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Ellangowan. Their oaths were indeed little to be trusted to; but what other evidence could be had in the circumstances ? There was one remarkable fact, and only one, which arose from her examination. Her arm appeared to be slightly wounded by the cut of a sharp weapon, and was tied up with a handkerchief of Harry Bertram's. But the chief of the horde acknowledged he had “ corrected her” that day with his wbinger-she herself, and others, gave the same account of her hurt; and, for the handkerchief, the quantity of linen stolen from Ellangowan during the last months of their residence on the estate, easily accounted for it, without charging Meg with a more heinous crime.
It was observed upon her examination, that she treated the questions respecting the death of Kennedy, or “ the gauger," as she called him, with indifference; but expressed great and emphatic scorn and indignation at being supposed capable of injuring little Harry Bertram. She was
long confined in jail, under the hope that something might yet be discovered to throw light upon this dark and bloody transaction. Nothing, however, occurred; and Meg was at length liberated, but under sentence of banishment from the county, as a vagrant, common thief, and disorderly person. No traces of the boy could ever be discovered; and, at length, the story, after making much noise, was gradually given up as altogether inexplicable, and only perpetuated by the name of “ The Gauger's Loup,” which was generally bestowed on the cliff from which the unfortunate man had fallen or been precipitated.
Enter Time, as Chorus.
1-that please some, try all; both joy and terror
years, and leave the growth untried
Our narration is now about to make a large stride, and omit a space of nearly seventeen years ; during which nothing occurred of any particular consequence with respect to the story we have, undertaken to tell. The gap is a wide one; yet if the reader's experience in life enables him to look back on so many years, the space will scarce appear longer in his recollection, than the time consumed in turning these pages.
It was, then, in the month of November, about seventeen years after the catas
trophe related in the last chapter, that, during a cold and storny night, a social group had closed around the kitchen fire of the Gordon Arms at Kippletringan, a small but comfortable inn, kept by Mrs Mac-Candlish in that village. The conversation which passed among them will save me the trouble of telling the few events occurring during this chasm in our history, with which it is necessary that the reader should be acquainted.
Mrs Mac-Candlish, throned in a comfortable easy chair lined with black leather, was regaling herself, and a neighbouring gossip or two, with a cup of comfortable tea, and at the same time keeping a sharp eye upon her domestics, as they went' and came in prosecution of their various duties and commissions. The clerk and precentor of the parish enjoyed at a little distance his Saturday's night's pipe, and aided its bland fumigation by an occasional sip of brandy and water. Deacon Bearcliff, a man of great importance in the village, combined the indulgence of both
parties—he had his pipe and his tea-cup, the latter being laced with a little spirits. One or two clowns, sat at some distance, drinking their two-penny ale.
“ Are ye sure the parlour's ready for them, and the fire burning clear, and the chimney no smoking ?” said the hostess to a chambermaid.
She was answered in the affirmative.“ Ane wadna be uncivil to them, especially in their distress," said she, turning to the Deacon.
“ Assuredly not, Mrs Mac-Candlish; assuredly not. I am sure ony sma' thing they might want frae my shop, under seven, or eight, or ten pounds, I would book them as readily for it as the first in the country.-Do they come in the auld chaise ?"
“ I dare, say no,” said the precentor ; « for Miss Bertram comes on the white poney ilka day to the kirk-and a constant kirk-keeper she is--and it's a pleasure to hear her singing the psalms, winsome young thing.'