Paint Scotland greeting ower her thrissle,
Her mutchkin stoup as toom's a whistle,
And d--n'd excisemen in a bustle,
Seizing a stell,
Triumphant crushin't like a mussel,
Or lampit shell
During the period of Mr. Bertram's active magistracy, he did not
forget the affairs of the revenue. Smuggling, for which the Isle
of Man then afforded peculiar facilities, was general, or rather
universal, all along the southwestern coast of Scotland. Almost
all the common people were engaged in these practices; the gentry
connived at them, and the officers of the revenue were frequently
discountenanced in the exercise of their duty by those who should
have protected them.
There was at this period, employed as a riding-officer or
supervisor, in that part of the country a certain Francis Kennedy,
already named in our narrative--a stout, resolute, and active man,
who had made seizures to a great amount, and was proportionally
hated by those who had an interest in the fair trade, as they
called the pursuit of these contraband adventurers. This person
was natural son to a gentleman of good family, owing to which
circumstance, and to his being of a jolly, convivial disposition,
and singing a good song, he was admitted to the occasional society
of the gentlemen of the country, and was a member of several of
their clubs for practising athletic games, at which he was
At Ellangowan Kennedy was a frequent and always an acceptable
guest. His vivacity relieved Mr. Bertram of the trouble of
thought, and the labour which it cost him to support a detailed
communication of ideas; while the daring and dangerous exploits
which he had undertaken in the discharge of his office formed
excellent conversation. To all these revenue adventures did the
Laird of Ellangowan seriously incline, and the amusement which he
derived from Kennedy's society formed an excellent reason for
countenancing and assisting the narrator in the execution of his
invidious and hazardous duty.
'Frank Kennedy,' he said, 'was a gentleman, though on the wrang
side of the blanket; he was connected with the family of
Ellangowan through the house of Glengubble. The last Laird of
Glengubble would have brought the estate into the Ellangowan line;
but, happening to go to Harrigate, he there met with Miss Jean
Hadaway--by the by, the Green Dragon at Harrigate is the best
house of the twa--but for Frank Kennedy, he's in one sense a
gentleman born, and it's a shame not to support him against these
After this league had taken place between judgment and execution,
it chanced that Captain Dirk Hatteraick had landed a cargo of
spirits and other contraband goods upon the beach not far from
Ellangowan, and, confiding in the indifference with which the
Laird had formerly regarded similar infractions of the law, he was
neither very anxious to conceal nor to expedite the transaction.
The consequence was that Mr. Frank Kennedy, armed with a warrant
from Ellangowan, and supported by some of the Laird's people who
knew the country, and by a party of military, poured down upon the
kegs, bales, and bags, and after a desperate affray, in which
severe wounds were given and received, succeeded in clapping the
broad arrow upon the articles, and bearing them off in triumph to
the next custom-house. Dirk Hatteraick vowed, in Dutch, German,
and English, a deep and full revenge, both against the gauger and
his abettors; and all who knew him thought it likely he would keep
A few days after the departure of the gipsy tribe, Mr. Bertram
asked his lady one morning at breakfast whether this was not
little Harry's birthday.
'Five years auld exactly, this blessed day,' answered the lady;
'so we may look into the English gentleman's paper.'
Mr. Bertram liked to show his authority in trifles. 'No, my dear,
not till to-morrow. The last time I was at quarter-sessions the
sheriff told us that DIES--that dies inceptus--in short, you don't
understand Latin, but it means that a term-day is not begun till
'That sounds like nonsense, my dear.'
'May be so, my dear; but it may be very good law for all that. I
am sure, speaking of term-days, I wish, as Frank Kennedy says,
that Whitsunday would kill Martinmas and be hanged for the murder;
for there I have got a letter about that interest of Jenny
Cairns's, and deil a tenant's been at the Place yet wi' a boddle
of rent, nor will not till Candlemas. But, speaking of Frank
Kennedy, I daresay he'll be here the day, for he was away round to
Wigton to warn a king's ship that's lying in the bay about Dirk
Hatteraick's lugger being on the coast again, and he'll be back
this day; so we'll have a bottle of claret and drink little
'I wish,' replied the lady, 'Frank Kennedy would let Dirk
Hatteraick alane. What needs he make himself mair busy than other
folk? Cannot he sing his sang, and take his drink, and draw his
salary, like Collector Snail, honest man, that never fashes ony
body? And I wonder at you, Laird, for meddling and making. Did we
ever want to send for tea or brandy frae the borough-town when
Dirk Hatteraick used to come quietly into the bay?'
'Mrs. Bertram, you know nothing of these matters. Do you think it
becomes a magistrate to let his own house be made a receptacle for
smuggled goods? Frank Kennedy will show you the penalties in the
act, and ye ken yoursell they used to put their run goods into the
Auld Place of Ellangowan up by there.'
'Oh dear, Mr. Bertram, and what the waur were the wa's and the
vault o' the auld castle for having a whin kegs o' brandy in them
at an orra time? I am sure ye were not obliged to ken ony thing
about it; and what the waur was the King that the lairds here got
a soup o' drink and the ladies their drap o' tea at a reasonable
rate?--it's a shame to them to pit such taxes on them!--and was
na I much the better of these Flanders head and pinners that Dirk
Hatteraick sent me a' the way from Antwerp? It will be lang or the
King sends me ony thing, or Frank Kennedy either. And then ye
would quarrel with these gipsies too! I expect every day to hear
the barnyard's in a low.'
'I tell you once more, my dear, you don't understand these things-
-and there's Frank Kennedy coming galloping up the avenue.'
'Aweel! aweel! Ellangowan,' said the lady, raising her voice as
the Laird left the room, 'I wish ye may understand them yoursell,
From this nuptial dialogue the Laird joyfully escaped to meet his
faithful friend, Mr. Kennedy, who arrived in high spirits. 'For
the love of life, Ellangowan,' he said, 'get up to the castle!
you'll see that old fox Dirk Hatteraick, and his Majesty's hounds
in full cry after him.' So saying, he flung his horse's bridle to
a boy, and ran up the ascent to the old castle, followed by the
Laird, and indeed by several others of the family, alarmed by the
sound of guns from the sea, now distinctly heard.
On gaining that part of the ruins which commanded the most
extensive outlook, they saw a lugger, with all her canvass
crowded, standing across the bay, closely pursued by a sloop of
war, that kept firing upon the chase from her bows, which the
lugger returned with her stern-chasers. 'They're but at long bowls
yet,' cried Kennedy, in great exultation, 'but they will be closer
by and by. D--n him, he's starting his cargo! I see the good Nantz
pitching overboard, keg after keg! That's a d--d ungenteel thing
of Mr. Hatteraick, as I shall let him know by and by. Now, now!
they've got the wind of him! that's it, that's it! Hark to him!
hark to him! Now, my dogs! now, my dogs! Hark to Ranger, hark!'
'I think,' said the old gardener to one of the maids, 'the
ganger's fie,' by which word the common people express those
violent spirits which they think a presage of death.
Meantime the chase continued. The lugger, being piloted with great
ability, and using every nautical shift to make her escape, had
now reached, and was about to double, the headland which formed
the extreme point of land on the left side of the bay, when a ball
having hit the yard in the slings, the mainsail fell upon the
deck. The consequence of this accident appeared inevitable, but
could not be seen by the spectators; for the vessel, which had
just doubled the headland, lost steerage, and fell out of their
sight behind the promontory. The sloop of war crowded all sail to
pursue, but she had stood too close upon the cape, so that they
were obliged to wear the vessel for fear of going ashore, and to
make a large tack back into the bay, in order to recover sea-room
enough to double the headland.
'They 'll lose her, by--, cargo and lugger, one or both,' said
Kennedy; 'I must gallop away to the Point of Warroch (this was the
headland so often mentioned), and make them a signal where she has
drifted to on the other side. Good-bye for an hour, Ellangowan;
get out the gallon punch-bowl and plenty of lemons. I'll stand for
the French article by the time I come back, and we'll drink the
young Laird's health in a bowl that would swim the collector's
yawl.' So saying, he mounted his horse and galloped off.
About a mile from the house, and upon the verge of the woods,
which, as we have said, covered a promontory terminating in the
cape called the Point of Warroch, Kennedy met young Harry Bertram,
attended by his tutor, Dominie Sampson. He had often promised the
child a ride upon his galloway; and, from singing, dancing, and
playing Punch for his amusement, was a particular favourite. He no
sooner came scampering up the path, than the boy loudly claimed
his promise; and Kennedy, who saw no risk, in indulging him, and
wished to tease the Dominie, in whose visage he read a
remonstrance, caught up Harry from the ground, placed him before
him, and continued his route; Sampson's 'Peradventure, Master
Kennedy-' being lost in the clatter of his horse's feet. The
pedagogue hesitated a moment whether he should go after them; but
Kennedy being a person in full confidence of the family, and with
whom he himself had no delight in associating, 'being that he was
addicted unto profane and scurrilous jests,' he continued his own
walk at his own pace, till he reached the Place of Ellangowan.
The spectators from the ruined walls of the castle were still
watching the sloop of war, which at length, but not without the
loss of considerable time, recovered sea-room enough to weather
the Point of Warroch, and was lost to their sight behind that
wooded promontory. Some time afterwards the discharges of several
cannon were heard at a distance, and, after an interval, a still
louder explosion, as of a vessel blown up, and a cloud of smoke
rose above the trees and mingled with the blue sky. All then
separated on their different occasions, auguring variously upon
the fate of the smuggler, but the majority insisting that her
capture was inevitable, if she had not already gone to the bottom.
'It is near our dinner-time, my dear,' said Mrs. Bertram to her
husband; 'will it be lang before Mr. Kennedy comes back?'
'I expect him every moment, my dear,' said the Laird; 'perhaps he
is bringing some of the officers of the sloop with him.'
'My stars, Mr. Bertram! why did not ye tell me this before, that
we might have had the large round table? And then, they're a'
tired o' saut meat, and, to tell you the plain truth, a rump o'
beef is the best part of your dinner. And then I wad have put on
another gown, and ye wadna have been the waur o' a clean neck-
cloth yoursell. But ye delight in surprising and hurrying one. I
am sure I am no to baud out for ever against this sort of going
on; but when folk's missed, then they are moaned.'
'Pshaw, pshaw! deuce take the beef, and the gown, and table, and
the neck-cloth! we shall do all very well. Where's the Dominie,
John? (to a servant who was busy about the table) where's the
Dominie and little Harry?'
'Mr. Sampson's been at hame these twa hours and mair, but I dinna
think Mr. Harry cam hame wi' him.'
'Not come hame wi' him?' said the lady; 'desire Mr. Sampson to
step this way directly.'
'Mr. Sampson,' said she, upon his entrance, 'is it not the most
extraordinary thing in this world wide, that you, that have free
up-putting--bed, board, and washing--and twelve pounds sterling a
year, just to look after that boy, should let him out of your
sight for twa or three hours?'
Sampson made a bow of humble acknowledgment at each pause which
the angry lady made in her enumeration of the advantages of his
situation, in order to give more weight to her remonstrance, and
then, in words which we will not do him the injustice to imitate,
told how Mr. Francis Kennedy 'had assumed spontaneously the charge
of Master Harry, in despite of his remonstrances in the contrary.'
'I am very little obliged to Mr. Francis Kennedy for his pains,'
said the lady, peevishly; 'suppose he lets the boy drop from his
horse, and lames him? or suppose one of the cannons comes ashore
and kills him? or suppose--'
'Or suppose, my dear,' said Ellangowan, 'what is much more likely
than anything else, that they have gone aboard the sloop or the
prize, and are to come round the Point with the tide?'
'And then they may be drowned,' said the lady.
'Verily,' said Sampson, 'I thought Mr. Kennedy had returned an
hour since. Of a surety I deemed I heard his horse's feet.'
'That,' said John, with a broad grin, 'was Grizzel chasing the
humble-cow out of the close.'
Sampson coloured up to the eyes, not at the implied taunt, which
he would never have discovered, or resented if he had, but at some
idea which crossed his own mind. 'I have been in an error,' he
said; 'of a surety I should have tarried for the babe.' So saying,
he snatched his bone-headed cane and hat, and hurried away towards
Warroch wood faster than he was ever known to walk before or
The Laird lingered some time, debating the point with the lady. At
length he saw the sloop of war again make her appearance; but,
without approaching the shore, she stood away to the westward with
all her sails set, and was soon out of sight. The lady's state of
timorous and fretful apprehension was so habitual that her fears
went for nothing with her lord and master; but an appearance of
disturbance and anxiety among the servants now excited his alarm,
especially when he was called out of the room, and told in private
that Mr. Kennedy's horse had come to the stable door alone, with
the saddle turned round below its belly and the reins of the
bridle broken; and that a farmer had informed them in passing that
there was a smuggling lugger burning like a furnace on the other
side of the Point of Warroch, and that, though he had come through
the wood, he had seen or heard nothing of Kennedy or the young
Laird, 'only there was Dominie Sampson gaun rampauging about like
mad, seeking for them.'
All was now bustle at Ellangowan. The Laird and his servants, male
and female, hastened to the wood of Warroch. The tenants and
cottagers in the neighbourhood lent their assistance, partly out
of zeal, partly from curiosity. Boats were manned to search the
sea-shore, which, on the other side of the Point, rose into high
and indented rocks. A vague suspicion was entertained, though too
horrible to be expressed, that the child might have fallen from
one of these cliffs.
The evening had begun to close when the parties entered the wood,
and dispersed different ways in quest of the boy and his
companion. The darkening of the atmosphere, and the hoarse sighs
of the November wind through the naked trees, the rustling of the
withered leaves which strewed the glades, the repeated halloos of
the different parties, which often drew them together in
expectation of meeting the objects of their search, gave a cast of
dismal sublimity to the scene.
At length, after a minute and fruitless investigation through the
wood, the searchers began to draw together into one body, and to
compare notes. The agony of the father grew beyond concealment,
yet it scarcely equalled the anguish of the tutor. 'Would to God I
had died for him!' the affectionate creature repeated, in notes of
the deepest distress. Those who were less interested rushed into a
tumultuary discussion of chances and possibilities. Each gave his
opinion, and each was alternately swayed by that of the others.
Some thought the objects of their search had gone aboard the
sloop; some that they had gone to a village at three miles'
distance; some whispered they might have been on board the lugger,
a few planks and beams of which the tide now drifted ashore.
At this instant a shout was heard from the beach, so loud, so
shrill, so piercing, so different from every sound which the woods
that day had rung to, that nobody hesitated a moment to believe
that it conveyed tidings, and tidings of dreadful import. All
hurried to the place, and, venturing without scruple upon paths
which at another time they would have shuddered to look at,
descended towards a cleft of the rock, where one boat's crew was
already landed. 'Here, sirs, here! this way, for God's sake! this
way! this way!' was the reiterated cry. Ellangowan broke through
the throng which had already assembled at the fatal spot, and
beheld the object of their terror. It was the dead body of
Kennedy. At first sight he seemed to have perished by a fall from
the rocks, which rose above the spot on which he lay in a
perpendicular precipice of a hundred feet above the beach. The
corpse was lying half in, half out of the water; the advancing
tide, raising the arm and stirring the clothes, had given it at
some distance the appearance of motion, so that those who first
discovered the body thought that life remained. But every spark
had been long extinguished.
'My bairn! my bairn!' cried the distracted father, 'where can he
be?' A dozen mouths were opened to communicate hopes which no one
felt. Some one at length mentioned--the gipsies! In a moment
Ellangowan had reascended the cliffs, flung himself upon the first
horse he met, and rode furiously to the huts at Derncleugh. All
was there dark and desolate; and, as he dismounted to make more
minute search, he stumbled over fragments of furniture which had
been thrown out of the cottages, and the broken wood and thatch
which had been pulled down by his orders. At that moment the
prophecy, or anathema, of Meg Merrilies fell heavy on his mind.
'You have stripped the thatch from seven cottages; see that the
roof-tree of your own house stand the surer!'
'Restore,' he cried, 'restore my bairn! bring me back my son, and
all shall be forgot and forgiven!' As he uttered these words in a
sort of frenzy, his eye caught a glimmering of light in one of the
dismantled cottages; it was that in which Meg Merrilies formerly
resided. The light, which seemed to proceed from fire, glimmered
not only through the window, but also through the rafters of the
hut where the roofing had been torn off.
He flew to the place; the entrance was bolted. Despair gave the
miserable father the strength of ten men; he rushed against the
door with such violence that it gave way before the momentum of
his weight and force. The cottage was empty, but bore marks of
recent habitation: there was fire on the hearth, a kettle, and
some preparation for food. As he eagerly gazed around for
something that might confirm his hope that his child yet lived,
although in the power of those strange people, a man entered the
It was his old gardener. 'O sir!' said the old man, 'such a night
as this I trusted never to live to see! ye maun come to the Place
'Is my boy found? is he alive? have ye found Harry Bertram?
Andrew, have ye found Harry Bertram?'
'No, sir; but-'
'Then he is kidnapped! I am sure of it, Andrew! as sure as that I
tread upon earth! She has stolen him; and I will never stir from
this place till I have tidings of my bairn!'
'O, but ye maun come hame, sir! ye maun come hame! We have sent
for the Sheriff, and we'll seta watch here a' night, in case the
gipsies return; but YOU--ye maun come hame, sir, for my lady's in
Bertram turned a stupefied and unmeaning eye on the messenger who
uttered this calamitous news; and, repeating the words 'in the
dead-thraw!' as if he could not comprehend their meaning, suffered
the old man to drag him towards his horse. During the ride home he
only said, 'Wife and bairn baith--mother and son baith,--sair,
sair to abide!'
It is needless to dwell upon the new scene of agony which awaited
him. The news of Kennedy's fate had been eagerly and incautiously
communicated at Ellangowan, with the gratuitous addition, that,
doubtless, 'he had drawn the young Laird over the craig with him,
though the tide had swept away the child's body; he was light,
puir thing, and would flee farther into the surf.'
Mrs. Bertram heard the tidings; she was far advanced in her
pregnancy; she fell into the pains of premature labour, and, ere
Ellangowan had recovered his agitated faculties, so as to
comprehend the full distress of his situation, he was the father
of a female infant, and a widower.