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marks then proceeded through the ruined village, and from thence down the glen, which again narrowed to a ravine, after the small opening in which they were situated. But the gipsy no longer followed the same track : she turned aside, and led the way by a very rugged and uneven path up the bank which overhung the village. Although the snow in many places hid the pathway, and rendered the footing uncertain and unsafe, Meg proceeded with a firm and determined step, which indicated an intimate knowledge of the ground she traversed. At length they gained the top of the bank, though by a passage so steep and intricate, that Brown, though convinced it was the same by which he had descended on the night before, was not a little surprised how he had accomplished the task without breaking his neck. Above, the country opened wide and unenclosed for about a mile or two on the one hand, and on the other were thick plantations of considerable extent.
Meg, however, still led the way along the bank of the ravine out of which they had ascended, until she heard beneath the murmur of voices. She then pointed to a deep plantation of trees at some distance.-" The road to Kippletringan," she said, “is on the other side of these enclosures—Make the speed ye can ; there's mair rests on your life than other folk's. But you have lost all-stay." She fumbled in an immense pocket, from which she produced a greasy purse—“Many's the awmous your house has gi'en Meg and hers—and she has lived to pay it back in a small degree;”—and she placed the purse in his hand.
“The woman is insane," thought Brown; but it was no time to debate the point, for the sounds he heard in the ravine below probably proceeded from the banditti. “How shall I repay this money,” he said, “or how acknowledge the kindness you have done me?”.
“I hae twa boons to crave," answered the sibyl, speaking iow and hastily; "one, that you will never speak of what you have seen this night; the other, that you will not leave this country till you see me again, and that you leave word at the Gordon Arms where you are to be heard of; and when I next call for you, be it in church or market, at wedding or at burial, Sunday or Saturday, meal-time or fasting, that ye leave everything else and come with me."
“Why, that will do you little good, mother.”
“But 'twill do yoursell muckle, and that's what I'm thinking o'.-I am not mad, although I have had eneugh to make
me sae-I am not mad, nor doating, nor drunken-I know what I am asking, and I know it has been the will of God to preserve you in strange dangers, and that I shall be the instrument to set you in your father's seat again.-Sae give me your promise, and mind that you owe your life to me this blessed night."
“ There's wildness in her manner, certainly,” thought Brown; " and yet it is more like the wildness of energy than of madness.”
“Well, mother, since you do ask so useless and trifling a favour, you have my promise. It will at least give me an opportunity to repay your money with additions. You are an uncommon kind of creditor, no doubt, but- "
“Away, away, then !” said she, waving her hand. “Think not about the goud—it's a' your ain; but remember your promise, and do not dare to follow me or look after me." So saying, she plunged again into the dell, and descended it with great agility, the icicles and snow-wreaths showering down after her as she disappeared.
Notwithstanding her prohibition, Brown endeavoured to gain some point of the bank from which he might, unseen, gaze down into the glen; and with some difficulty (for it must be conceived that the utmost caution was necessary), he succeeded. The spot which he attained for this purpose was the point of a projecting rock, which rose precipitously from among the trees. By kneeling down among the snow, and stretching his head cautiously forward, he could observe what was going on in the bottom of the dell. He saw, as he expected, his companions of the last night, now joined by two or three others. They had cleared away the snow from the foot of the rock, and dug a deep pit, which was designed to serve the purpose of a grave. Around this they now stood, and lowered into it something wrapped in a naval cloak, which Brown instantly concluded to be the dead body of the man he had seen expire. They then stood silent for half a minute, as if under some touch of feeling for the loss of their companion. But if they experienced such, they did not long remain under its influence, for all hands went presently to work to fill up the grave; and Brown, perceiving that the task would be soon ended, thought it best to take the gipsy-woman's hint, and walk as fast as possible until he should gain the shelter of the plantation.
Having arrived under cover of the trees, his first thought
in his por: His him from man he was
hate to higs Meg's
was of the gipsy's purse. He had accepted it without hesitation, though with something like a feeling of degradation, arising from the character of the person by whom he was thus accommodated. But it relieved him from a serious though temporary embarrassment. His money, excepting a very few shillings, was in his portmanteau, and that was in possession of Meg's friends. Some time was necessary to write to his agent, or even to apply to his good host at Charlies-hope, who would gladly have supplied him. In the meantime, he resolved to avail himself of Meg's subsidy, confident he should have a speedy opportunity of replacing it with a handsome gratuity. "It can be but a trifling sum,” he said to himself, “and I dare say the good lady may have a share of my bank-notes to make amends."
With these reflections he opened the leathern purse, expecting to find at most three or four guineas. But how much was he surprised to discover that it contained, besides a considerable quantity of gold pieces, of different coinages and various countries, the joint amount of which could not be short of a hundred pounds, several valuable rings and ornaments set with jewels, and, as appeared from the slight inspection he had time to give them, of very considerable value.
Brown was equally astonished and embarrassed by the circumstances in which he found himself, possessed, as he now appeared to be, of property to a much greater amount than his own, but which had been obtained in all probability by the same nefarious means through which he had himself been plundered. His first thought was to inquire after the nearest justice of peace, and to place in his hands the treasure of which he had thus unexpectedly become the depositary, telling, at the same time, his own remarkable story. But a moment's consideration brought several objections to this mode of procedure. In the first place, by observing this course, he should break his promise of silence, and might probably by that means involve the safety, perhaps the life, of this woman, who had risked her own to preserve his, and who had voluntarily endowed him with this treasure,-a generosity which might thus become the means of her ruin. This was not to be thought of. Besides, he was a stranger, and, for a time at least, unprovided with means of establishing his own character and credit to the satisfaction of a stupid or obstinate country magistrate. “I will think over the matter more maturely,” he said ; "perhaps there may be a regiment quartered at the county town, in which case my knowledge of the service, and acquaintance with many officers of the army, cannot fail to establish my situation and character by evidence which a civil judge could not sufficiently estimate. And then I shall have the commanding officer's assistance in managing matters so as to screen this unhappy madwoman, whose mistake or prejudice has been so fortunate for me. A civil magistrate might think himself obliged to send out warrants for her at once, and the consequence in case of her being taken is pretty evident. No, she has been upon honour with me if she were the devil, and I will be equally upon honour with her—she shall have the privilege of a court-martial, where the point of honour can qualify strict law. Besides I may see her at this place, Kipple-Couple—what did she call it?—and then I can make restitution to her, and e'en let the law claim its own when it can secure her. In the meanwhile, however, I cut rather an awkward figure for one who has the honour to bear his Majesty's commission, being little better than the receiver of stolen goods.”
With these reflections, Brown took from the gipsy's treasure three or four guineas, for the purpose of his immediate expenses, and tying up the rest in the purse which contained them, resolved not again to open it, until he could either restore it to her by whom it was given, or put it into the hands of some public functionary. He next thought of the cutlass, and his first impulse was to leave it in the plantation. But when he considered the risk of meeting with these ruffians, he could not resolve on parting with his arms. His walkingdress, though plain, had so much of a military character as suited not amiss with his having such a weapon. Besides, though the custom of wearing swords by persons out of uniform had been gradually becoming antiquated, it was not yet so totally forgotten as to occasion any particular remark towards those who chose to adhere to it. Retaining, therefore, his weapon of defence, and placing the purse of the gipsy in a private pocket, our traveller strode gallantly on through the wood in search of the promised high road.
All school-days' friendship, childhood innocence,
A Midsummer Night's Dream.
JULIA MANNERING TO MATILDA MARCHMONT “How can you upbraid me, my dearest Matilda, with abatement in friendship, or fluctuation in affection? Is it possible for me to forget that you are the chosen of my heart, in whose faithful bosom I have deposited every feeling which your poor Julia dares to acknowledge to herself? And you do me equal injustice in upbraiding me with exchanging your friendship for that of Lucy Bertram. I assure you she has not the materials I must seek for in a bosom confidante. She is a charming girl, to be sure, and I like her very much, and I confess our forenoon and evening engagements have left me less time for the exercise of my pen than our proposed regularity of correspondence demands. But she is totally devoid of elegant accomplishments, excepting the knowledge of French and Italian, which she acquired from the most grotesque monster you ever beheld, whom my father has engaged as a kind of librarian, and whom he patronises, I believe, to show his defiance of the world's opinion. Colonel Mannering seems to have formed a determination, that nothing shall be considered as ridiculous, so long as it appertains to or is connected with him. I remember in India he had picked up somewhere a little mongrel cur, with bandy legs, a long back, and huge flapping ears. Of this uncouth creature he chose to make a favourite, in despite of all taste and opinion; and I remember one instance which he alleged, of what he called Brown's petulance, was, that he had criticised severely the crooked legs and drooping ears of Bingo. On my word, Matilda, I believe he nurses his high opinion of this most awkward of all pedants upon a similar principle. He seats the creature at table, where he pronounces a grace that sounds like the scream of the man in the square that used to cry mackerel, flings his meat down his throat by shovelfuls, like