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posed to bribe off his evidence by imparting a portion of her plunder; and, desiring her to get ready what provisions she had made for dinner, he returned to his father, whom he still found sitting in the same place, and nearly in the same posture, in which he had left him.
When their hasty and frugal meal was finished, Mordaunt announced to his father his purpose of going down to the town, or hamlet, to look after the shipwrecked sailor.
The elder Mertoun assented with a nod.
“He must be ill accommodated there, sir," added his son,-a hint which only produced another nod of assent. “ He seemed, from his appearance," pursued Mordaunt,“ to be of very good rank-and, admitting these poor people do their best to receive him, in his present weak state, yet”
“ I know what you would say,” said his father, interrupting him ; “we, you think, ought to do something towards assisting him. Go to him, then-if he lacks money, let him name the sum, and he shall have it; but, for lodging the stranger here, and holding intercourse with him, I
neither can, nor will do so. I have retired to this, farthest extremity of the British isles, to avoid new friends and new faces, and none such shall intrude on me either their happiness or their misery. When you have known the world half a score of years longer, your early friends will have given you reason to remember them, and to avoid new ones for the rest of your life. Go then — why do you stop ?-rid the country of the man
- let me see no one about me but those vulgar countenances, the extent and character of whose petty knavery I know, and can submit to, as to an evil too trifling to cause irritation.” He then threw his purse to his son, and signed to him to depart with all speed.
Mordaunt was not long before he reached the village. In the dark abode of Neil Ronaldson, the Ranzelman, he found the stranger, seated by the peat-fire, upon the very chest which had excited the cupidity of the devout Bryce Snailsfoot, the pedlar. The Ranzelman himself was absent, dividing, with all due impartiality, the spoils of the wrecked vessel amongst the natives of the community; listening to, and redressing their
complaints of inequality; and (if the matter in hand had not been, from the beginning to end, utterly unjust and indefensible) discharging the part of a wise and prudent magistrate, in all the details relating to it. For at this time, and probably until a much later period, the lower orders of the islanders entertained an opinion, common to barbarians also when in the same situation, that whatever was cast on their shores, became their indisputable property.
Margery Bimbister, the worthy spouse of the Ranzelman, was in the charge of the house, and introduced Mordaunt to her guest, saying, with no great ceremony,“ This is the young tacksman-You will maybe tell him your name, though you will not tell it to us. If it had not been for his four quarters, it's but little you would have said to any body, sae lang as life lasted."
The stranger arose, and shook Mordaunt by the hand; observing, he understood that he had been the means of saving his life and his chest. " The rest of the property,” he said, " is, I see, walking the plank; for they are as busy as the devil in a gale of wind.”
* And what was the use of your seamanship, then,” said Margery, “that you couldna keep off the Sumburgh-head? It would have been long ere Sumburgh-head had come to you.”.
“Leave us for a moment, good Margery Bimbister," said Mordaunt; “I wish some private conversation with this gentleman.” “ Gentleman !” said Margery, with an empha
“not but the man is well eneugh to look at,” she added, again surveying him, " but I doubt if there is muckle of the gentleman.”
Mordaunt looked at the stranger, and was of a different opinion. He was rather above the middle size, and formed handsomely as well as strongly. Mordaunt's acquaintance with society was not extensive; but he thought his new acquaintance, to a bold sun-bumt handsome countenance, which seemed to have faced various climates, added the frank and open manners of a sailor. He answered cheerfully the inquiries which Mordaunt made after his health: and maintained that one night's rest would relieve him from all the effects of the disaster he had sustained. But he spoke with bitterness of the
avarice and curiosity of the Ranzelman and his spouse.
“ That chattering old woman,” said the stranger, “ has persecuted me the whole day for the name of the ship. I think she might be contented with the share she has had of it. I was the principal owner of the vessel that was lost yonder, and they have left me nothing but my wearing apparel. Is there no magistrate, or justice of the peace, in this wild country, that would lend a hand to help one when he is among the breakers ?”
Mordaunt mentioned Magnus Troil, the principal proprietor, as well as the Powd, or provincial judge of the district, as the person from whom he was most likely to obtain redress; and regretted that his own youth, and his father's situation as a retired stranger, should put it out of their power to afford him the protection he required.
“Nay, for your part, you have done enough,” said the sailor; "but if I had five out of the forty brave fellows that are fishes' food by this time, the devil a man would I ask to do me the right that I could do for myself.”