Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 17

_Dangle._--Egad, I think the interpreter is the harder to be
understood of the two.
Critic.

I had scarce given vent to my feelings in this paroxysm, ere was ashamed
of my weakness. I remembered that I had been for some time endeavouring
to regard Diana Vernon, when her idea intruded itself on my remembrance,
as a friend, for whose welfare I should indeed always be anxious, but
with whom I could have little further communication. But the almost
unrepressed tenderness of her manner, joined to the romance of our sudden
meeting where it was so little to have been expected, were circumstances
which threw me entirely off my guard. I recovered, however, sooner than
might have been expected, and without giving myself time accurately to
examine my motives. I resumed the path on which I had been travelling
when overtaken by this strange and unexpected apparition.

"I am not," was my reflection, "transgressing her injunction so
pathetically given, since I am but pursuing my own journey by the only
open route.--If I have succeeded in recovering my father's property, it
still remains incumbent on me to see my Glasgow friend delivered from the
situation in which he has involved himself on my account; besides, what
other place of rest can I obtain for the night excepting at the little
inn of Aberfoil? They also must stop there, since it is impossible for
travellers on horseback to go farther--Well, then, we shall meet
again--meet for the last time perhaps--But I shall see and hear her--I
shall learn who this happy man is who exercises over her the authority
of a husband--I shall learn if there remains, in the difficult course in
which she seems engaged, any difficulty which my efforts may remove, or
aught that I can do to express my gratitude for her generosity--for her
disinterested friendship."

As I reasoned thus with myself, colouring with every plausible pretext
which occurred to my ingenuity my passionate desire once more to see and
converse with my cousin, I was suddenly hailed by a touch on the
shoulder; and the deep voice of a Highlander, who, walking still faster
than I, though I was proceeding at a smart pace, accosted me with, "A
braw night, Maister Osbaldistone--we have met at the mirk hour before
now."

There was no mistaking the tone of MacGregor; he had escaped the pursuit
of his enemies, and was in full retreat to his own wilds and to his
adherents. He had also contrived to arm himself, probably at the house of
some secret adherent, for he had a musket on his shoulder, and the usual
Highland weapons by his side. To have found myself alone with such a
character in such a situation, and at this late hour in the evening,
might not have been pleasant to me in any ordinary mood of mind; for,
though habituated to think of Rob Roy in rather a friendly point of view,
I will confess frankly that I never heard him speak but that it seemed to
thrill my blood. The intonation of the mountaineers gives a habitual
depth and hollowness to the sound of their words, owing to the guttural
expression so common in their native language, and they usually speak
with a good deal of emphasis. To these national peculiarities Rob Roy
added a sort of hard indifference of accent and manner, expressive of a
mind neither to be daunted, nor surprised, nor affected by what passed
before him, however dreadful, however sudden, however afflicting.
Habitual danger, with unbounded confidence in his own strength and
sagacity, had rendered him indifferent to fear, and the lawless and
precarious life he led had blunted, though its dangers and errors had not
destroyed, his feelings for others. And it was to be remembered that I
had very lately seen the followers of this man commit a cruel slaughter
on an unarmed and suppliant individual.

Yet such was the state of my mind, that I welcomed the company of the
outlaw leader as a relief to my own overstrained and painful thoughts;
and was not without hopes that through his means I might obtain some clew
of guidance through the maze in which my fate had involved me. I
therefore answered his greeting cordially, and congratulated him on his
late escape in circumstances when escape seemed impossible.

"Ay," he replied, "there is as much between the craig and the woodie* as
there is between the cup and the lip. But my peril was less than you may
think, being a stranger to this country.

* _i.e._ The throat and the withy. Twigs of willow, such as bind faggots,
were often used for halters in Scotland and Ireland, being a sage economy
of hemp.

Of those that were summoned to take me, and to keep me, and to retake me
again, there was a moiety, as cousin Nicol Jarvie calls it, that had nae
will that I suld be either taen, or keepit fast, or retaen; and of tother
moiety, there was as half was feared to stir me; and so I had only like
the fourth part of fifty or sixty men to deal withal."

"And enough, too, I should think," replied I.

"I dinna ken that," said he; "but I ken, that turn every ill-willer that
I had amang them out upon the green before the Clachan of Aberfoil, I wad
find them play with broadsword and target, one down and another come on."

He now inquired into my adventures since we entered his country, and
laughed heartily at my account of the battle we had in the inn, and at
the exploits of the Bailie with the red-hot poker.

"Let Glasgow Flourish!" he exclaimed. "The curse of Cromwell on me, if I
wad hae wished better sport than to see cousin Nicol Jarvie singe
Iverach's plaid, like a sheep's head between a pair of tongs. But my
cousin Jarvie," he added, more gravely, "has some gentleman's bluid in
his veins, although he has been unhappily bred up to a peaceful and
mechanical craft, which could not but blunt any pretty man's spirit.--Ye
may estimate the reason why I could not receive you at the Clachan of
Aberfoil as I purposed. They had made a fine hosenet for me when I was
absent twa or three days at Glasgow, upon the king's business--But I
think I broke up the league about their lugs--they'll no be able to hound
one clan against another as they hae dune. I hope soon to see the day
when a' Hielandmen will stand shouther to shouther. But what chanced
next?"

I gave him an account of the arrival of Captain Thornton and his party,
and the arrest of the Bailie and myself under pretext of our being
suspicious persons; and upon his more special inquiry, I recollected the
officer had mentioned that, besides my name sounding suspicious in his
ears, he had orders to secure an old and young person, resembling our
description. This again moved the outlaw's risibility.

"As man lives by bread," he said, "the buzzards have mistaen my friend
the Bailie for his Excellency, and you for Diana Vernon--O, the most
egregious night-howlets!"

"Miss Vernon?" said I, with hesitation, and trembling for the
answer--"Does she still bear that name? She passed but now, along with
a gentleman who seemed to use a style of authority."

"Ay, ay," answered Rob, "she's under lawfu' authority now; and full time,
for she was a daft hempie--But she's a mettle quean. It's a pity his
Excellency is a thought eldern. The like o' yourself, or my son Hamish,
wad be mair sortable in point of years."

Here, then, was a complete downfall of those castles of cards which my
fancy had, in despite of my reason, so often amused herself with
building. Although in truth I had scarcely anything else to expect, since
I could not suppose that Diana could be travelling in such a country, at
such an hour, with any but one who had a legal title to protect her, I
did not feel the blow less severely when it came; and MacGregor's voice,
urging me to pursue my story, sounded in my ears without conveying any
exact import to my mind.

"You are ill," he said at length, after he had spoken twice without
receiving an answer; "this day's wark has been ower muckle for ane
doubtless unused to sic things."

The tone of kindness in which this was spoken, recalling me to myself,
and to the necessities of my situation, I continued my narrative as well
as I could. Rob Roy expressed great exultation at the successful skirmish
in the pass.

"They say," he observed, "that king's chaff is better than other folk's
corn; but I think that canna be said o' king's soldiers, if they let
themselves be beaten wi' a wheen auld carles that are past fighting, and
bairns that are no come till't, and wives wi' their rocks and distaffs,
the very wally-draigles o' the countryside. And Dougal Gregor, too--wha
wad hae thought there had been as muckle sense in his tatty-pow, that
ne'er had a better covering than his ain shaggy hassock of hair!--But say
away--though I dread what's to come neist--for my Helen's an incarnate
devil when her bluid's up--puir thing, she has ower muckle reason."

I observed as much delicacy as I could in communicating to him the usage
we had received, but I obviously saw the detail gave him great pain.

"I wad rather than a thousand merks," he said, "that I had been at hame!
To misguide strangers, and forbye a', my ain natural cousin, that had
showed me sic kindness--I wad rather they had burned half the Lennox in
their folly! But this comes o' trusting women and their bairns, that have
neither measure nor reason in their dealings. However, it's a' owing to
that dog of a gauger, wha betrayed me by pretending a message from your
cousin Rashleigh, to meet him on the king's affairs, whilk I thought was
very like to be anent Garschattachin and a party of the Lennox declaring
themselves for King James. Faith! but I ken'd I was clean beguiled when I
heard the Duke was there; and when they strapped the horse-girth ower my
arms, I might hae judged what was biding me; for I ken'd your kinsman,
being, wi' pardon, a slippery loon himself, is prone to employ those of
his ain kidney--I wish he mayna hae been at the bottom o' the ploy
himsell--I thought the chield Morris looked devilish queer when I
determined he should remain a wad, or hostage, for my safe back-coming.
But I _am_ come back, nae thanks to him, or them that employed him; and
the question is, how the collector loon is to win back himsell--I promise
him it will not be without a ransom."

"Morris," said I, "has already paid the last ransom which mortal man can
owe."

"Eh! What?" exclaimed my companion hastily; "what d'ye say? I trust it
was in the skirmish he was killed?"

"He was slain in cold blood after the fight was over, Mr. Campbell."

"Cold blood?--Damnation!" he said, muttering betwixt his teeth--"How fell
that, sir? Speak out, sir, and do not Maister or Campbell me--my foot is
on my native heath, and my name is MacGregor!"

His passions were obviously irritated; but without noticing the rudeness
of his tone, I gave him a short and distinct account of the death of
Morris. He struck the butt of his gun with great vehemence against the
ground, and broke out--"I vow to God, such a deed might make one forswear
kin, clan, country, wife, and bairns! And yet the villain wrought long
for it. And what is the difference between warsling below the water wi' a
stane about your neck, and wavering in the wind wi' a tether round
it?--it's but choking after a', and he drees the doom he ettled for me. I
could have wished, though, they had rather putten a ball through him, or
a dirk; for the fashion of removing him will give rise to mony idle
clavers--But every wight has his weird, and we maun a' dee when our day
comes--And naebody will deny that Helen MacGregor has deep wrongs to
avenge."

So saying, he seemed to dismiss the theme altogether from his mind, and
proceeded to inquire how I got free from the party in whose hands he had
seen me.

My story was soon told; and I added the episode of my having recovered
the papers of my father, though I dared not trust my voice to name the
name of Diana.

"I was sure ye wad get them," said MacGregor;--"the letter ye brought me
contained his Excellency's pleasure to that effect and nae doubt it was
my will to have aided in it. And I asked ye up into this glen on the very
errand. But it's like his Excellency has foregathered wi' Rashleigh
sooner than I expected."

The first part of this answer was what most forcibly struck me.

"Was the letter I brought you, then, from this person you call his
Excellency? Who is he? and what is his rank and proper name?"

"I am thinking," said MacGregor, "that since ye dinna ken them already
they canna be o' muckle consequence to you, and sae I shall say naething
on that score. But weel I wot the letter was frae his ain hand, or,
having a sort of business of my ain on my hands, being, as ye weel may
see, just as much as I can fairly manage, I canna say I would hae fashed
mysell sae muckle about the matter."

I now recollected the lights seen in the library--the various
circumstances which had excited my jealousy--the glove--the agitation of
the tapestry which covered the secret passage from Rashleigh's apartment;
and, above all, I recollected that Diana retired in order to write, as I
then thought, the billet to which I was to have recourse in case of the
last necessity. Her hours, then, were not spent in solitude, but in
listening to the addresses of some desperate agent of Jacobitical
treason, who was a secret resident within the mansion of her uncle! Other
young women have sold themselves for gold, or suffered themselves to be
seduced from their first love from vanity; but Diana had sacrificed my
affections and her own to partake the fortunes of some desperate
adventurer--to seek the haunts of freebooters through midnight deserts,
with no better hopes of rank or fortune than that mimicry of both which
the mock court of the Stuarts at St. Germains had in their power to
bestow.

"I will see her," I said internally, "if it be possible, once more. I
will argue with her as a friend--as a kinsman--on the risk she is
incurring, and I will facilitate her retreat to France, where she may,
with more comfort and propriety, as well as safety, abide the issue of
the turmoils which the political trepanner, to whom she has united her
fate, is doubtless busied in putting into motion."

"I conclude, then," I said to MacGregor, after about five minutes'
silence on both sides, "that his Excellency, since you give me no other
name for him, was residing in Osbaldistone Hall at the same time with
myself?"

"To be sure--to be sure--and in the young lady's apartment, as best
reason was." This gratuitous information was adding gall to bitterness.
"But few," added MacGregor, "ken'd he was derned there, save Rashleigh
and Sir Hildebrand; for you were out o' the question; and the young lads
haena wit eneugh to ca' the cat frae the cream--But it's a bra'
auld-fashioned house, and what I specially admire is the abundance o'
holes and bores and concealments--ye could put twenty or thirty men in ae
corner, and a family might live a week without finding them out--whilk,
nae doubt, may on occasion be a special convenience. I wish we had the
like o' Osbaldistone Hall on the braes o' Craig-Royston--But we maun gar
woods and caves serve the like o' us puir Hieland bodies."

"I suppose his Excellency," said I, "was privy to the first accident
which befell"--

I could not help hesitating a moment.

"Ye were going to say Morris," said Rob Roy coolly, for he was too much
accustomed to deeds of violence for the agitation he had at first
expressed to be of long continuance. "I used to laugh heartily at that
reik; but I'll hardly hae the heart to do't again, since the ill-far'd
accident at the Loch. Na, na--his Excellency ken'd nought o' that
ploy--it was a' managed atween Rashleigh and mysell. But the sport that
came after--and Rashleigh's shift o' turning the suspicion aff himself
upon you, that he had nae grit favour to frae the beginning--and then
Miss Die, she maun hae us sweep up a' our spiders' webs again, and set
you out o' the Justice's claws--and then the frightened craven Morris,
that was scared out o' his seven senses by seeing the real man when he
was charging the innocent stranger--and the gowk of a clerk--and the
drunken carle of a justice--Ohon! ohon!--mony a laugh that job's gien
me--and now, a' that I can do for the puir devil is to get some messes
said for his soul."

"May I ask," said I, "how Miss Vernon came to have so much influence over
Rashleigh and his accomplices as to derange your projected plan?"

"Mine! it was none of mine. No man can say I ever laid my burden on other
folk's shoulders--it was a' Rashleigh's doings. But, undoubtedly, she had
great influence wi' us baith on account of his Excellency's affection, as
weel as that she ken'd far ower mony secrets to be lightlied in a matter
o' that kind.--Deil tak him," he ejaculated, by way of summing up, "that
gies women either secret to keep or power to abuse--fules shouldna hae
chapping-sticks."

We were now within a quarter of a mile from the village, when three
Highlanders, springing upon us with presented arms, commanded us to stand
and tell our business. The single word _Gregaragh,_ in the deep and
commanding voice of my companion, was answered by a shout, or rather
yell, of joyful recognition. One, throwing down his firelock, clasped his
leader so fast round the knees, that he was unable to extricate himself,
muttering, at the same time, a torrent of Gaelic gratulation, which every
now and then rose into a sort of scream of gladness. The two others,
after the first howling was over, set off literally with the speed of
deers, contending which should first carry to the village, which a strong
party of the MacGregors now occupied, the joyful news of Rob Roy's escape
and return. The intelligence excited such shouts of jubilation, that the
very hills rung again, and young and old, men, women, and children,
without distinction of sex or age, came running down the vale to meet us,
with all the tumultuous speed and clamour of a mountain torrent. When I
heard the rushing noise and yells of this joyful multitude approach us, I
thought it a fitting precaution to remind MacGregor that I was a
stranger, and under his protection. He accordingly held me fast by the
hand, while the assemblage crowded around him with such shouts of devoted
attachment, and joy at his return, as were really affecting; nor did he
extend to his followers what all eagerly sought, the grasp, namely, of
his hand, until he had made them understand that I was to be kindly and
carefully used.

The mandate of the Sultan of Delhi could not have been more promptly
obeyed. Indeed, I now sustained nearly as much inconvenience from their
well-meant attentions as formerly from their rudeness. They would hardly
allow the friend of their leader to walk upon his own legs, so earnest
were they in affording me support and assistance upon the way; and at
length, taking advantage of a slight stumble which I made over a stone,
which the press did not permit me to avoid, they fairly seized upon me,
and bore me in their arms in triumph towards Mrs. MacAlpine's.

On arrival before her hospitable wigwam, I found power and popularity had
its inconveniences in the Highlands, as everywhere else; for, before
MacGregor could be permitted to enter the house where he was to obtain
rest and refreshment, he was obliged to relate the story of his escape at
least a dozen times over, as I was told by an officious old man, who
chose to translate it at least as often for my edification, and to whom I
was in policy obliged to seem to pay a decent degree of attention. The
audience being at length satisfied, group after group departed to take
their bed upon the heath, or in the neighbouring huts, some cursing the
Duke and Garschattachin, some lamenting the probable danger of Ewan of
Brigglands, incurred by his friendship to MacGregor, but all agreeing
that the escape of Rob Roy himself lost nothing in comparison with the
exploit of any one of their chiefs since the days of Dougal Ciar, the
founder of his line.

The friendly outlaw, now taking me by the arm, conducted me into the
interior of the hut. My eyes roved round its smoky recesses in quest of
Diana and her companion; but they were nowhere to be seen, and I felt as
if to make inquiries might betray some secret motives, which were best
concealed. The only known countenance upon which my eyes rested was that
of the Bailie, who, seated on a stool by the fireside, received with a
sort of reserved dignity, the welcomes of Rob Roy, the apologies which he
made for his indifferent accommodation, and his inquiries after his
health.

"I am pretty weel, kinsman," said the Bailie--"indifferent weel, I thank
ye; and for accommodations, ane canna expect to carry about the Saut
Market at his tail, as a snail does his caup;--and I am blythe that ye
hae gotten out o' the hands o' your unfreends."

"Weel, weel, then," answered Roy, "what is't ails ye, man--a's weel that
ends weel!--the warld will last our day--Come, take a cup o' brandy--your
father the deacon could take ane at an orra time."

"It might be he might do sae, Robin, after fatigue--whilk has been my lot
mair ways than ane this day. But," he continued, slowly filling up a
little wooden stoup which might hold about three glasses, "he was a
moderate man of his bicker, as I am mysell--Here's wussing health to ye,
Robin" (a sip), "and your weelfare here and hereafter" (another taste),
"and also to my cousin Helen--and to your twa hopefu' lads, of whom mair
anon."

So saying, he drank up the contents of the cup with great gravity and
deliberation, while MacGregor winked aside to me, as if in ridicule of
the air of wisdom and superior authority which the Bailie assumed towards
him in their intercourse, and which he exercised when Rob was at the head
of his armed clan, in full as great, or a greater degree, than when he
was at the Bailie's mercy in the Tolbooth of Glasgow. It seemed to me,
that MacGregor wished me, as a stranger, to understand, that if he
submitted to the tone which his kinsman assumed, it was partly out of
deference to the rights of hospitality, but still more for the jest's
sake.

As the Bailie set down his cup he recognised me, and giving me a cordial
welcome on my return, he waived farther communication with me for the
present.--"I will speak to your matters anon; I maun begin, as in reason,
wi' those of my kinsman.--I presume, Robin, there's naebody here will
carry aught o' what I am gaun to say, to the town-council or elsewhere,
to my prejudice or to yours?"

"Make yourself easy on that head, cousin Nicol," answered MacGregor; "the
tae half o' the gillies winna ken what ye say, and the tother winna
care--besides that, I wad stow the tongue out o' the head o' any o' them
that suld presume to say ower again ony speech held wi' me in their
presence."

"Aweel, cousin, sic being the case, and Mr. Osbaldistone here being a
prudent youth, and a safe friend--I'se plainly tell ye, ye are breeding
up your family to gang an ill gate." Then, clearing his voice with a
preliminary hem, he addressed his kinsman, checking, as Malvolio proposed
to do when seated in his state, his familiar smile with an austere regard
of control.--"Ye ken yourself ye haud light by the law--and for my cousin
Helen, forbye that her reception o' me this blessed day--whilk I excuse
on account of perturbation of mind, was muckle on the north side o'
_friendly,_ I say (outputting this personal reason of complaint) I hae
that to say o' your wife"--

"Say _nothing_ of her, kinsman," said Rob, in a grave and stern tone,
"but what is befitting a friend to say, and her husband to hear. Of me
you are welcome to say your full pleasure."

"Aweel, aweel," said the Bailie, somewhat disconcerted, "we'se let that
be a pass-over--I dinna approve of making mischief in families. But here
are your twa sons, Hamish and Robin, whilk signifies, as I'm gien to
understand, James and Robert--I trust ye will call them sae in
future--there comes nae gude o' Hamishes, and Eachines, and Angusses,
except that they're the names ane aye chances to see in the indictments
at the Western Circuits for cow-lifting, at the instance of his
majesty's advocate for his majesty's interest. Aweel, but the twa lads,
as I was saying, they haena sae muckle as the ordinar grunds, man, of
liberal education--they dinna ken the very multiplication table itself,
whilk is the root of a' usefu' knowledge, and they did naething but
laugh and fleer at me when I tauld them my mind on their ignorance--It's
my belief they can neither read, write, nor cipher, if sic a thing could
be believed o' ane's ain connections in a Christian land."

"If they could, kinsman," said MacGregor, with great indifference, "their
learning must have come o' free will, for whar the deil was I to get them
a teacher?--wad ye hae had me put on the gate o' your Divinity Hall at
Glasgow College, 'Wanted, a tutor for Rob Roy's bairns?'"

"Na, kinsman," replied Mr. Jarvie, "but ye might hae sent the lads whar
they could hae learned the fear o' God, and the usages of civilised
creatures. They are as ignorant as the kyloes ye used to drive to market,
or the very English churls that ye sauld them to, and can do naething
whatever to purpose."

"Umph!" answered Rob; "Hamish can bring doun a black-cock when he's on
the wing wi' a single bullet, and Rob can drive a dirk through a twa-inch
board."

"Sae muckle the waur for them, cousin!--sae muckle the waur for them
baith!" answered the Glasgow merchant in a tone of great decision; "an
they ken naething better than that, they had better no ken that neither.
Tell me yourself, Rob, what has a' this cutting, and stabbing, and
shooting, and driving of dirks, whether through human flesh or fir deals,
dune for yourself?--and werena ye a happier man at the tail o' your
nowte-bestial, when ye were in an honest calling, than ever ye hae been
since, at the head o' your Hieland kernes and gally-glasses?"

I observed that MacGregor, while his well-meaning kinsman spoke to him in
this manner, turned and writhed his body like a man who indeed suffers
pain, but is determined no groan shall escape his lips; and I longed for
an opportunity to interrupt the well-meant, but, as it was obvious to me,
quite mistaken strain, in which Jarvie addressed this extraordinary
person. The dialogue, however, came to an end without my interference.

"And sae," said the Bailie, "I hae been thinking, Rob, that as it may be
ye are ower deep in the black book to win a pardon, and ower auld to mend
yourself, that it wad be a pity to bring up twa hopefu' lads to sic a
godless trade as your ain, and I wad blythely tak them for prentices at
the loom, as I began mysell, and my father the deacon afore me, though,
praise to the Giver, I only trade now as wholesale dealer--And--and"--

He saw a storm gathering on Rob's brow, which probably induced him to
throw in, as a sweetener of an obnoxious proposition, what he had
reserved to crown his own generosity, had it been embraced as an
acceptable one;--"and Robin, lad, ye needna look sae glum, for I'll pay
the prentice-fee, and never plague ye for the thousand merks neither."

"_Ceade millia diaoul,_ hundred thousand devils!" exclaimed Rob,
rising and striding through the hut, "My sons weavers!--_Millia
molligheart!_--but I wad see every loom in Glasgow, beam, traddles,
and shuttles, burnt in hell-fire sooner!"

With some difficulty I made the Bailie, who was preparing a reply,
comprehend the risk and impropriety of pressing our host on this topic,
and in a minute he recovered, or reassumed, his serenity of temper.

"But ye mean weel--ye mean weel," said he; "so gie me your hand, Nicol,
and if ever I put my sons apprentice, I will gie you the refusal o' them.
And, as you say, there's the thousand merks to be settled between us.--
Here, Eachin MacAnaleister, bring me my sporran."

The person he addressed, a tall, strong mountaineer, who seemed to act as
MacGregor's lieutenant, brought from some place of safety a large
leathern pouch, such as Highlanders of rank wear before them when in full
dress, made of the skin of the sea-otter, richly garnished with silver
ornaments and studs.

"I advise no man to attempt opening this sporran till he has my secret,"
said Rob Roy; and then twisting one button in one direction, and another
in another, pulling one stud upward, and pressing another downward, the
mouth of the purse, which was bound with massive silver plate, opened and
gave admittance to his hand. He made me remark, as if to break short the
subject on which Bailie Jarvie had spoken, that a small steel pistol was
concealed within the purse, the trigger of which was connected with the
mounting, and made part of the machinery, so that the weapon would
certainly be discharged, and in all probability its contents lodged in
the person of any one, who, being unacquainted with the secret, should
tamper with the lock which secured his treasure. "This," said he touching
the pistol--"this is the keeper of my privy purse."

The simplicity of the contrivance to secure a furred pouch, which could
have been ripped open without any attempt on the spring, reminded me of
the verses in the Odyssey, where Ulysses, in a yet ruder age, is content
to secure his property by casting a curious and involved complication of
cordage around the sea-chest in which it was deposited.

The Bailie put on his spectacles to examine the mechanism, and when he
had done, returned it with a smile and a sigh, observing--"Ah! Rob, had
ither folk's purses been as weel guarded, I doubt if your sporran wad hae
been as weel filled as it kythes to be by the weight."

"Never mind, kinsman," said Rob, laughing; "it will aye open for a
friend's necessity, or to pay a just due--and here," he added, pulling
out a rouleau of gold, "here is your ten hundred merks--count them, and
see that you are full and justly paid."

Mr. Jarvie took the money in silence, and weighing it in his hand for an
instant, laid it on the table, and replied, "Rob, I canna tak it--I downa
intromit with it--there can nae gude come o't--I hae seen ower weel the
day what sort of a gate your gowd is made in--ill-got gear ne'er
prospered; and, to be plain wi' you, I winna meddle wi't--it looks as
there might be bluid on't."

"Troutsho!" said the outlaw, affecting an indifference which perhaps he
did not altogether feel; "it's gude French gowd, and ne'er was in
Scotchman's pouch before mine. Look at them, man--they are a'
louis-d'ors, bright and bonnie as the day they were coined."

"The waur, the waur--just sae muckle the waur, Robin," replied the
Bailie, averting his eyes from the money, though, like Caesar on the
Lupercal, his fingers seemed to itch for it--"Rebellion is waur than
witchcraft, or robbery either; there's gospel warrant for't."

"Never mind the warrant, kinsman," said the freebooter; "you come by the
gowd honestly, and in payment of a just debt--it came from the one king,
you may gie it to the other, if ye like; and it will just serve for a
weakening of the enemy, and in the point where puir King James is weakest
too, for, God knows, he has hands and hearts eneugh, but I doubt he wants
the siller."

"He'll no get mony Hielanders then, Robin," said Mr. Jarvie, as, again
replacing his spectacles on his nose, he undid the rouleau, and began to
count its contents.

"Nor Lowlanders neither," said MacGregor, arching his eyebrow, and, as he
looked at me, directing a glance towards Mr. Jarvie, who, all unconscious
of the ridicule, weighed each piece with habitual scrupulosity; and
having told twice over the sum, which amounted to the discharge of his
debt, principal and interest, he returned three pieces to buy his
kinswoman a gown, as he expressed himself, and a brace more for the twa
bairns, as he called them, requesting they might buy anything they liked
with them except gunpowder. The Highlander stared at his kinsman's
unexpected generosity, but courteously accepted his gift, which he
deposited for the time in his well-secured pouch.

The Bailie next produced the original bond for the debt, on the back of
which he had written a formal discharge, which, having subscribed
himself, he requested me to sign as a witness. I did so, and Bailie
Jarvie was looking anxiously around for another, the Scottish law
requiring the subscription of two witnesses to validate either a bond or
acquittance. "You will hardly find a man that can write save ourselves
within these three miles," said Rob, "but I'll settle the matter as
easily;" and, taking the paper from before his kinsman, he threw it in
the fire. Bailie Jarvie stared in his turn, but his kinsman continued,
"That's a Hieland settlement of accounts. The time might come, cousin,
were I to keep a' these charges and discharges, that friends might be
brought into trouble for having dealt with me."

The Bailie attempted no reply to this argument, and our supper now
appeared in a style of abundance, and even delicacy, which, for the
place, might be considered as extraordinary. The greater part of the
provisions were cold, intimating they had been prepared at some distance;
and there were some bottles of good French wine to relish pasties of
various sorts of game, as well as other dishes. I remarked that
MacGregor, while doing the honours of the table with great and anxious
hospitality, prayed us to excuse the circumstance that some particular
dish or pasty had been infringed on before it was presented to us. "You
must know," said he to Mr. Jarvie, but without looking towards me, "you
are not the only guests this night in the MacGregor's country, whilk,
doubtless, ye will believe, since my wife and the twa lads would
otherwise have been maist ready to attend you, as weel beseems them."

Bailie Jarvie looked as if he felt glad at any circumstance which
occasioned their absence; and I should have been entirely of his opinion,
had it not been that the outlaw's apology seemed to imply they were in
attendance on Diana and her companion, whom even in my thoughts I could
not bear to designate as her husband.

While the unpleasant ideas arising from this suggestion counteracted the
good effects of appetite, welcome, and good cheer, I remarked that Rob
Roy's attention had extended itself to providing us better bedding than
we had enjoyed the night before. Two of the least fragile of the
bedsteads, which stood by the wall of the hut, had been stuffed with
heath, then in full flower, so artificially arranged, that, the flowers
being uppermost, afforded a mattress at once elastic and fragrant.
Cloaks, and such bedding as could be collected, stretched over this
vegetable couch, made it both soft and warm. The Bailie seemed exhausted
by fatigue. I resolved to adjourn my communication to him until next
morning; and therefore suffered him to betake himself to bed so soon as
he had finished a plentiful supper. Though tired and harassed, I did not
myself feel the same disposition to sleep, but rather a restless and
feverish anxiety, which led to some farther discourse betwixt me and
MacGregor.

Sir Walter Scott