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checking himself, “ if I can bring mysell to ask a favour of ane that winna sae muckle as ware a word on me, to tell me if he hears me speaking till him."
« Say what thou wilt-do what thou wilt,” answered the Dwarf from his cabin, “ but begone, and leave me at
“ Weel, weel,” replied Elliot, “ since ye are willing to hear me, I'se make my tale short. Since ye are sae kind as to say ye are content to lend me as muckle siller as will stock and plenish the Heugh-foot, I am content, on my part, to accept the courtesy wi' mony kind thanks ; and troth, I think it will be as safe in my hands as yours, if ye leave it flung about in that gate for the first loon body to lift, forbye the risk o' bad neighbours that can win through steekit doors and lock-fast places, as I can tell to iny cost. I say, since ye hae" sae muckle consideration for me, I'se be blithe to accept your kindness; and my mother and me (she's a life-renter, and I am fiar o' the lands o' Wideopen) would grant you a wadset, or an heritable bond, for the siller, and to pay the annual-rent halfyearly ; and Saunders Wyliecoat to draw the bond and you to be at nae charge wi' the writings.”
“ Cut short thy jargon, and begone,” said the Dwarf; " thy loquacious bull-headed honesty makes thee a more intolerable plague than the light-fingered courtier who would take a man's all without troubling him with either thanks, explanation, or apology. Hence, I say ! thou art one of those tame slaves whose word is as good as their bond. Keep the money, principal and interest, until I demand it of thee."
" But,” continued the pertinacious Borderer, " we are a' life-like and death-like, Elshie, and there really should be some black and white on this transaction. Sae just make me a minute, or inissive, in ony form ye like, and I'se write it fair ower, and subscribe it before famous witnesses. Only, Elshie, I wad wuss ye to pit naething in't that may be prejudicial to my salvation ; for I'll hae the minister to read it ower, and it wad only be exposing yoursell to pae purpose. And now I'm ganging awa', for ye'll be wearied o' my cracks, and I'm wearied wi' cracking without an answer--and I'se bring ye a bit o' bride'scake ane o'thaé days, and maybe bring Grace to see ye. Ye wad like to see Grace, man, for as dour as ye are Eh, Lord ! I wish he may be weel, that was a sair grane! or, maybe, he thought I was speaking of heavenly grace, and no of Grace Armstrong. Poor man, I am very doubtfu’ o' his condition ; but I am sure he is as kind to me as if I were his son, and a queer-looking father I wad hae had, if that had been e’en sae."
Hobbie now relieved his benefactor of his presence, and rode blithely home to display his treasure, and consult upon the means of repairing the damage which his fortune had sustained through the aggression of the Red Reiver of W estburnflat. the ente ne pas cher
Three ruffians seized me yestermorn,
They choked my cries with wicked might,
As sure as Heaven shall pity me,
The course of our story must here revert a little, to detail the circumstances which had placed Miss Vere in the unpleasant situation from which she was unexpectedly and indeed unintentionally, liberated, by the appearance of Earnscliff and Elliot, with their friends and followers, before the tower of Westburnflat.
On the morning preceding the night in which Hobbie's house was plundered and burnt, Miss Vere was requested by her father to accompany him in a walk through a distant part of the roinantic grounds, which lay round his
castle of Ellieslaw. “ To hear was to obey,” in the true style of oriental despotism ; but Isabella trembled in silence while she followed her father through rough paths, now winding by the side of the river, now ascending the cliffs which serve for its banks. A single servant, selected perhaps for his stupidity, was the only person who attended them. From her father's silence, Isabella little doubted that he had chosen this distant and sequestered scene to resume the argument which they had so frequently maintained upon the subject of Sir Frederick's addresses, and that he was meditating in what manner he should most effectually impress upon her the necessity of receiving him as her suitor. But her fears seemed for some time to be unfounded. The only sentences which her father from time to time addressed to her, respected the beauties of the romantic landscape through which they strolled, and which varied its features at every step. To these observations, although they seemed to come from a heart occupied by more gloomy as well as more important cares, Isabella endeavoured to answer in a manner as free and unconstrained as it was possible for her to asšume, amid the involuntary apprehensions which crowded upon her imagination.
Sustaining with mutual difficulty a desultory conversation, they at length gained the centre of a small wood, composed of large oaks, intermingled with birches, mountain-ashes, hazel, holly, and a variety of underwood. The boughs of the tall trees met closely above, and the underwood filled up each interval between their trunks below. The spot on which they stood was rather more open ; still, however, embowered under the natural arcade of tall trees, and darkened on the sides for a space around by a great and lively growth of copsewood and bushes.
“ And here, Isabella," said Mr. Vere, as he pursued the conversation, so often resumed, so often dropped “ here I would erect an altar to Friendship."
9 VOL. I.
“ To Friendship, sir !” said Miss Vere, “ and why on this gloomy and sequestered spot, rather than elsewhere ?
“O, the propriety of the locale is easily vindicated," replied her father with a sneer. “You know, Miss Vere, (for you, I am well aware, are a learned young lady,) you know that the Romans were not satisfied with embodying, for the purpose of worship, each useful quality and. moral virtue to which they could give a name, but they, moreover, worshipped the same under each variety of titles and attributes which could give a distinct shade, or individual character, to the virtue in question. Now, for example, the Friendship to whom a temple should be here dedicated, is not Masculine Friendship, which abhors and despises duplicity, art, and disguise ; but Female Friendship, which consists in little else than a mutual disposition on the part of the friends, as they call themselves, to abet each other in obscure fraud and petty intrigue."
6 You are severe, sir,” said Miss Vere.
“ Only just,” said her father; “ a humble copier I am from nature, with the advantage of contemplating two such excellent studies as Lucy Ilderton and yourself.”
6 If I have been unfortunate enough to offend, sir, I can conscientiously excuse Miss Ilderton from being either my counsellor or confidant."
" Indeed! how came you, then," said Mr. Vere, “ by the flippancy of speech, and pertness of argument, by which you have disgusted Sir Frederick, and given me of late such deep offence ?"
“ If my manner has been so unfortunate as to displease you, sir, it is impossible for me to apologize too deeply, or too sincerely ; but I cannot confess the same contri tion for having answered Sir Frederick flippantly, when he pressed me rudely. Since he forgot I was a lady, it was time to show him that I am at least a woman.”
" Reserve then your pertness for those who press you on the topic, Isabella,” said her father coldly ; " for my part, I am weary of the subject, and will never speak upon it again.”
: “God bless you, my dear father," said Isabella, seizing his reluctant hand ; "there is nothing you can impose on me, save the task of listening to this man's persecution that I will call, or think a hardship."
“ You are very obliging, Miss Vere, when it happens to suit you to be dutiful,” said her unrelenting father, forcing himself at the same time from the affectionate grasp of her hand ; “but henceforward, child, I shall save myself the trouble of offering you unpleasant advice on any topic. You must look to yourself.”
At this moment four ruffians rushed upon them. Mr. Vere and his servant drew their hangers, which it was the fashion of the time to wear, and attempted to defend themselves and protect Isabella. But while each of them was engaged by an antagonist, she was forced into the thicket by the two remaining villains, who placed her and themselves on horses, which stood ready behind the copsewood. They mounted at the same time, and placing her between them, set off at a round gallop, holding the reins of her horse on each side. By inany an obscure and winding path, over dale and down, through moss and moor, she was conveyed to the tower of Westburnflat, where she remained strictly watched, but not otherwise ill-treated, under the guardianship of the old woman, to whose son that retreat belonged. No entreaties could prevail upon the hag to give Miss Vere any information on the object of her being carried forcibly off and confined in this secluded place. The arrival of Earnscliff, with a strong party of horsemen before the tower, alarmed the robber. As he had already directed Grace Armstrong to be restored to her friends, it did not occur to him that this unwelcome visit was on her account ; and seeing at the head of the party, Earnscliff, whose attachment to Miss Vere was whispered in the country, he doubted not that her liberation was the sole object of the attack upon his fastness. The dread of personal consequences compelled him to deliver up his prisoner in the manner we have already related.