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I could do so, would I think myself justifiable in engaging him unconsciously in a danger, which, most of all others, he fears and deprecates."
“ Well,” said the traveller, “ I have but one word to say. Did you ever hear your father mention John Balfour of Burley ?”.
“ His ancient friend and comrade, who saved his life, with almost the loss of his own, in the battle of Long. marston-Moor ?-Often, very often."
"I am that Balfour," said his companion. - Yonder stands thy uncle's house ; I see the light among the trees. The avenger of blood is behind me, and my death certain unless I have resuge there. Now, make thy choice, young man ; to shrink from the side of thy father's friend, life a thief in the night, and to leave him exposed to the bloody death from which he rescued thy father, or to expose thine uncle's worldly goods to such peril, as, in this perverse generation, attends those who give a morsel of bread or a draught of cold water to a Christian man, when perishing for lack of refreshment !"
A thousand recollections thronged on the mind of Morton at once. His father, whose memory he idolized, had often enlarged upon his obligations to this man, and regretted, that, after having been long comrades, they had parted in some unkindness at the time when the kingdom of Scotland was divided into Resolutioners and Protesters; the former of whom adhered to Charles II. after his father's death upon the scaffold, while the Protesters inclined rather to a union with the triumphant republicans. The stern fanaticism of Burley had attached him to this latter party, and the comrades had parted in displeasure, never, as it happened, to meet again. These circumstances the deceased Colonel Morton had often mentioned to his son, and always with an expression of deep regret, that he had never, in any manner, been enabled to repay the assistance, which, on more than one occasion, he had received from Burley.
To hasten Morton's decision, the night-wind, as it swept along, brought from a distance, the sullen sound of a kettle-drum, which, seeming to approach nearer, ivtimated that a body of horse were upon their march towards them.
" It must be Claverhouse, with the rest of his regiment. What can have occasioned this night-march ? If you go on, you fall into their hands-if you turn back towards the borough-town, you are in no less danger from Cornet Grahame's party.–The path to the hill is beset. I must shelter you at Milnwood, or expose you to instant death ;-but the punishment of the law shall fall upon myself, as in justice it should, not upon my uncle.—Follow me.”
Burley, who had awaited his resolution with great composure, now followed him in silence.
The house of Milnwood, built by the father of the present proprietor, was a decent mansion, suitable to the size of the estate, but, since the accession of this owner, it had been suffered to go considerably into disrepair. At some little distance from the house stood the court of offices. Here Morton paused.
66 I inust leave you here for a little while," he whispered, “ until I can provide a bed for you in the house."
“ I care little for such delicacy,” said Burley ; " for thirty years this head has rested oftener on the turf, or on the next grey stone, than upon either wool or down. A draught of ale, a morsel of bread, to say my prayers, and to stretch me upon dry hay, were to me as good as a painted chamber and a prince's table.”
It occurred to Morton at the same moment, that to attenipt to introduce the fugitive within the house, would materially increase the danger of detection. Accordingly, having struck a light with implements left in the stable for that purpose, and having fastened up their horses, he assigned Burley, for his place of repose, a wooden bed, placed in a loft half-full of hay, which an out-of-door do. mestic had occupied until dismissed by his uncle in one of those fits of parsimony which became more rigid from day to day. In this untenanted lost Morton left his com
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panion, with a caution so to shade his light that no reflection might be seen from the window, and a promise that he would presently return with such refreshments as he might be able to procure at that late hour. This last, indeed, was a subject on which he felt by no means confident, for the power of obtaining even the most ordinary provisions depended entirely upon the humour in which he might happen to find his uncle's sole confidant, the old housekeeper. If she chanced to be a-bed, which was very likely, or out of humour, which was not less so, Morton well knew the case to be at least problematical
Cursing in his heart the sordid parsimony which pervaded every part of his uncle's establishment, he gave the usual gentle knock at the bolted door, by which he was accustomed to seek admittance, when accident had detained him abroad beyond the early and established hours of rest at the house of Milnwood. It was a sort of hesitating tap, which carried an acknowledgment of transgression in its very sound, and seemed rather to solicit than command attention. After it had been repeated again and again, the housekeeper, grumbling betwixt her teeth as she rose from the chimney corner in the hall, and wrapping her checked handkerchief round her head to secure her from the cold air, paced across the stone-passage, and repeated a careful “Wha's there at this time o' night ?" more than once before she undid the bolts and bars, and cautiously opened the door:
“ This is a fine time o' night, Mr. Henry," said the old dame, with the tyrannic insolence of a spoilt and favourite domestic ;_"a braw time o' night and a bonnie, to disturb a peaceful house in, and to keep quiet folk out o' their beds waiting for you. Your uncle's been in his maist three hours syne, and Robin's ill o' the rheumatize, and he's to his bed too, and sae I had to sit up for ye mysell, for as sair' a hoast as I hae.”
Here she coughed once or twice, in further evidence of the egregious inconvenience which she had sustained.
“ Much obliged to you, Alison, and many kind thanks."
-“ Megh, sirs, säe fair-fashioned as we are! Mony folk ca me Mistress Wilson, and Milnwood himsellis the only ane about this town that thinks o'ca'ing me Alison, and indeed he as aften'says Mistress Alison as ony other thing."
“ Well, then, Mistress Alison,” said Morton, “ I really am sorry to have kept you up waiting till I came in."
“ And now, that you are come in, Mr. Henry,” said the cross old woman, “what for do ye no tak up your candle and gang to your bed ? and mind ye dinna let the candle sweal as ye gang alang the wainscot parlour, and haud a' the house scouring to get out the grease again."
“ But, Alison, I really must have something to eat, and a draught of ale, before I go to bed."
“ Eat ?—and ale, Mr. Henry ? _My certie, ye’re ill to serve ! Do ye think we havena heard o' your grand popinjay wark yonder and how ye bleezed away as muckle pouther as wad hae shot a' the wild-fowl that we'll want atween and Candlemas—and then ganging majoring to the piper's Howff wi' a' the idle loons in the country, and sitting there birling, at your poor uncle's cost nae doubt, wi' a' the scaff and raff o' the water-side, till sun-down, and then coming hame and crying for ale, as if ye were maister and mair!”
Extremely vexed, yet anxious, on account of his guest, to procure refreshments if possible, Morton suppressed his resentment, and good-humouredly assured Mrs. Wilson that he was really both hungry and thirsty ; " and as for the shooting at the popinjay, I have heard you say you have been there yourself, Mrs. Wilson I wish you had come to look at us."
" Ah, Maister Henry," said the old dame, “ I'wish ye binna beginning to learn the way of blawing in a woman's lug, wi' a' your whilly-wha's !-aweel, sae ye dinna practise them but on auld wives like me, the less matter. But tak heed o' the young queans, lad.-Popinjay-ye think yoursella bra' fellow enow ; and troth !” (surveying him with the candle) " there's nae fault to find wi' the outside, if the inside be conforming. But I mind, when I was a gilpy of a lassock, seeing the Duke, that was him that
lost his head at London-folk said it wasna a very gude ane, but it was aye a sair loss to him, puir gentlemanAweel, he wan the popinjay, for few cared to win it ower his Grace's head-weel, he had a comely presence, and when a' the gentles mounted to show their capers, his Grace was as near to me as I am to you; and he said to me, · Tak tent o’yoursell, my bonnie lassie, (these were his very words) for my horse is not very chancy.'—And now, as ye say ye had sae little to eat or drink, I'll let you see that I havena been sae unmindfu' o' you, for I dinna think it's safe for young folk to gang to their bed on an empty stamach.”
To do Mrs. Wilson justice, her nocturnal harangues upon such occasions not unfrequently terminated with this sage apothegm, which always prefaced the producing of some provision a little better than ordinary, such as she now placed before him. In fact, the principal object of her maundering was to display her consequence and love of power; for Mrs. Wilson was not, at the bottom, an illtempered woman, and certainly loved her old and young master (both of whom she tormented extremely) better than any one else in the world. She now eyed Mr. Henry, as she called him, with great complacency as he partook of her good cheer.
6 Muckle gude may it do ye, my bonny man. I trow ye didna get sic a skirl-in-the-pan as that at Niel Blane's. His wife was a canny body, and could dress things very weel for ane in her line o' business, but no like a gentleman's housekeeper, to be sure. But I doubt the daughter's a silly thing -an unco cockernony she had busked on her head at the kirk last Sunday. I am doubting that there will be news o' a' thae braws. But my auld een's drawing thegither-dinna hurry yoursell, my bonny man, tak mind about the putting out the candle, and there's a horn of ale, and a glass of clow-gillieflower water; I dinna gie ilka body that ; I keep it for a pain I hae whiles in my ain stamach, and it's better for your young blude than brandy. Sae, gude-night to ye, Mr. Henry, and see that ye tak gude care o' the candle.”