Chapter 31

“Woe to the vanquish’d!” was stern Brenno’s word,
When sunk proud Rome beneath the Gallic sword—
“Woe to the vanquish’d!” when his massive blade
Bore down the scale against her ransom weigh’d;
And on the field of foughten battle still,
Woe knows no limit save the victor’s will.

The Gaulliad.

I anxiously endeavoured to distinguish Dougal among the victors. I had little doubt that the part he had played was assumed, on purpose to lead the English officer into the defile, and I could not help admiring the address with which the ignorant, and apparently half-brutal savage, had veiled his purpose, and the affected reluctance with which he had suffered to be extracted from him the false information which it must have been his purpose from the beginning to communicate. I foresaw we should incur some danger on approaching the victors in the first flush of their success, which was not unstained with cruelty, for one or two of the soldiers, whose wounds prevented them from rising, were poniarded by the victors, or rather by some ragged Highland boys who had mingled with them. I concluded, therefore, it would be unsafe to present ourselves without some mediator; and as Campbell, whom I now could not but identify with the celebrated freebooter Rob Roy, was nowhere to be seen, I resolved to claim the protection of his emissary, Dougal.

After gazing everywhere in vain, I at length retraced my steps to see what assistance I could individually render to my unlucky friend, when, to my great joy, I saw Mr. Jarvie delivered from his state of suspense; and though very black in the face, and much deranged in the garments, safely seated beneath the rock, in front of which he had been so lately suspended. I hastened to join him and offer my congratulations, which he was at first far from receiving in the spirit of cordiality with which they were offered. A heavy fit of coughing scarce permitted him breath enough to express the broken hints which he threw out against my sincerity.

“Uh! uh! uh! uh!—they say a friend—uh! uh!—a friend sticketh closer than a brither—uh! uh! uh!—When I came up here, Maister Osbaldistone, to this country, cursed of God and man—uh! uh!—Heaven forgie me for swearing—on nae man’s errand but yours, d’ye think it was fair—uh! uh!—to leave me, first, to be shot or drowned atween red-wud Highlanders and redcoats; and next, to be hung up between heaven and earth, like an auld potato-bogle, without sae muckle as trying—uh! uh!—sae muckle as trying to relieve me?”

I made a thousand apologies, and laboured so hard to represent the impossibility of my affording him relief by my own unassisted exertions, that at length I succeeded, and the Bailie, who was as placable as hasty in his temper, extended his favour to me once more. I next took the liberty of asking him how he had contrived to extricate himself.

“Me extricate! I might hae hung there till the day of judgment, or I could hae helped mysell, wi’ my head hinging down on the tae side, and my heels on the tother, like the yarn scales in the weigh-house. It was the creature Dougal that extricated me, as he did yestreen—he cuttit aff the tails o’ my coat wi’ his durk, and another gillie and him set me on my legs as cleverly as if I had never been aff them.—But to see what a thing gude braidclaith is—had I been in ony o’ your rotten French camlets now, or your drab-de-berries, it would hae screeded like an auld rag wi’ sic a weight as mine.—But fair fa’ the weaver that wrought the weft o’t—I swung and bobbit yonder as safe as a gabbart1 that’s moored by a three-ply cable at the Broomielaw.”

I now inquired what had become of his preserver.

“The creature,” so he continued to call the Highlandman, “contrived to let me ken there wad be danger in gaun near the leddy till he came back, and bade me stay here—I am o’ the mind,” he continued, “that he’s seeking after you—it’s a considerate creature—and troth, I wad swear he was right about the leddy as he ca’s her, too—Helen Campbell was nane o’ the maist douce maidens, nor meekest wives neither, and folk say that Rob himsell stands in awe o’ her. I doubt she winna ken me, for it’s mony years since we met—I am clear for waiting for the Dougal creature or we gang near her.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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