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to sleep with the tod and the black-cock in the muirs!—Ride your ways, Ellangowan.—Our bairns are hinging at our weary backs—look that your braw cradle at hame be the fairer spread up—not that I am wishing ill to little Harry, or to the babe that's yet to be born—God forbid— and make them kind to the poor, and better folk than their father.—And now, ride e'en your ways, for these are the last words ye'll ever hear Meg Merrilies speak, and this is the last reise that I'll ever cut in the bonny woods of Ellangowan."
So saying, she broke the sapling she held in her hand, and flung it into the road. Margaret of Anjou, bestowing on her triumphant foes her keen-edged malediction, could not have turned from them with a gesture more proudly contemptuous. The Laird was clearing his voice to speak, and thrusting his hand in his pocket to find half-a-crown; the gypsey waited neither for his reply nor his donation, but strode down the hill to overtake the caravan.
Ellangowan rode pensively home; and it was remarkable that he did not mention this interview to any of his family. The groom was not so reserved: he told the story at great length to a full audience in the kitchen, and concluded by swearing, that "if ever the devil spoke by the mouth of a woman, he had spoken by that of Meg Merrilies that blessed day."
, * * • , , •
Paint Scotland greeting ower her thrissle,
Her ruutclikin stoup as toom'9 a whistle,
'An' d—-—mn'd.excisemen in a bustle,
. . Seizing a stell;Triumphant crushing't like a mussell,
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 south-western 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 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 particularly expert. ,-;
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 dan^ gefous 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 his 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 wrong 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 bye, the Green Dragon at Harrigate is the best house of the two—but for Frank Kennedy, he's in one sense a gentleman born, and it's a shame not to support him against these blackguard smugglers," v
After this league had taken place be