Poems & Short Stories: 4,435
Forum Members: 67,986
Forum Posts: 1,216,101
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
Hame came our gudeman at e'en,
And hame came he,
And there he saw a man
Where a man suldna be.
"How's this now, kimmer?
How's this?" quo he,--
"How came this carle here
Without the leave o' me?"
The magistrate took the light out of the servant-maid's hand, and
advanced to his scrutiny, like Diogenes in the street of Athens,
lantern-in-hand, and probably with as little expectation as that of the
cynic, that he was likely to encounter any especial treasure in the
course of his researches. The first whom he approached was my mysterious
guide, who, seated on a table as I have already described him, with his
eyes firmly fixed on the wall, his features arranged into the utmost
inflexibility of expression, his hands folded on his breast with an air
betwixt carelessness and defiance, his heel patting against the foot of
the table, to keep time with the tune which he continued to whistle,
submitted to Mr. Jarvie's investigation with an air of absolute
confidence and assurance which, for a moment, placed at fault the memory
and sagacity of the acute investigator.
"Ah!--Eh!--Oh!" exclaimed the Bailie. "My conscience!--it's
impossible!--and yet--no!--Conscience!--it canna be!--and yet
again--Deil hae me, that I suld say sae!--Ye robber--ye cateran--ye born
deevil that ye are, to a' bad ends and nae gude ane!--can this be you?"
"E'en as ye see, Bailie," was the laconic answer.
"Conscience! if I am na clean bumbaized--_you_, ye cheat-the-wuddy
rogue--_you_ here on your venture in the tolbooth o' Glasgow?--What d'ye
think's the value o' your head?"
"Umph!--why, fairly weighed, and Dutch weight, it might weigh down one
provost's, four bailies', a town-clerk's, six deacons', besides
"Ah, ye reiving villain!" interrupted Mr. Jarvie. "But tell ower your
sins, and prepare ye, for if I say the word"--
"True, Bailie," said he who was thus addressed, folding his hands behind
him with the utmost _nonchalance,_ "but ye will never say that word."
"And why suld I not, sir?" exclaimed the magistrate--"Why suld I not?
Answer me that--why suld I not?"
"For three sufficient reasons, Bailie Jarvie.--First, for auld langsyne;
second, for the sake of the auld wife ayont the fire at Stuckavrallachan,
that made some mixture of our bluids, to my own proper shame be it
spoken! that has a cousin wi' accounts, and yarn winnles, and looms and
shuttles, like a mere mechanical person; and lastly, Bailie, because if I
saw a sign o' your betraying me, I would plaster that wa' with your harns
ere the hand of man could rescue you!"
"Ye're a bauld desperate villain, sir," retorted the undaunted Bailie;
"and ye ken that I ken ye to be sae, and that I wadna stand a moment for
my ain risk."
"I ken weel," said the other, "ye hae gentle bluid in your veins, and I
wad be laith to hurt my ain kinsman. But I'll gang out here as free as I
came in, or the very wa's o' Glasgow tolbooth shall tell o't these ten
years to come."
"Weel, weel," said Mr. Jarvie, "bluid's thicker than water; and it liesna
in kith, kin, and ally, to see motes in ilka other's een if other een see
them no. It wad be sair news to the auld wife below the Ben of
Stuckavrallachan, that you, ye Hieland limmer, had knockit out my harns,
or that I had kilted you up in a tow. But ye'll own, ye dour deevil, that
were it no your very sell, I wad hae grippit the best man in the
"Ye wad hae tried, cousin," answered my guide, "that I wot weel; but I
doubt ye wad hae come aff wi' the short measure; for we gang-there-out
Hieland bodies are an unchancy generation when you speak to us o'
bondage. We downa bide the coercion of gude braid-claith about our
hinderlans, let a be breeks o' free-stone, and garters o' iron."
"Ye'll find the stane breeks and the airn garters--ay, and the hemp
cravat, for a' that, neighbour," replied the Bailie.
"Nae man in a civilised country ever played the pliskies ye hae done--but
e'en pickle in your ain pock-neuk--I hae gi'en ye wanting."
"Well, cousin," said the other, "ye'll wear black at my burial."
"Deil a black cloak will be there, Robin, but the corbies and the
hoodie-craws, I'se gie ye my hand on that. But whar's the gude thousand
pund Scots that I lent ye, man, and when am I to see it again?"
"Where it is," replied my guide, after the affectation of considering for
a moment, "I cannot justly tell--probably where last year's snaw is."
"And that's on the tap of Schehallion, ye Hieland dog," said Mr. Jarvie;
"and I look for payment frae you where ye stand."
"Ay," replied the Highlander, "but I keep neither snaw nor dollars in my
sporran. And as to when you'll see it--why, just when the king enjoys his
ain again, as the auld sang says."
"Warst of a', Robin," retorted the Glaswegian,--"I mean, ye disloyal
traitor--Warst of a'!--Wad ye bring popery in on us, and arbitrary power,
and a foist and a warming-pan, and the set forms, and the curates, and
the auld enormities o' surplices and cerements? Ye had better stick
to your auld trade o' theft-boot, black-mail, spreaghs, and
gillravaging--better stealing nowte than ruining nations."
"Hout, man--whisht wi' your whiggery," answered the Celt; "we hae ken'd
ane anither mony a lang day. I'se take care your counting-room is no
cleaned out when the Gillon-a-naillie* come to redd up the Glasgow
buiths, and clear them o' their auld shop-wares.
* The lads with the kilts or petticoats.
And, unless it just fa' in the preceese way o' your duty, ye maunna see
me oftener, Nicol, than I am disposed to be seen."
"Ye are a dauring villain, Rob," answered the Bailie; "and ye will be
hanged, that will be seen and heard tell o'; but I'se ne'er be the ill
bird and foul my nest, set apart strong necessity and the skreigh of
duty, which no man should hear and be inobedient. And wha the deevil's
this?" he continued, turning to me--"Some gillravager that ye hae listed,
I daur say. He looks as if he had a bauld heart to the highway, and a
lang craig for the gibbet."
"This, good Mr. Jarvie," said Owen, who, like myself, had been struck
dumb during this strange recognition, and no less strange dialogue, which
took place betwixt these extraordinary kinsmen--"This, good Mr. Jarvie,
is young Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, only child of the head of our house, who
should have been taken into our firm at the time Mr. Rashleigh
Osbaldistone, his cousin, had the luck to be taken into it"--(Here Owen
could not suppress a groan)--"But howsoever"--
"Oh, I have heard of that smaik," said the Scotch merchant, interrupting
him; "it is he whom your principal, like an obstinate auld fule, wad make
a merchant o', wad he or wad he no,--and the lad turned a strolling
stage-player, in pure dislike to the labour an honest man should live by.
Weel, sir, what say you to your handiwork? Will Hamlet the Dane, or
Hamlet's ghost, be good security for Mr. Owen, sir?"
"I don't deserve your taunt," I replied, "though I respect your motive,
and am too grateful for the assistance you have afforded Mr. Owen, to
resent it. My only business here was to do what I could (it is perhaps
very little) to aid Mr. Owen in the management of my father's affairs. My
dislike of the commercial profession is a feeling of which I am the best
and sole judge."
"I protest," said the Highlander, "I had some respect for this callant
even before I ken'd what was in him; but now I honour him for his
contempt of weavers and spinners, and sic-like mechanical persons and
"Ye're mad, Rob," said the Bailie--"mad as a March hare--though wherefore
a hare suld be mad at March mair than at Martinmas, is mair than I can
weel say. Weavers! Deil shake ye out o' the web the weaver craft made.
Spinners! ye'll spin and wind yourself a bonny pirn. And this young
birkie here, that ye're hoying and hounding on the shortest road to the
gallows and the deevil, will his stage-plays and his poetries help him
here, dye think, ony mair than your deep oaths and drawn dirks, ye
reprobate that ye are?--Will _Tityre tu patulae,_ as they ca' it, tell
him where Rashleigh Osbaldistone is? or Macbeth, and all his kernes and
galla-glasses, and your awn to boot, Rob, procure him five thousand
pounds to answer the bills which fall due ten days hence, were they a'
rouped at the Cross,--basket-hilts, Andra-Ferraras, leather targets,
brogues, brochan, and sporrans?"
"Ten days," I answered, and instinctively drew out Diana Vernon's packet;
and the time being elapsed during which I was to keep the seal sacred, I
hastily broke it open. A sealed letter fell from a blank enclosure, owing
to the trepidation with which I opened the parcel. A slight current of
wind, which found its way through a broken pane of the window, wafted the
letter to Mr. Jarvie's feet, who lifted it, examined the address with
unceremonious curiosity, and, to my astonishment, handed itto his
Highland kinsman, saying, "Here's a wind has blown a letter to its right
owner, though there were ten thousand chances against its coming to
The Highlander, having examined the address, broke the letter open
without the least ceremony. I endeavoured to interrupt his proceeding.
"You must satisfy me, sir," said I, "that the letter is intended for you
before I can permit you to peruse it."
"Make yourself quite easy, Mr. Osbaldistone," replied the mountaineer
with great composure.--"remember Justice Inglewood, Clerk Jobson, Mr.
Morris--above all, remember your vera humble servant, Robert Cawmil, and
the beautiful Diana Vernon. Remember all this, and doubt no longer that
the letter is for me."
I remained astonished at my own stupidity.--Through the whole night, the
voice, and even the features of this man, though imperfectly seen,
haunted me with recollections to which I could assign no exact local or
personal associations. But now the light dawned on me at once; this man
was Campbell himself. His whole peculiarities flashed on me at once,--the
deep strong voice--the inflexible, stern, yet considerate cast of
features--the Scottish brogue, with its corresponding dialect and
imagery, which, although he possessed the power at times of laying them
aside, recurred at every moment of emotion, and gave pith to his sarcasm,
or vehemence to his expostulation. Rather beneath the middle size than
above it, his limbs were formed upon the very strongest model that is
consistent with agility, while from the remarkable ease and freedom of
his movements, you could not doubt his possessing the latter quality in a
high degree of perfection. Two points in his person interfered with the
rules of symmetry; his shoulders were so broad in proportion to his
height, as, notwithstanding the lean and lathy appearance of his frame,
gave him something the air of being too square in respect to his stature;
and his arms, though round, sinewy, and strong, were so very long as to
be rather a deformity. I afterwards heard that this length of arm was a
circumstance on which he prided himself; that when he wore his native
Highland garb, he could tie the garters of his hose without stooping; and
that it gave him great advantage in the use of the broad-sword, at which
he was very dexterous. But certainly this want of symmetry destroyed the
claim he might otherwise have set up, to be accounted a very handsome
man; it gave something wild, irregular, and, as it were, unearthly, to
his appearance, and reminded me involuntarily of the tales which Mabel
used to tell of the old Picts who ravaged Northumberland in ancient
times, who, according to her tradition, were a sort of half-goblin
half-human beings, distinguished, like this man, for courage, cunning,
ferocity, the length of their arms, and the squareness of their
When, however, I recollected the circumstances in which we formerly met,
I could not doubt that the billet was most probably designed for him. He
had made a marked figure among those mysterious personages over whom
Diana seemed to exercise an influence, and from whom she experienced an
influence in her turn. It was painful to think that the fate of a being
so amiable was involved in that of desperadoes of this man's
description;--yet it seemed impossible to doubt it. Of what use, however,
could this person be to my father's affairs?--I could think only of one.
Rashleigh Osbaldistone had, at the instigation of Miss Vernon, certainly
found means to produce Mr. Campbell when his presence was necessary to
exculpate me from Morris's accusation--Was it not possible that her
influence, in like manner, might prevail on Campbell to produce
Rashleigh? Speaking on this supposition, I requested to know where my
dangerous kinsman was, and when Mr. Campbell had seen him. The answer was
"It's a kittle cast she has gien me to play; but yet it's fair play, and
I winna baulk her. Mr. Osbaldistone, I dwell not very far from hence--my
kinsman can show you the way--Leave Mr. Owen to do the best he can in
Glasgow--do you come and see me in the glens, and it's like I may
pleasure you, and stead your father in his extremity. I am but a poor
man; but wit's better than wealth--and, cousin" (turning from me to
address Mr. Jarvie), "if ye daur venture sae muckle as to eat a dish of
Scotch collops, and a leg o' red-deer venison wi' me, come ye wi' this
Sassenach gentleman as far as Drymen or Bucklivie,--or the Clachan of
Aberfoil will be better than ony o' them,--and I'll hae somebody waiting
to weise ye the gate to the place where I may be for the time--What say
ye, man? There's my thumb, I'll ne'er beguile thee."
"Na, na, Robin," said the cautious burgher, "I seldom like to leave the
Gorbals;* I have nae freedom to gang among your wild hills, Robin, and
your kilted red-shanks--it disna become my place, man."
* [The _Gorbals_ or "suburbs" are situate on the south side of the
"The devil damn your place and you baith!" reiterated Campbell. "The only
drap o' gentle bluid that's in your body was our great-grand-uncle's that
was justified* at Dumbarton, and you set yourself up to say ye wad
derogate frae your place to visit me!
* [Executed for treason.]
Hark thee, man--I owe thee a day in harst--I'll pay up your thousan pund
Scots, plack and bawbee, gin ye'll be an honest fallow for anes, and just
daiker up the gate wi' this Sassenach."
"Hout awa' wi' your gentility," replied the Bailie; "carry your gentle
bluid to the Cross, and see what ye'll buy wi't. But, if I _were_ to
come, wad ye really and soothfastly pay me the siller?"
"I swear to ye," said the Highlander, "upon the halidome of him that
sleeps beneath the grey stane at Inch-Cailleach."*
* Inch-Cailleach is an island in Lochlomond, where the clan of MacGregor
were wont to be interred, and where their sepulchres may still be seen.
It formerly contained a nunnery: hence the name of Inch-Cailleach, or the
island of Old Women.
"Say nae mair, Robin--say nae mair--We'll see what may be dune. But ye
maunna expect me to gang ower the Highland line--I'll gae beyond the line
at no rate. Ye maun meet me about Bucklivie or the Clachan of
Aberfoil,--and dinna forget the needful."
"Nae fear--nae fear," said Campbell; "I'll be as true as the steel blade
that never failed its master. But I must be budging, cousin, for the air
o' Glasgow tolbooth is no that ower salutary to a Highlander's
"Troth," replied the merchant, "and if my duty were to be dune, ye
couldna change your atmosphere, as the minister ca's it, this ae wee
while.--Ochon, that I sud ever be concerned in aiding and abetting an
escape frae justice! it will be a shame and disgrace to me and mine, and
my very father's memory, for ever."
"Hout tout, man! let that flee stick in the wa'," answered his kinsman;
"when the dirt's dry it will rub out--Your father, honest man, could look
ower a friend's fault as weel as anither."
"Ye may be right, Robin," replied the Bailie, after a moment's
reflection; "he was a considerate man the deacon; he ken'd we had a' our
frailties, and he lo'ed his friends--Ye'll no hae forgotten him, Robin?"
This question he put in a softened tone, conveying as much at least of
the ludicrous as the pathetic.
"Forgotten him!" replied his kinsman--"what suld ail me to forget him?--a
wapping weaver he was, and wrought my first pair o' hose.--But come awa',
Come fill up my cap, come fill up my cann,
Come saddle my horses, and call up my man;
Come open your gates, and let me gae free,
I daurna stay langer in bonny Dundee."
"Whisht, sir!" said the magistrate, in an authoritative tone--"lilting
and singing sae near the latter end o' the Sabbath! This house may hear
ye sing anither tune yet--Aweel, we hae a' backslidings to answer
for--Stanchells, open the door."
The jailor obeyed, and we all sallied forth. Stanchells looked with some
surprise at the two strangers, wondering, doubtless, how they came into
these premises without his knowledge; but Mr. Jarvie's "Friends o' mine,
Stanchells--friends o' mine," silenced all disposition to inquiries. We
now descended into the lower vestibule, and hallooed more than once for
Dougal, to which summons no answer was returned; when Campbell observed
with a sardonic smile, "That if Dougal was the lad he kent him, he would
scarce wait to get thanks for his ain share of the night's wark, but was
in all probability on the full trot to the pass of Ballamaha"--
"And left us--and, abune a', me, mysell, locked up in the tolbooth a'
night!" exclaimed the Bailie, in ire and perturbation. "Ca' for
forehammers, sledge-hammers, pinches, and coulters; send for Deacon
Yettlin, the smith, an let him ken that Bailie Jarvie's shut up in the
tolbooth by a Highland blackguard, whom he'll hang up as high as Haman"--
"When ye catch him," said Campbell, gravely; "but stay--the door is
surely not locked."
Indeed, on examination, we found that the door was not only left open,
but that Dougal in his retreat had, by carrying off the keys along with
him, taken care that no one should exercise his office of porter in a
"He has glimmerings o' common sense now, that creature Dougal," said
Campbell.--"he ken'd an open door might hae served me at a pinch."
We were by this time in the street.
"I tell you, Robin," said the magistrate, "in my puir mind, if ye live
the life ye do, ye suld hae ane o' your gillies door-keeper in every jail
in Scotland, in case o' the warst."
"Ane o' my kinsmen a bailie in ilka burgh will just do as weel, cousin
Nicol--So, gude-night or gude-morning to ye; and forget not the Clachan
And without waiting for an answer, he sprung to the other side of the
street, and was lost in darkness. Immediately on his disappearance, we
heard him give a low whistle of peculiar modulation, which was instantly
"Hear to the Hieland deevils," said Mr. Jarvie; "they think themselves on
the skirts of Benlomond already, where they may gang whewingand whistling
about without minding Sunday or Saturday." Here he was interrupted by
something which fell with a heavy clash on the street before us--"Gude
guide us what's this mair o't?--Mattie, haud up the lantern--Conscience
if it isna the keys!--Weel, that's just as weel--they cost the burgh
siller, and there might hae been some clavers about the loss o' them. O,
an Bailie Grahame were to get word o' this night's job, it would be a
sair hair in my neck!"
As we were still but a few steps from the tolbooth door, we carried back
these implements of office, and consigned them to the head jailor, who,
in lieu of the usual mode of making good his post by turning the keys,
was keeping sentry in the vestibule till the arrival of some assistant,
whom he had summoned in order to replace the Celtic fugitive Dougal.
Having discharged this piece of duty to the burgh, and my road lying the
same way with the honest magistrate's, I profited by the light of his
lantern, and he by my arm, to find our way through the streets, which,
whatever they may now be, were then dark, uneven, and ill-paved. Age is
easily propitiated by attentions from the young. The Bailie expressed
himself interested in me, and added, "That since I was nane o' that
play-acting and play-ganging generation, whom his saul hated, he wad be
glad if I wad eat a reisted haddock or a fresh herring, at breakfast wi'
him the morn, and meet my friend, Mr. Owen, whom, by that time, he would
place at liberty."
"My dear sir," said I, when I had accepted of the invitation with thanks,
"how could you possibly connect me with the stage?"
"I watna," replied Mr. Jarvie;--"it was a bletherin' phrasin' chield they
ca' Fairservice, that cam at e'en to get an order to send the crier
through the toun for ye at skreigh o' day the morn. He tell't me whae ye
were, and how ye were sent frae your father's house because ye wadna be a
dealer, and that ye mightna disgrace your family wi' ganging on the
stage. Ane Hammorgaw, our precentor, brought him here, and said he was an
auld acquaintance; but I sent them both away wi' a flae in their lug for
bringing me sic an errand, on sic a night. But I see he's a fule-creature
a'thegither, and clean mistaen about ye. I like ye, man," he continued;
"I like a lad that will stand by his friends in trouble--I aye did it
mysell, and sae did the deacon my father, rest and bless him! But ye
suldna keep ower muckle company wi' Hielandmen and thae wild cattle. Can
a man touch pitch and no be defiled?--aye mind that. Nae doubt, the best
and wisest may err--Once, twice, and thrice have I backslidden, man, and
dune three things this night--my father wadna hae believed his een if he
could hae looked up and seen me do them."
He was by this time arrived at the door of his own dwelling. He paused,
however, on the threshold, and went on in a solemn tone of deep
contrition,--"Firstly, I hae thought my ain thoughts on the
Sabbath--secondly, I hae gi'en security for an Englishman--and, in the
third and last place, well-a-day! I hae let an ill-doer escape from the
place of imprisonment--But there's balm in Gilead, Mr. Osbaldistone--
Mattie, I can let mysell in--see Mr. Osbaldistone to Luckie Flyter's, at
the corner o' the wynd.--Mr. Osbaldistone"--in a whisper--"ye'll offer
nae incivility to Mattie--she's an honest man's daughter, and a near
cousin o' the Laird o' Limmerfield's."
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.