He was about to speak to the gipsy, when he heard a hoarse voice calling to her in angry tones from outside, and in a moment after, a man, who was apparently a sea-captain, came in to where Meg Merrilies was seated.
He was short in height, but prodigiously muscular, strong, and thick-set, with a surly and savage scowl upon his unpleasant features. He spoke with a foreign accent, and upbraided the gipsy for keeping him waiting so long, ordering her, with a curse, to come and bless his ship before it set out on its voyage. While still addressing the gipsy, he caught sight of Guy Mannering, and was about to draw a weapon against him, when she told him that he was a friend of Mr. Bertram's. He then introduced himself to Mannering, and said his name was Dirck Hatteraick, the captain of the vessel that was lying off the shore. Mannering wished him good-day shortly after, and as he saw him embarking in a small boat, he was convinced, from his conversation and appearance, that the captain was a smuggler.
On returning to the new house at Ellangowan, Mannering learned from Mr. Bertram that this Dirck Hatteraick was the terror of all the excise and custom-house cruisers, with which he had had many a fierce fight.
Before Guy Mannering took his departure from Ellangowan, Mr.
Bertram asked him the result of his studying the stars on the preceding night, and, in reply, was handed a paper by Mannering, which he was told he should keep in a sealed envelope for five whole years.
When the visitor had gone, Mrs. Bertram, the mother of the baby boy, was very anxious to read the paper, for she was a superstitious lady; but after a struggle with her curiosity, she contented herself with making a small velvet bag, into which she sewed the paper, and the whole was then hung as a charm round the neck of her young child.
Time rolled on, and when little Harry Bertram grew to be four years old, he was already a great favourite with Dominie Sampson, who had acted as his tutor and was his constant companion. But just about this time the Laird of Ellangowan was appointed one of the magistrates of the county; and shortly after his appointment he began, little by little, to become very unpopular with the gipsies, with whom he had before been such a favourite. He thought it his duty now to punish and exterminate all amongst them who were poachers and trespassers, and caused even the poor beggars at his door to be sent to the workhouse.
One tribe of these gipsies, amongst whom Meg Merrilies was a kind of queen, had lived for a long time unmolested in a few huts in a glen upon the estate of Ellangowan, at a place called Derncleugh.
It was a miserable and squalid village, but for all that Mr.
Bertram was determined to evict them and all their poor belongings. He was no doubt doing as the law directed him, but, as far as concerned the inhabitants of Derncleugh, he was acting with great harshness, for Meg Merrilies had all along shown a strong affection for his boy, little Harry Bertram.
The day of eviction came at length, and a large body of men under the direction of Frank Kennedy, a custom-house officer, made their way to the miserable village, and on the gipsies refusing to leave peaceably, proceeded to unroof their cottages and pull down the wretched doors and windows. There was no resistance, and when the work was ended, the now homeless tribe gathered together the remnants of their property, and set forth with sullen and revengeful thoughts to look for a new settlement.
Mr. Bertram had been some distance from home on the day of the eviction; but on returning in the evening he met the troop of gipsies. Some of the men muttered angry remarks as he passed them on the road, but he thought it best to make no answer. Meg Merrilies had, however, lagged behind the rest, and was standing alone on a high bank above the road as the laird went by. Her dress was even stranger than usual, and her black hair hung loose about her, while her dark eyes flashed angrily. She had a light sapling in her hand, and as the laird looked up to where she stood, she said to him:
"Ride your ways, Laird of Ellangowan! ride your ways, Godfrey Bertram! This day have ye quenched seven smoking hearths--see if your own fire burn the blither for that. Ye have riven the roof off seven cottar houses--look if your own roof-tree stand the faster. Ride your ways, Godfrey Bertram! what do ye glower after our folk for? There's thirty hearts there that would have spent their life-blood ere ye had scratched your finger. Yes, there's thirty yonder, from the old wife of an hundred to the babe that was born last week, that ye have turned out o' their houses, to sleep with the black-cock in the moors! Ride your ways, Ellan- gowan! Our bairns are hanging at our weary backs; look that your braw cradle at home be the fairer spread up. Not that I am wishing ill to little Harry, God forbid! So ride your way, for these are the last words ye'll ever hear Meg Merrilies speak, and this is the last twig that I'll ever cut in the bonny woods of Ellangowan."
And having uttered this dark and threatening speech, she turned contemptuously from him, to join her comrades in misfortune.
Meanwhile, the smugglers under their captain, Dirck Hatteraick, had been carrying on their lawless trade as usual, and the Laird of Ellangowan was as determined to put them down as he had been to get rid of the gipsies. He was actively assisted in his endeavours against them by the same Frank Kennedy who had carried out the eviction of Meg Merrilies and her companions, and the smugglers had sworn to be revenged upon their enemy.
On the day that young Harry Bertram was five years old, Dirck Hatteraick's ship was in the bay outside the village of Kippletringan. A sloop of war in the king's service was pursuing it in order to seize the smuggled goods which were on board, when Frank Kennedy, looking out, saw that Hatteraick was likely to escape, as he had got his vessel round a headland called Warroch Point, where it was concealed from the sloop, unless someone went down to the Point and made a signal to the pursuers.
He accordingly mounted his horse and galloped off. On his way he happened to meet little Bertram, who was walking with the dominie, and as he had often promised to give the child a ride, he took him up on his nag, and rode off towards the Point.
Shortly afterwards the discharges of several cannon were heard, and after an interval a still louder explosion, as of a vessel blown up.
As evening came on, Mr. and Mrs. Bertram were expecting little Harry to come home, and as he did not return, became very uneasy about him. After waiting for him in anxiety for some time, the news came in that Kennedy's horse had come back riderless to its stable.
All was now bustle at Ellangowan. The laird and his servants rushed away to the wood of Warroch; but they searched long and in vain for any trace of Kennedy or the boy. It was already growing dark, when a shrill and piercing shout was heard from the sea- shore under the wood, and on hurrying to the place, Mr. Bertram was horrified to see the dead body of Frank Kennedy lying on the beach, right under a high precipice of rocks.
In his wild dismay and terror for his child, and remembering the words of Meg Merrilies, the laird hurried away to Derncleugh, hoping to get some news of him from any of the gipsies who might still be lingering round the place. He wandered amongst the ruins of the cottages, where he found no one, although he noticed the remains of a fire in one of the huts. After a little, one of his servants came running to him and told him to come home at once-- that Mrs. Bertram was dying. Half stupefied, he went back; but only to find that his wife was dead, that a little daughter had been born to him, and that his boy was gone.
The sheriff of the county arrived next morning and opened an inquiry. The wood was again searched, with the result that traces of a struggle were found near the top of the cliff, over the place where Kennedy's body was found lying. Footprints of men and of a small boy were seen here and there. Witnesses who were examined said that they had seen the smuggler's ship grounding, and taking fire, and finally blowing up with a great explosion; but no one could say what had become of its crew. The gipsies were suspected, and Meg Merrilies was arrested; but when questioned she denied that she had been at the place. They found, however, a cut upon her arm; and on removing the handkerchief with which she had it bounda it was found to be marked with the name of Harry Bertram.
No further evidence could be procured of her guilt, and she was at length set free, under sentence of banishment from the county.
For many years after this Mr. Bertram continued to live a solitary and mournful life at Ellangowan. The poor dominie never ceased to blame himself for the loss of the boy, as Harry was in his charge on the day on which he had disappeared; but he still lived with the laird as before, and was chiefly employed in teaching Bertram's daughter, little Lucy, who was now growing up into a gentle and bonny girl.
The laird had been always a bad man of business, and after his wife's death he got into the hands of a scheming and dishonest attorney named Glossin, who in the end craftily succeeded in making himself rich at the expense of his employer.
The debts of the laird became at length so many that the property at Ellangowan had to be mortgaged, and things ultimately went so badly with the poor owner, that the men to whom he owed so much money determined to insist on the estate being sold, together with the house and all the furniture.
It was rumoured, too, amongst the country-folk that Glossin was the man, of all others, who was most eager to turn the Bertrams out of their house, in order that he might buy the property himself, and become the Laird of Ellangowan.
Now the property in Ellangowan had been what is called "settled"
in such a way that it could not be sold if Mr. Bertram had a son living. It was therefore likely to be disposed of very cheap, as no one knew for certain that young Bertram was dead; while if he should happen to be alive, there was still a chance of his coming back and claiming the estates.
When Glossin, the attorney, found that there was no more to be got out of his client in the way of money, he commenced openly to show the wickedness of his bad and cruel nature; and the very sight of him became hateful to the unhappy Godfrey Bertram.
So things went on until Lucy Bertram was seventeen years old, and her father had become a weak and poor old man, and then Glossin determined to play his last card.
The estates of Ellangowan were advertised to be sold to the highest bidder, and a day was fixed for the auction.
Before describing how the sale took place, it will be necessary to tell something of Guy Mannering, who, as will be remembered, had left Ellangowan shortly after the day that young Harry Bertram was born.
He became a soldier; and having served for a long time in India, was appointed colonel of his regiment. His wife and daughter were with him there, and they had become very intimate with a young officer in the same regiment, called Vanbeest Brown, who, it was supposed, had came from Holland, where he had previously been engaged in trade of some kind. Colonel Mannering, for some reason, never cared for Brown, but chiefly because he had foolishly listened to the dishonourable suggestions of a friend, who, for reasons of his own, had secretly poisoned his mind against the young officer. The dislike ripened after some time into an open quarrel, followed by a duel between the colonel and his subaltern, in which, after exchanging shots, Mannering believed he killed his adversary. Mrs. Mannering died shortly after, and the colonel and his daughter returned to England.
Now it so happened that Colonel Mannering arrived at the village of Kippletringan a day or two before the time at which the sale of Ellangowan was to take place. He was much distressed at hearing the pitiable account that was given to him of his old friend, Godfrey Bertram; and the idea at once occurred to him that he would buy the property himself, and by doing so help the laird.
Accordingly, on the day of the auction, he made his way to Ellangowan House, where he was told, on inquiry, that the old laird was dangerously ill, and was to be found up at the ruined castle in company with his daughter. Thither Colonel Mannering went to look for him. He found old Mr. Bertram sitting in an easy- chair on the slope beside the castle with his feet wrapped in blankets, and beside him his daughter and the dominie, and a handsome young man whom he did not recognise, but who, he afterwards learned, was a gentleman called Charles Hazlewood, who was deeply in love with Miss Bertram.
Mannering was much affected when the old laird failed to remember him, for he had not forgotten his hospitable kindness many years before, on the night when little Harry was born. While he was engaged in conversation with Miss Bertram and her companion, a voice was heard close by, which Lucy at once recognised as that of her father's enemy, Glossin, and she sent the dominie to keep him away. The sound of the voice had, however, also reached the old man's ears. He started up on hearing it, and turning towards Glossin, he addressed him in tones of passion and indignation.
"Out of my sight, ye viper," he said; "ye frozen viper that I warmed till ye stung me! Are ye not afraid that the walls of my father's dwelling should fall and crush ye, limb and bone? Were ye not friendless, houseless, penniless, when I took ye by the hand; and are ye not expelling me--me, and that innocent girl-- friendless, houseless, and penniless, from the house that has sheltered us and ours for a thousand years?"
A few moments after, the carriage was announced, in which Lucy Bertram and her father were to leave their home; but it was no longer necessary. The old Laird of Ellangowan was so exhausted by his last effort of indignant anger, that when he sunk upon his chair, he expired almost without a struggle or a groan.
The sale of the property was then postponed until after the funeral; and Colonel Mannering, having done what he could for Miss Bertram in her unhappy condition, left the neighbourhood with the intention of returning in time for the adjourned sale, for the purpose of buying the estate.
The appointed hour for the auction at length arrived, but Colonel Mannering had not come back. No one had even received a letter from him; and in his absence, as there was no other bidder, the infamous Glossin was declared to be the lawful purchaser, and a new Laird of Ellangowan.
At six o'clock that night a drunken post-boy reached the village with a letter from the colonel, containing instructions to buy the property. It had been delayed on its way, and was now no longer of any use.
Poor Lucy Bertram now found herself an orphan without house or home; but the kindness of some neighbours named Mac-Morlan, to some extent, assuaged the misery of her position. They insisted on her coming to live with them and Mr. Mac-Morlan even offered the dominie a clerkship in his establishment, where he might still be near his lady pupil, to whom, in spite of his strange and awkward ways, he was devotedly attached for her father's sake.
When Colonel Mannering, after the death of Mr. Bertram, left Ellangowan with the intention of coming back to buy the property, he travelled some distance, and after a while came to a post-town where he expected some letters. He received one letter, which displeased him very much, from a great friend of his who was living in the north of England, Mr. Mervyn by name, in whose care he had left his daughter, Julia Mannering, when he was starting for Kippletringan. This letter informed him that Miss Mannering was being serenaded at night from the lake beside the house by some unknown stranger, who had, however, disappeared before the letter was written.
On reading this intelligence the colonel hastened at once to Mr.
Mervyn's residence, having first sent off the instructions in reference to the purchase of the Ellangowan estate which, as already said, arrived too late.
The lover who had been serenading Julia Mannering was in reality, the same Vanbeest Brown whom she had known in India, and with whom her father had fought the duel. Colonel Mannering had, however, no idea that Brown was still alive, and the daughter was afraid to tell her father that he was. Captain Brown, as he was now known, was a handsome and gallant young fellow; and, having returned to England with his regiment, and being still deeply devoted to Miss Mannering, he had lost no time in making his way to where she was staying in the house of Mr. Mervyn, her father's friend.
When Mannering arrived at Mr. Mervyn's, he said very little about the information which had been the cause of his return; but he told his daughter that he had taken a place near Kippletringan, called Woodbourne, where he meant to reside for some time. He also told her that she would have a pleasant companion in Lucy Bertram, the daughter of an old friend of his, who was going to stay with them in his new house.
Accordingly, as soon as Woodbourne was made ready to receive them, the colonel and his daughter Julia took up their residence there, and Lucy Bertram became their guest. Another inmate of the new house was the dominie, for whom Colonel Mannering had a liking, and who, he knew, could not bear to be parted altogether from Miss Bertram, whose tutor he had been from her earliest days. When the poor half-cracked dominie heard that he was to be employed as Colonel Mannering's librarian, his joy knew no bounds; and on seeing the large number of old books which were committed to his charge he became almost crazy with delight, and shouted his favourite word, "Pro-di-gi-ous!" till the roof rung to his raptures.
After a little time Lucy Bertram and Miss Mannering became fast friends, but the latter was careful never to say anything to her new companion about her lover, Captain Brown.
Now, Brown, when he found that Julia Mannering had gone to Woodbourne, determined to follow her, with the purpose of resuming his addresses, and he accordingly set out on foot towards the North.
It was a fine clear frosty winter's day when he found himself in the wilds of Cumberland on his way to his destination in Scotland.
He had walked for some distance, when he stopped at a small public-house to procure refreshment. He here fell in with a farmer named Dandie Dinmont, a big, rollicking fellow, with an honest face and kindly ways, with whom he became friends in a very little time.