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head, and for the boy's, is all I seek for; so name your rent, Mr Troil, and let me be
your tenant at Jarlshof.”
“Rent ?" answered the Zetlander; “ why, no great rent for an old house which no one has lived in since my mother's time, God rest her; and as for shelter, the old walls are thick enough, and will bear many a bang yet. But, Heaven love you, Mr Mertoun, think what you are purposing. For one of us to live at Jarlshof, were a wild scheme enough ; but you, who are from another country, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, no one can tell ”
“ Nor does it greatly matter,” said Mertoun, somewhat abruptly.
“Not a herring's scale," answered the Laird ; only that I like you the better for being no Scot, as I trust you are not one. Hither they have come like the clack-geese -- every chamberlain has brought over a flock of his own name, and his own hatching, for what I know, and here they roost for ever-catch them returning to their own barren Highlands or Lowlands, when they have tasted our Zetland beef, and seen our bonny voes and locks. No, sir," (here Magnus proceeded with great animation, sipping from time to time the half-diluted spirit, which at the same time animated his resentment against the intruders, and enabled him to endure the mortifying reflections which it suggested,) —“ No, sir, the ancient days and the genuine manners of these Islands are no more; for our ancient possessors,- our Patersons, our Feas, our Schlagbrenners, our Yhiorbiorns, have given place to Giffords, Scotts, Mouats, men whose names bespeak them or their ancestors strangers to the soil which we the Troils have inhabited long before the days of Turf-Einar, who first taught these Isles the mystery of burning peat for fuel, and who has been handed down to a grateful posterity by a name which records the discovery."
This was a subject upon which the potentate of Jarlshof was usually very diffuse, and Mertoun saw him enter upon it with pleasure, because he knew he would not be called upon to contribute any aid to the conversation, and might therefore indulge his own saturnine humour while the Norwegian Zetlander declaimed on the change of times and inhabitants. But just as Magnus had arrived at the melancholy conclusion,“ how probable it was, that in another century scarce a merk - scarce even an ure of land, would be in possession of the Norse inhabitants, the true Udallers* of Zetland,” he recollected the circumstances of his guest, and stopped suddenly short. “I do not say all this,” he added, interrupting himself, “ as if I were unwilling that you should settle on my estate, Mr Mertounbut for Jarlshof -- the place is a wild one - Come from where you will, I warrant you will say,
like other travellers, you came from a better climate than ours, for so say you all. And yet you think of a retreat which the very natives run away from. Will you not take your glass?" (This was to be considered as interjectional,“Then here's to you.”
My good sir,” answered Mertoun, “I am indifferent to climate; if there is but air enough to fill my lungs, I care not if it be the breath of Arabia or of Lapland.”
The Udallers are the allodial possessors of Zetland, who hold their possessions under the old Norwegian law, instead of the feudal tenures introduced among them from Scotland.
“ Air enough you may have,” answered Magnus, "no lack of that-somewhat damp, strangers allege it to be, but we know a corrective for that - Here's to you, Mr Mertoun you must learn to do so, and to smoke a pipe ; and then, as you say, you will find the air of Zetland equal to that of Arabia. But have you seen Jarlshof?”
The stranger intimated he had not.
“ Then,” replied Magnus, “ you have no idea of your undertaking. If you think it a comfortable roadstead like this, with the house situated on the side of an inland voe, * that brings the herrings up to your door, you are mistaken, my heart. At Jarlshof
At Jarlshof you will see nought but the wild waves tumbling on the bare rocks, and the Roost of Sumburgh running at the rate of fifteen knots an hour."
“ I shall see nothing at least of the current of human passions," replied Mertoun.
“You will hear nothing but the clanging and screaming of scarfs, sheer-waters, and sea-gulls, from day-break till sun-set.”
* Salt-water lake.
* I will compound, my friend," replied the stranger, “so that I do not hear the chattering of women's tongues.”
“Ah,” said the Norman, " that is because you hear just now my little Minná and Brenda singing in the garden with your Mordaunt. Now, I would rather listen to their little voices, than the sky-lark which I once heard in Caithness, or the nightingale that I have read of.-- What will the girls do for want of their playmate Mordaunt?"
They will shift for themselves," answered Mertoun; younger or elder they will find playmates or dupes; but the question is, Mr Troil, will you let to me, as your tenant, this old mansion of Jarlshof?"
Gladly, since you make it your option to live in a spot so desolate.”
“ And for the rent?” continued Mertoun.
“ The rent ?" replied Magnus; “hum -- why, you must have the bit of plantie cruive, which they once called a garden, and a right in the scathold, and a sixpenny merk of land, that the tenants may fish for you ;-eight lispunds of but