Chapter 24

“Will it please your worship to accept of my poor service? I beseech that I may feed upon your bread, though it be the brownest, and drink of your drink, though it be of the smallest; for I will do your worship as much service for forty shillings as another man shall for three pounds.”

—Green’s Tu Quoque.

I remembered the honest Bailie’s parting charge, but did not conceive there was any incivility in adding a kiss to the half-crown with which I remunerated Mattie’s attendance; nor did her “Fie for shame, sir,” express any very deadly resentment of the affront. Repeated knocking at Mrs. Flyter’s gate awakened in due order, first, one or two stray dogs, who began to bark with all their might; next two or three night- capped heads, which were thrust out of the neighbouring windows to reprehend me for disturbing the solemnity of the Sunday night by that untimely noise. While I trembled lest the thunders of their wrath might dissolve in showers like that of Xantippe, Mrs. Flyter herself awoke, and began, in a tone of objurgation not unbecoming the philosophical spouse of Socrates, to scold one or two loiterers in her kitchen, for not hastening to the door to prevent a repetition of my noisy summons.

These worthies were, indeed, nearly concerned in the fracas which their laziness occasioned, being no other than the faithful Mr. Fairservice, with his friend Mr. Hammorgaw, and another person, whom I afterwards found to be the town-crier, who were sitting over a cog of ale, as they called it (at my expense, as my bill afterwards informed me), in order to devise the terms and style of a proclamation to be made through the streets the next day, in order that “the unfortunate young gentleman,” as they had the impudence to qualify me, might be restored to his friends without farther delay. It may be supposed that I did not suppress my displeasure at this impertinent interference with my affairs; but Andrew set up such ejaculations of transport at my arrival, as fairly drowned my expressions of resentment. His raptures, perchance, were partly political; and the tears of joy which he shed had certainly their source in that noble fountain of emotion, the tankard. However, the tumultuous glee which he felt, or pretended to feel at my return, saved Andrew the broken head which I had twice destined him; first, on account of the colloquy he had held with the precentor on my affairs; and, secondly, for the impertinent history he had thought proper to give of me to Mr. Jarvie. I however contented myself with slapping the door of my bedroom in his face as he followed me, praising Heaven for my safe return, and mixing his joy with admonitions to me to take care how I walked my own ways in future. I then went to bed, resolving my first business in the morning should be to discharge this trouble-some, pedantic, self-conceited coxcomb, who seemed so much disposed to constitute himself rather a preceptor than a domestic.

Accordingly, in the morning I resumed my purpose, and calling Andrew into my apartment, requested to know his charge for guiding and attending me as far as Glasgow. Mr. Fairservice looked very blank at this demand, justly considering it as a presage to approaching dismission.

“Your honour,” he said, after some hesitation, “wunna think—wunna think——”

“Speak out, you rascal, or I’ll break your head,” said I, as Andrew, between the double risk of losing all by asking too much, or a part, by stating his demand lower than what I might be willing to pay, stood gasping in the agony of doubt and calculation.

Out it came with a bolt, however, at my threat; as the kind violence of a blow on the back sometimes delivers the windpipe from an intrusive morsel. “Aughteen pennies sterling per diem—that is by the day—your honour wadna think unconscionable.”

“It is double what is usual, and treble what you merit, Andrew; but there’s a guinea for you, and get about your business.”

“The Lord forgi’e us! Is your honour mad?” exclaimed Andrew.

“No; but I think you mean to make me so—I give you a third above your demand, and you stand staring and expostulating there as if I were cheating you.—Take your money, and go about your business.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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