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sends me onything, or Frank Kennedy either. And then ye would quarrel with these gipsies too! I expect every day to hear the barn-yard's in a low.”
“I tell you once more, my dear, you don't understand these things—and there's Frank Kennedy coming galloping up the avenue."
“Aweel! aweel! Ellangowan,” said the lady, raising ber voice as the Laird left the room, “I wish ye may understand them yoursell, that's a'!"
From this nuptial dialogue the Laird joyfully escaped to meet his faithful friend, Mr. Kennedy, who arrived in high spirits. “For the love of life, Ellangowan," he said, “get up to the castle ! you'll see that old fox Dirk Hatteraick, and his Majesty's hounds in full cry after him.” So saying, he flung his horse's bridle to a boy, and ran up the ascent to the old castle, followed by the Laird, and indeed by several others of the family, alarmed by the sound of guns from the sea, now distinctly heard.
On gaining that part of the ruins which commanded the most extensive outlook, they saw a lugger, with all her canvas crowded, standing across the bay, closely pursued by a sloop of war, that kept firing upon the chase from her bows, which the lugger returned with her stern-chasers. “They're but at long bowls yet," cried Kennedy, in great exultation, “but they will be closer by and by- D-n him, he's starting his cargo! I see the good Nantz pitching overboard, keg after keg !--that's a d- dungenteel thing of Mr. Hatteraick, as I shall let him know by and by.--Now, now! they've got the wind of him !—that's it, that's it !-Hark to him! hark to him! Now, my dogs I now, my dogs l_hark to Ranger, hark !”
“I think,” said the old gardener to one of the maids, "the gauger's fie;" by which word the common people express those violent spirits which they think a presage of death.
Meantime the chase continued. The lugger, being piloted with great ability, and using every nautical shift to make her escape, had now reached, and was about to double, the headland which formed the extreme point of land on the left side of the bay, when a ball having hit the yard in the slings, the main-sail fell upon the deck. The consequence of this accident appeared inevitable, but could not be seen by the spectators; for the vessel, which had just doubled the headland, lost steerage, and fell out of their sight behind the promontory. The sloop of war crowded all sail to pursue, but she had stood too close upon the cape, so that they were obliged to wear the vessel for fear of going ashore, and to make a large tack back into the bay, in order to recover sea-room enough to double the headland.
“They'll lose her, by — , cargo and lugger, one or both," said Kennedy; “I must gallop away to the point of Warroch (this was the headland so often mentioned), and make them a signal where she has drifted to on the other side. Good-bye for an hour, Ellangowan-get out the gallon punch-bowl and plenty of lemons. I'll stand for the French article by the time I come back, and we'll drink the young Laird's health in a bowl that would swim the Collector's yawl.” So saying, he mounted his horse, and galloped off.
About a mile from the house, and upon the verge of the woods, which, as we have said, covered a promontory terminating in the cape called the Point of Warroch, Kennedy met young Harry Bertram, attended by his tutor, Dominie Sampson. He had often promised the child a ride upon his galloway; and, from singing, dancing, and playing Punch for his amusement, was a particular favourite. He no sooner came scampering up the path, than the boy loudly claimed his promise; and Kennedy, who saw no risk in indulging him, and wished to tease the Dominie, in whose visage he read a remonstrance, caught up Harry from the ground, placed him before him, and continued his route; Sampson's “Peradventure, Master Kennedy- " being lost in the clatter of his horse's feet. The pedagogue hesitated a moment whether he should go after them; but Kennedy being a person in full confidence of the family, and with whom he himself had no delight in associating, “being that he was addicted unto profane and scurrilous jests," he continued his own walk at his own pace, till he reached the Place of Ellangowan.
The spectators from the ruined walls of the castle were still watching the sloop of war, which at length, but not without the loss of considerable time, recovered sea-room enough to weather the Point of Warroch, and was lost to their sight behind that wooded promontory. Some time afterwards the discharges of several cannon were heard at a distance, and, after an interval, a still louder explosion, as of a vessel blown up, and a cloud of smoke rose above the trees, and mingled with the blue sky. All then separated on their different occasions, auguring variously upon the fate of the smuggler, but the majority insisting that her capture was inevitable, il she had not already gone to the bottom.
“It is near our dinner-time, my dear,” said Mrs. Bertram to her husband; "will it be lang before Mr. Kennedy comes
back ? »
“I expect him every moment, my dear," said the Laird ; “ perhaps he is bringing some of the officers of the sloop with him."
“My stars, Mr. Bertram ! why did not ye tell me this before, that we might have had the large round table ?-and then, they're a' tired o' saut meat, and, to tell you the plain truth, a rump o' beef is the best part of your dinner-and then I wad have put on another gown, and ye wadna have been the waur o' a clean neckcloth yoursell-But ye delight in surprising and hurrying one-I am sure I am no to haud out for ever against this sort of going on-But when folk's missed, then they are moaned."
“Pshaw, pshawl deuce take the beef, and the gown, and table, and the neckcloth |--we shall do all very well.Where's the Dominie, John 2-(to a servant who was busy. about the table)—where's the Dominie and little Harry ?"
“Mr. Sampson's been at hame these twa hours and mair, but I dinna think Mr. Harry cam hame wi' him."
“Not come hame wi' him ? " said the lady; "desire Mr. Sampson to step this way directly.”
"Mr. Sampson," said she, upon his entrance, “is it not the most extraordinary thing in this world wide, that you, that have free up-putting-bed, board, and washing and twelve pounds sterling a year, just to look after that boy, should let him out of your sight for twa or three hours ?".
Sampson made a bow of humble acknowledgment at each pause which the angry lady made in her enumeration of the advantages of his situation, in order to give more weight to her remonstrance, and then, in words which we will not do him the injustice to imitate, told how Mr. Francis Kennedy “had assumed spontaneously the charge of Master Harry, in despite of his remonstrances in the contrary."
“I am very little obliged to Mr. Francis Kennedy for his pains," said the lady peevishly; “suppose he lets the boy drop from his horse, and lames him? or suppose one of the cannons comes ashore and kills him ?-or suppose "
“Or suppose, my dear,” said Ellangowan," what is much
more likely than anything else, that they have gone aboard the sloop or the prize, and are to come round the Point with the tide ?"
" And then they may be drowned,” said the lady.
“Verily,” said Sampson, “I thought Mr. Kennedy had returned an hour since-Of a surety I deemed I heard his horse's feet."
“That,” said John, with a broad grin, “ was Grizzel chasing the humble-cow 1 out of the close."
Sampson coloured up to the eyes—not at the implied taunt, which he would never have discovered, or resented if he had, but at some idea which crossed his own mind. “I have been in an error," he said ; "of a surety I should have tarried for the babe.” So saying, he snatched his bone-headed cane and hat, and hurried away towards Warroch wood, faster than he was ever known to walk before, or after.
The Laird lingered some time, debating the point with the lady. At length, he saw the sloop of war again make her appearance; but, without approaching the shore, she stood away to the westward with all her sails set, and was soon out of sight. The lady's state of timorous and fretful apprehension was so habitual, that her fears went for nothing with her lord and master; but an appearance of disturbance and anxiety among the servants now excited his alarm, especially when he was called out of the room, and told in private that Mr. Kennedy's horse had come to the stable door alone, with the saddle turned round below its belly, and the reins of the bridle broken; and that a farmer had informed them in passing, that there was a smuggling lugger burning like a furnace on the other side of the Point of Warroch, and that, though he had come through the wood, he had seen or heard nothing of Kennedy or the young Laird, “only there was Dominie Sampson, gaun rumpaugin about, like mad, seeking for them.”
All was now bustle at Ellangowan. The Laird and his servants, male and female, hastened to the wood of Warroch. The tenants and cottagers in the neighbourhood lent their assistance, partly out of zeal, partly from curiosity. Boats were manned to search the sea-shore, which, on the other side of the Point, rose into high and indented rocks. A vague suspicion was entertained, though too horrible to be expressed, that the child might have fallen from one of these cliffs.
1 A cow without horns.
The evening had begun to close when the parties entered the wood, and dispersed different ways in quest of the boy and his companion. The darkening of the atmosphere, and the hoarse sighs of the November wind through the naked trees, the rustling of the withered leaves which strewed the glades, the repeated halloos of the different parties, which often drew them together in expectation of meeting the objects of their search, gave a cast of dismal sublimity to the scene.
At length, after a minute and fruitless investigation through the wood, the searchers began to draw together into one body, and to compare notes. The agony of the father grew beyond concealment, yet it scarcely equalled the anguish of the tutor. “Would to God I had died for him!” the affectionate creature repeated, in notes of the deepest distress. Those who were less interested, rushed into a tumultuary discussion of chances and possibilities. Each gave his opinion, and each was alternately swayed by that of the others. Some thought the objects of their search had gone aboard the sloop; some that they had gone to a village at three miles' distance ; some whispered they might have been on board the lugger, a few planks and beams of which the tide now drifted ashore.
At this instant a shout was heard from the beach, so loud, so shrill, so piercing, so different from every sound which the woods that day had rung to, that nobody hesitated a moment to believe that it conveyed tidings, and tidings of dreadful import. All hurried to the place, and, venturing without scruple upon paths, which, at another time, they would have shuddered to look at, descended towards a cleft of the rock, where one boat's crew was already landed. “Here, sirs !here !-this way, for God's sake!—this way! this way !” was the reiterated cry. Ellangowan broke through the throng which had already assembled at the fatal spot, and beheld the object of their terror. It was the dead body of Kennedy. At first sight he seemed to have perished by a fall from the rocks, which rose above the spot on which he lay, in a perpendicular precipice of a hundred feet above the beach. The corpse was lying half in, half out of the water; the advancing tide, raising the arm and stirring the clothes, had given it at some distance the appearance of motion, so that those who first discovered the body thought that life remained. But every spark had been long extinguished.