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the parlour slowly and reluctantly, and, on entering the room, paid her respects in the coldest possible manner. The dialogue then proceeded as follows :
“A fine frosty morning, Mrs. Mac-Candlish."
“Ay, sir; the morning's weel eneugh," answered the landlady, drily.
“Mrs. Mac-Candlish, I wish to know if the justices are to dine here as usual after the business of the court on Tuesday ?"
“I believe—I fancy sae, sir—as usual”—about to leave the room.)
“Stay a moment, Mrs. Mac-Candlish—why, you are in a prodigious hurry, my good friend! I have been thinking a club dining here once a month would be a very pleasant thing.” “Certainly, sir ; a club of respectable gentlemen."
True, true," said Glossin, I mean landed proprietors and gentlemen of weight in the county; and I should like to set such a thing agoing.”
The short dry cough with which Mrs. Mac-Candlish received this proposal, by no means indicated any dislike to the overture abstractedly considered, but inferred much doubt how far it would succeed under the auspices of the gentleman by whom it was proposed. It was not a cough negative, but a cough dubious, and as such Glossin felt it; but it was not his cue to take offence.
“Have there been brisk doings on the road, Mrs. Mac-Candlish ? plenty of company,
?” “Pretty weel, sir,—but I believe I am wanted at the bar.”
“No, no,-stop one moment, cannot you, to oblige an old customer ? Pray, do you remember a remarkably tall young man, who lodged one night in your house last week ?"
“ Troth, sir, I canna weel say—I never take heed whether my company be lang or short, if they make a lang bill."
“ And if they do not, you can do that for them, eh, Mrs. Mac-Candlish — ha, ha, ha!-- But this young man that I inquire after was upwards of six feet high, had a dark frock, with metal buttons, light brown hair unpowdered, blue
eyes, and a straight nose, travelled on foot, had no servant or baggage—you surely can remember having seen such a traveller ?”
Indeed, sir,” answered Mrs. Mac-Candlish, bent on baffling his inquiries, “I canna charge my memory about the matter-there's mair to do in a house like this, I trow, than to look after passengers' hair, or their een, or noses either."
“Then, Mrs. Mac-Candlish, I must tell you in plain terms, that this person is suspected of having been guilty of a crime ; and it is in consequence of these suspicions that I, as a magistrate, require this information from you,—and if you refuse to answer my questions, I must put you upon your
oath." “Troth, sir, I am no free to swear*_We aye gaed to the Antiburgher meeting—it's very true, in Bailie MacCandlish's time (honest man), we keepit the kirk,
* Some of the strict dissenters decline taking an oath before a civil magistrate.
whilk was most seemingly in his station, as having office— but after his being called to a better place than Kippletringan, I hae gaen back to worthy Mr. MacGrainer. And so ye see, sir, I am no clear to swear without speaking to the minister ——especially against ony sackless puir young thing that's gaun through the country, stranger and freendless like.”
“I shall relieve your scruples, perhaps, without troubling Mr. Mac-Grainer, when I tell you that this fellow whom I inquire after is the man who shot your young
friend Charles Hazlewood.” “ Gudeness ! wha could hae thought the like o' that o' him ?—na, if it had been for debt, or e'en for a bit tuilzie wi’ the gauger, the deil o' Nelly MacCandlish's tongue should ever hae wranged him. But if he really shot young Hazlewood—But I canna think it, Mr. Glossin ; this will be some o’ your
skits* I canna think it o' sae douce a lad ;—na, na, this is just some o' your auld skits—ye'll be for having a horning or a caption after him."
“I see you have no confidence in me, Mrs. MacCandlish ; but look at these declarations, signed by the persons who saw the crime committed, and judge yourself if the description of the ruffian be not that of your guest.”
He put the papers into her hand, which she perused very carefully, often taking off her spectacles to cast her eyes up to Heaven, or perhaps to wipe a tear from them, for young Hazlewood was an especial favourite with the
“ Aweel, aweel,” she said, when she had concluded her examination, “since it's e'en sae, I gie him up, the villain-But O, we are erring mortals !I never saw a face I liked better, or a lad that was mair douce and canny—I thought he had been some gentleman under trouble. — But I gie him up, the villain ! to shoot Charles Hazlewood—and before the young ladies,-poor innocent things !—I gie him up."
“So you admit, then, that such a person lodged here the night before this vile business ?”
“ Troth did he, sir, and a’ the house were taen wi’ him, he was sic a frank, pleasant young man.
It wasna for his spending, I'm sure, for he just had a muttonchop, and a mug of ale, and maybe a glass or twa o'wine —and I asked him to drink tea wi' mysell, and didna put that into the bill ; and he took nae supper, for he said he was defeat wi' travel a' the night afore—I daresay now it had been on some hellicat errand or other.”
“Did you by any chance learn his name ?”
“I wot weel did I,” said the landlady, now as eager to communicate her evidence as formerly desirous to suppress it.
“He telld me his name was Brown, and he said it was likely that an auld woman like a gipsy wife might be asking for him— Ay, ay! tell me your company, and I'll tell you wha ye are ! O the villain ! -Aweel, sir, when he gaed away in the morning, he paid his bill very honestly, and gae something to the chamber-maid, nae doubt, for Grizy has naething frae me, by twa pair o'new shoon ilka year, and maybe a bit compliment at Hansel Monanday"-Here Glossin
found it necessary to interfere, and bring the good woman back to the point.
“Ou then, he just said, if there comes such a person to inquire after Mr. Brown, you will say I am gone to look at the skaters on Loch Creeran, as you call it, and I will be back here to dinner-But he never came back-though I expected him sae faithfully, that I gae a look to making the friar's chicken mysell, and to the crappit-heads too, and that's what I dinna do for ordinary, Mr. Glossin— But little did I think what skating wark he was gaun about—to shoot Mr. Charles, the innocent lamb !”
Mr. Glossin, having, like a prudent examinator, suffered his witness to give vent to all her surprise and indignation, now began to inquire whether the suspected person had left any property or papers about the inn.
“Troth, he put a parcela sma' parcel, under my charge, and he gave me some siller, and desired me to get him half-a-dozen ruffled sarks, and Peg Pasley's in hands wi' them e'en now—they may serve him to gang up the Lawn-market* in, the scoundrel !” Mr. Glossin then demanded to see the packet, but here mine hostess demurred.
“She didna ken—she wad not say but justice should take its course—but when a thing was trusted
* The procession of the criminals to the gallows of old took that direction, moving, as the school-boy rhyme had it,
Up the Lawn-market