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"Poor man!" exclaimed Mrs. Elliot, "can we no send him something, Hobbie V
"Ye forget, grannie, ye forget we want helpoursells," said Hobbie, somewhat peevishly.
"Troth did I, hinny," replied the good-natured lady, "just at the instant; it's sae natural to think on ane's blude relations before tbemsells.—But there's young Earnscliff."
"He has ower little o' his ain ; and siccan a name to keep up, it wad be a shame," said Hobbie, "to burden him wi' our distress. And I'll tell ye, grannie, it's needless to sit rhyming ower the style of a' your kith, kin, and allies, as if there was a charm in their braw names to do us good; the grandees hae forgotten us, and those of our ain degree hae just little eneugh to gang on wi' themsells; ne'er a friend hae we that can, or will, help us to stock the farm again."
"Then, Hobbie, we maun trust in Him that can raise up friends and fortune out o' the bare moor, as they say."
Hobbie sprung upon his feet. "Ye are right, grannie !" he exclaimed; "ye are right. I do ken a friend on the bare moor, that baith can and will help us—The turns o' this day hae dung my head clean hirdie girdie. I left as muckle gowd lying on Mucklestane-Moor this morning as would plenish the house and stock the Heughfoot twice ower, and I am certain sure Elshie wadna grudge us the use of it."
"Elshie!" said his grandmother in astonishment; "what Elshie do you mean?"
"What Elshie should I mean, but Canny Elshie, the Wight o' Mucklestane," replied Hobbie.
"God forfend, my bairn, you should gang to fetch water out o' broken cisterns, or seek for relief frae them that deal wi' the Evil One! There was never luck in their gifts, nor grace in their paths. And the haill country kens that body Elshie's an unco man. O, if there was the law, and the douce quiet administration of justice, that makes a kingdom flourish in righteousness, the like
The wizard and the witch are the abomination and the evil thing in the land."
"Troth, mother," answered Hobbie, "ye may say what ye like, but I am in the mind that witches and warlocks havena half the power they had lang syne; at least, sure am I, that ae ill-deviser, like auld Ellieslaw, or ae ill-doer, like that d—d villain Westburnflat, is a greater plague and abomination in a country-side than a haill curnie o' the warst witches that ever capered on a broomstick, or played cantrips on Fastern's E'en. It wad hae been lang or Elshie had burnt down my house and barns, and I am determined to try if he will do aught to build them up again. He's weel kend a skilfu' man ower a' the country, as far as Brough under Stanmore."
"Bide a wee, my bairn; mind his benefits havena thriven wi' a' body. Jock Howden died o' the very same disorder Elshie pretended to cure him of, about the fa' o' the leaf; and though he helped Lambside's cow weel out o' the moor-ill, yet the louping-ill's been sairer amang his sheep than ony season before. And then I have heard he uses sic words abusing human nature, that's like a fleeing in the face of Providence; and ye mind ye said yourse!l,the first time ye ever saw him, that he was mair like a bogle than a living thing."
"Hout, mother," said Hobbie, "Elshie's no that bad a chieid; he's a grewsome spectacle for a crooked disciple, to be sure, and a rough talker, but his bark is waur than his bite; sae, if I had anes* something to eat, for I havena had a morsel ower my throat this day, I wad streek myselldown for twa or three hours aside the beast, and be on and awa' to Mucklestane wi' the first skreigh o' morning."
"And what for no the night, Hobbie," said Harry, "and I will ride wi' ye 9"
"My naig is tired," said Hobbie.
"Ye may take mine, then," said John.
"But I am a wee thing wearied mysell."
"You wearied V said Harry ; " shame on ye ! 1 have kend ye keep the saddle four-and-twenty hour* thegitber, and ne'er sic a word as weariness in youi wame."
"The night's very dark," said Hobbie, rising and looking through the casement of the cottage ; " and, to speak truth, and shame the deil, though Elshie's a real honest fallow, yet somegate I wad rather take daylight wi' me when I gang to visit him."
This frank avowal put a stop to further argument; and Hobbie, having thus compromised matters between the rashness of his brother's counsel, and the timid cautions which he received from his grandmother, refreshed himself with such food as the cottage afforded; and, after a cordial salutation all round, retired to the shed, and stretched himself beside his trusty palfrey. His brothers shared between them some trusses of clean straw, disposed in the stall usually occupied by old Annaple's cow; and the females arranged themselves for repose as well as the accommodations of the cottage would permit.
With the first dawn of morning, Hobbie arose; and, having rubbed down and saddled his horse, he set forth to Mucklestane-Moor. He avoided the company of either of his brothers, from an idea, that the Dwarf was most propitious to those who visited him alone.
"The creature," said he to himself, as he went along, "is no neighbourly; ae body at a time is fully mair than he weel can abide. I wonder if he's looked out o' the crib o' him to gather up the bag o' siller. If he hasna done that, it will hae been a braw windfa' for somebody, and I'll be finely flung.—Come, Tarras," said he to his horse, striking him at the same time with his spur, "make mair fit, man; we maun be first on the field if we can."
He was now on the heath, which began to be illuminated by the beams of the rising sun; the gentle declivity which he was descending presented him a distinct, though distant view, of the Dwarfs dwelling. The door opened, and Hobbie witnessed with his own eyes that phenomenon which he had frequently heard mentioned. Two human figures (if that of the Dwarf could be termed such) issued from the solitary abode of the Recluse, and stood as if in converse together in the open air. The taller form then stooped, as if taking something up which lay beside the door of the hut, then both moved forward a little way, and again halted, a6 in deep conference. All Hobbie's superstitious terrors revived on witnessing this spectacle. That the Dwarf would open his dwelling to a mortal guest, was as improbable as that any one would choose voluntarily to be his nocturnal visiter; and, under full conviction that he beheld a wizard holding intercourse with his familiar spirit, Hobbie pulled in at once bis breath and his bridle, resolved not to incur the indignation of either by a hasty intrusion on their conference. They were probably aware of his approach, for he had not baked for a moment before the Dwarf returned to his cottage; and the taller figure who had accompanied him, glided round the inclosure of the garden, and seemed to disappear from the eyes of the admiring Hobbie.
"Saw ever mortal the like o' that!" said Elliot; "but my case is desperate, sae, if he were Beelzebub bimsell,r«e venture down the brae on him."
Yet, notwithstanding his assumed courage, he slackened his pace, when, nearly upon the very spot where he had last seen the tall figure, he discerned, as if lurking among the long heather, a small black rough-looking object, like a terrier dog.
"He has nae dog that ever I heard of," said Hobbie, "but mony a deil about his hand—Lord forgie me for saying sic a word !—It keeps its grund, be what it like— I'm judging it's a badger; but wha kens what shapes tbae bogles will take to fright a body 1 it will maybe start up like a lion or a crocodile when I come nearer. I'se e'en drive a stane at it, for if it change its shape when I'm ower near, Tarras will never stand it; and it will be ower muckle to hae him and the deil to fight wi' baith at ance." , .«„ ",.
He therefore cautiously threw a stone at the object which continued motionless. "It's nae living thing, after a'," said Hobbie, approaching, "but the very bag o' siller he flung out o' the window yesterday! and that other queer lang creature has just brought it sae muckle farther on the way to me." He then advanced and lifted the heavy fur pouch, which was quite full of gold. "Mercy on us!" said Hobbie, whose heart fluttered between glee at the revival of his hopes and prospects in life, and suspicion of the purpose for which this assistance was afforded him—" Mercy on us! it's an awfu' thing to touch what has been sae lately in the claws of something no canny. I canna shake mysell loose o' the belief that there has been some jookery-paukery of Satan's in a' this; but I am determined to conduct mysell like an honest man and a good Christian, come o't what will."
He advanced accordingly to the cottage door, and having knocked repeatedly without receiving any answer, he at length elevated his voice and addressed the inmate of the hut. "Elshie! Father Elshie! I ken ye're within doors, and wauking, for I saw ye at the door-cheek as I cam ower the bent ; will ye come out and speak just a gliff to ane that has mony thanks to gie ye 1—It was a' true ye tell'd me about Westburnflat; but he's sent back Grace safe and skaithless, sae there's nae ill happened yet but what may be suffered or sustained.—Wad ye but come out a gliff, man, or but say ye're listening 1—Aweel, since ye winna answer, 1'se e'en proceed wi' my tale. Ye see I hae been thinking it wad be a sair thing on twa young folk, like Grace and me, to put aff our marriage for mony years till I was abroad and came back again wi' some gear; and they say folk maunna take booty in the wars as they did lang syne, and the queen's pay is a small matter; there's nae gathering gear on that—and then my grandame's auld—and my sisters wad sit peengin' at the ingle-side for want o' me to ding them about—and Earnscliff, or the neighbourhood, or maybe your ain sell, Elshie, might want some gude turn that Hob Elliot could do ye —and it's a pity' that the auld house o' the Heugh-foot should be wrecked a'thegither. Sae I was thinking—but deil hae me, that I should say sae," continued he,