Page images


Certainly,” stammered Glossin; “but there are cases in which a viva voce conference-Hem! I perceive -I know--Colonel Mannering has adopted some prejudices which may make my visit appear intrusive ; but I submit to his good sense, whether he ought to exclude me from a hearing without knowing the purpose of my visit, or of how much consequence it may be to the young lady whom he honours with his protection.”

“Certainly, sir, I have not the least intention to do so,” replied the Colonel. “I will learn Miss Bertram's pleasure on the subject, and acquaint Mr. Glossin, if he can spare time to wait for her answer.”

So saying, he left the room.

Glossin had still remained standing in the midst of the apartment. Colonel Mannering had made not the slightest motion to invite him to sit, and indeed had remained standing himself during their short interview. When he left the room, however, Glossin seized upon a chair, and threw himself into it with an air between embarrassment and effrontery. He felt the silence of his companions disconcerting and oppressive, and resolved to interrupt it.

“A fine day, Mr. Sampson."

The Dominie answered with something between an acquiescent grunt and an indignant groan.

" You never come down to see your old acquaintance on the Ellangowan property, Mr. Sampson-You would find most of the old stagers still stationary there. have too much respect for the late family to disturb old residenters, even under pretence of improvement.



Besides, it's not my way-I don't like it-I believe, Mr. Sampson, Scripture particularly condemns those who oppress

the poor, and remove landmarks." “Or who devour the substance of orphans," subjoined the Dominie. “Anathema, Maranatha !” So saying,

, he

rose, shouldered the folio which he had been perusing, faced to the right about, and marched out of the room with the strides of a grenadier.

Mr. Glossin, no way disconcerted, or at least feeling it necessary not to appear so, turned to young Hazlewood, who was apparently busy with the newspaper. * Any news, sir ?" Hazlewood raised his eyes, looked at him, and pushed the paper towards him, as if to a stranger in a coffee-house, then rose, and was about to leave the room.

“I beg pardon, Mr. Hazlewood—but I can't help wishing you joy of getting so easily over that infernal accident." This was answered by a sort of inclination of the head as slight and stiff as could well be imagined. Yet it encouraged our man of law to proceed. “I can promise you, Mr. Hazlewood, few people have taken the interest in that matter which I have done, both for the sake of the country, and on account of my particular respect for your family, which has so high a stake in it; indeed, so very high a stake, that, as Mr. Featherhead is turning old now, and as there's a talk, since his last stroke, of his taking the Chiltern Hundreds, it might be worth your while to look about you. I speak as a friend, Mr. Hazlewood, and as one who understands the roll ; and if in going over it together”

“I beg pardon, sir, but I have no views in which your assistance could be useful.”

“O very well—perhaps you are right—it's quite time enough, and I love to see a young gentleman cautious. But I was talking of your wound—I think I have got a clew to that business—I think I have —and if I don't bring the fellow to condign punishment!” “I beg your pardon, sir, once more; but your

zeal outruns my wishes. I have every reason to think the wound was accidental-certainly it was not premeditated. Against ingratitude and premeditated treachery, should

you find any one guilty of them, my resentmen will be as warm as your own.” This was Hazlewood's


Another rebuff, thought Glossin; I must try him

; upon the other tack.

—“Right, sir; very nobly said ! I would have no more mercy on an ungrateful man than I would on a woodcock. — And now we talk of sport (this was a sort of diverting of the conversation which Glossin had learned from his former patron), I see you often carry a gun, and I hope you will be soon able to take the field again. I observe you confine yourself always to your own side of the Hazleshawsburn. I hope, my dear sir, you will make no scruple of following your game to the Ellangowan bank : I believe it is rather the best exposure of the two for woodcocks, although both are capital."

As this offer only excited a cold and constrained bow, Glossin was obliged to remain silent, and was presently afterwards somewhat relieved by the entrance of Colonel Mannering.

“I have detained you some time, I fear, sir,” said he, addressing Glossin; "I wished to prevail upon Miss Bertram to see you, as, in my opinion, her objections ought to give way to the necessity of hearing in her own person what is stated to be of importance that she should know. But I find that circumstances of recent occurrence, and not easily to be forgotten, have rendered her so utterly repugnant to a personal interview with Mr. Glossin, that it would be cruelty to insist upon it: and she has deputed me to receive his commands, or proposal—or, in short, whatever he may wish to say to her.”

* Hem, hem! I am sorry, sir-I am very sorry, Colonel Mannering, that Miss Bertram should suppose —that any prejudice, in short—or idea that any thing on my part”

Sir," said the inflexible Colonel, accusation is made, excuses or explanations are unnecessary. Have you any objection to communicate to me, as Miss Bertram's temporary guardian, the circumstances which you conceive to interest her ?”

“None, Colonel Mannering; she could not choose a more respectable friend, or one with whom I, in particular, would more anxiously wish to communicate frankly."

“Have the goodness to speak to the point, sir, if you please."

“Why, sir, it is not so easy all at once—but Mr.

where no

[ocr errors]

Hazlewood need not leave the room,-I mean so well to Miss Bertram, that I could wish the whole world to hear my part of the conference.”

“My friend Mr. Charles Hazlewood will not probably be anxious, Mr. Glossin, to listen to what cannot concern him—and now, when he has left us alone, let me pray you to be short and explicit in what you have to say. I am a soldier, sir, somewhat impatient of forms and introductions.” So saying, he drew himself up in his chair, and waited for Mr. Glossin's communication.

“Be pleased to look at that letter," said Glossin, putting Protocol's epistle into Mannering's hand, as the shortest way of stating his business.

The Colonel read it, and returned it, after pencilling the name of the writer in his memorandum-book. “This, sir, does not seem to require much discussionI will see that Miss Bertram's interest is attended to."

“But, sir,-but, Colonel Mannering," added Glossin, “there is another matter which no one can explain but myself. This lady—this Mrs. Margaret Bertram, to my certain knowledge, made a general settlement of her affairs in Miss Lucy Bertram's favour while she lived with my old friend, Mr. Bertram, at Ellangowan. The Dominie—that was the name by which my deceased friend always called that very respectable man Mr. Sampson-he and I witnessed the deed. And she had full power at that time to make such a settlement, for she was in fee of the estate of Singleside even then, although it was life-rented by an elder sister. It was

« PreviousContinue »