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by his exertions, in precept and example, to civilize the Zetlanders, and improve their very confined knowledge in the primary arts of human life.
The wind blew keen frae north and east;
It blew upon the floor.
“Get up and bar the door."
Goodman, as ye may see ;
Old Song. We can only hope that the gentle reader has not found the latter part of the last chapter extremely tedious; but, at any rate, his impatience will scarce equal that of young Mordaunt Mertoun, who, while the lightning came flash after flash, while the wind, veering and shifting from point to point, blew with all the fury of a hurricane, and while the rain was dashed against him in deluges, stood hammering, calling, and "roaring at the door of the old Place of Harfra, impatient for admittance, and at a loss to conceive any position of existing circumstances, which could occasion the exclusion of a stranger, especially during such horrible weather. At length, finding his noise and vociferation were equally in vain, he fell back so far from the front of the house as was necessary to enable him to reconnoitre the chimneys; and amidst “storm and shade," could discover, to the increase of his dismay, that though noon, then the dinner hour of these islands, was now nearly arrived, there was no smoke proceeding from the tunnels of the vents to give any note of preparation within.
Mordaunt's wrathful impatience was now changed into sympathy and alarm ; for so long accustomed to the exuberant hospitality of the Zetland islands, the was immediately induced to suppose some strange and unaccountable disastér had befallen the family, and forthwith set himself to discover some place at which he could make forcible entry, in order to ascertain the situation of the inmates, as much as to obtain shelter from the still increasing storm. His pré« sent anxiety was, however, as much thrown away
as his late clamorous importunities for admittance had been. Triptolemus and his sister had heard the whole alarm without, and had already had a sharp dispute on the propriety of opening the door.
Mrs Baby, as we have described her, was no willing renderer of the rites of hospitality. In their farm of Cauldshouthers, in the Mearns, she had been the dread and abhorrence of all gaberlunziemen, and travelling packmen, gypsies, long remembered beggars, and so forth; nor was there one of them so wily, as she used to boast, as could ever say they had heard the clink of her sneck. In Zetland, where the new settlers were yet strangers to the extreme honesty and simplicity of all classes, suspicion and fearjoined with frugality in her desire to exclude all wandering guests of uncertain character; and the second of these motives had its effect on Triptolemus himself, who, though neither suspicious nor penurious, knew good people were scarce, good farmers scarcer, and had a reasonable share of that wisdom which looks towards self-preservation as the first law of nature. These hints may serve as a commentary on the following dialogue which took place betwixt the brother and sister.
“ Now good be gracious to us," said Triptolemus, as he sate thumbing his old school-copy of Virgil,“ here is a pure day for the bear seed ?Well spoke the wise Mantuan--ventis surgentibus - and then the groans of the mountains, and the long resounding shores -- but where's the woods, Baby? tell me, I say, where we shall find the nemorum murmur, sister Baby, in these new seats of ours ?”
“ What's your foolish will ?” said Baby, popping her head from out of a dark recess in the kitchen, where she was busy about some nameless deed of housewifery.
Her brother, who had addressed himself to her more from habit than intention, no sooner saw her sharp red nose, keen grey eyes, with the sharp features thereunto conforming, shaded by the flaps of the loose toy which depended on each side of her eager face, than he bethought himself that his query was like to find little acceptation from her, and therefore stood another volley before he would resume the topic.