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with the surprise, if not with the alarm, of the old domestic; “but it is needless to ask -- the worse the weather, the more likely is she to be a traveller.".
“What new tramper is this?" echoed the distracted Baby, whom the quick succession of guests bad driven well nigh crazy with vexation. “ I'll soon settle her wandering, I shall warrant, if my brother has but the soul of a man in him, or if there be a pair of jougs at Scalloway.”
“ The iron was never forged on stitby that would hauld her," said the old maid-servant. “ She comes
she comes God's sake speak her fair and canny, or we will have a ravelled hasp on the yarn-windles.”.
As she spoke, a woman tall enough almost to touch the top of the door with her cap, stepped into the room, signing the cross as she entered, and pronouncing, with a solemn voice, “ The blessing of God and Saint Ronald on the open door, and their braid malison and mine upon close-handed churls !"
“ And wha are ye, that are sae bauld wi' your blessing and banning in other folks' houses ? What kind of country is this, that folks cannot
sit quiet for an hour, and serve heaven, and keep their bit gear thegither, without gangrel men and women coming thigging and sorning ane after another, like a string of wild-geese?”
This speech, the understanding reader will easily saddle on Mistress Baby, and what effects it might have produced on the last stranger can only be matter of conjecture; for the old servant and Mordaunt applied themselves at once to the party addressed, in order to deprecate her resentment; the former speaking to her some words of Norse, in a tone of intercession, and Mordaunt saying in English, “ They are strangers, Norna, and know not your name or qualities; they are unacquainted, too, with the ways of this country, and therefore we must hold them excused for their lack of hospitality."
“ I lack no hospitality, young man,” said Triptolemus, “ miseris succurrere disco - the goose
that was destined to roost in the chimney till Michaelmas, is boiling in the pot for you; but if we had twenty geese, I see we are like to find mouths to eat them every feather - this must be amended.”
" What must be amended, sordid slave ?" said
the stranger Norna, turning at once upon him with an emphasis that made him start-"What must be amended?. Bring hither, if thou wilt, thy new-fangled coulters, spades and harrows, alter the implements of our fathers from the ploughshare to the mouse-trap; but know thou art in the land that was won of old by the flaxen-haired Kempions of the North, and leave us their hospitality at least, to shew we come of what was once noble and generous. I say to you beware — while Norna looks forth at the measureless, waters, from the crest of Fitfulhead, something is yet left that resembles power of defence. If the men of Thule have ceased to be champions, and to spread the banquet for the raven, the women have not forgotten the arts that lifted them of
The woman who pronounced this singular tirade, was as striking in appearance as extravagantly lofty in her pretensions and in her language. She might well have represented on the stage, so far as features, voice, and stature were concerned, the Bonduca or Boadicea of
queens and the Britons, or the sage Velleda, Aurinia, or any other fated Pythoness, who ever led to battle a tribe of the ancient Goths. Her features were high and well formed, and would have been handsome but for the ravages of time, and the effects of exposure to the severe weather of her country. Age, and perhaps sorrow, had quenched, in some degree, the fire of a dark blue
eye, whose hue almost approached to black, and had sprinkled snow on such part of her tresses as had escaped from under her cap, and were dishevelled by the rigour of the storm. Her
upper garment, which dropped with water, was of a coarse dark-coloured stuff, called Wadmaral, then much used in the Zetland islands, as also in Iceland and Norway. But as she threw this cloak back from her shoulders, a short jacket, of dark blue velvet, stamped with figures, became visible, and the vest, which corresponded to it, was of crimson colour, and embroidered with tarnished silver. Her girdle was plaited with silver ornaments, cut into the shape of planetary signs - her blue apron was embroidered with similar devices, and covered
apron was embroidered with similar devices, and covered a petticoat of crimson cloth. Strong thick enduring shoes, of the half-dressed leather of the country, were tied with straps like those of the Roman buskins, over her scarlet stockings. She wore in her belt, an ambiguous looking weapon, which might pass for a sacrificing knife or dagger, as the imagination of the spectator chose to assign to the wearer the character of a priestess or of a sorceress. In her hand she held a staff, squared on all sides, and engraved with Runic characters and figures, forming one of those portable and perpetual calendars which were used among the ancient natives of Scandinavia, and which, to a superstitious eye, might have passed for a divining rod.
Such were the appearance, features, and attire of Norna of the Fitful-head, upon whom many of the inhabitants of the island looked with obser. vance, many with fear, and almost all with a sort of veneration. Less pregnantcircumstances of suspicion would, in any other part of Scotland, have exposed her to the investigation of those cruel inquisitors, who were then often invested with the