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“ And you said there were nae caterans or somers here ?” said Baby to the agriculturist, reproachfully. “ Heard ye ever a breekless loon frae Lochaber tell his mind and his errand mair deftly?-Come, come, friend,” she added, addressing herself to Mordaunt," put up your pipes and gang your gait; this is the house of his Lordship’s factor, and no place of resett for thiggers or sorners."
Mordaunt laughed in her face at the simplicity of the request.
" Leave built walls,” he said, “ and in such a tempest as this? What take you me for?-a gannet or a scarf do you think I am, that your clapping your hands and skirling at me like a mad woman, should drive me from the shelter into the storm ?”
“ And so you propose, young man,” said Triptolemus, gravely, " to stay in my house, volens nolens--that is, whether we will or no ?”
“ Will !” said Mordaunt; “ what right have you to will any thing about it? Do you not hear the thunder? Do you not hear the rain ? Do you not see the lightning? And do you not know this is the only house within I wot not how many miles! Come, my good master
and dame, this may be Scottish jesting, but it sounds strange in Zetland ears. You have let out the fire too, and my teeth are dancing a jig
head with cold ; but I'll soon put that to rights."
He seized the fire-tongs, raked together the embers upon the hearth, broke up into life the gathering-peat which the hostess had calculated should have preserved the seeds of fire, without giving them forth, for many hours; then casting his eye round, saw in a corner the stock of drift-wood which Mistress Baby had served forth by ounces, and transferred two or three logs of it at once to the hearth, which, conscious of such unwonted supply, began to transmit to the chimney such a smoke as had not issued from the Place of Harfra for many a day.
While their uninvited guest was thus making himself at home, Baby kept edging and jogging the factor to turn out the intruder. But for this undertaking, Triptolemus Yellowley felt neither courage nor zeal, nor did circumstances seem at all to warrant the favourable conclusion of any fray in which he might enter with the young stranger. The sinewy limbs and graceful form of Mordaunt Mertoun were seen to great advantage in his simple sea-dress; and with his dark sparkling eye, finely formed head, animated features, close curled dark hair, and bold free looks, the stranger formed a very strong contrast with the host on whom he had intruded himself. Triptolemus was a short, clumsy, duck-legged disciple of Ceres, whose bottlenose, turned up and handsomely coppered at the extrerity, seemed to intimate something of an occasional treaty with Bacchus. It was like to be no equal mellay betwixt persons of such unequal form and strength; and the difference betwixt twenty and fifty years was nothing in favour of the weaker party. Besides, the factor was an honest good-natured fellow at bottom, and being soon satisfied that his guest had no other views than those of obtaining refuge from the storm, it would, despite his sister's instigations, have been his last act to deny a boon so reasonable and necessary to a youth whose exterior was so prepossessing. He stood, therefore, considering how he could most gracefully glide into the character of the
hospitable landlord, out of that of the churlish defender of his domestic castle, against an unauthorized intrusion, when Baby, who had stood appalled at the extreme familiarity of the stranger's address and demeanour, now spoke up for herself. My troth, lad,” said she to Mordaunt, “ye are no blate, to light on at that rate, and the best of wood toonane of your sharney peats, but good aik timber, nae less maun serve ye !"
“ You come lightly by it, dame,” said Mordaunt, carelessly; “ and you should not grudge the fire what the sea gives you for nothing.These good ribs of oak did their last duty upon earth and ocean when they could hold no longer together under the brave hearts that manned the bark.”
" And that's true, too,” said the old woman, softening—"this maun be awsome weather by
Sit down and warm ye, since the sticks are a-low.”
Ay, ay," said Triptolemus," it is a pleasure to see siccan a bonny bleeze. I have na seen the like o't since I left Cauldacres."
; “And shall na see the like o't again in & hurry,” said Baby,“ unless the house take fire, or there suld be a coal-heugh found out."
“ And wherefore should not there be a coalheugh found out?” said the factor, triumphantly "I say, wherefore should not a coal-heugh be found out in Zetland as well as in Fife, now that the Chamberlain has a far-sighted and discreet man upon the spot to make the necessary perquisitions ? They are baith fishing-stations, I trow.”
“ I tell you what it is, Tolemus Yellowley,”: answered his sister, who had practical reasons to fear of her brother's opening upon any false scent, “ if you promise my Lord sae mony of these bonnie wallies, we'll no be weel hafted here before we are found out and set a trotting again. If ane was to speak to ye about a gold mine, I ken weel wha would promise he suld have Portugal pieces clinking in his pouch before the year gaed by.” “ And why suld I not?” said Triptolemus
your head does not know there is a land in Orkney called Ophir, or something very