Chapter 9

One of the thieves come back again! I’ll stand close.
He dares not wrong me now, so near the house,
And call in vain ’tis, till I see him offer it.

The Widow.

“A stranger!” echoed the Justice,—“not upon business, I trust, for I’ll be——”

His protestation was cut short by the answer of the man himself. “My business is of a nature somewhat onerous and particular,” said my acquaintance Mr. Campbell,—for it was he, the very Scotchman whom I had seen at Northallerton,—“and I must solicit your honour to give instant and heedful consideration to it—I believe, Mr. Morris,” he added, fixing his eye on that person with a look of peculiar firmness and almost ferocity—“I believe ye ken brawly what I am—I believe ye cannot have forgotten what passed at our last meeting on the road?” Morris’s jaw dropped—his countenance became the colour of tallow—his teeth chattered, and he gave visible signs of the utmost consternation. “Take heart of grace, man,” said Campbell, “and dinna sit clattering your jaws there like a pair of castanets! I think there can be nae difficulty in your telling Mr. Justice, that ye have seen me of yore, and ken me to be a cavalier of fortune, and a man of honour.—Ye ken fu’ weel ye will be some time resident in my vicinity, when I may have the power, as I will possess the inclination, to do you as good a turn.”

“Sir—sir—I believe you to be a man of honour, and, as you say, a man of fortune.—Yes, Mr. Inglewood,” he added, clearing his voice, “I really believe this gentleman to be so.”

“And what are this gentleman’s commands with me?” said the Justice, somewhat peevishly. “One man introduces another, like the rhymes in the ‘house that Jack built,’ and I get company without either peace or conversation!”

“Both shall be yours, sir,” answered Campbell, “in a brief period of time. I come to release your mind from a piece of troublesome duty, not to make increment to it.”

“Body o’ me! then you are welcome as ever Scot was to England, and that’s not saying much—but get on, man, let’s hear what you have got to say at once.”

“I presume this gentleman,” continued the North Briton, “told you there was a person of the name of Campbell with him, when he had the mischance to lose his valise?”

“He has not mentioned such a name, from beginning to end of the matter,” said the Justice.

“Ah! I conceive—I conceive,” replied Mr. Campbell; “Mr. Morris was kindly afeared of committing a stranger into collision wi’ the judicial forms of the country; but as I understand my evidence is necessary to the compurgation of ane honest gentleman here, Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, wha has been most unjustly suspected, I will dispense with the precaution—Ye will, therefore (he added, addressing Morris with the same determined look and accent), please tell Mr. Justice Inglewood, whether we did not travel several miles together on the road, in consequence of your own anxious request and suggestion, reiterated ance and again, baith on the evening that we were at Northallerton, and there declined by me, but afterwards accepted, when I overtook ye on the road near Cloberry Allers, and was prevailed on by you to resign my ain intentions of proceeding to Rothbury; and, for my misfortune, to accompany you on your proposed route.”

“It’s a melancholy truth,” answered Morris, holding down his head, as he gave this general assent to the long and leading question which Campbell put to him, and seeming to acquiesce in the statement it contained with rueful docility.

“And I presume you can also asseverate to his worship, that no man is better qualified than I am to bear testimony in this case, seeing that I was by you, and near you, constantly during the whole occurrence?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.