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“Ay is there, sir; my uncle the constable ance kept a man there for three days in auld Ellangowan's time. But there was an unco dust about it, it was tried in the Inner-house afore the feifteen."
“I know all that, but this person will not stay there very long—it's only a makeshift for a night, a mere lock-up house till farther examination. There is a small room through which it opens, you may light a fire for yourselves there, and I'll send you plenty of stuff to make you comfortable. But be sure you lock the door upon the prisoner; and, hark ye, let him have a fire in the strong room too, the season requires it. Perhaps he'll make a clean breast to-morrow.”
With these instructions, and with a large allowance of food and liquor, the Justice dismissed his party to keep guard for the night in the old castle, under the full hope and belief that they would neither spend the night in watching nor prayer.
There was little fear that Glossin himself should that night sleep over-sound. His situation was perilous in the extreme, for the schemes of a life of villany seemed at once to be crumbling around and above him. He laid himself to rest, and tossed upon his pillow for a long time in vain. At length he fell asleep, but it was only to dream of his patron,-now, as he had last seen him, with the paleness of death upon his features, then again transformed into all the vigour and comeliness of youth, approaching to expel him from the mansionhouse of his fathers. Then he dreamed, that after wandering long over a wild heath, he came at length
to an inn, from which sounded the voice of revelry; and that when he entered, the first person he met was Frank Kennedy, all smashed and gory, as he had lain on the beach at Warroch Point, but with a reeking punch-bowl in his hand. Then the scene changed to a dungeon, where he heard Dirk Hatteraick, whom he imagined to be under sentence of death, confessing his crimes to a clergyman. “After the bloody deed was done,” said the penitent,
we retreated into a caye close beside, the secret of which was known but to one man in the country ; we were debating what to do with the child, and we thought of giving it up to the gipsies, when we heard the cries of the pursuers hallooing to each other. One man alone came straight to our cave, and it was that man who knew the secretbut we made him our friend at the expense of half the value of the goods saved. By his advice we carried off the child to Holland in our consort, which came the following night to take us from the coast.
“No, I deny it !—it was not I !” said Glossin, in half-uttered accents; and, struggling in his agony to express his denial more distinctly, he awoke.
It was, however, conscience that had prepared this mental phantasmagoria. The truth was, that, knowing much better than any other person the haunts of the smugglers, he had, while the others were searching in different directions, gone straight to the cave, even before he had learned the murder of Kennedy, whom he expected to find their prisoner. He came upon
them with some idea of mediation, but found them in the midst of their guilty terrors, while the rage, which had hurried them on to murder, began, with all but Hatteraick, to sink into remorse and fear. Glossin was then indigent and greatly in debt, but he was already possessed of Mr. Bertram's ear, and, aware of the facility of his disposition, he saw no difficulty in enriching himself at his expense, provided the heirmale were removed, in which case the estate became the unlimited property of the weak and prodigal father. Stimulated by present gain and the prospect of contingent advantage, he accepted the bribe which the smugglers offered in their terror, and connived at, or rather encouraged, their intention of carrying away the child of his benefactor, who, if left behind, was old enough to have described the scene of blood which he had witnessed. The only palliative which the ingenuity of Glossin could offer to his conscience was, that the temptation was great, and came suddenly upon him, embracing as it were the very advantages on which his mind had so long rested, and promising to relieve him from distresses which must have otherwise speedily overwhelmed him. Besides, he endeavoured to think that self-preservation rendered his conduct necessary. He was, in some degree, in the power of the robbers, and pleaded hard with his conscience, that, had he declined their offers, the assistance which he could have called for, though not distant, might not have arrived in time to save him from men, who, on less provocation, had just committed murder.
Galled with the anxious forebodings of a guilty conscience, Glossin now arose, and looked out upon the night. The scene which we have already described in the third chapter of this story, was now covered with snow, and the brilliant, though waste, whiteness of the land, gave to the sea by contrast a dark and livid tinge. A landscape covered with snow, though abstractedly it may be called beautiful, has, both from the association of cold and barrenness, and from its comparative infrequency, a wild, strange, and desolate appearance. Objects, well known to us in their common state, have either disappeared, or are so strangely varied and disguised, that we seem gazing on an unknown world. But it was not with such reflections that the mind of this bad man was occupied. His eye was upon the gigantic and gloomy outlines of the old castle, where, in a flanking tower of enormous size and thickness, glimmered two lights, one from the window of the strong room, where Hatteraick was confined, the other from that of the adjacent apartment occupied by his keepers. “Has he made his escape, or will he be able to do so ?—Have these men watched, who never watched before, in order to complete my ruin - If morning finds him there, he must be committed to prison ; Mac-Morlan or some other person will take the matter up—he will be detected-convicted—and will tell all in revenge !"
While these racking thoughts glided rapidly through Glossin's mind, he observed one of the lights obscured, as by an opaque body placed at the window. What a
moment of interest !"He has got clear of his irons ! he is working at the stanchions of the window—they are surely quite decayed, they must give way-0 God! they have fallen outward, I heard them clink among the stones !—the noise cannot fail to wake them--furies seize his Dutch awkwardness !—The light burns free again—they have torn him from the window, and are binding him in the room !--No! he had only retired an instant on the alarm of the falling bars—he is at the window again--and the light is quite obscured now—he is getting out !”
A heavy sound, as of a body dropped from a height among the snow, announced that Hatteraick had completed his escape, and shortly after Glossin beheld a dark figure, like a shadow, steal along the whitened beach, and reach the spot where the skiff lay. New cause for fear! "His single strength will be unable to float her,” said Glossin to himself; “I must go to the rascal's assistance. But no! he has got her off, and now, thank God, her sail is spreading itself against the moon—ay, he has got the breeze now—would to heaven it were a tempest, to sink him to the bottom !”
After this last cordial wish, he continued watching the progress of the boat as it stood away towards the Point of Warroch, until he could no longer distinguish the dusky sail from the gloomy waves over which it glided. Satisfied then that the immediate danger was averted, he retired with somewhat more composure to his guilty pillow.