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footsteps of their conductress. She guided them to the wood of Warroch by the same track which the late Ellangowan had used when riding to Derncleugh in quest of his child, on the miserable evening of Kennedy's murder.
When Meg Merrilies had attained these groves, through which the wintry sea-wind was now whistling hoarse and shrill, she seemed to pause a moment as if to recollect the way. “We maun go the precise track,” she said, and continued to go forward, but rather in a zigzag and involved course, than according to her former steady and direct line of motion. At length she guided them through the mazes of the wood to a little open glade of about a quarter of an acre, surrounded by trees and bushes, which made a wild and irregular boundary. Even in winter it was a sheltered and snugly sequestered spot; but when arrayed in the verdure of spring, the earth sending forth all its wild flowers, the shrubs spreading their waste of blossom around it, and the weeping birches, which towered over the underwood, drooping their long and leafy fibres to intercept the sun, it must have seemed a place for a youthful poet to study his earliest sonnet, or a pair of lovers to exchange their first mutual avowal of affection. Apparently it now awakened very different recollections. Bertram's brow, when he had looked round the spot, became gloomy and embarrassed. Meg, after uttering to herself, “This is the very spot!” looked at him with a ghastly side-glance, -"D'ye mind it?” “Yes," answered Bertram, “imperfectly I do."
“Ay!” pursued his guide, “on this very spot the man fell from his horse I was behind that bourtree bush at the very moment. Sair, sair he strove, and sair he cried for mercy - but he was in the hands of them that never kenn'd the word! · Now will I show you the farther track the last time ye travelled it was in these arms."
She led them accordingly by a long and winding passage almost overgrown with brushwood, until, without any very perceptible descent, they suddenly found themselves by the seaside. Meg then walked very fast on between the surf and the rocks, until she came to a remarkable fragment of rock detached
from the rest. “Here,” she said in a low and scarcely audiblc whisper, “here the corpse was found.”
“And the cave,” said Bertram, in the same tone, “is close beside it
are you guiding us there?” “Yes,” said the gipsy in a decided tone. “Bend up both your hearts follow me as I creep
in I have placed the fire-wood so as to screen you. Bide behind it for a gliff till I say, The hour and the man are baith come; then rin in on him, take his arms, and bind him till the blood burst frae his finger nails.”
“I will, by my soul!” said Henry — “if he is the man I suppose. Jansen?”
“Ay, Jansen, Hatteraick, and twenty mair names are his."
“Diomont, you must stand by me now," said Bertram, “for this fellow is a devil.” “Ye needna doubt that,” said the stout yeoman
“but I wish I could mind a bit prayer or I creep after the witch into that hole that she 's opening It wad be a sair thing to leave the
and the free air, and gang and be killed, like a tod that's run to earth, io a dungeon like that. But, my sooth, they will be hard-bitten terriers will worry Dandie; so, as I said, deil hae me if I baulk you.” This was uttered in the lowest tone of voice possible. The entrance was now open. Meg crept in upon her hands and knees, Bertram followed, and Dinmont, after giving a rueful glance toward the daylight, whose blessings he was abandoning, brought up the rear.
Henry VI. Part III. The progress of the Borderer, who, as we have said, was the last of the party, was fearfully arrested by a hand, which caught hold of his leg as he dragged his long limbs after him in silence and perturbation through the low and narrow entrance of the subterraneous passage. The steel heart of the bold yeoman had wellnigh given way, and he suppressed with difficulty a shout, which, in the defenceless posture and situation which they then occupied,
might have cost all their lives. He contented himself, however, with extricating his foot from the grasp of this unexpected follower. “Be still,” said a voice behind him, releasing him; “I am a friend - Charles Hazlewood.”
These words were uttered in a very low voice, but they produced sound enough to startle Meg Merrilies, who led the van, and who, having already gained the place where the cavern expanded, had risen upon her feet. She began, as if to confound any listening ear, to growl, to mutter, and to sing aloud, and at the same time to make a bustle among some brushwood which was now heaped in the cave.
“Here — beldam - Deyvil's kind,” growled the harsh voice of Dirk Hatteraick from the inside of his den, “what makest thou there?"
“Laying the roughies * to keep the cauld wind frae you, ye desperate do-nae-good- Ye're e'en ower weel off, and wots na; it will be otherwise soon.”
“Have you brought me the brandy, and any news of my people?” said Dirk Hatteraick.
“There's the flask for ye. Your people — dispersed – broken
- gone or cut to ribands by the red-coats.”
While this dialogue went forward, Bertram and Diomont had both gained the interior of the cave, and assumed an erect position. The only light which illuminated its rugged and sable precincts was a quantity of wood burnt to charcoal in an iron grate, such as they use in spearing salmon by night. On these red embers Hatteraick from time to time threw a handful of twigs or splintered wood; but these, even when they blazed up, afforded a light much disproportioned to the extent of the cavern; and, as its principal inhabitant lay upon the side of the grate most remote from the entrance, it was not easy for him to discover distinctly objects which lay in that direction. The intruders, therefore, whose number was now augmented unexpectedly to three, stood behind the loosely-piled branches with little risk of discovery.
* Withered boughs.
Diomont had the sense to keep back Hazlewood with one hand till he whispered to Bertram, “A friend
young Hazlewood.” It was no time for following up the introduction, and they all stood as still as the rocks around them, obscured behind the pile of brushwood, which had been probably placed there to break the cold wind from the sea, without totally intercepting the supply of air. The branches were laid so loosely above each other, that, looking through them towards the light of the fire-grate, they could easily discover what passed in its vicinity, although a much stronger degree of illumination than it afforded, would not have enabled the persons placed near the bottom of the cave to have descried them in the position which they occupied.
The scene, independent of the peculiar moral interest and personal danger which attended it, had, from the effect of the light and shade on the uncommon objects which it exhibited, an appearance emphatically dismal. The light in the fire-grate was the dark-red glare of charcoal in a state of ignition, relieved from time to time by a transient flame of a more vivid or duskier light, as the fuel with which Dirk Hatteraick fed his fire was better or worse fitted for this purpose. Now a dark cloud of stifling smoke rose up to the roof of the cavern, and then lighted into a reluctant and sullen blaze, which flashed wavering up the pillar of smoke, and was suddenly rendered brighter and more lively by some drier fuel, or perhaps some splintered fir-timber, which at once converted the smoke into flame. By such fitful irradiation, they could see, more or less distinctly, the form of Hatteraick, whose savage and rugged cast of features, now rendered yet more ferocious by the circumstances of his situation, and the deep gloom of his mind, assorted well with the rugged and broken vault, which rose in a rude arch over and around him. The form of Meg Merrilies, which stalked about him, sometimes in the light, sometimes partially obscured in the smoke or darkness, contrasted strongly with the sitting figure of Hatteraick as he bent over the flame, and from his stationary posture was constantly visible to the spectator, while that of the female flitted around, appearing or disappearing like a spectre.
Bertram felt his blood boil at the sight of Hatteraick. He
remembered him well under the name of Jansen, which the smuggler had adopted after the death of Kennedy; and he remembered also, that this Jansen, and his mate Brown, the same who was shot at Woodbourne, had been the brutal tyrants of his infancy. Bertram knew farther, from piecing his own imperfect recollections with the narratives of Mannering and Pleydell, that this man was the prime agent in the act of violence which tore him from his family and country, and had exposed him to so many distresses and dangers. A thousand exasperating reflections rose within his bosom; and he could hardly refrain from rushing upon Hatteraick and blowing his brains out.
At the same time this would have been no safe adventure. The flame, as it rose and fell, while it displayed the strong, muscular, and broad-chested frame of the ruffian, glanced also upon two brace of pistols in his belt, and upon the hilt of his cutlass: it was not to be doubted that his desperation was commensurate with his personal strength and means of resistance. Both, indeed, were inadequate to encounter the combined power of two such men as Bertram himself and his friend Dinmont, without reckoning their unexpected assistant Hazlewood, who was unarmed, and of a slighter make; but Bertram felt, on a moment's reflection, that there would be neither sense nor valour in anticipating the hangman's office, and he considered the importance of making Hatteraick prisoner alive. He therefore repressed his indignation, and awaited what should pass between the ruffian and his gipsy guide.
“And how are ye now?” said the harsh and discordant tones of his female attendant: “Said I not it would come upon you ay, and in this very cave, where ye barboured after the deed?”
“Wetter and sturm, ye hag!” replied Hatteraick, “keep your deyvil's matins till they're wanted. Have you seen Glossin?'
“No," replied Meg Merrilies: “you 've missed your blow, ye blood-spiller! and ye have nothing to expect from the tempter.”
“Hagel!” exclaimed the ruffian, “if I had him but by the throat! And what am I to do, then?”
“Do?" answered the gipsy; “Die like a man, or be hanged like a dog!”