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“I say, Mr Yellowley,” said sister Baby, coming into the middle of the room,“ what for are ye crying on me, and me in the midst of my housewife skep?"
Nay, for nothing at all, Baby,” answered Triptolemus," saying that I was saying to myself, that here we had the sea, and the wind, and the rain sufficient enough, but where's the wood ? where's the wood, Baby, answer me that?”
“ The wood ?" answered Baby “ Were I no to take better care of the wood than you, brother, there would soon be no more wood about the town than the barber's block that's on your own shoulders, Triptolemus. If ye be thinking of the wreck-wood that the callants brought in yesterday, there was six unces of it gaed to boil your parritch this morning ; though, I trow, a carefu' man wad have ta’en drammock, if breakfast he behoved to have, rather than waste baith meltith and fuel in the same morning."
" That is to say, Baby,” replied Triptolemus; who was somewhat of a dry joker in his way, © that when we have fire we are not to have food, and when we have food we are not to have fire, these being too great blessings to enjoy both in the same day. Good luck, you do not propose we should starve with cold and starve with hun ger unico contextu. But to tell you the truth, I could never away with raw oatmeal, slockened with water, in all my life. Call it drammock, or crowdie, or just what ye list, my vivers must thole fire and water."
“ The mair gowk you,” said Baby;“ can ye not make your brose of the Sunday, and sup them cauld on the Monday, since ye're sae dainty ? Mony is the fairer face than yours that has licked the lip after such a cogfu'."
Mercy on us, sister !" said Triptolemus; " at this rate, it's a finished field with me-I must unyoke the pleugh, and lie down to wait for the dead-thraw. Here is that in this house wad hold all Zetland in meal for a twelvemonth, and ye grudge a cogfu' of warm parritch to me, that has sic a charge.”
“ Whisht--- hold your silly clavering tongue," said Baby, looking round with apprehension -
ye are a wise man to speak of what is in the house, and a fitting man to have the charge of it. - Hark, as I live by bread, I hear a tapping at the outen yett?".
" Go and open it then, Baby,” said her brother, glad at any thing that promised to interrupt the dispute.
" Go and open it, said he ?" echoed Baby, half angry, half frightened, and half triumphant, at the superiority of her understanding over that of her brother—" Go and open it, said you, indeed ?-is it to lend robbers a chance to take all that is in the house ?"
“ Robbers !" echoed Triptolemus in his turn; 'there are no more robbers in this country than there are lambs at Youle. I tell you, as I have told you an hundred times, there are no Highlandmen to harry us here. This is a land of quiet and honesty. O fortunati nimium !”
“ And what good is Saint Rinian to do ye, Tolemus ?” said his sister, mistaking the quotation for a Catholic invocation. " Besides, if there be no Highlandmen, there may be as bad. I saw sax or seven as ill-looking chields gang past the place yesterday, as ever came frae beyont Cloch-na-ben; illfa'red tools they had in their hands, whaaling knives they ca’ed them, but they looked as like whingers as ae bit airn
can look like anither. There is nae honest man carry siccan tools."
Here the knocking and shouts of Mordaunt were very audible betwixt every swell of the horrible blast which was careering without. The brother and sister looked at each other in real perplexity and fear. “ If they have heard of the siller,” said Baby, her very nose changing with terror from red to blue, we are but gane folks."
Who speaks now, when they should hold their peace ?" said Triptolemus. “ Go to the shot-window instantly, and see how many there are of them, while I load the old Spanish-barrelled duck-gun-go as if you were stepping on newlaid eggs."
Baby crept to the window, and reported that she saw only one young chield, clattering and roaring as gin he were daft. How many there might be out of sight, she could not say.”
Out of sight!-nonsense,” said Triptolemus, laying aside the ramrod with which he was loading the piece, with a trembling hand. “ I will warrant them out of sight and hearing both-this is some poor fellow catched in the tempest, wants the shelter of our roof, and a little refreshment. Open the door, Baby, it's a Christian deed.”
“ But is it a Christian deed of him to come in at the window then ?" said Baby, setting up a most doleful shriek, as Mordaunt Mertoun, who had forced open one of the windows, leaped down into the apartment, dripping with water like a river god. Triptolemus, in great tribulation, presented the gun which he had not yet loaded, while the intruder exclaimed," Hold, , hold-what the devil mean you by keeping your doors bolted in weather like this, ånd levelling your gun at folk's heads as you would at a sealgh's ?”
“ And who are you, friend, and what want you?” said Triptolenius, lowering the butt of his gun to the floor as he spoke, and so "recovering his arms.
“ What do I want !” said Mordaunt; " I want every thing I want meat, drink, and fire, a bed for the night, and a sheltie for tomorrow morning to carry me to Jarlshof.".