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first, a gay bit;' then the
bit was more accurately, described, as aiblins three miles;' then the three miles' diminished into like a mile and a bittock;' then extended themselves into four miles, or there awa;' and, lastly, a female voice having hushed a wailing infant which the spokes-woman carried in her arms, assured Guy Mannering, 'It was a weary lang gait yet to Kippletringan, and unco heavy road for foot passengers.' The poor hack upon which Mannering was mounted was probably of opinion that it suited him as ill as the female respondent; he began to flag very much, answered each application of the spur with a groan, and stumbled at every stone (and they were not few) which lay in his road.
Mannering now grew impatient. He was occasionally betrayed into a deceitful hope, that the end of his journey was near, by the apparition of a twinkling light or two; but as he came up, he was disappointed to find the gleams proceeded from some of those farm houses which occasionally ornamented the surface of the extensive bog. At length to complete his perplexity, he arrived at a place where the road divided into two. If there had been light to con sult the reliques of a finger-post which stood there it would have been of little avail, as, according to the good custom of North Britain, the inscription had been defaced shortly after its erection. Our adventurer was, therefore, compelled, like a knight errant of old, to trust to the sagacity of his horse, which, without any demur, chose the left hand path, and seemed to proceed at a somewhat livelier pace than formerly, affording thereby a hope that he knew he was drawing near his quarters for the
evening. This hope was not speedily accomplished, and Mannering, whose impatience made every furlong seem three, began to think that Kippletringan was actually retreating before him in proportion to his advance.
It was now very cloudy, although the stars, from time to time, shed a twinkling and uncertain light. Hitherto nothing had broken the silence around him, but the deep cry of the bog-blitter, or bull-of-thebog, a large species of bittern, and the sighs of the wind, as it passed along the dreary morass. To these was now joined the distant roar of the ocean, towards which the traveller seemed to be fast approaching. This was no circumstance to make his mind easy. Many of the roads in that country lay along the sea-beach, and were liable to be flooded by the tides, which rise wit
great height, and advance with extreme rapidity. Others were intersected with creeks, and small inlets, which it was only safe to pass at particular times of the tide. Neither circumstance would have suited a dark night, a fatigued horse, and a traveller ignorant of his road, Mannering resolved, therefore, definitively, to halt for the night at the first inhabited place, however poor, he might chance to reach, unless he could procure a guide to this unlucky village of Kippletringan.
A miserable hut gave him an opportunity to execute his purpose. He found out the door with no small difficulty, and for some time knocked without producing any other answer than a duett between a female and a cur dog, the latter yelping as if he would have barked his heart out, the other screaming in chorus. By degrees the human tones pre.
dominated; but the angry bark of the cur being at the instant changed into a howl, it is probable something more than fair strength of lungs had contributed to the ascendancy.
Sorrow be in your thrapple then!' these were the first articulate words, 'will ye not let me hear what the man wants, wi’ you yaffing?'
* Am I far from Kippletringan, good dame?
'Frae Kippletringan!!!' in an exalted tone of wonder, which we car but faintly express by three points of admiration. Ow, man! ye should hae hadden easal to Kippletringan-ye maun gae back as far as the Whaap, and haud the Whaap till ye come to Ballenloan, and then'
"This will never do, good dame! my horse is almost quite set up-can you not give me a night's lodging?'
• Troth can I no—I am a lone woman, for James he's awa to Drumshourlock fair with the yearaulds, and I darena for my life open the door to ony of your gang-there-out sort o' bodies.'
'But what must I do then good dame; for I can't sleep here upon the road all night?'
"Troth, I kenna, unless ye like to gae down and speer for quaters at the Place. I'se warrant they'll take ye in, whether ye be gentle or simple.'
'Simple enough, to be wandering here at such a time of night,' thought Mannering, who was ignorant of the meaning of the phrase, ' but how shall I get to the place, as you call it?
' Ye maun haud wessel by the end o’ the loan, and tak tent o’ the jaw hole.'
'o, if you get to easel and wessel again, I am undone!-Is there nobody that could guide me to this place? I will pay him handsomely.'
The word pay operated like magic. ' Jock, ye villain,' exclaimed the voice from the interior, are ye lying routing there, and a young gentleman seeking his way to the Place? Get up, ye fause loon, and show him the way down the meikle loaning. He'll show you the way, sir, and I'se warrant ye'll be weel put up; for they never turn awa' naebody frae the door; and ye'll be come in the
canny moment I'm thinking, for the laird's servant—that's no to say his body-servant, but the helper like-rade express by this e’en to fetch the houdie, and he just staid the drinking o'two pints o'tippeny, to tell us how my leddy was ta’en, wi' her pains.'
Perhaps,' said Mannering, 'at such a time a stranger's arrival might be inconvenient!
' Hout, na, ye needna be blate about that; their house is muckle eneugh, and cleeking time's aye can
By this time Jock had found his way into all the intricacies of a tattered doublet, and more tattered pair of breeches, and sallied forth, a great whiteheaded, bare-legged, lubberly boy of twelve years old, so exibited by the glimpse of a rush light, which his half-naked mother held in such a manner as to get a peep at the stranger, without greatly exposing herself to view in return. Jock moved on westward, by the end of the house, leading Mannering's horse by the bridle, and piloting, with some dexterity, along the little path which bordered the formidable jaw-hole, whose vicinity the stranger was made sensible of by means of more organs than one. His guide then dragged the weary hack along a broken and stony cart-track, next over a ploughed field, then broke down a slap, as he called it, in a dry
stone fence, and lugged the unresisting animal through the breach, about a rood of the simple masonry giving way in the splutter with which he passed. Finally, he led the way, through a wicket, into something which had still the air of an avenue, though many of the trees were felled. The roar of the ocean was now near and full, and the moon, which began to make her appearance, gleamed on a turreted and apparently a ruined mansion, of considerable extent. Mannering fixed his eyes upon it with a disconsolate sensation.
"Why, my little fellow, this is a ruin, not a house?'
" Ah, but the lairds lived there lang syne—that's Ellangowan Auld Place; there's a hantle bogles about it—but ye need na be feared-I never saw ony mysel, and we're just at the door of the New Place.'
Accordingly, leaving the ruins on the right, a few steps brought the traveller in front of a small modern house, at which his guide rapped with great importance. Mannering told his circumstances to the servant; and the gentleman of the house, who heard his tale from the parlour, stepped forward, and welcomed the stranger hospitably to Ellangowan. The boy, made happy with half-a-crown, was dismissed to his cottage, the weary horse was conducted to a stall, and Mannering found himself in a few minutes seated by a comfortable supper, to which his cold ride gave him a hearty appetite.