Chapter 23

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 this?” quoth he,—
“How came this carle here
    Without the leave o’ me?”

Old Song.

The magistrate took the light out of his 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 and anxious 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 stent-masters—”

“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 ilk 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 Hielands.”

“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

  By PanEris using Melati.

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