Page images

despair, that, in spite of the gigantic force with which the Borderer grappled him, he dragged Dinmont through the blazing flax, and had almost succeeded in drawing a third pistol, which might have proved fatal to the honest farmer, had not Bertram, as well as Hazlewood, come to his assistance, when, by main force, and no ordinary exertion of it, they threw Hatteraick on the ground, disarmed him, and bound him. This scuffle, though it takes up some time in the narrative, passed in less than a single minute. When he was fairly mastered, after one or two desperate and almost convulsionary struggles, the ruffian lay perfectly still and silent. He's gaun to die game ony how," said Dinmont; “weel, I like him na the waur for that.”

This observation honest Dandie made while he was shaking the blazing flax from his rough coat and shaggy black hair, some of which had been singed in the scuffle. “He is quiet now," said Bertram ;-"stay by him, and do not permit him to stir till I see whether the poor woman be alive or dead.” With Hazlewood's assistance he raised Meg Merrilies.

“I kenn'd it would be this way,” she muttered, “and it's e'en this way that it should be.”

The ball had penetrated the breast below the throat. It did not bleed much externally ; but Bertram, accustomed to see gun-shot wounds, thought it the more alarming. “Good God! what shall we do for this poor woman ?” said he to Hazlewood, the circumstances superseding the necessity of previous explanation or introduction to each other,

[ocr errors]

“My horse stands tied above in the wood,” said Hazlewood. “I have been watching you these two hours—I will ride off for some assistants that


be trusted. Meanwhile, you had better defend the mouth of the cavern against every one• until I return.” He hastened away. Bertram, after binding Meg Merrilies's wound as well as he could, took station near the mouth of the cave with a cocked pistol in his hand ; Dinmont continued to watch Hatteraick, keeping a grasp, like that of Hercules, on his breast. There was a dead silence in the cavern, only interrupted by the low and suppressed moaning of the wounded female, and by the hard breathing of the prisoner.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]


For though seduced and led astray,

Thou 'st travelled far and wandered long,
Thy God hath seen thee all the way,
And all the turns that led thee wrong.


AFTER the space of about three quarters of an hour, which the uncertainty and danger of their situation made seem almost thrice as long, the voice of young Hazlewood was heard without. “Here I am,” he cried, “ with a sufficient party.”

Come in then," answered Bertram, not a little pleased to find his guard relieved. Hazlewood then entered, followed by two or three countrymen, one of whom acted as a peace-officer. They lifted Hatteraick up, and carried him in their arms as far as the entrance of the vault was high enough to permit them; then laid him on his back, and dragged him along as well as they could, for no persuasion would induce him to assist the transportation by any exertion of his own. He lay as silent and inactive in their hands as a dead corpse, incapable of opposing, but in no way aiding, their operations. When he was dragged into day-light, and placed erect upon his feet among three or four assistants, who had remained without the cave, he seemed

stupified and dazzled by the sudden change from the darkness of his cavern. While others were superintending the removal of Meg Merrilies, those who remained with Hatteraick attempted to make him sit down upon a fragment of rock which lay close upon the high-water mark. A strong shuddering convulsed his iron frame for an instant, as he resisted their


“ Not there -Hagel !--you would not make me sit there ?"

These were the only words he spoke; but their import, and the deep tone of horror in which they were uttered, served to show what was passing in his mind.

When Meg Merrilies had also been removed from the cavern, with all the care for her safety that circumstances admitted, they consulted where she should be carried. Hazlewood had sent for a surgeon, and proposed that she should be lifted in the meantime to the nearest cottage. But the patient exclaimed with great earnestness. “Na, na, na !—to the Kaim o' Derncleughthe Kaim o' Derncleugh ;—the spirit will not free itself o' the flesh but there."

“You must indulge her, I believe,” said Bertram ; “her troubled imagination will otherwise aggravate the fever of the wound.”

They bore her accordingly to the vault. On the way her mind seemed to run more upon the scene which had just passed, than on her own approaching death. “There were three of them set upon him-- I brought the twasome— but wha was the third ? — It would be himsell, returned to work his ain vengeance !”

It was evident that the unexpected appearance of

Hazlewood, whose person the outrage of Hatteraick left her no time to recognise, had produced a strong effect on her imagination. She often recurred to it. Hazlewood accounted for his unexpected arrival to Bertram, by saying, that he had kept them in view for some time by the direction of Mannering; that, observing them disappear into the cave, he had crept after them, meaning to announce himself and his errand, when his hand in the darkness encountering the leg of Dinmont, had nearly produced a catastrophe, which, indeed, nothing but the presence of mind and fortitude of the bold yeoman could have averted.

When the gipsy arrived at the hut, she produced the key; and when they entered, and were about to deposit her upon the bed, she said, in an anxious tone, “Na, na ! not that way, the feet to the east ;” and appeared gratified when they reversed her posture accordingly, and placed her in that appropriate to a dead body.

“Is there no clergyman near,” said Bertram, « to assist this unhappy woman's devotions ?”

A gentleman, the minister of the parish, who had been Charles Hazlewood's tutor, had, with many others, caught the alarm, that the murderer of Kennedy was taken on the spot where the deed had been done so many years before, and that a woman was mortally wounded. From curiosity, or rather from the feeling that his duty called him to scenes of distress, this gentleman had come to the Kaim of Derncleugh, and now presen himself. The surgeon arrived at the same time, and was about to probe the wound ; but

« PreviousContinue »