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whispered they might have been on board the lugger, a few planks and beams of which the tide now drifted ashore.
At this instant, a shout was heard from the beach, so loud, so shrill, so piercing, so different from every sound which the woods had that day rung to, that nobody hesitated a moment to believe that it conveyed tidings, and tidings of dreadful import. All hurried to the place, and, venturing without scruple upon paths, which, at another^thgje. .they would have shuddered to look at, descended towards a cleft ef the rock, where one boat's crew was already landed. "Here, sirs !—Here!— this way, for God's sake !—this way! this way !" was the reiterated cry. Ellangowan broke through the throng which had already assembled at the fatal spot, and beheld the object of their terror. It was the dead body of Kennedy. At first sight he seemed to have perished by a fall from the rocks, which there rose in a precipice of a hundred feet above the beach. The
VOL. I, G
corpse was lying half in, half out of the water; the advancing tide, raising the arm and stirring the clothes, had given it at some distance the appearance of motion, so that those who first discovered the body thought that life remained. But every spark had been long extinguished.
"My bairn! my bairn!" cried the distracted father, "where can he be ?"—A dozen mouths were opened to communicate hopes which no one felt. Some one at length mentioned the gypsies! In a moment Ellangowan had reascended the cliffs, flung himself upon the first horse he met, and rode furiously to the huts at Derncleugh. All was there dark and desolate; and, as he dismounted to make more minute search, he stumbled over fragments of furniture which had been thrown out of the cottages, and the broken wood and thatch which had been pulled down by his orders. At that moment the prophecy, or anathema, of Meg Merrilies fell heavy on his mind. "You have stripped the thatch from seven cottages,—see that the roof-tree of your own house stand the surer!"
"Restore," he cried, "restore my bairn! bring me back my son, and all shall be forgot and forgiven!" As he uttered these words in a sort of frenzy, his eye caught a glimmering of light in one of the dismantled cottages—it was that in which Meg Merrilies formerly resided. The light, which seemed to proceed from fire, glimmered not only through the window, but also through the rafters of the hut where the roofing had been torn off.
He flew to the place; the entrance was bolted; despair gave the miserable father the strength of ten men; he rushed against the door with such violence that it gave way before the momentum of his weight and force. The cottage was empty, but bore marks of recent habitationthere was fire on the hearth, a kettle, and some preparation for food. As he eagerly gazed around for something that might confirm his hope that his child yet lived, although in the power of those strange people, a man entered the hut.
It was his old gardener. "O sir !" said the old man, " such a night as this I trusted never to live to see!—ye maun come to the Place directly 1",/ . :, i./u, .*
"Is my boy found? is he alive? have ye found Harry Bertram? Andrew, have ye found Harry Bertram ?*:.,.• *,!" No, sir j but' ,*,'i i i *,. u
"Then he is kidnapped! I am sure of it, Andrew! as sure as that I tread upon earth! She has stolen him—and I will ne*ver stir from this place til] X have tidings of my bairn!" i tt'U y. - w ui >m In.*'* •*r::?
'* O, but ye maun cpme^harnftvMr\ $e maun come hame!—We have sent for the sheriff, and we'll set a watch here a' night, in case the gypsies return.; hut yourrye maun-come hame, siri-^-r-fp^my ladyjf in the deadrthraw." t. • • .*>n :ii3, m
ifiiBertratn turned a stupified and unmeanw kig eye» pfi' the^messenger who uttered this calamitous news; and, repeating the words "in the dead-thr-aw !" as if he could not comprehend their.meaning, suffered the old man to drag him towards his horse. During the ride home, he only said, "Wife and bairn, baith—mother and son, baith—Sair, sair to abide!" >•'.': >"'It is needless to dwell upon the new scene of agony which awaited him. The news of Kennedy's fate had been eagerly and incautiously communicated at Ellangowan, with the gratuitous addition, that, doubtless, "he had drawn the young Laird over the craig with him, though the tide had swept away the child's body—he was light, puir thing, and would flee farther into the surf.** ''' -Mrs Bertram heard the tidings; she was far advanced in her pregnancy; she fell into the pains of premature labour, and, ere Ellangowan had recovered his agita