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wheels.—Grizel, ye limmer, gang to the door."
"It's a single gentleman," whined out Grizel; "maun I take him into the parlour?"
u Foul be in your feet, than;—it'll be some English rider; coming without a servant at this time o' night!—Has the ostler ta'en the horse ?—Ye may light a spunk o' fire in the red room."
"I wish, ma'am," said the traveller, entering the kitchen, "you would give me leave to warm myself here, for the night is very cold."
His appearance, voice, and manner, produced an instantaneous effect in his favour. He was a handsome tall thin figure, dressed in black, as appeared when he laid aside his riding coat; his age might be between forty and fifty; his cast of features grave and interesting, and his air somewhat military. Every point of his appearance and address bespoke the gentleman. Long habit had given Mrs Mac-Candlish an acute tact in ascertaining the quality of her visitors, and proportioning her reception accordingly :—
To every guest the appropriate speech was made, And every duty with distinction paid;
Respectful, easy, pleasant, or polite
'«Your Honour's servant!—Mister Smith, good night."
On the present occasion, she was low in her curtesy, and profuse in her apologies. The stranger begged his horse might be attended to—she went out herself to school the hostler.
"There was never a prettier bit o' horseflesh in the stable o' the Gordon Arms," said the man; which information increased the landlady's respect for the rider. Upon the stranger declining to go into another apartment, (which indeed, she allowed, would be but cold and smoky till the fire burned up,) she installed her guest hospitably by the fire-side, and offered what refreshment her house afforded.
"A cup of your tea, ma'am, if you will favour me."
Mrs Mac-Candlish bustled about, reinforced her teapot with hyson, and proceeded in her duties with her best grace. "We have a very nice parlour, sir, and every thing very agreeable for gentlefolks; but it's bespoke the-night for a gentleman and his daughter that are going to leave this part of the country—ane of my chaises is gone for them, and will be back forthwith—they're not sae weel in the world as they have been; but we're a' subject to ups and downs in this life, as your honour must needs ken—but is not the tobacco-reek disagreeable to your honour?"
V By no means, ma'am; I am an old campaigner, and perfectly used to it.—Will you permit me to make some enquiries about a family in this neighbourhood r*
The sound of wheels was now heard, and the landlady hurried to the door to receive her expected guests; but returned in an instant, followed by the postillion—" No, they canna come at no rate, the Laird's sae ill."
"But God help them," said the landlady, "the morn's the term—the very last day they can bide in the house—a' thing's to be roupit."
"Weel, but they can come at no rate I tell ye—Mr Bertram canna be moved."
"What Mr Bertram?" said the stranger; "not Mr Bertram of Ellangowan, I hope?"
"Just e'en that same, sir; and if ye be a friend o' his, you have come at a time when he's sair bested."
u I have been abroad for many years— is his health so much deranged r"
u Aye, and his affairs an' a'," said the Deacon; "the creditors have entered into possession o' the estate, and it's for sale; and some that made the maist by him—I name nae names, but Mrs Mac-Candlish kens wha I mean—(the landlady shook her head significantly) they're sairest on him e'en now—I have a sma' matter due mysell, but I would rather have lost it than gane to turn the auld man out of his house, and him just dying."
"Aye but," said the parish-clerk, "Mr Glossin wants to get rid of the auld Laird, and drive on the sale for fear the heir-male should cast up upon them—for I have heard say, if there was an heir-male, they could not sell the estate for auld Elian* gowan's debt."
"He had a son born a good many years ago," said the stranger; "he is dead, I suppose r"
"Nae man can say for that," said the clerk mysteriously.
"Dead P said the Deacon, "I'se warrant him dead lang syne; he has not been heard of these twenty years or therebye."
"I wot weel it's no twenty years," said the landlady; "it's no abune seventeen at the outside in this very month; it made an unco noise ower a' this country—the bairn disappeared the very day that Su