Page images

all the rest! - You rob and you murder, and you want me to rob and murder, and play the silver-cooper, or kidnapper, as you call it, a dozen times over, and then, hagel and wind-sturm! you speak to me of conscience! - Can you think of no fairer way of getting rid of this unlucky lad?”

“No, meinheer; but as I commit him to your charge —"

“To my charge - to the charge of steel and gunpowder! and - well, if it must be, it must — but you have a tolerable good guess.what's like to come of it.”

0, my dear friend, I trust no degree of severity will be necessary,” replied Glossin.

“Severity!” said the fellow, with a kind of groan, “I wish you had had my dreams when I first came to this dog-hole, and tried to sleep among the dry sea-weed. First, there was that d-d fellow there, with his broken back, sprawling as he did when I hurled the rock over a-top on him - ha, ha, you would have sworn he was lying on the floor where you stand, wriggling like a crushed frog - and then”.

“Nay, my friend,” said Glossin, interrupting him, “what signifies going over this nonsense? - If you are turned chickenhearted, why, the game's up, that's all — the game's up with us both."

“Chicken-hearted? — No. I have not lived so long upon the account to start at last, neither for devil nor Dutchman.'

“Well, then, take another schnaps the cold 's at your heart still. And now, tell me, are any of your old crew with you?”

“Nein all dead, shot, hanged, drowned, and damned. Brown was the last - all dead but gipsy Gab, and he would go off the country for a spill of money or he'll be quiet for his own sake or old Meg, his aunt, will keep him quiet for bers."

“Which Meg?"
“Meg Merrilies, the old devil's limb of a gipsy witch."
“Is she still alive?
“And in this country?

- or

“And in this country. She was at the Kaim of Derncleugh, at Vanbeest Brown's last wake, as they call it, the other night, with two of my people, and some of her own blasted gipsies.”

“That 's another breaker a-head, 'Captain! Will she not squeak, think ye?"

“Not she - she won't start - she swore by the salmon, if we did the kinchin no harm, she would never tell how the gauger got it. Why, man, though I gave her a wipe with my hanger in the heat of the matter, and cut her arm, and though she was so long after in trouble about it up at your borough-town there, der deyvil! old Meg was as true as steel.”

“Why, that's true, as you say,” replied Glossin. “And yet if she could be carried over to Zealand, or Hamburgh, or any where else, you know, it were as well."

Hatteraick jumped upright upon his feet, and looked at Glossin from head to heel. “I don't see the goat's foot," he said, “and yet he must be the very deyvil! · But Meg Merrilies is closer yet with the Kobold than you are — ay, and I had never such weather as after having drawn her blood. Nein, nein, I'll meddle with her no more - she's a witch of the fiend

a real deyvil's kind — but that's her affair. Donner and wetter! I'll neither make nor meddle - that's her work. · But for the rest — why, if I thought the trade would not suffer, I would soon rid you of the younker, if you send me word when he 's under embargo."

In brief and under tones the two worthy associates concerted their enterprise, and agreed at which of his haunts Hatteraick should be heard of. The stay of his lugger on the coast was not difficult, as there were no king's vessels there at the time.

CHAPTER XXXV. You are one of those that will not serve God if the devil bids you Because we come to do you service, you think we are ruffians.

Othello. When Glossin returned home, he found, among other letters and papers sent to him, one of considerable importance. It was

The great and inviolable oath of the strolling tribes.

signed by Mr. Protocol, an attorney in Edinburgh, and, addressing him as the agent for Godfrey Bertram, Esq., late of Ellangowan, and his representatives, acquainted him with the sudden death of Mrs. Margaret Bertram of Singleside, requesting him to inform his clients thereof, in case they should judge it proper to have any person present for their interest at opening the repositories of the deceased. Mr. Glossin perceived at once that the letterwriter was unacquainted with the breach which had taken place between him and his late patron. The estate of the deceased lady should by rights, as he well knew, descend to Lucy Bertram; but it was a thousand to one that the caprice of the old lady might have altered its destination. After running over contingencies and probabilities in his fertile mind, to ascertain what sort of personal advantage might accrue to him from this incident, he could not perceive any mode of availing himself of it, except in so far as it might go to assist his plan of recovering, or rather creating, a character, the want of which he had already experienced, and was likely to feel yet more deeply. I must place myself, he thought, on strong ground, that, if any thing goes wrong with Dirk Hatteraick's project, I may have prepossessions in my favour at least. Besides, to do Glossin justice, bad as he was, he might feel some desire to compensate to Miss Bertram in a small degree, and in a case in which his own interest did not interfere with hers, the infinite mischief which he had occasioned to her family. He therefore resolved early the next morning to ride over to Woodbourne.

It was not without hesitation that he took this step, having the natural reluctance to face Colonel Mannering, which fraud and villainy have to encounter honour and probity. But he had great confidence in his own savoir faire. His talents were naturally acute, and by no means confined to the line of his profession. He had at different times resided a good deal in England, and his address was free both from country rusticity and professional pedantry; so that he had considerable powers both of address and persuasion, joined to an unshaken effrontery, which he affected to disguise under plainpess of manner. Confident, therefore, in himself, he appeared at Woodbourne, about ten in the morning,

and was admitted as a gentleman come to wait upon Miss Bertram.

He did not announce himself until he was at the door of the breakfast-parlour, when the servant, by his desire, said aloud, “Mr. Glossin, to wait upon Miss Bertram.” Lucy, remembering the last scene of her father's existence, turned as pale as death, and had well-nigh fallen from her chair. Julia Mannering flew to her assistance, and they left the room together. There remained Colonel Mannering, Charles Hazlewood, with his arm in a sling, and the Dominie, whose gaunt visage and wall-eyes assumed a most hostile aspect on recognizing Glossin.

That honest gentleman, though somewhat abashed by the effect of his first introduction, advanced with confidence, and hoped he did not intrude upon the ladies. Colonel Mannering, in a very upright and stately manner, observed, that he did not know to what he was to impute the honour of a visit from Mr. Glossin.

“Hem! hem! I took the liberty to wait upon Miss Bertram, Colonel Mannering, on account of a matter of business.”

“If it can be communicated to Mr. Mac-Morlan, her agent, Sir, I believe it will be more agreeable to Miss Bertram.”

“I beg pardon, Colonel Mannering,” said Glossin, making a wretched attempt at an easy demeanour; "you are a man of the world – there are some cases in which it is most prudent for all parties to treat with principals.”

“Then,” replied Mannering, with a repulsive air, “if Mr. Glossin will take the trouble to state his object in a letter, I will answer that Miss Bertram pays proper attention to it.”

“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. I 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 - ] 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 inferpal 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

« PreviousContinue »