The Fortunes of Nigel, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter 31

Many, come up, sir, with your gentle blood!

Here’s a red stream beneath this coarse blue doublet,

That warms the heart as kindly as if drawn

From the far source of old Assyrian kings.

Who first made mankind subject to their sway.

Old Play.

The sounds to which we alluded in our last, were no other than the grumbling tones of Richie Moniplies’s voice.

This worthy, like some other persons who rank high in their own opinion, was very apt, when he could have no other auditor, to hold conversation with one who was sure to be a willing listener — I mean with himself. He was now brushing and arranging Lord Glenvarloch’s clothes, with as much composure and quiet assiduity as if he had never been out of his service, and grumbling betwixt whiles to the following purpose:—“Hump — ay, time cloak and jerkin were through my hands — I question if horsehair has been passed over them since they and I last parted. The embroidery finely frayed too — and the gold buttons of the cloak — By my conscience, and as I am an honest man, there is a round dozen of them gane! This comes of Alsatian frolics — God keep us with his grace, and not give us over to our own devices! — I see no sword — but that will be in respect of present circumstances.”

Nigel for some time could not help believing that he was still in a dream, so improbable did it seem that his domestic, whom he supposed to be in Scotland, should have found him out, and obtained access to him, in his present circumstances. Looking through the curtains, however, he became well assured of the fact, when he beheld the stiff and bony length of Richie, with a visage charged with nearly double its ordinary degree of importance, employed sedulously in brushing his master’s cloak, and refreshing himself with whistling or humming, from interval to interval, some snatch of an old melancholy Scottish ballad-tune. Although sufficiently convinced of the identity of the party, Lord Glenvarloch could not help expressing his surprise in the superfluous question —“In the name of Heaven, Richie, is this you?”

“And wha else suld it be, my lord?” answered Richie; “I dreamna that your lordship’s levee in this place is like to be attended by ony that are not bounded thereto by duty.”

“I am rather surprised,” answered Nigel, “that it should be attended by any one at all — especially by you, Richie; for you know that we parted, and I thought you had reached Scotland long since.”

“I crave your lordship’s pardon, but we have not parted yet, nor are soon likely so to do; for there gang twa folk’s votes to the unmaking of a bargain, as to the making of ane. Though it was your lordship’s pleasure so to conduct yourself that we were like to have parted, yet it was not, on reflection, my will to be gone. To be plain, if your lordship does not ken when you have a good servant, I ken when I have a kind master; and to say truth, you will be easier served now than ever, for there is not much chance of your getting out of bounds.”

“I am indeed bound over to good behaviour,” said Lord Glenvarloch, with a smile; “but I hope you will not take advantage of my situation to be too severe on my follies, Richie?”

“God forbid, my lord — God forbid!” replied Richie, with an expression betwixt a conceited consciousness of superior wisdom and real feeling —“especially in consideration of your lordship’s having a due sense of them. I did indeed remonstrate, as was my humble duty, but I scorn to cast that up to your lordship now — Na, na, I am myself an erring creature — very conscious of some small weaknesses — there is no perfection in man.”

“But, Richie,” said Lord Glenvarloch, “although I am much obliged to you for your proffered service, it can be of little use to me here, and may be of prejudice to yourself.”

“Your lordship shall pardon me again,” said Richie, whom the relative situation of the parties had invested with ten times his ordinary dogmatism; “but as I will manage the matter, your lordship shall be greatly benefited by my service, and I myself no whit prejudiced.”

“I see not how that can be, my friend,” said Lord Glenvarloch, “since even as to your pecuniary affairs —”

“Touching my pecuniars, my lord,” replied Richie, “I am indifferently weel provided; and, as it chances, my living here will be no burden to your lordship, or distress to myself. Only I crave permission to annex certain conditions to my servitude with your lordship.”

“Annex what you will,” said Lord Glenvarloch, “for you are pretty sure to take your own way, whether you make any conditions or not. Since you will not leave me, which were, I think, your wisest course, you must, and I suppose will, serve me only on such terms as you like yourself.”

“All that I ask, my lord,” said Richie, gravely, and with a tone of great moderation, “is to have the uninterrupted command of my own motions, for certain important purposes which I have now in hand, always giving your lordship the solace of my company and attendance, at such times as may be at once convenient for me, and necessary for your service.”

“Of which, I suppose, you constitute yourself sole judge,” replied Nigel, smiling.

“Unquestionably, my lord,” answered Richie, gravely; “for your lordship can only know what yourself want; whereas I, who see both sides of the picture, ken both what is the best for your affairs, and what is the most needful for my own.”

“Richie, my good friend,” said Nigel, “I fear this arrangement, which places the master much under the disposal of the servant, would scarce suit us if we were both at large; but a prisoner as I am, I may be as well at your disposal as I am at that of so many other persons; and so you may come and go as you list, for I suppose you will not take my advice, to return to your own country, and leave me to my fate.”

“The deil be in my feet if I do,” said Moniplies — “I am not the lad to leave your lordship in foul weather, when I followed you and fed upon you through the whole summer day, And besides, there may be brave days behind, for a’ that has come and gane yet; for

“It’s hame, and it’s hame, and it’s hame we fain would be, Though the cloud is in the lift, and the wind is on the lea; For the sun through the mirk blinks blithe on mine ee, Says — ‘I’ll shine on ye yet in our ain country!”

Having sung this stanza in the manner of a ballad-singer, whose voice has been cracked by matching his windpipe against the bugle of the north blast, Richie Moniplies aided Lord Glenvarloch to rise, attended his toilet with every possible mark of the most solemn and deferential respect, then waited upon him at breakfast, and finally withdrew, pleading that he had business of importance, which would detain him for some hours.

Although Lord Glenvarloch necessarily expected to be occasionally annoyed by the self-conceit and dogmatism of Richie Moniplies’s character, yet he could not but feel the greatest pleasure from the firm and devoted attachment which this faithful follower had displayed in the present instance, and indeed promised himself an alleviation of the ennui of his imprisonment, in having the advantage of his services. It was, therefore, with pleasure that he learned from the warder, that his servant’s attendance would be allowed at all times when the general rules of the fortress permitted the entrance of strangers.

In the meanwhile, the magnanimous Richie Moniplies had already reached Tower Wharf. Here, after looking with contempt on several scullers by whom he was plied, and whose services he rejected with a wave of his hand, he called with dignity, “First oars!” and stirred into activity several lounging Tritons of the higher order, who had not, on his first appearance, thought it worth while to accost him with proffers of service. He now took possession of a wherry, folded his arms within his ample cloak, and sitting down in the stern with an air of importance, commanded them to row to Whitehall Stairs. Having reached the Palace in safety, he demanded to see Master Linklater, the under-clerk of his Majesty’s kitchen. The reply was, that he was not to be spoken withal, being then employed in cooking a mess of cock-a-leekie for the king’s own mouth.

“Tell him,” said Moniplies, “that it is a dear countryman of his, who seeks to converse with him on matter of high import.”

“A dear countryman?” said Linklater, when this pressing message was delivered to him. “Well, let him come in and be d — d, that I should say sae! This now is some red-headed, long-legged, gillie-white-foot frae the West Port, that, hearing of my promotion, is come up to be a turn-broche, or deputy scullion, through my interest. It is a great hinderance to any man who would rise in the world, to have such friends to hang by his skirts, in hope of being towed up along with him. — Ha! Richie Moniplies, man, is it thou? And what has brought ye here? If they should ken thee for the loon that scared the horse the other day! —”

“No more o’ that, neighbour,” said Richie — “I am just here on the auld errand — I maun speak with the king.”

“The king? Ye are red wud,” said Linklater; then shouted to his assistant in the kitchen, “Look to the broches, ye knaves — pisces purgaSalsamenta fac macerentur pulchre — I will make you understand Latin, ye knaves, as becomes the scullions of King James.” Then in a cautious tone, to Richie’s private ear, he continued, “Know ye not how ill your master came off the other day? — I can tell you that job made some folk shake for their office.”

“Weel, but, Laurie, ye maun befriend me this time, and get this wee bit sifflication slipped into his Majesty’s ain most gracious hand. I promise you the contents will be most grateful to him.”

“Richie,” answered Linklater, “you have certainly sworn to say your prayers in the porter’s lodge, with your back bare; and twa grooms, with dog-whips, to cry amen to you.”

“Na, na, Laurie, lad,” said Richie, “I ken better what belangs to sifflications than I did yon day; and ye will say that yoursell, if ye will but get that bit note to the king’s hand.”

“I will have neither hand nor foot in the matter,” said the cautious Clerk of the Kitchen; “but there is his Majesty’s mess of cock-a-leekie just going to be served to him in his closet — I cannot prevent you from putting the letter between the gilt bowl and the platter; his sacred Majesty will see it when he lifts the bowl, for he aye drinks out the broth.”

“Enough said,” replied Richie, and deposited the paper accordingly, just before a page entered to carry away the mess to his Majesty.

“Aweel, aweel, neighbour,” said Laurence, when the mess was taken away, “if ye have done ony thing to bring yoursell to the withy, or the scourging post, it is your ain wilful deed.”

“I will blame no other for it,” said Richie; and with that undismayed pertinacity of conceit, which made a fundamental part of his character, he abode the issue, which was not long of arriving.

In a few minutes Maxwell himself arrived in the apartment, and demanded hastily who had placed a writing on the king’s trencher, Linklater denied all knowledge of it; but Richie Moniplies, stepping boldly forth, pronounced the emphatical confession, “I am the man.”

“Follow me, then,” said Maxwell, after regarding him with a look of great curiosity.

They went up a private staircase — even that private staircase, the privilege of which at Court is accounted a nearer road to power than the grandes entrees themselves. Arriving in what Richie described as an “ill redd-up” ante-room, the usher made a sign to him to stop, while he went into the king’s closet. Their conference was short, and as Maxwell opened the door to retire, Richie heard the conclusion of it.

“Ye are sure he is not dangerous? — I was caught once. — Bide within call, but not nearer the door than within three geometrical cubits. If I speak loud, start to me like a falcon — If I speak loun, keep your lang lugs out of ear-shot — and now let him come in.”

Richie passed forward at Maxwell’s mute signal, and in a moment found himself in the presence of the king. Most men of Richie’s birth and breeding, and many others, would have been abashed at finding themselves alone with their Sovereign. But Richie Moniplies had an opinion of himself too high to be controlled by any such ideas; and having made his stiff reverence, he arose once more into his perpendicular height, and stood before James as stiff as a hedge-stake.

“Have ye gotten them, man? have ye gotten them?” said the king, in a fluttered state, betwixt hope and eagerness, and some touch of suspicious fear. “Gie me them — gie me them — before ye speak a word, I charge you, on your allegiance.”

Richie took a box from his bosom, and, stooping on one knee, presented it to his Majesty, who hastily opened it, and having ascertained that it contained a certain carcanet of rubies, with which the reader was formerly made acquainted, he could not resist falling into a sort of rapture, kissing the gems, as if they had been capable of feeling, and repeating again and again with childish delight, “Onyx cum prole, silexque —-Onyx cum prole! Ah, my bright and bonny sparklers, my heart loups light to see you again.” He then turned to Richie, upon whose stoical countenance his Majesty’s demeanour had excited something like a grim smile, which James interrupted his rejoicing to reprehend, saying, “Take heed, sir, you are not to laugh at us — we are your anointed Sovereign.”

“God forbid that I should laugh!” said Richie, composing his countenance into its natural rigidity. “I did but smile, to bring my visage into coincidence and conformity with your Majesty’s physiognomy.”

“Ye speak as a dutiful subject, and an honest man,” said the king; “but what deil’s your name, man?”

“Even Richie Moniplies, the son of auld Mungo Moniplies, at the West Port of Edinburgh, who had the honour to supply your Majesty’s mother’s royal table, as weel as your Majesty’s, with flesh and other vivers, when time was.”

“Aha!” said the king, laughing — for he possessed, as a useful attribute of his situation, a tenacious memory, which recollected every one with whom he was brought into casual contact — “Ye are the self-same traitor who had weelnigh coupit us endlang on the causey of our ain courtyard? but we stuck by our mare. Equam memento rebus in arduis servare. Weel, be not dismayed, Richie; for, as many men have turned traitors, it is but fair that a traitor, now and then, suld prove to be, contra expectanda, a true man. How cam ye by our jewels, man? — cam ye on the part of George Heriot?”

“In no sort,” said Richie. “May it please your Majesty, I come as Harry Wynd fought, utterly for my own hand, and on no man’s errand; as, indeed, I call no one master, save Him that made me, your most gracious Majesty who governs me, and the noble Nigel Olifaunt, Lord of Glenvarloch, who maintained me as lang as he could maintain himself, poor nobleman!”

“Glenvarlochides again!” exclaimed the king; “by my honour, he lies in ambush for us at every corner! — Maxwell knocks at the door. It is George Heriot come to tell us he cannot find these jewels. — Get thee behind the arras, Richie — stand close, man — sneeze not — cough not — breathe not! — Jingling Geordie is so damnably ready with his gold-ends of wisdom, and sae accursedly backward with his gold-ends of siller, that, by our royal saul, we are glad to get a hair in his neck.”

Richie got behind the arras, in obedience to the commands of the good-natured king, while the Monarch, who never allowed his dignity to stand in the way of a frolic, having adjusted, with his own hand, the tapestry, so as to complete the ambush, commanded Maxwell to tell him what was the matter without. Maxwell’s reply was so low as to be lost by Richie Moniplies, the peculiarity of whose situation by no means abated his curiosity and desire to gratify it to the uttermost.

“Let Geordie Heriot come in,” said the king; and, as Richie could observe through a slit in the tapestry, the honest citizen, if not actually agitated, was at least discomposed. The king, whose talent for wit, or humour, was precisely of a kind to be gratified by such a scene as ensued, received his homage with coldness, and began to talk to him with an air of serious dignity, very different from the usual indecorous levity of his behaviour. “Master Heriot,” he said, “if we aright remember, we opignorated in your hands certain jewels of the Crown, for a certain sum of money — Did we, or did we not?”

“My most gracious Sovereign,” said Heriot, “indisputably your Majesty was pleased to do so.”

“The property of which jewels and cimelia remained with us,” continued the king, in the same solemn tone, “subject only to your claim of advance thereupon; which advance being repaid, gives us right to repossession of the thing opignorated, or pledged, or laid in wad. Voetius, Vinnius, Groenwigeneus, Pagenstecherus — all who have treated de Contractu Opignerationis, consentiunt in eundem — gree on the same point. The Roman law, the English common law, and the municipal law of our ain ancient kingdom of Scotland, though they split in mair particulars than I could desire, unite as strictly in this as the three strands of a twisted rope.”

“May it please your Majesty,” replied Heriot, “it requires not so many learned authorities to prove to any honest man, that his interest in a pledge is determined when the money lent is restored.”

“Weel, sir, I proffer restoration of the sum lent, and I demand to be repossessed of the jewels pledged with you. I gave ye a hint, brief while since, that this would be essential to my service, for, as approaching events are like to call us into public, it would seem strange if we did not appear with those ornaments, which are heirlooms of the Crown, and the absence whereof is like to place us in contempt and suspicion with our liege subjects.”

Master George Heriot seemed much moved by this address of his Sovereign, and replied with emotion, “I call Heaven to witness, that I am totally harmless in this matter, and that I would willingly lose the sum advanced, so that I could restore those jewels, the absence of which your Majesty so justly laments. Had the jewels remained with me, the account of them would be easily rendered; but your Majesty will do me the justice to remember, that, by your express order, I transferred them to another person, who advanced a large sum, just about the time of my departure for Paris. The money was pressingly wanted, and no other means to come by it occurred to me. I told your Majesty, when I brought the needful supply, that the man from whom the monies were obtained, was of no good repute; and your most princely answer was, smelling to the gold — Non olet, it smells not of the means that have gotten it.”

“Weel, man,” said the king, “but what needs a’ this din? If ye gave my jewels in pledge to such a one, suld ye not, as a liege subject, have taken care that the redemption was in our power? And are we to suffer the loss of our cimelia by your neglect, besides being exposed to the scorn and censure of our lieges, and of the foreign ambassadors?”

“My lord and liege king,” said Heriot, “God knows, if my bearing blame or shame in this matter would keep it from your Majesty, it were my duty to endure both, as a servant grateful for many benefits; but when your Majesty considers the violent death of the man himself, the disappearance of his daughter, and of his wealth, I trust you will remember that I warned your Majesty, in humble duty, of the possibility of such casualties, and prayed you not to urge me to deal with him on your behalf.”

“But you brought me nae better means,” said the king —“Geordie, ye brought me nae better means. I was like a deserted man; what could I do but grip to the first siller that offered, as a drowning man grasps to the willow-wand that comes readiest? — And now, man, what for have ye not brought back the jewels? they are surely above ground, if ye wad make strict search.”

“All strict search has been made, may it please your Majesty,” replied the citizen; “hue and cry has been sent out everywhere, and it has been found impossible to recover them.”

“Difficult, ye mean, Geordie, not impossible,” replied the king; “for that whilk is impossible, is either naturally so, exempli gratia, to make two into three; or morally so, as to make what is truth falsehood; but what is only difficult may come to pass, with assistance of wisdom and patience; as, for example, Jingling Geordie, look here!” And he displayed the recovered treasure to the eyes of the astonished jeweller, exclaiming, with great triumph, “What say ye to that, Jingler? — By my sceptre and crown, the man stares as if he took his native prince for a warlock! us that are the very malleus maleficarum, the contunding and contriturating hammer of all witches, sorcerers, magicians, and the like; he thinks we are taking a touch of the black art outsells! — But gang thy way, honest Geordie; thou art a good plain man, but nane of the seven sages of Greece; gang thy way, and mind the soothfast word which you spoke, small time syne, that there is one in this land that comes near to Solomon, King of Israel, in all his gifts, except in his love to strange women, forby the daughter of Pharaoh.”

If Heriot was surprised at seeing the jewels so unexpectedly produced at the moment the king was upbraiding him for the loss of them, this allusion to the reflection which had escaped him while conversing with Lord Glenvarloch, altogether completed his astonishment; and the king was so delighted with the superiority which it gave him at the moment, that he rubbed his hands, chuckled, and finally, his sense of dignity giving way to the full feeling of triumph, he threw himself into his easy-chair, and laughed with unconstrained violence till he lost his breath, and the tears ran plentifully down his cheeks as he strove to recover it. Meanwhile, the royal cachinnation was echoed out by a discordant and portentous laugh from behind the arras, like that of one who, little accustomed to give way to such emotions, feels himself at some particular impulse unable either to control or to modify his obstreperous mirth. Heriot turned his head with new surprise towards the place, from which sounds so unfitting the presence of a monarch seemed to burst with such emphatic clamour.

The king, too, somewhat sensible of the indecorum, rose up, wiped his eyes, and calling — “Todlowrie, come out o’ your den,” he produced from behind the arras the length of Richie Moniplies, still laughing with as unrestrained mirth as ever did gossip at a country christening. “Whisht, man, whisht, man,” said the king; “ye needna nicher that gait, like a cusser at a caup o’ corn, e’en though it was a pleasing jest, and our ain framing. And yet to see Jingling Geordie, that bauds himself so much the wiser than other folk — to see him, ha! ha! ha! — in the vein of Euclio apud Plautum, distressing himself to recover what was lying at his elbow —

‘Peril, interii, occidi — quo curram? quo non curram? — Tene, tene — quem? quis? nescio — nihil video.”

“Ah! Geordie, your een are sharp enough to look after gowd and silver, gems, rubies, and the like of that, and yet ye kenna how to come by them when they are lost. — Ay, ay — look at them, man — look at them — they are a’ right and tight, sound and round, not a doublet crept in amongst them.”

George Heriot, when his first surprise was over, was too old a courtier to interrupt the king’s imaginary triumph, although he darted a look of some displeasure at honest Richie, who still continued on what is usually termed the broad grin. He quietly examined the stones, and finding them all perfect, he honestly and sincerely congratulated his Majesty on the recovery of a treasure which could not have been lost without some dishonour to the crown; and asked to whom he himself was to pay the sums for which they had been pledged, observing, that he had the money by him in readiness.

“Ye are in a deevil of a hurry, when there is paying in the case, Geordie,” said the king. —“What’s a’ the haste, man? The jewels were restored by an honest, kindly countryman of ours. There he stands, and wha kens if he wants the money on the nail, or if he might not be as weel pleased wi’ a bit rescript on our treasury some six months hence? Ye ken that our Exchequer is even at a low ebb just now, and ye cry pay, pay, pay, as if we had all the mines of Ophir.”

“Please your Majesty,” said Heriot, “if this man has the real right to these monies, it is doubtless at his will to grant forbearance, if he will. But when I remember the guise in which I first saw him, with a tattered cloak and a broken head, I can hardly conceive it. — Are not you Richie Moniplies, with the king’s favour?”

“Even sae, Master Heriot — of the ancient and honourable house of Castle Collop, near to the West Port of Edinburgh,” answered Richie.

“Why, please your Majesty, he is a poor serving-man,” said Heriot. “This money can never be honestly at his disposal.”

“What for no?” said the king. “Wad ye have naebody spraickle up the brae but yoursell, Geordie? Your ain cloak was thin enough when ye cam here, though ye have lined it gay and weel. And for serving-men, there has mony a red-shank cam over the Tweed wi’ his master’s wallet on his shoulders, that now rustles it wi’ his six followers behind him. There stands the man himsell; speer at him, Geordie.”

“His may not be the best authority in the case,” answered the cautious citizen.

“Tut, tut, man,” said the king, “ye are over scrupulous. The knave deer-stealers have an apt phrase, Non est inquirendum unde venit VENISON. He that brings the gudes hath surely a right to dispose of the gear. — Hark ye, friend, speak the truth and shame the deil. Have ye plenary powers to dispose on the redemption-money as to delay of payments, or the like, ay or no?”

“Full power, an it like your gracious Majesty,” answered Richie Moniplies; “and I am maist willing to subscrive to whatsoever may in ony wise accommodate your Majesty anent the redemption-money, trusting your Majesty’s grace will be kind to me in one sma’ favour.”

“Ey, man,” said the king, “come ye to me there? I thought ye wad e’en be like the rest of them. — One would think our subjects’ lives and goods were all our ain, and holden of us at our free will; but when we stand in need of ony matter of siller from them, which chances more frequently than we would it did, deil a boddle is to be had, save on the auld terms of giff-gaff. It is just niffer for niffer. — Aweel, neighbour, what is it that ye want — some monopoly, I reckon? Or it may be a grant of kirk-lands and teinds, or a knighthood, or the like? Ye maun be reasonable, unless ye propose to advance more money for our present occasions.”

“My liege,” answered Richie Moniplies, “the owner of these monies places them at your Majesty’s command, free of all pledge or usage as long as it is your royal pleasure, providing your Majesty will condescend to show some favour to the noble Lord Glenvarloch, presently prisoner in your royal Tower of London.”

“How, man — how — man — how, man!” exclaimed the king, reddening and stammering, but with emotions more noble than those by which he was sometimes agitated —“What is that you dare to say to us? — Sell our justice! — sell our mercy! — and we a crowned king, sworn to do justice to our subjects in the gate, and responsible for our stewardship to Him that is over all kings?”— Here he reverently looked up, touched his bonnet, and continued, with some sharpness — “We dare not traffic in such commodities, sir; and, but that ye are a poor ignorant creature, that have done us this day some not unpleasant service, we wad have a red iron driven through your tongue, in terrorem of others. — Awa with him, Geordie — pay him, plack and bawbee, out of our monies in your hands, and let them care that come ahint.”

Richie, who had counted with the utmost certainty upon the success of this master-stroke of policy, was like an architect whose whole scaffolding at once gives way under him. He caught, however, at what he thought might break his fall. “Not only the sum for which the jewels were pledged,” he said, “but the double of it, if required, should be placed at his Majesty’s command, and even without hope or condition of repayment, if only —”

But the king did not allow him to complete the sentence, crying out with greater vehemence than before, as if he dreaded the stability of his own good resolutions — “Awa wi’ him — swith awa wi’ him! It is time he were gane, if he doubles his bode that gate. And, for your life, letna Steenie, or ony of them, hear a word from his mouth; for wha kens what trouble that might bring me into! Ne inducas in tentationemVade retro, Sathanas! — Amen.”

In obedience to the royal mandate, George Heriot hurried the abashed petitioner out of the presence and out of the Palace; and, when they were in the Palace-yard, the citizen, remembering with some resentment the airs of equality which Richie had assumed towards him in the commencement of the scene which had just taken place, could not forbear to retaliate, by congratulating him with an ironical smile on his favour at Court, and his improved grace in presenting a supplication.

“Never fash your beard about that, Master George Heriot,” said Richie, totally undismayed; “but tell me when and where I am to sifflicate you for eight hundred pounds sterling, for which these jewels stood engaged?”

“The instant that you bring with you the real owner of the money,” replied Heriot; “whom it is important that I should see on more accounts than one.”

“Then will I back to his Majesty,” said Richie Moniplies, stoutly, “and get either the money or the pledge back again. I am fully commissionate to act in that matter.”

“It may be so, Richie,” said the citizen, “and perchance it may not be so neither, for your tales are not all gospel; and, therefore, be assured I will see that it is so, ere I pay you that large sum of money. I shall give you an acknowledgment for it, and I will keep it prestable at a moment’s warning. But, my good Richard Moniplies, of Castle Collop, near the West Port of Edinburgh, in the meantime I am bound to return to his Majesty on matters of weight.” So speaking, and mounting the stair to re-enter the Palace, he added, by way of summing up the whole — “George Heriot is over old a cock to be caught with chaff.”

Richie stood petrified when he beheld him re-enter the Palace, and found himself, as he supposed, left in the lurch. —“Now, plague on ye,” he muttered, “for a cunning auld skinflint! that, because ye are an honest man yoursell, forsooth, must needs deal with all the world as if they were knaves. But deil be in me if ye beat me yet! — Gude guide us! yonder comes Laurie Linklater next, and he will be on me about the sifflication. — I winna stand him, by Saint Andrew!”

So saying, and changing the haughty stride with which he had that morning entered the precincts of the Palace, into a skulking shamble, he retreated for his wherry, which was in attendance, with speed which, to use the approved phrase on such occasions, greatly resembled a flight.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00