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to guess," said the monarch, “that celebrated Sir Miles Mannering, so renowned in the French wars, and may well pronounce to us if the wines of Gascony lose their flavour in our more northern realm.”
Mannering, agreeably flattered by this allusion to the fame of his celebrated ancestor, replied, by professing himself only a distant relation of the preux chevalier, and added, “that in his opinion the wine was superlatively good.”
Is It's owre cauld for my stamach,” said Dinmont, setting down the glass (empty, however).
“We will correct that quality," answered King Paulus, the first of the name; "we have not forgotten that the moist and humid air of our valley of Liddel inclines to stronger potations.
-Seneschal, let our faithful yeoman have a cup of brandy; it will be more germain to the matter."
“And now," said Mannering, “since we have unwarily intruded upon your majesty at a moment of mirthful retirement, be pleased to say when you will indulge a stranger with an audience on those affairs of weight which have brought him to your northern capital."
The monarch opened Mac-Morlan's letter, and, running it hastily over, exclaimed, with his natural voice and manner, “ Lucy Bertram of Ellangowan, poor dear lassie!”.
"A forfeit! a forfeit !” exclaimed a dozen voices; “his majesty has forgot his kingly character."
“Not a whit! not a whit!” replied the king; “ I'll be judged by this courteous knight. May not a monarch love a maid of low degree? Is not King Cophetua and the Beggarmaid, an adjudged case in point?"
“Professional ! professional! - another forfeit," exclaimed the tumultuary nobility.
“ Had not our royal predecessors,” continued the monarch, exalting his sovereign voice to drown these disaffected clamours,
-"Had they not their Jean Logies, their Bessie Carmichaels, their Oliphants, their Sandilands, and their Weirs, and shall it be denied to us even to name a maiden whom we delight to honour? Nay, then, sink state and perish sovereignty! for, like a second Charles V., we will abdicate, and seek in the private shades of life those pleasures which are denied to a throne.”
So saying, he flung away his crown, and sprung from his exalted station with more agility than could have been expected from his age, ordered lights and a wash-hand basin and towel, with a cup of green tea, into another room, and made a sign to Mannering to accompany him. In less than two minutes he washed his face and hands, settled his wig in the glass, and, to Mannering's great surprise, looked quite a different man from the childish Bacchanal he had seen a moment before.
“There are folks," he said, “Mr. Mannering, before whom one should take care how they play the fool-because they have either too much malice, or too little wit, as the poet says. The best compliment I can pay Colonel Mannering, is to show I am not ashamed to expose myself before him-and truly I think it is a compliment I have not spared to-night on your good-nature.—But what's that great strong fellow wanting ?”.
Dinmont, who had pushed after Mannering into the room, began with a scrape with his foot and a scratch of his head in unison. “I am Dandie Dinmont, sir, of the Charlies-hopethe Liddesdale lad-ye'll mind me ?-it was for me ye won yon grand plea.”
“What plea, you loggerhead ?" said the lawyer ; "d'ye think I can remember all the fools that come to plague me?"
“Lord, sir, it was the grand plea about the grazing o' the Langtae Head !” said the farmer.
“Well, curse thee, never mind; give me the memorial' and come to me on Monday at ten,” replied the leamed counsel.
“But, sir, I haena got ony distinct memorial.” “No memorial, man ?" said Pleydell.
“Na, sir, nae memorial,” answered Dandie ; "for your honour said before, Mr. Pleydell, ye'll mind, that ye liked best to hear us hill-folk tell our ain tale by word o' mouth."
“Beshrew my tongue that said so !” answered the counsellor ; "it will cost my ears a dinning.–Well, say in two words what you've got to say—you see the gentleman waits.”
“Ou, sir, if the gentleman likes he may play his ain spring first; it's a' ane to Dandie.”
“Now, you looby," said the lawyer, “cannot you conceive that your business can be nothing to Colonel Mannering, but that he may not choose to have these great ears of thine regaled with his matters ?”
“Aweel, sir, just as you and he like-50 ye see to my business," said Dandie, not a whit disconcerted by the roughness of this reception. “We're at the auld wark o' the marches again, Jock o' Dawston Cleugh and me. Ye see
• 1 The Scottish memorial corresponds to the English brief.
we march on the tap o' Touthop Rigg after we pass the Pomoragrains; for the Pomoragrains, and Slackenspool, and Bloodylaws, they come in there, and they belang to the Peel; but after ye pass Pomoragrains at a muckle great saucerheaded cutlugged stane, that they ca' Charlie's Chuckie, there Dawston Cleugh and Charlies-hope they march. Now, I say, the march rins on the tap o' the hill where the wind and water shears; but Jock o' Dawston Cleugh again, he contravenes that, and says, that it hauds down by the auld drove-road that gaes awa by the Knot o' the Gate ower to Keeldar Ward-and that makes an unco difference.”
“And what difference does it make, friend?” said Pleydell. “How many sheep will it feed ?"
“Ou, no mony,” said Dandie, scratching his head,"it's lying high and exposed—it may feed a hog, or aiblins twa in a good year.”
“And for this grazing, which may be worth about five shillings a year, you are willing to throw away a hundred pound or two ?”
“Na, sir, it's no for the value of the grass," replied Dinmont; "it's for justice.”
“My good friend,” said Pleydell, “justice, like charity, should begin at home. Do you justice to your wife and family, and think no more about the matter."
Dinmont still lingered, twisting his hat in his hand—“It's no for that, sir-but I would like ill to be bragged wi' him -he threeps he'll bring a score o witnesses and mair—and I'm sure there's as mony will swear for me as for him, folk that lived a' their days upon the Charlies-hope, and wadna like to see the land lose its right."
“Zounds, man, if it be a point of honour," said the lawyer, “ why don't your landlords take it up?"
"I dinna ken, sir” (scratching his head again), “there's been nae election-dusts lately, and the lairds are unco neighbourly, and Jock and me canna get them to yoke thegither about it a' that we can say—but if ye thought we might keep up the rent- "
“No! no! that will never do," said Pleydell,"confound you, why don't you take good cudgels and settle it?”
“Odd, sir," answered the farmer, “we tried that three times already—that's twice on the land and ance at Lockerby fair.—But I dinna ken-we're baith gey good at single-stick, and it couldna weel be judged."
“Then take broadswords, and be dd to you, as your fathers did before you,” said the counsel learned in the law.
“Aweel, sir, if ye think it wadna be again the law, it's a' ane to Dandie."
“Hold! hold !” exclaimed Pleydell, "we shall have another Lord Soulis' mistake-Prythee, man, comprehend me; I wish you to consider how very triling and foolish a lawsuit you wish to engage in."
“Ay, sir?” said Dandie, in a disappointed tone. “So ye winna take on wi' me, I'm doubting ?".
“Me! not I-go home, go home, take a pint and agree." Dandie looked but half contented, and still remained stationary. “ Anything more, my friend?”
“Only, sir, about the succession of this leddy that's dead, auld Miss Margaret Bertram o' Singleside."
“Ay, what about her?” said the counsellor, rather surprised.
"Ou, we have nae connection at a' wi' the Bertrams,” said Dandie,"they were grand folk by the like o' us.--But Jean Liltup, that was auld Singleside's housekeeper, and the mother of these twa young ladies that are gane-the last o' them's dead at a ripe age, I trow— Jean Liltup came out o' Liddel water, and she was as near our connection as second cousin to my mother's half-sister-She drew up wi' Singleside, nae doubt, when she was his housekeeper, and it was a sair vex and grief to a' her kith and kin. But he acknowledged a marriage, and satisfied the kirk—and now I wad ken frae you if we hae not some claim by law ?"
"Not the shadow of a claim."
“Aweel, we're nae puirer," said Dandie," but she may hae thought on us if she was minded to make a testament. -Weel, sir, I've said my say-I'se e'en wish you good-night, and putting his hand in ris pocket.
“No, no, my friend ; I never take fees on Saturday nights, or without a memorial-away with you, Dandie.” And Dandie made his reverence, and departed accordingly.
But this poor farce has neither truth, nor art.
“ YOUR majesty," said Mannering, laughing, " has solemnised your abdication by an act of mercy and charity-- That fellow will scarce think of going to law.”
“Oh, you are quite wrong," said the experienced lawyer. « The only difference is, I have lost my client and my fee. He'll never rest till he finds somebody to encourage him to commit the folly he has predetermined-No! no! I have only shown you another weakness of my character-I always speak truth of a Saturday night."
"And sometimes through the week, I should think," said Mannering, continuing the same tone.
“Why, yes; as far as my vocation will permit. I am, as Hamlet says, indifferent honest, when my clients and their solicitors do not make me the medium of conveying their double-distilled lies to the bench. But oportet vivere ! it is a sad thing.–And now to our business. I am glad my old friend Mac-Morlan has sent you to me; he is an active, honest, and intelligent man, long Sheriff-substitute of the county of under me, and still holds the office. He knows I have a regard for that unfortunate family of Ellangowan, and for poor Lucy. I have not seen her since she was twelve years old, and she was then a sweet pretty little girl under the management of a very silly father. But my interest in her is of an early date. I was called upon, Mr. Mannering, being then Sheriff of that county, to investigate the particulars of a murder which had been committed near Ellangowan the day on which this poor child was born ; and which, by a strange combination that I was unhappily not able to trace, involved the death or abstraction of her only brother, a boy of about five years old. No, Colonel, I shall never forget the misery of the house of Ellangowan that morning !--the father half-distracted—the mother dead in premature travail--the helpless infant, with scarce any one to attend it, coming wawling and crying into this miserable world