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mining was still more so, for want of tools and gunpow. der ; neither were the besiegers provided with food, means of shelter, or other conveniences, which might have enabled them to convert the siege into a blockade ; and there would, at any rate, have been a risk of relief from some of the marauder's comrades. Hobbie grinded and gnashed his teeth, as, walking round the fastness, he could devise no means of making a forcible entry. At length, he suddenly exclaimed, “ And what for no do as our fathers did lang syne ?—Put hand to the wark, lads. Let us cut up bushes and briars, pile them before the door, and set fire to them, and smoke that auld devil's dam as if she were to be reested for bacon."
All immediately closed with this proposal, and some went to work with swords and knives to cut down the alder and hawthorn bushes which grew by the side of the sluggish stream, many of which were sufficiently decayed and dried for their purpose, while others began to collect them in a large stack properly disposed for burning as close to the iron-grate as they could be piled. Fire was speedily obtained from one of their guns, and Hobbie was already advancing to the pile with a kindled brand, when the surly face of the robber, and the muzzle of a musquetoon, were partially shown at a shot-hole which flanked the entrance. " Mony thanks to ye,” he said scoffingly, “ for collecting sae muckle winter eilding for us ; but if ye step a foot nearer it wi' that lunt, it's be the dearest step ye ever made in your days.”
" We'll sune see that,” said Hobbie, advancing fearlessly with the torch.
The marauder snapped his piece at him, which, fortunately for our honest friend, did not go off; while Earnscliff, firing at the same moment at the narrow aperture and slight mark afforded by the robber's face, grazed the side of his head with a bullet. He had apparently calculated upon his post affording him more security, for he no sooner felt the wound, though a very slight one, than he requested a parley, and demanded to know what they
meant by attacking in this fashion a peaceable and honest man, and shedding his blood in that lawless manner ?
“We want your prisoner,” said Earnscliff, “ to be delivered up to us in safety."
“ And what concern have you with her ?” replied the marauder.
“ That,” retorted Earnscliff, “ you, who are detaining her by force, have no right to inquire.”
“ Aweel, I think I can gie a guess," said the robber 6 Weel, sirs, I am laith to enter into deadly feud with you by spilling ony of your bluid, though Earnscliff hasna stopped to shed mine--and he can hit a mark to a groat's breadth-so, to prevent mair skaith, I am willing to deliver up the prisoner, since nae less will please you."
" And Hobbie's gear ?" cried Simon of Hackburn. 6 D'ye think you're to be free to plunder the faulds and byres of a gentle Elliot, as if they were an auld wife's hen's-cavey ?"
“As I live by bread," replied Willie of Westburnflat“ as I live by bread, I have not a single cloot o' them ! they're a' ower the march lang syne ; there's no a horn o' them about the tower. But I'll see what o' them can be gotten back, and I'll take this day twa days to meet Hobbie at the Castleton wi’ twa friends on ilka side, and see to make an agreement about a' the wrang he can wyte me wi’.”
“Ay, ay,” said Elliot, “ that will do weel eneugh." And then aside to his kinsman, “ Murrain on the gear ! Lord's sake, man! say naught about them. Let us but get puir Grace out o’that auld Hellicat's clutches."
6 Will ye gie me your word, Earnscliff,” said the marauder, who still lingered at the shot-hole, “ your faith and troth, with hand and glove, that I am free to come and free to gae, with five minutes to open the grate, and five minutes to steek it and to draw the bolts ? less winna do, for they want creishing sairly. Will ye do this ?”
“ You shall have full time,” said Earnscliff; . I plight my faith and troth, my hand and niy glove."
open three to faith
6. Wait there a moment, then," said Westburnflat; 66 or hear ye, I wad rather ye wad fa' back a pistol-shot from the door. It's no that I mistrust your word, Earnscliff ; but it's best to be sure."
6 0, friend," thought Hobbie to himself as he drew back, “an I had you but on Turner's-holm, and naebody by but twa honest lads to see fair play, I wad make ye wish ye had broken your leg ere ye had touched beast or body that belanged to me !"
• He has a white feather in his wing this same Westburnflat after a'," said Simon of Hackburn, somewhat scandalized by his ready surrender." He'll ne'er fill his father's boots."
In the meanwhile, the inner door of the tower was opened, and the mother of the freebooter appeared in the space betwixt that and the outer grate. Willie himself was next seen leading forth a female, and the old woman, carefully bolting the grate behind them, remained on the post as a sort of sentinel
“ Ony ane or twa o' ye come forward," said the outlaw, " and take her frae my hand hale and sound."
Hobbie advanced eagerly to meet his betrothed bride. Earnscliff followed more slowly to guard against treachery. Suddenly Hobbie slackened his pace in the deepest mortification, while that of Earnscliff was hastened by impatient surprise. It was not Grace Armstrong, but Miss Isabella Vere, whose liberation had been effected by their appearance before the tower.
• Where is Grace? Where is Grace Armstrong ?! exclaimed Hobbie, in the extremity of wrath and indignation.
" Not in my hands," answered Westburnflat; “ ye may search the tower, if ye misdoubt me." . You false villain, you shall account for her, or die on the spot,” said Elliot, presenting his gun..
But his companions, who now came up, instantly disarmed him of his weapon, exclaiming, all at once, “ Hand and glove ! faith and troth! Haud a' care, Hobbie, we
ture or elibet eodem eher outra
maun keep our faith wi' Westburnflat, were he the great est rogue ever rode."
Thus protected, the outlaw recovered his audacity, which had been somewhat daunted by the menacing gesture of Elliot.
46 ] have kept my word, sirs," he said, “ and I lonk to have nae wrang amang ye. If this is no the prisoner ye sought," he said, addressing Earnscliff, “ye'll render her back to me again. I am answerable for her to those that aught her.”
6 For God's sake, Mr. Earnscliff, proteet me !" said Miss Vere, clinging to her deliverer; “ do not you abandon one whom the whole world seems to have abandoned."
Fear nothing," whispered Earnscliff, “ I will protect you with my life." Then turning to Westburnflat, “ Villain !” he said, “ how dared you to insult this lady ?ui
« For that matter, Earnscliff," answered the freebooter, “ I can answer to them that has better right to ask me than you have ; but if you come with an armed force, and take her awa' from them that her friends lodged her wi', how will you answer that ? But it's your ain affair-Nae single man can keep a tower against twenty--A' the men o' the Mearns downa do mair than they dow.”
5 He lies most falsely," said Isabella ; " he carried me off by violence from my father."
“ Maybe he only wanted ye to think sae, hinny,” replied the robber; 6 but it's na business o' mine, let it be as it may - So ye winna resign her back to me ?”
“ Back to you, fellow ? Surely no," answered Earnseliff'; “ I will protect Miss Vere, and escort her safely wherever she is pleased to be conveyed.”
* Ay, ay, maybe you and her hae settled that already," said Willie of Westburnflat.
« And Grace ?" interrupted Hobbie, shaking himself loose from the friends who had been preaching to him the sanctity of the safe conduct, upon the faith of which the freebooter had ventured from his tower;-- Where's Grace ?” and be rushed on the marauder, sword in hand.
Westburnflat thus pressed, after calling out, “ God's sake, Hobbie, hear me a gliff !” fairly turned his back and fled. His mother stood ready to open and shut the grate ; but Hobbie struck at the freebooter as he entered with so much force, that the sword made a considerable cleft in the lintel of the vaulted door, which is still shown as a memorial of the superior strength of those who lived in the days of yore. Ere Hobbie could repeat the blow, the door was shut and secured, and he was compelled to retreat to his companions, who were now preparing to break up the siege of Westburnflat. They insisted upon his accompanying them in their return.
“ Ye hae broken truce already,” said old Dick of the Dingle ; “ an we takena the better care, ye'll play mair gowk's tricks, and make yoursell the laughing-stock of the hale country, besides having your friends charged with slaughter under trust. Bide till the meeting at Castleton, as ye hae greed ; and if he disna make ye amends, then we'll hae it out o' his heart's blood. But let us gang reasonably to wark and keep our tryst, and I'se warrant we get back Grace, and the kyne an' a'.”
This cold-blooded reasoning went ill down with the unfortunate lover ; but, as he could only obtain the assistance of his neighbours and kinsmen on their own terms, he was compelled to acquiesce in their notions of good faith and regular procedure.
Earnscliff now requested the assistance of a few of the party to convey Miss Vere to her father's Castle of Ellieslaw, to which she was peremptory in desiring to be conducted. This was readily granted ; and five or six young men agreed to attend him as an escort. Hobbie was not of the number. Almost heart-broken by the events of the day, and his final disappointment, he returned moodily home to take such measures as he could for the sustenance and protection of his family, and to arrange with his neighbours the farther steps which should be adopted for the recovery of Grace Armstrong. The rest of the party dispersed in different directions, as soon as they had crossed the morass. The outlaw and his