Page images
PDF
EPUB

Weel is them, that weel may
Fast
upon

St Andrew's day,

Saint Bride and her brat,
Saint Colme and her cat,
Saint Michael and his

spear,
Keep the house frae reif and wear.

This charm she sung to a wild tune, in a high and shrill voice, and, cutting three capers with such strength and agility as almost to touch the roof of the room, conocluded, “And now, Laird, will ye no order me a tass o' brandy;":

“ That you shall have, Meg-Sit down yont there at the door, and tell us what news ye have heard at the fair o' Drumshourloch.”

Troth, Laird, and there was muckle. wanto

you,

and the like o' you; for there was a whin bonnie lassies-there, forbye mye. sell, and deil ane to gie them hansels.”

“ Weel, Meg, and how mony gypsies. were sent to the tolbooth”

“ Troth, but three, Laird, for there were :

nae mair in the fair, bye mysell, as I said before, and I e'en gae them leg bail, for there's nae ease in dealing wi? quarrelsome folk.--And there's Dunbog has warna ed the Red Rotten and John Young aff his grounds-black be his cast! he's nae gentleman, nor drap’s bluid o' gentleman, vad grudge twa gangrel puir bodies the shelter o'a waste house, and the thristles. by the road-side for a bit cuddy, and the bits 'o'rotten birk to boil, their drap par.. ridge wi'. Weel, there's ane abune a'. but we'll see if the red cock craw not in his bonnie barn-yard ae morning before day-dawing.”

« Hush! Meg, hush ! hush! that's not safe talk."

• What does she mean?" said Mannering to Sampson in an under tone.

Fire-raising,” answered the laconic Dominie.

Who, or what is she, in the name of wonder?

40

GUY MANNERING,

“ Harlot, thief, witch, and gypsey,” answered Sampson again.

O troth, Laird,” continued Meg, during this bye-talk, “it's but to the like o' you ane can open their heart: ye see, they say Dunbog is nae mair a gentleman than the blunker that's biggit the bonnie house down in the howm. But the like o' you, Laird, that's a real gentleman for sae mony hundred years, and never hounds puir folk aff your ground as if they were mad tykes, nane o' our fowk wad stir your gear if ye had as mony capons as there's leaves on the trysting-tree.--And now some o' ye maun lay down your watch, and tell me the very minute o the hour the wean's born, and I'll spae its fortune.”

“Aye, but, Meg, we shall not want your assistance, for here's a student from Oxford that knows much better than

you how to spae his fortune-he does it by the stars.

Certainly, sir,” said Mannering, en. tering into the simple humour of his land

lord, " I will calculate his nativity according to the rule of the Triplicities, as re: commended by Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Diocles, and Avicenna. Or I will begin ab hora questionis, as Haly, Messahala, Ganwehis, and Guido Bonatus, have recommended.”

One of Sampson's great recommendations to the favour of Mr Bertram was, that he never detected the most gross attemptat imposition, so that the Laird, whose hum. ble efforts at jocularity were chiefly confined to what were then called bites and bams, since denominated hoares and quizzes, had the fairest possible subject of wit in the unsuspecting Dominie. It is true, he never laughed, or joined in the laugh which his own simplicity afforded—nay, it is said, he never laughed but once in his life; and upon that memorable occasion his land. lady miscarried, partly through surprise at the event itself, and partly from terror at the hideous grimaces which attended this unusual cachinnation. The only effect

which the discovery of such impositions produced upon this saturnine personage was, to extort an ejaculation of " Prodigious !” or “Very facetious !" pronounced syllabically, but without moving a.muscle of his own countenance.

Upon this occasion, he turned.a.gaunt and ghastly stare upon the youthful as. trologer, and seemed to doubt if he had rightly understood his answer to his pa: tron.

“ I am afraid, sir," said Mannering; turning towards him, " you may be one of those uphappy persons, whose diin eyes being unable to penetrate the starry spheres, and to discern therein the decrees of heaven at a distance, have their hearts barred against conviction by prejudice and misprision.”

“ Truly,” said Sampson, " I opine with Sir Isaac Newton, Knight, and unwhile master of his majesty's mint, that the (pretended) science of astrology is altogether vain, frivolous, and unsatisfactory.” And here he reposed his oracular jaws.

« PreviousContinue »