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She was standing upon one of those high precipitous banks, which, as we have before noticed, overhung the road; so that she was placed considerably higher than Ellangowan, even though he was on horseback; and her tall figure relieved against the clear blue sky, seemed almost of supernatural stature. We have noticed, that there was in her general attire, or rather in her mode of adjusting it, somewhat of a foreign costume, artfully adopted perhaps for the purpose of adding to the effect of her spells and predictions, or perhaps from some traditional notions respecting the dress of her ancestors. On this occasion, she had a large piece of red cotton cloth rolled about her head in the form of a turban, from beneath which her dark eyes flashed with uncommon lustre. Her long and tangled black hair fell in elf-locks from the folds of this singular head-gear. Her attitude was that of a sibyl in frenzy, and she stretched out, in her right hand, a sapling bough which seemed just pulled.
“I'll be dmd," said the groom, “if she has not been cutting the young ashes in the Dukit park!” The Laird made no answer, but continued to look at the figure which was thus perched above his path.
“Ride your ways,” said the gipsy, “ride your ways, Laird of Ellangowan ride your ways, Godfrey Bertram! This day have ye quenched seven smoking hearths - see if the fire in your ain parlour burn the blyther for that. Ye have riven the thack off seven cottar houses - look if your ain roof-tree stand the faster. Ye may stable your stirks in the shealings at Deracleugh - see that the hare does not couch on the hearthstane at Ellangowan. Ride
your ways, Godfrey Bertram what do you glower after our folk for? There's thirty hearts there, that wad hae wanted bread ere ye had wanted sunkets,* and spent their lifeblood ere ye had scratched your finger. Yes there 's thirty yonder, from the auld wife of an hundred to the babe that was born last week, that ye have turned out o' their bits o' bields, to sleep with the tod and the black cock o' the muirs! Ride your ways, Ellangowarı. Our bairns are hinging at our weary backs look that your braw cradle at hame be the fairer spread up not that I am wishing
ill to little Harry, or to the babe that's yet to be born. God forbid and make them kind to the poor, and better folk than their father! And now, ride e’en your ways; for these are the last words ye 'll ever hear Meg Merrilies speak, and this is the last reise that I'll ever cut in the bonny woods of Ellangowan.”
So saying, she broke the sapling she held in her hand, and flung it into the road. Margaret of Anjou, bestowing on her triumphant foes her keen-edged malediction, could not have turned from them with a jesture more proudly contemptuous. The Laird was clearing his voice to speak, and thrusting his hand in his pocket to find a half-crown; the gipsy waited neither for his reply nor his donation, but strode down the hill to overtake the caravan.
Ellangowan rode pensively home; and it was remarkable that he did not mention this interview to any of his family. The groom was not so reserved; he told the story at great length to a full audience in the kitchen, and concluded by swearing, that “if ever the devil spoke by the mouth of a woman, he had spoken by that of Meg Merrilies that blessed day.”
Seizing a stell,
Or lampit shell. BURNS. DURING the period of Mr. Bertram's active magistracy, he did not forget the affairs of the revenue. Smuggling, for which the Isle of Man then afforded peculiar facilities, was general, or rather universal, all along the south-western coast of Scotland. Almost all the common people were engaged in these practices; the gentry connived at them, and the officers of the revenue were frequently discountenanced in the exercise of their duty, by those who should have protected them.
There was, at this period, employed as a riding officer, or supervisor, in that part of the country, a certain Francis Kennedy,
already named in our narrative; a stout, resolute, and active man, who had made seizures to a great amount, and was proportionally hated by those who had an interest in the fair trade, as they called the pursuit of these contraband adventurers. This person was natural son to a gentleman of good family, owing to which circumstance, and to his being of a jolly convivial disposition, and singing a good song, he was admitted to the occasional society of the gentlemen of the country, and was a member of several of their clubs for practising athletic games, at which he was particularly expert.
At Ellangowan, Kennedy was a frequent and always an acceptable guest. His vivacity relieved Mr. Bertram of the trouble of thought, and the labour which it cost him to support a detailed communication of ideas; while the daring and dangerous exploits which he had undertaken in the discharge of his office, formed excellent conversation. To all these revenue adventures did the Laird of Ellangowan seriously incline, and the amusement which he derived from Kennedy's society, formed an excellent reason for countenancing and assisting the narrator in the execution of his invidious and hazardous duty.
“Frank Kennedy,” he said, “was a gentleman, though on the wrang side of the blanket - he was connected with the family of Ellangowan through the house of Glengubble. The last Laird of Glengubble would have brought the estate into the Ellangowan line; but happening to go to Harrigate, he there met with Miss Jean Hadaway -- by the by, the Green Dragon at Harrigate is the best house of the twa - but for Frank Kennedy, he's in one sense a gentleman born, and it's a shame not to support him against these blackguard smugglers."
After this league had taken place between judgment and execution, it chanced that Captain Dirk Hatteraick had landed a cargo of spirits, and other contraband goods, upon the beach not far from Ellangowan, and, confiding in the indifference with which the Laird had formerly regarded similar infractions of the law, he was neither very anxious to conceal nor to expedite the transaction. The consequence was, that Mr. Frank Kennedy, armed with a warrant from Ellangowan, and supported by some
of the Laird's people who knew the country, and by a party of military, poured down upon the kegs, bales, and bags, and after a desperate affray, in which severe wounds were given and received, succeeded in clapping the broad arrow upon the articles, and bearing them off in triumph to the next custom-house. Dirk Hatteraick vowed, in Dutch, German, and English, a deep and full revenge, both against the gauger and his abettors; and all who knew him thought it likely he would keep his word.
A few days after the departure of the gipsy tribe, Mr. Bertram asked his lady one morning at breakfast, whether this was not little Harry's birthday?
“Five years auld exactly, this blessed day,” answered the lady; "so we may look into the English gentleman's paper." Mr. Bertram liked to show his authority in trifles.
“No, my dear, not till to-morrow. The last time I was at quarter sessions, the sheriff told us, that dies — that dies inceptus -in short, you don't understand Latin, but it means that a term-day is not begun till it's ended.”
“That sounds like nonsense, my dear."
“May be so, my dear; but it may be very good law for all that. I am sure, speaking of term-days, I wish, as Frank Kennedy says, that Whitsunday would kill Martinmas and be hanged for the murder for there I have got a letter about that interest of Jenny Cairns's, and deil a tenant 's been at the Place yet wi' a boddle of rent, nor will not till Candlemas but, speaking of Frank Kennedy, I dare say he 'll be here the day, for he was away round to Wigton to warn a king's ship that 's lying in the bay about Dirk Hatteraick's lugger being on the coast again, and he 'll be back this day; so we 'll have a bottle of claret, and drink little Harry's health.”
“I wish,” replied the lady, “Frank Kennedy would let Dirk Hatteraick alone. What needs he make himself mair busy than other folk? Cannot he sing his sang, and take his drink, and draw his salary, like Collector Snail, honest man, that never fashes ony body? And I wonder at you, Laird, for meddling and making
Did we ever want to send for tea or brandy frae
the Borough-town, when Dirk Hatteraick used to come quietly into the bay?"
“Mrs. Bertram, you know nothing of these matters. Do you think it becomes a magistrate to let his own house be made a receptacle for smuggled goods? Frank Kennedy will show you the penalties in the act, and ye ken yoursell they used to put their run goods into the Auld Place of Ellangowan up by there."
“Oh, dear, Mr. Bertram, and what the waur were the wa's and the vault of the old castle for having a wheen kegs o' brandy in them at an orra time? I am sure ye were not obliged to ken ony thing about it; and what the waur was the King that the lairds here got a soup o' drink, and the ladies their drap o' tea, at a reasonable rate? - it's a shame to them to pit such taxes on them! and was na I much the better of these Flanders head and pinners, that Dirk Hatteraick sent me a' the way from Antwerp? It will be lang or the King sends me ony thing, or Frank Kennedy either. And then ye would quarrel with these gipsies too! I expect every day to hear the barn-yard's in a low.”
“I tell you once more, my dear, you don't understand these things — and there's Frank Kennedy coming galloping up the avenue."
“Aweel! aweel! Ellangowan," said the lady, raising her voice as the Laird left the room, “I wish ye may understand them yoursell, that 's a'!”
From this nuptial dialogue the Laird joyfully escaped to meet his faithful friend, Mr. Kennedy, who arrived in high spirits. “For the love of life, Ellangowan,” he said, “get up to the castle! you'll see that old fox Dirk Hatteraick, and his majesty's hounds in full cry after him.” So saying, he flung his horse's bridle to a boy, and ran up the ascent to the old castle, followed by the Laird, and indeed by several others of the family, alarmed by the sound of guns from the sea, now distinctly heard.
On gaining that part of the ruins which commanded the most extensive outlook, they saw a lugger, with all her canvass crowded standing across the bay, closely pursued by a sloop of war, that kept firing upon the chase from her bows, which the lugger returned with her stern-chasers. “They ’re but at long bowls yet,”