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Vanbeest Brown, who served as a cadet or volunteer under Colonel Mannering, when he commanded the regiment, in which capacity I was not unknown to him.”
“There,” said the Colonel, “I can assure Mr. Brown of his identity; and add, what his modesty may have forgotten, that he was distinguished as a young man of talent and spirit.”
“So much the better, my dear Sir," said Mr. Pleydell: “but that is to general character - Mr. Brown must tell us where he was born.'
“In Scotland, I believe, but the place uncertain."
“Do you remember nothing of your early life before you left Scotland?"
“Very imperfectly; yet I have a strong idea, perhaps more deeply impressed upon me by subsequent hard usage, that I was during my childhood the object of much solicitude and affection. I have an indistinct remembrance of a good-looking man whom I used to call papa, and of a lady who was infirm in health, and who, I think, must have been my mother; but it is an imperfect and confused recollection. I remember too a tall thin kind tempered man in black, who used to teach me my letters and walk out with me;
and I think the very last time" Here the Dominie could contain no longer. While every succeeding word served to prove that the child of his benefactor stood before him, he had struggled with the utmost difficulty to suppress his emotions; but, when the juvenile recollections of Bertram turned towards his tutor and his precepts, he was compelled to give way to his feelings. He rose hastily from his chair, and with clasped hands, trembling limbs, and streaming eyes, called out aloud, “Harry Bertram! - look at me was I not the man?”
“Yes!” said Bertram, starting from his seat as if a sudden light had burst in upon his mind. “Yes name! and that is the voice and the figure of my kind old master!”
The Dominie threw himself into his arms, pressed him a
that was my
thousand times to his bosom in convulsions of transport, which shook his whole frame, sobbed hysterically, and, at length, in the emphatic language of Scripture, lifted up his voice and wept aloud. Colonel Mannering had recourse to his handkerchief; Pleydell made wry faces, and wiped the glasses of his spectacles; and honest Dinmont, after two loud blubbering explosions, exclaimed, “Deil's in the man! he's garr'd me do that I haena done since my auld mither died.”
“Come, come,” said the counsellor at last, “silence in the court, We have a clever party to contend with; we must lose no time in gathering our information for any thing I know, there may be something to be done before day-break.”
“I will order a horse to be saddled, if you please," said the Colonel.
“No, no, time enough time enough - but come, Dominie, I have allowed you a competent space to express your feelings. I must circumduce the term - you must let me proceed in my examination.”
The Dominie was habitually obedient to any one who chose to impose commands upon him; he sunk back into his chair, spread his checked handkerchief over his face, to serve, as I suppose, for the Grecian painter's veil, and, from the action of his folded hands, appeared for a time engaged in the act of mental thanksgiving. He then raised his eyes over the screen, as if to be assured that the pleasing apparition had not melted into air -- then again sunk them to resume his internal act of devotion, until he felt himself compelled to give attention to the counsellor, from the interest which his questions excited.
“And now," said Mr. Pleydell, after several minute inquiries concerning his recollection of early events
Mr. Bertram, for I think we ought in future to call you by your own proper name, will you have the goodness to let us know every particular which you can recollect concerning the mode of your leaving Scotland?”
“Indeed, Sir, to say the truth, though the terrible outlines of that day are strongly impressed upon my memory, yet somehow the very terror which fixed them there has in a great measure con
founded and confused the details. I recollect, however, that I was walking somewhere or other in a wood, I think"
“O yes, it was in Warroch-wood, my dear,” said the Dominie.
“Hush, Mr. Sampson," said the lawyer.
“Yes, it was in a wood," continued Bertram, as long past and confused ideas arranged themselves in his reviving recollection; "and some one was with me this worthy and affectionate gentleman, I think.”
“0, ay, ay, Harry, Lord bless thee - it was even I myself.”
“Be silent, Dominie, and don't interrupt the evidence,” said Pleydell. -“And so, Sir?” to Bertram.
“And so, Sir," continued Bertram, “like one of the changes of a dream, I thought I was on horseback before my guide.”
“No, no,” exclaimed Sampson, “never did I put my own limbs, not to say thine, into such peril.”
“On my word this is intolerable!- Look ye, Dominie, if you speak another word till I give you leave, I will read three sentences out of the Black Acts, whisk my cane round my head three times, undo all the magic of this night's work, and conjure Harry Bertram back again into Vanbeest Brown.”
“Honoured and worthy Sir,” groaned out the Dominie, “I humbly crave pardon - it was but verbum volans."
“Well, nolens volens, you must hold your tongue,” said Pleydell.
“Pray, be silent, Mr. Sampson,” said the Colonel; “it is of great consequence to your recovered friend, that you permit Mr. Pleydell to proceed in his inquiries."
“I am mute," said the rebuked Dominie.
“On a sudden,” continued Bertram, “two or three men sprung out upon us, and we were pulled from horseback. I have little recollection of any thing else, but that I tried to escape in the midst of a desperate scuffle, and fell into the arms of a very
tall woman who started from the bushes, and protected me for some time - the rest is all confusion and dread - a dim recollection of a sea-beach, and a cave, and of some strong potion which lulled me to sleep for a length of time. In short, it is all a blank
in my memory, until I recollect myself first an Ill-used and halfstarved cabin-boy aboard a sloop, and then a school-boy in Holland under the protection of an old merchant, who had taken some fancy for me."
“And what account,” said Mr. Pleydell, "did your guardian give of your parentage?"
“A very brief one,” answered Bertram, “and a charge to inquire no farther. I was given to understand, that my father was concerned in the smuggling trade carried on on the eastern coast of Scotland, and was killed in a skirmish with the revenue officers; that his correspondents in Holland had a vessel on the coast at the time, part of the crew of which were engaged in the affair, and that they brought me off after it was over, from a motive of compassion, as I was left destitute by my father's death. As I grew older there was much of this story seemed inconsistent with my own recollections — but what could I do? I had no means of ascertaining my doubts, nor a single friend with whom I could communicate or canvass them. The rest of my story is known to Colonel Mannering: I went out to India to be a clerk in a Dutch house; their affairs fell into confusion I betook myself to the military profession, and, I trust, as yet I have not disgraced it."
“Thou art a fine young fellow, I'll be bound for thee,” said Pleydell, “and since you have wanted a father so long, I wish from my heart I could claim the paternity myself. But this affair of young Hazlewood”
“Was merely accidental,” said Bertram. “I was travelling in Scotland for pleasure, and after a week's residence with my friend, Mr. Dinmont, with whom I had the good fortune to form an accidental acquaintance”.
“It was my gude fortune that,” said Dinmont; “odd, my brains wad hae been knockit out by twa blackguards, if it hadna been for his four quarters.”
“Shortly after we parted at the down of —, I lost my baggage by thieves, and it was while residing at Kippletringan I accidentally met the young gentleman. As I was approaching to pay my respects to Miss Mannering, whom I had known in India, Mr.
Hazlewood, conceiving my appearance none of the most respectable, commanded me rather haughtily to stand back, and so gave occasion to the fray in which I had the misfortune to be the accidental means of wounding him. · And now, Sir, that I have answered all your questions”.
“No, no, not quite all,” said Pleydell, winking sagaciously: “there are some interrogatories which I shall delay tillto-morrow, for it is time, I believe, to close the sederunt for this night, or rather morning."
“Well, then, Sir,” said the young man, “to vary the phrase, since I have answered all the questions which you have chosen to ask to-night, will you be so good as to tell me who you are that take such interest in my affairs, and whom you take me to be, since my arrival has occasioned such commotion?”
“Why, Sir, for myself,” replied the counsellor, “I am Paulus Pleydell, an advocate at the Scottish bar; and for you, it is not easy to say distinctly who you are at present; but I trust in a short time to hail you by the title of Henry Bertram, Esq., representative of one of the oldest families in Scotland, and heir of tailzie and provision to the estate of Ellangowan ---- Ay," continued he, shutting his eyes and speaking to himself, “we must pass over his father, and serve him heir to his grandfather Lewis, the entailer - the only wise man of his family that I ever heard of.”
They had now risen to retire to their apartments for the night, when Colonel Mannering walked up to Bertram, as he stood astonished at the counsellor's words. “I give you joy,” he said, “of the prospects which fate has opened before you. I was an early friend of your father, and chanced to be in the house of Ellangowan as unexpectedly as you are now in mine, upon the very night in which you were born. I little knew this circumstance when - but I trust unkindness will be forgotten between us. Believe me, your appearance here, as Mr. Brown, alive and well, has relieved me from most painful sensations; and your right to the name of an old friend renders your presence, as Mr. Bertram, doubly welcome.”
“And my parents?” said Bertram.