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It happened that the spot upon which young Bertram chanced to station himself for the better viewing the castle, was nearly the same on which his father had died. It was marked by a large old oak tree, the only one on the esplanade, and which, having been used for executions by the barons of Ellangowan, was called the Justice-Tree. It chanced, and the coincidence was remarkable, that Glossin was this morning engaged with a person, whom he was in the habit of consulting in such matters, concerning some projected repairs, and a large addition to the house of Ellangowan, and that, having no great pleasure in remains so intimately connected with the grandeur of the former inhabitants, he had resolved to use the stones of the ruinous castle in his new edifice. Accordingly he came up the bank, followed by the land-surveyor mentioned on a former occasion, who was also in the habit of acting as a sort of architect in case of necessity. In drawing the plans, &c. Glossin was in the custom of relying upon his own skill. Bertram's back was towards them as they came up the ascent, and he was quite shrouded by the branches of the large tree, so that Glossin was not aware of the presence of the stranger till he was close upon him.
“Yes, Sir, as I have often said before to you, the Old Place is a perfect quarry of hewn stone, and it would be better for the estate if it were all down, since it is only a den for smugglers.” At this instant Bertram turned short round upon Glossin at the distance of two yards only, and said — “Would you destroy this fine old castle, Sir?”
His face, person, and voice, were so exactly those of his father in his best days, that Glossin, hearing his exclamation, and seeing such a sudden apparition in the shape of his patron, and on nearly the very spot where he had expired, almost thought the grave had given up its dead! He staggered back two or three paces, as if he had received a sudden and deadly wound. He instantly recovered, however, his presence of mind, stimulated by the thrilling reflection that it was no inhabitant of the other world which stood before him, but an injured man, whom the slightest want of dexterity on his part might lead to acquaintance with his rights, and the means of asserting them to his
utter destruction. Yet his ideas were so much confused by the shock he had received, that his first question partook of the alarm.
“In the name of God, how came you here?” said Glossin.
“How came I here?” repeated Bertram, surprised at the solemnity of the address, “I landed a quarter of an hour since in the little harbour beneath the castle, and was employing a moment's leisure in viewing these fine ruins. I trust there is no intrusion?"
“Intrusion, Sir? no, Sir,” said Glossin, in some degree recovering his breath, and then whispered a few words into his companion's ear, who immediately left him and descended towards the house. “Intrusion, Sir? - no, Sir, any gentleman are welcome to satisfy your curiosity.”
“I thank you, Sir,” said Bertram. “They call this the Old Place, I am informed?”
“Yes, Sir; in distinction to the New Place, my house there below.”
Glossin, it must be remarked, was, during the following dialogue, on the one hand eager to learn what local recollections young Bertram had retained of the scenes of his infancy, and, on the other, compelled to be extremely cautious in his replies, lest he should awaken or assist, by some name, phrase, or anecdote, the slumbering train of association. He suffered, indeed, during the whole scene, the agonies which he so richly deserved; yet his pride and interest, like the fortitude of a North American Indian, manned him to sustain the tortures inflicted at once by the contending stings of a guilty conscience, of hatred, of fear, and of suspicion.
“I wish to ask the name, Sir,” said Bertram, “of the family to whom this stately ruin belongs?”
“It is my property, Sir; my name is Glossin." “Glossin
Glossin?” repeated Bertram, as if the answer were somewhat different from what he expected; “I beg your pardon, Mr. Glossin; I am apt to be
absent. if the castle has been long in your family?"
“It was built, I believe, long ago, by a family called Mac
May I ask
n - no
Dingawaie," answered Glossin; suppressing for obvious reasons the more familiar sound of Bertram, which might have awakened the recollections which he was anxious to lull to rest, and slurring with an evasive answer the question concerning the endurance of his own possession.
“And how do you read the half-defaced motto, Sir,” said Bertram, “which is upon that scroll above the entablature with the arms?”
“I-1-I really do not exactly know," replied Glossin.
“I should be apt to make it out, Our Right makes our Might.”
“I believe it is something of that kind," said Glossin.
“May I ask, Sir," said the changer, “if it is your family motto?” “N
not ours. That is, I believe, the motto of the former people --- mine is - mine is - in fact I have had some correspondence with Mr. Cumming of the Lyon Office in Edinburgh, about mine. He writes me the Glossins anciently bore for a motto, "He who takes it, makes it.'”
“If there be any uncertainty, Sir, and the case were mine," said Bertram, “I would assume the old motto, which seems to me the better of the two."
Glossin, whose tongue by this time clove to the roof of his mouth, only answered by a pod.
“It is odd enough,” said Bertram, fixing his eye upon the arms and gate-way, and partly addressing Glossin, partly as it were thinking aloud. " It is odd the tricks which our memory plays us. The remnants of an old prophecy, or song, or rhyme, of some kind or other, return to my recollection on hearing that motto - stay-it is a strange jingle of sounds:
The dark shall be light,
Shall meet on-' I cannot remember the last line - on some particular height height is the rhyme, I am sure; but I cannot hit upon the preceding word.”
“Confound your memory,” muttered Glossin, "you remember by far too much of it!"
“There are other rhymes connected with these early recollections," continued the young man: “Pray, Sir, is there any song current in this part of the world respecting a daughter of the King of the Isle of Man eloping with a Scottish knight?”
“I am the worst person in the world to consult upon legendary antiquities," answered Glossin.
“I could sing such a ballad," said Bertram, “from one end to another, when I was a boy. You must know, I left Scotland, which is my native country, very young, and those who brought me up discouraged all my attempts to preserve recollection of my native land, on account, I believe, of a boyish wish which I had to escape from their charge.”
“Very natural,” said Glossin, but speaking as if his utmost efforts were unable to unseal his lips beyond the width of a quarter of an inch, so that his whole utterance was a kind of compressed muttering, very different from the round bold bullying voice with which he usually spoke. Indeed his appearance and demeanour during all this conversation seemed to diminish even his strength and stature; so that he appeared to wither into the shadow of himself, now advancing one foot, now the other, now stooping and wriggling his shoulders, now fumbling with the buttons of his waistcoat, now clasping his hands together, -in short, he was the picture of a mean-spirited shuffling rascal in the very agonies of detection. To these appearances Bertram was totally inattentive, being dragged on as it were by the current of his own associations. Indeed, although he addressed Glossin, he was not so much thinking of him, as arguing upon the embarrassing state of his own feelings and recollection. “Yes," he said, “I preserved my language among the sailors, most of whom spoke English, and when I could get into a corner by myself, I used to sing all that song over from beginning to endI have forgot it all now but I remember the tune well, though I cannot guess what should at present so strongly recall it to my memory.”
He took his flageolet from his pocket, and played a simple
melody. Apparently the tune awoke the corresponding associations of a damsel, who, close beside a fine spring about half way down the descent, and which had once supplied the castle with water, was engaged in bleaching linen. She immediately took up the song:
“Are these the Links of Forth, she said,
Or are they the Crooks of Dee,
That I so fain would see?" “By Heaven," said Bertram, “it is the very ballad! I must learn these words from the girl.”
Confusion! thought Glossin; if I cannot put a stop to this, all will be out. O the devil take all ballads, and ballad-makers, and ballad-singers! and that d-d jade, too, to set up her pipe! “You will have time enough for this on some other occasion,” he said aloud; “at present”. (for now he saw his emissary with two or three men coming up the bank,) “at present we must have some more serious conversation together.”
“How do you mean, Sir?” said Bertram, turning short upon him, and not liking the tone which he made use of.
“Why, Sir, as to that I believe your name is Brown?” said Glossin.
“And what of that, Sir?”
Glossin looked over his shoulder to see how near his party had approached; they were coming fast on. “Vanbeest Brown? if I mistake not."
“And what of that, Sir?” said Bertram, with increasing astonishment and displeasure.
“Why, in that case,” said Glossin, observing his friends had now got upon the level space close beside them “in that case you are my prisoner in the king's name!"
· At the same time he stretched his hand towards Bertram's collar, while two of the men who had come up seized upon his arms; he shook himself, however, free of their grasp by a violent effort, in which he pitched the most pertinacious down the bank, and, drawing his cutlass, stood on the defensive; while those who had felt his strength recoiled from his presence, and gazed at a safe distance.