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Do not the histries of all ages
The circumstances of the landlady were pleaded to Mannering, first, as an apology for her not appearing to welcome her guest, and for those deficiencies in his entertainment which her attention might have supplied, and then as an excuse for pressing an extra bottle of good wine.
“I cannot weel sleep,” said the Laird, with the anxious feelings of a father in such a predicament, " till I hear she's gotten ower with it—and if you, sir, are not very sleepry, and would do me and the Dominie the honour to sit up wi' us, I am sure we will not detain you very late.
Luckie Howatson is very expeditious; there was ance a lass that was in that way. she did not live far from hereabouts ye needna shake your head and groan, Dominie--I am sure the kirk dues were a'. weel paid, and what can a man do mairimit: was laid till her ere she had on a sark ower her head; and the man that she since wadded does not think her-a pin the waur for the misfortune. They live, Mr Manner-.. ing, by the shore-side, at Annan, and a mair decent orderly couple, with, six, as fine bairns as you would wish to see-plash in a saltwater dub; and little curlie God. frey-that's the eldest, the come o' will, as. I may say--he's on board an excise yacht -I hae a cousin at the board of excise that's Commissioner Bertram ; he got his commissionership in the great contest for the county, that ye must have heard of, for it was appealed to the House of Com, mons-now I should have voted there for the Laird of Balruddery; but ye see my father was a jacobite, and out with Kenmore, so he never took the oaths; and I
ken not weel how it was, but all that I could do and say they keepit me off the roll, though my agent, that had a vote upon my estate, ranked as a good vote for auld Sir Thomas Kittlecourt. But, to return to what I was saying, Luckie Howatson is very expeditious, for this lass”.
Here the desultory and long narrative of the Laird of Ellangowan was interrupted by the voice of some one ascending the stairs from the kitchen story, and singing at full pitch of voice. The high notes were too shrill for a man, the low seemed too deep for a woman. The words, as far as. Mannering could distinguish them, seemed to run thus :
Canny moment, lucky fit;
** It's Meg Merrilies, the gypsey, as sure as. I am a sinner,” said Mr Bertram. The
Dominie groaned deeply, uncrossed his legs, drew in the huge splay foot which his former posture had extended, placed it perpendicular, and stretched the other limb over it instead, puffing out between whiles huge volumes of tobacco smoke. “ What needs ye groan, Dominie ? I am sure Meg's sangs do nae ill.”
“ Nor good neither,” answered Domi. nie Sampson, in a voice whose untuneable harshness corresponded with the awkwardness of his figure. They were the first words which Mannering had heard him speak; and as he had been watching, with some curiosity, when this eating, drinking, moving, and smoking automaton would perform the part of speaking, he was a good deal diverted with the harsh timber tones which issued from him. But at this moment the door opened, and Meg Merrilies entered.
Her appearance made Mannering start. She was full six feet high, wore a man's great coat over the rest of her dress, had
in her hand a goodly sloe-thorn cudgel, and in all points of equipment, except her petticoats, seemed rather masculine than feminine. Her dark elf.locks shot out like the snakes of the gorgon, between an old-fashioned bonnet called a bongrace, heightening the singular effect of her strong and weather-beaten features, which they partly shadowed, while her eye had a wild roll that indicated something like real or affected insanity.
“ Aweel, Ellangowan,” she said, “ wad it no hae been a bonnie thing, an the leddy had been brought-to-bed, and me at the fair o' Drumshourloch, no kenning, nor dreaming a word about it? Wha was to hae keepit awa the worriecows, I trow? Aye, and the elves and gyre carlings frae the bonny bairn, grace be wi' it? Aye, or said Saint Colme's charm for its sake, the dear?" And without waiting an answer she began to sing
Trefoil, vervain, John's-wort, dill,