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Chapter 6

_Moth._ By Woden, God of Saxons,
From whence comes Wensday, that is, Wednesday,
Truth is a thing that I will ever keep
Unto thylke day in which I creep into
My sepulcre--
Cartwright's _Ordinary._

Our young friend Lovel, who had received a corresponding invitation,
punctual to the hour of appointment, arrived at Monkbarns about five
minutes before four o'clock on the 17th of July. The day had been
remarkably sultry, and large drops of rain had occasionally fallen,
though the threatened showers had as yet passed away.

Mr. Oldbuck received him at the Palmer's-port in his complete brown suit,
grey silk stockings, and wig powdered with all the skill of the veteran
Caxon, who having smelt out the dinner, had taken care not to finish his
job till the hour of eating approached.

"You are welcome to my symposion, Mr. Lovel. And now let me introduce you
to my Clogdogdo's, as Tom Otter calls them--my unlucky and
good-for-nothing womankind--_malae bestiae,_ Mr. Lovel."

"I shall be disappointed, sir, if I do not find the ladies very
undeserving of your satire."

"Tilley-valley, Mr. Lovel,--which, by the way, one commentator derives
from _tittivillitium,_ and another from _talley-ho_--but tilley-valley,
I say--a truce with your politeness. You will find them but samples of
womankind--But here they be, Mr. Lovel. I present to you in due order, my
most discreet sister Griselda, who disdains the simplicity, as well as
patience annexed to the poor old name of Grizzel; and my most exquisite
niece Maria, whose mother was called Mary, and sometimes Molly."

The elderly lady rustled in silks and satins, and bore upon her head a
structure resembling the fashion in the ladies' memorandum-book for the
year 1770--a superb piece of architecture, not much less than a modern
Gothic castle, of which the curls might represent the turrets, the black
pins the _chevaux de frise,_ and the lappets the banners.

The face, which, like that of the ancient statues of Vesta, was thus
crowned with towers, was large and long, and peaked at nose and chin, and
bore, in other respects, such a ludicrous resemblance to the physiognomy
of Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck, that Lovel, had they not appeared at once, like
Sebastian and Viola in the last scene of the "Twelfth Night," might have
supposed that the figure before him was his old friend masquerading in
female attire. An antique flowered silk gown graced the extraordinary
person to whom belonged this unparalleled _tete,_ which her brother was
wont to say was fitter for a turban for Mahound or Termagant, than a
head-gear for a reasonable creature, or Christian gentlewoman. Two long
and bony arms were terminated at the elbows by triple blond ruffles, and
being, folded saltire-ways in front of her person, and decorated with
long gloves of a bright vermilion colour, presented no bad resemblance to
a pair of gigantic lobsters. High-heeled shoes, and a short silk cloak,
thrown in easy negligence over her shoulders, completed the exterior of
Miss Griselda Oldbuck.

Her niece, the same whom Lovel had seen transiently during his first
visit, was a pretty young woman, genteelly dressed according to the
fashion of the day, with an air of _espieglerie_ which became her very
well, and which was perhaps derived from the caustic humour peculiar to
her uncle's family, though softened by transmission.

Mr. Lovel paid his respects to both ladies, and was answered by the elder
with the prolonged courtesy of 1760, drawn from the righteous period,

When folks conceived a grace
Of half an hour's space,
And rejoiced in a Friday's capon,

and by the younger with a modern reverence, which, like the festive
benediction of a modern divine, was of much shorter duration.

While this salutation was exchanging, Sir Arthur, with his fair daughter
hanging upon his arm, having dismissed his chariot, appeared at the
garden door, and in all due form paid his respects to the ladies.

"Sir Arthur," said the Antiquary, "and you, my fair foe, let me make
known to you my young friend Mr. Lovel, a gentleman who, during the
scarlet-fever which is epidemic at present in this our island, has the
virtue and decency to appear in a coat of a civil complexion. You see,
however, that the fashionable colour has mustered in his cheeks which
appears not in his garments. Sir Arthur, let me present to you a young
gentleman, whom your farther knowledge will find grave, wise, courtly,
and scholar-like, well seen, deeply read, and thoroughly grounded in all
the hidden mysteries of the green-room and stage, from the days of Davie
Lindsay down to those of Dibdin--he blushes again, which is a sign of

"My brother," said Miss Griselda, addressing Lovel, "has a humorous way
of expressing himself, sir; nobody thinks anything of what Monkbarns
says--so I beg you will not be so confused for the matter of his
nonsense; but you must have had a warm walk beneath this broiling sun
--would you take anything?--a glass of balm-wine?"

Ere Lovel could answer, the Antiquary interposed. "Aroint thee, witch!
wouldst thou poison my guests with thy infernal decoctions? Dost thou not
remember how it fared with the clergyman whom you seduced to partake of
that deceitful beverage?"

"O fy, fy, brother!--Sir Arthur, did you ever hear the like?--he must
have everything his ain way, or he will invent such stories--But there
goes Jenny to ring the old bell to tell us that the dinner is ready."

Rigid in his economy, Mr. Oldbuck kept no male servant. This he disguised
under the pretext that the masculine sex was too noble to be employed in
those acts of personal servitude, which, in all early periods of society,
were uniformly imposed on the female. "Why," would he say, "did the boy,
Tam Rintherout, whom, at my wise sister's instigation, I, with equal
wisdom, took upon trial--why did he pilfer apples, take birds' nests,
break glasses, and ultimately steal my spectacles, except that he felt
that noble emulation which swells in the bosom of the masculine sex,
which has conducted him to Flanders with a musket on his shoulder, and
doubtless will promote him to a glorious halbert, or even to the gallows?
And why does this girl, his full sister, Jenny Rintherout, move in the
same vocation with safe and noiseless step--shod, or unshod--soft as the
pace of a cat, and docile as a spaniel--Why? but because she is in her
vocation. Let them minister to us, Sir Arthur,--let them minister, I
say,--it's the only thing they are fit for. All ancient legislators, from
Lycurgus to Mahommed, corruptly called Mahomet, agree in putting them in
their proper and subordinate rank, and it is only the crazy heads of our
old chivalrous ancestors that erected their Dulcineas into despotic

Miss Wardour protested loudly against this ungallant doctrine; but the
bell now rung for dinner.

"Let me do all the offices of fair courtesy to so fair an antagonist,"
said the old gentleman, offering his arm. "I remember, Miss Wardour,
Mahommed (vulgarly Mahomet) had some hesitation about the mode of
summoning his Moslemah to prayer. He rejected bells as used by
Christians, trumpets as the summons of the Guebres, and finally adopted
the human voice. I have had equal doubt concerning my dinner-call. Gongs,
now in present use, seemed a newfangled and heathenish invention, and the
voice of the female womankind I rejected as equally shrill and dissonant;
wherefore, contrary to the said Mahommed, or Mahomet, I have resumed the
bell. It has a local propriety, since it was the conventual signal for
spreading the repast in their refectory, and it has the advantage over
the tongue of my sister's prime minister, Jenny, that, though not quite
so loud and shrill, it ceases ringing the instant you drop the bell-rope:
whereas we know, by sad experience, that any attempt to silence Jenny,
only wakes the sympathetic chime of Miss Oldbuck and Mary M'Intyre to
join in chorus."

With this discourse he led the way to his dining-parlour, which Lovel had
not yet seen;--it was wainscotted, and contained some curious paintings.
The dining-table was attended by Jenny; but an old superintendent, a sort
of female butler, stood by the sideboard, and underwent the burden of
bearing several reproofs from Mr. Oldbuck, and inuendos, not so much
marked, but not less cutting, from his sister.

The dinner was such as suited a professed antiquary, comprehending many
savoury specimens of Scottish viands, now disused at the tables of those
who affect elegance. There was the relishing Solan goose, whose smell is
so powerful that he is never cooked within doors. Blood-raw he proved to
be on this occasion, so that Oldbuck half threatened to throw the greasy
sea-fowl at the head of the negligent housekeeper, who acted as priestess
in presenting this odoriferous offering. But, by good-hap, she had been
most fortunate in the hotch-potch, which was unanimously pronounced to be
inimitable. "I knew we should succeed here," said Oldbuck exultingly,
"for Davie Dibble, the gardener (an old bachelor like myself), takes care
the rascally women do not dishonour our vegetables. And here is fish and
sauce, and crappit-heads--I acknowledge our womankind excel in that dish
--it procures them the pleasure of scolding, for half an hour at least,
twice a-week, with auld Maggy Mucklebackit, our fish-wife. The
chicken-pie, Mr. Lovel, is made after a recipe bequeathed to me by my
departed grandmother of happy memory--And if you will venture on a glass
of wine, you will find it worthy of one who professes the maxim of King
Alphonso of Castile,--Old wood to burn--old books to read--old wine to
drink--and old friends, Sir Arthur--ay, Mr. Lovel, and young friends too,
to converse with."

"And what news do you bring us from Edinburgh, Monkbarns?" said Sir
Arthur; "how wags the world in Auld Reekie?"

"Mad, Sir Arthur, mad--irretrievably frantic--far beyond dipping in the
sea, shaving the crown, or drinking hellebore. The worst sort of frenzy,
a military frenzy, hath possessed man, woman, and child."

"And high time, I think," said Miss Wardour, "when we are threatened with
invasion from abroad and insurrection at home."

"O, I did not doubt you would join the scarlet host against me--women,
like turkeys, are always subdued by a red rag--But what says Sir Arthur,

whose dreams are of standing armies and German oppression?"

"Why, I say, Mr. Oldbuck," replied the knight, "that so far as I am
capable of judging, we ought to resist _cum toto corpore regni_--as the
phrase is, unless I have altogether forgotten my Latin--an enemy who
comes to propose to us a Whiggish sort of government, a republican
system, and who is aided and abetted by a sort of fanatics of the worst
kind in our own bowels. I have taken some measures, I assure you, such as
become my rank in the community; for I have directed the constables to
take up that old scoundrelly beggar, Edie Ochiltree, for spreading
disaffection against church and state through the whole parish. He said
plainly to old Caxon, that Willie Howie's Kilmarnock cowl covered more
sense than all the three wigs in the parish--I think it is easy to make
out that inuendo--But the rogue shall be taught better manners."

"O no, my dear sir," exclaimed Miss Wardour, "not old Edie, that we have
known so long;--I assure you no constable shall have my good graces that
executes such a warrant."

"Ay, there it goes," said the Antiquary; "you, to be a staunch Tory, Sir
Arthur, have nourished a fine sprig of Whiggery in your bosom--Why, Miss
Wardour is alone sufficient to control a whole quarter-session--a
quarter-session? ay, a general assembly or convocation to boot--a
Boadicea she--an Amazon, a Zenobia."

"And yet, with all my courage, Mr. Oldbuck, I am glad to hear our people
are getting under arms."

"Under arms, Lord love thee! didst thou ever read the history of Sister
Margaret, which flowed from a head, that, though now old and somedele
grey, has more sense and political intelligence than you find now-a-days
in the whole synod? Dost thou remember the Nurse's dream in that
exquisite work, which she recounts in such agony to Hubble Bubble?--When
she would have taken up a piece of broad-cloth in her vision, lo! it
exploded like a great iron cannon; when she put out her hand to save a
pirn, it perked up in her face in the form of a pistol. My own vision in
Edinburgh has been something similar. I called to consult my lawyer; he
was clothed in a dragoon's dress, belted and casqued, and about to mount
a charger, which his writing-clerk (habited as a sharp-shooter) walked to
and fro before his door. I went to scold my agent for having sent me to
advise with a madman; he had stuck into his head the plume, which in more
sober days he wielded between his fingers, and figured as an artillery
officer. My mercer had his spontoon in his hand, as if he measured his
cloth by that implement, instead of a legitimate yard. The, banker's
clerk, who was directed to sum my cash-account, blundered it three times,
being disordered by the recollection of his military _tellings-off_ at
the morning-drill. I was ill, and sent for a surgeon--

He came--but valour so had fired his eye,
And such a falchion glittered on his thigh,
That, by the gods, with such a load of steel,
I thought he came to murder,--not to heal.

I had recourse to a physician, but he also was practising a more
wholesale mode of slaughter than that which his profession had been
supposed at all times to open to him. And now, since I have returned
here, even our wise neighbours of Fairport have caught the same valiant
humour. I hate a gun like a hurt wild duck--I detest a drum like a
quaker;--and they thunder and rattle out yonder upon the town's common,
so that every volley and roll goes to my very heart."

"Dear brother, dinna speak that gate o' the gentlemen volunteers--I am
sure they have a most becoming uniform--Weel I wot they have been wet to
the very skin twice last week--I met them marching in terribly doukit, an
mony a sair hoast was amang them--And the trouble they take, I am sure it
claims our gratitude."

"And I am sure," said Miss M'Intyre, "that my uncle sent twenty guineas
to help out their equipments."

"It was to buy liquorice and sugar-candy," said the cynic, "to encourage
the trade of the place, and to refresh the throats of the officers who
had bawled themselves hoarse in the service of their country."

"Take care, Monkbarns! we shall set you down among the black-nebs by and

"No Sir Arthur--a tame grumbler I. I only claim the privilege of croaking
in my own corner here, without uniting my throat to the grand chorus of
the marsh--_Ni quito Rey, ni pongo Rey_--I neither make king nor mar
king, as Sancho says, but pray heartily for our own sovereign, pay scot
and lot, and grumble at the exciseman--But here comes the ewe-milk cheese
in good time; it is a better digestive than politics."

When dinner was over, and the decanters placed on the table, Mr. Oldbuck
proposed the King's health in a bumper, which was readily acceded to both
by Lovel and the Baronet, the Jacobitism of the latter being now a sort
of speculative opinion merely,--the shadow of a shade.

After the ladies had left the apartment, the landlord and Sir Arthur
entered into several exquisite discussions, in which the younger guest,
either on account of the abstruse erudition which they involved, or for
some other reason, took but a slender share, till at length he was
suddenly started out of a profound reverie by an unexpected appeal to his

"I will stand by what Mr. Lovel says; he was born in the north of
England, and may know the very spot."

Sir Arthur thought it unlikely that so young a gentleman should have paid
much attention to matters of that sort.

"I am avised of the contrary," said Oldbuck.

"How say you, Mr. Lovel?--speak up for your own credit, man."

Lovel was obliged to confess himself in the ridiculous situation of one
alike ignorant of the subject of conversation and controversy which had
engaged the company for an hour.

"Lord help the lad, his head has been wool-gathering!--I thought how it
would be when the womankind were admitted--no getting a word of sense out
of a young fellow for six hours after.--Why, man, there was once a people
called the Piks"--

"More properly _Picts,_" interrupted the Baronet.

"I say the _Pikar, Pihar, Piochtar, Piaghter,_ or _Peughtar,_"
vociferated Oldbuck; "they spoke a Gothic dialect"--

"Genuine Celtic," again asseverated the knight.

"Gothic! Gothic! I'll go to death upon it!" counter-asseverated the

"Why, gentlemen," sad Lovel, "I conceive that is a dispute which may be
easily settled by philologists, if there are any remains of the

"There is but one word," said the Baronet, "but, in spite of Mr.
Oldbuck's pertinacity, it is decisive of the question."

"Yes, in my favour," said Oldbuck: "Mr. Lovel, you shall be judge--I have
the learned Pinkerton on my side."

"I, on mine, the indefatigable and erudite Chalmers."

"Gordon comes into my opinion."

"Sir Robert Sibbald holds mine."

"Innes is with me!" vociferated Oldbuck.

"Riston has no doubt!" shouted the Baronet.

"Truly, gentlemen," said Lovel, "before you muster your forces and
overwhelm me with authorities, I should like to know the word in

"_Benval_" said both the disputants at once.

"Which signifies _caput valli,_" said Sir Arthur.

"The head of the wall," echoed Oldbuck.

There was a deep pause.--"It is rather a narrow foundation to build a
hypothesis upon," observed the arbiter.

"Not a whit, not a whit," said Oldbuck; "men fight best in a narrow ring
--an inch is as good as a mile for a home-thrust."

"It is decidedly Celtic," said the Baronet; "every hill in the Highlands
begins with _Ben._"

"But what say you to _Val,_ Sir Arthur; is it not decidedly the Saxon

"It is the Roman _vallum,_" said Sir Arthur;--"the Picts borrowed that
part of the word."

"No such thing; if they borrowed anything, it must have been your _Ben,_
which they might have from the neighbouring Britons of Strath Cluyd."

"The Piks, or Picts," said Lovel, "must have been singularly poor in
dialect, since, in the only remaining word of their vocabulary, and that
consisting only of two syllables, they have been confessedly obliged to
borrow one of them from another language; and, methinks, gentlemen, with
submission, the controversy is not unlike that which the two knights
fought, concerning the shield that had one side white and the other
black. Each of you claim one-half of the word, and seem to resign the
other. But what strikes me most, is the poverty of the language which has
left such slight vestiges behind it."

"You are in an error," said Sir Arthur; "it was a copious language, and
they were a great and powerful people; built two steeples--one at
Brechin, one at Abernethy. The Pictish maidens of the blood-royal were
kept in Edinburgh Castle, thence called _Castrum Puellarum._"

"A childish legend," said Oldbuck, "invented to give consequence to
trumpery womankind. It was called the Maiden Castle, _quasi lucus a non
lucendo,_ because it resisted every attack, and women never do."

"There is a list of the Pictish kings," persisted Sir Arthur, "well
authenticated from Crentheminachcryme (the, date of whose reign is
somewhat uncertain) down to Drusterstone, whose death concluded their
dynasty. Half of them have the Celtic patronymic _Mac_ prefixed--Mac, _id
est filius;_--what do you say to that, Mr. Oldbuck? There is Drust
Macmorachin, Trynel Maclachlin (first of that ancient clan, as it may be
judged), and Gormach Macdonald, Alpin Macmetegus, Drust Mactallargam"
(here he was interrupted by a fit of coughing)--"ugh, ugh, ugh--Golarge
Macchan--ugh, ugh--Macchanan--ugh--Macchananail, Kenneth--ugh--ugh--
Macferedith, Eachan Macfungus--and twenty more, decidedly Celtic names,
which I could repeat, if this damned cough would let me."

"Take a glass of wine, Sir Arthur, and drink down that bead-roll of
unbaptized jargon, that would choke the devil--why, that last fellow has
the only intelligible name you have repeated--they are all of the tribe
of Macfungus--mushroom monarchs every one of them; sprung up from the
fumes of conceit, folly, and falsehood, fermenting in the brains of some
mad Highland seannachie."

"I am surprised to hear you, Mr. Oldbuck: you know, or ought to know,
that the list of these potentates was copied by Henry Maule of Melguin,
from the Chronicles of Loch Leven and St. Andrews, and put forth by him
in his short but satisfactory history of the Picts, printed by Robert
Freebairn of Edinburgh, and sold by him at his shop in the Parliament
Close, in the, year of God seventeen hundred and five, or six, I am not
precisely certain which--but I have a copy at home that stands next to my
twelvemo copy of the Scots Acts, and ranges on the shelf with them very
well. What say you to that, Mr. Oldbuck?"

"Say?--why, I laugh at Harry Maule and his history," answered Oldbuck,
"and thereby comply with his request, of giving it entertainment
according to its merits."

"Do not laugh at a better man than yourself," said Sir Arthur, somewhat

"I do not conceive I do, Sir Arthur, in laughing either at him or his

"Henry Maule of Melgum was a gentleman, Mr. Oldbuck."

"I presume he had no advantage of me in _that_ particular," replied the
Antiquary, somewhat tartly.

"Permit me, Mr. Oldbuck--he was a gentleman of high family, and ancient
descent, and therefore"--

"The descendant of a Westphalian printer should speak of him with
deference? Such may be your opinion, Sir Arthur--it is not mine. I
conceive that my descent from that painful and industrious typographer,
Wolfbrand Oldenbuck, who, in the month of December 1193, under the
patronage, as the colophon tells us, of Sebaldus Scheyter and Sebastian
Kammermaister, accomplished the printing of the great Chronicle of
Nuremberg--I conceive, I say, that my descent from that great restorer of
learning is more creditable to me as a man of letters, than if I had
numbered in my genealogy all the brawling, bullet-headed, iron-fisted,
old Gothic barons since the days of Crentheminachcryme--not one of whom,
I suppose, could write his own name."

"If you mean the observation as a sneer at my ancestry," said the knight,
with an assumption of dignified superiority and composure, "I have the
pleasure to inform you, that the name of my ancestor, Gamelyn de
Guardover, Miles, is written fairly with his own hand in the earliest
copy of the Ragman-roll."

"Which only serves to show that he was one of the earliest who set the
mean example of submitting to Edward I. What have, you to say for the
stainless loyalty of your family, Sir Arthur, after such a backsliding as

"It's enough, sir," said Sir Arthur, starting up fiercely, and pushing
back his chair; "I shall hereafter take care how I honour with my company
one who shows himself so ungrateful for my condescension."

"In that you will do as you find most agreeable, Sir Arthur;--I hope,
that as I was not aware of the extent of the obligation which you have
done me by visiting my poor house, I may be excused for not having
carried my gratitude to the extent of servility."

"Mighty well--mighty well, Mr. Oldbuck--I wish you a good evening--Mr.
a--a--a--Shovel--I wish you a very good evening."

Out of the parlour door flounced the incensed Sir Arthur, as if the
spirit of the whole Round Table inflamed his single bosom, and traversed
with long strides the labyrinth of passages which conducted to the

"Did you ever hear such an old tup-headed ass?" said Oldbuck, briefly
apostrophizing Lovel. "But I must not let him go in this mad-like way

So saying, he pushed off after the retreating Baronet, whom he traced by
the clang of several doors which he opened in search of the apartment for
tea, and slammed with force behind him at every disappointment. "You'll
do yourself a mischief," roared the Antiquary; "_Qui ambulat in tenebris,
nescit quo vadit_--You'll tumble down the back-stair."

Sir Arthur had now got involved in darkness, of which the sedative effect
is well known to nurses and governesses who have to deal with pettish
children. It retarded the pace of the irritated Baronet, if it did not
abate his resentment, and Mr. Oldbuck, better acquainted with the
_locale,_ got up with him as he had got his grasp upon the handle of the
drawing-room door.

"Stay a minute, Sir Arthur," said Oldbuck, opposing his abrupt entrance;
"don't be quite so hasty, my good old friend. I was a little too rude
with you about Sir Gamelyn--why, he is an old acquaintance of mine, man,
and a favourite; he kept company with Bruce and Wallace--and, I'll be
sworn on a black-letter Bible, only subscribed the Ragman-roll with the
legitimate and justifiable intention of circumventing the false Southern
--'twas right Scottish craft, my good knight--hundreds did it. Come,
come, forget and forgive--confess we have given the young fellow here a
right to think us two testy old fools."

"Speak for yourself, Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck," said Sir Arthur with much

"A-well, a-well--a wilful man must have his way."

With that the door opened, and into the drawing-room marched the tall
gaunt form of Sir Arthur, followed by Lovel and Mr. Oldbuck, the
countenances of all the three a little discomposed.

"I have been waiting for you, sir," said Miss Wardour, "to propose we
should walk forward to meet the carriage, as the evening is so fine."

Sir Arthur readily assented to this proposal, which suited the angry mood
in which he found himself; and having, agreeable to the established
custom in cases of pet, refused the refreshment of tea and coffee, he
tucked his daughter under his arm; and after taking a ceremonious leave
of the ladies, and a very dry one of Oldbuck--off he marched.

"I think Sir Arthur has got the black dog on his back again," said Miss

"Black dog!--black devil!--he's more absurd than womankind--What say you,
Lovel?--Why, the lad's gone too."

"He took his leave, uncle, while Miss Wardour was putting on her things;
but I don't think you observed him."

"The devil's in the people! This is all one gets by fussing and bustling,
and putting one's self out of one's way in order to give dinners, besides
all the charges they are put to!--O Seged, Emperor of Ethiopia!" said he,
taking up a cup of tea in the one hand, and a volume of the Rambler in
the other,--for it was his regular custom to read while he was eating or
drinking in presence of his sister, being a practice which served at once
to evince his contempt for the society of womankind, and his resolution
to lose no moment of instruction,--"O Seged, Emperor of Ethiopia! well
hast thou spoken--No man should presume to say, This shall be a day of

Oldbuck proceeded in his studies for the best part of an hour,
uninterrupted by the ladies, who each, in profound silence, pursued some
female employment. At length, a light and modest tap was heard at the
parlour door. "Is that you, Caxon?--come in, come in, man."

The old man opened the door, and thrusting in his meagre face, thatched
with thin grey locks, and one sleeve of his white coat, said in a subdued
and mysterious tone of voice, "I was wanting to speak to you, sir."

"Come in then, you old fool, and say what you have got to say."

"I'll maybe frighten the ladies," said the ex-friseur.

"Frighten!" answered the Antiquary,--"what do you mean?--never mind the
ladies. Have you seen another ghaist at the Humlock-knowe?"

"Na, sir--it's no a ghaist this turn," replied Caxton;--"but I'm no easy
in my mind."

"Did you ever hear of any body that was?" answered Oldbuck;--"what reason
has an old battered powder-puff like you to be easy in your mind, more
than all the rest of the world besides?"

"It's no for mysell, sir; but it threatens an awfu' night; and Sir
Arthur, and Miss Wardour, poor thing"--

"Why, man, they must have met the carriage at the head of the loaning, or
thereabouts; they must be home long ago."

"Na, sir; they didna gang the road by the turnpike to meet the carriage,
they gaed by the sands."

The word operated like electricity on Oldbuck. "The sands!" he exclaimed;

"Ou, sir, that's what I said to the gardener; but he says he saw them
turn down by the Mussel-craig. In troth, says I to him, an that be the
case, Davie, I am misdoubting"--

"An almanac! an almanac!" said Oldbuck, starting up in great alarm--"not
that bauble!" flinging away a little pocket almanac which his niece
offered him.--"Great God! my poor dear Miss Isabella!--Fetch me instantly
the Fairport Almanac."--It was brought, consulted, and added greatly to
his agitation. "I'll go myself--call the gardener and ploughman--bid them
bring ropes and ladders--bid them raise more help as they come along
--keep the top of the cliffs, and halloo down to them--I'll go myself."

"What is the matter?" inquired Miss Oldbuck and Miss M'Intyre.

"The tide!--the tide!" answered the alarmed Antiquary.

"Had not Jenny better--but no, I'll run myself," said the younger lady,
partaking in all her uncle's terrors--"I'll run myself to Saunders
Mucklebackit, and make him get out his boat."

"Thank you, my dear, that's the wisest word that has been spoken yet
--Run! run!--To go by the sands!" seizing his hat and cane; "was there
ever such madness heard of!"

Sir Walter Scott

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