They told me, by the sentence of the law,
They had commission to seize all thy fortune.
Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face,
Lording it o'er a pile of massy plate,
Tumbled into a heap for public sale;
There was another, making villainous jests
At thy undoing; he had ta'en possession
Of all thy ancient most domestic ornaments.
Early next morning Mannering mounted his horse and, accompanied by
his servant, took the road to Ellangowan. He had no need to
inquire the way. A sale in the country is a place of public resort
and amusement, and people of various descriptions streamed to it
from all quarters.
After a pleasant ride of about an hour, the old towers of the ruin
presented themselves in the landscape. The thoughts, with what
different feelings he had lost sight of them so many years before,
thronged upon the mind of the traveller. The landscape was the
same; but how changed the feelings, hopes, and views of the
spectator! Then life and love were new, and all the prospect was
gilded by their rays. And now, disappointed in affection, sated
with fame and what the world calls success, his mind, goaded by
bitter and repentant recollection, his best hope was to find a
retirement in which he might nurse the melancholy that was to
accompany him to his grave. 'Yet why should an individual mourn
over the instability of his hopes and the vanity of his prospects?
The ancient chiefs who erected these enormous and massive towers
to be the fortress of their race and the seat of their power,--
could they have dreamed the day was to come when the last of their
descendants should be expelled, a ruined wanderer, from his
possessions! But Nature's bounties are unaltered. The sun will
shine as fair on these ruins, whether the property of a stranger
or of a sordid and obscure trickster of the abused law, as when
the banners of the founder first waved upon their battlements.'
These reflections brought Mannering to the door of the house,
which was that day open to all. He entered among others, who
traversed the apartments, some to select articles for purchase,
others to gratify their curiosity. There is something melancholy
in such a scene, even under the most favourable circumstances. The
confused state of the furniture, displaced for the convenience of
being easily viewed and carried off by the purchasers, is
disagreeable to the eye. Those articles which, properly and
decently arranged, look creditable and handsome, have then a
paltry and wretched appearance; and the apartments, stripped of
all that render them commodious and comfortable, have an aspect of
ruin and dilapidation. It is disgusting also to see the scenes of
domestic society and seclusion thrown open to the gaze of the
curious and the vulgar, to hear their coarse speculations and
brutal jests upon the fashions and furniture to which they are
unaccustomed,--a frolicsome humour much cherished by the whisky
which in Scotland is always put in circulation on such occasions.
All these are ordinary effects of such a scene as Ellangowan now
presented; but the moral feeling, that in this case they indicated
the total ruin of an ancient and honourable family, gave them
treble weight and poignancy.
It was some time before Colonel Mannering could find any one
disposed to answer his reiterated questions concerning Ellangowan
himself. At length an old maidservant, who held her apron to her
eyes as she spoke, told him 'the Laird was something better, and
they hoped he would be able to leave the house that day. Miss Lucy
expected the chaise every moment, and, as the day was fine for the
time o'year, they had carried him in his easychair up to the green
before the auld castle, to be out of the way of this unco
spectacle.' Thither Colonel Mannering went in quest of him, and
soon came in sight of the little group, which consisted of four
persons. The ascent was steep, so that he had time to reconnoitre
them as he advanced, and to consider in what mode he should make
Mr. Bertram, paralytic and almost incapable of moving, occupied
his easy-chair, attired in his nightcap and a loose camlet coat,
his feet wrapped in blankets. Behind him, with his hands crossed
on the cane upon which he rested, stood Dominie Sampson, whom
Mannering recognised at once. Time had made no change upon him,
unless that his black coat seemed more brown, and his gaunt cheeks
more lank, than when Mannering last saw him. On one side of the
old man was a sylph-like form--a young woman of about seventeen,
whom the Colonel accounted to be his daughter. She was looking
from time to time anxiously towards the avenue, as if expecting
the post-chaise; and between whiles busied herself in adjusting
the blankets so as to protect her father from the cold, and in
answering inquiries, which he seemed to make with a captious and
querulous manner. She did not trust herself to look towards the
Place, although the hum of the assembled crowd must have drawn her
attention in that direction. The fourth person of the group was a
handsome and genteel young man, who seemed to share Miss Bertram's
anxiety, and her solicitude to soothe and accommodate her parent.
This young man was the first who observed Colonel Mannering, and
immediately stepped forward to meet him, as if politely to prevent
his drawing nearer to the distressed group. Mannering instantly
paused and explained. 'He was,' he said, 'a stranger to whom Mr.
Bertram had formerly shown kindness and hospitality; he would not
have intruded himself upon him at a period of distress, did it not
seem to be in some degree a moment also of desertion; he wished
merely to offer such services as might be in his power to Mr.
Bertram and the young lady.'
He then paused at a little distance from the chair. His old
acquaintance gazed at him with lack-lustre eye, that intimated no
tokens of recognition; the Dominie seemed too deeply sunk in
distress even to observe his presence. The young man spoke aside
with Miss Bertram, who advanced timidly, and thanked Colonel
Mannering for his goodness; 'but,' she said, the tears gushing
fast into her eyes, 'her father, she feared, was not so much
himself as to be able to remember him.'
She then retreated towards the chair, accompanied by the Colonel.
'Father,' she said, 'this is Mr. Mannering, an old friend, come to
inquire after you.'
'He's very heartily welcome,' said the old man, raising himself in
his chair, and attempting a gesture of courtesy, while a gleam of
hospitable satisfaction seemed to pass over his faded features;
'but, Lucy, my dear, let us go down to the house; you should not
keep the gentleman here in the cold. Dominie, take the key of the
wine-cooler. Mr. a--a--the gentleman will surely take something
after his ride.'
Mannering was unspeakably affected by the contrast which his
recollection made between this reception and that with which he
had been greeted by the same individual when they last met. He
could not restrain his tears, and his evident emotion at once
attained him the confidence of the friendless young lady.
'Alas!' she said, 'this is distressing even to a stranger; but it
may be better for my poor father to be in this way than if he knew
and could feel all.'
A servant in livery now came up the path, and spoke in an
undertone to the young gentleman--'Mr. Charles, my lady's wanting
you yonder sadly, to bid for her for the black ebony cabinet; and
Lady Jean Devorgoil is wi' her an' a'; ye maun come away
'Tell them you could not find me, Tom, or, stay,--say I am
looking at the horses.'
'No, no, no,' said Lucy Bertram, earnestly; 'if you would not add
to the misery of this miserable moment, go to the company
directly. This gentleman, I am sure, will see us to the carriage.'
'Unquestionably, madam,' said Mannering, 'your young friend may
rely on my attention.'
'Farewell, then,' said young Hazlewood, and whispered a word in
her ear; then ran down the steep hastily, as if not trusting his
resolution at a slower pace.
'Where's Charles Hazlewood running?' said the invalid, who
apparently was accustomed to his presence and attentions; 'where's
Charles Hazlewood running? what takes him away now?'
'He'll return in a little while,' said Lucy, gently.
The sound of voices was now heard from the ruins. The reader may
remember there was a communication between the castle and the
beach, up which the speakers had ascended.
'Yes, there's a plenty of shells and seaware for manure, as you
observe; and if one inclined to build a new house, which might
indeed be necessary, there's a great deal of good hewn stone about
this old dungeon, for the devil here--'
'Good God!' said Miss Bertram hastily to Sampson, ''t is that
wretch Glossin's voice! If my father sees him, it will kill him
Sampson wheeled perpendicularly round, and moved with long strides
to confront the attorney as he issued from beneath the portal arch
of the ruin. 'Avoid ye!' he said, 'avoid ye! wouldst thou kill and
'Come, come, Master Dominie Sampson,' answered Glossin insolently,
'if ye cannot preach in the pulpit, we'll have no preaching here.
We go by the law, my good friend; we leave the gospel to you.'
The very mention of this man's name had been of late a subject of
the most violent irritation to the unfortunate patient. The sound
of his voice now produced an instantaneous effect. Mr. Bertram
started up without assistance and turned round towards him; the
ghastliness of his features forming a strange contrast with the
violence of his exclamations.--'Out of my sight, ye viper! ye
frozen viper, that I warmed, till ye stung me! Art thou not afraid
that the walls of my father's dwelling should fall and crush thee
limb and bone? Are ye not afraid the very lintels of the door of
Ellangowan Castle should break open and swallow you up? Were ye
not friendless, houseless, penniless, when I took ye by the hand;
and are ye not expelling me--me and that innocent girl--
friendless, houseless, and penniless, from the house that has
sheltered us and ours for a thousand years?'
Had Glossin been alone, he would probably have slunk off; but the
consciousness that a stranger was present, besides the person who
came with him (a sort of land-surveyor), determined him to resort
to impudence. The task, however, was almost too hard even for his
effrontery--'Sir--sir--Mr. Bertram, sir, you should not blame me,
but your own imprudence, sir--'
The indignation of Mannering was mounting very high. 'Sir,' he
said to Glossin, 'without entering into the merits of this
controversy, I must inform you that you have chosen a very
improper place, time, and presence for it. And you will oblige me
by withdrawing without more words.'
Glossin, being a tall, strong, muscular man, was not unwilling
rather to turn upon the stranger, whom he hoped to bully, than
maintain his wretched cause against his injured patron.--'I do not
know who you are, sir,' he said, 'and I shall permit no man to use
such d--d freedom with me.'
Mannering was naturally hot-tempered: his eyes flashed a dark
light; he compressed his nether lip so closely that the blood
sprung, and approaching Glossin--'Look you, sir,' he said,' that
you do not know me is of little consequence. I KNOW YOU; and if
you do not instantly descend that bank, without uttering a single
syllable, by the Heaven that is above us you shall make but one
step from the top to the bottom!'
The commanding tone of rightful anger silenced at once the
ferocity of the bully. He hesitated, turned on his heel, and,
muttering something between his teeth about unwillingness to alarm
the lady, relieved them of his hateful company.
Mrs. Mac-Candlish's postilion, who had come up in time to hear
what passed, said aloud, 'If he had stuck by the way, I would have
lent him a heezie, the dirty scoundrel, as willingly as ever I
pitched a boddle.'
He then stepped forward to announce that his horses were in
readiness for the invalid and his daughter. But they were no
longer necessary. The debilitated frame of Mr. Bertram was
exhausted by this last effort of indignant anger, and when he sunk
again upon his chair, he expired almost without a struggle or
groan. So little alteration did the extinction of the vital spark
make upon his external appearance that the screams of his
daughter, when she saw his eye fix and felt his pulse stop, first
announced his death to the spectators.