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new, having been built by contract), stood on three legs, and held the fourth aloft as if pawing the air, and in the attitude of advancing like an elephant passant upon the panel of a coach,- there's your bed and the blankets; but if ye want sheets, or bowster, or pillow, or ony sort o' nappery for the table, or for your hands, ye'll hae to speak to me about it, for that's out o'the gudeman's line (Mac-Guffog had by this time left the room, to avoid, probably, any appeal which might be made to him upon this new exaction), and he never engages for ony thing like that.'
'In God's name,' said Bertram, ‘let me have what is decent, and make any charge you please.'
Aweel, aweel, that's sune settled; we'll no excise you neither, though we live sae near the custom-house. And I maun see to get you some fire and some dinner too, I'se warrant; but your dinner will be but a puir ane the day, no expecting company that would be nice and fashious. So saying, and in all haste, Mrs. Mac-Guffog fetched a scuttle of live coals, and having replenished 'the rusty grate, unconscious of a fire' for months before, she proceeded with unwashed hands to arrange the stipulated bed-linen (alas, how different from Ailie Dinmont's !), and, muttering to herself as she discharged her task, seemed, in inveterate spleen of temper, to grudge even those accommodations for which she was to receive payment. At length, however, she departed, grumbling between her teeth, that she wad rather lock up a haill ward than be fiking about thae niff-naffy gentles that gae sae muckle fash wi' their fancies.'
When she was gone Bertram found himself reduced to the alternative of pacing his little apartment for exercise, or gazing out upon the sea in such proportions as could be seen from the narrow panes of his window, obscured by dirt and by close iron bars, or reading over the records of brutal wit and blackguardism which despair had scrawled upon the half-whitened walls. The sounds were as uncomfortable as the objects of sight; the sullen dash of the tide, which was now retreating, and the occasional opening and shutting of a door, with all its accompaniments of jarring bolts and creaking hinges, mingling occasionally with the dull monotony of the retiring ocean. Sometimes, too, he could hear the hoarse growl of the keeper, or the shriller strain of his helpmate, almost always in the tone of discontent, anger, or insolence. At other times the large mastiff chained in the courtyard answered with furious bark the insults of the idle loiterers who made a sport of incensing him.
At length the tædium of this weary space was broken by the entrance of a dirty-looking serving-wench, who made some preparations for dinner by laying a half-dirty cloth upon a whole-dirty deal table. A knife and fork, which had not been worn out by overcleaning, flanked a cracked delf plate; a nearly empty mustard-pot, placed on one side of the table, balanced a salt-cellar, containing an article of a greyish, or rather a blackish, mixture, upon the other, both of stoneware, and bearing too obvious marks of recent service. Shortly after the same Hebe brought up a plate of beef-collops, done in the fryingpan, with a huge allowance of grease floating in an ocean of lukewarm water; and, having added a coarse loaf to these savoury viands, she requested to know what liquors the gentleman chose to order. The appearance of this fare was not very inviting ; but Bertram endeavoured to mend his commons by ordering wine, which he found tolerably good, and, with the assistance of some indifferent cheese, made his dinner chiefly off the brown loaf. When his meal was over the girl presented her master's compliments, and, if agreeable to the gentleman, he would help him to spend the evening. Bertram desired to be excused, and begged, instead of this gracious society, that he might be furnished with paper, pen, ink, and candles. The light appeared in the shape of one long broken tallow-candle, inclining over a tin candlestick coated with grease ; as for the writing materials, the prisoner was informed that he might have them the next day if he chose to send out to buy them. Bertram next desired the maid to procure him a book, and enforced his request with a shilling; in consequence of which, after long absence, she reappeared with two odd volumes of the Newgate Calendar, which she had borrowed from Sam Silverquill, an idle apprentice, who was imprisoned under a charge of forgery. Having laid the books on the table she retired, and left Bertram to studies which were not ill adapted to his present melancholy situation.
But if thou shouldst be dragg'd in scorn
To yonder ignominious tree,
PLUNGED in the gloomy reflections which were naturally excited by his dismal reading and disconsolate situation, Bertram for the first time in his life felt himself affected with a disposition to low spirits. “I have been in worse situations than this too,' he said ; 'more dangerous, for here is no danger; more dismal in prospect, for my present confinement must necessarily be short; more intolerable for the time, for here, at least, I have fire, food, and shelter. Yet, with reading these bloody tales of crime and misery in a place so corresponding to the ideas which they excite, and in listening to these sad sounds, I feel a stronger disposition to melancholy than in my life I ever experienced. But I will not give way to it. Begone, thou record of guilt and infamy !' he said, flinging the book upon the spare bed ; 'a Scottish jail shall not break, on the very first day, the spirits which have resisted climate, and want, and penury, and disease, and imprisonment in a foreign land. I have fought many a hard battle with Dame Fortune, and she shall not beat me now if I can help it.'
Then bending his mind to a strong effort, he endeavoured to view his situation in the most favourable light. Delaserre must soon be in Scotland ; the certificates from his commanding officer must soon arrive; nay, if Mannering were first applied to, who could say but the effect might be a reconciliation between them? He had often observed, and now remembered, that when his former colonel took the part of any one, it was never by halves, and that he seemed to love those persons most who had lain under obligation to him. In the present case a favour, which could be asked with honour and granted
with readiness, might be the means of reconciling them to each other. From this his feelings naturally turned towards Julia ; and, without very nicely measuring the distance between a soldier of fortune, who expected that her father's attestation would deliver him from confinement, and the heiress of that father's wealth and expectations, he was building the gayest castle in the clouds, and varnishing it with all the tints of a summer-evening sky, when his labour was interrupted by a loud knocking at the outer gate, answered by the barking of the gaunt half-starved mastiff which was quartered in the courtyard as an addition to the garrison. After much scrupulous precaution the gate was opened and some person admitted. The house-door was next unbarred, unlocked, and unchained, a dog's feet pattered upstairs in great haste, and the animal was heard scratching and whining at the door of the room. Next a heavy step was heard lumbering up, and Mac-Guffog's voice in the character of pilot- This way, this way; take care of the step; that's the room.' Bertram's door was then unbolted, and to his great surprise and joy his terrier, Wasp, rushed into the apartment and almost devoured him with caresses, followed by the massy form of his friend from Charlie's Hope.
“Eh whow! Eh whow!' ejaculated the honest farmer, as he looked round upon his friend's miserable apartment and wretched accommodation—'What's this o't! what's this o't!'
Just a trick of fortune, my good friend,' said Bertram, rising and shaking him heartily by the hand, that's all.
"But what will be done about it? or what can be done about it?' said honest Dandie. "Is't for debt, or what is't for ?'
Why, it is not for debt,' answered Bertram ; "and if you have time to sit down, I'll tell you all I know of the matter myself.'
If I hae time?' said Dandie, with an accent on the word that sounded like a howl of derision. Ou, what the deevil am I come here for, man, but just ance errand to see about it? But ye'll no be the waur o something to eat, I trow; it's getting late at e’en. I tellid the folk at the Change, where I put up Dumple, to send ower my supper here, and the chield Mac-Guffog is agreeable to let it in ; I hae settled a' that. And now let's hear your story. Whisht, Wasp, man! wow, but he's glad to see you, poor thing!
Bertram's story, being confined to the accident of Hazlewood,
and the confusion made between his own identity and that of one of the smugglers who had been active in the assault of Woodbourne, and chanced to bear the same name, was soon told. Dinmont listened very attentively. 'Aweel,' he said, 'this suld be nae sic dooms desperate business surely; the lad's doing weel again that was hurt, and what signifies twa or three lead draps in his shouther? if ye had putten out his ee it would hae been another case. But eh, as I wuss auld Sherra Pleydell was to the fore here! Odd, he was the man for sorting them, and the queerest rough-spoken deevil too that ever ye heard !!
* But now tell me, my excellent friend, how did you find out I was here?'
Odd, lad, queerly eneugh,' said Dandie ; “but I'll tell ye that after we are done wi' our supper, for it will maybe no be sae weel to speak about it while that lang-lugged limmer o' a lass is gaun flisking in and out o' the room.
Bertram's curiosity was in some degree put to rest by the appearance of the supper which his friend had ordered, which, although homely enough, had the appetising cleanliness in which Mrs. MacGuffog's cookery was so eminently deficient. Dinmont also, premising he had ridden the whole day since breakfast-time without tasting anything 'to speak of,' which qualifying phrase related to about three pounds of cold roast mutton which he had discussed at his mid-day stage-Dinmont, I say, fell stoutly upon the good cheer, and, like one of Homer's heroes, said little, either good or bad, till the rage of thirst and hunger was appeased. At length, after a draught of home-brewed ale, he began by observing, ‘Aweel, aweel, that hen,' looking upon the lamentable relics of what had been once a large fowl, 'wasna a bad ane to be bred at a town end, though it's no like our barn-door chuckies at Charlie's Hope; and I am glad to see that this vexing job hasna taen awa your appetite, Captain.
Why, really, my dinner was not so excellent, Mr. Dinmont, as to spoil my supper.'
'I daresay no, I daresay no,' said Dandie. “But now, hinny, that ye hae brought us the brandy, and the mug wi' the het water, and the sugar, and a' right, ye may steek the door, ye see, for we wad hae some o' our ain cracks. The damsel accordingly retired and shut the door of the apartment, to which she added the precaution of drawing a large bolt on the outside.