Page images
PDF
EPUB

“Allow me to ask, sir,” said Charles, “if it was by this man's orders that the guard was drawn from Portanferry ?”

“Sir," replied the Baronet, “I do apprehend that Mr. Glossin would not presume to give orders, or even an opinion, unless asked, in a matter in which Hazlewood House and the house of Hazlewood-meaning by the one this mansion-house of my family, and by the other, typically, metaphorically, and parabolically, the family itself-I say then where the house of Hazlewood, or Hazlewood House, was so immediately concerned.”

“I presume, however, sir,” said the son, “this Glossin approved of the proposal ?”

“Sir," replied his father, “I thought it decent and right and proper to consult him as the nearest magistrate, as soon as report of the intended outrage reached my ears; and although he declined, out of deference and respect, as became our relative situations, to concur in the order, yet he did entirely approve of my arrangement.”

At this moment a horse's feet were heard coming very fast up the avenue. In a few minutes the door opened, and Mr. Mac-Morlan presented himself. “I am under great concern to intrude, Sir Robert, but- "

“Give me leave, Mr. Mac-Morlan," said Sir Robert, with a gracious flourish of welcome; “this is no intrusion, sir; for your situation as Sheriff-substitute calling upon you to attend to the peace of the county (and you, doubtless, feeling yourself particularly called upon to protect Hazlewood House), you have an acknowledged, and admitted, and undeniable right, sir, to enter the house of the first gentleman in Scotland, uninvited—always presuming you to be called there by the duty of your office.”

" It is indeed the duty of my office,” said Mac-Morlan, who waited with impatience an opportunity to speak, “ that makes me an intruder."

“No intrusion !” reiterated the Baronet, gracefully waving his hand.

“But permit me to say, Sir Robert,” said the Sheriffsubstitute, “I do not come with the purpose of remaining here, but to recall these soldiers to Portanferry, and to assure you that I will answer for the safety of your house."

“To withdraw the guard from Hazlewood House !” exclaimed the proprietor in mingled displeasure and surprise ; "and you will be answerable for it! And, pray, who are you, sir, that I should take your security, and caution, and pledge, official or personal, for the safety of Hazlewood House ?-1 think, sir, and believe, sir, and am of opinion, sir, that if any one of these family pictures were deranged, or destroyed, or injured, it would be difficult for me to make up the loss upon the guarantee which you so obligingly offer me.”

"In that case I shall be sorry for it, Sir Robert," answered the downright Mac-Morlan; “but I presume I may escape the pain of feeling my conduct the cause of such irreparable loss, as I can assure you there will be no attempt upon Hazlewood House whatever, and I have received information which induces me to suspect that the rumour was put afloat merely in order to occasion the removal of the soldiers from Portanferry. And under this strong belief and conviction, I must exert my authority as sheriff and chief magistrate of police, to order the whole, or greater part of them, back again. I regret much, that by my accidental absence, a good deal of delay has already taken place, and we shall not now reach Portanferry until it is late.”

As Mr. Mac-Morlan was the superior magistrate, and expressed himself peremptory in the purpose of acting as such, the Baronet, though highly offended, could only say, “ Very well, sir, it is very well. Nay, sir, take them all with you, I am far from desiring any to be left here, sir. We, sir, can protect ourselves, sir. But you will have the goodness to observe, sir, that you are acting on your own proper risk, sir, and peril, sir, and responsibility, sir, if anything shall happen or befall to Hazlewood House, sir, or the inhabitants, sir, or to the furniture and paintings, sir.”

“I am acting to the best of my judgment and information, Sir Robert,” said Mac-Morlan, “and I must pray of you to believe so, and to pardon me accordingly. I beg you to observe it is no time for ceremony-it is already very late.”

But Sir Robert without deigning to listen to his apologies, immediately employed himself with much parade in arming and arraying his domestics. Charles Hazlewood longed to accompany the military, which were about to depart for Portanferry, and which were now drawn up and mounted by direction and under the guidance of Mr. Mac-Morlan, as the civil magistrate. But it would have given just pain and offence to his father to have left him at a moment when he conceived himself and his mansion-house in danger. Young Hazlewood therefore gazed from a window with suppressed regret and dis. pleasure, until he heard the officer give the word of command -“ From the right to the front, by files, m-a-rch. Leading file, to the right wheel—Trot.”—The whole party of soldiers then getting into a sharp and uniform pace, were soon lost among the trees, and the noise of the hoofs died speedily away in the distance.

CHAPTER XLVIII

Wi' coulters and wi' forehammers

We garr'd the bars bang merrily,
Until we came to the inner prison,
Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie.

Old Border Ballad.

WE return to Portanferry, and to Bertram and his honesthearted friend, whom we left most innocent inhabitants of a place built for the guilty. The slumbers of the farmer were'as sound as it was possible.

But Bertram's first heavy sleep passed away long before midnight, nor could he again recover that state of oblivion. Added to the uncertain and uncomfortable state of his mind, his body felt feverish and oppressed. This was chiefly owing to the close and confined air of the small apartment in which they slept. After enduring for some time the broiling and suffocating feeling attendant upon such an atmosphere, he rose to endeavour to open the window of the apartment, and thus'to procure a change of air. Alas! the first trial reminded him that he was in jail, and that the building being contrived for security, not comfort, the means of procuring fresh air were not left at the disposal of the wretched inhabitants.

Disappointed in this attempt, he stood by the unmanageable window for some time. Little Wasp, though oppressed with the fatigue of his journey on the preceding day, crept out of bed after his master, and stood by him rubbing his shaggy coat against his legs, and expressing, by a murmuring sound, the delight which he felt at being restored to him. Thus accompanied, and waiting until the feverish feeling which at present agitated his blood should subside into a desire for warmth and slumber, Bertram remained for some time looking out upon the sea.

The tide was now nearly full, and dashed hoarse and near below the base of the building. Now and then a large wave reached even the barrier or bulwark which defended the foundation of the house, and was flung upon it with greater force and noise than those which only broke upon the sand. Far in the distance, under the indistinct light of a hazy and often over-clouded moon, the ocean rolled its multitudinous complication of waves, crossing, bursting, and mingling with each other.

"A wild and dim spectacle," said Bertram to himself,“ like those crossing tides of fate which have tossed me about the world from my infancy upward: When will this uncertainty cease, and how soon shall I be permitted to look out for a tranquil home, where I may cultivate in quiet, and without dread and perplexity, those arts of peace from which my cares have been hitherto so forcibly diverted? The ear of Fancy, it is said, can discover the voice of sea-nymphs and tritons amid the bursting murmurs of the ocean ; would that I could do so, and that some siren or Proteus would arise from these billows, to unriddle for me the strange maze of fate in which I am so deeply entangled !-Happy friend !” he said, looking at the bed where Dinmont had deposited his bulky person, “thy cares are confined to the narrow round of a healthy and thriving occupation! Thou canst lay them aside at pleasure, and enjoy the deep repose of body and mind which whole some labour has prepared for thee!”

At this moment his reflections were broken by little Wasp, who, attempting to spring up against the window, began to yelp and bark most furiously. The sound reached Dinmont's ears, but without dissipating the illusion which had transported him from this wretched apartment to the free air of his own green hills. “Hoy, Yarrow, man!—far yaud-far yaud !” he muttered between his teeth, imagining, doubtless, that he was calling to his sheep-dog, and hounding him in shepherds' phrase, against some intruders on the grazing. The continued barking of the terrier within was answered by the angry challenge of the mastift in the courtyard, which had for a long time been silent, excepting only an occasional short and deep note, uttered when the moon shone suddenly from among the clouds. Now, his clamour was continued and furious, and seemed to be excited by some disturbance distinct from the barking of Wasp, which had first given him the alarm, and which, with much trouble, his master had contrived to still into an angry note of low growling.

At last Bertram, whose attention was now fully awakened.

conceived that he saw a boat upon the sea, and heard in good earnest the sound of oars and of human voices, mingling with the dash of the billows. Some benighted fishermen, he thought, or perhaps some of the desperate traders from the Isle of Man. They are very hardy, however, to approach so near to the Custom-house, where there must be sentinels. It is a large boat, like a long-boat, and full of people; perhaps it belongs to the revenue service. — Bertram was confirmed in this last opinion, by observing that the boat made for a little quay which ran into the sea behind the Custom-house, and, jumping ashore one after another, the crew, to the number of twenty hands, glided secretly up a small lane which divided the Custom-house from the Bridewell, and disappeared from his sight, leaving only two persons to take care of the boat.

The dash of these men's oars at first, and latterly the suppressed sounds of their voices, had excited the wrath of the wakeful sentinel in the courtyard, who now exalted his deep voice into such a horrid and continuous din, that it awakened his brute master, as savage a ban-dog as himself. His cry from a window, of “How now, Tearum, what's the matter, sir ?-down, d-n ye, down!” produced no abatement of Tearum's vociferation, which in part prevented his master from hearing the sounds of alarm which his ferocious vigilance was in the act of challenging. But the mate of the two-legged Cerberus was gifted with sharper ears than her husband. She also was now at the window; “B-t ye, gae down and let loose the dog,” she said, “they're sporting the door of the Custom-house, and the auld sap at Hazlewood House has ordered off the guard. But ye hae nae mair heart than a cat." And down the Amazon sallied to perform the task herself, while her helpmate, more jealous of insurrection within doors, than of storm from without, went from cell to cell to see that the inhabitants of each were carefully secured.

These latter sounds, with which we have made the reader acquainted, had their origin in front of the house, and were consequently imperfectly heard by Bertram, whose apartment, as we have already noticed, looked from the back part of the building upon the sea. He heard, however, a stir and tumult in the house, which did not seem to accord with the stern seclusion of a prison at the hour of midnight, and, connecting them with the arrival of an armed boat at that dead hour, could not but suppose that something extraordinary was about to take place. In this belief he shook Dinmont by the

« PreviousContinue »