After a rough and dangerous voyage by night, he found himself in the morning off the Scottish coast. The weather had now cleared. A woody cape, that stretched into the sea, lay some little distance from the vessel; and, in answer to Brown's inquiries, the boatman told him that it was Warroch Point. Close beside it was the old castle of Ellangowan; and Brown felt a strange longing, as he looked at it, to be put ashore for the purpose of examining it more closely. The boatman readily acceded to his wishes, and landed him on the beach beneath the ruins.
And thus, in complete ignorance of his own real identity, surrounded by dangers, and without the assistance of a friend within the circle of several hundred miles, accused of a heavy crime, and almost penniless, did the weary wanderer, for the first time after an interval of many eventful years, approach the remains of the castle where his ancestors had once dwelt in lordly splendour.
It will have dawned upon the reader before now that the young soldier known to him as Brown was in reality no other than the Harry Bertram who had disappeared on the day when Kennedy was murdered. The name of Brown will consequently be dropped during the remainder of the story, and our hero will be called by his proper appellation--Bertram.
After wandering for some time through the ruined apartments of the castle, he stepped outside, and happened by chance to stand on the very spot where his father--the old Laird of Ellangowan--had died.
Glossin at that moment chanced to be engaged close by with a surveyor, in reference to some building plans connected with an intended addition to his house; and he was just saying to his companion that the whole ruin should be pulled down, when Bertram met him, and said:
"Would you destroy this fine old castle, sir?"
His face, person, and voice were so exactly like those of his father when alive, that Glossin almost believed that the grave had given up its dead.
But after a time he recovered his self-possession, and then set himself to discover if Bertram, whom he recognised, had any knowledge of his own identity. He was much terrified when he heard him repeat some lines of an old song, which he said he had learnt in his childhood:
"The dark shall be light, And the wrong made right, When Bertram's right and Bertram's might Shall meet on ...;"
but, although he could not recall the end of the last line, Glossin thought he knew already a good deal too much about it.
A few of Glossin's men were now seen approaching up the slope, whereupon he immediately assumed a different attitude and tone towards Bertram.
"I believe your name is Brown, sir?" said Glossin.
"And what of that, sir?" replied Bertram.
"Why in that case," said Glossin, "you are my prisoner in the king's name."
After a slight resistance the prisoner was secured, and shortly after was brought before Sir Robert Hazlewood, one of the county magistrates, and accused of maliciously wounding Charles Hazlewood, his son.
In reply to the questions put to him, the prisoner said that he was a captain in a regiment of horse in his Majesty's service, and in a frank, manly way described how the wounding of Charles Hazlewood was merely an accident, for which he expressed a sincere sorrow. When required to give some proof of his rank in the army, he stated that his luggage had been stolen. When asked to say where he had spent the night on which it was taken, his promise to Meg Merrilies came to his mind, and he replied that he must refuse to answer the question. He was then pressed to account for his having worn a smuggler's cutlass; but he also declined to explain that matter. And his answers were equally unsatisfactory when questioned on the subject of the purse which the gipsy had given him.
Having failed to give any explanation of so many suspicious circumstances, the warrant for his committal to gaol was made out, although he stated that Colonel Mannering, whom he had known in India, could, if sent for, give evidence of his character and rank.
The colonel was, however, away from home at the time, and the friendless and unfortunate Bertram was removed to prison, pending Mannering's return.
"And now," said Glossin to himself, "to find Dirck Hatteraick and his people--to get the guard sent off--and then for the grand cast of the dice." And so saying he hastened away to complete with the smuggler captain the villainous plan on which they had previously agreed.
The prison in which Bertram now found himself was a building which adjoined the custom-house, and both were close beside the sea.
Mac-Guffog, who has been already mentioned, was at the time the keeper; and a gruff and surly custodian he was, too. Bertram, however, succeeded in procuring from him the luxury of a separate room by promising the keeper a large sum of money. He was accordingly ushered into a small ill-furnished apartment, through the barred windows of which he could get a glimpse of the sea which was dashing sullenly against the outer walls.
As he was reflecting on his miserable situation, his attention was attracted by a loud knocking at the gate of the gaol; and shortly after his little dog Wasp, which he had left in the care of Dandie Dinmont, and Dinmont himself were shown into his room.
Bertram was delighted to have his old friend with him, and in answer to his eager inquiries as to how he came to be in prison, told him about the accident to young Hazlewood, and that he had been mistaken for a smuggler.
Dinmont, on his part, then related how he had come to know of Bertram's being locked up. Gabriel, the huntsman on the moors, he said, had informed him in a mysterious way that Bertram was in gaol, and that he was badly in need of a good friend to stay with him night and day for a day or two. Dinmont added that he had ridden sixty miles that day to come to his assistance.
They were interrupted in their conversation by Mac-Guffog, who told them that it was time for the visitor to leave; but by means of further promises he was induced to allow Dinmont to spend the night in the same room with his friend; and in no longtime after the two occupants of the wretched apartment were fast asleep.
Colonel Mannering, who had been from home for some days, returned to Woodbourne the night of the day on which Bertram had been sent to prison. The morning after his arrival, the dominie, who even after so many years continued to blame himself for the loss of little Harry, made his way, in a spirit of curiosity, to Warroch Point, a place he had never approached since the child had disappeared. As he wandered home again, filled with gloomy recollections of the day of Kennedy's murder, his steps bore him to the neighbourhood of Derncleugh, with its ruined remains of the old gipsy village. The place had for many years had the reputation of being haunted; more especially the tower, or Kaim, of Derncleugh. As he was passing by it, the door suddenly opened, and Meg Merrilies stepped out and stood before him. The dominie, believing she was some sorceress, addressed her in Latin, but the gipsy queen angrily interrupted him.
"Listen, ye fool, to what I tell ye," she said, "or ye'll rue it while there's a limb o' ye hangs together. Tell Colonel Mannering that I know he's seeking me. He knows, and I know, that the blood will be wiped out, and the lost will be found--
And Bertram's right, and Bertram's might, Shall meet on Ellangowan height.
Give him this letter, don't fail, and tell him the time's coming now. Bid him to look at the stars as he looked at them before, and to do what I desire him in the letter."
She then led the frightened dominie by a short cut through the woods for about a quarter of a mile, and on reaching the common told him to stand still.
"Look," she said, "how the setting sun breaks through the cloud that's been darkening the sky all day. See the stream o' light that falls on the old tower of Ellangowan; that's not for nothing.
Here I stood," she went on, stretching out her long sinewy arm and clenched hand--"here I stood when I told the last Laird of Ellangowan what was coming on his house, and did that fall to the ground? And here I stand again to bid God prosper the just heir of Ellangowan that will soon be brought to his own. I'll no live to see it, maybe; but there will be many a blithe eye see it though mine be closed. And now, Abel Sampson, as ever ye loved the house of Ellangowan, away with my message to the English colonel as if life and death were upon your haste."
So saying, she turned suddenly from the amazed dominie, who hurried back to Woodbourne, exclaiming as he went, "Prodigious!
The kindly interest of Meg Merrilies in the fate of Bertram did not, however, end here.
Shortly after quitting the dominie she met young Hazlewood on the road, and told him, in a mysterious way, that the guard of soldiers had been drawn off from the custom-house, and brought to his father's house, in the expectation of an attack being made upon it that night.
"Nobody means to touch his house," she added; "so send the horsemen back to their post quietly. They will have work to-night; the guns will flash and the swords will glitter in the moonlight."
She then asked him if he bore any malice to the man that wounded him, and on Hazlewood assuring her that he had always thought it was an accident, she said: "Then do what I bid ye, for if he was left to his ill wishers he would be a bloody corpse ere morn." And she then disappeared into the wood.
Charles Hazlewood, who now felt certain some diabolical plot was on foot for the murder of the man who had accidentally wounded him, rode back at once to his father's house.
He found the place occupied with dragoons, and instantly endeavoured to persuade his father to send them back to the custom-house.
Glossin had, however, impressed the old man with a fixed idea of the impending danger to his house, and he refused to allow the soldiers to go. While his son was still arguing with him, the sheriff of the country came in hurriedly, and told him that he had had information that the removal of the troops from the custom- house was only part of a plan, and that they should at once return. Orders were accordingly given without delay, and the dragoons were shortly after on their way again to the place from which they came.
But we must return to Bertram and his companion in their unpleasant abode, in the prison.
Towards midnight Bertram woke after his first sleep. The air of the small apartment had become close and confined, and he got up for the purpose, if possible, of opening the window. His failure to open it reminded him painfully that he was now a prisoner. He was no longer inclined to sleep, so he continued for some time to gaze out on the troubled sea, as it rolled under the indistinct light of a hazy and often overclouded moon. As he looked he fancied he saw in the distance a boat being rowed towards the shore; and before long he found that he had not been mistaken.
The boat, which was a large one, drew nearer and nearer, and as it reached the land some twenty men jumped on shore, and disappeared up a dark passage which divided the prison from the custom-house.
Almost immediately after, Bertram could hear a tumult in the outer yard of the bridewell, and, being unable to guess what its meaning was, he awoke Dinmont.
The smell of fire now commenced to reach the room, and, on Dinmont looking out of the window, he exclaimed: "Lord's sake, captain!
come here; they have broken in the custom-house!"
Looking from the prison window they could see the gang of smugglers hurrying here and there, some with lighted torches, others carrying barrels towards the shore. It was plain, too, from the thick clouds of smoke that rolled past the window that the prison was itself on fire.
Dinmont roared loudly for Mac-Guffog to let them out, but all was silent in the gaol. Outside, the shouts of the smugglers and the mob resounded far and wide, and it seemed as if the keeper had himself escaped, and left his prisoners to perish in the flames.
But now a new and fierce attack was heard at the outer gate. It was soon forced in with sledgehammers and crows, and, before long, some three or four of the principal smugglers hurried to the apartment of Bertram with lighted torches, and armed with cutlasses and pistols. Two of them seized on Bertram, but one of them whispered in his ear, "Make no resistance till you are outside." They dragged him roughly to the gate, but amid the riot and confusion which prevailed, the sound as of a body of horse advancing was heard. A few moments after, the dragoons were engaged with the rioters. Shots were fired, and the glittering broadswords of the soldiers began to flash in the air. "Now,"
whispered the man at Bertram's left, "shake off that fellow and follow me."
Bertram, with a violent and sudden effort, burst away from the man on his right, and closely following his mysterious friend, attended by the faithful Dinmont, who never left him, ran quickly down a narrow lane which led from the main street.
No pursuit took place, as the smugglers had enough to do to defend themselves against the dragoons. At the end of the lane there was a post-chaise and horses waiting.