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He looked at her with the same expression of hardihood and dogged stubbornness, and moved his lips, but uttered no sound. "Then fareweel !' she said, "and God forgive you ! your hand has sealed my evidence. When I was in life I was the mad randy gipsy, that had been scourged and banished and branded ; that had begged from door to door, and been hounded like a stray tyke from parish to parish ; wha would hae minded her tale? But now I am a dying woman, and my words will not fall to the ground, any more than the earth will cover my blood !!
She here paused, and all left the hut except the surgeon and two or three women. After a very short examination he shook his head and resigned his post by the dying woman's side to the clergyman.
A chaise returning empty to Kippletringan had been stopped on the highroad by a constable, who foresaw it would be necessary to convey Hatteraick to jail. The driver, understanding what was going on at Derncleugh, left his horses to the care of a blackguard boy, confiding, it is to be supposed, rather in the years and discretion of the cattle than in those of their keeper, and set off full speed to see, as he expressed himself,
whaten a sort o’ fun was gaun on. He arrived just as the group of tenants and peasants, whose numbers increased every moment, satiated with gazing upon the rugged features of Hatteraick, had turned their attention towards Bertram. Almost all of them, especially the aged men who had seen Ellangowan in his better days, felt and acknowledged the justice of Meg Merrilies's appeal. But the Scotch are a cautious people; they remembered there was another in possession of the estate, and they as yet only expressed their feelings in low whispers to each other. Our friend Jock Jabos, the postilion, forced his way into the middle of the circle ; but no sooner cast his eyes upon Bertram than he started back in amazement, with a solemn exclamation, ‘As sure as there's breath in man, it's auld Ellangowan arisen from the dead !'
This public declaration of an unprejudiced witness was just the spark wanted to give fire to the popular feeling, which burst forth in three distinct shouts : Bertram for ever!' * Long life to the heir of Ellangowan!' "God send him his ain, and to live among us as his forebears did of yore!'
'I hae been seventy years on the land,' said one person.
'I and mine hae been seventy and seventy to that,' said another; 'I have a right to ken the glance of a Bertram.'
'I and mine bae been three hundred years here,' said another old man, and I sall sell my last cow, but I'll see the young Laird placed in his right.'
The women, ever delighted with the marvellous, and not less so when a handsome young man is the subject of the tale, added their shrill acclamations to the general all-hail. “Blessings on him; he's the very picture o’his father! The Bertrams were aye the wale o' the country side!'
"Eh ! that his puir mother, that died in grief and in doubt about him, had but lived to see this day !' exclaimed some female voices.
But we'll help him to his ain, kimmers,' cried others; and before Glossin sall keep the Place of Ellangowan: we'll howk him out o't wi' our nails!'
Others crowded around Dinmont, who was nothing loth to tell what he knew of his friend, and to boast the honour which he had in contributing to the discovery. As he was known to several of the principal farmers present, his testimony afforded an additional motive to the general enthusiasm. In short, it was one of those moments of intense feeling when the frost of the Scottish people melts like a snow-wreath, and the dissolving torrent carries dam and dyke before it.
The sudden shouts interrupted the devotions of the clergyman; and Meg, who was in one of those dozing fits of stupefaction that precede the close of existence, suddenly started— 'Dinna ye hear? dinna ye hear? He's owned ! he's owned! I lived but for this. I am a sinfu' woman ; but if my curse brought it down, my blessing has taen it off! And now I wad hae liked to hae said mair. But it canna be. Stay'_she continued, stretching her head towards the gleam of light that shot through the narrow slit which served for a window-'is he not there? Stand out o' the light, and let me look upon him ance mair. But the darkness is in my ain een,' she said, sinking back, after an earnest gaze upon vacuity; "it's a' ended now,
Come death !' And, sinking back upon her couch of straw, she expired without a groan. The clergyman and the surgeon carefully noted down all that she had said, now deeply regretting they had not examined her more minutely, but both remaining morally convinced of the truth of her disclosure.
Hazlewood was the first to compliment Bertram upon the near prospect of his being restored to his name and rank in
society. The people around, who now learned from Jabos that Bertram was the person who had wounded him, were struck with his generosity, and added his name to Bertram's in their exulting acclamations.
Some, however, demanded of the postilion how he had not recognised Bertram when he saw him some time before at Kippletringan. To which he gave the very natural answer— ‘Hout, what was I thinking about Ellangowan then? It was the cry that was rising e'en now that the young Laird was found, that put me on finding out the likeness. There was nae missing it ance ane was set to look for't.'
The obduracy of Hatteraick during the latter part of this scene was in some slight degree shaken. He was observed to twinkle with his eyelids; to attempt to raise his bound hands for the purpose of pulling his hat over his brow; to look angrily and impatiently to the road, as if anxious for the vehicle which was to remove him from the spot. At length Mr. Hazlewood, apprehensive that the popular ferment might take a direction towards the prisoner, directed he should be taken to the post-chaise, and so removed to the town of Kippletringan, to be at Mr. Mac-Morlan's disposal ; at the same time he sent an express to warn that gentleman of what had happened. “And now,' he said to Bertram, “I should be happy if you would accompany me to Hazlewood House ; but as that might not be so agreeable just now as I trust it will be in a day or two, you must allow me to return with you to Woodbourne. But you are on foot.'—'0, if the young Laird would take my horse !'_'Or mine'-'Or mine,' said half-a-dozen voices.-'Or mine; he can trot ten mile an hour without whip or spur, and he's the young Laird's frae this moment, if he likes to take him for a herezeld, * as they ca'd it lang syne. Bertram readily accepted the horse as a loan, and poured forth his thanks to the assembled crowd for their good wishes, which they repaid with shouts and vows of attachment.
While the happy owner was directing one lad to 'gae doun for the new saddle'; another, just to rin the beast ower wi' a dry wisp o'strae '; a third, 'to hie doun and borrow Dan Dunkieson's plated stirrups,' and expressing his regret 'that there was nae time to gie the nag a feed, that the young Laird might ken his mettle,' Bertram, taking the clergyman by the arm, walked into the vault and shut the door immediately after them. He gazed in silence for some minutes upon the body of Meg Merrilies, as it lay before him, with the features sharpened by death, yet still retaining the stern and energetic character which had maintained in life her superiority as the wild chieftainess of the lawless people amongst whom she was born. The young soldier dried the tears which involuntarily rose on viewing this wreck of one who might be said to have died a victim to her fidelity to his person and family. He then took the clergyman's hand and asked solemnly if she appeared able to give that attention to his devotions which befitted a departing person.
* See Note 15.
'My dear sir,' said the good minister, “I trust this poor woman had remaining sense to feel and join in the import of my prayers. But let us humbly hope we are judged of by our opportunities of religious and moral instruction. In some degree she might be considered as an uninstructed heathen, even in the bosom of a Christian country; and let us remember that the errors and vices of an ignorant life were balanced by instances of disinterested attachment, amounting almost to heroism. To Him who can alone weigh our crimes and errors against our efforts towards virtue we consign her with awe, but not without hope.
May I request,' said Bertram, that you will see every decent solemnity attended to in behalf of this poor woman? I have some property belonging to her in my hands; at all events I will be answerable for the expense. You will hear of me at Woodbourne.'
Dinmont, who had been furnished with a horse by one of his acquaintance, now loudly called out that all was ready for their return; and Bertram and Hazlewood, after a strict exhortation to the crowd, which was now increased to several hundreds, to preserve good order in their rejoicing, as the least ungoverned zeal might be turned to the disadvantage of the young Laird, as they termed him, took their leave amid the shouts of the multitude.
As they rode past the ruined cottages at Derncleugh, Dinmont said, “I'm sure when ye come to your ain, Captain, ye'll no forget to bigg a bit cot-house there? Deil be in me but I wad do't mysell, an it werena in better hands. I wadna like to live in't though, after what she said. Odd, I wad put in auld Elspeth, the bedral's widow ; the like o' them's used wi’ graves and ghaişts and thae things.'
A short but brisk ride brought them to Woodbourne. The news of their exploit had already flown far and wide, and the whole inhabitants of the vicinity met them on the lawn with
shouts of congratulation. “That you have seen me alive,' said Bertram to Lucy, who first ran up to him, though Julia's eyes even anticipated hers, you must thank these kind friends.'
With a blush expressing at once pleasure, gratitude, and bashfulness, Lucy courtesied to Hazlewood, but to Dinmont she frankly extended her hand. The honest farmer, in the extravagance of his joy, carried his freedom farther than the hint warranted, for he imprinted his thanks on the lady's lips, and was instantly shocked at the rudeness of his own conduct.
Lord sake, madam, I ask your pardon,' he said. “I forgot but ye had been a bairn o' my ain; the Captain's sae hamely, he gars ane forget himsell.'
Old Pleydell now advanced. "Nay, if fees like these are going,' he said
Stop, stop, Mr. Pleydell,' said Julia, ‘you had your fees beforehand ; remember last night.'
“Why, I do confess a retainer,' said the Barrister; 'but if I don't deserve double fees from both Miss Bertram and you when I conclude my examination of Dirk Hatteraick to-morrow
-Gad, I will so supple him! You shall see, Colonel ; and you, my saucy misses, though you may not see, shall hear.'
'Ay, that's if we choose to listen, Counsellor,' replied Julia.
“And you think,' said Pleydell, it's two to one you won't choose that? But you have curiosity that teaches you the use of your ears now and then.'
I declare, Counsellor,' answered the lively damsel, 'that such saucy bachelors as you would teach us the use of our fingers now and then.'
Reserve them for the harpsichord, my love,' said the Counsellor. “Better for all parties.
While this idle chat ran on, Colonel Mannering introduced to Bertram a plain good-looking man, in a grey coat and waistcoat, buckskin breeches, and boots. This, my dear sir, is Mr. Mac-Morlan.
To whom,' said Bertram, embracing him cordially, 'my sister was indebted for a home, when deserted by all her natural friends and relations.'
The Dominie then pressed forward, grinned, chuckled, made a diabolical sound in attempting to whistle, and finally, unable to stifle his emotions, ran away to empty the feelings of his heart at his eyes.
We shall not attempt to describe the expansion of heart and glee of this happy evening.