The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter,
And aye the ale was growing better
We must now return to Woodbourne, which, it may be remembered, we
left just after the Colonel had given some directions to his
confidential servant. When he returned, his absence of mind, and
an unusual expression of thought and anxiety upon his features,
struck the ladies, whom he joined in the drawing-room. Mannering
was not, however, a man to be questioned, even by those whom he
most loved, upon the cause of the mental agitation which these
signs expressed. The hour of tea arrived, and the party were
partaking of that refreshment in silence when a carriage drove up
to the door, and the bell announced the arrival of a visitor.
'Surely,' said Mannering, 'it is too soon by some hours.'
There was a short pause, when Barnes, opening the door of the
saloon, announced Mr. Pleydell. In marched the lawyer, whose well-
brushed black coat and well-powdered wig, together with his point
ruffles, brown silk stockings, highly-varnished shoes, and gold
buckles, exhibited the pains which the old gentleman had taken to
prepare his person for the ladies' society. He was welcomed by
Mannering with a hearty shake by the hand. 'The very man I wished
to see at this moment!'
'Yes,' said the Counsellor, 'I told you I would take the first
opportunity; so I have ventured to leave the court for a week in
session time--no common sacrifice; but I had a notion I could be
useful, and I was to attend a proof here about the same time. But
will you not introduce me to the young ladies? Ah! there is one I
should have known at once from her family likeness! Miss Lucy
Bertram, my love, I am most happy to see you.' And he folded her
in his arms, and gave her a hearty kiss on each side of the face,
to which Lucy submitted in blushing resignation.
'On n'arrete pas dans un si beau chemin,' continued the gay old
gentleman, and, as the Colonel presented him to Julia, took the
same liberty with that fair lady's cheek. Julia laughed, coloured,
and disengaged herself. 'I beg a thousand pardons,' said the
lawyer, with a bow which was not at all professionally awkward;
'age and old fashions give privileges, and I can hardly say
whether I am most sorry just now at being too well entitled to
claim them at all, or happy in having such an opportunity to
exercise them so agreeably.'
'Upon my word, sir,' said Miss Mannering, laughing, 'if you make
such flattering apologies we shall begin to doubt whether we can
admit you to shelter yourself under your alleged qualifications.'
'I can assure you, Julia,' said the Colonel, 'you are perfectly
right. My friend the Counsellor is a dangerous person; the last
time I had the pleasure of seeing him he was closeted with a fair
lady who had granted him a tete-a-tete at eight in the morning.'
'Ay, but, Colonel,' said the Counsellor, 'you should add, I was
more indebted to my chocolate than my charms for so distinguished
a favour from a person of such propriety of demeanour as Mrs.
'And that should remind me, Mr. Pleydell,' said Julia, 'to offer
you tea; that is, supposing you have dined.'
'Anything, Miss Mannering, from your hands,' answered the gallant
jurisconsult; 'yes, I have dined; that is to say, as people dine
at a Scotch inn.'
'And that is indifferently enough,' said the Colonel, with his
hand upon the bell-handle; 'give me leave to order something.'
'Why, to say truth, 'replied Mr. Pleydell, 'I had rather not. I
have been inquiring into that matter, for you must know I stopped
an instant below to pull off my boot-hose, "a world too wide for
my shrunk shanks,"' glancing down with some complacency upon limbs
which looked very well for his time of life, 'and I had some
conversation with your Barnes and a very intelligent person whom I
presume to be the housekeeper; and it was settled among us, tota
re perspecta,--I beg Miss Mannering's pardon for my Latin,--that
the old lady should add to your light family supper the more
substantial refreshment of a brace of wild ducks. I told her
(always under deep submission) my poor thoughts about the sauce,
which concurred exactly with her own; and, if you please, I would
rather wait till they are ready before eating anything solid.'
'And we will anticipate our usual hour of supper,' said the
'With all my heart,' said Pleydell, 'providing I do not lose the
ladies' company a moment the sooner. I am of counsel with my old
friend Burnet; [Footnote: See Note 5] I love the coena, the supper
of the ancients, the pleasant meal and social glass that wash out
of one's mind the cobwebs that business or gloom have been
spinning in our brains all day.'
The vivacity of Mr. Pleydell's look and manner, and the quietness
with which he made himself at home on the subject of his little
epicurean comforts, amused the ladies, but particularly Miss
Mannering, who immediately gave the Counsellor a great deal of
flattering attention; and more pretty things were said on both
sides during the service of the tea-table than we have leisure to
As soon as this was over, Mannering led the Counsellor by the arm
into a small study which opened from the saloon, and where,
according to the custom of the family, there were always lights
and a good fire in the evening.
'I see,'said Mr. Pleydell, 'you have got something to tell me
about the Ellangowan business. Is it terrestrial or celestial?
What says my military Albumazar? Have you calculated the course of
futurity? have you consulted your ephemerides, your almochoden,
'No, truly, Counsellor,' replied Mannering, 'you are the only
Ptolemy I intend to resort to upon the present occasion. A second
Prospero, I have broken my staff and drowned my book far beyond
plummet depth. But I have great news notwithstanding. Meg
Merrilies, our Egyptian sibyl, has appeared to the Dominie this
very day, and, as I conjecture, has frightened the honest man not
'Ay, and she has done me the honour to open a correspondence with
me, supposing me to be as deep in astrological mysteries as when
we first met. Here is her scroll, delivered to me by the Dominie.'
Pleydell put on his spectacles. 'A vile greasy scrawl, indeed; and
the letters are uncial or semi-uncial, as somebody calls your
large text hand, and in size and perpendicularity resemble the
ribs of a roasted pig; I can hardly make it out.'
'Read aloud,' said Mannering.
'I will try,' answered the Lawyer. '"YOU ARE A GOOD SEEKER, BUT A
BAD FINDER; YOU SET YOURSELF TO PROP A FALLING HOUSE, BUT HAD A
GEY GUESS IT WOULD RISE AGAIN. LEND YOUR HAND TO THE WORK THAT'S
NEAR, AS YOU LENT YOUR EE TO THE WEIRD THAT WAS FAR. HAVE A
CARRIAGE THIS NIGHT BY TEN O'CLOCK AT THE END OF THE CROOKED DYKES
AT PORTANFERRY, AND LET IT BRING THE FOLK TO WOODBOURNE THAT SHALL
ASK THEM, IF THEY BE THERE IN GOD'S NAME."--Stay, here follows
"DARK SHALL BE LIGHT,
AND WRONG DONE TO RIGHT,
WHEN BERTRAM'S RIGHT AND BERTRAM'S MIGHT
SHALL MEET ON ELLANGOWAN'S HEIGHT."
A most mystic epistle truly, and closes in a vein of poetry worthy
of the Cumaean sibyl. And what have you done?'
'Why,' said Mannering, rather reluctantly, 'I was loth to risk any
opportunity of throwing light on this business. The woman is
perhaps crazed, and these effusions may arise only from visions of
her imagination; but you were of opinion that she knew more of
that strange story than she ever told.'
'And so,' said Pleydell, 'you sent a carriage to the place named?'
'You will laugh at me if I own I did,' replied the Colonel.
'Who, I?' replied the Advocate. 'No, truly, I think it was the
wisest thing you could do.'
'Yes,' answered Mannering, well pleased to have escaped the
ridicule he apprehended; 'you know the worst is paying the chaise-
hire. I sent a post-chaise and four from Kippletringan, with
instructions corresponding to the letter; the horses will have a
long and cold station on the outpost to-night if our intelligence
'Ay, but I think it will prove otherwise,' said the Lawyer. 'This
woman has played a part till she believes it; or, if she be a
thorough-paced impostor, without a single grain of self-delusion
to qualify her knavery, still she may think herself bound to act
in character; this I know, that I could get nothing out of her by
the common modes of interrogation, and the wisest thing we can do
is to give her an opportunity of making the discovery her own way.
And now have you more to say, or shall we go to the ladies?'
'Why, my mind is uncommonly agitated,' answered the Colonel, 'and-
-but I really have no more to say; only I shall count the minutes
till the carriage returns; but you cannot be expected to be so
'Why, no; use is all in all,' said the more experienced lawyer; 'I
am much interested certainly, but I think I shall be able to
survive the interval, if the ladies will afford us some music.'
'And with the assistance of the wild ducks, by and by?' suggested
'True, Colonel; a lawyer's anxiety about the fate of the most
interesting cause has seldom spoiled either his sleep or
digestion. [Footnote: See Note 6.] And yet I shall be very eager
to hear the rattle of these wheels on their return,
So saying, he rose and led the way into the next room, where Miss
Mannering, at his request, took her seat at the harpsichord, Lucy
Bertram, who sung her native melodies very sweetly, was
accompanied by her friend upon the instrument, and Julia
afterwards performed some of Scarlatti's sonatas with great
brilliancy. The old lawyer, scraping a little upon the
violoncello, and being a member of the gentlemen's concert in
Edinburgh, was so greatly delighted with this mode of spending the
evening that I doubt if he once thought of the wild ducks until
Barnes informed the company that supper was ready.
'Tell Mrs. Allan to have something in readiness,' said the
Colonel; 'I expect--that is, I hope--perhaps some company may be
here to-night; and let the men sit up, and do not lock the upper
gate on the lawn until I desire you.'
'Lord, sir,' said Julia, 'whom can you possibly expect to-night?'
'Why, some persons, strangers to me, talked of calling in the
evening on business,' answered her father, not without
embarrassment, for he would have little brooked a disappointment
which might have thrown ridicule on his judgment; 'it is quite
'Well, we shall not pardon them for disturbing our party,' said
Julia, 'unless they bring as much good-humour and as susceptible
hearts as my friend and admirer, for so he has dubbed himself,
'Ah, Miss Julia,' said Pleydell, offering his arm with an air of
gallantry to conduct her into the eating-room, 'the time has been,
when I returned from Utrecht in the year 1738--'
'Pray don't talk of it,' answered the young lady; 'we like you
much better as you are. Utrecht, in Heaven's name! I daresay you
have spent all the intervening years in getting rid so completely
of the effects of your Dutch education.'
'O forgive me, Miss Mannering,' said the Lawyer, 'the Dutch are a
much more accomplished people in point of gallantry than their
volatile neighbours are willing to admit. They are constant as
clock-work in their attentions.'
' I should tire of that,' said Julia.
'Imperturbable in their good temper,' continued Pleydell.
'Worse and worse,' said the young lady.
'And then,' said the old beau garcon, 'although for six times
three hundred and sixty-five days your swain has placed the
capuchin round your neck, and the stove under your feet, and
driven your little sledge upon the ice in winter, and your
cabriole through the dust in summer, you may dismiss him at once,
without reason or apology, upon the two thousand one hundred and
ninetieth day, which, according to my hasty calculation, and
without reckoning leap-years, will complete the cycle of the
supposed adoration, and that without your amiable feelings having
the slightest occasion to be alarmed for the consequences to those
'Well,' replied Julia,' that last is truly a Dutch recommendation,
Mr. Pleydell; crystal and hearts would lose all their merit in the
world if it were not for their fragility.'
'Why, upon that point of the argument, Miss Mannering, it is as
difficult to find a heart that will break as a glass that will
not; and for that reason I would press the value of mine own, were
it not that I see Mr. Sampson's eyes have been closed, and his
hands clasped for some time, attending the end of our conference
to begin the grace. And, to say the truth, the appearance of the
wild ducks is very appetising.' So saying, the worthy Counsellor
sat himself to table, and laid aside his gallantry for awhile to
do honour to the good things placed before him. Nothing further is
recorded of him for some time, excepting an observation that the
ducks were roasted to a single turn, and that Mrs. Allan's sauce
of claret, lemon, and cayenne was beyond praise.
'I see,' said Miss Mannering, 'I have a formidable rival in Mr.
Pleydell's favour, even on the very first night of his avowed
'Pardon me, my fair lady,' answered the Counsellor, 'your avowed
rigour alone has induced me to commit the solecism of eating a
good supper in your presence; how shall I support your frowns
without reinforcing my strength? Upon the same principle, and no
other, I will ask permission to drink wine with you.'
'This is the fashion of Utrecht also, I suppose, Mr. Pleydell?'
'Forgive me, madam,' answered the Counsellor; 'the French
themselves, the patterns of all that is gallant, term their
tavern-keepers restaurateurs, alluding, doubtless, to the relief
they afford the disconsolate lover when bowed down to the earth by
his mistress's severity. My own case requires so much relief that
I must trouble you for that other wing, Mr. Sampson, without
prejudice to my afterwards applying to Miss Bertram for a tart. Be
pleased to tear the wing, sir, instead of cutting it off. Mr.
Barnes will assist you, Mr. Sampson; thank you, sir; and, Mr.
Barnes, a glass of ale, if you please.'
While the old gentleman, pleased with Miss Mannering's liveliness
and attention, rattled away for her amusement and his own, the
impatience of Colonel Mannering began to exceed all bounds. He
declined sitting down at table, under pretence that he never eat
supper; and traversed the parlour in which they were with hasty
and impatient steps, now throwing up the window to gaze upon the
dark lawn, now listening for the remote sound of the carriage
advancing up the avenue. At length, in a feeling of uncontrollable
impatience, he left the room, took his hat and cloak, and pursued
his walk up the avenue, as if his so doing would hasten the
approach of those whom he desired to see. 'I really wish,' said
Miss Bertram,' Colonel Mannering would not venture out after
nightfall. You must have heard, Mr. Pleydell, what a cruel fright
'O, with the smugglers?' replied the Advocate; 'they are old
friends of mine. I was the means of bringing some of them to
justice a long time since, when sheriff of this county.'
'And then the alarm we had immediately afterwards,' added Miss
Bertram, 'from the vengeance of one of these wretches.'
'When young Hazlewood was hurt; I heard of that too.'
'Imagine, my dear Mr. Pleydell,' continued Lucy, 'how much Miss
Mannering and I were alarmed when a ruffian, equally dreadful for
his great strength and the sternness of his features, rushed out
'You must know, Mr. Pleydell,' said Julia, unable to suppress her
resentment at this undesigned aspersion of her admirer, 'that
young Hazlewood is so handsome in the eyes of the young ladies of
this country that they think every person shocking who comes near
'Oho!' thought Pleydell, who was by profession an observer of
tones and gestures,' there's something wrong here between my young
friends.'--'Well, Miss Mannering, I have not seen young Hazlewood
since he was a boy, so the ladies may be perfectly right; but I
can assure you, in spite of your scorn, that if you want to see
handsome men you must go to Holland; the prettiest fellow I ever
saw was a Dutchman, in spite of his being called Vanbost, or
Vanbuster, or some such barbarous name. He will not be quite so
handsome now, to be sure.'
It was now Julia's turn to look a little out of countenance at the
chance hit of her learned admirer, but that instant the Colonel
entered the room. 'I can hear nothing of them yet,' he said;
'still, however, we will not separate. Where is Dominie Sampson?'
'Here, honoured sir.'
'What is that book you hold in your hand, Mr. Sampson?'
'It's even the learned De Lyra, sir. I would crave his honour Mr.
Pleydell's judgment, always with his best leisure, to expound a
'I am not in the vein, Mr. Sampson,' answered Pleydell; 'here's
metal more attractive. I do not despair to engage these two young
ladies in a glee or a catch, wherein I, even I myself, will
adventure myself for the bass part. Hang De Lyra, man; keep him
for a fitter season.'
The disappointed Dominie shut his ponderous tome, much marvelling
in his mind how a person possessed of the lawyer's erudition could
give his mind to these frivolous toys. But the Counsellor,
indifferent to the high character for learning which he was
trifling away, filled himself a large glass of Burgundy, and,
after preluding a little with a voice somewhat the worse for the
wear, gave the ladies a courageous invitation to join in 'We be
Three Poor Mariners,' and accomplished his own part therein with
'Are you not withering your roses with sitting up so late, my
young ladies?' said the Colonel.
'Not a bit, sir,' answered Julia; 'your friend Mr. Pleydell
threatens to become a pupil of Mr. Sampson's to-morrow, so we must
make the most of our conquest to-night.'
This led to another musical trial of skill, and that to lively
conversation. At length, when the solitary sound of one o'clock
had long since resounded on the ebon ear of night, and the next
signal of the advance of time was close approaching, Mannering,
whose impatience had long subsided into disappointment and
despair, looked at his watch and said, 'We must now give them up,'
when at that instant--But what then befell will require a separate