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“ Ye would have let many a fair face," said Triptolemus, “pass the door pining, if it had not been for the gold chain.”
• Nae doubt, nae doubt,” replied Barbara; “ye wad not have me waste our substance on every thigger or sorner that has the luck to come by the door in a wet day? but this lad has a fair and a wide name in the country, and Tronda says he is to be married to a daughter of the rich udaller, Magnus Troil, and the marriageday is to be fixed whenever he makes choice (set him up) between the twa lasses; and so it wad be as much as our good name, and our quiet is worth forbye, to let him sit unserved, although he does come unsent for."
“ The best reason in life," said Triptolemus, “ for letting a man into a house is, that you dare not bid him go by. However, since there is a man of quality amongst them, I will let him know whom he has to do with, in my person.” Then advancing to the door, he exclaimed -" Heus tibi, Dare!"
" Adsum,” answered the youth, entering the apartment.
“ Hem !” said the erudite Triptolemus,“ not altogether deficient in his humanities, I see. I will try him further.-Canst thou aught of husbandry, young gentleman ?"
“Troth, sir, not I," answered Mordaunt:"I have been trained to plough upon the sea, and to reap upon the crag.”
“Plough the sea ?" said Triptolemus ;“ that's a furrow requires small harrowing; and for your harvest on the crag, I suppose you mean these scowries, or whatever you call them. It is a sort of ingathering which the ranzelman should stop by the law; nothing more likely to break an honest man's bones. I profess I cannot see the pleasure men propose by dangling in a rope’send betwixt earth and heaven. In my case, I had as lief the other end of the rope were fastened to the gibbet; I should be sure of not falling, at least.”
Now, I would only advise you to try it,” replied Mordąunt. “ Trust me, the world has few grander sensations than when one is perched in mid-air between a high-browed cliff and a roaring ocean, the rope by which you are sustained seeming scarce stronger than a silken thread, and the stone on which you have one foot steadied, affording such a breadth as the kittywake might rest upon—to feel and know all this with the full confidence that your own agility of limb, and strength of head, can bring you as safe off as if you had the wing of the gosshawk—this is indeed being almost independent of the earth you tread on.”
Triptolemus stared at this enthusiastic description of an amusement which had so few charms for him; and his sister, looking at the glancing eye and elevated bearing of the young adventurer, answered, by ejaculating.“ My certie, lad, but you are a brave chield.”
“A brave chield !” returned Yellowley, I say a brave goose, to be flichtering and fleeing in the wind when he might abide apon terra firma; but come, here's a goose that is more to the purpose, when once it is well boiled. Get us trenchers and salt, Baby-but in truth it will prove salt enough—a tasty morsel it is; but I think the Zetlanders be the only folks in the world that think of running such risks to catch geese, and then boiling them when they have done."
; “ To be sure,” replied his sister, (it was the only word they had agreed on that day,)“ it would be an unco thing to bid ony gudewife in Angus or a' the Mearns boil a goose, while there was sic things as spits in the warld-But wha's this neist ?” she added, looking towards the entrance with great indignation.
My certie, open doors and dogs come in—and wha opened the door to him?"
“ I did, to be sure,” replied Mordaunt; “you would not have a poor devil stand beating your deaf door-cheeks in weather like this?-Here goes something, though, to help the fire,” he added, drawing out the sliding bar of oak with which the door had been secured, and throwing it on the hearth, whence it was snatched by Dame Baby in great wrath, she exclaiming at the same time,
“ It's sea-borne timber, as there's little else here, and he dings it about as if it were a firclog !-And wlio bé you, an it please you ?" she added, turning to the stranger—"a very hallanshaker loon, as ever crossed my twa e’en.”
“ I am a jagger, if it like your ladyship,” replied the uninvited guest, a stout, vulgar, little
man,' who had indeed the humble appearance of a pedlar, called jagger in these islands
never travelled in a waur day, or was more willing to get to harbourage.—Heaven be praised for fire and house-room !”
So saying, be drew a stool to the fire, and sate down without further ceremony. Dame Baby stared, “wild as grey goss-hawk," and was meditating how to express her indignation in something warmer than words, for which the boiling pot seemed to offer a convenient hint, when an old half-starved serving woman, the sharer of her domestic cares, who had been as yet in some remote corner of the mansion, now hobbled into the room, and broke out into exclamations which indicated some new cause of alarm.
O master!” and “ O mistress !” were the only sounds she could for some time articulate, and then followed them up with, “The best in the house-the best in the house-set a' on the 'board, and a' will be little aneugh-there is auld Norna of Fitful-head, the most fearful woman in all the isles !"
“Where can she have been wandering?” said Mordaunt, not without some apparent sympathy