Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 opake body placed at the window. What a moment of interest! - “He has got clear of his irons! -- he is working at the stancheons of the window - they are surely quite decayed, they must give way

- O 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.

CHAPTER XXXIV.
Why dost not comfort me, and help me out
From this unballow'd and blood-stained bole?

Titus Andronicus. On the next morning, great was the alarm and confusion of the officers, when they discovered the escape of their prisoner. Mac-Guffog appeared before Glossin with a head perturbed with brandy and fear, and incurred a severe reprimand for neglect of duty. The resentment of the Justice appeared only to be suspended by his anxiety to recover possession of the prisoner, and the thief-takers, glad to escape from his awful and incensed presence, were sent off in every direction (except the right one) to recover their prisoner, if possible. Glossin particularly recommended a careful search at the Kaim of Derncleugh, which was occasionally occupied under night by vagrants of different descriptions. Having thus dispersed his myrmidons in various directions, he himself hastened by devious paths through the Wood of Warroch, to his appointed interview with Hatteraick, from whom he hoped to learn at more leisure than last night's conference admitted, the circumstances attending the return of the heir of Ellangowan to his native country.

With manæuyres like those of a fox when he doubles to avoid the pack, Glossin strove to approach the place of appointment in a manner which should leave no distinct track of his course. “Would to Heaven it would snow," he said, looking upward, “and hide these foot-prints. Should one of the officers light upon them, he would run the scent up like a blood-hound, and

[ocr errors]

surprise uś. - I must get down upon the sea-beach, and contrive to creep along beneath the rocks.'

And, accordingly, he descended from the cliffs with some difficulty, and scrambled along between the rocks and the advancing tide; now looking up to see if his motions were watched from the rocks above him, now casting a jealous glance to mark if any boat appeared upon the sea, from which his course might be discovered.

But even the feelings of selfish apprehension were for a time superseded, as Glossin passed the spot where Kennedy's body had been found. It was marked by the fragment of rock which had been precipitated from the cliff above, either with the body or after it. The mass was now incrusted with small shella fish, and tasselled with tangle and sea-weed; but still its shape and substance were different from those of the other rocks which lay scattered around. His voluntary walks, it will readily be believed, had never led to this spot; so that finding himself now there for the first time after the terrible catastrophe, the scene at once recurred to his mind with all its accompaniments of horror. He remembered how, like a guilty thing, gliding from the neighbouring place of concealment, he had mingled with eagerness, yet with caution, among the terrified group who surrounded the corpse, dreading lest any one should ask from whence he came. He remembered, too, with what conscious fear he had avoided gazing upon that ghastly spectacle. The wild scream of his patron, “My bairn! my bairn!" again rung in his ears. “Good God!” he exclaimed, “and is all I have gained worth the agony of that moment, and the thousand anxious fears and horrors which have since mbittered my life! -0 how I wish that I lay where that wretched man lies, and that he stood here in life and health! — But these regrets are all too late.”

Stifling, therefore, his feelings, he crept forward to the cave, which was so near the spot where the body was found, that the smugglers might have heard from their hiding-place the various conjectures of the by-standers.concerning the fate of their victim. But nothing could be more completely concealed than the entrance to their asylum. The opening, not larger than that of a fox-earth,

[ocr errors]

lay in the face of the cliff directly behind a large black rock, or rather upright stone, which served at once to conceal it from strangers, and as a mark to point out its situation to those who used it as a place of retreat. The space between the stone and the cliff was exceedingly narrow, and being heaped with sand and other rubbish, the most minute search would not have discovered the mouth of the cavern, without removing those substances which the tide had drifted before it. For the purpose of farther concealment, it was usual with the contraband traders who frequented this haunt, after they had entered, to stuff the mouth with withered sea-weed, loosely piled together as if carried there by the waves. Dirk Hatteraick had not forgotten this precaution.

Glossin, though a bold and hardy man, felt his heart throb, and his knees knock together, when he prepared to enter this den of secret iniquity, in order to hold conference with a felon, whom he justly accounted one of the most desperate and depraved of men. “But he has no interest to injure me,” was his consolatory reflection. He examined his pocket-pistols, however, before removing the weeds and entering the cavern, which he did upon hands and knees. The passage, which at first was low and narrow, just admitting entrance to a man in a creeping posture, expanded after a few yards into a high arched vault of considerable width. The bottom, ascending gradually, was covered with the purest sand. Ere Glossin had got upon his feet, the hoarse yet suppressed voice of Hatteraick growled through the recesses of the cave.

“Hagel and donner! - be'st du?" “Are you in the dark?”

“Dark? der deyvil! ay,” said Dirk Hatteraick; "where should I have a glim?"

“I have brought light;” and Glossin accordingly produced a tinder-box, and lighted a small lantern.

“You must kindle some fire too, for hold mich der deyvil, Ich bin ganz gefrorne!”

"It is a cold place to be sure," said Glossin, gathering together some decayed staves of barrels and pieces of wood, which had perhaps lain in the cavern since Hatteraick was there last.

“Cold? Snow-wasser and hagel! it 's perdition I could only keep myself alive by rambling up and down this d-d vault, and thinking about the merry rouses we have had in it."

The flame then began to blaze brightly, and Hatteraick hung his bronzed visage, and expanded his hard and sinewy bands over it, with the avidity resembling that of a famished wretch to whom food is exposed. The light showed his savage and stern features, and the smoke, which in his agony of cold he seemed to endure almost to suffocation, after circling round his head, rose to the dim and rugged roof of the cave, through which it escaped by some secret rents or clefts in the rock; the same doubtless that afforded air to the cavern when the tide was in, at which time the aperture to the sea was filled with water.

“And now I have brought you some breakfast,” said Glossin, producing some cold meat and a flask of spirits. The latter Hatteraick eagerly seized upon, and applied to his mouth; and, after a hearty draught, he exclaimed with great rapture, “Das schmeckt! - That is good — that warms the liver!” Then broke into the fragment of a High-Dutch song,

“ Saufen Bier und Brantewein,
Schmeissen alle die Fenstern ein;
Ich bin liederlich,
Du bist liederlich;

Sind wir nicht liederliche Leute a!" “Well said, my hearty Captain!” cried Glossin, endeavouring to catch the tone of revelry,

“Gin by pailfuls, wine in rivers,
Dash the window-glass to shivers !

For three wild lads were we, brave boys,
And three wild lads were we;
Thou on the land, and I on the sand,

And Jack on the gallows-cree! That's it, my bully-boy! Why, you ’re alive again now! - And now let us talk about our business.”

Your business, if you please,” said Hatteraick; “hagel and donner! - mine was done when I got out of the bilboes.”

“Have patience, my good friend;-I'll convince you our interests are just the same."

« PreviousContinue »