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passage. But the library, into which he was shown by an elderly respectable-looking man-servant, was a complete contrast to these unpromising appearances. It was a well-proportioned room, hung with a portrait or two of Scottish characters of eminence, by Jamieson, the Caledonian Vandyke, and surrounded with books, the best editions of the best authors, and in particular, an admirable collection of classics.
“These," said Pleydell," are my tools of trade. A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason ; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect."
But Mannering was chiefly delighted with the view from the windows, which commanded that incomparable prospect of the ground between Edinburgh and the sea; the Frith of Forth, with its islands; the embayment which is terminated by the Law of North Berwick; and the varied shores of Fife to the northward, indenting with a hilly outline the clear blue horizon.
When Mr. Pleydell had sufficiently enjoyed the surprise of his guest, he called his attention to Miss Bertram’s affairs. “I was in hopes,” he said, “though but faint, to have discovered some means of ascertaining her indefeasible right to this property of Singleside : but my researches have been in vain. The old lady was certainly absolute fiar, and might dispose of it in full right of property. All that we have to hope is, that the devil may not have tempted her to alter this very proper settlement.
You must attend the old girl's funeral to-morrow, to which you will receive an
invitation, for I have acquainted her agent with your being here on Miss Bertram's part; and I will meet you afterwards at the house she inhabited, and be present to see fair play at the opening of the settlement. The old cat had a little girl, the orphan of some relation, who lived with her as a kind of slavish companion. I hope she has had the conscience to make her independent in consideration of the peine forte et dure to which she subjected her during her life-time.”
Three gentlemen now appeared and were introduced to the stranger. They were men of good sense, gaiety, and general information, so that the day passed very pleasantly over; and Colonel Mannering assisted, about eight o'clock at night, in discussing the landlord's bottle, which was of course a magnum. Upon his return to the inn, he found a card inviting him to the funeral of Miss Margaret Bertram, late of Singleside, which was to proceed from her own house to the place of interment in the Greyfriars churchyard, at one o'clock afternoon.
At the appointed hour, Mannering went to a small house in the suburbs to the southward of the city, where he found the place of mourning, indicated, as usual in Scotland, by two rueful figures with long black cloaks, white crapes and hat-bands, holding in their hands poles, adorned with melancholy streamers of the same description. By two other mutes, who, from their visages, seemed suffering under the pressure of some strange calamity, he was ushered into the
dining-parlour of the defunct, where the company were assembled for the funeral.
In Scotland, the custom, now disused in England, of inviting the relations of the deceased to the interment, is universally retained. On many occasions this has a singular and striking effect, but it degenerates into mere empty form and grimace, in cases where the defunct has had the misfortune to live unbeloved and die unlamented. — The English service for the dead, one of the most beautiful and impressive parts of the ritual of the church, would have, in such cases, the effect of fixing the attention, and uniting the thoughts and feelings of the audience present, in an exercise of devotion so peculiarly adapted to such an occasion. But, according to the Scottish custom, if there be not real feeling among the assistants, there is nothing to supply the deficiency, and exalt or rouse the attention ; so that a sense of tedious form, and almost hypocritical restraint, is too apt to pervade the company assembled for the mournful solemnity. Mrs. Margaret Bertram was unluckily one of those whose good qualities had attached no general friendship. She had no near relations who might have mourned from natural affection, and therefore her funeral exhibited merely the exterior trappings of sorrow.
Mannering, therefore, stood among this lugubrious company of cousins in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth degree, composing his countenance to the decent solemnity of all who were around him, and looking as much concerned on Mrs. Margaret Bertram's account,
as if the deceased lady of Singleside had been his own sister or mother. After a deep and awful pause, the company began to talk aside-under their breaths, however, and as if in the chamber of a dying person.
“Our poor friend,” said one grave gentleman, scarcely opening his mouth, for fear of deranging the necessary solemnity of his features, and sliding his whisper from between his lips, which were as little unclosed as possible,—“Our poor friend has died well to pass in the world.”
“Nae doubt," answered the person addressed, with half-closed eyes; "poor Mrs. Margaret was aye careful
of the gear."
“Any news to-day, Colonel Mannering !" said one of the gentlemen whom he had dined with the day before, but in a tone which might, for its impressive gravity, have communicated the death of his whole generation.
“Nothing particular, I believe, sir," said Mannering, in the cadence which was, he observed, appropriated to the house of mourning.
“I understand," continued the first speaker, emphatically, and with the air of one who is well informed“I understand there is a settlement."
“ And what does little Jenny Gibson get ?"
“ That's but sma? gear, puir thing; she had a sair time o’t with the auld leddy. But it's ill waiting for dead folk's shoon."
"I am afraid," said the politician, who was close by Mannering, we have not done with your old friend Tippoo Saib yet—I doubt he'll give the Company more plague ; and I am told—but you'll know for certainthat East India Stock is not rising.” “I trust it will, sir,
soon." “Mrs. Margaret,” said another person, mingling in the conversation, “had some India bonds. I know that, for I drew the interest for her—it would be desirable now for the trustees and legatees to have the Colonel's advice about the time and mode of converting them into money. For my part I thinkBut there's Mr. Mortcloke to tell us they are gaun to lift."
Mr. Mortcloke the undertaker did accordingly, with a visage of professional length and most grievous solemnity, distribute among the pall-bearers little cards, assigning their respective situations in attendance upon the coffin. As this precedence is supposed to be regulated by propinquity to the defunct, the undertaker, however skilful a master of these lugubrious ceremonies, did not escape giving some offence. To be related to Mrs. Bertram was to be of kin to the lands of Singleside, and was a propinquity of which each relative present at that moment was particularly jealous. Some murmurs there were on the occasion, and our friend Dinmont gave more open offence, being unable either to repress his discontent, or to utter it in the key properly modulated to the solemnity. “I think ye might hae at least gi'en me a leg o' her to carry," he exclaimed, in