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Host. Brawly sung, my masters, brawly sung! I wish you all safe home, for your own sakes, and a quick return, for mine. Here, wife! give our friends their stirrup-cup, while I rub down the table. I wish you good e'en, friends.
(The Travellers disperse). -—Odd! there are two more travellers just alighting. Wha'd a' thought of more company at the Thistle and Bagpipes so late in the day? But what with Whigs, and Tories, and Jacobites, and Rob Roy—we in the North here drive a bonny trade.
Enter Campbell, plainly dressed, something like a North-country Grazier; and Owen in a plain brown Suitt Boots, a Whip, &c. shewn in by Willie.
Willie. Travellers to Glasgow, Maister. Camp. Landlord, let us have your best, and quickly.
Host. Troth will I, Sir—Ye'll be for a dram, na doubt, till we can tass ye up something hot for your late dinner. [Exit. (Owen has placed a small Saddle-bag on the Table, and sunk into a Chair, apparently greatly fatigued).
Owen. Oh! my poor bones! the firm of my constitution has.been worse shaken than the House of Osbaldistone and Co. Crane-Alley, London.— (Willie places Liquor and Cups on the Table).—Young man, have you sent ray message to the Hall hard by?
(Campbell pours out, and Owen drinks).
Willie. Yes, Sir; the lassie will soon be back wi' the answer.
Camp. Weel, fellow-traveller, how does our Scotch whisky agree with your English stomach?
Owen. Thank you, Sir, it cheers the body, but cannot raise the spirit—I'm quite below par, as we say in the City.
Camp. Try it again, man. (Filling his Cup).
Owen. I hope Mr. Frank Osbaldistone will make haste—Yet I have a sad tale to tell to him. (Rites).
Camp. Osbaldistone! I know something of that family, Sir; and if there's any thing I can serve you in, you may command me.
Owen. You are very kind, Sir; but it's far beyond your help.
Camp. Perhaps not; will you trust me with the matter?
Owen. Surely I will, Sir: the affairs of the great Commercial and Banking-house of Osbaldistone and Co. Crane-Alley, London, are n© secret by this time—all public as the Gazette— that-1 should live to see it and say it!—Oh dear!
Camp. Come, come, nought's so bad but what it may be mended. Let's hear the business that brings you to the Hall.
Owen. It's a long account, Sir; but I'll sum it up by the shortest rules. You mustnow my name is Owen: I am Head Clerk of the House of Osbaldistone and Co. Crane-Alley, London, and now on my way to Glasgow, to recover certain papers which have been taken—stolen I'm afraid —in the absence of the head of the Firm.
Camp. Stolen! by whom?
Oiven. By his nephew, Mr. Rashleigh.
Camp. Rashleigh! I know—I remember— the son of Sir Hildebrand, late of the Hall here.
Owen. The same, Sir. Sir Hildebrand and the rest of his sons were taken up on suspicion of treasonable practices—its an awful balance they
have to strike!
Camp. But how happened it —the son —this Mr. Frank you talk of, was not left in charge of his father's affairs, rather than the nephew, Rasleigh?
Owen. Ah, Sir! there lies all the mischief— Mr. Frank loathed the counting-house worse than I loathe a bankruptcy. While his father was making money he was making poetry; and so, his father, Sir, being a stern man, said that his nephew Rashleigh should take Mr. Frank's place; for he would never ask his only child a second time, to be the partner of his fortunes and affections—Oh dear!
Camp. Well, Sir, but what motive could induce this Rashleigh to betray a trust, which, for his own advantage, one would naturally suppose he would be most faithful to?
Owen. I suspect to aid some political purpose, whereby, at the expence of honour and conscience, he expects to make a larger per centage of worldly profit. He knew that, to shake the house of Osbaldistone and Co., Crane-Alley, London, was to alarm the Government;—the cash he took was no hurt, but the assets—the assets, Sir !—however, I'll not give 'em up—I know Rashleigh has conre north.
Camp. North ! indeed !—Umph— he's a cunning chield that!—he'll be too cunning for himself at last—a false friend never served a good cause.
Owen. You say true, Sir, such people are as variable as the course of exchange. When we reach Glasgow, Sir, perhaps you can assist my enquiries.
Camp. I—I'll meet you there, my friend—I
just recollect a small matter of business that I have to do in this neighbourhood.— (Aside) ~\ must go to the Hall —Rashleigh has been there, no doubt, and Sir Frederick Vernon may wish to speak. I'll meet you at Glasgow, Mr. Owen.
Owen. Heaven help me! I shall never live to balance an account there, without a companion or a guide. I was never ten miles from CraneAlley before, in all my days.
Camp. Pho! man, there is no fear.—Where shall I hear of you?
Owen. At Messrs. M'Vittic and M'Fin's, in the Gallowgate, Sir. We have another agent, one Mr. Nicol Jarvie, in the Salt-market; but I can't depend on him.
Camp. Fare ye weel, Mr. Owen.— Rashleigh in the North! then the heather will soon be on fire.
Willie. Here's the 'Squire, to speak with one Maister Owen.
("Campbell retires as Frank Osbaldistone enters, and retreats hastily vnperceived).
Frank. Owen, my excellent kind friend!
Owen. O, Mr. Frank I O, Mr. Osbaldistone, such news! (Wiping his eyes). But why did you never answer our letters —mine, and your good father's?
Frank. Letters! I have never yet received one, I have written repeatedly, and have been astonish'd at receiving no reply.
Owen. O Lord! no letters! O my stars, no letters! then they have been intercepted—how has your poor father been deceived! O, Mr. Frank, what have you not to answer for? but that's past now—it's all over!
Frank. Good heaven! is my father—is he ill —dead?
Owen. No, no, not so bad as that; thank heaven his day-book is still open—but his affairs are in worse confusion than my poor brain. — Oh dear!
Frank. Explain yourself, I beseech you, and in terms less technical.
Owen. Well, well, the sum total is—that your cousin, Rashleigh, taking advantage of my good master's absence in Holland, has absconded with papers of such consequence to ourselves and the Government, that unless we can recover them, or get help from our Agents by a certain day, the house of Osbaldistone and Co., Crane-Alley, London, is in the bankrupt list as sure as the Gazette!
Frank. Gracious Heaven, my folly and disobedience then, have ruined my father! How shall I redeem the consequence of my error?
Owen. O, Mr. Frank, you raise my heart ten per cent, to hear you talk in that way. Repair to Glasgow, and assist my poor endeavours. Though you understand little, I grieve to say it, of Debtor and Creditor, you thoroughly understand, I rejoice to tell it, the great fundamental principle of all moral accounting—the great Ethic Rule of Three—let A do to B, as he would have B do to him, and the product will give the rule of conduct required.
Frank. It shall, it must be so ;— this very hour I'll bid adieu to the Enchantress, who still must rule my destiny, and seek this destroyer, this traitor, Rashleigh! Set forward, Owen, instantly: —by the time you have made the necessary en