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the night of the flood, I had anticipated a "confused march forlorn, through bogs, caves, fens, lakes, dens, and shades of death," but was agreeably surprised to see the Longslap Moss a simple stripe along the water's edge, lying dark in the deepening twilight, a full furlong from our path, which, instead of weltering through the soaked and spungy flats that I had expected, wound dry and mossy up the gentle slope of a smooth green hill; so that, although the night closed in upon us ere half our journey was completed, we arrived at Knowehead without farther accident than one capsize, (the beauty of slipping consists in the impossibility of breaks down,) and so far from being the worse of my "sail," I felt actually stronger than on leaving the Grange; nevertheless I was put to bed, where I continued for a week.
Next day brought intelligence of the wrecking of Moyabel in the search for the rebel general and the sick Frenchman: Our measures had been so well taken, however, that no suspicion attached itself to Knowe head. I learned from Peggy, so soon as her lamentations subsided, that Mr O'More was a south country gentleman, who had married her master's sister, and that Madeline was his only child; that this had been his first visit to the north since the death of his lady, which had taken place at her brother's house, but that Moyabel had long been the resort of his friends and emissaries. The old woman left Knowehead that night, and I learned no more; for Jenny (who remained with Miss Janet) had been so busy with her care of Aleck during his illness, and afterwards so unwell herself, that she knew nothing more than I.
Another week completely re-established me in my strength; but the craving that had never left me since the last sight of Madeline, kept me still restless and impatient. Meanwhile Aleck's courtship had ripened in the golden sun of matrimony, and the wedding took place on the next Monday morning. He was a favourite with all at Knowehead, and the event was celebrated by a dance of all the young neighbours. After witnessing the leaping and flinging in the barn for half an hour, I retired to
Miss Janet's parlour, where I was lolling away the evening on her highbacked sofa, along with the old gentleman, who, driven from his capitol in the kitchen by the bustle of the day, had installed himself in the unwonted state of an embroidered armchair beside me. We were projecting a grand coursing campaign before I should leave the country, and listening to the frequent bursts of merriment from the barn and kitchen, when little Davie came in to tell his master that "Paul Ingram was speerin' gain he wad need ony tay, or brendy, or prime pigtail, or Virginney leaf."
"I do not just approve of Paul's line of trade," observed the old man, turning to me; "for I'm thinking his commodities come oftener frae the smuggler's cave than the King's store; but he's a merry deevil, Paul, and has picked up a braw hantle o' mad ballads ae place and another; some frae Glen here, some frae Galloway, some frae the Isle `o' Man, and some queer lingos he can sing, that he says he learned frae the Frenchmen."
A sudden thought struck me. "I will go out and get him to sing some to me, sir."—"Is Rab Halliday there, Davie?" enquired he.
"Oh aye, sir," said Davie; "it's rantin' Rab that ye hear roarin' e'en noo."
"Weel, tell him, Davie, that here's Mr William, wha has learned to speel Parnassus by a step-ladder, has come to hear the sang he made about my grandmither's wooin'."
Accordingly Davie ushered me to the kitchen. I could distinguish through the reaming fumes of liquor and tobacco about half a dozen carousers; they were chorusing at the full stretch of their lungs the song of a jolly fellow in one corner, who, nodding, winking, and flourishing his palms, in that state of perfect bliss "that good ale brings men to," was lilting up
"Till the house be rinnin' round about,
It's time enough to flit;
This was ranting Rab Hallidaythey all rose at my entrance; but being able to make myself at home in all companies, I had little difficul
ty in soon restoring them to their seats and jollity; while Davie signified what was to him intelligible of his master's wishes to the tuneful ranter. Rab, after praying law for
any lack of skill that might be detected by my learning, sang with great humour the following verses, which he entitled
THE CANNY COURTSHIP.
YOUNG Redrigs walks where the sunbeams fa';
Wi' shouthers sae braid, and wi' waist sae sma',
He cocks his cap, and he streeks out his briest;
The Laird o' Largy is far frae hame,
In mony a gowden ban':
Bauld Redrigs loups frae his blawin' horse,
"I'll no be harried like bumbee's byke-
The road ye came gae 'lang!"
It's doon she sat when she saw him gae,
Was "O! and alack! and a well-a-day!
But if she was wae, it's he was wud;
The Glowerer ran for the kitchen door;
Then Sam he loups to the dresser shelf-
Frae her cheeny bowl, my man!"
But Redrigs' bluid wi' his hand was up ;
And doon the dishes dang;
They glanced wi' gowd sae thrang!
Then bonny Nelly came skirlin' butt;
O spare my teapot! O spare my jug!
"Forgie, forgie me, my beauty bright!
"Fetch out my pillion, fetch out my cloak,
I got this copy of his song since, else I could not have recollected it from that hearing; for I was too impatient to put the plan into execution for which I had come out, to attend even to this immortalizing of an
I knew Ingram at once by his blue jacket, and the corkscrews which bobbed over each temple as he nodded and swayed his head to the flourishes of "the gaberlunzie man," (the measure which Halliday had chosen for his words;) so when the song was finished, and I had drank a health to Robin's muse, I stepped across to where he sat, and said I wished to speak with him alone. He put down his jug of punch, and followed me into my own room. I closed the door and told him, that as I understood him to be in the Channel trade, I applied to know if he could put me on any expeditious conveyance to the coast of France. "Why, sir," said he, “I could give you a cast myself in our own tight thing, the Saucy Sally, as far as Douglas or the Calf; and for the rest of the trip, why there's our consort, the Little Sweep, that will be thereabouts this week, would run you up, if it would lie in your way, as far as Guernsey, or, if need be, to Belle Isle." "Belle Isle!" repeated I, with a start; for the words of O'More to the priest came suddenly upon my recollection," Has any boat left this coast or that of Man for Belle Isle within the last fortnight?" "Not a keel, sir; there's ne'er a boat just now in the Channel that could do it but herself -they call her the Deil-sweep, sir, among the revenue sharks; for that's all that they could ever make of her.
She is the only boat, sir, as I have said, and if so be you arc a gentleman in distress, you will not be the only one that will have cause to trust to her-but, d-n it, (he muttered,) these women-well, what of that ?Mayn't I lend a hand to save a fine fellow for all that?-but harkye, brother, this is all in confidence."
"Your confidence shall not be abused," whispered I, hardly able to breathe for eager hope-the female passengers the desire for exclusion the only boat that fortnight, all confirmed me. Mr O'More and I are friends; fear neither for him nor yourself; let me only get first on board, and I can rough it all night on deck, as many a time I've done before": his daughter and her woman can have your cabin to themselves." It was a bold guess, but all right; he gaped at me for a minute in dumb astonishment; then closing one hand upon the earnest which I here slipped into it, drew the other across his eyes, as if to satisfy himself that he was not dreaming, and in a respectful tone informed me that they intended sailing on the next night from Cairn Castle shore. "We take the squire up off Island Magee, sir; he has been lying to on the look-out for us there for the last ten days; so that if you want to bear a hand in getting the young lady aboard, it will be all arranged to your liking."
During this conversation, my whole being underwent a wonderful change; from the collapsing sickness of bereavement, I felt my heart and limbs expand themselves under the delightful enlargement of this nev spring of hope: I shook Ingram ly the hand, led him back to the kitche
and returned to the old man with a step so elated, and with such a kindling of animation over my whole appearance, that he exclaimed, in high glee, “Heard ye ever sic verses at Oxford, Willie? Odd! man, Rab Halliday is as good as a dozen o' Janet's possets for ye; I'll hae him here again to sing to ye the morn's e’en.” "He is a very pleasant fellow-a very pleasant fellow, indeed, sir; but I fear I shall not be able to enjoy his company to-morrow night, as I purpose taking my passage for the Isle of Man in Ingram's boat.”—“ Nonsense, Willie, nonsense; ye wadna make yoursell hail, billy, weel met,' wi' gallows-birds and vagabonds though, as for Paul himsell”. "My dear sir, you know I have my passport, and need not care for the reputation of my hired servants; besides, sir, you know how fond I am of excitement of all sorts, and the rogue really sings so well”.
"That he does, Willie. Weel, weel -he that will to Cupar maun to Cupar!" and so saying, he lifted up his candle and marched off the field without another blow.
Ingram and I started next evening about four o'clock, attended by little Davie, who was to bring back the horse I rode next day; Ingram, whose occupation lay as much on land as sea, was quite at home on his rough sheltie, which carried also a couple of little panniers at either side of the pommel, well-primed with samples of his contraband commodities. We arrived a little after nightfall in Larne, where we left Davie with the horses, while Ingram, having disposed of his pony, joined me on foot, and we set off by the now. bright light of the moon along the hills for Cairn Castle.
During the first three or four miles of our walk, he entertained me with abundance of songs echoed loud and long across the open mountain; but when we descended from it towards the sea, we both kept silence and a sharp look-out over the unequal and bleak country between. We now got among low clumpy hills and furzy gullies; and had to pick our steps through loose scattered lumps of rock, which were lying all round us white in the clear moonshine, like flocks of sheep upon the hill-side. The wind was off the shore, and we
did not hear the noise of the water till, at the end of one ravine, we turned the angular jut of a low promontory, and beheld the image of the moon swinging in its still swell at our feet.
Ingram whistled, and was answered from the shore a little farther on; he stepped out a few paces in advance and led forward; presently I saw a light figure glide out of the shadow in front and approach us. "Vell, mine Apostéle Paul, vat news of the Ephesiens?"
"All right, Munsher Martin, and here is another passenger."
He whispered something, and the little Frenchman touched his hat with an air; and expressed, in a compound of Norman French, Manx, and English, the great pleasure he had in doing a service to the illustrious cavalier, the friend of liberty. Hearing a noise in front, I looked up and discerned the light spar of a mast peeping over an intervening barrier of rock; we wound round it, and on the other side found a cutter-rigged boat of about eighteen tons hauled close to the natural quay, with her mainsail set and flapping heavily in the night wind. Here we met another seaman. In ten minutes we were under way; the smooth groundswell running free and silent from our quarter, and the boat laying herself out with an easy speed, as she caught the breeze freshening over the lower coast. The Saucy Sally was a half-decked cutter, (built for a pleasure-boat in Guernsey,) and a tight thing, as Ingram had said. I did not go into the cabin, which occupied all the forecastle, but wrapping myself in my cloak, lay down along the stern-sheets, and feigned to be asleep, for I was so excited by the prospect of meeting Madeline, that I could no longer join in the conversation of the crew. In about half an hour I heard them say that we were in sight of Island Magee, and rising, beheld it dark over our weather-bows; I went forward and continued on the forecastle in feverish impatience as we neared it; the breeze stiffened as we opened Larne Lough, and the Saucy Sally tossed two or three sprinklings of cold spray over my shoulders, but I shook the water from my cloak and resumed my look-out. At last we were within a quarter of a mile of
the coast, and a light appeared right opposite; we showed another and lay to; with a fluttering heart I awaited the approach of a boat; twice I fancied I saw it distinguish itself from the darkness of the coast, and twice I felt the blank recoil of disappointment; at last it did appear, dipping distinct from among the rocks and full of people; they neared us; my heart leapt at every jog of their oars in the loose thewels; for I could now plainly discern two female figures, two boatmen, and a muffled man in the stern. All was now certain; they shot alongside, laid hold of the gunnel, and I heard O'More's voice call on Ingram to receive the lady; I could hardly conceal my agitation as she was lifted on deck, but had no power to advance; Nancy followed, and O'More himself leaped third on deck-the boat shoved off, the helmsman let the cutter's head away, the mainsail filled, and we stood out to sea.
Here I was then, and would be for four-and-twenty hours at the least, by the side of her whom a little time before I would have given years of my life to have been near but for a minute; yet, with an unaccountable irresolution, I still delayed, nay, shrunk, from the long-sought interview. It was not till her father had gone into the little cabin to arrange it for her reception, and had closed the door between us, that I ventured from my hiding-place behind the foresail, and approached her where she stood gazing mournfully over the boat's side at the fast passing shores of her country. I whispered her name; she knew my voice at the first syllable, and turned in amazed delight; but the flush of pleasure which lit up her beantiful features as I clasped her hand, had hardly dawned ere it was chased by the rising paleness of alarm. I comforted her by assurances of eternal love, and vowed to follow her to the ends of the earth in despite of every human power. We stood alone; for two sailors were with O'More and the girl in the cabin, and the third, having lashed the tiller to, was fixing something forward. We stood alone I cannot guess how long-time is short, but the joy of those moments has been everlasting. We exchanged vows of mutual affection and
constancy, and I had sealed our blessed compact with a kiss, witnessed only by the moon and stars, when the cabin-door opened, and her faI held out ther stood before me. my hand, and accosted him with the free confidence of a joyful heart. The severe light of the moon sharpened his strong features into startling expression, as he regarded me for a second with mingled astonishment and vexation. He did not seem to notice my offered hand, but saying something in a low, cold tone about the unexpected pleasure, turned to the steersman, and demanded fiercely why he had not abided by his agreement? The sailor, quailing before the authoritative tone and aspect of his really noble-looking questioner, began an exculpatory account of my having been brought thither by Ingram, to whom he referred.
Bold Paul was beginning with "Lookee, Squire, I'm master of this same craft," when I interrupted him by requesting that he would take his messmates to the bows, and leave the helm with me, as I wished to explain the matter myself in private. He consigned his soul, in set terms, to the devil, if any other man than myself should be allowed to make a priest's palaver-box of the Saucy Sally, and sulkily retired, rolling his quid with indefatigable energy, and squirting jets of spittle half-mast high.
O'More almost pushed the reluctant Madeline into the cabin, closed the door, and addressed me.—“ To what motive am I to attribute your presence here, Mr Macdonnell ?"
"To one which I am proud to avow, the desire of being near the object of my sole affections, your lovely daughter; as well, sir, as from a hope that I may still be able to overcome those objections which you once expressed.'
He pointed over the boat's side to the black piled precipices of the shore, as they stood like an iron wall looming along the weather-beam.— "Look there, sir; look at the Bloody Gobbins, and hear me-When a setting moon shall cease to fling the mourning of their shadows over the graves of my butchered ancestors, and when a rising sun shall cease to bare before abhorring Christendom".