But if thou shouldst be dragg'd in scorn
To yonder ignominious tree,
Thou shall not want one faithful friend
To share the cruel fates' decree.
Plunged in the gloomy reflections which were naturally excited by
his dismal reading and disconsolate situation, Bertram for the
first time in his life felt himself affected with a disposition to
low spirits. 'I have been in worse situations than this too,' he
said; 'more dangerous, for here is no danger; more dismal in
prospect, for my present confinement must necessarily be short;
more intolerable for the time, for here, at least, I have fire,
food, and shelter. Yet, with reading these bloody tales of crime
and misery in a place so corresponding to the ideas which they
excite, and in listening to these sad sounds, I feel a stronger
disposition to melancholy than in my life I ever experienced. But
I will not give way to it. Begone, thou record of guilt and
infamy!' he said, flinging the book upon the spare bed; 'a
Scottish jail shall not break, on the very first day, the spirits
which have resisted climate, and want, and penury, and disease,
and imprisonment in a foreign land. I have fought many a hard
battle with Dame Fortune, and she shall not beat me now if I can
Then bending his mind to a strong effort, he endeavoured to view
his situation in the most favourable light. Delaserre must soon be
in Scotland; the certificates from his commanding officer must
soon arrive; nay, if Mannering were first applied to, who could
say but the effect might be a reconciliation between them? He had
often observed, and now remembered, that when his former colonel
took the part of any one, it was never by halves, and that he
seemed to love those persons most who had lain under obligation to
him. In the present case a favour, which could be asked with
honour and granted with readiness, might be the means of
reconciling them to each other. From this his feelings naturally
turned towards Julia; and, without very nicely measuring the
distance between a soldier of fortune, who expected that her
father's attestation would deliver him from confinement, and the
heiress of that father's wealth and expectations, he was building
the gayest castle in the clouds, and varnishing it with all the
tints of a summer-evening sky, when his labour was interrupted by
a loud knocking at the outer gate, answered by the barking of the
gaunt half-starved mastiff which was quartered in the courtyard as
an addition to the garrison. After much scrupulous precaution the
gate was opened and some person admitted. The house-door was next
unbarred, unlocked, and unchained, a dog's feet pattered upstairs
in great haste, and the animal was heard scratching and whining at
the door of the room. Next a heavy step was heard lumbering up,
and Mac-Guffog's voice in the character of pilot--'This way, this
way; take care of the step; that's the room.' Bertram's door was
then unbolted, and to his great surprise and joy his terrier,
Wasp, rushed into the apartment and almost devoured him with
caresses, followed by the massy form of his friend from Charlie's
'Eh whow! Eh whow!' ejaculated the honest farmer, as he looked
round upon his friend's miserable apartment and wretched
accommodation--'What's this o't! what's this o't!'
'Just a trick of fortune, my good friend,' said Bertram, rising
and shaking him heartily by the hand, 'that's all.'
'But what will be done about it? or what CAN be done about it?'
said honest Dandie. 'Is't for debt, or what is't for?'
'Why, it is not for debt,' answered Bertram; 'and if you have time
to sit down, I'll tell you all I know of the matter myself.'
'If I hae time?' said Dandie, with an accent on the word that
sounded like a howl of derision. 'Ou, what the deevil am I come
here for, man, but just ance errand to see about it? But ye'll no
be the waur o' something to eat, I trow; it's getting late at
e'en. I tell'd the folk at the Change, where I put up Dumple, to
send ower my supper here, and the chield Mac-Guffog is agreeable
to let it in; I hae settled a' that. And now let's hear your
story. Whisht, Wasp, man! wow, but he's glad to see you, poor
Bertram's story, being confined to the accident of Hazlewood, and
the confusion made between his own identity and that of one of the
smugglers who had been active in the assault of Woodbourne, and
chanced to bear the same name, was soon told. Dinmont listened
very attentively. 'Aweel,' he said, 'this suld be nae sic dooms
desperate business surely; the lad's doing weel again that was
hurt, and what signifies twa or three lead draps in his shouther?
if ye had putten out his ee it would hae been another case. But
eh, as I wuss auld Sherra Pleydell was to the fore here! Od, he
was the man for sorting them, and the queerest rough-spoken deevil
too that ever ye heard!'
'But now tell me, my excellent friend, how did you find out I was
'Od, lad, queerly eneugh,' said Dandie; 'but I'll tell ye that
after we are done wi' our supper, for it will maybe no be sae weel
to speak about it while that lang-lugged limmer o' a lass is gaun
flisking in and out o' the room.'
Bertram's curiosity was in some degree put to rest by the
appearance of the supper which his friend had ordered, which,
although homely enough, had the appetising cleanliness in which
Mrs. Mac-Guffog's cookery was so eminently deficient. Dinmont
also, premising he had ridden the whole day since breakfast-time
without tasting anything 'to speak of,' which qualifying phrase
related to about three pounds of cold roast mutton which he had
discussed at his mid-day stage--Dinmont, I say, fell stoutly upon
the good cheer, and, like one of Homer's heroes, said little,
either good or bad, till the rage of thirst and hunger was
appeased. At length, after a draught of home-brewed ale, he began
by observing, 'Aweel, aweel, that hen,' looking upon the
lamentable relics of what had been once a large fowl, 'wasna a bad
ane to be bred at a town end, though it's no like our barn-door
chuckies at Charlie's Hope; and I am glad to see that this vexing
job hasna taen awa your appetite, Captain.'
'Why, really, my dinner was not so excellent, Mr. Dinmont, as to
spoil my supper.'
'I daresay no, I daresay no,' said Dandie. 'But now, hinny, that
ye hae brought us the brandy, and the mug wi' the het water, and
the sugar, and a' right, ye may steek the door, ye see, for we wad
hae some o' our ain cracks.' The damsel accordingly retired and
shut the door of the apartment, to which she added the precaution
of drawing a large bolt on the outside.
As soon as she was gone Dandie reconnoitred the premises, listened
at the key-hole as if he had been listening for the blowing of an
otter, and, having satisfied himself that there were no
eavesdroppers, returned to the table; and, making himself what he
called a gey stiff cheerer, poked the fire, and began his story in
an undertone of gravity and importance not very usual with him.
'Ye see, Captain, I had been in Edinbro' for twa or three days,
looking after the burial of a friend that we hae lost, and maybe I
suld hae had something for my ride; but there's disappointments in
a' things, and wha can help the like o' that? And I had a wee bit
law business besides, but that's neither here nor there. In short,
I had got my matters settled, and hame I cam; and the morn awa to
the muirs to see what the herds had been about, and I thought I
might as weel gie a look to the Touthope Head, where Jock o'
Dawston and me has the outcast about a march. Weel, just as I was
coming upon the bit, I saw a man afore me that I kenn'd was nane
o' our herds, and it's a wild bit to meet ony other body, so when
I cam up to him it was Tod Gabriel, the fox-hunter. So I says to
him, rather surprised like, "What are ye doing up amang the craws
here, without your hounds, man? are ye seeking the fox without the
dogs?" So he said, "Na, gudeman, but I wanted to see yoursell."
'"Ay," said I, "and ye'll be wanting eilding now, or something to
pit ower the winter?"
'"Na, na," quo' he, "it's no that I'm seeking; but ye tak an unco
concern in that Captain Brown that was staying wi' you, d'ye no?"
'"Troth do I, Gabriel," says I; "and what about him, lad?"
'Says he, "There's mair tak an interest in him than you, and some
that I am bound to obey; and it's no just on my ain will that I'm
here to tell you something about him that will no please you."
'"Faith, naething will please me," quo' I, "that's no pleasing to
'"And then," quo' he, "ye'll be ill-sorted to hear that he's like
to be in the prison at Portanferry, if he disna tak a' the better
care o' himsell, for there's been warrants out to tak him as soon
as he comes ower the water frae Allonby. And now, gudeman, an ever
ye wish him weel, ye maun ride down to Portanferry, and let nae
grass grow at the nag's heels; and if ye find him in confinement,
ye maun stay beside him night and day for a day or twa, for he'll
want friends that hae baith heart and hand; and if ye neglect this
ye'll never rue but ance, for it will be for a' your life."
'"But, safe us, man," quo' I, "how did ye learn a' this? it's an
unco way between this and Portanferry."
'"Never ye mind that," quo' he, "them that brought us the news
rade night and day, and ye maun be aff instantly if ye wad do ony
gude; and sae I have naething mair to tell ye." Sae he sat himsell
doun and hirselled doun into the glen, where it wad hae been ill
following him wi' the beast, and I cam back to Charlie's Hope to
tell the gudewife, for I was uncertain what to do. It wad look
unco-like, I thought, just to be sent out on a hunt-the-gowk
errand wi' a landlouper like that. But, Lord! as the gudewife set
up her throat about it, and said what a shame it wad be if ye was
to come to ony wrang, an I could help ye; and then in cam your
letter that confirmed it. So I took to the kist, and out wi' the
pickle notes in case they should be needed, and a' the bairns ran
to saddle Dumple. By great luck I had taen the other beast to
Edinbro', sae Dumple was as fresh as a rose. Sae aff I set, and
Wasp wi' me, for ye wad really hae thought he kenn'd where I was
gaun, puir beast; and here I am after a trot o' sixty mile or near
by. But Wasp rade thirty o' them afore me on the saddle, and the
puir doggie balanced itsell as ane of the weans wad hae dune,
whether I trotted or cantered.'
In this strange story Bertram obviously saw, supposing the warning
to be true, some intimation of danger more violent and imminent
than could be likely to arise from a few days' imprisonment. At
the same time it was equally evident that some unknown friend was
working in his behalf. 'Did you not say,' he asked Dinmont, 'that
this man Gabriel was of gipsy blood?'
'It was e'en judged sae,' said Dinmont, 'and I think this maks it
likely; for they aye ken where the gangs o' ilk ither are to be
found, and they can gar news flee like a footba' through the
country an they like. An' I forgat to tell ye, there's been an
unco inquiry after the auld wife that we saw in Bewcastle; the
Sheriff's had folk ower the Limestane Edge after her, and down the
Hermitage and Liddel, and a' gates, and a reward offered for her
to appear o' fifty pound sterling, nae less; and Justice Forster,
he's had out warrants, as I am tell'd, in Cumberland; and an unco
ranging and ripeing they have had a' gates seeking for her; but
she'll no be taen wi' them unless she likes, for a' that.'
'And how comes that?' said Bertram.
'Ou, I dinna ken; I daur say it's nonsense, but they say she has
gathered the fern-seed, and can gang ony gate she likes, like Jock
the Giant-killer in the ballant, wi' his coat o' darkness and his
shoon o' swiftness. Ony way she's a kind o' queen amang the
gipsies; she is mair than a hundred year auld, folk say, and minds
the coming in o' the moss-troopers in the troublesome times when
the Stuarts were put awa. Sae, if she canna hide hersell, she kens
them that can hide her weel eneugh, ye needna doubt that. Od, an I
had kenn'd it had been Meg Merrilies yon night at Tibb Mumps's, I
wad taen care how I crossed her.'
Bertram listened with great attention to this account, which
tallied so well in many points with what he had himself seen of
this gipsy sibyl. After a moment's consideration he concluded it
would be no breach of faith to mention what he had seen at
Derncleugh to a person who held Meg in such reverence as Dinmont
obviously did. He told his story accordingly, often interrupted by
ejaculations, such as, 'Weel, the like o' that now!' or, 'Na, deil
an that's no something now!'
When our Liddesdale friend had heard the whole to an end, he shook
his great black head--'Weel, I'll uphaud there's baith gude and
ill amang the gipsies, and if they deal wi' the Enemy, it's a'
their ain business and no ours. I ken what the streeking the
corpse wad be, weel eneugh. Thae smuggler deevils, when ony o'
them's killed in a fray, they 'll send for a wife like Meg far
eneugh to dress the corpse; od, it's a' the burial they ever think
o'! and then to be put into the ground without ony decency, just
like dogs. But they stick to it, that they 'll be streekit, and
hae an auld wife when they're dying to rhyme ower prayers, and
ballants, and charms, as they ca' them, rather than they'll hae a
minister to come and pray wi' them--that's an auld threep o'
theirs; and I am thinking the man that died will hae been ane o'
the folk that was shot when they burnt Woodbourne.'
'But, my good friend, Woodbourne is not burnt,' said Bertram.
'Weel, the better for them that bides in't,' answered the store-
farmer. 'Od, we had it up the water wi' us that there wasna a
stane on the tap o' anither. But there was fighting, ony way; I
daur to say it would be fine fun! And, as I said, ye may take it
on trust that that's been ane o' the men killed there, and that
it's been the gipsies that took your pockmanky when they fand the
chaise stickin' in the snaw; they wadna pass the like o' that, it
wad just come to their hand like the bowl o' a pint stoup.'
'But if this woman is a sovereign among them, why was she not able
to afford me open protection, and to get me back my property?'
'Ou, wha kens? she has muckle to say wi' them, but whiles they'll
tak their ain way for a' that, when they're under temptation. And
then there's the smugglers that they're aye leagued wi', she maybe
couldna manage them sae weel. They're aye banded thegither; I've
heard that the gipsies ken when the smugglers will come aff, and
where they're to land, better than the very merchants that deal
wi' them. And then, to the boot o' that, she's whiles cracked-
brained, and has a bee in her head; they say that, whether her
spaeings and fortune-tellings be true or no, for certain she
believes in them a' hersell, and is aye guiding hersell by some
queer prophecy or anither. So she disna aye gang the straight road
to the well. But deil o' sic a story as yours, wi' glamour and
dead folk and losing ane's gate, I ever heard out o' the tale-
books! But whisht, I hear the keeper coming.'
Mac-Guffog accordingly interrupted their discourse by the harsh
harmony of the bolts and bars, and showed his bloated visage at
the opening door. 'Come, Mr. Dinmont, we have put off locking up
for an hour to oblige ye; ye must go to your quarters.'
'Quarters, man? I intend to sleep here the night. There's a spare
bed in the Captain's room.'
'It's impossible!' answered the keeper.
'But I say it IS possible, and that I winna stir; and there's a
dram t' ye.'
Mac-Guffog drank off the spirits and resumed his objection. 'But
it's against rule, sir; ye have committed nae malefaction.'
'I'll break your head,' said the sturdy Liddesdale man, 'if ye say
ony mair about it, and that will be malefaction eneugh to entitle
me to ae night's lodging wi' you, ony way.'
'But I tell ye, Mr. Dinmont,' reiterated the keeper, 'it's against
rule, and I behoved to lose my post.'
'Weel, Mac-Guffog,' said Dandie, 'I hae just twa things to say. Ye
ken wha I am weel eneugh, and that I wadna loose a prisoner.'
'And how do I ken that?' answered the jailor.
'Weel, if ye dinna ken that,' said the resolute farmer, 'ye ken
this: ye ken ye're whiles obliged to be up our water in the way o'
your business. Now, if ye let me stay quietly here the night wi'
the Captain, I'se pay ye double fees for the room; and if ye say
no, ye shall hae the best sark-fu' o' sair banes that ever ye had
in your life the first time ye set a foot by Liddel Moat!'
'Aweel, aweel, gudeman,' said Mac-Guffog, 'a wilfu' man maun hae
his way; but if I am challenged for it by the justices, I ken wha
sall bear the wyte,' and, having sealed this observation with a
deep oath or two, he retired to bed, after carefully securing all
the doors of the bridewell. The bell from the town steeple tolled
nine just as the ceremony was concluded.
'Although it's but early hours,' said the farmer, who had observed
that his friend looked somewhat pale and fatigued, 'I think we had
better lie down, Captain, if ye're no agreeable to another
cheerer. But troth, ye're nae glass-breaker; and neither am I,
unless it be a screed wi' the neighbours, or when I'm on a
Bertram readily assented to the motion of his faithful friend,
but, on looking at the bed, felt repugnance to trust himself
undressed to Mrs. Mac-Guffog's clean sheets.
'I'm muckle o' your opinion, Captain,' said Dandie. 'Od, this bed
looks as if a' the colliers in Sanquhar had been in't thegither.
But it'll no win through my muckle coat.' So saying, he flung
himself upon the frail bed with a force that made all its timbers
crack, and in a few moments gave audible signal that he was fast
asleep. Bertram slipped off his coat and boots and occupied the
other dormitory. The strangeness of his destiny, and the mysteries
which appeared to thicken around him, while he seemed alike to be
persecuted and protected by secret enemies and friends, arising
out of a class of people with whom he had no previous connexion,
for some time occupied his thoughts. Fatigue, however, gradually
composed his mind, and in a short time he was as fast asleep as
his companion. And in this comfortable state of oblivion we must
leave them until we acquaint the reader with some other
circumstances which occurred about the same period.