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As she had not been made acquainted with this metamorphosis, and could not even guess its cause, her surprise and resentment were extreme, nor were they much modified by the excuses and explanations of her steward and butler. She made a hasty retreat homeward, extremely indignant at the shouts and laughter of the company, and much disposed to vent her displeasure on the refractory agriculturist whose place Goose Gibbie had so unhappily supplied. The greater part of the gentry now dispersed, the whimsical misfortune which had befallen the gens d'armerie of Tillietudlem furnishing them with huge entertainment on their road homeward. The horsemen, also, in little parties, as their road lay together, diverged from the place of rendezvous, excepting such as, having tried their dexterity at the popinjay, were, by ancient custom, obliged to partake of a grace-cup with their captain before their departure.
At fairs he play'd before the spearmen,
And gaily graithed in their gear then,
Steel bonnets, pikes, and swords shone clear then
As ony bead;
Since Habbie'i dead I
Elegy on liabbic Simpson.
The cavalcade of horsemen on their road to the little borough-town were preceded by Niel Blane, the townpiper, mounted on his white galloway, armed with his dirk and broad-sword, and bearing a chanter streaming with as many ribbons as would deck out six country belles for a fair or preaching. Niel, a clean, tight, welltimbered, long-winded fellow, had gained the official sit
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uation of town-piper of by bis merit, with all the
emoluments thereof; namely, tbe Piper's Croft, as it is still called, a field of about an acre in extent, five merks and a new livery-coat of the town's colours, yearly; some hopes of a dollar upon the day of the election of magistrates, providing the provost were able and willing to afford such a gratuity; and the privilege of paying, at all the respectable houses in the neighbourhood, an annual visit at spring-time, to rejoice their hearts with his music, to comfort his own with their ale and brandy, and to beg from each a modicum of seed-corn.
In addition to these inestimable advantages, Niel's personal, or professional, accomplishments won the heart of a jolly widow, who then kept the principal change-house in the borough. Her former husband having been a strict presbyterian, of such note that he usually went among his sect by the name of Gaius the publican, many of the more rigid were scandalized by the profession of the successor whom his relict had chosen for a second help-mate. As the browst (or brewing) of the Howff* retained, nevertheless, its unrivalled reputation, most of the old customers continued to give it a preference. The character of the new landlord, indeed, was of that accommodating kind, which enabled him, by close attention to the helm, to keep his little vessel pretty steady amid the contending tides of faction. He was a good-humoured, shrewd, selfish sort of fellow, indifferent alike to the disputes about church and state, and only anxious to secure the good-will of customers of every description. But his character, as well as the state of the country, will be best understood by giving the reader an account of the instructions which he issued to his daughter, a girl about eighteen, whom he was initiating in those cares which had been faithfully discharged by his wife, until about six months before our story commences, when the honest woman had been carried to the kirk-yard.
"Jenny," said Niel Blane, as the girl assisted to disencumber him of his bagpipes, " this is the first day that ye are to take the place of your worthy mother in attending to the public; a douce woman she was, civil to the customers, and had a good name wi'Whig and Tory, baith up the street and down the street. It will be hard for you to fill her place, especially on sic a thrang day as this, but Heaven's will maun be obeyed.—Jenny, whatever Milnwood ca's for be sure he maun hae't, for he's the Captain o' the Popinjay, and auld customs maun be supported ; if he canna pay the lawing himsell, as I ken he's keepit unco short by the head, I'll find a way to shame it out o' his uncle.—The curate is playing at dice wi' Cornet Grahame. Be eident and civil to them baith —clergy and captains can gie an unco deal o' fash in thae times, where they take an ill-will.—The dragoons will be crying for ale, and they wunna want it, and maunna want it—they are unruly chields, but they pay ane some gate or other. I gat the humle-cow, that's the best in the byre, frae black Frank Inglis and Sergeant Bothwell, for ten pund Scots, and they drank out the price at ae downsitting."
"But, father," interrupted Jenny, "they say the twa reiving loons drave the cow frae the gudewife o' Bell'smoor, just because she gaed to hear a field-preaching ae Sabbath afternoon."
"Whisht! ye silly taupie," said her father, "we have naething to do how they come by the bestial they sell— be that atween them and their consciences.—Aweel— Take notice, Jenny, of that dour, stour-looking carle that sits by the cheek o' the ingle, and turns his back on a' men. He looks like ane o' the hill-folk, for I saw him start awee when he saw the red-coats, and I jalouse he wad hae liked to hae ridden by, but his horse (it's a gude gelding) was ower sair travailed; he behoved to stop whether he wad or no. Serve him cannily, Jenny, and wi' little din, and dinna bring the sodgers on him by speering ony questions at him; but let na him hae a room to himsell,they wad say we were hiding him.—For yoursell, Jenny, ye'll be civil to a' the folk, and take nae heed o' ony nonsense and daffing the young lads may say t'ye. Folk in the hostler line maun pit up wi' muckle. Your mither, rest her saul, could pit up wi' as muckle as maist women—but aff hands is fair play ; and if ony body be uncivil ye may gie me a cry—Aweel,—when the malt begins to get aboon the meal, they'll begin to speak about government in kirk and state, and then, Jenny, they are like to quarrel—let them be doing—anger's a drouthy passion, and the mair they dispute, the mair ale they'll drink; but ye were best serve them wi' a pint of the sma browst, it will heat them less, and they'll never ken the difference."
"But, father," said Jenny, "if they come to lounder ilk ither as they did last time, suldna I cry on you V
"At no hand, Jenny; the redder gets aye the warst lick in the fray. If the sodgers draw their swords, ye'll cry on the corporal and the guard. If the country folk tak the tangs and poker, ye'll cry on the baiflie and townofficers. But in nae event cry on me, for I am wearied wi' doudling the bag o' wind a' day, and 1 am gaun to eat my dinner quietly in the spence.—And, now I think on't, the Laird of Lickitup (that's him that was the laird) was speering for sma' drink and a saut herring—gie him a pu' be the sleeve, and round into his lug I wad be blithe o' his company to dine wi' me; he was a gude customer anes in a day, and wants naething but means to be a gude ane again—he likes drink as weel as e'er he did. And if ye ken ony puir body o' our acquaintance that's blate for want o' siller, and has far to gang hame, ye needna stick to gie them a waught o' drink and a bannock—well ne'er miss't, and it looks creditable in a house like ours. And now, hinny, gang awa', and serve the folk, but first bring me my dinner, and twa chappins o' yill and the mutchkin stoup o' brandy."
Having thus devolved his whole cares on Jenny as prime minister, Niel Blane and the ci-devant laird, once his patron, but now glad to be bis trencher-companion, sat down to enjoy themselves for the remainder of the evening, remote from the buslle of the public room.
All in Jenny's department was in full activity. The knights of the popinjay received and requited the hospi
table entertainment of their captain, who, though he spared the cup himself, took care it should go round with due celerity among the rest, who might not have otherwise deemed themselves handsomely treated. Their numbers melted 'away by degrees, and were at length diminished to four or five, who began to talk of breaking up their party. At another table, at some distance, sat two of the dragoons whom Niel Blane had mentioned, a sergeant and a private in the celebrated John Grahame of Claverhouse's regiment of Life-Guards. Even the non-commissioned officers and privates in these corps were not considered as ordinary mercenaries, but rather approached to the rank of the French mousquetaires, being regarded in the light of cadets, who performed the duties of rank-and-file with the prospect of obtaining commissions in case of distinguishing themselves.
Many young men of good families were to be found in the ranks, a circumstance which added to the pride and self-consequence of these troops. A remarkable instance of this occurred in the person of the non-commissioned officer in question. His real name was Francis Stuart, but he was universally known by the appellation of Bothwell being lineally descended from the last Earl of that name; not the infamous lover of the unfortunate Queen Mary, but Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell, whose turbulence and repeated conspiracies embarrassed the early part of James Sixth's reign, and who at length died in exile in great poverty. The son of this Earl bad sued to Charles I. for the restitution of part of his father's forfeited estates, but the grasp of the nobles to whom they had been allotted was too tenacious to be unclenched. The breaking out of the civil wars utterly ruined him, by intercepting a small pension which Charles I. had allowed him, and he died in the utmost indigence. His son, after having served as a soldier abroad and in Britain, and passed through several vicissitudes of fortune, was fain to content himself with the situation of a non-commissioned officer in the Life-Guards, although lineally descended from the royal family, the father of the forfeited Earl ot
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