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ken not well how it was, but all that I could do and say they keepit me off the roll, though my agent, that had a vote upon my estate, ranked as a good vote for auld Sir Thomas Kittlecourt. But, to return to what I was saying, Luckie Howatson is very expeditious, for this lass"—— Here the desultory and long narrative of the Laird of Ellangowan was interrupted by the voice of some one ascending the stairs from the kitchen story, and singing at full pitch of voice. The high notes were too shrill for a man, the low seemed too deep for a woman. The words, as far as Mannering could distinguish them, seemed to run thus:
Canny moment* lucky fit; •
*f It's Meg Merrilies, the gypsie, as sure as I am a sinner," said Mr Bertram. Th4 Dominie groaned deeply, uncrossed his legs, drew in the huge splay foot which his former posture had extended, placed it perpendicular, and stretched the other limb over it instead, puffing out between •whiles huge volumes of tobacco smoke. "What needs ye groan, Dominie? I am sure Meg's sangs do nae harm."
"Nor good neither," answered Dominie Sampson, in a voice whose untuneable harshness corresponded with the awkwardness of his figure. They were the first words which Mannering had heard him speak; and as he had been watching, with some curiosity, when this eating, drinking, moving, and smoking automaton would perform the part of speaking, he was a good deal diverted with the harsh timber tones which issued from him. But at this moment the door opened, and Meg Merrilies entered.
Her appearance made Mannering start. She was full six feet high, wore a man's great-coat over the rest of her dress, had in her hand a goodly sloe-thorn cudgel, and in all points of equipment, except her petticoats, seemed rather masculine than feminine. Her dark elf-locks shot out like the snakes of the gorgon, between an old-fashioned bonnet called a Bongrace, heightening the singular effect of her strong and weather-beaten features, which they partly shadowed, while her eye had a wild roll that indicated something like real or affected insanity.
"Aweel, Ellangowan," she said, "wad it no hae been a bonnie thing, an the leddy had been brought-to-bed, and meat the fair o' Drumshourloch, no kenning nor dreaming a word about it? Wha was to hae keepit awa the worriecows, I trow? Aye, and the elves and gyre cartings frae the bonny bairn, grace be wi' it? Aye, or said Saint Colmes charm for its sake, the dear?" And without waiting an answer she begun to sing—
. . • '•, i
ju ;.. Trefoil, vervain, John's-wort, dill, Hinders witches of their will;
Weel is them, that weel may ,
Saint Bride and her brat,
This charm she sung to a wild tune, in a high and shrill voice, and, cutting three capers with such strength and agility as almost to touch the roof of the room, concluded, "And now, Laird, will ye no order me a tass o' brandy?"
"That you shall have, Meg—Sit dowa yont there at the door, and tell us what news ye have heard at the fair o' Drumshourloch."
"Teeth, Laird, and there was muckle want o' you, and the like o' you; for there was a whin bonnie lasses there, forbye mysell, and deil ane to gie them hansels."
"Weel, Meg, and how mony gypsies were sent to the tolbooth?"
u Troth, but three, Laird, for there were nae mair in the fair, bye mysell as I said before, and I e'en gae them leg bail, for there's nae ease in dealing with quarrelsome folk.—And there's Dunboghas warned the Red Rotten and John Young aft" his grounds—black be his cast! he's nae gentleman, nor drap's bluid o' gentleman, wad grudge twa gangrel puir bodies the shelter o' a waste house, and the thristles by the road side for a bit cuddy, and the bits o'rotten birk to boil their drap parridge wi\ Weel, there's ane abune a'—but we'll see if the red cock craw not in his bonnie barn-yard ae morning before day dawing."