Glen Discovery in GlenLyon
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Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott Chapter Volume ii, Chapters eleventh and twelth

Project Gutenberg's Rob Roy, Complete, by Sir Walter Scott

  Baron of Bucklivie,
May the foul fiend drive ye,
And a' to pieces rive ye,
For building sic a town,
Where there's neither horse meat,
Nor man's meat,
Nor a chair to sit down.
Scottish Popular Rhymes on a bad Inn.


The night was pleasant, and the moon afforded us good light for our journey. Under her rays, the ground over which we passed assumed a more interesting appearance than during the broad daylight, which discovered the extent of its wasteness. The mingled light and shadows gave it an interest which naturally did not belong to it; and, like the effect of a veil flung over a plain woman, irritated our curiosity on a subject which had in itself nothing gratifying.

The descent, however, still continued, turned, winded, left the more open heaths, and got into steeper ravines, which promised soon to lead us to the banks of some brook or river, and ultimately made good their presage. We found ourselves at length on the bank of a stream, which rather resembled one of my native English rivers than those I had hitherto seen in Scotland. It was narrow, deep, still, and silent; although the imperfect light, as it gleamed on its placid waters, showed also that we were now among the lofty mountains which formed its cradle. “That's the Forth,” said the Bailie, with an air of reverence, which I have observed the Scotch usually pay to their distinguished rivers. The Clyde, the Tweed, the Forth, the Spey, are usually named by those who dwell on their banks with a sort of respect and pride, and I have known duels occasioned by any word of disparagement. I cannot say I have the least quarrel with this sort of harmless enthusiasm. I received my friend's communication with the importance which he seemed to think appertained to it. In fact, I was not a little pleased, after so long and dull a journey, to approach a region which promised to engage the imagination. My faithful squire, Andrew, did not seem to be quite of the same opinion, for he received the solemn information, “That is the Forth,” with a “Umph!--an he had said that's the public-house, it wad hae been mair to the purpose.”

The Forth, however, as far as the imperfect light permitted me to judge, seemed to merit the admiration of those who claimed an interest in its stream. A beautiful eminence of the most regular round shape, and clothed with copsewood of hazels, mountain-ash, and dwarf-oak, intermixed with a few magnificent old trees, which, rising above the underwood, exposed their forked and bared branches to the silver moonshine, seemed to protect the sources from which the river sprung. If I could trust the tale of my companion, which, while professing to disbelieve every word of it, he told under his breath, and with an air of something like intimidation, this hill, so regularly formed, so richly verdant, and garlanded with such a beautiful variety of ancient trees and thriving copsewood, was held by the neighbourhood to contain, within its unseen caverns, the palaces of the fairies--a race of airy beings, who formed an intermediate class between men and demons, and who, if not positively malignant to humanity, were yet to be avoided and feared, on account of their capricious, vindictive, and irritable disposition. Note H - Fairy Superstition

“They ca' them,” said Mr. Jarvie, in a whisper, “_Daoine Schie,_--whilk signifies, as I understand, men of peace; meaning thereby to make their gudewill. And we may e'en as weel ca' them that too, Mr. Osbaldistone, for there's nae gude in speaking ill o' the laird within his ain bounds.” But he added presently after, on seeing one or two lights which twinkled before us, “It's deceits o' Satan, after a', and I fearna to say it--for we are near the manse now, and yonder are the lights in the Clachan of Aberfoil.”

I own I was well pleased at the circumstance to which Mr. Jarvie alluded; not so much that it set his tongue at liberty, in his opinion, with all safety to declare his real sentiments with respect to the _Daoine Schie,_ or fairies, as that it promised some hours' repose to ourselves and our horses, of which, after a ride of fifty miles and upwards, both stood in some need.

We crossed the infant Forth by an old-fashioned stone bridge, very high and very narrow. My conductor, however, informed me, that to get through this deep and important stream, and to clear all its tributary dependencies, the general pass from the Highlands to the southward lay by what was called the Fords of Frew, at all times deep and difficult of passage, and often altogether unfordable. Beneath these fords, there was no pass of general resort until so far east as the bridge of Stirling; so that the river of Forth forms a defensible line between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, from its source nearly to the Firth, or inlet of the ocean, in which it terminates. The subsequent events which we witnessed led me to recall with attention what the shrewdness of Bailie Jarvie suggested in his proverbial expression, that “Forth bridles the wild Highlandman.”

About half a mile's riding, after we crossed the bridge, placed us at the door of the public-house where we were to pass the evening. It was a hovel rather worse than better than that in which we had dined; but its little windows were lighted up, voices were heard from within, and all intimated a prospect of food and shelter, to which we were by no means indifferent. Andrew was the first to observe that there was a peeled willow-wand placed across the half-open door of the little inn. He hung back and advised us not to enter. “For,” said Andrew, “some of their chiefs and grit men are birling at the usquebaugh in by there, and dinna want to be disturbed; and the least we'll get, if we gang ramstam in on them, will be a broken head, to learn us better havings, if we dinna come by the length of a cauld dirk in our wame, whilk is just as likely.”

I looked at the Bailie, who acknowledged, in a whisper, “that the gowk had some reason for singing, ance in the year.”

Meantime a staring half-clad wench or two came out of the inn and the neighbouring cottages, on hearing the sound of our horses' feet. No one bade us welcome, nor did any one offer to take our horses, from which we had alighted; and to our various inquiries, the hopeless response of “Ha niel Sassenach,” was the only answer we could extract. The Bailie, however, found (in his experience) a way to make them speak English. “If I gie ye a bawbee,” said he to an urchin of about ten years old, with a fragment of a tattered plaid about him, “will you understand Sassenach?”

“Ay, ay, that will I,” replied the brat, in very decent English. “Then gang and tell your mammy, my man, there's twa Sassenach gentlemen come to speak wi' her.”

The landlady presently appeared, with a lighted piece of split fir blazing in her hand. The turpentine in this species of torch (which is generally dug from out the turf-bogs) makes it blaze and sparkle readily, so that it is often used in the Highlands in lieu of candles. On this occasion such a torch illuminated the wild and anxious features of a female, pale, thin, and rather above the usual size, whose soiled and ragged dress, though aided by a plaid or tartan screen, barely served the purposes of decency, and certainly not those of comfort. Her black hair, which escaped in uncombed elf-locks from under her coif, as well as the strange and embarrassed look with which she regarded us, gave me the idea of a witch disturbed in the midst of her unlawful rites. She plainly refused to admit us into the house. We remonstrated anxiously, and pleaded the length of our journey, the state of our horses, and the certainty that there was not another place where we could be received nearer than Callander, which the Bailie stated to be seven Scots miles distant. How many these may exactly amount to in English measurement, I have never been able to ascertain, but I think the double _ratio_ may be pretty safely taken as a medium computation. The obdurate hostess treated our expostulation with contempt. “Better gang farther than fare waur,” she said, speaking the Scottish Lowland dialect, and being indeed a native of the Lennox district--“Her house was taen up wi' them wadna like to be intruded on wi' strangers. She didna ken wha mair might be there--red-coats, it might be, frae the garrison.” (These last words she spoke under her breath, and with very strong emphasis.) “The night,” she said, “was fair abune head--a night amang the heather wad caller our bloods--we might sleep in our claes, as mony a gude blade does in the scabbard--there wasna muckle flowmoss in the shaw, if we took up our quarters right, and we might pit up our horses to the hill, naebody wad say naething against it.”

“But, my good woman,” said I, while the Bailie groaned and remained undecided, “it is six hours since we dined, and we have not taken a morsel since. I am positively dying with hunger, and I have no taste for taking up my abode supperless among these mountains of yours. I positively must enter; and make the best apology you can to your guests for adding a stranger or two to their number. Andrew, you will see the horses put up.”

The Hecate looked at me with surprise, and then ejaculated--“A wilfu' man will hae his way--them that will to Cupar maun to Cupar!--To see thae English belly-gods! he has had ae fu' meal the day already, and he'll venture life and liberty, rather than he'll want a het supper! Set roasted beef and pudding on the opposite side o' the pit o' Tophet, and an Englishman will mak a spang at it--But I wash my hands o't--Follow me sir” (to Andrew), “and I'se show ye where to pit the beasts.”

I own I was somewhat dismayed at my landlady's expressions, which seemed to be ominous of some approaching danger. I did not, however, choose to shrink back after having declared my resolution, and accordingly I boldly entered the house; and after narrowly escaping breaking my shins over a turf back and a salting tub, which stood on either side of the narrow exterior passage, I opened a crazy half-decayed door, constructed not of plank, but of wicker, and, followed by the Bailie, entered into the principal apartment of this Scottish caravansary.

The interior presented a view which seemed singular enough to southern eyes. The fire, fed with blazing turf and branches of dried wood, blazed merrily in the centre; but the smoke, having no means to escape but through a hole in the roof, eddied round the rafters of the cottage, and hung in sable folds at the height of about five feet from the floor. The space beneath was kept pretty clear by innumerable currents of air which rushed towards the fire from the broken panel of basket-work which served as a door--from two square holes, designed as ostensible windows, through one of which was thrust a plaid, and through the other a tattered great-coat--and moreover, through various less distinguishable apertures in the walls of the tenement, which, being built of round stones and turf, cemented by mud, let in the atmosphere at innumerable crevices.

At an old oaken table, adjoining to the fire, sat three men, guests apparently, whom it was impossible to regard with indifference. Two were in the Highland dress; the one, a little dark-complexioned man, with a lively, quick, and irritable expression of features, wore the trews, or close pantaloons wove out of a sort of chequered stocking stuff. The Bailie whispered me, that “he behoved to be a man of some consequence, for that naebody but their Duinhe'wassels wore the trews--they were ill to weave exactly to their Highland pleasure.”

The other mountaineer was a very tall, strong man, with a quantity of reddish hair, freckled face, high cheek-bones, and long chin--a sort of caricature of the national features of Scotland. The tartan which he wore differed from that of his companion, as it had much more scarlet in it, whereas the shades of black and dark-green predominated in the chequers of the other. The third, who sate at the same table, was in the Lowland dress,--a bold, stout-looking man, with a cast of military daring in his eye and manner, his riding-dress showily and profusely laced, and his cocked hat of formidable dimensions. His hanger and a pair of pistols lay on the table before him. Each of the Highlanders had their naked dirks stuck upright in the board beside him,--an emblem, I was afterwards informed, but surely a strange one, that their computation was not to be interrupted by any brawl. A mighty pewter measure, containing about an English quart of usquebaugh, a liquor nearly as strong as brandy, which the Highlanders distil from malt, and drink undiluted in excessive quantities, was placed before these worthies. A broken glass, with a wooden foot, served as a drinking cup to the whole party, and circulated with a rapidity, which, considering the potency of the liquor, seemed absolutely marvellous. These men spoke loudly and eagerly together, sometimes in Gaelic, at other times in English. Another Highlander, wrapt in his plaid, reclined on the floor, his head resting on a stone, from which it was only separated by a wisp of straw, and slept or seemed to sleep, without attending to what was going on around him. He also was probably a stranger, for he lay in full dress, and accoutred with the sword and target, the usual arms of his countrymen when on a journey. Cribs there were of different dimensions beside the walls, formed, some of fractured boards, some of shattered wicker-work or plaited boughs, in which slumbered the family of the house, men, women, and children, their places of repose only concealed by the dusky wreaths of vapour which arose above, below, and around them.

Our entrance was made so quietly, and the carousers I have described were so eagerly engaged in their discussions, that we escaped their notice for a minute or two. But I observed the Highlander who lay beside the fire raise himself on his elbow as we entered, and, drawing his plaid over the lower part of his face, fix his look on us for a few seconds, after which he resumed his recumbent posture, and seemed again to betake himself to the repose which our entrance had interrupted,

We advanced to the fire, which was an agreeable spectacle after our late ride, during the chillness of an autumn evening among the mountains, and first attracted the attention of the guests who had preceded us, by calling for the landlady. She approached, looking doubtfully and timidly, now at us, now at the other party, and returned a hesitating and doubtful answer to our request to have something to eat.

“She didna ken,” she said, “she wasna sure there was onything in the house,” and then modified her refusal with the qualification--“that is, onything fit for the like of us.”

I assured her we were indifferent to the quality of our supper; and looking round for the means of accommodation, which were not easily to be found, I arranged an old hen-coop as a seat for Mr. Jarvie, and turned down a broken tub to serve for my own. Andrew Fairservice entered presently afterwards, and took a place in silence behind our backs. The natives, as I may call them, continued staring at us with an air as if confounded by our assurance, and we, at least I myself, disguised as well as we could, under an appearance of indifference, any secret anxiety we might feel concerning the mode in which we were to be received by those whose privacy we had disturbed.

At length, the lesser Highlander, addressing himself to me said, in very good English, and in a tone of great haughtiness, “Ye make yourself at home, sir, I see.”

“I usually do so,” I replied, “when I come into a house of public entertainment.”

“And did she na see,” said the taller man, “by the white wand at the door, that gentlemans had taken up the public-house on their ain business?”

“I do not pretend to understand the customs of this country but I am yet to learn,” I replied, “how three persons should be entitled to exclude all other travellers from the only place of shelter and refreshment for miles round.”

“There's nae reason for't, gentlemen,” said the Bailie; “we mean nae offence--but there's neither law nor reason for't; but as far as a stoup o' gude brandy wad make up the quarrel, we, being peaceable folk, wad be willing.”

“Damn your brandy, sir!” said the Lowlander, adjusting his cocked hat fiercely upon his head; “we desire neither your brandy nor your company,” and up he rose from his seat. His companions also arose, muttering to each other, drawing up their plaids, and snorting and snuffing the air after the mariner of their countrymen when working themselves into a passion.

“I tauld ye what wad come, gentlemen,” said the landlady, “an ye wad hae been tauld:--get awa' wi' ye out o' my house, and make nae disturbance here--there's nae gentleman be disturbed at Jeanie MacAlpine's an she can hinder. A wheen idle English loons, gaun about the country under cloud o' night, and disturbing honest peaceable gentlemen that are drinking their drap drink at the fireside!”

At another time I should have thought of the old Latin adage,

  “Dat veniam corvis, vexat censure columbas”--

But I had not any time for classical quotation, for there was obviously a fray about to ensue, at which, feeling myself indiginant at the inhospitable insolence with which I was treated, I was totally indifferent, unless on the Bailie's account, whose person and qualities were ill qualified for such an adventure. I started up, however, on seeing the others rise, and dropped my cloak from my shoulders, that I might be ready to stand on the defensive.

“We are three to three,” said the lesser Highlander, glancing his eyes at our party: “if ye be pretty men, draw!” and unsheathing his broadsword, he advanced on me. I put myself in a posture of defence, and aware of the superiority of my weapon, a rapier or small-sword, was little afraid of the issue of the contest. The Bailie behaved with unexpected mettle. As he saw the gigantic Highlander confront him with his weapon drawn, he tugged for a second or two at the hilt of his _shabble,_ as he called it; but finding it loth to quit the sheath, to which it had long been secured by rust and disuse, he seized, as a substitute, on the red-hot coulter of a plough which had been employed in arranging the fire by way of a poker, and brandished it with such effect, that at the first pass he set the Highlander's plaid on fire, and compelled him to keep a respectful distance till he could get it extinguished. Andrew, on the contrary, who ought to have faced the Lowland champion, had, I grieve to say it, vanished at the very commencement of the fray. But his antagonist, crying “Fair play, fair play!” seemed courteously disposed to take no share in the scuffle. Thus we commenced our rencontre on fair terms as to numbers. My own aim was, to possess myself, if possible, of my antagonist's weapon; but I was deterred from closing, for fear of the dirk which he held in his left hand, and used in parrying the thrusts of my rapier. Meantime the Bailie, notwithstanding the success of his first onset, was sorely bested. The weight of his weapon, the corpulence of his person, the very effervescence of his own passions, were rapidly exhausting both his strength and his breath, and he was almost at the mercy of his antagonist, when up started the sleeping Highlander from the floor on which he reclined, with his naked sword and target in his hand, and threw himself between the discomfited magistrate and his assailant, exclaiming, “Her nainsell has eaten the town pread at the Cross o' Glasgow, and py her troth she'll fight for Bailie Sharvie at the Clachan of Aberfoil--tat will she e'en!” And seconding his words with deeds, this unexpected auxiliary made his sword whistle about the ears of his tall countryman, who, nothing abashed, returned his blows with interest. But being both accoutred with round targets made of wood, studded with brass, and covered with leather, with which they readily parried each other's strokes, their combat was attended with much more noise and clatter than serious risk of damage. It appeared, indeed, that there was more of bravado than of serious attempt to do us any injury; for the Lowland gentleman, who, as I mentioned, had stood aside for want of an antagonist when the brawl commenced, was now pleased to act the part of moderator and peacemaker.

“Hand your hands! haud your hands!--eneugh done!--eneugh done! the quarrel's no mortal. The strange gentlemen have shown themselves men of honour, and gien reasonable satisfaction. I'll stand on mine honour as kittle as ony man, but I hate unnecessary bloodshed.”

It was not, of course, my wish to protract the fray--my adversary seemed equally disposed to sheathe his sword--the Bailie, gasping for breath, might be considered as _hors de combat,_ and our two sword-and-buckler men gave up their contest with as much indifference as they had entered into it.

“And now,” said the worthy gentleman who acted as umpire, “let us drink and gree like honest fellows--The house will haud us a'. I propose that this good little gentleman, that seems sair forfoughen, as I may say, in this tuilzie, shall send for a tass o' brandy and I'll pay for another, by way of archilowe,* and then we'll birl our bawbees a' round about, like brethren.”

“And fa's to pay my new ponnie plaid,” said the larger Highlander, “wi' a hole burnt in't ane might put a kail-pat through? Saw ever onybody a decent gentleman fight wi' a firebrand before?”

“Let that be nae hinderance,” said the Bailie, who had now recovered his breath, and was at once disposed to enjoy the triumph of having behaved with spirit, and avoid the necessity of again resorting to such hard and doubtful arbitrament--“Gin I hae broken the head,” he said, “I sall find the plaister. A new plaid sall ye hae, and o' the best--your ain clan-colours, man,--an ye will tell me where it can be sent t'ye frae Glasco.”

“I needna name my clan--I am of a king's clan, as is weel ken'd,” said the Highlander; “but ye may tak a bit o' the plaid--figh! she smells like a singit sheep's head!--and that'll learn ye the sett--and a gentleman, that's a cousin o' my ain, that carries eggs doun frae Glencroe, will ca' for't about Martimas, an ye will tell her where ye bide. But, honest gentleman, neist time ye fight, an ye hae ony respect for your athversary, let it be wi' your sword, man, since ye wear ane, and no wi' thae het culters and fireprands, like a wild Indian.”

“Conscience!” replied the Bailie, “every man maun do as he dow. My sword hasna seen the light since Bothwell Brigg, when my father that's dead and gane, ware it; and I kenna weel if it was forthcoming then either, for the battle was o' the briefest--At ony rate, it's glued to the scabbard now beyond my power to part them; and, finding that, I e'en grippit at the first thing I could make a fend wi'. I trow my fighting days is done, though I like ill to take the scorn, for a' that.--But where's the honest lad that tuik my quarrel on himself sae frankly?--I'se bestow a gill o' aquavitae on him, an I suld never ca' for anither.”

* Archilowe, of unknown derivation, signifies a peace-offering.

The champion for whom he looked around was, however, no longer to be seen. He had escaped unobserved by the Bailie, immediately when the brawl was ended, yet not before I had recognised, in his wild features and shaggy red hair, our acquaintance Dougal, the fugitive turnkey of the Glasgow jail. I communicated this observation in a whisper to the Bailie, who answered in the same tone, “Weel, weel,--I see that him that ye ken o' said very right; there _is_ some glimmering o' common sense about that creature Dougal; I maun see and think o' something will do him some gude.”

Thus saying, he sat down, and fetching one or two deep aspirations, by way of recovering his breath, called to the landlady--“I think, Luckie, now that I find that there's nae hole in my wame, whilk I had muckle reason to doubt frae the doings o' your house, I wad be the better o' something to pit intill't.”

The dame, who was all officiousness so soon as the storm had blown over, immediately undertook to broil something comfortable for our supper. Indeed, nothing surprised me more, in the course of the whole matter, than the extreme calmness with which she and her household seemed to regard the martial tumult that had taken place. The good woman was only heard to call to some of her assistants--“Steek the door! steek the door! kill or be killed, let naebody pass out till they hae paid the lawin.” And as for the slumberers in those lairs by the wall, which served the family for beds, they only raised their shirtless bodies to look at the fray, ejaculated, “Oigh! oigh!” in the tone suitable to their respective sex and ages, and were, I believe, fast asleep again, ere our swords were well returned to their scabbards.

Our landlady, however, now made a great bustle to get some victuals ready, and, to my surprise, very soon began to prepare for us in the frying-pan a savoury mess of venison collops, which she dressed in a manner that might well satisfy hungry men, if not epicures. In the meantime the brandy was placed on the table, to which the Highlanders, however partial to their native strong waters, showed no objection, but much the contrary; and the Lowland gentleman, after the first cup had passed round, became desirous to know our profession, and the object of our journey.

“We are bits o' Glasgow bodies, if it please your honour,” said the Bailie, with an affectation of great humility, “travelling to Stirling to get in some siller that is awing us.”

I was so silly as to feel a little disconcerted at the unassuming account which he chose to give of us; but I recollected my promise to be silent, and allow the Bailie to manage the matter his own way. And really, when I recollected, Will, that I had not only brought the honest man a long journey from home, which even in itself had been some inconvenience (if I were to judge from the obvious pain and reluctance with which he took his seat, or arose from it), but had also put him within a hair's-breadth of the loss of his life, I could hardly refuse him such a compliment. The spokesman of the other party, snuffing up his breath through his nose, repeated the words with a sort of sneer;--“You Glasgow tradesfolks hae naething to do but to gang frae the tae end o' the west o' Scotland to the ither, to plague honest folks that may chance to be awee ahint the hand, like me.”

“If our debtors were a' sic honest gentlemen as I believe you to be, Garschattachin,” replied the Bailie, “conscience! we might save ourselves a labour, for they wad come to seek us.”

“Eh! what! how!” exclaimed the person whom he had addressed,--“as I shall live by bread (not forgetting beef and brandy), it's my auld friend Nicol Jarvie, the best man that ever counted doun merks on a band till a distressed gentleman. Were ye na coming up my way?--were ye na coming up the Endrick to Garschattachin?”

“Troth no, Maister Galbraith,” replied the Bailie, “I had other eggs on the spit--and I thought ye wad be saying I cam to look about the annual rent that's due on the bit heritable band that's between us.”

“Damn the annual rent!” said the laird, with an appearance of great heartiness--“Deil a word o' business will you or I speak, now that ye're so near my country. To see how a trot-cosey and a joseph can disguise a man--that I suldna ken my auld feal friend the deacon!”

“The Bailie, if ye please,” resumed my companion; “but I ken what gars ye mistak--the band was granted to my father that's happy, and he was deacon; but his name was Nicol as weel as mine. I dinna mind that there's been a payment of principal sum or annual rent on it in my day, and doubtless that has made the mistake.”

“Weel, the devil take the mistake and all that occasioned it!” replied Mr. Galbraith. “But I am glad ye are a bailie. Gentlemen, fill a brimmer--this is my excellent friend, Bailie Nicol Jarvie's health--I ken'd him and his father these twenty years. Are ye a' cleared kelty aff?--Fill anither. Here's to his being sune provost--I say provost--Lord Provost Nicol Jarvie!--and them that affirms there's a man walks the Hie-street o' Glasgow that's fitter for the office, they will do weel not to let me, Duncan Galbraith of Garschattachin, hear them say sae--that's all.” And therewith Duncan Galbraith martially cocked his hat, and placed it on one side of his head with an air of defiance.

The brandy was probably the best recommendation of there complimentary toasts to the two Highlanders, who drank them without appearing anxious to comprehend their purport. They commenced a conversation with Mr. Galbraith in Gaelic, which he talked with perfect fluency, being, as I afterwards learned, a near neighbour to the Highlands.

“I ken'd that Scant-o'-grace weel eneugh frae the very outset,” said the Bailie, in a whisper to me; “but when blude was warm, and swords were out at ony rate, wha kens what way he might hae thought o' paying his debts? it will be lang or he does it in common form. But he's an honest lad, and has a warm heart too; he disna come often to the Cross o' Glasgow, but mony a buck and blackcock he sends us doun frae the hills. And I can want my siller weel eneugh. My father the deacon had a great regard for the family of Garschattachin.”

Supper being now nearly ready, I looked round for Andrew Fairservice; but that trusty follower had not been seen by any one since the beginning of the rencontre. The hostess, however, said that she believed our servant had gone into the stable, and offered to light me to the place, saying that “no entreaties of the bairns or hers could make him give any answer; and that truly she caredna to gang into the stable herself at this hour. She was a lone woman, and it was weel ken'd how the Brownie of Ben-ye-gask guided the gudewife of Ardnagowan; and it was aye judged there was a Brownie in our stable, which was just what garr'd me gie ower keeping an hostler.”

As, however, she lighted me towards the miserable hovel into which they had crammed our unlucky steeds, to regale themselves on hay, every fibre of which was as thick as an ordinary goose-quill, she plainly showed me that she had another reason for drawing me aside from the company than that which her words implied. “Read that,” she said, slipping a piece of paper into my hand, as we arrived at the door of the shed; “I bless God I am rid o't. Between sogers and Saxons, and caterans and cattle-lifters, and hership and bluidshed, an honest woman wad live quieter in hell than on the Hieland line.”

So saying, she put the pine-torch into my hand, and returned into the house,


  Bagpipes, not lyres, the Highland hills adorn,
MacLean's loud hollo, and MacGregor's horn.
John Cooper's Reply to Allan Ramsay.

I stopped in the entrance of the stable, if indeed a place be entitled to that name where horses were stowed away along with goats, poultry, pigs, and cows, under the same roof with the mansion-house; although, by a degree of refinement unknown to the rest of the hamlet, and which I afterwards heard was imputed to an overpride on the part of Jeanie MacAlpine, our landlady, the apartment was accommodated with an entrance different from that used by her biped customers. By the light of my torch, I deciphered the following billet, written on a wet, crumpled, and dirty piece of paper, and addressed--“For the honoured hands of Mr. F. O., a Saxon young gentleman--These.” The contents were as follows:--


“There are night-hawks abroad, so that I cannot give you and my respected kinsman, B. N. J., the meeting at the Clachan of Aberfoil, whilk was my purpose. I pray you to avoid unnecessary communication with those you may find there, as it may give future trouble. The person who gives you this is faithful and may be trusted, and will guide you to a place where, God willing, I may safely give you the meeting, when I trust my kinsman and you will visit my poor house, where, in despite of my enemies, I can still promise sic cheer as ane Hielandman may gie his friends, and where we will drink a solemn health to a certain D. V., and look to certain affairs whilk I hope to be your aidance in; and I rest, as is wont among gentlemen,

your servant to command,
R. M. C.”

I was a good deal mortified at the purport of this letter, which seemed to adjourn to a more distant place and date the service which I had hoped to receive from this man Campbell. Still, however, it was some comfort to know that he continued to be in my interest, since without him I could have no hope of recovering my father's papers. I resolved, therefore, to obey his instructions; and, observing all caution before the guests, to take the first good opportunity I could find to procure from the landlady directions how I was to obtain a meeting with this mysterious person.

My next business was to seek out Andrew Fairservice, whom I called several times by name, without receiving any answer, surveying the stable all round, at the same time, not without risk of setting the premises on fire, had not the quantity of wet litter and mud so greatly counterbalanced two or three bunches of straw and hay. At length my repeated cries of “Andrew Fairservice! Andrew! fool!--ass! where are you?” produced a doleful “Here,” in a groaning tone, which might have been that of the Brownie itself. Guided by this sound, I advanced to the corner of a shed, where, ensconced in the angle of the wall, behind a barrel full of the feathers of all the fowls which had died in the cause of the public for a month past, I found the manful Andrew; and partly by force, partly by command and exhortation, compelled him forth into the open air. The first words he spoke were, “I am an honest lad, sir.”

“Who the devil questions your honesty?” said I, “or what have we to do with it at present? I desire you to come and attend us at supper.”

“Yes,” reiterated Andrew, without apparently understanding what I said to him, “I am an honest lad, whatever the Bailie may say to the contrary. I grant the warld and the warld's gear sits ower near my heart whiles, as it does to mony a ane--But I am an honest lad; and, though I spak o' leaving ye in the muir, yet God knows it was far frae my purpose, but just like idle things folk says when they're driving a bargain, to get it as far to their ain side as they can--And I like your honour weel for sae young a lad, and I wadna part wi' ye lightly.”

“What the deuce are you driving at now?” I replied. “Has not everything been settled again and again to your satisfaction? And are you to talk of leaving me every hour, without either rhyme or reason?”

“Ay,--but I was only making fashion before,” replied Andrew; “but it's come on me in sair earnest now--Lose or win, I daur gae nae farther wi' your honour; and if ye'll tak my foolish advice, ye'll bide by a broken tryste, rather than gang forward yoursell. I hae a sincere regard for ye, and I'm sure ye'll be a credit to your friends if ye live to saw out your wild aits, and get some mair sense and steadiness--But I can follow ye nae farther, even if ye suld founder and perish from the way for lack of guidance and counsel. To gang into Rob Roy's country is a mere tempting o' Providence.”

“Rob Roy?” said I, in some surprise; “I know no such person. What new trick is this, Andrew?”

“It's hard,” said Andrew--“very hard, that a man canna be believed when he speaks Heaven's truth, just because he's whiles owercome, and tells lees a little when there is necessary occasion. Ye needna ask whae Rob Roy is, the reiving lifter that he is--God forgie me! I hope naebody hears us--when ye hae a letter frae him in your pouch. I heard ane o' his gillies bid that auld rudas jaud of a gudewife gie ye that. They thought I didna understand their gibberish; but, though I canna speak it muckle, I can gie a gude guess at what I hear them say--I never thought to hae tauld ye that, but in a fright a' things come out that suld be keepit in. O, Maister Frank! a' your uncle's follies, and a' your cousin's pliskies, were naething to this! Drink clean cap out, like Sir Hildebrand; begin the blessed morning with brandy sops, like Squire Percy; swagger, like Squire Thorncliff; rin wud amang the lasses, like Squire John; gamble, like Richard; win souls to the Pope and the deevil, like Rashleigh; rive, rant, break the Sabbath, and do the Pope's bidding, like them a' put thegither--But, merciful Providence! take care o' your young bluid, and gang nae near Rob Roy!”

Andrew's alarm was too sincere to permit me to suppose he counterfeited. I contented myself, however, with telling him, that I meant to remain in the alehouse that night, and desired to have the horses well looked after. As to the rest, I charged him to observe the strictest silence upon the subject of his alarm, and he might rely upon it I would not incur any serious danger without due precaution. He followed me with a dejected air into the house, observing between his teeth, “Man suld be served afore beast--I haena had a morsel in my mouth, but the rough legs o' that auld muircock, this haill blessed day.”

The harmony of the company seemed to have suffered some interruption since my departure, for I found Mr. Galbraith and my friend the Bailie high in dispute.

“I'll hear nae sic language,” said Mr. Jarvie, as I entered, “respecting the Duke o' Argyle and the name o' Campbell. He's a worthy public-spirited nobleman, and a credit to the country, and a friend and benefactor to the trade o' Glasgow.”

“I'll sae naething against MacCallum More and the Slioch-nan-Diarmid,” said the lesser Highlander, laughing. “I live on the wrang side of Glencroe to quarrel with Inverara.”

“Our loch ne'er saw the Cawmil lymphads,” * said the bigger Highlander.

* _Lymphads._ The galley which the family of Argyle and others of the * Clan Campbell carry in their arms.

“She'll speak her mind and fear naebody--She doesna value a Cawmil mair as a Cowan, and ye may tell MacCallum More that Allan Iverach said sae-- It's a far cry to Lochow.” *

* Lochow and the adjacent districts formed the original seat of the * Campbells. The expression of a “far cry to Lochow” was proverbial.

Mr. Galbraith, on whom the repeated pledges which he had quaffed had produced some influence, slapped his hand on the table with great force, and said, in a stern voice, “There's a bloody debt due by that family, and they will pay it one day--The banes of a loyal and a gallant Grahame hae lang rattled in their coffin for vengeance on thae Dukes of Guile and Lords for Lorn. There ne'er was treason in Scotland but a Cawmil was at the bottom o't; and now that the wrang side's uppermost, wha but the Cawmils for keeping down the right? But this warld winna last lang, and it will be time to sharp the maiden* for shearing o' craigs and thrapples. I hope to see the auld rusty lass linking at a bluidy harst again.”

* A rude kind of guillotine formerly used in Scotland.

“For shame, Garschattachin!” exclaimed the Bailie; “fy for shame, sir! Wad ye say sic things before a magistrate, and bring yoursell into trouble?--How d'ye think to mainteen your family and satisfy your creditors (mysell and others), if ye gang on in that wild way, which cannot but bring you under the law, to the prejudice of a' that's connected wi' ye?”

“D--n my creditors!” retorted the gallant Galbraith, “and you if ye be ane o' them! I say there will be a new warld sune--And we shall hae nae Cawmils cocking their bonnet sae hie, and hounding their dogs where they daurna come themsells, nor protecting thieves, nor murderers, and oppressors, to harry and spoil better men and mair loyal clans than themsells.”

The Bailie had a great mind to have continued the dispute, when the savoury vapour of the broiled venison, which our landlady now placed before us, proved so powerful a mediator, that he betook himself to his trencher with great eagerness, leaving the strangers to carry on the dispute among themselves.

“And tat's true,” said the taller Highlander--whose name I found was Stewart--“for we suldna be plagued and worried here wi' meetings to pit down Rob Roy, if the Cawmils didna gie him refutch. I was ane o' thirty o' my ain name--part Glenfinlas, and part men that came down frae Appine. We shased the MacGregors as ye wad shase rae-deer, till we came into Glenfalloch's country, and the Cawmils raise, and wadna let us pursue nae farder, and sae we lost our labour; but her wad gie twa and a plack to be as near Rob as she was tat day.”

It seemed to happen very unfortunately, that in every topic of discourse which these warlike gentlemen introduced, my friend the Bailie found some matter of offence. “Ye'll forgie me speaking my mind, sir; but ye wad maybe hae gien the best bowl in your bonnet to hae been as far awae frae Rob as ye are e'en now--Od! my het pleugh-culter wad hae been naething to his claymore.”

“She had better speak nae mair about her culter, or, by G--! her will gar her eat her words, and twa handfuls o' cauld steel to drive them ower wi'!” And, with a most inauspicious and menacing look, the mountaineer laid his hand on his dagger.

“We'll hae nae quarrelling, Allan,” said his shorter companion; “and if the Glasgow gentleman has ony regard for Rob Roy, he'll maybe see him in cauld irons the night, and playing tricks on a tow the morn; for this country has been owre lang plagued wi' him, and his race is near-hand run--And it's time, Allan, we were ganging to our lads.”

“Hout awa, Inverashalloch,” said Galbraith;--“Mind the auld saw, man-- It's a bauld moon, quoth Bennygask--another pint, quoth Lesley;--we'll no start for another chappin.”

“I hae had chappins eneugh,” said Inverashalloch; “I'll drink my quart of usquebaugh or brandy wi' ony honest fellow, but the deil a drap mair when I hae wark to do in the morning. And, in my puir thinking, Garschattachin, ye had better be thinking to bring up your horsemen to the Clachan before day, that we may ay start fair.”

“What the deevil are ye in sic a hurry for?” said Garschattachin; “meat and mass never hindered wark. An it had been my directing, deil a bit o' me wad hae fashed ye to come down the glens to help us. The garrison and our ain horse could hae taen Rob Roy easily enough. There's the hand,” he said, holding up his own, “should lay him on the green, and never ask a Hielandman o' ye a' for his help.”

“Ye might hae loot us bide still where we were, then,” said Inverashalloch. “I didna come sixty miles without being sent for. But an ye'll hae my opinion, I redd ye keep your mouth better steekit, if ye hope to speed. Shored folk live lang, and sae may him ye ken o'. The way to catch a bird is no to fling your bannet at her. And also thae gentlemen hae heard some things they suldna hae heard, an the brandy hadna been ower bauld for your brain, Major Galbraith. Ye needna cock your hat and bully wi' me, man, for I will not bear it.”

“I hae said it,” said Galbraith, with a solemn air of drunken gravity, “that I will quarrel no more this night either with broadcloth or tartan. When I am off duty I'll quarrel with you or ony man in the Hielands or Lowlands, but not on duty--no--no. I wish we heard o' these red-coats. If it had been to do onything against King James, we wad hae seen them lang syne--but when it's to keep the peace o' the country they can lie as lound as their neighbours.”

As he spoke we heard the measured footsteps of a body of infantry on the march; and an officer, followed by two or three files of soldiers, entered the apartment. He spoke in an English accent, which was very pleasant to my ears, now so long accustomed to the varying brogue of the Highland and Lowland Scotch.--“You are, I suppose, Major Galbraith, of the squadron of Lennox Militia, and these are the two Highland gentlemen with whom I was appointed to meet in this place?”

They assented, and invited the officer to take some refreshments, which he declined.--“I have been too late, gentlemen, and am desirous to make up time. I have orders to search for and arrest two persons guilty of treasonable practices.”

“We'll wash our hands o' that,” said Inverashalloch. “I came here wi' my men to fight against the red MacGregor that killed my cousin, seven times removed, Duncan MacLaren, in Invernenty;* but I will hae nothing to do touching honest gentlemen that may be gaun through the country on their ain business.”

* This, as appears from the introductory matter to this Tale, is an anachronism. The slaughter of MacLaren, a retainer of the chief of Appine, by the MacGregors, did not take place till after Rob Roy's death, since it happened in 1736.

“Nor I neither,” said Iverach.

Major Galbraith took up the matter more solemnly, and, premising his oration with a hiccup, spoke to the following purpose:--

“I shall say nothing against King George, Captain, because, as it happens, my commission may rin in his name--But one commission being good, sir, does not make another bad; and some think that James may be just as good a name as George. There's the king that is--and there's the king that suld of right be--I say, an honest man may and suld be loyal to them both, Captain. But I am of the Lord Lieutenant's opinion for the time, as it becomes a militia officer and a depute-lieutenant--and about treason and all that, it's lost time to speak of it--least said is sunest mended.”

“I am sorry to see how you have been employing your time, sir,” replied the English officer--as indeed the honest gentleman's reasoning had a strong relish of the liquor he had been drinking--“and I could wish, sir, it had been otherwise on an occasion of this consequence. I would recommend to you to try to sleep for an hour.--Do these gentlemen belong to your party?”--looking at the Bailie and me, who, engaged in eating our supper, had paid little attention to the officer on his entrance.

“Travellers, sir,” said Galbraith--“lawful travellers by sea and land, as the prayer-book hath it.”

“My instructions.” said the Captain, taking a light to survey us closer, “are to place under arrest an elderly and a young person--and I think these gentlemen answer nearly the description.”

“Take care what you say, sir,” said Mr. Jarvie; “it shall not be your red coat nor your laced hat shall protect you, if you put any affront on me. I'se convene ye baith in an action of scandal and false imprisonment--I am a free burgess and a magistrate o' Glasgow; Nicol Jarvie is my name, sae was my father's afore me--I am a bailie, be praised for the honour, and my father was a deacon.”

“He was a prick-eared cur,” said Major Galbraith, “and fought agane the King at Bothwell Brigg.”

“He paid what he ought and what he bought, Mr. Galbraith,” said the Bailie, “and was an honester man than ever stude on your shanks.”

“I have no time to attend to all this,” said the officer; “I must positively detain you, gentlemen, unless you can produce some respectable security that you are loyal subjects.”

“I desire to be carried before some civil magistrate,” said the Bailie--“the sherra or the judge of the bounds;--I am not obliged to answer every red-coat that speers questions at me.”

“Well, sir, I shall know how to manage you if you are silent--And you, sir” (to me), “what may your name be?”

“Francis Osbaldistone, sir.”

“What, a son of Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone of Northumberland?”

“No, sir,” interrupted the Bailie; “a son of the great William Osbaldistone of the House of Osbaldistone and Tresham, Crane-Alley, London.”

“I am afraid, sir,” said the officer, “your name only increases the suspicions against you, and lays me under the necessity of requesting that you will give up what papers you have in charge.”

I observed the Highlanders look anxiously at each other when this proposal was made.

“I had none,” I replied, “to surrender.”

The officer commanded me to be disarmed and searched. To have resisted would have been madness. I accordingly gave up my arms, and submitted to a search, which was conducted as civilly as an operation of the kind well could. They found nothing except the note which I had received that night through the hand of the landlady.

“This is different from what I expected,” said the officer; “but it affords us good grounds for detaining you. Here I find you in written communication with the outlawed robber, Robert MacGregor Campbell, who has been so long the plague of this district--How do you account for that?”

“Spies of Rob!” said Inverashalloch. “We wad serve them right to strap them up till the neist tree.”

“We are gaun to see after some gear o' our ain, gentlemen,” said the Bailie, “that's fa'en into his hands by accident--there's nae law agane a man looking after his ain, I hope?”

“How did you come by this letter?” said the officer, addressing himself to me.

I could not think of betraying the poor woman who had given it to me, and remained silent.

“Do you know anything of it, fellow?” said the officer, looking at Andrew, whose jaws were chattering like a pair of castanets at the threats thrown out by the Highlander.

“O ay, I ken a' about it--it was a Hieland loon gied the letter to that lang-tongued jaud the gudewife there; I'll be sworn my maister ken'd naething about it. But he's wilfu' to gang up the hills and speak wi' Rob; and oh, sir, it wad be a charity just to send a wheen o' your red-coats to see him safe back to Glasgow again whether he will or no--And ye can keep Mr. Jarvie as lang as ye like--He's responsible enough for ony fine ye may lay on him--and so's my master for that matter; for me, I'm just a puir gardener lad, and no worth your steering.”

“I believe,” said the officer, “the best thing I can do is to send these persons to the garrison under an escort. They seem to be in immediate correspondence with the enemy, and I shall be in no respect answerable for suffering them to be at liberty. Gentlemen, you will consider yourselves as my prisoners. So soon as dawn approaches, I will send you to a place of security. If you be the persons you describe yourselves, it will soon appear, and you will sustain no great inconvenience from being detained a day or two. I can hear no remonstrances,” he continued, turning away from the Bailie, whose mouth was open to address him; “the service I am on gives me no time for idle discussions.”

“Aweel, aweel, sir,” said the Bailie, “you're welcome to a tune on your ain fiddle; but see if I dinna gar ye dance till't afore a's dune.”

An anxious consultation now took place between the officer and the Highlanders, but carried on in so low a tone, that it was impossible to catch the sense. So soon as it was concluded they all left the house. At their departure, the Bailie thus expressed himself:--“Thae Hielandmen are o' the westland clans, and just as light-handed as their neighbours, an a' tales be true, and yet ye see they hae brought them frae the head o' Argyleshire to make war wi' puir Rob for some auld ill-will that they hae at him and his sirname. And there's the Grahames, and the Buchanans, and the Lennox gentry, a' mounted and in order--It's weel ken'd their quarrel; and I dinna blame them--naebody likes to lose his kye. And then there's sodgers, puir things, hoyed out frae the garrison at a' body's bidding--Puir Rob will hae his hands fu' by the time the sun comes ower the hill. Weel--it's wrang for a magistrate to be wishing onything agane the course o' justice, but deil o' me an I wad break my heart to hear that Rob had gien them a' their paiks!”

Go to volii chapters 13 & 14