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faced the entrance had also been formerly closed by a range of buildings; but owing, it was said, to its having been battered by the ships of the Parliament under Deane, during the long civil war, this part of the castle was much more ruinous than the rest, and exhibited a great chasm, through which Mannering could observe the sea, and the little vessel (an armed lugger) which retained her station in the centre of the bay. * While Mannering was gazing round the ruins, he heard from the interior of an apartment on the left hand the voice of the gipsy he had seen on the preceding evening. He soon found an aperture, through which he could observe her without being himself visible; and could not help feeling that her figure, her employment, and her situation, conveyed the exact impression of an ancient sibyl.
She sate upon a broken corner-stone in the angle of a paved apartment, part of which she had swept clean to afford a smooth space for the evolutions of her spindle. A strong sunbeam, through a lofty and narrow window, fell upon her wild dress and features, and afforded her light for her occupation; the rest of the apartment was very gloony. Equipt in a habit which mingled the national dress of the Scottish common people with something of an Eastern costume, she spun a thread, drawn from wool of three different colours, black, white, and grey, by assistance of those ancient implements of housewifery, now almost banished from the land, the distaff and spindle. As she spun, she sung what seemed to be a charm. Mannering, after in vain attempting to make himself master of the exact words of her song, afterwards attempted the following paraphrase of what, from a few intelligible phrases, he concluded to be its purport:
Twist ye, twine ye! even so
And the infant's life beginning, The outline of the above description, as far as the supposed ruins are concerned, will be found somewhat to resemble the noble remains of Carlaverock castle, six or seven miles from Dumfries, and near to Lochar-moss.
Dimly seen through twilight bending,
twine ye! even so Mingle human bliss and wo. Ere our translator, or rather our free imitator, had arranged these stanzas in his head, and while he was yet hammering out a rhyme for dwindle, the task of the sibyl was accomplished, or her wool was expended. She took the spindle, now charged with her labours, and, undoing the thread gradually, measured it, by casting it over her elbow, and bringing each loop round between her forefinger and thumb. When she had measured it out, she muttered to herself "A hank, but not a haill ane the full years o'three score and ten, but thrice broken, and thrice to oop, (i. e. to unite;) he 'll be a lucky lad an he win through wi't."
Our hero was about to speak to the prophetess, when a voice, hoarse as the waves with which it mingled, halloo'd twice, and with increasing impatience - "Meg, Meg Merrilies !--- Gipsy -hag - tousand deyvils!”
“I am coming, I am coming, Captain,” answered Meg; and in a moment or two the impatient commander whom she addressed made his appearance from the broken part of the ruins.
He was apparently a seafaring man, rather under the middle size, and with a cou nance bronzed by a thousand conflicts with the north-east wind. His frame was prodigiously muscular, strong, and thick-set; so that it seemed as if a man of much greater height would have been an inadequate match in any close personal conflict. He was hard-favoured, and, which was worse, his face bore nothing of the insouciance, the careless frolicsome jollity and vacant curiosity of a sailor on shore. These qualities, perhaps, as much as any others, contribute to the high popularity of our seamen, and the general good inclination which our society expresses towards them. Their gallantry, courage, and hardihood
are qualities which excite reverence, and perhaps rather humble pacific landsmen in their presence; and neither respect, nor a sense of humiliation, are feelings easily combined with a familiar fondness towards those who inspire them. But the boyish frolics, the exulting high spirits, the unreflecting mirth of a sailor, when enjoying himself on shore, temper the more formidable points of his character. There was nothing like these in this man's face; on the contrary, a surly and even savage scowl appeared to darken features which would have been harsh and unpleasant under any expression or modification. “Where are you, Mother Deyvilson?” he said, with somewhat of a foreign accent, though speaking perfectly good English. “Donner and blitzen! we have been staying this half hour-Come, bless the good ship and the voyage, and be cursed to ye for a hag of Satan!”
At this moment he noticed Mannering, who, from the position which he had taken to watch Meg Merrilies's incantations, had the appearance of some one who was concealing himself, being half hidden by the buttress behind which he stood. The Captain, for such he styled himself, made a sudden and startled pause, and thrust his right hand into his bosom, between his jacket and waistcoat, as if to draw some weapon. “What cheer, brother? you seem on the outlook - eh?”
Ere Mannering, somewhat struck by the man's gesture and insolent tone of voice, had made any answer, the gipsy emerged from her vault and joined the stranger. He questioned her in an under tone, looking at Mannering - “A shark alongside; eh?”
She answered in the same tone of under-dialogue, using the cant language of her tribe “Cut bon whids, and stow them gentry cove of the ken.” *
The fellow's cloudy visage cleared up. “The top of the morning to you, Sir; I find you are a visiter of my friend Mr. Bertram - I beg pardon, but I took you for another sort of a person.'
Mannering replied, “And you, Sir, I presume, are the master of that vessel in the bay?”
Meaning, - Stop your uncivil language that is a gentleman from the house below,
- you shall
“Ay, ay, Sir; I am Captain Dirk Hatteraick, of the Yungfrauw Hagenslaapen, well known on this coast; I am not ashamed of my name,
nor of my vessel, - no, nor of my cargo neither for that matter.”
“I dare say you have no reason, Sir."
“Tousand donner - no; I 'm all in the way of fair trade Just loaded yonder from Douglas in the Isle of Man
neat cogniac – real hyson and souchong - Mechlin lace, if you want any - Right cogniac — We bumped ashore a hundred kegs last night."
“Really, Sir, I am only a traveller, and have no sort of occasion for any thing of the kind at present.”
“Why, then, good morning to you, for business must be minded - unless ye 'll go aboard and take schnaps * have a pouch-full of tea ashore - Dirk Hatteraick knows how to be civil.”
There was a mixture of impudence, hardihood, and suspicious fear about this man, which was inexpressibly disgusting. His manners were those of a ruffian, conscious of the suspicion attending his character, yet aiming to bear it down by the affectation of a careless and hardy familiarity. Mannering briefly rejected his proffered civilities; and after a sarly good morning, Hatteraick retired with the gipsy to that part of the ruins from which he had first made his appearance. A very narrow staircase here went down to the beach, intended probably for the convenience of the garrison during a siege. By this stair, the couple, equally amiable in appearance, and respectable by profession, descended to the sea-side. The soi-disant captain embarked in a small boat with two men who appeared to wait for him, and the gipsy remained on the shore, reciting or singing, and gesticulating with great vehemence.
* A dram of liquor.
Richard Ii. When the boat which carried the worthy captain on board his vessel had accomplished that task, the sails began to ascend, and the ship was got under way. She fired three guns as a salute to the house of Ellangowan, and then shot away rapidly before the wind, which blew off shore, under all the sail she could crowd.
“Ay, ay,” said the Laird, who had sought Mannering for some time, and now joined him, “there they go — there go the freetraders - there go Captain Dirk Hatteraick, and the Yungfrauw Hagenslaapen, half Manks, half Dutchman, half devil! run out the boltsprit, up main-sail, top and top-gallant sails, royals, and skyscrapers, and away follow who can! That fellow, Mr. Mannering, is the terror of all the excise and custom-house cruisers; they can make nothing of bim; he drubs them, or he distances them -and, speaking of excise, I come to bring you to breakfast; and you shall have some tea, that"
Mannering, by this time, was aware that one thought linked strangely on to another in the concatenation of worthy Mr. Bertram's ideas,
“Like orient pearls at random strung," and, therefore, before the current of his associations had drifted farther from the point he had left, he brought him back by some inquiry about Dirk Hatteraick.
“O he's a -a — gude sort of blackguard fellow encugh naebody cares to trouble him ---smuggler, when bis guns are in ballast - privateer, or pirate, faith, when he gets them mounted. He has done more mischief to the revenue folk than ony rogue that ever came out of Ramsay.”
“But, my good Sir, such being his character, I wonder he has any protection and encouragement on this coast."