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He could not deny, that, looking round upon the dreary region, and secing nothing but bleak fields, and naked trees, hills obscured by fogs, and flats covered with inundations, he did for some time suffer melancholy to prevail upon him, and wished bimself again safe at home,'
Travels of Will. Marvel, Idler, No. 49. It was in the beginning of the month of November, 174, when a young English gentleman, who had just left the university of Oxford, made use of the liberty afforded him, to visit some parts of the north of England, and curiosity extended his tour into the adjacent frontier of the sister country. He had visited, upon the day that opens our history, some monastic ruins in the county of Dumfries, and spent much of the day in making drawings of them from different points; so that, upon mounting his horse to resume his journey, the brief and gloomy twilight of the season had already commenced. His way lay through a wide track of black moss, extending for miles on each side, and before him. Little eminences arose like islands on its surface, bearing here and there patches of corn, which even at this season was green, and sometimes a hut, or farm-house, shaded by a willow or two, and surrounded by large elder-bushes. These insulated dwellings communicated with each other by winding passages through the moss, impassable by any
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but the natives themselves. The public road, how ever, was tolerably well made and safe, so that the prospect of being benighted, brought with it no real danger. Still it is uncomfortable to travel alone in the dark, through an unknown country, and there are few ordinary accasions upon which Fancy frets herself so much, as in a situation like that of Mannering.
As the light grew faint and more faint, and the morass appeared blacker and blacker, our traveller questioned more closely each chance passenger upon his distance from the village of Kippletringan, where he proposed to quarter for the night. His queries were usually answered by a counter-challenge respecting the place from whence he came. While sufficient daylight remained to show the dress and appearance of a gentleman, these cross interrogatories were usually put in the form of a case supposed, as,
Ye'll hae been at the auld abbey o' Haly cross, sir? there's mony English gentlemen gang to see that?or, 'Your honour will be come from the house o? Pouderloupat?'—But when the voice of the querist alone was distinguishable, the response usually was,
where are ye coming frae at sic a time o’night as the like o' this?'-or,' Ye'll no be of this country, freend?' The answers, when obtained, were neither very reconcilable to each other, nor accurate in the information which they afforded. Kippletringan was distant, at first, “a gay bit;' then the gay bit' was more accurately described, as aiblins three miles;' then the three miles' diminished into like a mile and ų bittock;' then extended themselves into four miles, or there awa;' and, lastly, a female voice having hushed a wailing infant which the spokes-woman carried in her arms, assured Guy Mannering, 'It was a weary lang gait yet to Kippletringan, and unco heavy road for foot passengers.' The poor hack upon which Mannering was mounted was probably of opinion that it suited him as ill as the female respondent; he began to flag very
much, answered each application of the spur with a groan, and stumbled at every stone (and they were not few) which lay in his road.
Mannering now grew impatient. He was occasionly betrayed into a deceitful hope, that the end of his journey was near, by the apparition of a twinkling light or two; but, as he came up, he was disappointed to find the gleams proceeded from some of those farm houses which occasionally ornamented the surface of the extensive bog. At length, to complete his perplexity, he arrived at a place where the road divided into two. If there had been light to consult the reliques of a finger-post which stood there, it would have been of little avail, as, according to the good custom of North Britain, the inscription had been defaced shortly after its erection. Our adventurer was, therefore, compelled, like a knight errant of old, to trust to the sagacity of his horse, which, without any demur, chose the left hand path, and seemed to proceed at a somewhat livelier pace than formerly, affording thereby a hope that he knew he was drawing near his quarters for the evening. This hope was not speedily accomplished, and Mannering, whose impatience made every furlong seem three, began to think that Kippletringan was actually retreating before him in proportion to his advance.
It was now very cloudy, althongh the stars, from time to time, shed a twinkling and uncertain light. Hitherto nothing had broken the silence around him, but the deep cry of the bog-blitter, or bull-of-thebog, a large species of bittern, and the sighs of the wind, as it passed along the dreary morass. To these was now joined the distant roar of the ocean, towards which the traveller seemed to be fast approaching. This was no circumstance to make his mind easy. Many of the roads in that country lay along the sea-beach, and were liable to be flooded by the tides, which rise to a great height, and advance with extreme rapidity. Others were intersected with
creeks, and small inlets, which it was only safe to pass at particular times of the tide. Neither circumstance would have suited a dark night, a fatigued horse, and a traveller ignorant of his road. Mannering resolved, therefore, definitively, to halt for the night at the first inhabited place, however poor, he might chance to reach, unless he could procure a guide to this unlucky village of Kippletringan.
A miserable hut gave him an opportunity to execute his purpose. He found out the door with no small difficulty, and for some time knocked without producing any other answer than a duett between a female and a cur-dog, the latter yelping as if he would have barked his heart out, the other screaming in chorus. By degrees the human tones predominated; but the angry bark of the cur being at the instant changed into a howl, it is probable something more than fair strength of lungs had contributed to the ascendancy.
"Sorrow be in your thrapple then ! these were the first articulate words, 'will ye not let me hear what the man wants, wi? your yaffing?'
‘Am I far from Kippletringan, good dame?'
• Frae Kippletringan !!! in an exalted tone of wonder, which we can but faintly express by three points. of admiration. Ow, man! ye should hae hadden easal to Kippletringan-ye maun gae back as far as the Whaap, and haud the Whaap till ye come to Ballenloan, and then'
• This will never do, good dame! my horse is almost quite set up-can you not give me a night's lodging ?'
• Troth can I no-I am a lone woman, før James he's awa to Drumshourlock fair with the yearaulds, and I darena for my life open the door to ony of your gang-there-out sort o' bodies.'
But what must I do then, good dame, for I can't sleep here upon the road all night ?'
• Troth, I kenna, unless ye like to gae down and speer for quarters at the Place. I'se warrant they'll fake ye in, whether ye be gentle or semple.'