« PreviousContinue »
bourly, and Jock and me canna get them to yoke thegither about it a' that we can say — but if ye thought we might keep up the rent” “No! no! that will never do," said Pleydell,
o confound you, why don't you take good cudgels and settle it?”
“Odd, Sir," answered the farmer, “we tried that three times already — that's twice on the land and ance at Lockerby fair. But I dinna ken — we're baith geye good at single-stick, and it couldna weel be judged."
“Then take broadswords, and be d-d to you, as your fathers did before you,” said the counsel learned in the law.
“Aweel, Sir, if ye think it wadna be again the law, it's a' ane to Dandie.'
“Hold! hold!” exclaimed Pleydell, “we shall have another Lord Soulis' mistake -- Pr’ythee, man, comprehend me; I wish you to consider how very trifling and foolish a lawsuit you wish to engage in."
“Ay, Sir?” said Dandie, in a disappointed tone. “So ye winna take on wiʼme, I'm doubting?"
“Me! not I - go home, go home, take a pint and agree.” Dandie looked but half contented, and still remained stationary. “Any thing more, my friend?”
“Only, Sir, about the succession of this leddy that 's dead, auld Miss Margaret Bertram o' Singleside.”
“Ay, what about her?” said the counsellor, rather surprised.
“Du, we have nae connection at a' wi' the Bertrams,” said Dandie,
“they were grand folk by the like ous But Jean Liltup, that was auld Singleside's housekeeper, and the mother of these twa young ladies that are gane - the last o'them's dead at a ripe age, I trow - Jean Liltup came out o’Liddel water, and she was as near our connection as second cousin to my mother's half-sister — She drew up wi' Singleside, nae doubt, when she was his housekeeper, and it was a sair vex and grief to a' her kith and kin. But he acknowledged a marriage, and satisfied the kirk - and now I wad ken frae you if we hae not some claim by law?”
“Not the shadow of a claim."
“Aweel, we're nae puirer,” said Dandie,-“but she may hae thought on us if she was minded to make a testament. Weel, Sir, I've said my say – I’se e’en wish you good-night, and”. putting his hand in his pocket.
“No, no, my friend; I never take fees on Saturday nights, or without a memorial away with you, Dandie.” And Dandie made his reverence, and departed accordingly.
Parish Register, “YOUR majesty," said Mannering, laughing, "has solemnized your abdication by an act of mercy and charity — That fellow will scarce think of going to law."
“0, you are quite wrong," said the experienced lawyer. “The only difference is, I have lost my client and my fee. He ili never rest till he finds somebody to encourage him to commit the folly he has predetermined - No! no! I have only shown you another weakness of my character - I always speak truth of a Saturday night.”
“And sometimes through the week, I should think," said Manpering, continuing the same tone.
“Why, yes; as far as my vocation will permit. I am, Hamlet says, indifferent honest, when my clients and their solicitors do not make me the medium of conveying their doubledistilled lies to the bench. But oportet vivere! it is a sad thing. And now to our business. I am glad my old friend Mac-Morlan has sent you to me; he is an active, honest, and intelligent man, Jong Sheriff-substitute of the county of - under me, and still holds the office. He knows I have a regard for that unfortunate family of Ellangowan, and for poor Lucy. I have not seen her since she was twelve years old, and she was then a sweet pretty Guy Manncring.
girl under the management of a very silly father. But my interest in her is of an early date. I was called upon, Mr. Mannering, being then Sheriff of that county, to investigate the particulars of a murder which had been committed near Ellangowan, the day on which this poor child was born; and which, by a strange combination that I was unhappily not able to trace, involved the death or abstraction of her only brother, a boy of about five years old. No, Colonel, I shall never forget the misery of the house of Ellangowan that morning! the father half-distracted - the mother dead in premature travail - the helpless infant, with scarce any one to attend to it, coming wawling and crying into this miserable world at such a moment of unutterable misery. We lawyers are not of iron, Sir, or of brass, any more than you soldiers are of steel. We are conversant with the crimes and distresses of civil society, as you are with those that occur in a state of war, and to do our duty in either case a little apathy is perhaps necessary - But the devil take a soldier whose heart can be as hard as his sword, and his dam catch the lawyer who bronzes his bosom instead of his forehead!
I am losing my Saturday at e’en — will you have the kindness to trust me with these papers which relate to Miss Bertram's business? -and stay — to-morrow you 'll take a bachelor's dinner with an old lawyer, — I insist upon it, at three precisely - and come an hour
The old lady is to be buried on Monday; it is the orphan's cause, and we 'll borrow an hour from the Sunday to talk over this business - although I fear nothing can be done if she has altered her settlement. - unless perhaps it occurs within the sixty days, and then if Miss Bertram can show that she possesses the character of heir-at-law, why
“But, hark! my lieges are impatient of their interregnum-I do not invite you to rejoin us, Colonel; it would be a trespass on your complaisance, unless you had begun the day with us,
and gradually glided on from wisdom to mirth, and from mirth to to — to — extravagance. . Good night — Harry, go home with Mr. Mannering to his lodging — Colonel, I expect you at a little past two to-morrow."
The Colonel returned to his inn, equally surprised at the
childish frolics in which he had found his learned counsellor engaged, at the candour and good sense which he had in a moment summoned up to meet the exigencies of his profession, and at the tone of feeling which he displayed when he spoke of the friendless orphan.
In the morning, while the Colonel and his most quiet and silent of all retainers, Dominie Sampson, were finishing the breakfast which Barnes had made and poured out, after the Dominie had scalded himself in the attempt, Mr. Pleydell was suddenly ushered in. A nicely dressed bob-wig, upon every hair of wbich a zealous and careful barber had bestowed its proper allowance of powder; a well-brushed black suit, with very clean shoes and gold buckles and stock-buckle; a manner rather reserved and formal than intrusive, but, withal, showing only the formality of manner, by no means that of awkwardness; a countenance, the expressive and somewhat comic features of which were in complete repose, all showed a being perfectly different
om the oice spirit of the evening before. glance of shrewd and piercing fire in his eye was the only marked expression which recalled the man of “Saturday at e'en.
“I am come,” said he, with a very polite address, “to use my regal authority in your behalf in spirituals as well as temporals can I accompany you to the Presbyterian kirk, or Episcopal meeting-house? - Tros Tyriusve, a lawyer, you know, is of both religions, or rather I should say of both forms or can I assist in passing the forenoon otherwise? You 'll excuse my oldfashioned importunity -- I was born in a time when a Scotsman was thought inhospitable if he left a guest alone a moment, except when he slept — but I trust you will tell me at once if I intrude.”
“Not at all, my dear Sir,” answered Colonel Mannering, “I am delighted to pat myself under your pilotage. I should wish much to hear some of your Scottish preachers whose talents have done such honour to your country - your Blair, your Robertson, or your Henry; and I embrace your kind offer with all my heart - Only,” drawing the lawyer a little aside, and turning his eye towards Sampson, “my worthy friend there in the reverie is a
little helpless and abstracted, and my servant, Barnes, who is his pilot in ordinary, cannot well assist him here, especially as he has expressed his determination of going to some of your darker and more remote places of worship."
The lawyer's eye glanced at Dominie Sampson. “A curiosity worth preserving and I'll find you a fit custodier. Sir, (to the waiter) go to Luckie Finlayson's in the Cowgate for Miles Macfin the cadie, he'll be there about this time, and tell him I wish to speak to him.” The person wanted soon arrived. "I will commit your
friend to this man's charge,” said Pleydell; "he 'll attend him, or conduct him, wherever he chooses to go, with a happy indifference as to kirk or market, meeting or court of justice, or — place whatever — and bring him safe home at whatever hour you appoint; so that Mr. Barnes there may be left to the freedom of his own will."
This was easily arranged, and the Colonel committed the Dominie to the charge of this man while they should remain in Edinburgh.
“And now, Sir, if you please, we shall go to the Greyfriars church, to hear our historian of Scotland, of the Continent, and of America.”
They were disappointed -- he did not preach that morning. “Never mind,” said the counsellor, “have a moment's patience, and we shall do very well.”
The colleague of Dr. Robertson ascended the pulpit. * His external appearance was not prepossessing. A remarkably fair complexion, strangely contrasted with a black wig without a grain of powder; a narrow chest and a stooping posture; hands which, placed like props on either side of the pulpit, seemed necessary rather to support the person than to assist the gesticulation of the preacher; no gown, not even that of Geneva, a tumbled band, and a gesture which seemed scarce voluntary,
were the first circumstances which struck a stranger. “The preacher seems a very ungainly person,” whispered Mannering to his new friend.
* This was the celebrated Dr. Erskine, a distinguished clergyman, and a most excellent man.