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"Ay, troth did he," answered the old man; "for he loot his affairs gang to the dogs, and let in this Sir William Ashton on us, that will gie naething for naething, and just removed me and a' the puir creatures that had bite and soup at the castle, and a hole to put our heads in, when things were in the auld way."
"If Lord Ravenswood protected his people, my friend, while he had the means of doing so, I think they might spare his memory," replied the Master.
"Ye are welcome to your ain opinion, sir," said the sexton; "but ye winna persuade me that he did his duty, either to himsell or to huz puir dependent creatures, in guiding us the gate he has done; he might hae gien us life-rent tacks of our bits o' houses and yards; and me, that's an auld man, living in you miserable cabin, that's fitter for the dead than the quick, and killed wi' rheumatise, and John Smith in my dainty bit mailing, and his window glazen, and a' because Ravenswood guided his gear like a fule!"
"It is but too true," said Ravenswood, conscience-struck; "the penalties of extravagance extend far beyond the prodigal's own sufferings." "However," said the sexton, "this young man Edgar is like to avenge my wrangs on the haill of his kindred." "Indeed?" said Ravenswood; "why should you suppose so?"
"They say he is about to marry the daughter of Leddy Ashton; and let her leddyship get his head ance under her oxter, and see you if she winna gie his neck a thraw. Sorra a bit, if I were him! Let her alane for hauding a'thing in het water that draws near her. Sae the warst wish I shall wish the lad is, that he may take his ain creditable gate o't, and ally himsell wi' his father's enemies, that have taken his broad lands and my bonny kail-yard from the lawful owners thereof."
Cervantes acutely remarks, that flattery is pleasing even from the mouth of a madman; and censure, as well as praise, often affects us, while we despise the opinions and motives on which it is founded and expressed. Ravenswood, abruptly reiterating his command that Alice's funeral should be attended to, flung away from the sexton, under the painful impression that the great as well as the small vulgar would think of his engagement with Lucy like this ignorant and selfish peasant.
"And I have stooped to subject myself to these calumnies, and am rejected notwithstanding! Lucy, your faith must be true and perfect as the diamond to compensate for the dishonour which men's opinions, and the conduct of your mother, attach to the heir of Ravenswood!"
As he raised his eyes, he beheld the Marquis of A----, who, having arrived at the Tod's Hole, had walked forth to look for his kinsman.
After mutual greetings, he made some apology to the Master for not coming forward on the preceding evening. "It was his wish," he said, "to have done so, but he had come to the knowledge of some matters which induced him to delay his purpose. I find," he proceeded, "there has been a love affair here, kinsman; and though I might blame you for not having communicated with me, as being in some degree the chief of your family----"
"With your lordship's permission," said Ravenswood, "I am deeply grateful for the interest you are pleased to take in me, but _I_ am the chief and head of my family."
"I know it--I know it," said the Marquis; "in a strict heraldic and genealogical sense, you certainly are so; what I mean is, that being in some measure under my guardianship----"
"I must take the liberty to say, my lord----" answered Ravenswood, and the tone in which he interrupted the Marquis boded no long duration to the friendship of the noble relatives, when he himself was interrupted by the little sexton, who cam puffing after them, to ask if their honours would choose music at the change-house to make up for short cheer.
"We want no music," said the Master, abruptly.
"Your honour disna ken what ye're refusing, then," said the fiddler, with the impertinent freedom of his profession. "I can play, 'Wilt thou do't again,' and 'The Auld Man's Mear's Dead,' sax times better than ever Patie Birnie. I'll get my fiddle in the turning of a coffin-screw."
"Take yourself away, sir," said the Marquis.
"And if your honour be a north-country gentleman," said the persevering minstrel, "whilk I wad judge from your tongue, I can play 'Liggeram Cosh,' and 'Mullin Dhu,' and 'The Cummers of Athole.'"
"Take yourself away, friend; you interrupt our conversation."
"Or if, under your honour's favour, ye should happen to be a thought honest, I can play (this in a low and confidential tone) 'Killiecrankie,' and 'The King shall hae his ain,' and 'The Auld Stuarts back again'; and the wife at the change-house is a decent, discreet body, neither kens nor cares what toasts are drucken, and what tunes are played, in her house: she's deaf to a'thing but the clink o' the siller."
The Marquis, who was sometimes suspected of Jacobitism, could not help laughing as he threw the fellow a dollar, and bid him go play to the servants if he had a mind, and leave them at peace.
"Aweel, gentlemen," said he, "I am wishing your honours gude day. "I'll be a' the better of the dollar, and ye'll be the waur of wanting music, I'se tell ye. But I'se gang hame, and finish the grave in the tuning o' a fiddle-string, lay by my spade, and then get my tother bread-winner, and awa' to your folk, and see if they hae better lugs than their masters."
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The Bride of Lammermoor -by- Walter Scott