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Chapter 9

Ay, and when huntsmen wind the merry horn,
And from its covert starts the fearful prey,
Who, warm'd with youth's blood in his swelling veins,
Would, like a lifeless clod, outstretched lie,
Shut out from all the fair creation offers?

Ethwald, Act I. Scene 1.

LIGHT meals procure light slumbers; and therefore it is not surprising
that, considering the fare which Caleb's conscience, or his necessity,
assuming, as will sometimes happen, that disguise, had assigned to the
guests of Wolf's Crag, their slumbers should have been short.

In the morning Bucklaw rushed into his host's apartment with a loud
halloo, which might have awaked the dead.

"Up! up! in the name of Heaven! The hunters are out, the only piece of
sport I have seen this month; and you lie here, Master, on a bed that
has little to recommend it, except that it may be something softer than
the stone floor of your ancestor's vault."

"I wish," said Ravenswood, raising his head peevishly, "you had forborne
so early a jest, Mr. Hayston; it is really no pleasure to lose the very
short repose which I had just begun to enjoy, after a night spent in
thoughts upon fortune far harder than my couch, Bucklaw."

"Pschaw, pshaw!" replied his guest; "get up--get up; the hounds are
abroad. I have saddled the horses myself, for old Caleb was calling for
grooms and lackeys, and would never have proceeded without two hours'
apology for the absence of men that were a hundred miles off. Get up,
Master; I say the hounds are out--get up, I say; the hunt is up." And
off ran Bucklaw.

"And I say," said the Master, rising slowly, "that nothing can concern
me less. Whose hounds come so near to us?"

"The Honourable Lord Brittlebrains's," answered Caleb, who had followed
the impatient Laird of Bucklaw into his master's bedroom, "and truly I
ken nae title they have to be yowling and howling within the freedoms
and immunities of your lordship's right of free forestry."

"Nor I, Caleb," replied Ravenswood, "excepting that they have bought
both the lands and the right of forestry, and may think themselves
entitled to exercise the rights they have paid their money for."

"It may be sae, my lord," replied Caleb; "but it's no gentleman's deed
of them to come here and exercise such-like right, and your lordship
living at your ain castle of Wolf's Crag. Lord Brittlebrains would weel
to remember what his folk have been."

"And what we now are," said the Master, with suppressed bitterness of
feeling. "But reach me my cloak, Caleb, and I will indulge Bucklaw with
a sight of this chase. It is selfish to sacrifice my guest's pleasure to
my own."

"Sacrifice!" echoed Caleb, in a tone which seemed to imply the total
absurdity of his master making the least concession in deference to any
one--"sacrifice, indeed!--but I crave your honour's pardon, and whilk
doublet is it your pleasure to wear?"

"Any one you will, Caleb; my wardrobe, I suppose, is not very
extensive."

"Not extensive!" echoed his assistant; "when there is the grey and
silver that your lordship bestowed on Hew Hildebrand, your outrider;
and the French velvet that went with my lord your father--be gracious
to him!--my lord your father's auld wardrobe to the puir friends of the
family; and the drap-de-Berry----"

"Which I gave to you, Caleb, and which, I suppose, is the only dress we
have any chance to come at, except that I wore yesterday; pray, hand me
that, and say no more about it."

"If your honour has a fancy," replied Caleb, "and doubtless it's a
sad-coloured suit, and you are in mourning; nevertheless, I have never
tried on the drap-de-Berry--ill wad it become me--and your honour having
no change of claiths at this present--and it's weel brushed, and as
there are leddies down yonder----"

"Ladies!" said Ravenswood; "and what ladies, pray?"

"What do I ken, your lordship? Looking down at them from the Warden's
Tower, I could but see them glent by wi' their bridles ringing and their
feathers fluttering, like the court of Elfland."

"Well, well, Caleb," replied the Master, "help me on with my cloak, and
hand me my sword-belt. What clatter is that in the courtyard?"

"Just Bucklaw bringing out the horses," said Caleb, after a glance
through the window, "as if there werena men eneugh in the castle, or as
if I couldna serve the turn of ony o' them that are out o' the gate."

"Alas! Caleb, we should want little if your ability were equal to your
will," replied the Master.

"And I hope your lordship disna want that muckle," said Caleb; "for,
considering a' things, I trust we support the credit of the family as
weel as things will permit of,--only Bucklaw is aye sae frank and sae
forward. And there he has brought out your lordship's palfrey, without
the saddle being decored wi' the broidered sumpter-cloth! and I could
have brushed it in a minute."

"It is all very well," said his master, escaping from him and descending
the narrow and steep winding staircase which led to the courtyard.

"It MAY be a' very weel," said Caleb, somewhat peevishly; "but if your
lordship wad tarry a bit, I will tell you what will NOT be very weel."

"And what is that?" said Ravenswood, impatiently, but stopping at the
same time.

"Why, just that ye suld speer ony gentleman hame to dinner; for I canna
mak anither fast on a feast day, as when I cam ower Bucklaw wi' Queen
Margaret; and, to speak truth, if your lordship wad but please to cast
yoursell in the way of dining wi' Lord Bittlebrains, I'se warrand I wad
cast about brawly for the morn; or if, stead o' that, ye wad but dine
wi' them at the change-house, ye might mak your shift for the awing: ye
might say ye had forgot your purse, or that the carline awed ye rent,
and that ye wad allow it in the settlement."

"Or any other lie that cam uppermost, I suppose?" said his master.
"Good-bye, Caleb; I commend your care for the honour of the family."
And, throwing himself on his horse, he followed Bucklaw, who, at the
manifest risk of his neck, had begun to gallop down the steep path which
led from the Tower as soon as he saw Ravenswood have his foot in the
stirrup.

Caleb Balderstone looked anxiously after them, and shook his thin grey
locks: "And I trust they will come to no evil; but they have reached
the plain, and folk cannot say but that the horse are hearty and in
spirits." Animated by the natural impetuosity and fire of his temper,
young Bucklaw rushed on with the careless speed of a whirlwind.
Ravenswood was scarce more moderate in his pace, for his was a mind
unwillingly roused from contemplative inactivity, but which, when once
put into motion, acquired a spirit of forcible and violent progression.
Neither was his eagerness proportioned in all cases to the motive of
impulse, but might be compared to the sped of a stone, which rushes with
like fury down the hill whether it was first put in motion by the arm of
a giant or the hand of a boy. He felt, therefore, in no ordinary degree,
the headlong impulse of the chase, a pastime so natural to youth of
all ranks, that it seems rather to be an inherent passion in our animal
nature, which levels all differences of rank and education, than an
acquired habit of rapid exercise.

The repeated bursts of the French horn, which was then always used for
the encouragement and direction of the hounds; the deep, though distant
baying of the pack; the half-heard cries of the huntsmen; the half-seen
forms which were discovered, now emerging from glens which crossed the
moor, now sweeping over its surface, now picking their way where it
was impeded by morasses; and, above all, the feeling of his own rapid
motion, animated the Master of Ravenswood, at last for the moment, above
the recollections of a more painful nature by which he was surrounded.
The first thing which recalled him to those unpleasing circumstances
was feeling that his horse, notwithstanding all the advantages which he
received from his rider's knowledge of the country, was unable to keep
up with the chase. As he drew his bridle up with the bitter feeling
that his poverty excluded him from the favourite recreation of his
forefathers, and indeed their sole employment when not engaged in
military pursuits, he was accosted by a well-mounted stranger, who,
unobserved, had kept near him during the earlier part of his career.

"Your horse is blown," said the man, with a complaisance seldom used in
a hunting-field. "Might I crave your honour to make use of mine?"

"Sir," said Ravenswood, more surprised than pleased at such a proposal.
"I really do not know how I have merited such a favour at a stranger's
hands."

"Never ask a question about it, Master," said Bucklaw, who, with great
unwillingness, had hitherto reined in his own gallant steed, not to
outride his host and entertainer. "Take the goods the gods provide you,
as the great John Dryden says; or stay--here, my friend, lend me that
horse; I see you have been puzzled to rein him up this half-hour. I'll
take the devil out of him for you. Now, Master, do you ride mine, which
will carry you like an eagle."

And throwing the rein of his own horse to the Master of Ravenswood, he
sprung upon that which the stranger resigned to him, and continued
his career at full speed. "Was ever so thoughtless a being!" said the
Master; "and you, my friend, how could you trust him with your horse?"

"The horse," said the man, "belongs to a person who will make your
honour, or any of your honourable friends, most welcome to him, flesh
and fell."

"And the owner's name is----?" asked Ravenswood.

"Your honour must excuse me, you will learn that from himself. If you
please to take your friend's horse, and leave me your galloway, I will
meet you after the fall of the stag, for I hear they are blowing him at
bay."

"I believe, my friend, it will be the best way to recover your good
horse for you," answered Ravenswood; and mounting the nag of his friend
Bucklaw, he made all the haste in his power to the spot where the blast
of the horn announced that the stag's career was nearly terminated.

These jovial sounds were intermixed with the huntsmen's shouts of "Hyke
a Talbot! Hyke a Teviot! now, boys, now!" and similar cheering halloos
of the olden hunting-field, to which the impatient yelling of the
hounds, now close of the object of their pursuit, gave a lively and
unremitting chorus. The straggling riders began now to rally towards the
scene of action, collecting from different points as to a common centre.

Bucklaw kept the start which he had gotten, and arrived first at the
spot, where the stag, incapable of sustaining a more prolonged flight,
had turned upon the hounds, and, in the hunter's phrase, was at bay.
With his stately head bent down, his sides white with foam, his eyes
strained betwixt rage and terror, the hunted animal had now in his turn
become an object of intimidation to his pursuers. The hunters came
up one by one, and watched an opportunity to assail him with some
advantage, which, in such circumstances, can only be done with caution.
The dogs stood aloof and bayed loudly, intimating at once eagerness and
fear, and each of the sportsmen seemed to expect that his comrade would
take upon him the perilous task of assaulting and disabling the animal.
The ground, which was a hollow in the common or moor, afforded little
advantage for approaching the stag unobserved; and general was the shout
of triumph when Bucklaw, with the dexterity proper to an accomplished
cavalier of the day, sprang from his horse, and dashing suddenly and
swiftly at the stag, brought him to the ground by a cut on the hind leg
with his short hunting-sword. The pack, rushing in upon their disabled
enemy, soon ended his painful struggles, and solemnised his fall with
their clamour; the hunters, with their horns and voices, whooping and
blowing a mort, or death-note, which resounded far over the billows of
the adjacent ocean.

The huntsman then withdrew the hounds from the throttled stag, and on
his knee presented his knife to a fair female form, on a white palfrey,
whose terror, or perhaps her compassion, had till then kept her at some
distance. She wore a black silk riding-mask, which was then a common
fashion, as well for preserving the complexion from the sun and rain, as
from an idea of decorum, which did not permit a lady to appear barefaced
while engaged in a boisterous sport, and attended by a promiscuous
company. The richness of her dress, however, as well as the mettle and
form of her palfrey, together with the silvan compliment paid to her by
the huntsman, pointed her out to Bucklaw as the principal person in
the field. It was not without a feeling of pity, approaching even
to contempt, that this enthusiastic hunter observed her refuse the
huntsman's knife, presented to her for the purpose of making the first
incision in the stag's breast, and thereby discovering the venison. He
felt more than half inclined to pay his compliments to her; but it had
been Bucklaw's misfortune, that his habits of life had not rendered
him familiarly acquainted with the higher and better classes of female
society, so that, with all his natural audacity, he felt sheepish and
bashful when it became necessary to address a lady of distinction.

Taking unto himself heart of grace (to use his own phrase), he did at
length summon up resolution enough to give the fair huntress good time
of the day, and trust that her sport had answered her expectation. Her
answer was very courteously and modestly expressed, and testified some
gratitude to the gallant cavalier, whose exploit had terminated the
chase so adroitly, when the hounds and huntsmen seemed somewhat at a
stand.

"Uds daggers and scabbard, madam," said Bucklaw, whom this observation
brought at once upon his own ground, "there is no difficulty or merit in
that matter at all, so that a fellow is not too much afraid of having a
pair of antlers in his guts. I have hunted at force five hundred times,
madam; and I never yet saw the stag at bay, by land or water, but I
durst have gone roundly in on him. It is all use and wont, madam; and
I'll tell you, madam, for all that, it must be done with good heed and
caution; and you will do well, madam, to have your hunting-sword right
sharp and double-edged, that you may strike either fore-handed or
back-handed, as you see reason, for a hurt with a buck's horn is a
perilous ad somewhat venomous matter."

"I am afraid, sir," said the young lady, and her smile was scarce
concealed by her vizard, "I shall have little use for such careful
preparation."

"But the gentleman says very right for all that, my lady," said an
old huntsman, who had listened to Bucklaw's harangue with no small
edification; "and I have heard my father say, who was a forester at the
Cabrach, that a wild boar's gaunch is more easily healed than a hurt
from the deer's horn, for so says the old woodman's rhyme--

If thou be hurt with horn of hart, it brings thee to they bier;
But tusk of boar shall leeches heal, thereof have lesser fear."

"An I might advise," continued Bucklaw, who was now in his element, and
desirous of assuming the whole management, "as the hounds are surbated
and weary, the head of the stag should be cabaged in order to reward
them; and if I may presume to speak, the huntsman, who is to break up
the stag, ought to drink to your good ladyship's health a good lusty
bicker of ale, or a tass of brandy; for if he breaks him up without
drinking, the venison will not keep well."

This very agreeable prescription received, as will be readily believed,
all acceptation from the huntsman, who, in requital, offered to bucklaw
the compliment of his knife, which the young lady had declined.

This polite proffer was seconded by his mistress. "I believe, sir," she
said, withdrawing herself from the circle, "that my father, for whose
amusement Lord Bittlebrain's hounds have been out to-day, will readily
surrender all care of these matters to a gentleman of your experience."

Then, bending gracefully from her horse, she wished him good morning,
and, attended by one or two domestics, who seemed immediately attached
to her service, retired from the scene of action, to which Bucklaw, too
much delighted with an opportunity of displaying his woodcraft to care
about man or woman either, paid little attention; but was soon stript to
his doublet, with tucked-up sleeves, and naked arms up to the elbows
in blood and grease, slashing, cutting, hacking, and hewing, with the
precision of Sir Tristrem himself, and wrangling and disputing with all
around him concerning nombles, briskets, flankards, and raven-bones,
then usual terms of the art of hunting, or of butchery, whichever the
reader chooses to call it, which are now probably antiquated.

When Ravenswood, who followed a short pace behind his friend, saw that
the stag had fallen, his temporary ardour for the chase gave way to that
feeling of reluctance which he endured at encountering in his fallen
fortunes the gaze whether of equals or inferiors. He reined up his horse
on the top of a gentle eminence, from which he observed the busy and gay
scene beneath him, and heard the whoops of the huntsmen, gaily mingled
with the cry of the dogs, and the neighing and trampling of the horses.
But these jovial sounds fell sadly on the ear of the ruined nobleman.
The chase, with all its train of excitations, has ever since feudal
times been accounted the almost exclusive privilege of the aristocracy,
and was anciently their chief employment in times of peace. The sense
that he was excluded by his situation from enjoying the silvan sport,
which his rank assigned to him as a special prerogative, and the feeling
that new men were now exercising it over the downs which had been
jealously reserved by his ancestors for their own amusement, while he,
the heir of the domain, was fain to hold himself at a distance from
their party, awakened reflections calculated to depress deeply a mind
like Ravenswood's, which was naturally contemplative and melancholy. His
pride, however, soon shook off this feeling of dejection, and it gave
way to impatience upon finding that his volatile friend Bucklaw seemed
in no hurry to return with his borrowed steed, which Ravenswood, before
leaving the field, wished to see restored to the obliging owner. As he
was about to move towards the group of assembled huntsmen, he was joined
by a horseman, who, like himself, had kept aloof during the fall of the
deer.

This personage seemed stricken in years. He wore a scarlet cloak,
buttoning high upon his face, and his hat was unlooped and slouched,
probably by way of defence against the weather. His horse, a strong and
steady palfrey, was calculated for a rider who proposed to witness the
sport of the day rather than to share it. An attendant waited at some
distance, and the whole equipment was that of an elderly gentleman of
rank and fashion. He accosted Ravenswood very politely, but not without
some embarrassment.

"You seem a gallant young gentleman, sir," he said, "and yet appear as
indifferent to this brave sport as if you had my load of years on your
shoulders."

"I have followed the sport with more spirit on other occasions," replied
the Master; "at present, late events in my family must be my apology;
and besides," he added, "I was but indifferently mounted at the
beginning of the sport."

"I think," said the stranger, "one of my attendants had the sense to
accommodate your friend with a horse."

"I was much indebted to his politeness and yours," replied Ravenswood.
"My friend is Mr. Hayston of Bucklaw, whom I dare say you will be
sure to find in the thick of the keenest sportsmen. He will return
your servant's horse, and take my pony in exchange; and will add,"
he concluded, turning his horse's head from the stranger, "his best
acknowledgments to mine for the accommodation."

The Master of Ravenswood, having thus expressed himself, began to move
homeward, with the manner of one who has taken leave of his company.
But the stranger was not so to be shaken off. He turned his horse at the
same time, and rode in the same direction, so near to the Master that,
without outriding him, which the formal civility of the time, and
the respect due to the stranger's age and recent civility, would have
rendered improper, he could not easily escape from his company.

The stranger did not long remain silent. "This, then," he said, "is the
ancient Castle of Wolf's Crag, often mentioned in the Scottish records,"
looking to the old tower, then darkening under the influence of a stormy
cloud, that formed its background; for at the distance of a short mile,
the chase, having been circuitous, had brought the hunters nearly back
to the point which they had attained when Ravenswood and Bucklaw had set
forward to join them.

Ravenswood answered this observation with a cold and distant assent.
"It was, as I have heard," continued the stranger, unabashed by his
coldness, "one of the most early possessions of the honourable family of
Ravenswood."

"Their earliest possession," answered the Master, "and probably their
latest."

"I--I--I should hope not, sir," answered the stranger, clearing his
voice with more than one cough, and making an effort to overcome a
certain degree of hesitation; "Scotland knows what she owes to
this ancient family, and remembers their frequent and honourable
achievements. I have little doubt that, were it properly represented
to her Majesty that so ancient and noble a family were subjected to
dilapidation--I mean to decay--means might be found, ad re-aedificandum
antiquam domum----"

"I will save you the trouble, sir, of discussing this point farther,"
interrupted the Master, haughtily. "I am the heir of that unfortunate
house--I am the Master of Ravenswood. And you, sir, who seem to be
a gentleman of fashion and education, must be sensible that the next
mortification after being unhappy is the being loaded with undesired
commiseration."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the elder horseman; "I did not know--I am
sensible I ought not to have mentioned--nothing could be farther from my
thoughts than to suppose----"

"There are no apologies necessary, sir," answered Ravenswood, "for here,
I suppose, our roads separate, and I assure you that we part in perfect
equanimity on my side."

As speaking these words, he directed his horse's head towards a narrow
causeway, the ancient approach to Wolf's Crag, of which it might be
truly said, in the words of the Bard of Hope, that

Frequented by few was the grass-cover'd road,
Where the hunter of deer and the warrior trode,
To his hills that encircle the sea.

But, ere he could disengage himself from his companion, the young lady
we have already mentioned came up to join the stranger, followed by her
servants.

"Daughter," said the stranger to the unmasked damsel, "this is the
Master of Ravenswood."

It would have been natural that the gentleman should have replied to
this introduction; but there was something in the graceful form and
retiring modesty of the female to whom he was thus presented, which not
only prevented him from inquiring to whom, and by whom, the annunciation
had been made, but which even for the time struck him absolutely mute.
At this moment the cloud which had long lowered above the height on
which Wolf's Crag is situated, and which now, as it advanced, spread
itself in darker and denser folds both over land and sea, hiding the
distant objects and obscuring those which were nearer, turning the sea
to a leaden complexion and the heath to a darker brown, began now, by
one or two distant peals, to announce the thunders with which it was
fraught; while two flashes of lightning, following each other very
closely, showed in the distance the grey turrets of Wolf's Crag, and,
more nearly, the rollowing billows of the ocean, crested suddenly with
red and dazzling light.

The horse of the fair huntress showed symptoms of impatience and
restiveness, and it became impossible for Ravenswood, as a man or a
gentleman, to leave her abruptly to the case of an aged father or her
menial attendants. He was, or believed himself, obliged in courtesy to
take hold of her bridle, and assist her in managing the unruly animal.
While he was thus engaged, the old gentleman observed that the storm
seemed to increase; that they were far from Lord Bittlebrains's, whose
guests they were for the present; and that he would be obliged to the
Master of Ravenswood to point him the way to the nearest place of refuge
from the storm. At the same time he cast a wistful and embarrassed
look towards the Tower of Wolf's Crag, which seemed to render it almost
impossible for the owner to avoid offering an old man and a lady, in
such an emergency, the temporary use of his house. Indeed, the condition
of the young huntress made this courtesy indispensable; for, in the
course of the services which he rendered, he could not but perceive that
she trembled much, and was extremely agitated, from her apprehensions,
doubtless, of the coming storm.

I know not if the Master of Ravenswood shared her terrors, but he was
not entirely free from something like a similar disorder of nerves, as
he observed, "The Tower of Wolf's Crag has nothing to offer beyond the
shelter of its roof, but if that can be acceptable at such a moment----"
he paused, as if the rest of the invitation stuck in his throat. But
the old gentleman, his self-constituted companion, did not allow him to
recede from the invitation, which he had rather suffered to be implied
than directly expressed.

"The storm," said the stranger, "must be an apology for waiving
ceremony; his daughter's health was weak, she had suffered much from a
recent alarm; he trusted their intrusion on the Master of Ravenswood's
hospitality would not be altogether unpardonable in the circumstances of
the case: his child's safety must be dearer to him than ceremony."

There was no room to retreat. The Master of Ravenswood led the way,
continuing to keep hold of the lady's bridle to prevent her horse
from starting at some unexpected explosion of thunder. He was not so
bewildered in his own hurried reflections but that he remarked, that the
deadly paleness which had occupied her neck and temples, and such of her
features as the riding-mask left exposed, gave place to a deep and rosy
suffusion; and he felt with embarrassment that a flush was by tacit
sympathy excited in his own cheeks. The stranger, with watchfulness
which he disguised under apprehensions of the safety of his daughter,
continued to observe the expression of the Master's countenance as
they ascended the hill to Wolf's Crag. When they stood in front of
that ancient fortress, Ravenswood's emotions were of a very complicated
description; and as he led the way into the rude courtyard, and hallooed
to Caleb to give attendance, there was a tone of sternness, almost of
fierceness, which seemed somewhat alien from the courtesies of one who
is receiving honoured guests.

Caleb came; and not the paleness of the fair stranger at the first
approach of the thunder, nor the paleness of any other person, in any
other circumstances whatever, equalled that which overcame the thin
cheeks of the disconsolate seneschal when he beheld this accession
of guests to the castle, and reflected that the dinner hour was fast
approaching. "Is he daft?" he muttered to himself;--"is he clean daft
a'thegither, to bring lords and leddies, and a host of folk behint them,
and twal o'clock chappit?" Then approaching the Master, he craved pardon
for having permitted the rest of his people to go out to see the hunt,
observing, that "They wad never think of his lordship coming back till
mirk night, and that he dreaded they might play the truant."

"Silence, Balderstone!" said Ravenswood, sternly; "your folly is
unseasonable. Sir and madam," he said, turning to his guests, "this old
man, and a yet older and more imbecile female domestic, form my whole
retinue. Our means of refreshing you are more scanty than even so
miserable a retinue, and a dwelling so dilapidated, might seem to
promise you; but, such as they may chance to be, you may command them."

The elder stranger, struck with the ruined and even savage appearance of
the Tower, rendered still more disconsolate by the lowering and gloomy
sky, and perhaps not altogether unmoved by the grave and determined
voice in which their host addressed them, looked round him anxiously, as
if he half repented the readiness with which he had accepted the offered
hospitality. But there was now no opportunity of receding from the
situation in which he had placed himself.

As for Caleb, he was so utterly stunned by his master's public and
unqualified acknowledgment of the nakedness of the land, that for two
minutes he could only mutter within his hebdomadal beard, which had not
felt the razor for six days, "He's daft--clean daft--red wud, and awa'
wit! But deil hae Caleb Balderstone," said he, collecting his powers of
invention and resource, "if the family shall lose credit, if he were as
mad as the seven wise masters!" He then boldly advanced, and in spite
of his master's frowns and impatience, gravely asked, "If he should
not serve up some slight refection for the young leddy, and a glass of
tokay, or old sack--or----"

"Truce to this ill-timed foolery," said the Master, sternly; "put the
horses into the stable, and interrupt us no more with your absurdities."

"Your honour's pleasure is to be obeyed aboon a' things," said Caleb;
"nevertheless, as for the sack and tokay which it is not your noble
guests' pleasure to accept----"

But here the voice of Bucklaw, heard even above the clattering of
hoofs and braying of horns with which it mingled, announced that he was
scaling the pathway to the Tower at the head of the greater part of the
gallant hunting train.

"The deil be in me," said Caleb, taking heart in spite of this new
invasion of Philistines, "if they shall beat me yet! The hellicat
ne'er-do-weel! to bring such a crew here, that will expect to find
brandy as plenty as ditch-water, and he kenning sae absolutely the case
in whilk we stand for the present! But I trow, could I get rid of thae
gaping gowks of flunkies that hae won into the courtyard at the back
of their betters, as mony a man gets preferment, I could make a' right
yet."

The measures which he took to execute this dauntless resolution, the
reader shall learn in the next chapter.

Sir Walter Scott