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Jabos?" said the Precentor contemptuously.
"No mickle, to be sure, Mr Skreigh— only that I lived within a penny-stane cast o' the head o' the avenue at Ellangowan, when a man cam jingling to our door that night the young Laird was born, and my mother sent me, that was a hafflin callant, to shew the stranger the gate to the Place, which, if he had been such a warlock, he might hae kend himsell, ane wad think—and he was a young, weel-faur'd, weel-dressed man, like an Englishman. And I tell ye he had as gude a hat, and boots, and gloves, as ony gentleman need to have. To be sure he did gie an awesome glance up at the auld castle—and there was some spae-wark gaed on—I aye heard that; but as for his vanishing, I held the stirrup mysell when he gaed away, and he gied me a round half-crown—he was riding on a haick they ca'd Soupie Sam—it belanged to the George at Dumfries—it was a blood-bay beast, very ill o' llie spavin—I hae seen the beast baith before and since."
"Aweel, aweel, Jock," answered Mr Skreigh, with a tone of mild solemnity, "our accounts differ in no material particulars; but I had no knowledge that ye had seen the man—So ye see, my friends, that this sooth-sayer having prognosticated evil to the boy, his father engaged a godly minister to be with him morn and night."
"Aye, that was him they ca'd Dominie Sampson," said the postillion.
"He's but a dumb dog, that," observed the Deacon; "I have heard that he never could preach five words of a sermon endlang, for as lang as he has been licensed."
"Weel, but," said the Precentor, waving his hand, as if eager to retrieve the command of the discourse, "he waited on the young Laird by night and day. Now, it chanced, when the bairn was near five years auld, that the Laird had a sight of his errors, and determined to put these Egyptians aff his ground; and he caused them to remove; and that Frank Kennedy, that was a rough swearing fellow, he was sent to turn them aff. And he cursed and damned at them, and they swore at him, and that Meg Merrilies, that was the maist powerful with the Enemy of Mankind, she as gude as said she would have him body and soul before three days were ower his head. And I have it from a sure hand, and that's ane wha saw it, and that's John Wilson that was the Laird's groom, that Meg appeared to the Laird as he was riding hame from Singleside over Gibbie'sknow,. and threatened him wi' what she wad do to his family—but whether it was Meg, or something warse in her likeness, for it seemed bigger than ony mortal creatures-John could not say."
"Aweel," said the postillion, "it might be sae—I canna say against it, for I was not in the country at the time—but John Wilson was a blustering kind of fellow, without the heart of a sprug."
"And what was the end of all this r" said the stranger, with some impatience.
"Ou, the event and upshot of it was, sir," said the Precentor, " that while they were all looking on, beholding a king's ship chase a smuggler, this Kennedy suddenly brake away frae them without ony reason that could be descried—ropes nor tows wad not hae held him—and made for the wood of Warroch as fast as his beast could carry him; and by the way he met the young Laird and his governor, and he snatched up the bairn, and swore, if he was bewitched, the bairn should hae the same luck as him—and the minister followed as fast as he could, and almaist as fast as them, for he was wonderfully swift of foot—and he saw Meg the witch, or her master in her similitude, rise suddenly out of the ground, and claught the bairn suddenly out of the gauger's arms—and then he rampauged and drew his sword—for ye ken, a fie man and a cusser fears na the deil."
"I believe that's very true," said the postillion.
"So, sir, shegrippithim, and clodded him
like a stane from the sling ower the craigs of Warroch-head, where he was found that evening—but what became of the babe, frankly I cannot say. But he that was minister here then, that's now in a better place, had an opinion, that the bairn was only conveyed to Fairy-land for a season."
The stranger had smiled slightly at some parts of this recital, but ere he could answer, the clatter of a horse's hoofs were heard, and a smart servant, handsomely dressed, with a cockade in his hat, bustled into the kitchen, with " make a little room, good people;" when, observing the stranger, he descended at once into the modest and civil domestic, his hat sunk down by his side, and he put a letter into his master's hands. "The family at Ellangowan, sir, are in great distress, and unable to receive any visits."
"I know it," replied his master: "And now, madam, if you will have the goodness to allow me to occupy the parlour you