The Fortunes of Nigel, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter 10

Bid not thy fortune troll upon the wheels

Of yonder dancing cubes of mottled bone;

And drown it not, like Egypt’s royal harlot,

Dissolving her rich pearl in the brimm’d wine-cup.

These are the arts, Lothario, which shrink acres

Into brief yards — bring sterling pounds to farthings,

Credit to infamy; and the poor gull,

Who might have lived an honour’d, easy life,

To ruin, and an unregarded grave.

The Changes.

When they were fairly embarked on the Thames, the earl took from his pocket the Supplication, and, pointing out to George Heriot the royal warrant indorsed thereon, asked him, if it were in due and regular form? The worthy citizen hastily read it over, thrust forth his hand as if to congratulate the Lord Glenvarloch, then checked himself, pulled out his barnacles, (a present from old David Ramsay,) and again perused the warrant with the most business-like and critical attention. “It is strictly correct and formal,” he said, looking to the Earl of Huntinglen; “and I sincerely rejoice at it.”

“I doubt nothing of its formality,” said the earl; “the king understands business well, and, if he does not practise it often, it is only because indolence obscures parts which are naturally well qualified for the discharge of affairs. But what is next to be done for our young friend, Master Heriot? You know how I am circumstanced. Scottish lords living at the English Court have seldom command of money; yet, unless a sum can be presently raised on this warrant, matters standing as you hastily hinted to me, the mortgage, wadset, or whatever it is called, will be foreclosed.”

“It is true,” said Heriot, in some embarrassment; “there is a large sum wanted in redemption — yet, if it is not raised, there will be an expiry of the legal, as our lawyers call it, and the estate will be evicted.”

“My noble — my worthy friends, who have taken up my cause so undeservedly, so unexpectedly,” said Nigel, “do not let me be a burden on your kindness. You have already done too much where nothing was merited.”

“Peace, man, peace,” said Lord Huntinglen, “and let old Heriot and I puzzle this scent out. He is about to open — hark to him!”

“My lord,” said the citizen, “the Duke of Buckingham sneers at our city money-bags; yet they can sometimes open, to prop a falling and a noble house.”

“We know they can,” said Lord Huntinglen —“mind not Buckingham, he is a Peg-a-Ramsay — and now for the remedy.”

“I partly hinted to Lord Glenvarloch already,” said Heriot, “that the redemption money might be advanced upon such a warrant as the present, and I will engage my credit that it can. But then, in order to secure the lender, he must come in the shoes of the creditor to whom he advances payment.”

“Come in his shoes!” replied the earl; “why, what have boots or shoes to do with this matter, my good friend?”

“It is a law phrase, my lord. My experience has made me pick up a few of them,” said Heriot.

“Ay, and of better things along with them, Master George,” replied Lord Huntinglen; “but what means it?”

“Simply this,” resumed the citizen; “that the lender of this money will transact with the holder of the mortgage, or wadset, over the estate of Glenvarloch, and obtain from him such a conveyance to his right as shall leave the lands pledged for the debt, in case the warrant upon the Scottish Exchequer should prove unproductive. I fear, in this uncertainty of public credit, that without some such counter security, it will be very difficult to find so large a sum.”

“Ho la!” said the Earl of Huntinglen, “halt there! a thought strikes me. — What if the new creditor should admire the estate as a hunting-field, as much as my Lord Grace of Buckingham seems to do, and should wish to kill a buck there in the summer season? It seems to me, that on your plan, Master George, our new friend will be as well entitled to block Lord Glenvarloch out of his inheritance as the present holder of the mortgage.”

The citizen laughed. “I will engage,” he said, “that the keenest sportsman to whom I may apply on this occasion, shall not have a thought beyond the Lord Mayor’s Easter-Hunt, in Epping Forest. But your lordship’s caution is reasonable. The creditor must be bound to allow Lord Glenvarloch sufficient time to redeem his estate by means of the royal warrant, and must wave in his favour the right of instant foreclosure, which may be, I should think, the more easily managed, as the right of redemption must be exercised in his own name.”

“But where shall we find a person in London fit to draw the necessary writings?” said the earl. “If my old friend Sir John Skene of Halyards had lived, we should have had his advice; but time presses, and —”

“I know,” said Heriot, “an orphan lad, a scrivener, that dwells by Temple Bar; he can draw deeds both after the English and Scottish fashion, and I have trusted him often in matters of weight and of importance. I will send one of my serving-men for him, and the mutual deeds may be executed in your lordship’s presence; for, as things stand, there should be no delay.” His lordship readily assented; and, as they now landed upon the private stairs leading down to the river from the gardens of the handsome hotel which he inhabited, the messenger was dispatched without loss of time.

Nigel, who had sat almost stupefied while these zealous friends volunteered for him in arranging the measures by which his fortune was to be disembarrassed, now made another eager attempt to force upon them his broken expressions of thanks and gratitude. But he was again silenced by Lord Huntinglen, who declared he would not hear a word on that topic, and proposed instead, that they should take a turn in the pleached alley, or sit upon the stone bench which overlooked the Thames, until his son’s arrival should give the signal for dinner.

“I desire to introduce Dalgarno and Lord Glenvarloch to each other,” he said, “as two who will be near neighbours, and I trust will be more kind ones than their fathers were formerly. There is but three Scots miles betwixt the castles, and the turrets of the one are visible from the battlements of the other.”

The old earl was silent for a moment, and appeared to muse upon the recollections which the vicinity of the castles had summoned up.

“Does Lord Dalgarno follow the Court to Newmarket next week?” said Heriot, by way of removing the conversation.

“He proposes so, I think,” answered Lord Huntinglen, relapsed into his reverie for a minute or two, and then addressed Nigel somewhat abruptly —

“My young friend, when you attain possession of your inheritance, as I hope you soon will, I trust you will not add one to the idle followers of the Court, but reside on your patrimonial estate, cherish your ancient tenants, relieve and assist your poor kinsmen, protect the poor against subaltern oppression, and do what our fathers used to do, with fewer lights and with less means than we have.”

“And yet the advice to keep the country,” said Heriot, “comes from an ancient and constant ornament of the Court.”

“From an old courtier, indeed,” said the earl, “and the first of my family that could so write himself — my grey beard falls on a cambric ruff and a silken doublet — my father’s descended upon a buff coat and a breast-plate. I would not that those days of battle returned; but I should love well to make the oaks of my old forest of Dalgarno ring once more with halloo, and horn, and hound, and to have the old stone-arched hall return the hearty shout of my vassals and tenants, as the bicker and the quaigh walked their rounds amongst them. I should like to see the broad Tay once more before I die — not even the Thames can match it, in my mind.”

“Surely, my lord,” said the citizen, “all this might be easily done — it costs but a moment’s resolution, and the journey of some brief days, and you will be where you desire to be — what is there to prevent you?”

“Habits, Master George, habits,” replied the earl, “which to young men are like threads of silk, so lightly are they worn, so soon broken; but which hang on our old limbs as if time had stiffened them into gyves of iron. To go to Scotland for a brief space were but labour in vain; and when I think of abiding there, I cannot bring myself to leave my old master, to whom I fancy myself sometimes useful, and whose weal and woe I have shared for so many years. But Dalgarno shall be a Scottish noble.”

“Has he visited the North?” said Heriot.

“He was there last year and made such a report of the country, that the prince has expressed a longing to see it.” “Lord Dalgarno is in high grace with his Highness and the Duke of Buckingham?” observed the goldsmith.

“He is so,” answered the earl — “I pray it may be for the advantage of them all. The prince is just and equitable in his sentiments, though cold and stately in his manners, and very obstinate in his most trifling purposes; and the duke, noble and gallant, and generous and open, is fiery, ambitious, and impetuous. Dalgarno has none of these faults, and such as he may have of his own, may perchance be corrected by the society in which he moves. — See, here he comes.”

Lord Dalgarno accordingly advanced from the farther end of the alley to the bench on which his father and his guests were seated, so that Nigel had full leisure to peruse his countenance and figure. He was dressed point-device, and almost to extremity, in the splendid fashion of the time, which suited well with his age, probably about five-and-twenty, with a noble form and fine countenance, in which last could easily be traced the manly features of his father, but softened by a more habitual air of assiduous courtesy than the stubborn old earl had ever condescended to assume towards the world in general. In other respects, his address was gallant, free, and unencumbered either by pride or ceremony — far remote certainly from the charge either of haughty coldness or forward impetuosity; and so far his father had justly freed him from the marked faults which he ascribed to the manners of the prince and his favourite Buckingham.

While the old earl presented his young acquaintance Lord Glenvarloch to his son, as one whom he would have him love and honour, Nigel marked the countenance of Lord Dalgarno closely, to see if he could detect aught of that secret dislike which the king had, in one of his broken expostulations, seemed to intimate, as arising from a clashing of interests betwixt his new friend and the great Buckingham. But nothing of this was visible; on the contrary, Lord Dalgarno received his new acquaintance with the open frankness and courtesy which makes conquest at once, when addressed to the feelings of an ingenuous young man.

It need hardly be told that his open and friendly address met equally ready and cheerful acceptation from Nigel Olifaunt. For many months, and while a youth not much above two-and-twenty, he had been restrained by circumstances from the conversation of his equals. When, on his father’s sudden death, he left the Low Countries for Scotland, he had found himself involved, to all appearance inextricably, with the details of the law, all of which threatened to end in the alienation of the patrimony which should support his hereditary rank. His term of sincere mourning, joined to injured pride, and the swelling of the heart under unexpected and undeserved misfortune, together with the uncertainty attending the issue of his affairs, had induced the young Lord of Glenvarloch to live, while in Scotland, in a very private and reserved manner. How he had passed his time in London, the reader is acquainted with. But this melancholy and secluded course of life was neither agreeable to his age nor to his temper, which was genial and sociable. He hailed, therefore, with sincere pleasure, the approaches which a young man of his own age and rank made towards him; and when he had exchanged with Lord Dalgarno some of those words and signals by which, as surely as by those of freemasonry, young people recognise a mutual wish to be agreeable to each other, it seemed as if the two noblemen had been acquainted for some time.

Just as this tacit intercourse had been established, one of Lord Huntinglen’s attendants came down the alley, marshalling onwards a man dressed in black buckram, who followed him with tolerable speed, considering that, according to his sense of reverence and propriety, he kept his body bent and parallel to the horizon from the moment that he came in sight of the company to which he was about to be presented.

“Who is this, you cuckoldy knave,” said the old lord, who had retained the keen appetite and impatience of a Scottish baron even during a long alienation from his native country; “and why does John Cook, with a murrain to him, keep back dinner?”

“I believe we are ourselves responsible for this person’s intrusion,” said George Heriot; “this is the scrivener whom we desired to see. — Look up, man, and see us in the face as an honest man should, instead of beating thy noddle charged against us thus, like a battering-ram.”

The scrivener did look up accordingly, with the action of an automaton which suddenly obeys the impulse of a pressed spring. But, strange to tell, not even the haste he had made to attend his patron’s mandate, a business, as Master Heriot’s message expressed, of weight and importance — nay not even the state of depression in which, out of sheer humility, doubtless, he had his head stooped to the earth, from the moment he had trod the demesnes of the Earl of Huntinglen, had called any colour into his countenance. The drops stood on his brow from haste and toil, but his cheek was still pale and tallow-coloured as before; nay, what seemed stranger, his very hair, when he raised his head, hung down on either cheek as straight and sleek and undisturbed as it was when we first introduced him to our readers, seated at his quiet and humble desk.

Lord Dalgarno could not forbear a stifled laugh at the ridiculous and puritanical figure which presented itself like a starved anatomy to the company, and whispered at the same time into Lord Glenvarloch’s ear —

“The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon,

Where got’st thou that goose-look?”

Nigel was too little acquainted with the English stage to understand a quotation which had already grown matter of common allusion in London. Lord Dalgarno saw that he was not understood, and continued, “That fellow, by his visage, should either be a saint, or a most hypocritical rogue — and such is my excellent opinion of human nature, that I always suspect the worst. But they seem deep in business. Will you take a turn with me in the garden, my lord, or will you remain a member of the serious conclave?”

“With you, my lord, most willingly,” said Nigel; and they were turning away accordingly, when George Heriot, with the formality belonging to his station, observed, that, “as their business concerned Lord Glenvarloch, he had better remain, to make himself master of it, and witness to it.”

“My presence is utterly needless, my good lord;-and, my best friend, Master Heriot,” said the young nobleman, “I shall understand nothing the better for cumbering you with my ignorance in these matters; and can only say at the end, as I now say at the beginning, that I dare not take the helm out of the hand of the kind pilots who have already guided my course within sight of a fair and unhoped-for haven. Whatever you recommend to me as fitting, I shall sign and seal; and the import of the deeds I shall better learn by a brief explanation from Master Heriot, if he will bestow so much trouble in my behalf, than by a thousand learned words and law terms from this person of skill.”

“He is right,” said Lord Huntinglen; “our young friend is right, in confiding these matters to you and me, Master George Heriot — he has not misplaced his confidence.”

Master George Heriot cast a long look after the two young noblemen, who had now walked down the alley arm-in-arm, and at length said, “He hath not, indeed, misplaced his confidence, as your lordship well and truly says — but, nevertheless, he is not in the right path; for it behoves every man to become acquainted with his own affairs, so soon as he hath any that are worth attending to.”

When he had made this observation, they applied themselves, with the scrivener, to look into various papers, and to direct in what manner writings should be drawn, which might at once afford sufficient security to those who were to advance the money, and at the same time preserve the right of the young nobleman to redeem the family estate, provided he should obtain the means of doing so, by the expected reimbursement from the Scottish Exchequer, or otherwise. It is needless to enter into those details. But it is not unimportant to mention, as an illustration of character, that Heriot went into the most minute legal details with a precision which showed that experience had made him master even of the intricacies of Scottish conveyancing; and that the Earl of Huntinglen, though far less acquainted with technical detail, suffered no step of the business to pass over, until he had attained a general but distinct idea of its import and its propriety.

They seemed to be admirably seconded in their benevolent intentions towards the young Lord Glenvarloch, by the skill and eager zeal of the scrivener, whom Heriot had introduced to this piece of business, the most important which Andrew had ever transacted in his life, and the particulars of which were moreover agitated in his presence between an actual earl, and one whose wealth and character might entitle him to be an alderman of his ward, if not to be lord mayor, in his turn.

While they were thus in eager conversation on business, the good earl even forgetting the calls of his appetite, and the delay of dinner, in his anxiety to see that the scrivener received proper instructions, and that all was rightly weighed and considered, before dismissing him to engross the necessary deeds, the two young men walked together on the terrace which overhung the river, and talked on the topics which Lord Dalgarno, the elder, and the more experienced, thought most likely to interest his new friend.

These naturally regarded the pleasures attending a Court life; and Lord Dalgarno expressed much surprise at understanding that Nigel proposed an instant return to Scotland.

“You are jesting with me,” he said. “All the Court rings — it is needless to mince it — with the extraordinary success of your suit — against the highest interest, it is said, now influencing the horizon at Whitehall. Men think of you — talk of you — fix their eyes on you — ask each other, who is this young Scottish lord, who has stepped so far in a single day? They augur, in whispers to each other, how high and how far you may push your fortune — and all that you design to make of it, is, to return to Scotland, eat raw oatmeal cakes, baked upon a peat-fire, have your hand shaken by every loon of a blue-bonnet who chooses to dub you cousin, though your relationship comes by Noah; drink Scots twopenny ale, eat half-starved red-deer venison, when you can kill it, ride upon a galloway, and be called my right honourable and maist worthy lord!”

“There is no great gaiety in the prospect before me, I confess,” said Lord Glenvarloch, “even if your father and good Master Heriot should succeed in putting my affairs on some footing of plausible hope. And yet I trust to do something for my vassals as my ancestors before me, and to teach my children, as I have myself been taught, to make some personal sacrifices, if they be necessary, in order to maintain with dignity the situation in which they are placed by Providence.”

Lord Dalgarno, after having once or twice stifled his laughter during this speech, at length broke out into a fit of mirth, so hearty and so resistless, that, angry as he was, the call of sympathy swept Nigel along with him, and despite of himself, he could not forbear to join in a burst of laughter, which he thought not only causeless, but almost impertinent.

He soon recollected himself, however, and said, in a tone qualified to allay Lord Dalgarno’s extreme mirth: “This is all well, my lord; but how am I to understand your merriment?” Lord Dalgarno only answered him with redoubled peals of laughter, and at length held by Lord Glenvarloch’s cloak, as if to prevent his falling down on the ground, in the extremity of his convulsion.

At length, while Nigel stood half abashed, half angry, at becoming thus the subject of his new acquaintance’s ridicule, and was only restrained from expressing his resentment against the son, by a sense of the obligations he owed the father, Lord Dalgarno recovered himself, and spoke in a half-broken voice, his eyes still running with tears: “I crave your pardon, my dear Lord Glenvarloch — ten thousand times do I crave your pardon. But that last picture of rural dignity, accompanied by your grave and angry surprise at my laughing at what would have made any court-bred hound laugh, that had but so much as bayed the moon once from the court-yard at Whitehall, totally overcame me. Why, my liefest and dearest lord, you, a young and handsome fellow, with high birth, a title, and the name of an estate, so well received by the king at your first starting, as makes your further progress scarce matter of doubt, if you know how to improve it — for the king has already said you are a ‘braw lad, and well studied in the more humane letters’— you, too, whom all the women, and the very marked beauties of the Court, desire to see, because you came from Leyden, were born in Scotland, and have gained a hard-contested suit in England — you, I say, with a person like a prince, an eye of fire, and a wit as quick, to think of throwing your cards on the table when the game is in your very hand, running back to the frozen north, and marrying — let me see — a tall, stalking, blue-eyed, fair-skinned bony wench, with eighteen quarters in her scutcheon, a sort of Lot’s wife, newly descended from her pedestal, and with her to shut yourself up in your tapestried chamber! Uh, gad! — Swouns, I shall never survive the idea!”

It is seldom that youth, however high-minded, is able, from mere strength of character and principle, to support itself against the force of ridicule. Half angry, half mortified, and, to say truth, half ashamed of his more manly and better purpose, Nigel was unable, and flattered himself it was unnecessary, to play the part of a rigid moral patriot, in presence of a young man whose current fluency of language, as well as his experience in the highest circles of society, gave him, in spite of Nigel’s better and firmer thoughts, a temporary ascendency over him. He sought, therefore, to compromise the matter, and avoid farther debate, by frankly owning, that, if to return to his own country were not his choice, it was at least a matter of necessity. “His affairs,” he said, “were unsettled, his income precarious.”

“And where is he whose affairs are settled, or whose income is less than precarious, that is to be found in attendance on the Court?” said Lord Dalgarno; “all are either losing or winning. Those who have wealth, come hither to get rid of it, while the happy gallants, who, like you and I, dear Glenvarloch, have little or none, have every chance to be sharers in their spoils.”

“I have no ambition of that sort,” said Nigel, “and if I had, I must tell you plainly, Lord Dalgarno, I have not the means to do so. I can scarce as yet call the suit I wear my own; I owe it, and I do riot blush to say so, to the friendship of yonder good man.”

“I will not laugh again, if I can help it,” said Lord Dalgarno. “But, Lord! that you should have gone to a wealthy goldsmith for your habit — why, I could have brought you to an honest, confiding tailor, who should have furnished you with half-a-dozen, merely for love of the little word, ‘lordship,’ which you place before your name; — and then your goldsmith, if he be really a friendly goldsmith, should have equipped you with such a purse of fair rose-nobles as would have bought you thrice as many suits, or done better things for you.”

“I do not understand these fashions, my lord,” said Nigel, his displeasure mastering his shame; “were I to attend the Court of my sovereign, it should be when I could maintain, without shifting or borrowing, the dress and retinue which my rank requires.”

“Which my rank requires!” said Lord Dalgarno, repeating his last words; “that, now, is as good as if my father had spoke it. I fancy you would love to move to Court with him, followed by a round score of old blue-bottles, with white heads and red noses, with bucklers and broadswords, which their hands, trembling betwixt age and strong waters, can make no use of — as many huge silver badges on their arms, to show whose fools they are, as would furnish forth a court cupboard of plate — rogues fit for nothing but to fill our ante-chambers with the flavour of onions and genievre — pah!”

“The poor knaves!” said Lord Glenvarloch; “they have served your father, it may be, in the wars. What would become of them were he to turn them off?”

“Why, let them go to the hospital,” said Dalgarno, “or to the bridge-end, to sell switches. The king is a better man than my father, and you see those who have served in HIS wars do so every day; or, when their blue coats were well worn out, they would make rare scarecrows. Here is a fellow, now, comes down the walk; the stoutest raven dared not come within a yard of that copper nose. I tell you, there is more service, as you will soon see, in my valet of the chamber, and such a lither lad as my page Lutin, than there is in a score of these old memorials of the Douglas wars,12 where they cut each other’s throats for the chance of finding twelve pennies Scots on the person of the slain. Marry, my lord, to make amends, they will eat mouldy victuals, and drink stale ale, as if their bellies were puncheons. — But the dinner-bell is going to sound — hark, it is clearing its rusty throat, with a preliminary jowl. That is another clamorous relic of antiquity, that, were I master, should soon be at the bottom of the Thames. How the foul fiend can it interest the peasants and mechanics in the Strand, to know that the Earl of Huntinglen is sitting down to dinner? But my father looks our way — we must not be late for the grace, or we shall be in DIS-grace, if you will forgive a quibble which would have made his Majesty laugh. You will find us all of a piece, and, having been accustomed to eat in saucers abroad, I am ashamed you should witness our larded capons, our mountains of beef, and oceans of brewis, as large as Highland hills and lochs; but you shall see better cheer to-morrow. Where lodge you? I will call for you. I must be your guide through the peopled desert, to certain enchanted lands, which you will scarce discover without chart and pilot. Where lodge you?”

“I will meet you in Paul’s,” said Nigel, a good deal embarrassed, “at any hour you please to name.”

“O, you would be private,” said the young lord; “nay, fear not me — I will be no intruder. But we have attained this huge larder of flesh, fowl, and fish. I marvel the oaken boards groan not under it.”

They had indeed arrived in the dining-parlour of the mansion, where the table was superabundantly loaded, and where the number of attendants, to a certain extent, vindicated the sarcasms of the young nobleman. The chaplain, and Sir Mungo Malagrowther, were of the party. The latter complimented Lord Glenvarloch upon the impression he had made at Court. “One would have thought ye had brought the apple of discord in your pouch, my lord, or that you were the very firebrand of whilk Althea was delivered, and that she had lain-in in a barrel of gunpowder, for the king, and the prince, and the duke, have been by the lugs about ye, and so have many more, that kendna before this blessed day that there was such a man living on the face of the earth.”

“Mind your victuals, Sir Mungo,” said the earl; “they get cold while you talk.” “Troth, and that needsna, my lord,” said the knight; “your lordship’s dinners seldom scald one’s mouth — the serving-men are turning auld, like oursells, my lord, and it is far between the kitchen and the ha’.”

With this little explosion of his spleen, Sir Mungo remained satisfied, until the dishes were removed, when, fixing his eyes on the brave new doublet of Lord Dalgarno, he complimented him on his economy, pretending to recognise it as the same which his father had worn in Edinburgh in the Spanish ambassador’s time. Lord Dalgarno, too much a man of the world to be moved by any thing from such a quarter, proceeded to crack some nuts with great deliberation, as he replied, that the doublet was in some sort his father’s, as it was likely to cost him fifty pounds some day soon. Sir Mungo forthwith proceeded in his own way to convey this agreeable intelligence to the earl, observing, that his son was a better maker of bargains than his lordship, for he had bought a doublet as rich as that his lordship wore when the Spanish ambassador was at Holyrood, and it had cost him but fifty pounds Scots; —“that was no fool’s bargain, my lord.”

“Pounds sterling, if you please, Sir Mungo,” answered the earl, calmly; “and a fool’s bargain it is, in all the tenses. Dalgarno WAS a fool when he bought — I will be a fool when I pay — and you, Sir Mungo, craving your pardon, are a fool in praesenti, for speaking of what concerns you not.”

So saying, the earl addressed himself to the serious business of the table and sent the wine around with a profusion which increased the hilarity, but rather threatened the temperance, of the company, until their joviality was interrupted by the annunciation that the scrivener had engrossed such deeds as required to be presently executed.

George Heriot rose from the table, observing, that wine-cups and legal documents were unseemly neighbours. The earl asked the scrivener if they had laid a trencher and set a cup for him in the buttery and received the respectful answer, that heaven forbid he should be such an ungracious beast as to eat or drink until his lordship’s pleasure was performed.

“Thou shalt eat before thou goest,” said Lord Huntinglen; “and I will have thee try, moreover, whether a cup of sack cannot bring some colour into these cheeks of thine. It were a shame to my household, thou shouldst glide out into the Strand after such a spectre-fashion as thou now wearest — Look to it, Dalgarno, for the honour of our roof is concerned.”

Lord Dalgarno gave directions that the man should be attended to. Lord Glenvarloch and the citizen, in the meanwhile, signed and interchanged, and thus closed a transaction, of which the principal party concerned understood little, save that it was under the management of a zealous and faithful friend, who undertook that the money should be forthcoming, and the estate released from forfeiture, by payment of the stipulated sum for which it stood pledged, and that at the term of Lambmas, and at the hour of noon, and beside the tomb of the Regent Earl of Murray, in the High Kirk of Saint Giles, at Edinburgh, being the day and place assigned for such redemption.13

When this business was transacted, the old earl would fain have renewed his carouse; but the citizen, alleging the importance of the deeds he had about him, and the business he had to transact betimes the next morning, not only refused to return to table, but carried with him to his barge Lord Glenvarloch, who might, perhaps, have been otherwise found more tractable.

When they were seated in the boat, and fairly once more afloat on the river, George Heriot looked back seriously on the mansion they had left —“There live,” he said, “the old fashion and the new. The father is like a noble old broadsword, but harmed with rust, from neglect and inactivity; the son is your modern rapier, well-mounted, fairly gilt, and fashioned to the taste of the time — and it is time must evince if the metal be as good as the show. God grant it prove so, says an old friend to the family.”

Nothing of consequence passed betwixt them, until Lord Glenvarloch, landing at Paul’s Wharf, took leave of his friend the citizen, and retired to his own apartment, where his attendant, Richie, not a little elevated with the events of the day, and with the hospitality of Lord Huntinglen’s house-keeping, gave a most splendid account of them to the buxom Dame Nelly, who rejoiced to hear that the sun at length was shining upon what Richie called “the right side of the hedge.”

12The cruel civil wars waged by the Scottish barons during the minority of James VI., had the name from the figure made in them by the celebrated James Douglas, Earl of Morton. Both sides executed their prisoners without mercy or favour.

13As each covenant in those days of accuracy had a special place nominated for execution, the tomb of the Regent Earl of Murray in Saint Giles’s Church was frequently assigned for the purpose.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29