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Chapter 26


Give us good voyage, gentle stream--we stun not
Thy sober ear with sounds of revelry;
Wake not the slumbering echoes of thy banks
With voice of flute and horn--we do but seek
On the broad pathway of thy swelling bosom
To glide in silent safety.
_The Double Bridal._

Grey, or rather yellow light, was beginning to twinkle through the
fogs of Whitefriars, when a low tap at the door of the unhappy miser
announced to Lord Glenvarloch the summons of the boatman. He found at
the door the man whom he had seen the night before, with a companion.

"Come, come, master, let us get afloat," said one of them, in a rough
impressive whisper, "time and tide wait for no man." "They shall not
wait for me," said Lord Glenvarloch; "but I have some things to carry
with me."

"Ay, ay--no man will take a pair of oars now, Jack, unless he means to
load the wherry like a six-horse waggon. When they don't want to shift
the whole kitt, they take a sculler, and be d--d to them. Come, come,
where be your rattle-traps?"

One of the men was soon sufficiently loaded, in his own estimation at
least, with Lord Glenvarloch's mail and its accompaniments, with which
burden he began to trudge towards the Temple Stairs. His comrade, who
seemed the principal, began to handle the trunk which contained the
miser's treasure, but pitched it down again in an instant, declaring,
with a great oath, that it was as reasonable to expect a man to carry
Paul's on his back. The daughter of Trapbois, who had by this time
joined them, muffled up in a long dark hood and mantle, exclaimed to
Lord Glenvarloch--"Let them leave it if they will, let them leave it
all; let us but escape from this horrible place."

We have mentioned elsewhere, that Nigel was a very athletic young man,
and, impelled by a strong feeling of compassion and indignation, he
showed his bodily strength singularly on this occasion, by seizing on
the ponderous strong-box, and, by means of the rope he had cast around
it, throwing it on his shoulders, and marching resolutely forward
under a weight, which would have sunk to the earth three young
gallants, at the least, of our degenerate day. The waterman followed
him in amazement, calling out, "Why, master, master, you might as well
gie me t'other end on't!" and anon offered his assistance to support
it in some degree behind, which after the first minute or two Nigel
was fain to accept. His strength was almost exhausted when he reached
the wherry, which was lying at the Temple Stairs according to
appointment; and, when he pitched the trunk into it, the weight sank
the bow of the boat so low in the water as well-nigh to overset it.

"We shall have as hard a fare of it," said the waterman to his
companion, "as if we were ferrying over an honest bankrupt with all
his secreted goods--Ho, ho! good woman, what, are you stepping in
for?--our gunwale lies deep enough in the water without live lumber to
boot."

"This person comes with me," said Lord Glenvarloch; "she is for the
present under my protection."

"Come, come, master," rejoined the fellow, "that is out of my
commission. You must not double my freight on me--she may go by land--
and, as for protection, her face will protect her from Berwick to the
Land's End."

"You will not except at my doubling the loading, if I double the
fare?" said Nigel, determined on no account to relinquish the
protection of this unhappy woman, for which he had already devised
some sort of plan, likely now to be baffled by the characteristic
rudeness of the Thames watermen.

"Ay, by G--, but I will except, though, "said the fellow with the
green plush jacket: "I will overload my wherry neither for love nor
money--I love my boat as well as my wife, and a thought better."

"Nay, nay, comrade," said his mate, "that is speaking no true water
language. For double fare we are bound to row a witch in her eggshell
if she bid us; and so pull away, Jack, and let us have no more
prating."

They got into the stream-way accordingly, and, although heavily laden,
began to move down the river with reasonable speed.

The lighter vessels which passed, overtook, or crossed them, in their
course, failed not to assail them with their boisterous raillery,
which was then called water-wit; for which the extreme plainness of
Mistress Martha's features, contrasted with the youth, handsome
figure, and good looks of Nigel, furnished the principal topics; while
the circumstance of the boat being somewhat overloaded, did not escape
their notice. They were hailed successively, as a grocer's wife upon a
party of pleasure with her eldest apprentice--as an old woman carrying
her grandson to school--and as a young strapping Irishman, conveying
an ancient maiden to Dr. Rigmarole's, at Redriffe, who buckles beggars
for a tester and a dram of Geneva. All this abuse was retorted in a
similar strain of humour by Greenjacket and his companion, who
maintained the war of wit with the same alacrity with which they were
assailed.

Meanwhile, Lord Glenvarloch asked his desolate companion if she had
thought on any place where she could remain in safety with her
property. She confessed, in more detail than formerly, that her
father's character had left her no friends; and that, from the time he
had betaken himself to Whitefriars, to escape certain legal
consequences of his eager pursuit of gain, she had lived a life of
total seclusion; not associating with the society which the place
afforded, and, by her residence there, as well as her father's
parsimony, effectually cut off from all other company. What she now
wished, was, in the first place, to obtain the shelter of a decent
lodging, and the countenance of honest people, however low in life,
until she should obtain legal advice as to the mode of obtaining
justice on her father's murderer. She had no hesitation to charge the
guilt upon Colepepper, (commonly called Peppercull,) whom she knew to
be as capable of any act of treacherous cruelty, as he was cowardly,
where actual manhood was required. He had been strongly suspected of
two robberies before, one of which was coupled with an atrocious
murder. He had, she intimated, made pretensions to her hand as the
easiest and safest way of obtaining possession of her father's wealth;
and, on her refusing his addresses, if they could be termed so, in the
most positive terms, he had thrown out such obscure hints of
vengeance, as, joined with some imperfect assaults upon the house, had
kept her in frequent alarm, both on her father's account and her own.

Nigel, but that his feeling of respectful delicacy to the unfortunate
woman forebade him to do so, could here have communicated a
circumstance corroborative of her suspicions, which had already
occurred to his own mind. He recollected the hint that old Hildebrod
threw forth on the preceding night, that some communication betwixt
himself and Colepepper had hastened the catastrophe. As this
communication related to the plan which Hildebrod had been pleased to
form, of promoting a marriage betwixt Nigel himself and the rich
heiress of Trapbois, the fear of losing an opportunity not to be
regained, together with the mean malignity of a low-bred ruffian,
disappointed in a favourite scheme, was most likely to instigate the
bravo to the deed of violence which had been committed. The reflection
that his own name was in some degree implicated with the causes of
this horrid tragedy, doubled Lord Glenvarloch's anxiety in behalf of
the victim whom he had rescued, while at the same time he formed the
tacit resolution, that, so soon as his own affairs were put upon some
footing, he would contribute all in his power towards the
investigation of this bloody affair.

After ascertaining from his companion that she could form no better
plan of her own, he recommended to her to take up her lodging for the
time, at the house of his old landlord, Christie the ship-chandler, at
Paul's Wharf, describing the decency and honesty of that worthy
couple, and expressing his hopes that they would receive her into
their own house, or recommend her at least to that of some person for
whom they would be responsible, until she should have time to enter
upon other arrangements for herself.

The poor woman received advice so grateful to her in her desolate
condition, with an expression of thanks, brief indeed, but deeper than
any thing had yet extracted from the austerity of her natural
disposition.

Lord Glenvarloch then proceeded to inform Martha, that certain
reasons, connected with his personal safety, called him immediately to
Greenwich, and, therefore, it would not be in his power to accompany
her to Christie's house, which he would otherwise have done with
pleasure: but, tearing a leaf from his tablet, he wrote on it a few
lines, addressed to his landlord, as a man of honesty and humanity, in
which he described the bearer as a person who stood in singular
necessity of temporary protection and good advice, for which her
circumstances enabled her to make ample acknowledgment. He therefore
requested John Christie, as his old and good friend, to afford her the
shelter of his roof for a short time; or, if that might not be
consistent with his convenience, at least to direct her to a proper
lodging-and, finally, he imposed on him the additional, and somewhat
more difficult commission, to recommend her to the counsel and
services of an honest, at least a reputable and skilful attorney, for
the transacting some law business of importance. The note he
subscribed with his real name, and, delivering it to his _protegee_,
who received it with another deeply uttered "I thank you," which spoke
the sterling feelings of her gratitude better than a thousand combined
phrases, he commanded the watermen to pull in for Paul's Wharf, which
they were now approaching.

"We have not time," said Green-jacket; "we cannot be stopping every
instant."

But, upon Nigel insisting upon his commands being obeyed, and adding,
that it was for the purpose of putting the lady ashore, the waterman
declared that he would rather have her room than her company, and put
the wherry alongside the wharf accordingly. Here two of the porters,
who ply in such places, were easily induced to undertake the charge of
the ponderous strong-box, and at the same time to guide the owner to
the well-known mansion of John Christie, with whom all who lived in
that neighbourhood were perfectly acquainted.

The boat, much lightened of its load, went down the Thames at a rate
increased in proportion. But we must forbear to pursue her in her
voyage for a few minutes, since we have previously to mention the
issue of Lord Glenvarloch's recommendation.

Mistress Martha Trapbois reached the shop in perfect safety, and was
about to enter it, when a sickening sense of the uncertainty of her
situation, and of the singularly painful task of telling her story,
came over her so strongly, that she paused a moment at the very
threshold of her proposed place of refuge, to think in what manner she
could best second the recommendation of the friend whom Providence had
raised up to her. Had she possessed that knowledge of the world, from
which her habits of life had completely excluded her, she might have
known that the large sum of money which she brought along with her,
might, judiciously managed, have been a passport to her into the
mansions of nobles, and the palaces of princes. But, however conscious
of its general power, which assumes so many forms and complexions, she
was so inexperienced as to be most unnecessarily afraid that the means
by which the wealth had been acquired, might exclude its inheretrix
from shelter even in the house of a humble tradesman.

While she thus delayed, a more reasonable cause for hesitation arose,
in a considerable noise and altercation within the house, which grew
louder and louder as the disputants issued forth upon the street or
lane before the door.

The first who entered upon the scene was a tall raw-boned hard-
favoured man, who stalked out of the shop hastily, with a gait like
that of a Spaniard in a passion, who, disdaining to add speed to his
locomotion by running, only condescends, in the utmost extremity of
his angry haste, to add length to his stride. He faced about, so soon
as he was out of the house, upon his pursuer, a decent-looking,
elderly, plain tradesman--no other than John Christie himself, the
owner of the shop and tenement, by whom he seemed to be followed, and
who was in a state of agitation more than is usually expressed by such
a person.

"I'll hear no more on't," said the personage who first appeared on the
scene.--"Sir, I will hear no more on it. Besides being a most false
and impudent figment, as I can testify--it is _Scandaalum Magnaatum_,
sir--_Scandaalum Magnaatum_" he reiterated with a broad accentuation
of the first vowel, well known in the colleges of Edinburgh and
Glasgow, which we can only express in print by doubling the said first
of letters and of vowels, and which would have cheered the cockles of
the reigning monarch had he been within hearing,--as he was a severer
stickler for what he deemed the genuine pronunciation of the Roman
tongue, than for any of the royal prerogatives, for which he was at
times disposed to insist so strenuously in his speeches to Parliament.

"I care not an ounce of rotten cheese," said John Christie in reply,
"what you call it--but it is TRUE; and I am a free Englishman, and
have right to speak the truth in my own concerns; and your master is
little better than a villain, and you no more than a swaggering
coxcomb, whose head I will presently break, as I have known it well
broken before on lighter occasion."

And, so saying, he flourished the paring-shovel which usually made
clean the steps of his little shop, and which he had caught up as the
readiest weapon of working his foeman damage, and advanced therewith
upon him. The cautious Scot (for such our readers must have already
pronounced him, from his language and pedantry) drew back as the
enraged ship-chandler approached, but in a surly manner, and bearing
his hand on his sword-hilt rather in the act of one who was losing
habitual forbearance and caution of deportment, than as alarmed by the
attack of an antagonist inferior to himself in youth, strength, and
weapons.

"Bide back," he said, "Maister Christie--I say bide back, and consult
your safety, man. I have evited striking you in your ain house under
muckle provocation, because I am ignorant how the laws here may
pronounce respecting burglary and hamesucken, and such matters; and,
besides, I would not willingly hurt ye, man, e'en on the causeway,
that is free to us baith, because I mind your kindness of lang syne,
and partly consider ye as a poor deceived creature. But deil d--n me,
sir, and I am not wont to swear, but if you touch my Scotch shouther
with that shule of yours, I will make six inches of my Andrew Ferrara
deevilish intimate with your guts, neighbour."

And therewithal, though still retreating from the brandished shovel,
he made one-third of the basket-hilled broadsword which he wore,
visible from the sheath. The wrath of John Christie was abated, either
by his natural temperance of disposition, or perhaps in part by the
glimmer of cold steel, which flashed on him from his adversary's last
action.

"I would do well to cry clubs on thee, and have thee ducked at the
wharf," he said, grounding his shovel, however, at the same time, "for
a paltry swaggerer, that would draw thy bit of iron there on an honest
citizen before his own door; but get thee gone, and reckon on a salt
eel for thy supper, if thou shouldst ever come near my house again. I
wish it had been at the bottom of the Thames when it first gave the
use of its roof to smooth-faced, oily-tongued, double-minded Scots
thieves!"

"It's an ill bird that fouls its own nest," replied his adversary, not
perhaps the less bold that he saw matters were taking the turn of a
pacific debate; "and a pity it is that a kindly Scot should ever have
married in foreign parts, and given life to a purse-proud, pudding-
headed, fat-gutted, lean-brained Southron, e'en such as you, Maister
Christie. But fare ye weel--fare ye weel, for ever and a day; and, if
you quarrel wi' a Scot again, man, say as mickle ill o' himsell as ye
like, but say nane of his patron or of his countrymen, or it will
scarce be your flat cap that will keep your lang lugs from the sharp
abridgement of a Highland whinger, man."

"And, if you continue your insolence to me before my own door, were it
but two minutes longer," retorted John Christie, "I will call the
constable, and make your Scottish ankles acquainted with an English
pair of stocks!"

So saying, he turned to retire into his shop with some show of
victory; for his enemy, whatever might be his innate valour,
manifested no desire to drive matters to extremity--conscious,
perhaps, that whatever advantage he might gain in single combat with
Jonn Christie, would be more than overbalanced by incurring an affair
with the constituted authorities of Old England, not at that time apt
to be particularly favourable to their new fellow-subjects, in the
various successive broils which were then constantly taking place
between the individuals of two proud nations, who still retained a
stronger sense of their national animosity during centuries, than of
their late union for a few years under the government of the same
prince.

Mrs. Martha Trapbois had dwelt too long in Alsatia, to be either
surprised or terrified at the altercation she had witnessed. Indeed,
she only wondered that the debate did not end in some of those acts of
violence by which they were usually terminated in the Sanctuary. As
the disputants separated from each other, she, who had no idea that
the cause of the quarrel was more deeply rooted than in the daily
scenes of the same nature which she had heard of or witnessed, did not
hesitate to stop Master Christie in his return to his shop, and
present to him the letter which Lord Glenvarloch had given to her. Had
she been better acquainted with life and its business, she would
certainly have waited for a more temperate moment; and she had reason
to repent of her precipitation, when, without saying a single word, or
taking the trouble to gather more of the information contained in the
letter than was expressed in the subscription, the incensed ship
chandler threw it down on the ground, trampled it in high disdain,
and, without addressing a single word to the bearer, except, indeed,
something much more like a hearty curse than was perfectly consistent
with his own grave appearance, he retired into his shop, and shut the
hatch-door.

It was with the most inexpressible anguish that the desolate,
friendless and unhappy female, thus beheld her sole hope of succour,
countenance, and protection, vanish at once, without being able to
conceive a reason; for, to do her justice, the idea that her friend,
whom she knew by the name of Nigel Grahame, had imposed on her, a
solution which might readily have occurred to many in her situation,
never once entered her mind. Although it was not her temper easily to
bend her mind to entreaty, she could not help exclaiming after the
ireful and retreating ship-chandler,--"Good Master, hear me but a
moment! for mercy's sake, for honesty's sake!"

"Mercy and honesty from him, mistress!" said the Scot, who, though he
essayed not to interrupt the retreat of his antagonist, still kept
stout possession of the field of action,--"ye might as weel expect
brandy from bean-stalks, or milk from a craig of blue whunstane. The
man is mad, bom mad, to boot."

"I must have mistaken the person to whom the letter was addressed,
then;" and, as she spoke, Mistress Martha Trapbois was in the act of
stooping to lift the paper which had been so uncourteously received.
Her companion, with natural civility, anticipated her purpose; but,
what was not quite so much in etiquette, he took a sly glance at it as
he was about to hand it to her, and his eye having caught the
subscription, he said, with surprise, "Glenvarloch--Nigel Olifaunt of
Glenvarloch! Do you know the Lord Glenvarloch, mistress?"

"I know not of whom you speak," said Mrs. Martha, peevishly. "I had
that paper from one Master Nigel Gram."

"Nigel Grahame!--umph.-O, ay, very true--I had forgot," said the
Scotsman. "A tall, well-set young man, about my height; bright blue
eyes like a hawk's; a pleasant speech, something leaning to the kindly
north-country accentuation, but not much, in respect of his having
been resident abroad?"

"All this is true--and what of it all?" said the daughter of the
miser.

"Hair of my complexion?"

"Yours is red," replied she.

"I pray you peace," said the Scotsman. "I was going to say--of my
complexion, but with a deeper shade of the chestnut. Weel, mistress,
if I have guessed the man aright, he is one with whom I am, and have
been, intimate and familiar,--nay,--I may truly say I have done him
much service in my time, and may live to do him more. I had indeed a
sincere good-will for him, and I doubt he has been much at a loss
since we parted; but the fault is not mine. Wherefore, as this letter
will not avail you with him to whom it is directed, you may believe
that heaven hath sent it to me, who have a special regard for the
writer--I have, besides, as much mercy and honesty within me as man
can weel make his bread with, and am willing to aid any distressed
creature, that is my friend's friend, with my counsel, and otherwise,
so that I am not put to much charges, being in a strange country, like
a poor lamb that has wandered from its ain native hirsel, and leaves a
tait of its woo' in every d--d Southron bramble that comes across it."
While he spoke thus, he read the contents of the letter, without
waiting for permission, and then continued,--"And so this is all that
you are wanting, my dove? nothing more than safe and honourable
lodging, and sustenance, upon your own charges?"

"Nothing more," said she. "If you are a man and a Christian, you will
help me to what I need so much."

"A man I am," replied the formal Caledonian, "e'en sic as ye see me;
and a Christian I may call myself, though unworthy, and though I have
heard little pure doctrine since I came hither--a' polluted with men's
devices--ahem! Weel, and if ye be an honest woman," (here he peeped
under her muffler,) "as an honest woman ye seem likely to be--though,
let me tell you, they are a kind of cattle not so rife in the streets
of this city as I would desire them--I was almost strangled with my
own band by twa rampallians, wha wanted yestreen, nae farther gane, to
harle me into a change-house--however, if ye be a decent honest
woman," (here he took another peep at features certainly bearing no
beauty which could infer suspicion,) "as decent and honest ye seem to
be, why, I will advise you to a decent house, where you will get
douce, quiet entertainment, on reasonable terms, and the occasional
benefit of my own counsel and direction--that is, from time to time,
as my other avocations may permit."

"May I venture to accept of such an offer from a stranger?" said
Martha, with natural hesitation.

"Troth, I see nothing to hinder you, mistress," replied the bonny
Scot; "ye can but see the place, and do after as ye think best.
Besides, we are nae such strangers, neither; for I know your friend,
and you, it's like, know mine, whilk knowledge, on either hand, is a
medium of communication between us, even as the middle of the string
connecteth its twa ends or extremities. But I will enlarge on this
farther as we pass along, gin ye list to bid your twa lazy loons of
porters there lift up your little kist between them, whilk ae true
Scotsman might carry under his arm. Let me tell you, mistress, ye will
soon make a toom pock-end of it in Lon'on, if you hire twa knaves to
do the work of ane."

So saying, he led the way, followed by Mistress Martha Trapbois, whose
singular destiny, though it had heaped her with wealth, had left her,
for the moment, no wiser counsellor, or more distinguished protector,
than honest Richie Moniplies, a discarded serving-man.

Sir Walter Scott