Rob Roy, by Walter Scott

Chapter Sixth.

Hame came our gudeman at e’en,

And hame came he,

And there he saw a man

Where a man suldna be.

“How’s this now, kimmer?

How’s this?” quo he —

“How came this carle here

Without the leave o’ me?”

Old Song.

The magistrate took the light out of the servant-maid’s hand, and advanced to his scrutiny, like Diogenes in the street of Athens, lantern-inhand, and probably with as little expectation as that of the cynic, that he was likely to encounter any especial treasure in the course of his researches. The first whom he approached was my mysterious guide, who, seated on a table as I have already described him, with his eyes firmly fixed on the wall, his features arranged into the utmost inflexibility of expression, his hands folded on his breast with an air betwixt carelessness and defiance, his heel patting against the foot of the table, to keep time with the tune which he continued to whistle, submitted to Mr. Jarvie’s investigation with an air of absolute confidence and assurance which, for a moment, placed at fault the memory and sagacity of the acute investigator.

“Ah! — Eh! — Oh!” exclaimed the Bailie. “My conscience! — it’s impossible! — and yet — no! — Conscience! — it canna be! — and yet again — Deil hae me, that I suld say sae! — Ye robber — ye cateran — ye born deevil that ye are, to a’ bad ends and nae gude ane! — can this be you?”

“E’en as ye see, Bailie,” was the laconic answer.

“Conscience! if I am na clean bumbaized — you, ye cheat-the-wuddy rogue — you here on your venture in the tolbooth o’ Glasgow? — What d’ye think’s the value o’ your head?”

“Umph! — why, fairly weighed, and Dutch weight, it might weigh down one provost’s, four bailies’, a town-clerk’s, six deacons’, besides stent-masters’”—

“Ah, ye reiving villain!” interrupted Mr. Jarvie. “But tell ower your sins, and prepare ye, for if I say the word”—

“True, Bailie,” said he who was thus addressed, folding his hands behind him with the utmost nonchalance, “but ye will never say that word.”

“And why suld I not, sir?” exclaimed the magistrate —“Why suld I not? Answer me that — why suld I not?”

“For three sufficient reasons, Bailie Jarvie. — First, for auld langsyne; second, for the sake of the auld wife ayont the fire at Stuckavrallachan, that made some mixture of our bluids, to my own proper shame be it spoken! that has a cousin wi’ accounts, and yarn winnles, and looms and shuttles, like a mere mechanical person; and lastly, Bailie, because if I saw a sign o’ your betraying me, I would plaster that wa’ with your harns ere the hand of man could rescue you!”

“Ye’re a bauld desperate villain, sir,” retorted the undaunted Bailie; “and ye ken that I ken ye to be sae, and that I wadna stand a moment for my ain risk.”

“I ken weel,” said the other, “ye hae gentle bluid in your veins, and I wad be laith to hurt my ain kinsman. But I’ll gang out here as free as I came in, or the very wa’s o’ Glasgow tolbooth shall tell o’t these ten years to come.”

“Weel, weel,” said Mr. Jarvie, “bluid’s thicker than water; and it liesna in kith, kin, and ally, to see motes in ilka other’s een if other een see them no. It wad be sair news to the auld wife below the Ben of Stuckavrallachan, that you, ye Hieland limmer, had knockit out my harns, or that I had kilted you up in a tow. But ye’ll own, ye dour deevil, that were it no your very sell, I wad hae grippit the best man in the Hielands.”

“Ye wad hae tried, cousin,” answered my guide, “that I wot weel; but I doubt ye wad hae come aff wi’ the short measure; for we gang-there-out Hieland bodies are an unchancy generation when you speak to us o’ bondage. We downa bide the coercion of gude braid-claith about our hinderlans, let a be breeks o’ free-stone, and garters o’ iron.”

“Ye’ll find the stane breeks and the airn garters — ay, and the hemp cravat, for a’ that, neighbour,” replied the Bailie.

“Nae man in a civilised country ever played the pliskies ye hae done — but e’en pickle in your ain pock-neuk — I hae gi’en ye wanting.”

“Well, cousin,” said the other, “ye’ll wear black at my burial.”

“Deil a black cloak will be there, Robin, but the corbies and the hoodie-craws, I’se gie ye my hand on that. But whar’s the gude thousand pund Scots that I lent ye, man, and when am I to see it again?”

“Where it is,” replied my guide, after the affectation of considering for a moment, “I cannot justly tell — probably where last year’s snaw is.”

“And that’s on the tap of Schehallion, ye Hieland dog,” said Mr. Jarvie; “and I look for payment frae you where ye stand.”

“Ay,” replied the Highlander, “but I keep neither snaw nor dollars in my sporran. And as to when you’ll see it — why, just when the king enjoys his ain again, as the auld sang says.”

“Warst of a’, Robin,” retorted the Glaswegian — “I mean, ye disloyal traitor — Warst of a’! — Wad ye bring popery in on us, and arbitrary power, and a foist and a warming-pan, and the set forms, and the curates, and the auld enormities o’ surplices and cerements? Ye had better stick to your auld trade o’ theft-boot, black-mail, spreaghs, and gillravaging — better stealing nowte than ruining nations.”

“Hout, man — whisht wi’ your whiggery,” answered the Celt; “we hae ken’d ane anither mony a lang day. I’se take care your counting-room is no cleaned out when the Gillon-a-naillie43 come to redd up the Glasgow buiths, and clear them o’ their auld shop-wares.

And, unless it just fa’ in the preceese way o’ your duty, ye maunna see me oftener, Nicol, than I am disposed to be seen.”

“Ye are a dauring villain, Rob,” answered the Bailie; “and ye will be hanged, that will be seen and heard tell o’; but I’se ne’er be the ill bird and foul my nest, set apart strong necessity and the skreigh of duty, which no man should hear and be inobedient. And wha the deevil’s this?” he continued, turning to me —“Some gillravager that ye hae listed, I daur say. He looks as if he had a bauld heart to the highway, and a lang craig for the gibbet.”

“This, good Mr. Jarvie,” said Owen, who, like myself, had been struck dumb during this strange recognition, and no less strange dialogue, which took place betwixt these extraordinary kinsmen —“This, good Mr. Jarvie, is young Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, only child of the head of our house, who should have been taken into our firm at the time Mr. Rashleigh Osbaldistone, his cousin, had the luck to be taken into it”—(Here Owen could not suppress a groan)—“But howsoever”—

“Oh, I have heard of that smaik,” said the Scotch merchant, interrupting him; “it is he whom your principal, like an obstinate auld fule, wad make a merchant o’, wad he or wad he no — and the lad turned a strolling stage-player, in pure dislike to the labour an honest man should live by. Weel, sir, what say you to your handiwork? Will Hamlet the Dane, or Hamlet’s ghost, be good security for Mr. Owen, sir?”

“I don’t deserve your taunt,” I replied, “though I respect your motive, and am too grateful for the assistance you have afforded Mr. Owen, to resent it. My only business here was to do what I could (it is perhaps very little) to aid Mr. Owen in the management of my father’s affairs. My dislike of the commercial profession is a feeling of which I am the best and sole judge.”

“I protest,” said the Highlander, “I had some respect for this callant even before I ken’d what was in him; but now I honour him for his contempt of weavers and spinners, and sic-like mechanical persons and their pursuits.”

“Ye’re mad, Rob,” said the Bailie —“mad as a March hare — though wherefore a hare suld be mad at March mair than at Martinmas, is mair than I can weel say. Weavers! Deil shake ye out o’ the web the weaver craft made. Spinners! ye’ll spin and wind yourself a bonny pirn. And this young birkie here, that ye’re hoying and hounding on the shortest road to the gallows and the deevil, will his stage-plays and his poetries help him here, dye think, ony mair than your deep oaths and drawn dirks, ye reprobate that ye are? — Will Tityre tu patulae, as they ca’ it, tell him where Rashleigh Osbaldistone is? or Macbeth, and all his kernes and galla-glasses, and your awn to boot, Rob, procure him five thousand pounds to answer the bills which fall due ten days hence, were they a’ rouped at the Cross — basket-hilts, Andra-Ferraras, leather targets, brogues, brochan, and sporrans?”

“Ten days,” I answered, and instinctively drew out Diana Vernon’s packet; and the time being elapsed during which I was to keep the seal sacred, I hastily broke it open. A sealed letter fell from a blank enclosure, owing to the trepidation with which I opened the parcel. A slight current of wind, which found its way through a broken pane of the window, wafted the letter to Mr. Jarvie’s feet, who lifted it, examined the address with unceremonious curiosity, and, to my astonishment, handed itto his Highland kinsman, saying, “Here’s a wind has blown a letter to its right owner, though there were ten thousand chances against its coming to hand.”

The Highlander, having examined the address, broke the letter open without the least ceremony. I endeavoured to interrupt his proceeding.

“You must satisfy me, sir,” said I, “that the letter is intended for you before I can permit you to peruse it.”

“Make yourself quite easy, Mr. Osbaldistone,” replied the mountaineer with great composure. —“remember Justice Inglewood, Clerk Jobson, Mr. Morris — above all, remember your vera humble servant, Robert Cawmil, and the beautiful Diana Vernon. Remember all this, and doubt no longer that the letter is for me.”

I remained astonished at my own stupidity. — Through the whole night, the voice, and even the features of this man, though imperfectly seen, haunted me with recollections to which I could assign no exact local or personal associations. But now the light dawned on me at once; this man was Campbell himself. His whole peculiarities flashed on me at once — the deep strong voice — the inflexible, stern, yet considerate cast of features — the Scottish brogue, with its corresponding dialect and imagery, which, although he possessed the power at times of laying them aside, recurred at every moment of emotion, and gave pith to his sarcasm, or vehemence to his expostulation. Rather beneath the middle size than above it, his limbs were formed upon the very strongest model that is consistent with agility, while from the remarkable ease and freedom of his movements, you could not doubt his possessing the latter quality in a high degree of perfection. Two points in his person interfered with the rules of symmetry; his shoulders were so broad in proportion to his height, as, notwithstanding the lean and lathy appearance of his frame, gave him something the air of being too square in respect to his stature; and his arms, though round, sinewy, and strong, were so very long as to be rather a deformity. I afterwards heard that this length of arm was a circumstance on which he prided himself; that when he wore his native Highland garb, he could tie the garters of his hose without stooping; and that it gave him great advantage in the use of the broad-sword, at which he was very dexterous. But certainly this want of symmetry destroyed the claim he might otherwise have set up, to be accounted a very handsome man; it gave something wild, irregular, and, as it were, unearthly, to his appearance, and reminded me involuntarily of the tales which Mabel used to tell of the old Picts who ravaged Northumberland in ancient times, who, according to her tradition, were a sort of half-goblin half-human beings, distinguished, like this man, for courage, cunning, ferocity, the length of their arms, and the squareness of their shoulders.

When, however, I recollected the circumstances in which we formerly met, I could not doubt that the billet was most probably designed for him. He had made a marked figure among those mysterious personages over whom Diana seemed to exercise an influence, and from whom she experienced an influence in her turn. It was painful to think that the fate of a being so amiable was involved in that of desperadoes of this man’s description; — yet it seemed impossible to doubt it. Of what use, however, could this person be to my father’s affairs? — I could think only of one. Rashleigh Osbaldistone had, at the instigation of Miss Vernon, certainly found means to produce Mr. Campbell when his presence was necessary to exculpate me from Morris’s accusation — Was it not possible that her influence, in like manner, might prevail on Campbell to produce Rashleigh? Speaking on this supposition, I requested to know where my dangerous kinsman was, and when Mr. Campbell had seen him. The answer was indirect.

“It’s a kittle cast she has gien me to play; but yet it’s fair play, and I winna baulk her. Mr. Osbaldistone, I dwell not very far from hence — my kinsman can show you the way — Leave Mr. Owen to do the best he can in Glasgow — do you come and see me in the glens, and it’s like I may pleasure you, and stead your father in his extremity. I am but a poor man; but wit’s better than wealth — and, cousin” (turning from me to address Mr. Jarvie), “if ye daur venture sae muckle as to eat a dish of Scotch collops, and a leg o’ red-deer venison wi’ me, come ye wi’ this Sassenach gentleman as far as Drymen or Bucklivie — or the Clachan of Aberfoil will be better than ony o’ them — and I’ll hae somebody waiting to weise ye the gate to the place where I may be for the time — What say ye, man? There’s my thumb, I’ll ne’er beguile thee.”

“Na, na, Robin,” said the cautious burgher, “I seldom like to leave the Gorbals;44 I have nae freedom to gang among your wild hills, Robin, and your kilted red-shanks — it disna become my place, man.”

“The devil damn your place and you baith!” reiterated Campbell. “The only drap o’ gentle bluid that’s in your body was our great-grand-uncle’s that was justified45 at Dumbarton, and you set yourself up to say ye wad derogate frae your place to visit me!

Hark thee, man — I owe thee a day in harst — I’ll pay up your thousan pund Scots, plack and bawbee, gin ye’ll be an honest fallow for anes, and just daiker up the gate wi’ this Sassenach.”

“Hout awa’ wi’ your gentility,” replied the Bailie; “carry your gentle bluid to the Cross, and see what ye’ll buy wi’t. But, if I were to come, wad ye really and soothfastly pay me the siller?”

“I swear to ye,” said the Highlander, “upon the halidome of him that sleeps beneath the grey stane at Inch-Cailleach.”46

“Say nae mair, Robin — say nae mair — We’ll see what may be dune. But ye maunna expect me to gang ower the Highland line — I’ll gae beyond the line at no rate. Ye maun meet me about Bucklivie or the Clachan of Aberfoil — and dinna forget the needful.”

“Nae fear — nae fear,” said Campbell; “I’ll be as true as the steel blade that never failed its master. But I must be budging, cousin, for the air o’ Glasgow tolbooth is no that ower salutary to a Highlander’s constitution.”

“Troth,” replied the merchant, “and if my duty were to be dune, ye couldna change your atmosphere, as the minister ca’s it, this ae wee while. — Ochon, that I sud ever be concerned in aiding and abetting an escape frae justice! it will be a shame and disgrace to me and mine, and my very father’s memory, for ever.”

“Hout tout, man! let that flee stick in the wa’,” answered his kinsman; “when the dirt’s dry it will rub out — Your father, honest man, could look ower a friend’s fault as weel as anither.”

“Ye may be right, Robin,” replied the Bailie, after a moment’s reflection; “he was a considerate man the deacon; he ken’d we had a’ our frailties, and he lo’ed his friends — Ye’ll no hae forgotten him, Robin?” This question he put in a softened tone, conveying as much at least of the ludicrous as the pathetic.

“Forgotten him!” replied his kinsman —“what suld ail me to forget him? — a wapping weaver he was, and wrought my first pair o’ hose. — But come awa’, kinsman,

Come fill up my cap, come fill up my cann,

Come saddle my horses, and call up my man;

Come open your gates, and let me gae free,

I daurna stay langer in bonny Dundee.”

“Whisht, sir!” said the magistrate, in an authoritative tone —“lilting and singing sae near the latter end o’ the Sabbath! This house may hear ye sing anither tune yet — Aweel, we hae a’ backslidings to answer for — Stanchells, open the door.”

The jailor obeyed, and we all sallied forth. Stanchells looked with some surprise at the two strangers, wondering, doubtless, how they came into these premises without his knowledge; but Mr. Jarvie’s “Friends o’ mine, Stanchells — friends o’ mine,” silenced all disposition to inquiries. We now descended into the lower vestibule, and hallooed more than once for Dougal, to which summons no answer was returned; when Campbell observed with a sardonic smile, “That if Dougal was the lad he kent him, he would scarce wait to get thanks for his ain share of the night’s wark, but was in all probability on the full trot to the pass of Ballamaha”—

“And left us — and, abune a’, me, mysell, locked up in the tolbooth a’ night!” exclaimed the Bailie, in ire and perturbation. “Ca’ for forehammers, sledge-hammers, pinches, and coulters; send for Deacon Yettlin, the smith, an let him ken that Bailie Jarvie’s shut up in the tolbooth by a Highland blackguard, whom he’ll hang up as high as Haman”—

“When ye catch him,” said Campbell, gravely; “but stay — the door is surely not locked.”

Indeed, on examination, we found that the door was not only left open, but that Dougal in his retreat had, by carrying off the keys along with him, taken care that no one should exercise his office of porter in a hurry.

“He has glimmerings o’ common sense now, that creature Dougal,” said Campbell. —“he ken’d an open door might hae served me at a pinch.”

We were by this time in the street.

“I tell you, Robin,” said the magistrate, “in my puir mind, if ye live the life ye do, ye suld hae ane o’ your gillies door-keeper in every jail in Scotland, in case o’ the warst.”

“Ane o’ my kinsmen a bailie in ilka burgh will just do as weel, cousin Nicol — So, gude-night or gude-morning to ye; and forget not the Clachan of Aberfoil.”

And without waiting for an answer, he sprung to the other side of the street, and was lost in darkness. Immediately on his disappearance, we heard him give a low whistle of peculiar modulation, which was instantly replied to.

“Hear to the Hieland deevils,” said Mr. Jarvie; “they think themselves on the skirts of Benlomond already, where they may gang whewingand whistling about without minding Sunday or Saturday.” Here he was interrupted by something which fell with a heavy clash on the street before us —“Gude guide us what’s this mair o’t? — Mattie, haud up the lantern — Conscience if it isna the keys! — Weel, that’s just as weel — they cost the burgh siller, and there might hae been some clavers about the loss o’ them. O, an Bailie Grahame were to get word o’ this night’s job, it would be a sair hair in my neck!”

As we were still but a few steps from the tolbooth door, we carried back these implements of office, and consigned them to the head jailor, who, in lieu of the usual mode of making good his post by turning the keys, was keeping sentry in the vestibule till the arrival of some assistant, whom he had summoned in order to replace the Celtic fugitive Dougal.

Having discharged this piece of duty to the burgh, and my road lying the same way with the honest magistrate’s, I profited by the light of his lantern, and he by my arm, to find our way through the streets, which, whatever they may now be, were then dark, uneven, and ill-paved. Age is easily propitiated by attentions from the young. The Bailie expressed himself interested in me, and added, “That since I was nane o’ that play-acting and play-ganging generation, whom his saul hated, he wad be glad if I wad eat a reisted haddock or a fresh herring, at breakfast wi’ him the morn, and meet my friend, Mr. Owen, whom, by that time, he would place at liberty.”

“My dear sir,” said I, when I had accepted of the invitation with thanks, “how could you possibly connect me with the stage?”

“I watna,” replied Mr. Jarvie; —“it was a bletherin’ phrasin’ chield they ca’ Fairservice, that cam at e’en to get an order to send the crier through the toun for ye at skreigh o’ day the morn. He tell’t me whae ye were, and how ye were sent frae your father’s house because ye wadna be a dealer, and that ye mightna disgrace your family wi’ ganging on the stage. Ane Hammorgaw, our precentor, brought him here, and said he was an auld acquaintance; but I sent them both away wi’ a flae in their lug for bringing me sic an errand, on sic a night. But I see he’s a fule-creature a’thegither, and clean mistaen about ye. I like ye, man,” he continued; “I like a lad that will stand by his friends in trouble — I aye did it mysell, and sae did the deacon my father, rest and bless him! But ye suldna keep ower muckle company wi’ Hielandmen and thae wild cattle. Can a man touch pitch and no be defiled? — aye mind that. Nae doubt, the best and wisest may err — Once, twice, and thrice have I backslidden, man, and dune three things this night — my father wadna hae believed his een if he could hae looked up and seen me do them.”

He was by this time arrived at the door of his own dwelling. He paused, however, on the threshold, and went on in a solemn tone of deep contrition — “Firstly, I hae thought my ain thoughts on the Sabbath — secondly, I hae gi’en security for an Englishman — and, in the third and last place, well-a-day! I hae let an ill-doer escape from the place of imprisonment — But there’s balm in Gilead, Mr. Osbaldistone — Mattie, I can let mysell in-see Mr. Osbaldistone to Luckie Flyter’s, at the corner o’ the wynd. — Mr. Osbaldistone”— in a whisper —“ye’ll offer nae incivility to Mattie — she’s an honest man’s daughter, and a near cousin o’ the Laird o’ Limmerfield’s.”

43 The lads with the kilts or petticoats.

44 [The Gorbals or “suburbs” are situate on the south side of the River.]

45 [Executed for treason.]

46 Inch-Cailleach is an island in Lochlomond, where the clan of MacGregor were wont to be interred, and where their sepulchres may still be seen. It formerly contained a nunnery: hence the name of Inch-Cailleach, or the island of Old Women.

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