vanished away, and no man of this country ever saw mair o' him.". .
“Now, that will not pass," said the postillion, who, at a respectful distance, was listening to the conversation," begging Mr Skreigh's and the company's pardon,-there was no sae mony hairs on the warlock's face as there's on his ain at this moment; and he had as gude a pair o' boots as a man need striek on his legs, and gloves too ;-and I should understand boots by this time, I think.” .
“Whisht, Jock," said the landlady.-“ What do ye ken of the matter, friend
Jabos?” said the Precentor contemptuously. ; "No mickle, to be sure, Mr Skreighonly that I lived within a penny-stane cast o' the head o' the avenue at Ellangowan, when a man cam jingling to our door that night the young Laird was born, and my mother sent me, that was a hafflin callant, to shew the stranger the gate to the Place, which, if he had been such a war- ' lock, he might hae kend himsell, ane wad think-and he was a young, weel-faur’d, weel-dressed man, like an Englishman. And I tell ye he had as gude a hat, and boots, and gloves, as ony gentleman need to have. To be sure he did gie an awesome glance up at the auld castle—and there was some spae-wark gaed on-I aye heard that; but as for his vanishing, I held the stirrup mysell when he gaed away, and he gied me a round half-crown - he was riding on a haick they ca'd Souple Sam-it belanged to the George at Dumfries-it was a blood-bay beast, very
illo the spavin--I hae seen the beast baitli before and since.”
“ Aweel, aweel, Jock," answered Mr Skreigh, with a tone of mild solemnity, "our accounts differ in no material particulars; but I had no knowledge that ye had seen the man-So ye see, my friends, that this sooth-sayer having prognosticated evil to the boy, his father engaged a godly minister to be with him morn and night.”
* Aye, that was him they ca'd Dominie Sampson,” said the postillion.
" He's but a dumb dog, that,” observed the Deacon ;“ I have heard that he never could preach five words of a sermon endlang, for as lang as he has been licensed.”
“ Weel, but," said the Precentor, waving his hand, as if eager to retrieve the command of the discourse, "he waited on the young Laird by night and day. Now, it chanced, when the bairn was near five years auld, that the Laird had a sight of his errors, and determined to put these Egyptians aff bis ground; and he caused them