To sum the whole — the close of all.
As Glossin died without heirs, and without payment of the price, the estate of Ellangowan was again thrown upon the hands of Mr. Godfrey Bertram’s creditors, the right of most of whom was, however, defeasible in case Henry Bertram should establish his character of heir of entail. This young gentleman put his affairs into the hands of Mr. Pleydell and Mr. Mac-Morlan, with one single proviso, that, though he himself should be obliged again to go to India, every debt justly and honourably due by his father should be made good to the claimant. Mannering, who heard this declaration, grasped him kindly by the hand, and from that moment might be dated a thorough understanding between them.
The hoards of Miss Margaret Bertram, and the liberal assistance of the Colonel, easily enabled the heir to make provision for payment of the just creditors of his father, while the ingenuity and research of his law friends detected, especially in the accounts of Glossin, so many overcharges as greatly diminished the total amount. In these circumstances the creditors did not hesitate to recognise Bertram’s right, and to surrender to him the house and property of his ancestors. All the party repaired from Woodbourne to take possession, amid the shouts of the tenantry and the neighbourhood; and so eager was Colonel Mannering to superintend certain improvements which he had recommended to Bertram, that he removed with his family from Woodbourne to Ellangowan, although at present containing much less and much inferior accommodation.
The poor Dominie’s brain was almost turned with joy on returning to his old habitation. He posted upstairs, taking three steps at once, to a little shabby attic, his cell and dormitory in former days, and which the possession of his much superior apartment at Woodbourne had never banished from his memory. Here one sad thought suddenly struck the honest man — the books! no three rooms in Ellangowan were capable to contain them. While this qualifying reflection was passing through his mind, he was suddenly summoned by Mannering to assist in calculating some proportions relating to a large and splendid house which was to be built on the site of the New Place of Ellangowan, in a style corresponding to the magnificence of the ruins in its vicinity. Among the various rooms in the plan, the Dominie observed that one of the largest was entitled The Library; and close beside was a snug, well — proportioned chamber, entitled Mr. Sampson’s Apartment. ‘Prodigious, prodigious, pro-di-gi-ous!’ shouted the enraptured Dominie.
Mr. Pleydell had left the party for some time; but he returned, according to promise, during the Christmas recess of the courts. He drove up to Ellangowan when all the family were abroad but the Colonel, who was busy with plans of buildings and pleasure — grounds, in which he was well skilled, and took great delight.
‘Ah ha!’ said the Counsellor, ‘so here you are! Where are the ladies? where is the fair Julia?’
‘Walking out with young Hazlewood, Bertram, and Captain Delaserre, a friend of his, who is with us just now. They are gone to plan out a cottage at Derncleugh. Well, have you carried through your law business?’
‘With a wet finger,’ answered the lawyer; ‘got our youngster’s special service retoured into Chancery. We had him served heir before the macers.’
‘Macers? who are they?’
‘Why, it is a kind of judicial Saturnalia. You must know, that one of the requisites to be a macer, or officer in attendance upon our supreme court, is, that they shall be men of no knowledge.’
‘Now, our Scottish legislature, for the joke’s sake I suppose, have constituted those men of no knowledge into a peculiar court for trying questions of relationship and descent, such as this business of Bertram, which often involve the most nice and complicated questions of evidence.’
‘The devil they have! I should think that rather inconvenient,’ said Mannering.
‘O, we have a practical remedy for the theoretical absurdity. One or two of the judges act upon such occasions as prompters and assessors to their own doorkeepers. But you know what Cujacius says, “Multa sunt in moribus dissentanea, multa sine ratione.”34 However, this Saturnalian court has done our business; and a glorious batch of claret we had afterwards at Walker’s. Mac-Morlan will stare when he sees the bill.’
‘Never fear,’ said the Colonel, ‘we’ll face the shock, and entertain the county at my friend Mrs. Mac-Candlish’s to boot.’
‘And choose Jock Jabos for your master of horse?’ replied the lawyer.
‘Perhaps I may.’
‘And where is Dandie, the redoubted Lord of Liddesdale?’ demanded the advocate.
‘Returned to his mountains; but he has promised Julia to make a descent in summer, with the goodwife, as he calls her, and I don’t know how many children.’
‘O, the curly-headed varlets! I must come to play at Blind Harry and Hy Spy with them. But what is all this?’ added Pleydell, taking up the plans. ‘Tower in the centre to be an imitation of the Eagle Tower at Caernarvon — corps de logis — the devil! Wings — wings! Why, the house will take the estate of Ellangowan on its back and fly away with it!’
‘Why, then, we must ballast it with a few bags of sicca rupees,’ replied the Colonel.
‘Aha! sits the wind there? Then I suppose the young dog carries off my mistress Julia?’
‘Even so, Counsellor.’
‘These rascals, the post-nati, get the better of us of the old school at every turn,’ said Mr. Pleydell. ‘But she must convey and make over her interest in me to Lucy.’
‘To tell you the truth, I am afraid your flank will be turned there too,’ replied the Colonel.
‘Here has been Sir Robert Hazlewood,’ said Mannering, ‘upon a visit to Bertram, thinking and deeming and opining — ’
‘O Lord! pray spare me the worthy Baronet’s triads!’
‘Well, sir,’ continued Mannering, ‘to make short, he conceived that, as the property of Singleside lay like a wedge between two farms of his, and was four or five miles separated from Ellangowan, something like a sale or exchange or arrangement might take place, to the mutual convenience of both parties.’
‘Well, and Bertram — ’
‘Why, Bertram replied, that he considered the original settlement of Mrs. Margaret Bertram as the arrangement most proper in the circumstances of the family, and that therefore the estate of Singleside was the property of his sister.’
‘The rascal!’ said Pleydell, wiping his spectacles. ‘He’ll steal my heart as well as my mistress. Et puis?’
‘And then Sir Robert retired, after many gracious speeches; but last week he again took the field in force, with his coach and six horses, his laced scarlet waistcoat, and best bob-wig — all very grand, as the good-boy books say.’
‘Ay! and what was his overture?’
‘Why, he talked with great form of an attachment on the part of Charles Hazlewood to Miss Bertram.’
‘Ay, ay; he respected the little god Cupid when he saw him perched on the Dun of Singleside. And is poor Lucy to keep house with that old fool and his wife, who is just the knight himself in petticoats?’
‘No; we parried that. Singleside House is to be repaired for the young people, and to be called hereafter Mount Hazlewood.’
‘And do you yourself, Colonel, propose to continue at Woodbourne?’
‘Only till we carry these plans into effect. See, here’s the plan of my bungalow, with all convenience for being separate and sulky when I please.’
‘And, being situated, as I see, next door to the old castle, you may repair Donagild’s tower for the nocturnal contemplation of the celestial bodies? Bravo, Colonel!’
‘No, no, my dear Counsellor! Here ends The Astrologer.’
34 The singular inconsistency hinted at is now, in a great degree, removed.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00