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.. CHAPTER XIII. • .
They told me, by the sentence of the law,
Early next morning, Manneringmounted his horse, and, accompanied by his servant, took the road to Ellangowan. He had no need to enquire the way. A sale in the country is a place of public resort and amusement, and people of various descriptions streamed to it from all quarters.
After a pleasant ride of about an hour, the old towers of the ruin presented themselves in the landscape. The thoughts with what different feelings he had lost sight of them so many years before, thronged upon the mind of the traveller. The landscape was the same; but how changed the feelings, hopes, and views, of the spectator! Then, life and love were new, and all the prospect was gilded by their rays. And now, disappointed in affection, sated with fame, and what the world calls success, his mind goaded by bitter and repentant recollection, his best hope was to find a retirement in which he might nurse the melancholy that was to accompany him to his grave. "Yet why should an individual mourn over the instability of his hopes, and the vanity of his prospects? The ancient chiefs, who erected these enormous and massive towers to be the fortress of their race, and the seat of their power, could they have dreamed the day was to come, when the last of their descendants should be expelled, a ruined wanderer, from his posses
sions! But Nature's bounties are unaltered. The sun will shine as fair on these ruins, whether the property of a stranger, or of a sordid and obscure trickster of the abused law, as when the banners of the founder first waved upon their battlements."
These reflections brought Mannering to the door of the house, which was that day open to all. He entered among others, who traversed the apartments, some to select articles for purchase, others to gratify their curiosity. There is something melancholy in such a scene, even under the most favourable circumstances. The confused state of the furniture, displaced for the convenience of being easily viewed and carried off by the purchasers, is disagreeable to the eye. Those articles which, properly and decently arranged, look creditable and well assorted, have then a paltry and wretched appearance; and the apartments, stripped of all that render them commodious and handsome, have an aspect of ruin and dilapidation. It is disgusting also, to see the scenes of domestic society and seclusion thrown open to the gaze of the curious and the vulgar; to hear their coarse speculations and jests upon the fashions and furniture to which they are unaccustomed,—a frolicksome humour much cherished by the whiskey which in Scotland is always put in circulation upon such occasions. All these are ordinary effects of such a scene as Ellangowan now presented; but the moral feeling, that, in this case, they indicated the total ruin of an ancient and honourable family, gave them treble weight and poignancy.
It was some time before Colonel Mannering could find any one disposed to answer his reiterated questions concerning Ellangowan himself. At length, an old maid-servant, who held her apron to her eyes as she spoke, told him, "the Laird was something better, and they hoped he would be able to leave the house that day. Miss Lucy expected the chaise every moment, and, as the day was fine for the time o' year, they had carried him in his easy chair up to the green before the auld castle, to be out of the way of this unca spectacle." Hither Colonel Mannering went in quest of him, and soon came in sight of the little group, which consisted of four persons. The ascent was steep, so that he had time to reconnoitre them as he advanced, and to consider in what mode he should make his address.
Mr Bertram, paralytick, and almost incapable of moving, occupied his easy chair, attired in his night-cap, and a loose camlet coat, his feet wrapped in blankets. Behind him, with his hands crossed on the cane on which he rested, stood Dominie Sampson, whom Mannering recognised at once. Time had made no change upon him, unless that his black coat seemed more brown,'and' his gaunt cheeks more lank, than when Mannering last saw him. On