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St. Ronan's Well
by Sir Walter Scott
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Of the "three black Graces," as they have been termed by one of the most pleasant companions of our time, Law and Physic hastened to do homage to Lord Etherington, represented by Mr. Meiklewham and Dr. Quackleben; while Divinity, as favourable, though more coy, in the person of the Reverend Mr. Simon Chatterly, stood on tiptoe to offer any service in her power.

For the honourable reason already assigned, his lordship, after thanking Mr. Meiklewham, and hinting, that he might have different occasion for his services, declined his offer to search out the delinquent by whom he had been wounded; while to the care of the Doctor he subjected the cure of a smart flesh-wound in the arm, together with a slight scratch on the temple; and so very genteel was his behaviour on the occasion, that the Doctor, in his anxiety for his safety, enjoined him a month's course of the waters, if he would enjoy the comfort of a complete and perfect recovery. Nothing so frequent, he could assure his lordship, as the opening of cicatrized wounds; and the waters of St. Ronan's spring being, according to Dr. Quackleben, a remedy for all the troubles which flesh is heir to, could not fail to equal those of Barege, in facilitating the discharge of all splinters or extraneous matter, which a bullet may chance to incorporate with the human frame, to its great annoyance. For he was wont to say, that although he could not declare the waters which he patronised to be an absolute panpharmacon, yet he would with word and pen maintain, that they possessed the principal virtues of the most celebrated medicinal springs in the known world. In short, the love of Alpheus for Arethusa was a mere jest, compared to that which the Doctor entertained for his favourite fountain.

The new and noble guest, whose arrival so much illustrated these scenes of convalescence and of gaiety, was not at first seen so much at the ordinary, and other places of public resort, as had been the hope of the worthy company assembled. His health and his wound proved an excuse for making his visits to the society few and far between.

But when he did appear, his manners and person were infinitely captivating; and even the carnation-coloured silk handkerchief, which suspended his wounded arm, together with the paleness and languor which loss of blood had left on his handsome and open countenance, gave a grace to the whole person which many of the ladies declared irresistible. All contended for his notice, attracted at once by his affability, and piqued by the calm and easy nonchalance with which it seemed to be blended. The scheming and selfish Mowbray, the coarse-minded and brutal Sir Bingo, accustomed to consider themselves, and to be considered, as the first men of the party, sunk into comparative insignificance. But chiefly Lady Penelope threw out the captivations of her wit and her literature; while Lady Binks, trusting to her natural charms, endeavoured equally to attract his notice. The other nymphs of the Spa held a little back, upon the principle of that politeness, which, at continental hunting parties, affords the first shot at a fine piece of game, to the person of the highest rank present; but the thought throbbed in many a fair bosom, that their ladyships might miss their aim, in spite of the advantages thus allowed them, and that there might then be room for less exalted, but perhaps not less skilful, markswomen, to try their chance.

But while the Earl thus withdrew from public society, it was necessary, at least natural, that he should choose some one with whom to share the solitude of his own apartment; and Mowbray, superior in rank to the half-pay whisky-drinking Captain MacTurk; in dash to Winterblossom, who was broken down, and turned twaddler; and in tact and sense to Sir Bingo Binks, easily manoeuvred himself into his lordship's more intimate society; and internally thanking the honest footpad, whose bullet had been the indirect means of secluding his intended victim from all society but his own, he gradually began to feel the way, and prove the strength of his antagonist, at the various games of skill and hazard which he introduced, apparently with the sole purpose of relieving the tedium of a sick-chamber.

Meiklewham, who felt, or affected, the greatest possible interest in his patron's success, and who watched every opportunity to enquire how his schemes advanced, received at first such favourable accounts as made him grin from ear to ear, rub his hands, and chuckle forth such bursts of glee as only the success of triumphant roguery could have extorted from him. Mowbray looked grave, however, and checked his mirth.

"There was something in it after all," he said, "that he could not perfectly understand. Etherington, an used hand—d——d sharp—up to every thing, and yet he lost his money like a baby."

"And what the matter how he loses it, so you win it like a man?" said his legal friend and adviser.

"Why, hang it, I cannot tell," replied Mowbray—"were it not that I think he has scarce the impudence to propose such a thing to succeed, curse me but I should think he was coming the old soldier over me, and keeping up his game.—But no—he can scarce have the impudence to think of that.—I find, however, that he has done Wolverine—cleaned out poor Tom—though Tom wrote to me the precise contrary, yet the truth has since come out—Well, I shall avenge him, for I see his lordship is to be had as well as other folk."

"Weel, Mr. Mowbray," said the lawyer, in a tone of affected sympathy, "ye ken your own ways best—but the heavens will bless a moderate mind. I would not like to see you ruin this poor lad, funditus, that is to say, out and out. To lose some of the ready will do him no great harm, and maybe give him a lesson he may be the better of as long as he lives—but I wad not, as an honest man, wish you to go deeper—you should spare the lad, Mr. Mowbray."

"Who spared me, Meiklewham?" said Mowbray, with a look and tone of deep emphasis—"No, no—he must go through the mill—money and money's worth.—His seat is called Oakendale—think of that, Mick—Oakendale! Oh, name of thrice happy augury!—Speak not of mercy, Mick—the squirrels of Oakendale must be dismounted, and learn to go a-foot.—What mercy can the wandering lord of Troy expect among the Greeks?—The Greeks!—I am a very Suliote—the bravest of Greeks.

'I think not of pity, I think not of fear, He neither must know who would serve the Vizier.'

And necessity, Mick," he concluded, with a tone something altered, "necessity is as unrelenting a leader as any Vizier or Pacha, whom Scanderbeg ever fought with, or Byron has sung."

Meiklewham echoed his patron's ejaculation with a sound betwixt a whine, a chuckle, and a groan; the first being designed to express his pretended pity for the destined victim; the second his sympathy with his patron's prospects of success; and the third being a whistle admonitory of the dangerous courses through which his object was to be pursued.

Suliote as he boasted himself, Mowbray had, soon after this conversation, some reason to admit that,

"When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war."

The light skirmishing betwixt the parties was ended, and the serious battle commenced with some caution on either side; each perhaps, desirous of being master of his opponent's system of tactics, before exposing his own. Piquet, the most beautiful game at which a man can make sacrifice of his fortune, was one with which Mowbray had, for his misfortune perhaps, been accounted, from an early age, a great proficient, and in which the Earl of Etherington, with less experience, proved no novice. They now played for such stakes as Mowbray's state of fortune rendered considerable to him, though his antagonist appeared not to regard the amount. And they played with various success; for, though Mowbray at times returned with a smile of confidence the enquiring looks of his friend Meiklewham, there were other occasions on which he seemed to evade them, as if his own had a sad confession to make in reply.

These alternations, though frequent, did not occupy, after all, many days; for Mowbray, a friend of all hours, spent much of his time in Lord Etherington's apartment, and these few days were days of battle. In the meantime, as his lordship was now sufficiently recovered to join the Party at Shaws-Castle, and Miss Mowbray's health being announced as restored, that proposal was renewed, with the addition of a dramatic entertainment, the nature of which we shall afterwards have occasion to explain. Cards were anew issued to all those who had been formerly included in the invitation, and of course to Mr. Touchwood, as formerly a resident at the Well, and now in the neighbourhood; it being previously agreed among the ladies, that a Nabob, though sometimes a dingy or damaged commodity, was not to be rashly or unnecessarily neglected. As to the parson, he had been asked, of course, as an old acquaintance of the Mowbray house, not to be left out when the friends of the family were invited on a great scale; but his habits were well known, and it was no more expected that he would leave his manse on such an occasion, than that the kirk should loosen itself from its foundations.

It was after these arrangements had been made, that the Laird of St. Ronan's suddenly entered Meiklewham's private apartment with looks of exultation. The worthy scribe turned his spectacled nose towards his patron, and holding in one hand the bunch of papers which he had been just perusing, and in the other the tape with which he was about to tie them up again, suspended that operation to await with open eyes and ears the communication of Mowbray.

"I have done him!" he said, exultingly, yet in a tone of voice lowered almost to a whisper; "capotted his lordship for this bout—doubled my capital, Mick, and something more.—Hush, don't interrupt me—we must think of Clara now—she must share the sunshine, should it prove but a blink before a storm.—You know, Mick, these two d——d women, Lady Penelope and the Binks, have settled that they will have something like a bal pare on this occasion, a sort of theatrical exhibition, and that those who like it shall be dressed in character.—I know their meaning—they think Clara has no dress fit for such foolery, and so they hope to eclipse her; Lady Pen, with her old-fashioned, ill-set diamonds, and my Lady Binks, with the new-fashioned finery which she swopt her character for. But Clara shan't borne down so, by ——! I got that affected slut, Lady Binks's maid, to tell me what her mistress had set her mind on, and she is to wear a Grecian habit, forsooth, like one of Will Allan's Eastern subjects.—But here's the rub—there is only one shawl for sale in Edinburgh that is worth showing off in, and that is at the Gallery of Fashion.—Now, Mick, my friend, that shawl must be had for Clara, with the other trankums of muslin and lace, and so forth, which you will find marked in the paper there.—Send instantly and secure it, for, as Lady Binks writes by to-morrow's post, your order can go by to-night's mail—There is a note for L.100."

From a mechanical habit of never refusing any thing, Meiklewham readily took the note, but having looked at it through his spectacles, he continued to hold it in his hand as he remonstrated with his patron.—"This is a' very kindly meant, St. Ronan's—very kindly meant; and I wad be the last to say that Miss Clara does not merit respect and kindness at your hand; but I doubt mickle if she wad care a bodle for thae braw things. Ye ken yoursell, she seldom alters her fashions. Od, she thinks her riding-habit dress eneugh for ony company; and if you were ganging by good looks, so it is—if she had a thought mair colour, poor dear."

"Well, well," said Mowbray, impatiently, "let me alone to reconcile a woman and a fine dress."

"To be sure, ye ken best," said the writer; "but, after a', now, wad it no be better to lay by this hundred pound in Tam Turnpenny's, in case the young lady should want it afterhend, just for a sair foot?"

"You are a fool, Mick; what signifies healing a sore foot, when there will be a broken heart in the case?—No, no—get the things as I desire you—we will blaze them down for one day at least; perhaps it will be the beginning of a proper dash."

"Weel, weel, I wish it may be so," answered Meiklewham; "but this young Earl—hae ye found the weak point?—Can ye get a decerniture against him, with expenses?—that is the question."

"I wish I could answer it," said Mowbray, thoughtfully.—"Confound the fellow—he is a cut above me in rank and in society too—belongs to the great clubs, and is in with the Superlatives and Inaccessibles, and all that sort of folk.—My training has been a peg lower—but, hang it, there are better dogs bred in the kennel than in the parlour. I am up to him, I think—at least I will soon know, Mick, whether I am or no, and that is always one comfort. Never mind—do you execute my commission, and take care you name no names—I must save my little Abigail's reputation."

They parted, Meiklewham to execute his patron's commission—his patron to bring to the test those hopes, the uncertainty of which he could not disguise from his own sagacity.

Trusting to the continuance of his run of luck, Mowbray resolved to bring affairs to a crisis that same evening. Every thing seemed in the outset to favour his purpose. They had dined together in Lord Etherington's apartments—his state of health interfered with the circulation of the bottle, and a drizzly autumnal evening rendered walking disagreeable, even had they gone no farther than the private stable where Lord Etherington's horses were kept, under the care of a groom of superior skill. Cards were naturally, almost necessarily, resorted to, as the only alternative for helping away the evening, and piquet was, as formerly, chosen for the game.

Lord Etherington seemed at first indolently careless and indifferent about his play, suffering advantages to escape him, of which, in a more attentive state of mind, he could not have failed to avail himself. Mowbray upbraided him with his inattention, and proposed a deeper stake, in order to interest him in the game. The young nobleman complied; and in the course of a few hands, the gamesters became both deeply engaged in watching and profiting by the changes of fortune. These were so many, so varied, and so unexpected, that the very souls of the players seemed at length centred in the event of the struggle; and, by dint of doubling stakes, the accumulated sum of a thousand pounds and upwards, upon each side, came to be staked in the issue of the game.—So large a risk included all those funds which Mowbray commanded by his sister's kindness, and nearly all his previous winnings, so to him the alternative was victory or ruin. He could not hide his agitation, however desirous to do so. He drank wine to supply himself with courage—he drank water to cool his agitation; and at length bent himself to play with as much care and attention as he felt himself enabled to command.

In the first part of the game their luck appeared tolerably equal, and the play of both befitting gamesters who had dared to place such a sum on the cast. But, as it drew towards a conclusion, fortune altogether deserted him who stood most in need of her favour, and Mowbray, with silent despair, saw his fate depend on a single trick, and that with every odds against him, for Lord Etherington was elder hand. But how can fortune's favour secure any one who is not true to himself?—By an infraction of the laws of the game, which could only have been expected from the veriest bungler that ever touched a card, Lord Etherington called a point without showing it, and, by the ordinary rule, Mowbray was entitled to count his own—and in the course of that and the next hand, gained the game and swept the stakes. Lord Etherington showed chagrin and displeasure, and seemed to think that the rigour of the game had been more insisted upon than in courtesy it ought to have been, when men were playing for so small a stake. Mowbray did not understand this logic. A thousand pounds, he said, were in his eyes no nutshells; the rules of piquet were insisted on by all but boys and women; and for his part, he had rather not play at all than not play the game.

"So it would seem, my dear Mowbray," said the Earl; "for on my soul, I never saw so disconsolate a visage as thine during that unlucky game—it withdrew all my attention from my hand; and I may safely say, your rueful countenance has stood me in a thousand pounds. If I could transfer thy long visage to canvass, I should have both my revenge and my money; for a correct resemblance would be worth not a penny less than the original has cost me."

"You are welcome to your jest, my lord," said Mowbray, "it has been well paid for; and I will serve you in ten thousand at the same rate. What say you?" he proceeded, taking up and shuffling the cards, "will you do yourself more justice in another game?—Revenge, they say, is sweet."

"I have no appetite for it this evening," said the Earl, gravely; "if I had, Mowbray, you might come by the worse. I do not always call a point without showing it."

"Your lordship is out of humour with yourself for a blunder that might happen to any man—it was as much my good luck as a good hand would have been, and so fortune be praised."

"But what if with this Fortune had nought to do?" replied Lord Etherington.—"What if, sitting down with an honest fellow and a friend like yourself, Mowbray, a man should rather choose to lose his own money, which he could afford, than to win what it might distress his friend to part with?"

"Supposing a case so far out of supposition, my lord," answered Mowbray, who felt the question ticklish—"for, with submission, the allegation is easily made, and is totally incapable of proof—I should say, no one had a right to think for me in such a particular, or to suppose that I played for a higher stake than was convenient."

"And thus your friend, poor devil," replied Lord Etherington, "would lose his money, and run the risk of a quarrel into the boot!—We will try it another way—Suppose this good-humoured and simple-minded gamester had a favour of the deepest import to ask of his friend, and judged it better to prefer his request to a winner than to a loser?"

"If this applies to me, my lord," replied Mowbray, "it is necessary I should learn how I can oblige your lordship."

"That is a word soon spoken, but so difficult to be recalled, that I am almost tempted to pause—but yet it must be said.—Mowbray, you have a sister."

Mowbray started.—"I have indeed a sister, my lord; but I can conceive no case in which her name can enter with propriety into our present discussion."

"Again in the menacing mood!" said Lord Etherington, in his former tone; "now, here is a pretty fellow—he would first cut my throat for having won a thousand pounds from me, and then for offering to make his sister a countess!"

"A countess, my lord?" said Mowbray; "you are but jesting—you have never even seen Clara Mowbray."

"Perhaps not—but what then?—I may have seen her picture, as Puff says in the Critic, or fallen in love with her from rumour—or, to save farther suppositions, as I see they render you impatient, I may be satisfied with knowing that she is a beautiful and accomplished young lady, with a large fortune."

"What fortune do you mean, my lord?" said Mowbray, recollecting with alarm some claims, which, according to Meiklewham's view of the subject, his sister might form upon his property.—"What estate?—there is nothing belongs to our family, save these lands of St. Ronan's, or what is left of them; and of these I am, my lord, an undoubted heir of entail in possession."

"Be it so," said the Earl, "for I have no claim on your mountain realms here, which are, doubtless,

——'renown'd of old For knights, and squires, and barons bold;'

my views respect a much richer, though less romantic domain—a large manor, hight Nettlewood. House old, but standing in the midst of such glorious oaks—three thousand acres of land, arable, pasture, and woodland, exclusive of the two closes, occupied by Widow Hodge and Goodman Trampclod—manorial rights—mines and minerals—and the devil knows how many good things besides, all lying in the vale of Bever."

"And what has my sister to do with all this?" asked Mowbray, in great surprise.

"Nothing; but that it belongs to her when she becomes Countess of Etherington."

"It is, then, your lordship's property already?"

"No, by Jove! nor can it, unless your sister honours me with her approbation of my suit," replied the Earl.

"This is a sorer puzzle than one of Lady Penelope's charades, my lord," said Mr. Mowbray; "I must call in the assistance of the Reverend Mr. Chatterly."

"You shall not need," said Lord Etherington; "I will give you the key, but listen to me with patience.—You know that we nobles of England, less jealous of our sixteen quarters than those on the continent, do not take scorn to line our decayed ermines with the little cloth of gold from the city; and my grandfather was lucky enough to get a wealthy wife, with a halting pedigree,—rather a singular circumstance, considering that her father was a countryman of yours. She had a brother, however, still more wealthy than herself, and who increased his fortune by continuing to carry on the trade which had first enriched his family. At length he summed up his books, washed his hands of commerce, and retired to Nettlewood, to become a gentleman; and here my much respected grand-uncle was seized with the rage of making himself a man of consequence. He tried what marrying a woman of family would do; but he soon found that whatever advantage his family might derive from his doing so, his own condition was but little illustrated. He next resolved to become a man of family himself. His father had left Scotland when very young, and bore, I blush to say, the vulgar name of Scrogie. This hapless dissyllable my uncle carried in person to the herald office in Scotland; but neither Lyon, nor Marchmont, nor Islay, nor Snadoun, neither herald nor pursuivant, would patronise Scrogie.—Scrogie!—there could nothing be made out of it—so that my worthy relative had recourse to the surer side of the house, and began to found his dignity on his mother's name of Mowbray. In this he was much more successful, and I believe some sly fellow stole for him a slip from your own family tree, Mr. Mowbray of St. Ronan's, which, I daresay, you have never missed. At any rate, for his argent and or, he got a handsome piece of parchment, blazoned with a white lion for Mowbray, to be borne quarterly, with three stunted or scrog-bushes for Scrogie, and became thenceforth Mr. Scrogie Mowbray, or rather, as he subscribed himself, Reginald (his former Christian name was Ronald) S. Mowbray. He had a son who most undutifully laughed at all this, refused the honours of the high name of Mowbray, and insisted on retaining his father's original appellative of Scrogie, to the great annoyance of his said father's ears, and damage of his temper."

"Why, faith, betwixt the two," said Mowbray, "I own I should have preferred my own name, and I think the old gentleman's taste rather better than the young one's."

"True; but both were wilful, absurd originals, with a happy obstinacy of temper, whether derived from Mowbray or Scrogie I know not, but which led them so often into opposition, that the offended father, Reginald S. Mowbray, turned his recusant son Scrogie fairly out of doors; and the fellow would have paid for his plebeian spirit with a vengeance, had he not found refuge with a surviving partner of the original Scrogie of all, who still carried on the lucrative branch of traffic by which the family had been first enriched. I mention these particulars to account, in so far as I can, for the singular predicament in which I now find myself placed."

"Proceed, my lord," said Mr. Mowbray; "there is no denying the singularity of your story, and I presume you are quite serious in giving me such an extraordinary detail."

"Entirely so, upon my honour—and a most serious matter it is, you will presently find. When my worthy uncle, Mr. S. Mowbray, (for I will not call him Scrogie even in the grave,) paid his debt to nature, every body concluded he would be found to have disinherited his son, the unfilial Scrogie, and so far every body was right—But it was also generally believed that he would settle the estate on my father, Lord Etherington, the son of his sister, and therein every one was wrong. For my excellent grand-uncle had pondered with himself, that the favoured name of Mowbray would take no advantage, and attain no additional elevation, if his estate of Nettlewood (otherwise called Mowbray-Park) should descend to our family without any condition; and with the assistance of a sharp attorney, he settled it on me, then a schoolboy, on condition that I should, before attaining the age of twenty-five complete, take unto myself in holy wedlock a young lady of good fame, of the name of Mowbray, and, by preference, of the house of St. Ronan's, should a damsel of that house exist.—Now my riddle is read."

"And a very extraordinary one it is," replied Mowbray, thoughtfully.

"Confess the truth," said Lord Etherington, laying his hand on his shoulder; "you think the story will bear a grain of a scruple of doubt, if not a whole scruple itself?"

"At least, my lord," answered Mowbray, "your lordship will allow, that, being Miss Mowbray's only near relation, and sole guardian, I may, without offence, pause upon a suit for her hand, made under such odd circumstances."

"If you have the least doubt either respecting my rank or fortune, I can give, of course, the most satisfactory references," said the Earl of Etherington.

"That I can easily believe, my lord," said Mowbray; "nor do I in the least fear deception, where detection would be so easy. Your lordship's proceedings towards me, too," (with a conscious glance at the bills he still held in his hand,) "have, I admit, been such as to intimate some such deep cause of interest as you have been pleased to state. But it seems strange that your lordship should have permitted years to glide away, without so much as enquiring after the young lady, who, I believe, is the only person qualified as your grand-uncle's will requires, with whom you can form an alliance. It appears to me, that long before now, this matter ought to have been investigated; and that, even now, it would have been more natural and more decorous to have at least seen my sister before proposing for her hand."

"On the first point, my dear Mowbray," said Lord Etherington, "I am free to own to you, that, without meaning your sister the least affront, I would have got rid of this clause if I could; for every man would fain choose a wife for himself, and I feel no hurry to marry at all. But the rogue-lawyers, after taking fees, and keeping me in hand for years, have at length roundly told me the clause must be complied with, or Nettlewood must have another master. So I thought it best to come down here in person, in order to address the fair lady; but as accident has hitherto prevented my seeing her, and as I found in her brother a man who understands the world, I hope you will not think the worse of me, that I have endeavoured in the outset to make you my friend. Truth is, I shall be twenty-five in the course of a month; and without your favour, and the opportunities which only you can afford me, that seems a short time to woo and win a lady of Miss Mowbray's merit."

"And what is the alternative if you do not form this proposed alliance, my lord?" said Mowbray.

"The bequest of my grand-uncle lapses," said the Earl, "and fair Nettlewood, with its old house, and older oaks, manorial rights, Hodge Trampclod, and all, devolves on a certain cousin-german of mine, whom Heaven of his mercy confound!"

"You have left yourself little time to prevent such an event, my lord," said Mowbray; "but things being as I now see them, you shall have what interest I can give you in the affair.—We must stand, however, on more equal terms, my lord—I will condescend so far as to allow it would have been inconvenient for me at this moment to have lost that game, but I cannot in the circumstances think of acting as if I had fairly won it. We must draw stakes, my lord."

"Not a word of that, if you really mean me kindly, my dear Mowbray. The blunder was a real one, for I was indeed thinking, as you may suppose, on other things than the showing my point—All was fairly lost and won.—I hope I shall have opportunities of offering real services, which may perhaps give me some right to your partial regard—at present we are on equal footing on all sides—perfectly so."

"If your lordship thinks so," said Mowbray,—and then passing rapidly to what he felt he could say with more confidence,—"Indeed, at any rate, no personal obligation to myself could prevent my doing my full duty as guardian to my sister."

"Unquestionably, I desire nothing else," replied the Earl of Etherington.

"I must therefore understand that your lordship is quite serious in your proposal; and that it is not to be withdrawn, even if upon acquaintance with Miss Mowbray, you should not perhaps think her so deserving of your lordship's attentions, as report may have spoken her."

"Mr. Mowbray," replied the Earl, "the treaty between you and me shall be as definite as if I were a sovereign prince, demanding in marriage the sister of a neighbouring monarch, whom, according to royal etiquette, he neither has seen nor could see. I have been quite frank with you, and I have stated to you that my present motives for entering upon negotiation are not personal, but territorial; when I know Miss Mowbray, I have no doubt they will be otherwise. I have heard she is beautiful."

"Something of the palest, my lord," answered Mowbray.

"A fine complexion is the first attraction which is lost in the world of fashion, and that which it is easiest to replace."

"Dispositions, my lord, may differ," said Mowbray, "without faults on either side. I presume your lordship has enquired into my sister's. She is amiable, accomplished, sensible, and high-spirited; but yet"——

"I understand you, Mr. Mowbray, and will spare you the pain of speaking out. I have heard Miss Mowbray is in some respects—particular; to use a broader word—a little whimsical.—No matter. She will have the less to learn when she becomes a countess, and a woman of fashion."

"Are you serious, my lord?" said Mowbray.

"I am—and I will speak my mind still more plainly. I have good temper, and excellent spirits, and can endure a good deal of singularity in those I live with. I have no doubt your sister and I will live happily together—But in case it should prove otherwise, arrangements may be made previously, which will enable us in certain circumstances to live happily apart. My own estate is large, and Nettlewood will bear dividing."

"Nay, then," said Mowbray, "I have little more to say—nothing indeed remains for enquiry, so far as your lordship is concerned. But my sister must have free liberty of choice—so far as I am concerned, your lordship's suit has my interest."

"And I trust we may consider it as a done thing?"

"With Clara's approbation—certainly," answered Mowbray.

"I trust there is no chance of personal repugnance on the young lady's part?" said the young peer.

"I anticipate nothing of the kind, my lord," answered Mowbray, "as I presume there is no reason for any; but young ladies will be capricious, and if Clara, after I have done and said all that a brother ought to do, should remain repugnant, there is a point in the exertion of my influence which it would be cruelty to pass."

The Earl of Etherington walked a turn through the apartment, then paused, and said, in a grave and doubtful tone, "In the meanwhile, I am bound, and the young lady is free, Mowbray. Is this quite fair?"

"It is what happens in every case, my lord, where a gentleman proposes for a lady," answered Mowbray; "he must remain, of course, bound by his offer, until, within a reasonable time, it is accepted or rejected. It is not my fault that your lordship has declared your wishes to me, before ascertaining Clara's inclination. But while as yet the matter is between ourselves—I make you welcome to draw back if you think proper. Clara Mowbray needs not push for a catch-match."

"Nor do I desire," said the young nobleman, "any time to reconsider the resolution which I have confided to you. I am not in the least fearful that I shall change my mind on seeing your sister, and I am ready to stand by the proposal which I have made to you.—If, however, you feel so extremely delicately on my account," he continued, "I can see and even converse with Miss Mowbray at this fete of yours, without the necessity of being at all presented to her—The character which I have assumed in a manner obliges me to wear a mask."

"Certainly," said the Laird of St. Ronan's, "and I am glad, for both our sakes, your lordship thinks of taking a little law upon this occasion."

"I shall profit nothing by it," said the Earl; "my doom is fixed before I start—but if this mode of managing the matter will save your conscience, I have no objection to it—it cannot consume much time, which is what I have to look to."

They then shook hands and parted, without any farther discourse which could interest the reader.

Mowbray was glad to find himself alone, in order to think over what had happened, and to ascertain the state of his own mind, which at present was puzzling even to himself. He could not but feel that much greater advantages of every kind might accrue to himself and his family from the alliance of the wealthy young Earl, than could have been derived from any share of his spoils which he had proposed to gain by superior address in play, or greater skill on the turf. But his pride was hurt when he recollected that he had placed himself entirely in Lord Etherington's power; and the escape from absolute ruin which he had made, solely by the sufferance of his opponent, had nothing in it consolatory to his wounded feelings. He was lowered in his own eyes, when he recollected how completely the proposed victim of his ingenuity had seen through his schemes, and only abstained from baffling them entirely, because to do so suited best with his own. There was a shade of suspicion, too, which he could not entirely eradicate from his mind.—What occasion had this young nobleman to preface, by the voluntary loss of a brace of thousands, a proposal which must have been acceptable in itself, without any such sacrifice? And why should he, after all, have been so eager to secure his accession to the proposed alliance, before he had even seen the lady who was the object of it? However hurried for time, he might have waited the event at least of the entertainment at Shaws-Castle, at which Clara was necessarily obliged to make her appearance.—Yet such conduct, however unusual, was equally inconsistent with any sinister intentions; since the sacrifice of a large sum of money, and the declaration of his views upon a portionless young lady of family, could scarcely be the preface to any unfair practice. So that, upon the whole, Mowbray settled, that what was uncommon in the Earl's conduct arose from the hasty and eager disposition of a rich young Englishman, to whom money is of little consequence, and who is too headlong in pursuit of the favourite plan of the moment, to proceed in the most rational or most ordinary manner. If, however, there should prove any thing farther in the matter than he could at present discover, Mowbray promised himself that the utmost circumspection on his part could not fail to discover it, and that in full time to prevent any ill consequences to his sister or himself.

Immersed in such cogitations, he avoided the inquisitive presence of Mr. Meiklewham, who, as usual, had been watching for him to learn how matters were going on; and although it was now late, he mounted his horse, and rode hastily to Shaws-Castle. On the way, he deliberated with himself whether to mention to his sister the application which had been made to him, in order to prepare her to receive the young Earl as a suitor, favoured with her brother's approbation. "But no, no, no;" such was the result of his contemplation. "She might take it into her head that his thoughts were bent less upon having her for a countess, than on obtaining possession of his grand-uncle's estate.—We must keep quiet," concluded he, "until her personal appearance and accomplishments may appear at least to have some influence upon his choice.—We must say nothing till this blessed entertainment has been given and received."



CHAPTER XIX.

A LETTER.

"Has he so long held out with me untired, And stops he now for breath?—Well—Be it so."

Richard III.

Mowbray had no sooner left the Earl's apartment, than the latter commenced an epistle to a friend and associate, which we lay before the reader, as best calculated to illustrate the views and motives of the writer. It was addressed to Captain Jekyl, of the —— regiment of Guards, at the Green Dragon, Harrowgate, and was of the following tenor:—

"Dear Harry,

"I have expected you here these ten days past, anxiously as ever man was looked for; and have now to charge your absence as high treason to your sworn allegiance. Surely you do not presume, like one of Napoleon's new-made monarchs, to grumble for independence, as if your greatness were of your own making, or as if I had picked you out of the whole of St. James's coffee-house to hold my back-hand, for your sake, forsooth, not for my own? Wherefore, lay aside all your own proper business, be it the pursuit of dowagers, or the plucking of pigeons, and instantly repair to this place, where I may speedily want your assistance.—May want it, said I? Why, most negligent of friends and allies, I have wanted it already, and that when it might have done me yeoman's service. Know that I have had an affair since I came hither—have got hurt myself, and have nearly shot my friend; and if I had, I might have been hanged for it, for want of Harry Jekyl to bear witness in my favour. I was so far on my road to this place, when, not choosing, for certain reasons, to pass through the old village, I struck by a footpath into the woods which separate it from the new Spa, leaving my carriage and people to go the carriage-way. I had not walked half a mile when I heard the footsteps of some one behind, and, looking round, what should I behold but the face in the world which I most cordially hate and abhor—I mean that which stands on the shoulders of my right trusty and well-beloved cousin and counsellor, Saint Francis. He seemed as much confounded as I was at our unexpected meeting; and it was a minute ere he found breath to demand what I did in Scotland, contrary to my promise, as he was pleased to express it.—I retaliated, and charged him with being here, in contradiction to his.—He justified, and said he had only come down upon the express information that I was upon my road to St. Ronan's.—Now, Harry, how the devil should he have known this hadst thou been quite faithful? for I am sure, to no ear but thine own did I breathe a whisper of my purpose.—Next, with the insolent assumption of superiority, which he founds on what he calls the rectitude of his purpose, he proposed we should both withdraw from a neighbourhood into which we could bring nothing but wretchedness.—I have told you how difficult it is to cope with the calm and resolute manner that the devil gifts him with on such occasions; but I was determined he should not carry the day this time. I saw no chance for it, however, but to put myself into a towering passion, which, thank Heaven, I can always do on short notice.—I charged him with having imposed formerly on my youth, and made himself judge of my rights; and I accompanied my defiance with the strongest terms of irony and contempt, as well as with demand of instant satisfaction. I had my travelling pistols with me, (et pour cause,) and, to my surprise, my gentleman was equally provided.—For fair play's sake, I made him take one of my pistols—right Kuchenritters—a brace of balls in each, but that circumstance I forgot.—I would fain have argued the matter a little longer; but I thought at the time, and think still, that the best arguments which he and I can exchange, must come from the point of the sword, or the muzzle of the pistol.—We fired nearly together, and I think both dropped—I am sure I did, but recovered in a minute, with a damaged arm and a scratch on the temple—it was the last which stunned me—so much for double-loaded pistols.—My friend was invisible, and I had nothing for it but to walk to the Spa, bleeding all the way like a calf, and tell a raw-head-and-bloody-bone story about a footpad, which, but for my earldom, and my gory locks, no living soul would have believed.

"Shortly after, when I had been installed in a sick room, I had the mortification to learn, that my own impatience had brought all this mischief upon me, at a moment when I had every chance of getting rid of my friend without trouble, had I but let him go on his own errand; for it seems he had an appointment that morning with a booby Baronet, who is said to be a bullet-slitter, and would perhaps have rid me of Saint Francis without any trouble or risk on my part. Meantime, his non-appearance at this rendezvous has placed Master Francis Tyrrel, as he chooses to call himself, in the worst odour possible with the gentry at the Spring, who have denounced him as a coward and no gentleman.—What to think of the business myself, I know not; and I much want your assistance to see what can have become of this fellow, who, like a spectre of ill omen, has so often thwarted and baffled my best plans. My own confinement renders me inactive, though my wound is fast healing. Dead he cannot be; for, had he been mortally wounded, we should have heard of him somewhere or other—he could not have vanished from the earth like a bubble of the elements. Well and sound he cannot be; for, besides that I am sure I saw him stagger and drop, firing his pistol as he fell, I know him well enough to swear, that, had he not been severely wounded, he would have first pestered me with his accursed presence and assistance, and then walked forward with his usual composure to settle matters with Sir Bingo Binks. No—no—Saint Francis is none of those who leave such jobs half finished—it is but doing him justice to say, he has the devil's courage to back his own deliberate impertinence. But then, if wounded severely, he must be still in this neighbourhood, and probably in concealment—this is what I must discover, and I want your assistance in my enquiries among the natives.—Haste hither, Harry, as ever you look for good at my hand.

"A good player, Harry, always studies to make the best of bad cards—and so I have endeavoured to turn my wound to some account; and it has given me the opportunity to secure Monsieur le Frere in my interests. You say very truly, that it is of consequence to me to know the character of this new actor on the disordered scene of my adventures.—Know, then, he is that most incongruous of all monsters—a Scotch Buck—how far from being buck of the season you may easily judge. Every point of national character is opposed to the pretensions of this luckless race, when they attempt to take on them a personage which is assumed with so much facility by their brethren of the Isle of Saints. They are a shrewd people, indeed, but so destitute of ease, grace, pliability of manners, and insinuation of address, that they eternally seem to suffer actual misery in their attempts to look gay and careless. Then their pride heads them back at one turn, their poverty at another, their pedantry at a third, their mauvaise honte at a fourth; and with so many obstacles to make them bolt off the course, it is positively impossible they should win the plate. No, Harry, it is the grave folk in Old England who have to fear a Caledonian invasion—they will make no conquests in the world of fashion. Excellent bankers the Scots may be, for they are eternally calculating how to add interest to principal;—good soldiers, for they are, if not such heroes as they would be thought, as brave, I suppose, as their neighbours, and much more amenable to discipline;—lawyers they are born; indeed every country gentleman is bred one, and their patient and crafty disposition enables them, in other lines, to submit to hardships which other natives could not bear, and avail themselves of advantages which others would let pass under their noses unavailingly. But assuredly Heaven did not form the Caledonian for the gay world; and his efforts at ease, grace, and gaiety, resemble only the clumsy gambols of the ass in the fable. Yet the Scot has his sphere too, (in his own country only,) where the character which he assumes is allowed to pass current. This Mowbray, now—this brother-in-law of mine—might do pretty well at a Northern Meeting, or the Leith races, where he could give five minutes to the sport of the day, and the next half hour to county politics, or to farming; but it is scarce necessary to tell you, Harry, that this half fellowship will not pass on the better side of the Tweed.

"Yet, for all I have told you, this trout was not easily tickled; nor should I have made much of him, had he not, in the plenitude of his northern conceit, entertained that notion of my being a good subject of plunder, which you had contrived (blessings on your contriving brain!) to insinuate into him by means of Wolverine. He commenced this hopeful experiment, and, as you must have anticipated, caught a Tartar with a vengeance. Of course, I used my victory only so far as to secure his interest in accomplishing my principal object; and yet, I could see my gentleman's pride was so much injured in the course of the negotiation, that not all the advantages which the match offered to his damned family, were able entirely to subdue the chagrin arising from his defeat. He did gulp it down, though, and we are friends and allies, for the present at least—not so cordially so, however, as to induce me to trust him with the whole of the strangely complicated tale. The circumstance of the will it was necessary to communicate, as affording a sufficiently strong reason for urging my suit; and this partial disclosure enabled me for the present to dispense with farther confidence.

"You will observe, that I stand by no means secure; and besides the chance of my cousin's reappearance—a certain event, unless he is worse than I dare hope for—I have perhaps to expect the fantastic repugnance of Clara herself, or some sulky freak on her brother's part.—In a word—and let it be such a one as conjurers raise the devil with—Harry Jekyl, I want you.

"As well knowing the nature of my friend, I can assure you that his own interest, as well as mine, may be advanced by his coming hither on duty. Here is a blockhead, whom I already mentioned, Sir Bingo Binks, with whom something may be done worth your while, though scarce worth mine. The Baronet is a perfect buzzard, and when I came here he was under Mowbray's training. But the awkward Scot had plucked half-a-dozen penfeathers from his wing with so little precaution, that the Baronet has become frightened and shy, and is now in the act of rebelling against Mowbray, whom he both hates and fears—the least backing from a knowing hand like you, and the bird becomes your own, feathers and all.—Moreover,

——'by my life, This Bingo hath a mighty pretty wife.'

A lovely woman, Harry—rather plump, and above the middle size—quite your taste—A Juno in beauty, looking with such scorn on her husband, whom she despises and hates, and seeming, as if she could look so differently on any one whom she might like better, that, on my faith, 'twere sin not to give her occasion. If you please to venture your luck, either with the knight or the lady, you shall have fair play, and no interference—that is, provided you appear upon this summons; for, otherwise, I may be so placed, that the affairs of the knight and the lady may fall under my own immediate cognizance. And so, Harry, if you wish to profit by these hints, you had best make haste, as well for your own concerns, as to assist me in mine.—Yours, Harry, as you behave yourself,

"ETHERINGTON."

Having finished this eloquent and instructive epistle, the young Earl demanded the attendance of his own valet Solmes, whom he charged to put it into the post-office without delay, and with his own hand.



AUTHOR'S NOTES.

Note I., p. 14.—BUILDING-FEUS IN SCOTLAND.

In Scotland a village is erected upon a species of landright, very different from the copyhold so frequent in England. Every alienation or sale of landed property must be made in the shape of a feudal conveyance, and the party who acquires it holds thereby an absolute and perfect right of property in the fief, while he discharges the stipulations of the vassal, and, above all, pays the feu-duties. The vassal or tenant of the site of the smallest cottage holds his possession as absolutely as the proprietor, of whose large estate it is perhaps scarce a perceptible portion. By dint of excellent laws, the sasines, or deeds of delivery of such fiefs, are placed on record in such order, that every burden affecting the property can be seen for payment of a very moderate fee; so that a person proposing to lend money upon it, knows exactly the nature and extent of his security.

From the nature of these landrights being so explicit and secure, the Scottish people have been led to entertain a jealousy of building-leases, of however long duration. Not long ago, a great landed proprietor took the latter mode of disposing of some ground near a thriving town in the west country. The number of years in the lease was settled at nine hundred and ninety-nine. All was agreed to, and the deeds were ordered to be drawn. But the tenant, as he walked down the avenue, began to reflect that the lease, though so very long as to be almost perpetual, nevertheless had a termination; and that after the lapse of a thousand years, lacking one, the connexion of his family and representatives with the estate would cease. He took a qualm at the thought of the loss to be sustained by his posterity a thousand years hence; and going back to the house of the gentleman who feued the ground, he demanded, and readily obtained, the additional term of fifty years to be added to the lease.

Note II., p. 90.—DARK LADYE.

The Dark Ladye is one of those tantalizing fragments, in which Mr. Coleridge has shown us what exquisite powers of poetry he has suffered to remain uncultivated. Let us be thankful for what we have received, however. The unfashioned ore, drawn from so rich a mine, is worth all to which art can add its highest decorations, when drawn from less abundant sources. The verses beginning the poem which are published separately, are said to have soothed the last hours of Mr. Fox. They are the stanzas entitled LOVE.

Note III., p. 252.—MAGO-PICO.

This satire, very popular even in Scotland, at least with one party, was composed at the expense of a reverend presbyterian divine, of whom many stories are preserved, being Mr. Pyet, the Mago-Pico of the Tale, minister of Dunbar. The work is now little known in Scotland, and not at all in England, though written with much strong and coarse humour, resembling the style of Arbuthnot. It was composed by Mr. Haliburton, a military chaplain. The distresses attending Mago-Pico's bachelor life, are thus stated:—

"At the same time I desire you will only figure out to yourself his situation during his celibacy in the ministerial charge—a house lying all heaps upon heaps; his bed ill-made, swarming with fleas, and very cold on the winter nights; his sheep's-head not to be eaten for wool and hair, his broth singed, his bread mouldy, his lamb and pig all scouthered, his house neither washed nor plastered; his black stockings darned with white worsted above the shoes; his butter made into cat's harns; his cheese one heap of mites and maggots, and full of large avenues for rats and mice to play at hide-and-seek and make their nests in. Frequent were the admonitions he had given his maid-servants on this score, and every now and then he was turning them off; but still the last was the worst, and in the meanwhile the poor man was the sufferer. At any rate, therefore, matrimony must turn to his account, though his wife should prove to be nothing but a creature of the feminine gender, with a tongue in her head, and ten fingers on her hands, to clear out the papers of the housemaid, not to mention the convenience of a man's having it in his power lawfully to beget sons and daughters in his own house."—Memoirs of Mago-Pico. Second edition. Edinburgh, 1761, p. 19.



EDITOR'S NOTES.

[I-A] p. 1. "David M'Pherson's map." In his "Geographical History," London, 4to, 1796.

[I-B] p. 11. "Jenny Dods ... at Howgate." Scott admitted to Erskine that the name of "Dods" was borrowed from this slatternly heroine.

[I-C] p. 33. "He was nae Roman, but only a Cuddie, or Culdee." Some Scottish Protestants took pride in believing that their Kirk descended from Culdees, who were not of the Roman Communion. The Culdees have given rise to a world of dispute, and he would be a bold man who pretended to understand their exact position. The name seems to be Cele De, "servant [gillie] of God." They were not Columban monks, but fill a gap between the expulsion of the Columbans by the Picts, and the Anglicising and Romanising of the Scottish Church by St. Margaret and her sons. Originally solitary ascetics, they clustered into groups, and, if we are to believe their supplanters at St. Andrews, the Canons Regular, they were married men, and used church property for family profit. Their mass they celebrated with a rite of their own, in their little church. They were gradually merged in, and overpowered at St. Andrews, for example, by the Canons Regular, and are last heard of in prosecuting a claim to elect the Bishop, at the time of Edward the First's interference with Scottish affairs. The points on which they differed from Roman practice would probably have seemed very insignificant to such a theologian as Meg Dods.

[I-D] p. 47. "Fortunio, in the fairy-tale." The gifted companions of Fortunio, Keen-eye, Keen-ear, and so forth, are very old stock characters in Maerchen: their first known appearance is in the saga of Jason and the Fleece of Gold.

[I-E] p. 169. "The sportsman's sense of his own cruelty." In the reminiscences of Captain Basil Hall, published by Lockhart, he mentions that Scott himself had a dislike of shooting, from a sentiment as to the cruelty of the sport. "I was never quite at ease when I had knocked down my blackcock, and going to pick him up he cast back his dying eye with a look of reproach. I don't affect to be more squeamish than my neighbours, but I am not ashamed to say that no practice ever reconciled me fully to the cruelty of the affair. At all events, now that I can do as I like without fear of ridicule, I take more pleasure in seeing the birds fly past me unharmed." (Lockhart, vii. 331.)

[I-F] p. 240. "Tintock." A hill on the Upper Tweed, celebrated in local rhyme as—

On Tintock tap there is a mist, And in the mist there is a kist, And in the kist there is a cap, And in the cap there is a drap. Tak' up the cap, drink out the drap, And set it down on Tintock tap.

[I-G] p. 245. "Donald Cargill." See Editor's Notes to "Redgauntlet." Howie of Lochgoin says Cargill was executed in Edinburgh, not at Queensferry, as stated here.

ANDREW LANG December 1893.



GLOSSARY.

A', all

"A. B. Memorial," a legal statement which does not give the names of the parties concerned.

Abee, alone.

Ae, one.

Aff, off.

Afterhend, afterwards.

Ain, own.

Airn, iron.

Ajee, awry.

Amaist, almost.

Andrew Ferrara, a sword.

Ane, one.

Assoilzie, to acquit.

Asteer, astir.

Atween, between.

Aught, possession; to own, to possess.

Auld, old. "Auld lang syne," the days of long ago.

Aw, all.

Awa, away.

Awing, owing, or bill.

Awmry, a cupboard.

Bairn, a child.

Baith, both.

Ballant, a ballad.

Bane, a bone.

Bangster, a victor

Bawbee, a halfpenny.

Bee—"to hae a bee in one's bonnet," to be harebrained.

Beltane, a festival on the first of May, hence Whitsuntide.

"Bent, to take the," to provide for one's safety, to flee country.

Bide, to stay, to remain; to bear, to endure.

Bigg, to build.

Bind, one's ability or power.

Bink, a plate-rack.

Birl, to turn, to toss.

"Blaw in my lug," a flatterer.

Blude, bluid, blood.

Bodle, a small copper coin.

Bogle, a scarecrow.

Bombazine, the silk and worsted stuff of which a lawyer's gown was made.

Bonnet-laird, a small proprietor or freeholder who farms his own land.

"Bow Street runners," London detectives.

Braw, brave, fine.

Bruick, possessed.

"By ordinar," out of the common run.

Ca', to call. Ca'd, called.

Callant, a lad.

Caller, fresh.

Canna, cannot.

Cantle, the crown of the head.

Canty, lively, cheerful.

Capillaire, a syrup made from maidenhair fern.

Cappie, a kind of beer.

Carle, a fellow.

Carline, a witch.

Carvy, carraway.

Cauld, cold.

Cheek-haffit, side of the cheek.

Chucky, a pebble.

Claithes, clothes.

Claver, gossip.

Claw, to beat.

Cleck, clack or hatch.

Cleeket, cleiket, caught, ensnared, taken.

Clink, to chime, to rhyme.

Clouted, patched, and so strengthened.

Cock-a-leeky, cockie-leekie, soup made of a cock boiled with leeks.

Cock-bree, cock-broth.

Cockernonnie, a top-knot.

Cogue, a wooden measure.

Condiddling, appropriating.

Courie, cowry, a shell used as money in parts of Southern Asia and Africa.

Coventry. To send one to Coventry is to refuse to have anything to do with him socially, not even to speak to him.

Cowt, a colt.

Craig, a rock.

Crap, a wig of rough short hair.

Craw, a crow.

Cuitle, to wheedle.

Cumbers, drawbacks, vexations.

Cutty, a jade.

Daffing, frolicking.

Daft, crazy.

Daur, to dare.

"Day, the," to-day.

Decerniture, a decree of the court.

Deil, the devil. "Deil's buckie," devil's imp.

Deleerit, distracted.

Diet-loaf, a kind of spongecake.

Dinna, don't.

Doited, dotard.

Donnart, stupid.

Dookit, ducked.

Douce, quiet, sensible.

Dought, was able.

Doun, down.

Dowcot, a dovecot.

Drap, a drop.

Drappie, a drop of spirits.

Dree'd, endured.

Drogs, drugs.

Dung, knocked, beaten.

Ee, the eye

Een, eyes.

Eneugh, enough.

Fa'an, fallen.

Fash, trouble.

Fashious, troublesome.

Faut, fault.

Feck, part, the greater part.

Feckless, spiritless.

Fend, defence.

Fern-seed. Certain kinds were supposed to render invisible those who carried it on their person.

Feuar, one who holds lands in feu—i.e., on lease.

File, foul.

Flee, a fly.

Fleeching, flattering.

Flesher, a butcher.

Flichtering, fluttering, fussing.

Flight—"hail flight," the whole lot.

Flyting, scolding.

Follies, ornaments, laces, &c.

Forbears, ancestors.

Forby, besides.

Fou, full.

Fouest, fullest.

Frae, from.

Fu', full.

Fule, a fool.

Gaed, went.

Gaen, gone.

Galliard, sprightly.

Gane, gone.

Gang, go.

Ganging, going.

Gar, to force, to make.

Gate, way, direction.

Gaun, going.

Geisen'd, leaking.

Gie, give.

Gill-flirt, a giddy flirt.

Girning, crabbed, ill-tempered.

Gled, a kite.

Gnostic, knowing, sharp.

Gomeril, an ass, a fool.

Goupin, a double handful.

Gowd, gold.

Gowk, a fool.

Gree, to agree.

Grosert, a gooseberry.

Gude, good.

Gudes, possessions, property.

Gully, a large knife.

Ha', a hall.

Hae, have.

Hail, haill, whole.

Harns, brains.

Haud, hold. "Neither to haud nor to bind," a proverbial phrase expressive of violent excitement.

Haugh, low-lying flat ground, properly on the border of a river, and such as is sometimes overflowed.

Haverils, foolish chatterers.

Heather-tap, a tuft or bunch of heather.

Hellicate, giddy, wild.

Hempie, roguish, romping.

Het, hot.

Holm, the level low ground on the banks of a river.

Hooly, softly, slowly.

Hotch, to jerk oneself along in a sitting posture.

Hottle, an hotel.

"Hout fie! hout awa!" expressions of dissatisfaction.

Howff, a favourite resort.

Howk, to dig.

Hurley-hacket, a badly hung carriage.

Huzzie, a jade.

Ilk, ilka, each, every.

I'se, I shall.

Jaugs, saddle bags.

Jer-falcon, a species of hawk.

Jirbling, emptying liquids from vessel to vessel.

Kale, broth.

Ken, to know.

Ken'd, knew.

Kitchen-fee, dripping.

Kittle, to tickle, to manage.

Kittled, were born.

Knap, to break in two; also, to speak after the manner of the English.

Kouscousou, a Moorish dish of various compounds.

Laird, a squire, lord of the manor.

Lamer, amber.

Landlouper, a charlatan, an adventurer.

Lang, long.

Lave, the remainder.

Lawing, a tavern reckoning.

Lea-rig, unploughed land or hill-side.

Lee, a lie.

Leeving, living.

"Let abee," let alone.

Lick, to beat, to overcome.

Linking, walking arm in arm.

Linkit, linked.

"Link out," to pay down smartly.

Lippen, to trust.

Loon, a fellow, a person.

Loot, allowed.

Loup, leap.

Lug, the ear.

Mailing, a farm.

Mair, more.

Maist, most.

Mansworn, perjured.

Mask, to brew.

Maun, must. Maunna, must not.

Mawkin, a hare.

Mazareen, mazarin, a deep blue colour.

Meith, a mark.

Mell, to maul, to meddle with.

"Minced collops," meat cut up very fine.

Mind, to remember.

Muckle, much.

Muir, a moor.

Multiplepoinding, a method of settling rival claims to the same fund.

Multure, the miller's fee for grinding grain.

Murgeons, mouths, distorted gestures.

Mutch, a woman's cap.

Mutchkin, a measure equal to an English pint.

Na, nae, no, not.

Naig, a nag.

Neist, next.

Odd-come-shortlies, chance times not far off.

Ony, any.

Or, before. "Or they wan hame," before they get home.

Ower, over.

Owerta'en, overtaken.

Palinode, in Scotch libel cases a formal recantation exacted in addition to damages.

Parritch, porridge.

Pat, put.

Pawky, shrewd.

Pice, an Indian coin.

Plack, a small copper coin = 1/3d.

Pock, a poke, a bag.

Poney, L25.

Pootry, poultry.

Pow, the head.

Pownie, a pony.

Prieve, proof, legal probation.

Puir, poor.

Pyot, a magpie.

Quaigh, a whisky measure.

Raff, a worthless fellow, a nobody.

Rattan, a cane or walking-stick.

Rax, to stretch.

Redd, to tidy. "An ill-red-up house," an untidy house.

Reekie, smoky.

Reise-sac, a travelling-bag.

Rin, run.

Rouleau, a roll of coined money.

Row, roll.

Sae, so.

Sair, sore.

"Salam alicum!" The usual Mohammedan greeting, meaning, Peace be with you!

Sall, shall.

Sasine, a mode of investiture in lands, according to ancient Scottish law.

Saumon, salmon.

Sax, six.

Scart, scratch.

Scate-rumple, skate-tail.

"Scauff and raff," tag-rag and bobtail.

Sclate, slate.

Scouthered, slightly toasted or singed.

Seeven, seven.

Shave, a slice.

Shool, a shovel.

Shouther, the shoulder.

Sib, related by blood.

Sic, such.

Siller, money.

Skeely, skilful.

Skylarked, tricked.

Slaister, a mess.

Sloan, a rebuff.

Smoor, to smother.

Snap, a small biscuit.

Sneck-drawing, crafty.

Snooded, bound up with a snood or fillet for the hair.

Sorn, to spunge, to live upon.

Sort, to arrange, to manage.

Sough, a sigh. "To keep a calm sough," to keep a quiet tongue.

Speer, to inquire.

Steer, stir.

Steered, disturbed.

Streekit, stretched (applied to a corpse).

Suld, should.

Syllabub, a curd made of wins or cider with milk or cream.

Synd, to rinse.

Syne, since, ago.

Tailzie, a bond of entail.

Tane, the one.

Tappet-hen, a large measure of claret holding three magnums or Scots pints.

Tauld, told.

Taupie, tawpie, an awkward girl, a tomboy.

Thae, these, those.

Thrawn, thwarted or twisted.

Threepit, averred, persisted.

Till't, to it.

Tither, the other.

Toom, empty.

Topping, excellent.

Trankums, flimsy ornaments, laces, &c.

Trewed, believed.

Twa, two.

Twal, twelve.

Unco, very, particular, uncommon.

Vilipend, to slight, to undervalue.

Wad, would.

Wadna, would not.

Wae, woful, sad.

Walth, wealth.

Wame-fou, bellyful.

"Wan to," reached.

Warld, world.

Waur, worse.

Weel, well.

Weird, destiny.

Wha, who.

"What for no?" why not?

Wheen, a few.

Whiles, sometimes.

Whilk, which.

Whully-whaing, flattery.

Wi', with.

Winna, will not.

Wud, mad. "Ance wud and aye waur," increasing in insanity—applied to one who, being in a passion, still waxes more furious.

Wull, will.

Wuss, wish.

Yanking, smart, active.

Yont, beyond.



ST. RONAN'S WELL.

A merry place, 'tis said, in days of yore; But something ails it now,—the place is cursed.

WORDSWORTH.



ST. RONAN'S WELL.



CHAPTER I.

THEATRICALS.

——The play's the thing.

Hamlet.

The important day had now arrived, the arrangement for which had for some time occupied all the conversation and thoughts of the good company at the Well of St. Ronan's. To give it, at the same time, a degree of novelty and consequence, Lady Penelope Penfeather had long since suggested to Mr. Mowbray, that the more gifted and accomplished part of the guests might contribute to furnish out entertainment for the rest, by acting a few scenes of some popular drama; an accomplishment in which her self-conceit assured her that she was peculiarly qualified to excel. Mr. Mowbray, who seemed on this occasion to have thrown the reins entirely into her ladyship's hands, made no objection to the plan which she proposed, excepting that the old-fashioned hedges and walks of the garden at Shaws-Castle must necessarily serve for stage and scenery, as there was no time to fit up the old hall for the exhibition of the proposed theatricals.[II-1] But upon enquiry among the company, this plan was wrecked upon the ordinary shelve, to wit, the difficulty of finding performers who would consent to assume the lower characters of the drama. For the first parts there were candidates more than enough; but most of these were greatly too high-spirited to play the fool, except they were permitted to top the part. Then amongst the few unambitious underlings, who could be coaxed or cajoled to undertake subordinate characters, there were so many bad memories, and short memories, and treacherous memories, that at length the plan was resigned in despair.

A substitute, proposed by Lady Penelope, was next considered. It was proposed to act what the Italians call a Comedy of Character; that is, not an exact drama, in which the actors deliver what is set down for them by the author; but one, in which the plot having been previously fixed upon, and a few striking scenes adjusted, the actors are expected to supply the dialogue extempore, or, as Petruchio says, from their mother wit. This is an amusement which affords much entertainment in Italy, particularly in the state of Venice, where the characters of their drama have been long since all previously fixed, and are handed down by tradition; and this species of drama, though rather belonging to the mask than the theatre, is distinguished by the name of Commedia dell' Arte.[II-2] But the shamefaced character of Britons is still more alien from a species of display, where there is a constant and extemporaneous demand for wit, or the sort of ready small-talk which supplies its place, than from the regular exhibitions of the drama, where the author, standing responsible for language and sentiment, leaves to the personators of the scenes only the trouble of finding enunciation and action.

But the ardent and active spirit of Lady Penelope, still athirst after novelty, though baffled in her two first projects, brought forward a third, in which she was more successful. This was the proposal to combine a certain number, at least, of the guests, properly dressed for the occasion, as representing some well-known historical or dramatic characters, in a group, having reference to history, or to a scene of the drama. In this representation, which may be called playing a picture, action, even pantomimical action, was not expected; and all that was required of the performers, was to throw themselves into such a group as might express a marked and striking point of an easily remembered scene, but where the actors are at a pause, and without either speech or motion. In this species of representation there was no tax, either on the invention or memory of those who might undertake parts; and, what recommended it still farther to the good company, there was no marked difference betwixt the hero and heroine of the group, and the less distinguished characters by whom they were attended on the stage; and every one who had confidence in a handsome shape and a becoming dress, might hope, though standing in not quite so broad and favourable a light as the principal personages, to draw, nevertheless, a considerable portion of attention and applause. This motion, therefore, that the company, or such of them as might choose to appear properly dressed for the occasion, should form themselves into one or more groups, which might be renewed and varied as often as they pleased, was hailed and accepted as a bright idea, which assigned to every one a share of the importance attached to its probable success.

Mowbray, on his side, promised to contrive some arrangement which should separate the actors in this mute drama from the spectators, and enable the former to vary the amusement, by withdrawing themselves from the scene, and again appearing upon it under a different and new combination. This plan of exhibition, where fine clothes and affected attitudes supplied all draughts upon fancy or talent, was highly agreeable to most of the ladies present; and even Lady Binks, whose discontent seemed proof against every effort that could be proposed to soothe it, acquiesced in the project, with perfect indifference indeed, but with something less of sullenness than usual.

It now only remained to rummage the circulating library, for some piece of sufficient celebrity to command attention, and which should be at the same time suited to the execution of their project. Bell's British Theatre, Miller's Modern and Ancient Drama, and about twenty odd volumes, in which stray tragedies and comedies were associated, like the passengers in a mail-coach, without the least attempt at selection or arrangement, were all examined in the course of their researches. But Lady Penelope declared loftily and decidedly for Shakspeare, as the author whose immortal works were fresh in every one's recollection. Shakspeare was therefore chosen, and from his works the Midsummer Night's Dream was selected, as the play which afforded the greatest variety of characters, and most scope of course for the intended representation. An active competition presently occurred among the greater part of the company, for such copies of the Midsummer Night's Dream, or the volume of Shakspeare containing it, as could be got in the neighbourhood; for, notwithstanding Lady Penelope's declaration, that every one who could read had Shakspeare's plays by heart, it appeared that such of his dramas as have not kept possession of the stage, were very little known at St. Ronan's, save among those people who are emphatically called readers.

The adjustment of the parts was the first subject of consideration, so soon as those who intended to assume characters had refreshed their recollection on the subject of the piece. Theseus was unanimously assigned to Mowbray, the giver of the entertainment, and therefore justly entitled to represent the Duke of Athens. The costume of an Amazonian crest and plume, a tucked-up vest, and a tight buskin of sky-blue silk, buckled with diamonds, reconciled Lady Binks to the part of Hippolyta. The superior stature of Miss Mowbray to Lady Penelope, made it necessary that the former should perform the part of Helena, and her ladyship rest contented with the shrewish character of Hermia. It was resolved to compliment the young Earl of Etherington with the part of Lysander, which, however, his lordship declined, and, preferring comedy to tragedy, refused to appear in any other character than that of the magnanimous Bottom; and he gave them such a humorous specimen of his quality in that part, that all were delighted at once with his condescension in assuming, and his skill in performing, the presenter of Pyramus.

The part of Egeus was voted to Captain MacTurk, whose obstinacy in refusing to appear in any other than the full Highland garb, had nearly disconcerted the whole affair. At length this obstacle was got over, on the authority of Childe Harold, who remarks the similarity betwixt the Highland and Grecian costume,[II-3] and the company, dispensing with the difference of colour, voted the Captain's variegated kilt, of the MacTurk tartan, to be the kirtle of a Grecian mountaineer,—Egeus to be an Arnout, and the Captain to be Egeus. Chatterly and the painter, walking gentlemen by profession, agreed to walk through the parts of Demetrius and Lysander, the two Athenian lovers; and Mr. Winterblossom, loath and lazy, after many excuses, was bribed by Lady Penelope with an antique, or supposed antique cameo, to play the part of Philostratus, master of the revels, provided his gout would permit him to remain so long upon the turf, which was to be their stage.

Muslin trowsers, adorned with spangles, a voluminous turban of silver gauze, and wings of the same, together with an embroidered slipper, converted at once Miss Digges into Oberon, the King of Shadows, whose sovereign gravity, however, was somewhat indifferently represented by the silly gaiety of Miss in her Teens, and the uncontrolled delight which she felt in her fine clothes. A younger sister represented Titania; and two or three subordinate elves were selected, among families attending the salutiferous fountain, who were easily persuaded to let their children figure in fine clothes at so juvenile an age, though they shook their head at Miss Digges and her pantaloons, and no less at the liberal display of Lady Binks's right leg, with which the Amazonian garb gratified the public of St. Ronan's.

Dr. Quackleben was applied to to play Wall, by the assistance of such a wooden horse, or screen, as clothes are usually dried upon; the old Attorney stood for Lion; and the other characters of Bottom's drama were easily found among the unnamed frequenters of the Spring. Dressed rehearsals, and so forth, went merrily on—all voted there was a play fitted.

But even the Doctor's eloquence could not press Mrs. Blower into the scheme, although she was particularly wanted to represent Thisbe.

"Truth is," she replied, "I dinna greatly like stage-plays. John Blower, honest man, as sailors are aye for some spree or another, wad take me ance to see ane Mrs. Siddons—I thought we should hae been crushed to death before we gat in—a' my things riven aff my back, forby the four lily-white shillings that it cost us—and then in came three frightsome carlines wi' besoms, and they wad bewitch a sailor's wife—I was lang eneugh there—and out I wad be, and out John Blower gat me, but wi' nae sma' fight and fend.—My Lady Penelope Penfitter, and the great folk, may just take it as they like; but in my mind, Dr. Cacklehen, it's a mere blasphemy for folk to gar themselves look otherwise than their Maker made them; and then the changing the name which was given them at baptism, is, I think, an awful falling away from our vows; and though Thisby, which I take to be Greek for Tibbie, may be a very good name, yet Margaret was I christened, and Margaret will I die."

"You mistake the matter entirely, my dear Mrs. Blower," said the Doctor; "there is nothing serious intended—a mere placebo—just a divertisement to cheer the spirits, and assist the effect of the waters—cheerfulness is a great promoter of health."

"Dinna tell me o' health, Dr. Kittlepin!—Can it be for the puir body M'Durk's health to major about in the tartans like a tobacconist's sign in a frosty morning, wi' his poor wizzened houghs as blue as a blawort?—weel I wot he is a humbling spectacle. Or can it gie ony body health or pleasure either to see your ainsell, Doctor, ganging about wi' a claise screen tied to your back, covered wi' paper, and painted like a stane and lime wa'?—I'll gang to see nane o' their vanities, Dr. Kittlehen; and if there is nae other decent body to take care o' me, as I dinna like to sit a haill afternoon by mysell, I'll e'en gae doun to Mr. Sowerbrowst the maltster's—he is a pleasant, sensible man, and a sponsible man in the world, and his sister's a very decent woman."

"Confound Sowerbrowst," thought the Doctor; "if I had guessed he was to come across me thus, he should not have got the better of his dyspepsy so early.—My dear Mrs. Blower," he continued, but aloud, "it is a foolish affair enough, I must confess; but every person of style and fashion at the Well has settled to attend this exhibition; there has been nothing else talked of for this month through the whole country, and it will be a year before it is forgotten. And I would have you consider how ill it will look, my dear Mrs. Blower, to stay away—nobody will believe you had a card—no, not though you were to hang it round your neck like a label round a vial of tincture, Mrs. Blower."

"If ye thought that, Doctor Kickherben," said the widow, alarmed at the idea of losing caste, "I wad e'en gang to the show, like other folk; sinful and shameful if it be, let them that make the sin bear the shame. But then I will put on nane of their Popish disguises—me that has lived in North Leith, baith wife and lass, for I shanna say how mony years, and has a character to keep up baith with saint and sinner.—And then, wha's to take care of me, since you are gaun to make a lime-and-stane wa' of yoursell, Dr. Kickinben?"

"My dear Mrs. Blower, if such is your determination, I will not make a wall of myself. Her ladyship must consider my profession—she must understand it is my function to look after my patients, in preference to all the stage-plays in this world—and to attend on a case like yours, Mrs. Blower, it is my duty to sacrifice, were it called for, the whole drama from Shakspeare to O'Keefe."

On hearing this magnanimous resolution, the widow's heart was greatly cheered; for, in fact, she might probably have considered the Doctor's perseverance in the plan, of which she had expressed such high disapprobation, as little less than a symptom of absolute defection from his allegiance. By an accommodation, therefore, which suited both parties, it was settled that the Doctor should attend his loving widow to Shaws-Castle, without mask or mantle; and that the painted screen should be transferred from Quackleben's back to the broad shoulders of a briefless barrister, well qualified for the part of Wall, since the composition of his skull might have rivalled in solidity the mortar and stone of the most approved builder.

We must not pause to dilate upon the various labours of body and spirit which preceded the intervening space, betwixt the settlement of this gay scheme, and the time appointed to carry it into execution. We will not attempt to describe how the wealthy, by letter and by commissioners, urged their researches through the stores of the Gallery of Fashion for specimens of Oriental finery—how they that were scant of diamonds supplied their place with paste and Bristol stones—how the country dealers were driven out of patience by the demand for goods of which they had never before heard the name—and, lastly, how the busy fingers of the more economical damsels twisted handkerchiefs into turbans, and converted petticoats into pantaloons, shaped and sewed, cut and clipped, and spoiled many a decent gown and petticoat, to produce something like a Grecian habit. Who can describe the wonders wrought by active needles and scissors, aided by thimbles and thread, upon silver gauze, and sprigged muslin? or who can show how, if the fair nymphs of the Spring did not entirely succeed in attaining the desired resemblance to heathen Greeks, they at least contrived to get rid of all similitude to sober Christians?

Neither is it necessary to dwell upon the various schemes of conveyance which were resorted to, in order to transfer the beau monde of the Spa to the scene of revelry at Shaws-Castle. These were as various as the fortunes and pretensions of the owners; from the lordly curricle, with its outriders, to the humble taxed cart, nay, untaxed cart, which conveyed the personages of lesser rank. For the latter, indeed, the two post-chaises at the Inn seemed converted into hourly stages, so often did they come and go between the Hotel and the Castle—a glad day for the postilions, and a day of martyrdom for the poor post-horses; so seldom is it that every department of any society, however constituted, can be injured or benefited by the same occurrence.

Such, indeed, was the penury of vehicular conveyance, that applications were made in manner most humble, even to Meg Dods herself, entreating she would permit her old whiskey to ply (for such might have been the phrase) at St. Ronan's Well, for that day only, and that upon good cause shown. But not for sordid lucre would the undaunted spirit of Meg compound her feud with her neighbours of the detested Well. "Her carriage," she briefly replied, "was engaged for her ain guest and the minister, and deil anither body's fit should gang intill't. Let every herring hing by its ain head." And, accordingly, at the duly appointed hour, creaked forth, the leathern convenience, in which, carefully screened by the curtain from the gaze of the fry of the village, sat Nabob Touchwood, in the costume of an Indian merchant, or Shroff, as they are termed. The clergyman would not, perhaps, have been so punctual, had not a set of notes and messages from his friend at the Cleikum, ever following each other as thick as the papers which decorate the tail of a schoolboy's kite, kept him so continually on the alert from daybreak till noon, that Mr. Touchwood found him completely dressed; and the whiskey was only delayed for about ten minutes before the door of the manse, a space employed by Mr. Cargill in searching for the spectacles, which at last were happily discovered upon his own nose.

At length, seated by the side of his new friend, Mr. Cargill arrived safe at Shaws-Castle, the gate of which mansion was surrounded by a screaming group of children, so extravagantly delighted at seeing the strange figures to whom each successive carriage gave birth, that even the stern brow and well-known voice of Johnie Tirlsneck, the beadle, though stationed in the court on express purpose, was not equal to the task of controlling them. These noisy intruders, however, who, it was believed, were somewhat favoured by Clara Mowbray, were excluded from the court which opened before the house, by a couple of grooms or helpers armed with their whips, and could only salute, with their shrill and wondering hailing, the various personages, as they passed down a short avenue leading from the exterior gate.

The Cleikum nabob and the minister were greeted with shouts not the least clamorous; which the former merited by the ease with which he wore the white turban, and the latter, by the infrequency of his appearance in public, and both, by the singular association of a decent clergyman of the church of Scotland, in a dress more old-fashioned than could now be produced in the General Assembly, walking arm in arm, and seemingly in the most familiar terms, with a Parsee merchant. They stopped a moment at the gate of the court-yard to admire the front of the old mansion, which had been disturbed with so unusual a scene of gaiety.

Shaws-Castle, though so named, presented no appearance of defence; and the present edifice had never been designed for more than the accommodation of a peaceful family, having a low, heavy front, loaded with some of that meretricious ornament, which, uniting, or rather confounding, the Gothic and Grecian architecture, was much used during the reigns of James VI. of Scotland, and his unfortunate son. The court formed a small square, two sides of which were occupied by such buildings as were required for the family, and the third by the stables, the only part to which much attention had been paid, the present Mr. Mowbray having put them into excellent order. The fourth side of the square was shut up by a screen wall, through which a door opened to the avenue; the whole being a kind of structure, which may be still found on those old Scottish properties, where a rage to render their place Parkish, as was at one time the prevailing phrase, has not induced the owners to pull down the venerable and sheltering appendages with which their wiser fathers had screened their mansion, and to lay the whole open to the keen north-east; much after the fashion of a spinster of fifty, who chills herself to gratify the public by an exposure of her thin red elbows, and shrivelled neck and bosom.

A double door, thrown hospitably open on the present occasion, admitted the company into a dark and low hall, where Mowbray himself, wearing the under dress of Theseus, but not having yet assumed his ducal cap and robes, stood to receive his guests with due courtesy, and to indicate to each the road allotted to him. Those who were to take a share in the representation of the morning, were conducted to an old saloon, destined for a green-room, and which communicated with a series of apartments on the right, hastily fitted with accommodations for arranging and completing their toilet; while others, who took no part in the intended drama, were ushered to the left, into a large, unfurnished, and long disused dining parlour, where a sashed door opened into the gardens, crossed with yew and holly hedges, still trimmed and clipped by the old grey-headed gardener, upon those principles which a Dutchman thought worthy of commemorating in a didactic poem upon the Ars Topiaria.

A little wilderness, surrounding a beautiful piece of the smoothest turf, and itself bounded by such high hedges as we have described, had been selected as the stage most proper for the exhibition of the intended dramatic picture. It afforded many facilities; for a rising bank exactly in front was accommodated with seats for the spectators, who had a complete view of the silvan theatre, the bushes and shrubs having been cleared away, and the place supplied with a temporary screen, which, being withdrawn by the domestics appointed for that purpose, was to serve for the rising of the curtain. A covered trellis, which passed through another part of the garden, and terminated with a private door opening from the right wing of the building, seemed as if it had been planted on purpose for the proposed exhibition, as it served to give the personages of the drama a convenient and secret access from the green-room to the place of representation. Indeed, the dramatis personae, at least those who adopted the management of the matter, were induced, by so much convenience, to extend, in some measure, their original plan; and, instead of one group, as had been at first proposed, they now found themselves able to exhibit to the good company a succession of three or four, selected and arranged from different parts of the drama; thus giving some duration, as well as some variety, to the entertainment, besides the advantage of separating and contrasting the tragic and the comic scenes.

After wandering about amongst the gardens, which contained little to interest any one, and endeavouring to recognise some characters, who, accommodating themselves to the humours of the day, had ventured to appear in the various disguises of ballad-singers, pedlars, shepherds, Highlanders, and so forth, the company began to draw together towards the spot where the seats prepared for them, and the screen drawn in front of the bosky stage, induced them to assemble, and excited expectation, especially as a scroll in front of the esplanade set forth, in the words of the play, "This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring-house, and we will do it in action." A delay of about ten minutes began to excite some suppressed murmurs of impatience among the audience, when the touch of Gow's fiddle suddenly burst from a neighbouring hedge, behind which he had established his little orchestra. All were of course silent,

"As through his dear strathspeys he bore with Highland rage."

And when he changed his strain to an adagio, and suffered his music to die away in the plaintive notes of Roslin Castle, the echoes of the old walls were, after a long slumber, awakened by that enthusiastic burst of applause, with which the Scots usually received and rewarded their country's gifted minstrel.

"He is his father's own son," said Touchwood to the clergyman, for both had gotten seats near about the centre of the place of audience. "It is many a long year since I listened to old Neil at Inver, and, to say truth, spent a night with him over pancakes and Athole brose; and I never expected to hear his match again in my lifetime. But stop—the curtain rises."

The screen was indeed withdrawn, and displayed Hermia, Helena, and their lovers, in attitudes corresponding to the scene of confusion occasioned by the error of Puck.

Messrs. Chatterly and the Painter played their parts neither better nor worse than amateur actors in general; and the best that could be said of them was, that they seemed more than half ashamed of their exotic dresses, and of the public gaze.

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