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——Next the Justice,
When Mrs Bertram of Ellangowan was able to hear the news of what had passed during her confinement, her apartment rung with all manner of gossiping respecting the handsome young student from Oxford, who had told such a fortune by the stars to the young Laird, "blessings on his dainty face." The form, accent, and manners, of the stranger, were expatiated upon. His horse, bridle, saddle, and stirrups, did not remain unnoticed. All this made a great impression upon the mind of Mrs Bertram, for the good lady had no small store of superstition.
Her first employment, when she became capable of a little work, was to make a small velvet bag for the scheme of nativity which she had obtained from her husband. Her fingers itched to break the seal, but credulity proved stronger than curiosity, and she had the firmness to inclose it, in all its integrity, within two slips of parchment, which she sowed round it, to prevent its being chafed. The whole was then enclosed in the velvet bag aforesaid, and hung as a charm round the neck of the infant, where his mother resolved it should remain until the period for the legitimate satisfaction of her curiosity should arrive.
The father also resolved to do his part by the child, in securing him a good educartion; and with the view that it should commence with the first dawnings of reason, Dominie Sampson was easily induced to renounce his public profession of parish schoolmaster, make his constant residence at the Place, and, in consideration of a sum not quite equal to the wages of a footman even at that time, to undertake to communicate to the future Laird of Ellangowan all the erudition which he had, and all the graces and accomplishments which—he had not indeed, but which he had never discovered that he wanted. In this arrangement, also, the Laird found his private advantage; securing the constant benefit of a patient auditor to whom he told his stories when they were alone, and at whose expence he could break a sly jest when he had company.
About four years after this time, a great commotion took place in the country where Ellangowan is situated.
Those who watched the signs of the times, had long been of opinion that a change of ministry was about to take place; and, at length, after a due proportion of hopes, fears, and delays, rumours from good authority, and bad authority, and no authority at all, after some clubs had drank Up with this statesman, and others Down with him; after riding and running, and posting, and addressing, and counter addressing, and proffers of lives and fortunes, the blow was at length struck, the administration of the day was dissolved, and parliament, as a natural consequence, was dissolved also.
Sir Thomas Kittlecourt, like other members in the same situation, posted down to his county, and met but an indifferent reception. He was a partizan of the old administration; and the friends of the new had already set about an active canvass in behalf of John Featherhead, Esq who kept the best hounds and hunters in the shire. Among others who joined the standard of revolt was Gilbert Glossin, writer in ,
agent for the Laird of Ellangowan. This honest gentleman had either been refused some favour by the old member, or, what is equally likely, he had got all that he had the most distant pretension to ask, and could only look to the other side for fresh advancement. Mr Glossin had a Vote upon Ellangowan's property, as has been before observed; and he was now determined that his patron should have one also, as there was no doubt which side Mr Bertram would embrace in the contest. He easily persuaded Ellangowan, that it would be creditable to him to take the field at the head of as strong a party as possible; and immediately went to work, making votes, as every Scottish lawyer knows how, by splitting and subdividing the superiorities upon this ancient and once powerful barony. These were so extensive, that, by dint of clipping and paring here, adding and eiking there, and creating over-lords upon all the estate which Bertram held of the crown, they advanced, upon the day of contest, at the head of ten as good men of parchment as ever took the oath of trust and possession. This strong reinforcement turned the dubious day of battle. The principal and his agent divided the honour; the reward fell to the latter exclusively. Mr