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Chapter 4

Ay, sir, the clouted shoe hath oft times craft in't,
As says the rustic proverb; and your citizen,
In's grogram suit, gold chain, and well-black'd shoes,
Bears under his flat cap ofttimes a brain
Wiser than burns beneath the cap and feather,
Or seethes within the statesman's velvet nightcap.
_Read me my Riddle._

The young Scottish nobleman received the citizen with distant
politeness, expressing that sort of reserve by which those of the
higher ranks are sometimes willing to make a plebeian sensible that he
is an intruder. But Master George seemed neither displeased nor
disconcerted. He assumed the chair, which, in deference to his
respectable appearance, Lord Nigel offered to him, and said, after a
moment's pause, during which he had looked attentively at the young
man, with respect not unmingled with emotion--"You will forgive me for
this rudeness, my lord; but I was endeavouring to trace in your
youthful countenance the features of my good old lord, your excellent

There was a moment's pause ere young Glenvarloch replied, still with a
reserved manner,--"I have been reckoned like my father, sir; and am
happy to see any one that respects his memory. But the business which
calls me to this city is of a hasty as well as a private nature, and--"

"I understand the hint, my lord," said Master George, "and would not
be guilty of long detaining you from business, or more agreeable
conversation. My errand is almost done when I have said that my name
is George Heriot, warmly befriended, and introduced into the
employment of the Royal Family of Scotland, more than twenty years
since, by your excellent father; and that, learning from a follower of
yours that your lordship was in this city in prosecution of some
business of importance, it is my duty,--it is my pleasure,--to wait on
the son of my respected patron; and, as I am somewhat known both at
the Court, and in the city, to offer him such aid in the furthering of
his affairs as my credit and experience may be able to afford."

"I have no doubt of either, Master Heriot," said Lord Nigel, "and I
thank you heartily for the good-will with which you have placed them
at a stranger's disposal; but my business at Court is done and ended,
and I intend to leave London and, indeed, the island, for foreign
travel and military service. I may add, that the suddenness of my
departure occasions my having little time at my disposal."

Master Heriot did not take the hint, but sat fast, with an embarrassed
countenance however, like one who had something to say that he knew
not exactly how to make effectual. At length he said, with a dubious
smile, "You are fortunate, my lord, in having so soon dispatched your
business at Court. Your talking landlady informs me you have been but
a fortnight in this city. It is usually months and years ere the Court
and a suitor shake hands and part."

"My business," said Lord Nigel, with a brevity which was intended to
stop further discussion, "was summarily dispatched."

Still Master Heriot remained seated, and there was a cordial good-
humour added to the reverence of his appearance, which rendered it
impossible for Lord Nigel to be more explicit in requesting his

"Your lordship has not yet had time," said the citizen, still
attempting to sustain the conversation, "to visit the places of
amusement,--the playhouses, and other places to which youth resort.
But I see in your lordship's hand one of the new-invented plots of the
piece, [Footnote: Meaning, probably, playbills.] which they hand about
of late--May I ask what play?"

"Oh! a well-known piece," said Lord Nigel, impatiently throwing down
the Proclamation, which he had hitherto been twisting to and fro in
his hand,--"an excellent and well-approved piece--_A New Way to Pay
Old Debts._"

Master Heriot stooped down, saying, "Ah! my old acquaintance, Philip
Massinger;" but, having opened the paper and seen the purport, he
looked at Lord Nigel with surprise, saying, "I trust your lordship
does not think this prohibition can extend either to _your_ person or
your claims?" "I should scarce have thought so myself," said the young
nobleman; "but so it proves. His Majesty, to close this discourse at
once, has been pleased to send me this Proclamation, in answer to a
respectful Supplication for the repayment of large loans advanced by
my father for the service of the State, in the king's utmost

"It is impossible!" said the citizen--"it is absolutely impossible!--
If the king could forget what was due to your father's memory, still
he would not have wished--would not, I may say, have dared--to be so
flagrantly unjust to the memory of such a man as your father, who,
dead in the body, will long live in the memory of the Scottish
people." "I should have been of your opinion," answered Lord
Nigel, in the same tone as before; "but there is no fighting with

"What was the tenor of this Supplication?" said Heriot; "or by whom
was it presented? Something strange there must have been in the
contents, or else--"

"You may see my original draught," said the young lord, taking it out
of a small travelling strong-box; "the technical part is by my lawyer
in Scotland, a skilful and sensible man; the rest is my own, drawn, I
hope, with due deference and modesty."

Master Heriot hastly cast his eye over the draught. "Nothing," he
said, "can be more well-tempered and respectful. Is it possible the
king can have treated this petition with contempt?"

"He threw it down on the pavement," said the Lord of Glenvarloch, "and
sent me for answer that Proclamation, in which he classes me with the
paupers and mendicants from Scotland, who disgrace his Court in the
eyes of the proud English--that is all. Had not my father stood by him
with heart, sword, and fortune, he might never have seen the Court of
England himself."

"But by whom was this Supplication presented, my lord?" said Heriot;
"for the distaste taken at the messenger will sometimes extend itself
to the message."

"By my servant," said the Lord Nigel; "by the man you saw, and, I
think, were kind to."

"By your servant, my lord?" said the citizen; "he seems a shrewd
fellow, and doubtless a faithful; but surely--"

"You would say," said Lord Nigel, "he is no fit messenger to a king's
presence?--Surely he is not; but what could I do? Every attempt I had
made to lay my case before the king had miscarried, and my petitions
got no farther than the budgets of clerks and secretaries; this fellow
pretended he had a friend in the household that would bring him to the
king's presence,--and so--"

"I understand," said Heriot; "but, my lord, why should you not, in
right of your rank and birth, have appeared at Court, and required an
audience, which could not have been denied to you?"

The young lord blushed a little, and looked at his dress, which was
very plain; and, though in perfect good order, had the appearance of
having seen service.

"I know not why I should be ashamed of speaking the truth," he said,
after a momentary hesitation,--"I had no dress suitable for appearing
at Court. I am determined to incur no expenses which I cannot
discharge; and I think you, sir, would not advise me to stand at the
palace-door, in person, and deliver my petition, along with those who
are in very deed pleading their necessity, and begging an alms."

"That had been, indeed, unseemly," said the citizen; "but yet, my
lord, my mind runs strangely that there must be some mistake.--Can I
speak with your domestic?"

"I see little good it can do," answered the young lord, "but the
interest you take in my misfortunes seems sincere, and therefore----"
He stamped on the floor, and in a few seconds afterwards Moniplies
appeared, wiping from his beard and mustaches the crumbs of bread, and
the froth of the ale-pot, which plainly showed how he had been
employed.--"Will your lordship grant permission," said Heriot, "that I
ask your groom a few questions?" "His lordship's page, Master George,"
answered Moniplies, with a nod of acknowledgment, "if you are minded
to speak according to the letter."

"Hold your saucy tongue," said his master, "and reply distinctly to
the questions you are to be asked."

"And _truly,_ if it like your pageship," said the citizen, "for you
may remember I have a gift to discover falset."

"Weel, weel, weel," replied the domestic, somewhat embarrassed, in
spite of his effrontery--"though I think that the sort of truth that
serves my master, may weel serve ony ane else."

"Pages lie to their masters by right of custom," said the citizen;
"and you write yourself in that band, though I think you be among the
oldest of such springalds; but to me you must speak truth, if you
would not have it end in the whipping-post."

"And that's e'en a bad resting-place," said the well-grown page; "so
come away with your questions, Master George."

"Well, then," demanded the citizen, "I am given to understand that you
yesterday presented to his Majesty's hand a Supplication, or petition,
from this honourable lord, your master."

"Troth, there's nae gainsaying that, sir," replied Moniplies; "there
were enow to see it besides me."

"And you pretend that his Majesty flung it from him with contempt?"
said the citizen. "Take heed, for I have means of knowing the truth;
and you were better up to the neck in the Nor-Loch, which you like so
well, than tell a leasing where his Majesty's name is concerned."

"There is nae occasion for leasing-making about the matter," answered
Moniplies, firmly; "his Majesty e'en flung it frae him as if it had
dirtied his fingers."

"You hear, sir," said Olifaunt, addressing Heriot.

"Hush!" said the sagacious citizen; "this fellow is not ill named--he
has more plies than one in his cloak. Stay, fellow," for Moniplies,
muttering somewhat about finishing his breakfast, was beginning to
shamble towards the door, "answer me this farther question--When you
gave your master's petition to his Majesty, gave you nothing with it?"

"Ou, what should I give wi' it, ye ken, Master George?"

"That is what I desire and insist to know," replied his interrogator.

"Weel, then--I am not free to say, that maybe I might not just slip
into the king's hand a wee bit Sifflication of mine ain, along with my
lord's--just to save his Majesty trouble--and that he might consider
them baith at ance."

"A supplication of your own, you varlet!" said his master.

"Ou dear, ay, my lord," said Richie--"puir bodies hae their bits of
sifflications as weel as their betters."

"And pray, what might your worshipful petition import?" said Master
Heriot.--"Nay, for Heaven's sake, my lord, keep your patience, or we
shall never learn the truth of this strange matter.--Speak out,
sirrah, and I will stand your friend with my lord."

"It's a lang story to tell--but the upshot is, that it's a scrape of
an auld accompt due to my father's yestate by her Majesty the king's
maist gracious mother, when she lived in the Castle, and had sundry
providings and furnishings forth of our booth, whilk nae doubt was an
honour to my father to supply, and whilk, doubtless, it will be a
credit to his Majesty to satisfy, as it will be grit convenience to me
to receive the saam."

"What string of impertinence is this?" said his master.

"Every word as true as e'er John Knox spoke," said Richie; "here's the
bit double of the Sifflication."

Master George took a crumpled paper from the fellow's hand, and said,
muttering betwixt his teeth--"'Humbly showeth--um--um--his Majesty's
maist gracious mother--um--um--justly addebted and owing the sum of
fifteen merks--the compt whereof followeth--Twelve nowte's feet for
jellies--ane lamb, being Christmas--ane roasted capin in grease for
the privy chalmer, when my Lord of Bothwell suppit with her Grace.'--I
think, my lord, you can hardly be surprised that the king gave this
petition a brisk reception; and I conclude, Master Page, that you took
care to present your own Supplication before your master's?"

"Troth did I not," answered Moniplies. "I thought to have given my
lord's first, as was reason gude; and besides that, it wad have redd
the gate for my ain little bill. But what wi' the dirdum an'
confusion, an' the loupin here and there of the skeigh brute of a
horse, I believe I crammed them baith into his hand cheek-by-jowl, and
maybe my ain was bunemost; and say there was aught wrang, I am sure I
had a' the fright and a' the risk--"

"And shall have all the beating, you rascal knave," said Nigel; "am I
to be insulted and dishonoured by your pragmatical insolence, in
blending your base concerns with mine?"

"Nay, nay, nay, my lord," said the good-humoured citizen, interposing,
"I have been the means of bringing the fellow's blunder to light--
allow me interest enough with your lordship to be bail for his bones.
You have cause to be angry, but still I think the knave mistook more
out of conceit than of purpose; and I judge you will have the better
service of him another time, if you overlook this fault--Get you gone,
sirrah--I'll make your peace."

"Na, na," said Moniplies, keeping his ground firmly, "if he likes to
strike a lad that has followed him for pure love, for I think there
has been little servant's fee between us, a' the way frae Scotland,
just let my lord be doing, and see the credit he will get by it--and I
would rather (mony thanks to you though, Master George) stand by a
lick of his baton, than it suld e'er be said a stranger came between

"Go, then," said his master, "and get out of my sight."

"Aweel I wot that is sune done," said Moniplies, retiring slowly; "I
did not come without I had been ca'd for--and I wad have been away
half an hour since with my gude will, only Maister George keepit me to
answer his interrogation, forsooth, and that has made a' this stir."

And so he made his grumbling exit, with the tone much rather of one
who has sustained an injury, than who has done wrong.

"There never was a man so plagued as I am with a malapert knave!--The
fellow is shrewd, and I have found him faithful--I believe he loves
me, too, and he has given proofs of it--but then he is so uplifted in
his own conceit, so self-willed, and so self-opinioned, that he seems
to become the master and I the man; and whatever blunder he commits,
he is sure to make as loud complaints, as if the whole error lay with
me, and in no degree with himself."

"Cherish him, and maintain him, nevertheless," said the citizen; "for
believe my grey hairs, that affection and fidelity are now rarer
qualities in a servitor, than when the world was younger. Yet, trust
him, my good lord, with no commission above his birth or breeding, for
you see yourself how it may chance to fall."

"It is but too evident, Master Heriot," said the young nobleman; "and
I am sorry I have done injustice to my sovereign, and your master. But
I am, like a true Scotsman, wise behind hand--the mistake has
happened--my Supplication has been refused, and my only resource is to
employ the rest of my means to carry Moniplies and myself to some
counter-scarp, and die in the battle-front like my ancestors."

"It were better to live and serve your country like your noble father,
my lord," replied Master George. "Nay, nay, never look down or shake
your head--the king has not refused your Supplication, for he has not
seen it--you ask but justice, and that his place obliges him to give
to his subjects--ay, my lord, and I will say that his natural temper
doth in this hold bias with his duty."

"I were well pleased to think so, and yet----" said Nigel Olifaunt,--
"I speak not of my own wrongs, but my country hath many that are

"My lord," said Master Heriot, "I speak of my royal master, not only
with the respect due from a subject--the gratitude to be paid by a
favoured servant, but also with the frankness of a free and loyal
Scotsman. The king is himself well disposed to hold the scales of
justice even; but there are those around him who can throw without
detection their own selfish wishes and base interests into the scale.
You are already a sufferer by this, and without your knowing it."

"I am surprised, Master Heriot," said the young lord, "to hear you,
upon so short an acquaintance, talk as if you were familiarly
acquainted with my affairs."

"My lord," replied the goldsmith, "the nature of my employment affords
me direct access to the interior of the palace; I am well known to be
no meddler in intrigues or party affairs, so that no favourite has as
yet endeavoured to shut against me the door of the royal closet; on
the contrary, I have stood well with each while he was in power, and I
have not shared the fall of any. But I cannot be thus connected with
the Court, without hearing, even against my will, what wheels are in
motion, and how they are checked or forwarded. Of course, when I
choose to seek such intelligence, I know the sources in which it is to
be traced. I have told you why I was interested in your lordship's
fortunes. It was last night only that I knew you were in this city,
yet I have been able, in coming hither this morning, to gain for you
some information respecting the impediments to your suit."

"Sir, I am obliged by your zeal, however little it may be merited,"
answered Nigel, still with some reserve; "yet I hardly know how I have
deserved this interest."

"First let me satisfy you that it is real," said the citizen; "I blame
you not for being unwilling to credit the fair professions of a
stranger in my inferior class of society, when you have met so little
friendship from relations, and those of your own rank, bound to have
assisted you by so many ties. But mark the cause. There is a mortgage
over your father's extensive estate, to the amount of 40,000 merks,
due ostensibly to Peregrine Peterson, the Conservator of Scottish
Privileges at Campvere."

"I know nothing of a mortgage," said the young lord; "but there is a
wadset for such a sum, which, if unredeemed, will occasion the
forfeiture of my whole paternal estate, for a sum not above a fourth
of its value--and it is for that very reason that I press the king's
government for a settlement of the debts due to my father, that I may
be able to redeem my land from this rapacious creditor."

"A wadset in Scotland," said Heriot, "is the same with a mortgage on
this side of the Tweed; but you are not acquainted with your real
creditor. The Conservator Peterson only lends his name to shroud no
less a man than the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, who hopes, under
cover of this debt, to gain possession of the estate himself, or
perhaps to gratify a yet more powerful third party. He will probably
suffer his creature Peterson to take possession, and when the odium of
the transaction shall be forgotten, the property and lordship of
Glenvarloch will be conveyed to the great man by his obsequious
instrument, under cover of a sale, or some similar device."

"Can this be possible?" said Lord Nigel; "the Chancellor wept when I
took leave of him--called me his cousin--even his son--furnished me
with letters, and, though I asked him for no pecuniary assistance,
excused himself unnecessarily for not pressing it on me, alleging the
expenses of his rank and his large family. No, I cannot believe a
nobleman would carry deceit so far."

"I am not, it is true, of noble blood," said the citizen; "but once
more I bid you look on my grey hairs, and think what can be my
interest in dishonouring them with falsehood in affairs in which I
have no interest, save as they regard the son of my benefactor.
Reflect also, have you had any advantage from the Lord Chancellor's

"None," said Nigel Olifaunt, "except cold deeds and fair words. I have
thought for some time, their only object was to get rid of me--one
yesterday pressed money on me when I talked of going abroad, in order
that I might not want the means of exiling myself."

"Right," said Heriot; "rather than you fled not, they would themselves
furnish wings for you to fly withal."

"I will to him this instant," said the incensed youth, "and tell him
my mind of his baseness."

"Under your favour," said Heriot, detaining him, "you shall not do so.
By a quarrel you would become the ruin of me your informer; and though
I would venture half my shop to do your lordship a service, I think
you would hardly wish me to come by damage, when it can be of no
service to you."

The word _shop_ sounded harshly in the ear of the young nobleman, who
replied hastily--"Damage, sir?--so far am I from wishing you to incur
damage, that I would to Heaven you would cease your fruitless offers
of serving one whom there is no chance of ultimately assisting!"

"Leave me alone for that," said the citizen: "you have now erred as
far on the bow-hand. Permit me to take this Supplication--I will have
it suitably engrossed, and take my own time (and it shall be an early
one) for placing it, with more prudence, I trust, than that used by
your follower, in the king's hand--I will almost answer for his taking
up the matter as you would have him--but should he fail to do so, even
then I will not give up the good cause."

"Sir," said the young nobleman, "your speech is so friendly, and my
own state so helpless, that I know not how to refuse your kind
proffer, even while I blush to accept it at the hands of a stranger."

"We are, I trust, no longer such," said the goldsmith; "and for my
guerdon, when my mediation proves successful, and your fortunes are
re-established, you shall order your first cupboard of plate from
George Heriot."

"You would have a bad paymaster, Master Heriot," said Lord Nigel.

"I do not fear that," replied the goldsmith; "and I am glad to see you
smile, my lord--methinks it makes you look still more like the good
old lord your father; and it emboldens me, besides, to bring out a
small request--that you would take a homely dinner with me to-morrow.
I lodge hard by in Lombard Street. For the cheer, my lord, a mess of
white broth, a fat capon well larded, a dish of beef collops for auld
Scotland's sake, and it may be a cup of right old wine, that was
barrelled before Scotland and England were one nation--Then for
company, one or two of our own loving countrymen--and maybe my
housewife may find out a bonny Scots lass or so."

"I would accept your courtesy, Master Heriot," said Nigel, "but I hear
the city ladies of London like to see a man gallant--I would not like
to let down a Scottish nobleman in their ideas, as doubtless you have
said the best of our poor country, and I rather lack the means of
bravery for the present."

"My lord, your frankness leads me a step farther," said Master George.
"I--I owed your father some monies; and--nay, if your lordship looks
at me so fixedly, I shall never tell my story--and, to speak plainly,
for I never could carry a lie well through in my life--it is most
fitting, that, to solicit this matter properly, your lordship should
go to Court in a manner beseeming your quality. I am a goldsmith, and
live by lending money as well as by selling plate. I am ambitious to
put an hundred pounds to be at interest in your hands, till your
affairs are settled."

"And if they are never favourably settled?" said Nigel.

"Then, my lord," returned the citizen, "the miscarriage of such a sum
will be of little consequence to me, compared with other subjects of

"Master Heriot," said the Lord Nigel, "your favour is generously
offered, and shall be frankly accepted. I must presume that you see
your way through this business, though I hardly do; for I think you
would be grieved to add any fresh burden to me, by persuading me to
incur debts which I am not likely to discharge. I will therefore take
your money, under the hope and trust that you will enable me to repay
you punctually."

"I will convince you, my lord," said the goldsmith, "that I mean to
deal with you as a creditor from whom I expect payment; and therefore,
you shall, with your own good pleasure, sign an acknowledgment for
these monies, and an obligation to content and repay me."

He then took from his girdle his writing materials, and, writing a few
lines to the purport he expressed, pulled out a small bag of gold from
a side-pouch under his cloak, and, observing that it should contain an
hundred pounds, proceeded to tell out the contents very methodically
upon the table. Nigel Olifaunt could not help intimating that this was
an unnecessary ceremonial, and that he would take the bag of gold on
the word of his obliging creditor; but this was repugnant to the old
man's forms of transacting business.

"Bear with me," he said, "my good lord,--we citizens are a wary and
thrifty generation; and I should lose my good name for ever within the
toll of Paul's, were I to grant quittance, or take acknowledgment,
without bringing the money to actual tale. I think it be right now--
and, body of me," he said, looking out at the window, "yonder come my
boys with my mule; for I must Westward Hoe. Put your monies aside, my
lord; it is not well to be seen with such goldfinches chirping about
one in the lodgings of London. I think the lock of your casket be
indifferent good; if not, I can serve you at an easy rate with one
that has held thousands;--it was the good old Sir Faithful Frugal's;--
his spendthrift son sold the shell when he had eaten the kernel--and
there is the end of a city-fortune."

"I hope yours will make a better termination, Master Heriot," said the
Lord Nigel.

"I hope it will, my lord," said the old man, with a smile; "but," to
use honest John Bunyan's phrase--'therewithal the water stood in his
eyes,' "it has pleased God to try me with the loss of two children;
and for one adopted shild who ives--Ah! woe is me! and well-a-day!--
But I am patient and thankful; and for the wealth God has sent me,
it shall not want inheritors while there are orphan lads in Auld
Reekie.--I wish you good-morrow, my lord."

"One orphan has cause to thank you already," said Nigel, as he
attended him to the door of his chamber, where, resisting further
escort, the old citizen made his escape.

As, in going downstairs, he passed the shop where Dame Christie stood
becking, he made civil inquiries after her husband. The dame of course
regretted his absence; but he was down, she said, at Deptford, to
settle with a Dutch ship-master.

"Our way of business, sir," she said, "takes him much from home, and
my husband must be the slave of every tarry jacket that wants but a
pound of oakum."

"All business must be minded, dame," said the goldsmith. "Make my
remembrances--George Heriot, of Lombard Street's remembrances--to your
goodman. I have dealt with him--he is just and punctual--true to time
and engagements;--be kind to your noble guest, and see he wants
nothing. Though it be his pleasure at present to lie private and
retired, there be those that care for him, and I have a charge to see
him supplied; so that you may let me know by your husband, my good
dame, how my lord is, and whether he wants aught."

"And so he _is_ a real lord after all?" said the good dame. "I am sure
I always thought he looked like one. But why does he not go to
Parliament, then?"

"He will, dame," answered Heriot, "to the Parliament of Scotland,
which is his own country."

"Oh! he is but a Scots lord, then," said the good dame; "and that's
the thing makes him ashamed to take the title, as they say."

"Let him not hear _you_ say so, dame," replied the citizen.

"Who, I, sir?" answered she; "no such matter in my thought, sir. Scot
or English, he is at any rate a likely man, and a civil man; and
rather than he should want any thing, I would wait upon him myself,
and come as far as Lombard Street to wait upon your worship too."

"Let your husband come to me, good dame," said the goldsmith, who,
with all his experience and worth, was somewhat of a formalist and
disciplinarian. "The proverb says, 'House goes mad when women gad;'
and let his lordship's own man wait upon his master in his chamber--it
is more seemly. God give ye good-morrow."

"Good-morrow to your worship," said the dame, somewhat coldly; and,
so soon as the adviser was out of hearing, was ungracious enough to
mutter, in contempt of his council, "Marry quep of your advice, for
an old Scotch tinsmith, as you are! My husband is as wise, and very
near as old, as yourself; and if I please him, it is well enough; and
though he is not just so rich just now as some folks, yet I hope to see
him ride upon his moyle, with a foot-cloth, and have his two blue-coats
after him, as well as they do."

Sir Walter Scott