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Gae's 1 ain at this moment; and he had as gude a pair o' boots as a man need streik on his legs, and gloves too ;and I should understand boots by this time, I think."
“Whisht, Jock," said the landlady.
“Ay? and what do ye ken o' the matter, friend Jabos ?” said the precentor contemptuously.
“No muckle, to be sure, Mr. Skreigh-only that I lived within a penny-stane cast o' the head o' the avenue at Ellangowan, when a man cam jingling to our door that night the young Laird was born, and my mother sent me, that was a haffilin callant, to show the stranger the gate to the Place, which, if he had been sic a warlock, he might hae kenn'd himsell, ane wad think—and he was a young, weel-faured, weel-dressed lad, like an Englishman. And I tell ye he had as gude a hat, and boots, and gloves, as ony gentleman need to have. To be sure he did gie an awesome glance up at the auld castle--and there was some spae-work gaed on-I aye heard that; but as for his vanishing, I held the stirrup mysell when he gaed away, and he gied me a round half-crown-he was riding on a haick they ca'd Souple Sam-it belanged to the George at Dumfries—it was a blood-bay beast, very ill o' the spavin—I hae seen the beast baith before and since.”
“ Aweel, aweel, Jock," answered Mr. Skreigh, with a tone of mild solemnity, "our accounts differ in no material particulars; but I had no knowledge that ye had seen the man.-So ye see, my friends, that this soothsayer having prognosticated evil to the boy, his father engaged a godly minister to be with him morn and night.”
“Ay, that was him they ca'd Dominie Sampson,” said the postilion.
“He's but a dumb dog that,” observed the Deacon; “I have heard that he never could preach five words of a sermon endlang, for as lang as he has been licensed.”
“Weel, but," said the precentor, waving his hand, as if eager to retrieve the command of the discourse, "he waited on the young Laird by night and day. Now, it chanced, when the bairn was near five years auld, that the Laird had a sight of his errors, and determined to put these Egyptians aff his ground; and he caused them to remove; and that Frank Kennedy, that was a rough swearing fellow, he was sent to turn them off. And he cursed and damned at them, and they 1 The precentor is called by Allan Ramsay,—"The Letter-Gae of haly swure at him; and that Meg Merrilies, that was the maist powerfu' with the Enemy of Mankind, she as gude as said she would have him, body and soul, before three days were ower his head. And I have it from a sure hand, and that's ane wha saw it, and that's John Wilson, that was the Laird's groom, that Meg appeared to the Laird as he was riding hame from Singleside, over Gibbie's-know, and threatened him wi' what she wad do to his family; but whether it was Meg, or something waur in her likeness, for it seemed bigger than ony mortal creature, John could not say.”
" Aweel," said the postilion, “it might be sae I canna say against it, for I was not in the country at the time; but John Wilson was a blustering kind of chield, without the heart of a sprug."
" And what was the end of all this?” said the stranger, with some impatience.
“ Ou, the event and upshot of it was, sir," said the precentor, "that while they were all looking on, beholding a king's ship chase a smuggler, this Kennedy suddenly brake away frae them without ony reason that could be descried ropes nor tows wad not hae held him--and made for the wood of Warroch as fast as his beast could carry him; and by the way he met the young Laird and his governor, and he snatched up the bairn, and swure, if he was bewitched, the bairn should have the same luck as him; and the minister followed as fast as he could, and almaist as fast as them, for he was wonderfully swift of foot—and he saw Meg the witch, or her master in her similitude, rise suddenly out of the ground, and claught the bairn suddenly out of the gauger's arms—and then he rampauged and drew his sword-for ye ken a fie man and a cusser fearsna the deil."
“I believe that's very true," said the postilion,
“So, sir, she grippit him, and clodded him like a stane from the sling ower the craigs of Warroch Head, where he was found that evening—but what became of the babe, frankly I cannot say. But he that was minister here then, that's now in a better place, had an opinion, that the bairn was only conveyed to Fairyland for a season.”
The stranger had smiled slightly at some parts of this recital, but ere he could answer, the clatter of a horse's hoofs was heard, and a smart servant, handsomely dressed, with a cockade in his hat, bustled into the kitchen, with “Make a little room, good people”; when, observing the stranger, he
descended at once into the modest and civil domestic, his hat sunk down by his side, and he put a letter into his master's hands. “The family at Ellangowan, sir, are in great distress, and unable to receive any visits.”
“I know it,” replied his master :-"And now, madam, if you will have the goodness to allow me to occupy the parlour you mentioned, as you are disappointed of your guests "
“Certainly, sir," said Mrs. Mac-Candlish, and hastened to light the way with all the imperative bustle which an active landlady loves to display on such occasions.
“Young man," said the Deacon to the servant, filling a glass, "ye'll no be the waur o' this, after your ride."
“Not a feather, sir,-thank ye--your very good health, sir." " And wha may your master be, friend?".
“What, the gentleman that was here ?—that's the famous Colonel Mannering, sir, from the East Indies."
" What, him we read of in the newspapers ?"
“Ay, ay, just the same. It was he relieved Cuddieburn, and defended Chingalore, and defeated the great Mahratta chief, Ram Jolli Bundleman-I was with him in most of his campaigns.”
“ Lord safe us," said the landlady, “I must go see what he would have for supper-that I should set him down here !"
“Oh, he likes that all the better, mother ;--you never saw a plainer creature in your life than our old Colonel ; and yet he has a spice of the devil in him too."
The rest of the evening's conversation below stairs tending little to edification, we shall, with the reader's leave, step up to the parlour.
Reputation ?- that's man's idol
The Colonel was walking pensively up and down the parlour, when the officious landlady re-entered to take his commands. Having given them in the manner he thought would be most acceptable “for the good of the house,” he begged to detain her a moment.
“I think,” he said, “madam, if I understood the good people right, Mr. Bertram lost his son in his fifth year?”
"Oh ay, sir, there's nae doubt o’that, though there are mony idle clashes about the way and manner, for it's an auld story now, and everybody tells it, as we were doing, their ain way by the ingleside. But lost the bairn was in his fifth year, as your honour says, Colonel; and the news being rashly tellid to the leddy, then great with child, cost her her life that samyn night-and the Laird never throve after that day, but was just careless of everything—though, when his daughter Miss Lucy grew up, she tried to keep order within doorsbut what could she do, poor thing ?-so now they're out of house and hauld."
“Can you recollect, madam, about what time of the year the child was lost ?" The landlady, after a pause, and some recollection, answered, “she was positive it was about this season:” and added some local recollections that fixed the date in her memory, as occurring about the beginning of November, 177
The stranger took two or three turns round the room in silence, but signed to Mrs. Mac-Candlish not to leave it.
“Did I rightly apprehend,” he said, "that the estate of Ellangowan is in the market ?”
"In the market ?-it will be sell'd the morn to the highest bidder-that's no the morn, Lord help me! which is the Sabbath, but on Monday, the first free day; and the furniture and stocking is to be roupit at the same time on the groundit's the opinion of the haill country, that the sale has been shamefully forced on at this time, when there's sae little money stirring in Scotland wi' this weary American war, that somebody may get the land a bargain-Deil be in them, that I should say sae!”—the good lady's wrath rising at the supposed injustice.
"And where will the sale take place ?"
“On the premises, as the advertisement says—that's at the house of Ellangowan, your honour, as I understand it."
“And who exhibits the title-deeds, rent-roll, and plan ?"
“A very decent man, sir; the Sheriff-substitute of the county, who has authority from the Court of Session. He's in the town just now, if your honour would like to see him ; and he can tell you mair about the loss of the bairn than ony. body, for the Sheriff-depute (that's his principal, like) took much pains to come at the truth o that matter, as I have heard."
“And this gentleman's name is
“Mac-Morlan, sir,-he's a man o character, and weel spoken oʻ.”
"Send my compliments—Colonel Mannering's compliments to him, and I would be glad he would do me the pleasure of supping with me, and bring these papers with him—and I beg, good madam, you will say nothing of this to any one else."
“ Me, sir? ne'er a word shall I say,I wish your honour (a curtsey), or ony honourable gentleman that's fought for his country (another curtsey), had the land, since the auld family maun quit (a sigh), rather than that wily scoundrel, Glossin, that's risen on the ruin of the best friend he ever had-and now I think on't, I'll slip on my hood and pattens, and gang to Mr. Mac-Morlan mysell--he's at hame e'en now-it's hardly a step."
“Do so, my good landlady, and many thanks—and bid my servant step here with my portfolio in the meantime.”
In a minute or two, Colonel Mannering was quietly seated with his writing materials before him. We have the privilege of looking over his shoulder as he writes, and we willingly communicate its substance to our readers. The letter was addressed to Arthur Mervyn, Esq., of Mervyn Hall, Llanbraithwaite, Westmoreland. It contained some account of the writer's previous journey since parting with him, and then proceeded as follows:
“And now, why will you still upbraid me with my melancholy, Mervyn ?-Do you think, after the lapse of twenty-five years, battles, wounds, imprisonment, misfortunes of every description, I can be still the same lively, unbroken Guy Mannering, who climbed Skiddaw with you, or shot grouse upon Crossfell? That you, who have remained in the bosom of domestic happiness, experience little change, that your step is as light, and your fancy as full of sunshine, is a blessed effect of health and temperament, co-operating with content and a smooth current down the course of life. But my career has been one of difficulties, and doubts, and errors. From my infancy I have been the sport of accident, and though the wind has often borne me into harbour, it has seldom been into that which the pilot destined. Let me recall to you—but