And Sheriff I will engage my word to you,
That I will by to morrow dinner time,
Send him to answer thee or any man,
For anything he shall be charged withal
Henry IV Part I
When the several by-plays, as they may be termed, had taken place
among the individuals of the Woodbourne family, as we have
intimated in the preceding chapter, the breakfast party at length
assembled, Dandie excepted, who had consulted his taste in viands,
and perhaps in society, by partaking of a cup of tea with Mrs.
Allan, just laced with two teaspoonfuls of cogniac, and reinforced
with various slices from a huge round of beef. He had a kind of
feeling that he could eat twice as much, and speak twice as much,
with this good dame and Barnes as with the grand folk in the
parlour. Indeed, the meal of this less distinguished party was
much more mirthful than that in the higher circle, where there was
an obvious air of constraint on the greater part of the
assistants. Julia dared not raise her voice in asking Bertram if
he chose another cup of tea. Bertram felt embarrassed while eating
his toast and butter under the eye of Mannering. Lucy, while she
indulged to the uttermost her affection for her recovered brother,
began to think of the quarrel betwixt him and Hazlewood. The
Colonel felt the painful anxiety natural to a proud mind when it
deems its slightest action subject for a moment to the watchful
construction of others. The Lawyer, while sedulously buttering his
roll, had an aspect of unwonted gravity, arising perhaps from the
severity of his morning studies. As for the Dominie, his state of
mind was ecstatic! He looked at Bertram--he looked at Lucy--he
whimpered--he sniggled--he grinned--he committed all manner of
solecisms in point of form: poured the whole cream (no unlucky
mistake) upon the plate of porridge which was his own usual
breakfast, threw the slops of what he called his 'crowning dish of
tea' into the sugar-dish instead of the slop-basin, and concluded
with spilling the scalding liquor upon old Plato, the Colonel's
favourite spaniel, who received the libation with a howl that did
little honour to his philosophy.
The Colonel's equanimity was rather shaken by this last blunder.
'Upon my word, my good friend, Mr. Sampson, you forget the
difference between Plato and Zenocrates.'
'The former was chief of the Academics, the latter of the Stoics,'
said the Dominie, with some scorn of the supposition.
'Yes, my dear sir, but it was Zenocrates, not Plato, who denied
that pain was an evil.'
'I should have thought,' said Pleydell, 'that very respectable
quadruped which is just now limping out of the room upon three of
his four legs was rather of the Cynic school.'
'Very well hit off. But here comes an answer from Mac-Morlan.'
It was unfavourable. Mrs. Mac-Morlan sent her respectful
compliments, and her husband had been, and was, detained by some
alarming disturbances which had taken place the preceding night at
Portanferry, and the necessary investigation which they had
'What's to be done now. Counsellor?' said the Colonel to Pleydell.
'Why, I wish we could have seen Mac-Morlan,' said the Counsellor,
'who is a sensible fellow himself, and would besides have acted
under my advice. But there is little harm. Our friend here must be
made sui juris. He is at present an escaped prisoner, the law has
an awkward claim upon him; he must be placed rectus in curia, that
is the first object; for which purpose, Colonel, I will accompany
you in your carriage down to Hazlewood House. The distance is not
great; we will offer our bail, and I am confident I can easily
show Mr.--I beg his pardon--Sir Robert Hazlewood, the necessity of
'With all my heart,' said the Colonel; and, ringing the bell, gave
the necessary orders. 'And what is next to be done?'
'We must get hold of Mac-Morlan, and look out for more proof.'
'Proof!' said the Colonel, 'the thing is as clear as daylight:
here are Mr. Sampson and Miss Bertram, and you yourself at once
recognise the young gentleman as his father's image; and he
himself recollects all the very peculiar circumstances preceding
his leaving this country. What else is necessary to conviction?'
'To moral conviction nothing more, perhaps,' said the experienced
lawyer, 'but for legal proof a great deal. Mr. Bertram's
recollections are his own recollections merely, and therefore are
not evidence in his own favour. Miss Bertram, the learned Mr.
Sampson, and I can only say, what every one who knew the late
Ellangowan will readily agree in, that this gentleman is his very
picture. But that will not make him Ellangowan's son and give him
'And what will do so?' said the Colonel.
'Why, we must have a distinct probation. There are these gipsies;
but then, alas! they are almost infamous in the eye of law, scarce
capable of bearing evidence, and Meg Merrilies utterly so, by the
various accounts which she formerly gave of the matter, and her
impudent denial of all knowledge of the fact when I myself
examined her respecting it.'
'What must be done then?' asked Mannering.
'We must try,' answered the legal sage, 'what proof can be got at
in Holland among the persons by whom our young friend was
educated. But then the fear of being called in question for the
murder of the gauger may make them silent; or, if they speak, they
are either foreigners or outlawed smugglers. In short, I see
'Under favour, most learned and honoured sir,' said the Dominie,
'I trust HE who hath restored little Harry Bertram to his friends
will not leave His own work imperfect.'
'I trust so too, Mr. Sampson,' said Pleydell; 'but we must use the
means; and I am afraid we shall have more difficulty in procuring
them than I at first thought. But a faint heart never won a fair
lady; and, by the way (apart to Miss Mannering, while Bertram was
engaged with his sister), there's a vindication of Holland for
you! What smart fellows do you think Leyden and Utrecht must send
forth, when such a very genteel and handsome young man comes from
the paltry schools of Middleburgh?'
'Of a verity,' said the Dominie, jealous of the reputation of the
Dutch seminary--'of a verity, Mr. Pleydell, but I make it known to
you that I myself laid the foundation of his education.'
'True, my dear Dominie,' answered the Advocate, 'that accounts for
his proficiency in the graces, without question. But here comes
your carriage, Colonel. Adieu, young folks. Miss Julia, keep your
heart till I come back again; let there be nothing done to
prejudice my right whilst I am non valens agere.'
Their reception at Hazlewood House was more cold and formal than
usual; for in general the Baronet expressed great respect for
Colonel Mannering, and Mr. Pleydell, besides being a man of good
family and of high general estimation, was Sir Robert's old
friend. But now he seemed dry and embarrassed in his manner. 'He
would willingly,' he said, 'receive bail, notwithstanding that the
offence had been directly perpetrated, committed, and done against
young Hazlewood of Hazlewood; but the young man had given himself
a fictitious description, and was altogether that sort of person
who should not be liberated, discharged, or let loose upon
society; and therefore--'
'I hope, Sir Robert Hazlewood,' said the Colonel, 'you do not mean
to doubt my word when I assure you that he served under me as
cadet in India?'
'By no means or account whatsoever. But you call him a cadet; now
he says, avers, and upholds that he was a captain, or held a troop
in your regiment.'
'He was promoted since I gave up the command.'
'But you must have heard of it?'
'No. I returned on account of family circumstances from India, and
have not since been solicitous to hear particular news from the
regiment; the name of Brown, too, is so common that I might have
seen his promotion in the "Gazette" without noticing it. But a day
or two will bring letters from his commanding officer.'
'But I am told and informed, Mr. Pleydell,' answered Sir Robert,
still hesitating, 'that he does not mean to abide by this name of
Brown, but is to set up a claim to the estate of Ellangowan, under
the name of Bertram.'
'Ay, who says that?' said the Counsellor.
'Or,' demanded the soldier, 'whoever says so, does that give a
right to keep him in prison?'
'Hush, Colonel,' said the Lawyer; 'I am sure you would not, any
more than I, countenance him if he prove an impostor. And, among
friends, who informed you of this, Sir Robert?'
'Why, a person, Mr, Pleydell,' answered the Baronet, 'who is
peculiarly interested in investigating, sifting, and clearing out
this business to the bottom; you will excuse my being more
'O, certainly,' replied Pleydell; 'well, and he says--?'
'He says that it is whispered about among tinkers, gipsies, and
other idle persons that there is such a plan as I mentioned to
you, and that this young man, who is a bastard or natural son of
the late Ellangowan, is pitched upon as the impostor from his
strong family likeness.'
'And was there such a natural son, Sir Robert?' demanded the
'O, certainly, to my own positive knowledge. Ellangowan had him
placed as cabin-boy or powder-monkey on board an armed sloop or
yacht belonging to the revenue, through the interest of the late
Commissioner Bertram, a kinsman of his own.'
'Well, Sir Robert,' said the Lawyer, taking the word out of the
mouth of the impatient soldier, 'you have told me news. I shall
investigate them, and if I find them true, certainly Colonel
Mannering and I will not countenance this young man. In the
meanwhile, as we are all willing to make him forthcoming to answer
all complaints against him, I do assure you, you will act most
illegally, and incur heavy responsibility, if you refuse our
'Why, Mr. Pleydell,' said Sir Robert, who knew the high authority
of the Counsellor's opinion, 'as you must know best, and as you
promise to give up this young man--'
'If he proves an impostor,' replied the Lawyer, with some
'Ay, certainly. Under that condition I will take your bail; though
I must say an obliging, well-disposed, and civil neighbour of
mine, who was himself bred to the law, gave me a hint or caution
this morning against doing so. It was from him I learned that this
youth was liberated and had come abroad, or rather had broken
prison. But where shall we find one to draw the bail-bond?'
'Here,' said the Counsellor, applying himself to the bell, 'send
up my clerk, Mr. Driver; it will not do my character harm if I
dictate the needful myself.' It was written accordingly and
signed, and, the Justice having subscribed a regular warrant for
Bertram alias Brown's discharge, the visitors took their leave.
Each threw himself into his own corner of the post-chariot, and
said nothing for some time. The Colonel first broke silence: 'So
you intend to give up this poor young fellow at the first brush?'
'Who, I?' replied the Counsellor. 'I will not give up one hair of
his head, though I should follow them to the court of last resort
in his behalf; but what signified mooting points and showing one's
hand to that old ass? Much better he should report to his
prompter, Glossin, that we are indifferent or lukewarm in the
matter. Besides, I wished to have a peep at the enemies' game.'
'Indeed!' said the soldier. 'Then I see there are stratagems in
law as well as war. Well, and how do you like their line of
'Ingenious,' said Mr. Pleydell, 'but I think desperate; they are
finessing too much, a common fault on such occasions.'
During this discourse the carriage rolled rapidly towards
Woodbourne without anything occurring worthy of the reader's
notice, excepting their meeting with young Hazlewood, to whom the
Colonel told the extraordinary history of Bertram's reappearance,
which he heard with high delight, and then rode on before to pay
Miss Bertram his compliments on an event so happy and so
We return to the party at Woodbourne. After the departure of
Mannering, the conversation related chiefly to the fortunes of the
Ellangowan family, their domains, and their former power. 'It was,
then, under the towers of my fathers,' said Bertram, 'that I
landed some days since, in circumstances much resembling those of
a vagabond! Its mouldering turrets and darksome arches even then
awakened thoughts of the deepest interest, and recollections which
I was unable to decipher. I will now visit them again with other
feelings, and, I trust, other and better hopes.'
'Do not go there now,' said his sister. 'The house of our
ancestors is at present the habitation of a wretch as insidious as
dangerous, whose arts and villainy accomplished the ruin and broke
the heart of our unhappy father.'
'You increase my anxiety,' replied her brother, 'to confront this
miscreant, even in the den he has constructed for himself; I think
I have seen him.'
'But you must consider,' said Julia, 'that you are now left under
Lucy's guard and mine, and are responsible to us for all your
motions, consider, I have not been a lawyer's mistress twelve
hours for nothing, and I assure you it would be madness to attempt
to go to Ellangowan just now. The utmost to which I can consent
is, that we shall walk in a body to the head of the Woodbourne
avenue, and from that perhaps we may indulge you with our company
as far as a rising ground in the common, whence your eyes may be
blessed with a distant prospect of those gloomy towers which
struck so strongly your sympathetic imagination.'
The party was speedily agreed upon; and the ladies, having taken
their cloaks, followed the route proposed, under the escort of
Captain Bertram. It was a pleasant winter morning, and the cool
breeze served only to freshen, not to chill, the fair walkers. A
secret though unacknowledged bond of kindness combined the two
ladies, and Bertram, now hearing the interesting accounts of his
own family, now communicating his adventures in Europe and in
India, repaid the pleasure which he received. Lucy felt proud of
her brother, as well from the bold and manly turn of his
sentiments as from the dangers he had encountered, and the spirit
with which he had surmounted them. And Julia, while she pondered
on her father's words, could not help entertaining hopes that the
independent spirit which had seemed to her father presumption in
the humble and plebeian Brown would have the grace of courage,
noble bearing, and high blood in the far-descended heir of
They reached at length the little eminence or knoll upon the
highest part of the common, called Gibbie's Knowe--a spot
repeatedly mentioned in this history as being on the skirts of the
Ellangowan estate. It commanded a fair variety of hill and dale,
bordered with natural woods, whose naked boughs at this season
relieved the general colour of the landscape with a dark purple
hue; while in other places the prospect was more formally
intersected by lines of plantation, where the Scotch firs
displayed their variety of dusky green. At the distance of two or
three miles lay the bay of Ellangowan, its waves rippling under
the influence of the western breeze. The towers of the ruined
castle, seen high over every object in the neighbourhood, received
a brighter colouring from the wintry sun.
'There,' said Lucy Bertram, pointing them out in the distance,
'there is the seat of our ancestors. God knows, my dear brother, I
do not covet in your behalf the extensive power which the lords of
these ruins are said to have possessed so long, and sometimes to
have used so ill. But, O that I might see you in possession of
such relics of their fortune as should give you an honourable
independence, and enable you to stretch your hand for the
protection of the old and destitute dependents of our family, whom
our poor father's death--'
'True, my dearest Lucy,' answered the young heir of Ellangowan;
'and I trust, with the assistance of Heaven, which has so far
guided us, and with that of these good friends, whom their own
generous hearts have interested in my behalf, such a consummation
of my hard adventures is now not unlikely. But as a soldier I must
look with some interest upon that worm-eaten hold of ragged stone;
and if this undermining scoundrel who is now in possession dare to
displace a pebble of it--'
He was here interrupted by Dinmont, who came hastily after them up
the road, unseen till he was near the party: 'Captain, Captain!
ye're wanted. Ye're wanted by her ye ken o'.'
And immediately Meg Merrilies, as if emerging out of the earth,
ascended from the hollow way and stood before them. 'I sought ye
at the house,' she said, 'and found but him (pointing to Dinmont).
But ye are right, and I was wrang; it is HERE we should meet, on
this very spot, where my eyes last saw your father. Remember your
promise and follow me.'