Chapter 27

Far as the eye could reach no tree was seen,
Earth, clad in russet, scorn’d the lively green;
No birds, except as birds of passage, flew;
No bee was heard to hum, no dove to coo;
No streams, as amber smooth—as amber clear,
Were seen to glide, or heard to warble here.

Prophecy of Famine.

It was in the bracing atmosphere of a harvest morning, that I met by appointment Fairservice, with the horses, at the door of Mr. Jarvie’s house, which was but little space distant from Mrs. Flyter’s hotel. The first matter which caught my attention was, that whatever were the deficiencies of the pony which Mr. Fairservice’s legal adviser, Clerk Touthope, generously bestowed upon him in exchange for Thorncliff’s mare, he had contrived to part with it, and procure in its stead an animal with so curious and complete a lameness, that it seemed only to make use of three legs for the purpose of progression, while the fourth appeared as if meant to be flourished in the air by way of accompaniment. “What do you mean by bringing such a creature as that here, sir? and where is the pony you rode to Glasgow upon?” were my very natural and impatient inquiries.

“I sell’t it, sir. It was a slink beast, and wad hae eaten its head aff, standing at Luckie Flyter’s at livery. And I hae bought this on your honour’s account. It’s a grand bargain—cost but a pund sterling the foot—that’s four a’thegither. The stringhalt will gae aff when it’s gaen a mile; it’s a weel-kend ganger; they ca’ it Souple Tam.”

“On my soul, sir!” said I, “you will never rest till my supple-jack and your shoulders become acquainted. If you do not go instantly and procure the other brute, you shall pay the penalty of your ingenuity.”

Andrew, notwithstanding my threats, continued to battle the point, as he said it would cost him a guinea of ruebargain to the man who had bought his pony before he could get it back again. Like a true Englishman, though sensible I was duped by the rascal, I was about to pay his exaction rather than lose time, when forth sallied Mr. Jarvie, cloaked, mantled, hooded, and booted, as if for a Siberian winter, while two apprentices, under the immediate direction of Mattie, led forth the decent ambling steed which had the honour on such occasions to support the person of the Glasgow magistrate. Ere he “clombe to the saddle,” an expression more descriptive of the Bailie’s mode of mounting than that of the knights-errant to whom Spenser applies it, he inquired the cause of the dispute betwixt my servant and me. Having learned the nature of honest Andrew’s manœuvre, he instantly cut short all debate by pronouncing, that if Fairservice did not forthwith return the three-legged palfrey, and produce the more useful quadruped which he had discarded, he would send him to prison, and amerce him in half his wages. “Mr. Osbaldistone,” said he, “contracted for the service of both your horse and you—twa brutes at ance—ye unconscionable rascal!—but I’se look weel after you during this journey.”

“It will be nonsense fining me,” said Andrew doughtily, “that hasna a grey groat to pay a fine wi’—it’s ill taking the breeks aff a Hielandman.”

“If ye hae nae purse to fine, ye hae flesh to pine,” replied the Bailie, “and I will look weel to ye getting your deserts the tae way or the tither.”

To the commands of Mr. Jarvie, therefore, Andrew was compelled to submit, only muttering between his teeth, “Ower mony maisters—ower mony maisters, as the paddock said to the harrow, when every tooth gae her a tig.”

Apparently he found no difficulty in getting rid of Supple Tam, and recovering possession of his former Bucephalus, for he accomplished the exchange without being many minutes absent; nor did I hear further of his having paid any smart-money for breach of bargain.

We now set forward, but had not reached the top of the street in which Mr. Jarvie dwelt, when a loud hallooing, and breathless call of “Stop, stop!” was heard behind us. We stopped accordingly, and were overtaken by Mr. Jarvie’s two lads, who bore two parting tokens of Mattie’s care for her master. The

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