Clifford (as we arose to pursue our journey). – And what became of these two monuments, Serjeant Stewart?
Serjeant. – A certain gentleman, who was building a house somewhere in this neighbourhood (for I had rather not designate him too particularly), cast his eyes on the fine stone that stood by the well-eye, and perceiving that it would make an excellent lintel, he took immediate measures to get it carried off to his rising edifice. Having accomplished his intention, with no little difficulty, it was speedily employed in the building, where it promised to conduct itself with the same quiet and decorum which were observed by all the other stones of the edifice, after being put to rest, each in his separate bed of mortar. But no sooner did the house come to be inhabited than it began to be haunted by strange and mysterious noises. Some of these were quite unintelligible, for they resembled no earthly sound that had ever been heard before. Then long conversations began, and were continued, in small sharp clear voices; but although the words fell distinctly enough on the ears of those who heard them, the language was as a sealed book to them. And ever and anon the seeming dialogue would be interrupted by strange uncouth fits of laughter, as if of several persons together, or in different parts of the premises, that were so far from creating a corresponding disposition to mirth or merriment in the listeners that they froze up the very blood in their veins. But this was not all. The most dismal croaking of frogs arose in every part of the house. You would have sworn that the creatures were in the cupboards – the presses – the chimneys – in the beds – on the floors – nay, on the very tables, and among the dishes which the good folks of the family had set before them. It was as if the frogs that formed the great plague in Egypt had filled the house with their hoarse voices. One would begin as if he were the leader of the band, and then others would start off, one after another, till the doleful chorus, resounding from all quarters, made the concert loud and sonorous. It was no uncommon thing, during the dark and dreary watches of the night, for the voice of the leader, which had something peculiarly striking in it, to arise of a sudden, as if that uttered it was sitting astraddle on the nose of the goodman of the house. In vain was the hand applied to the organ, to drive off what, in reality, appeared to be the organist. There was nothing there; yet the sound continued as if it had come from the deepest pipe in the organ loft of some cathedral, yea, of that of the great organ of Haerlem itself. The more he rubbed the more it grew, and the louder and more universal became the chorus. His very nose itself increased in size from the frequent and severe rubbings to which it was thus subjected, whilst he began to grow thin and emaciated in proportion, till his whole person at length appeared rather as if it had been an appendage to his nose, than his nose an appendage to his person. At last, being worn out in spirit, as he was very nearly in body also, he was fain to take out the stone from the building, and to carry it back to the hill-side again, and then, to be sure, he enjoyed perfect quiet.
Clifford. – A sensible man, truly. But what had evil spirits or fairies to do with a monumental stone?
Serjeant. – Nothing that I can see, sir, except that being guilty of so impious a deed as the removal of such a stone, he was for a time left unprotected by all good angels, and consequently he was altogether at the mercy of those evil ones.
Grant. – Very well made out, Mister Serjeant. But where is the stone now?
Serjeant. – Why, sir, I am sure you will hardly believe me when I tell you that a few years ago it was wantonly destroyed by another gentleman, who shall be also nameless.
Grant. – What a Goth he must have been! Why should you conceal his name, Serjeant? It deserves to be held up to public reprobation.
Serjeant. – I know my own interest too well to be the officious person who shall publish it though. Yet I must own that it would have served him right that it should have been so marked. What do you think he did, gentlemen? Happening to be in this part of Strathdawn, he, without rhyme or reason, and out of sheer wickedness, ordered his people to break both that and the Clach-na-Tagart, or the Priest’s stone, which shocking pieces of barbarism he took care to see executed in his own presence, whilst he stood by, like a mischievous baboon, chuckling over their destruction.
Clifford. – The fellow deserved to have been plunged over head and ears into the Wallee in the first place, and after being thus well soaked, he ought to have been leisurely consumed at the Priest’s stone, like a well watered sack of Newcastle coals.
Serjeant. – Why, sir, I must allow that he had been punished severely enough. The whole people of the country cried out upon him, and every one declared that it was quite impossible that the fellow could thrive, after having demolished two such ould auncient antiquities. And so in truth it turned out, for not long afterwards he lost the whole fushon1 of his side. As for the Clach-na-Tagart, the Roman Catholics, who form the chief population hereabouts, intended to have clasped it together with iron bands, but, (addressing author), as you know very well, sir, from having recorded the fact in your book, the great flood of August, 1829, saved them the trouble of doing so, for the Aven then carried the broken stone clean away, aye, and it swept off the best part of the haugh it stood upon into the bargain.
Grant. – But stay, my good friend Archy. What do you mean by quitting the level path to climb this confounded steep hill, as the direction of your nose, at this moment, would seem to indicate your present intention to be?
Serjeant. – I would fain show you an extensive prospect, gentlemen. It is only a bit start of a pull up here. A mere breathing for you after the long rest you had by the water side yonder. (Then addressing the gillie.) – My man, hold you on the road to Inchrory with the horse, and tell the gudewife there that we are coming.
Clifford. – ‘Tis a very stiff pull, Archy. But we shall be all the better for something of this sort to put us in wind. I calculate that we shall have some worse climbing than this before we are done with these mountains.
Serjeant. – Troth, you may well say that, sir; and as for this hill, we may be very thankful that we have not to climb it with a strong demonstration of the enemies’ riflemen lining the ridge of it.
Clifford. – You are out there, serjeant. Depend upon it, if we saw an enemy lining the height, we should both of us climb it like roebucks, to be at them.
Serjeant. – I’m not saying but we might, sir; that is, if we saw that we were sufficiently well backed. But for all that, we might find our graves before we were half way up the hill; and then what the better should we be, of our comrades saying, as they passed by us, “Poor fellows, you are settled!” Would that be any consolation to us, as we lay writhing in the last agonies?
Grant. – Very small consolation indeed, Archy.
Serjeant. – I wot it would be little indeed, sir. Yet ought a man to do his duty for all that, simply because it is his duty. Many is the time I have heard my good friend Captain Ketley say that; and there were few words fell from his mouth that had not some good sense, or some good moral in them. And certain it is, that if we did not always keep this rule of our conduct in view, we should neither be good sodgers nor good Christians.
Clifford. – Right again, old boy.
Serjeant. – And yet, Mr. Clifford, as I reckon, there is some pleasure in coming out of the scrimmage in a whole skin, and with ears that can hear all the honest commendations that are bestowed upon your own brave and gallant conduct.
Grant (after reaching the summit of the hill). – That was indeed a breather; but now, Serjeant, for the prospect you promised us, I see nothing as yet but the bare flat, moist, moory hill-top.
Serjeant (leading us to the eastern verge of the top of the hill). – Come this way, then, gentlemen. See here what an extensive prospect you have down the course of the river Don. It looks but a small stream there, especially from this height.
Author. – What old castle is that which we see below us there, near yonder clump of trees?
Serjeant. – That is Curgarf Castle. That is the very spot to which so much of my legend referred, though I shall not pretend to say that the building you see there is precisely the same. But now, gentlemen, turn your eyes westward again. Is not that a fine mountain view? See how proudly the Cairngorms rise yonder! But, observe me – you don’t see the highest summits as yet, because those big black lumps opposite to us there, hide the highest tops from our eyes.
Author. – It is a magnificent scene, notwithstanding, especially as viewed at present, under that splendid display of evening light, that is now shooting over those loftier ridges from the descending sun.
Grant. – A very grand scene indeed!
Clifford. – Aye, Grant, we shall have some climbing there, I promise you.
Grant. – There can be little doubt of that. But tell me, Serjeant, what solitary house is that we see in the valley below.
Author. – I can answer you that question. That is Inchrory, the small place, half farm-house, half hostel, where we are to sojourn to-night. It is used as a place of rest and refreshment, by the few travellers who pass on foot or on horseback, by the rugged path which we left in the valley, and which goes hence southwards, up through the valley of the Builg – past the lake of that name, – so across what is there the rivulet of the Don, – and then onwards over the hills to Castleton of Braemar. That deep hollow in the mountains, that turns sharp westwards beyond Inchrory yonder, is what is more properly called Glenaven. The river Aven comes pouring down hitherwards through it, and our way lies up its course.
Clifford. – I should be sorry if it did so this evening. I am quite prepared to hail yonder house of Inchrory below, as a welcome place of refuge for this night.
Author. – Few places must be more welcome to a wayworn traveller than Inchrory, especially when first decried by the weary wayfarer from Castleton, in a winter’s evening, as the sun is hasting downwards.
Serjeant. – You are not far wrong there, sir. A dreadful hill journey that is, indeed, from Castleton to Inchrory, amid the storms of winter. Not a vestige of a house by the way. Many a poor wretch has perished in the snow, amidst these trackless wastes. Not to go very far back, there was a terrible snow storm about the Martinmas time in the year 1829. It roared, and blew, and drifted so fast, that it was mid-day or ever Mrs. Shaw of Inchrory ventured to put her head out beyond the threshold of her own door, to look at the thick and dreary shroud of white in which dead nature was wrapped, and which covered the whole lonely scene of hill and valley around her, and was in many places blown into wreathes of a great depth. There was not a speck of colour, nor any moving thing to vary the glazed unbroken surface, except on one distant hillock, where a single human figure was seen, wandering to and fro, as if in a maze, like some one bereft of reason. The male inhabitants of the house were all out looking after the stock belonging to the grazing farm; and, as Mrs. Shaw was in doubt whether the person she beheld might not in reality be some one who was deranged, as his movements rather seemed to indicate, she was afraid to venture to approach him. But curiosity as well as pity made her cast many a look towards him during that afternoon, as he still continued to move slowly round the hillock, and backwards and forwards, without any apparent sense or meaning, and stopping now and then, as if utterly bewildered. At length, as it was drawing towards night, Mrs. Shaw observed that the figure had either fallen, or lain down among the snow, and her charitable feelings then overcoming all her apprehensions, she proceeded to wade through the snow towards the hillock where he lay. Having, with very considerable difficulty, made her way to the spot, she found him lying on his back, as composedly as if he had lain down in his bed. The intense cold had so benumbed his intellects, indeed, that he did not seem to be in the least aware of his own melancholy situation. – “Wha are ye? and what are ye wantin?” said he, to Mrs. Shaw, with a faint smile on his emaciated face, as he beheld her stooping over him with an anxious gaze of inquiry. “I came to help you,” replied Mrs. Shaw; “Will you let me try to lift you up?” – “Thank you, I can rise mysel’,” replied he, making a vain effort to get up. – “You had better let me help you,” said Mrs. Shaw. – “Ou, na, thank ye,” replied he again; “I can rise weel eneugh mysel’.” – “Do so, then,” said Mrs. Shaw, whilst at the same time she prepared herself for giving him her best assistance during his attempt. In this way, a strong effort on her part enabled her at last to succeed in getting the poor man on his legs; and then, after the expenditure of so much time as might have easily enabled her to have gone five or six miles, and with immense labour and fatigue, this heroic woman was finally successful in supporting him, or rather, I should say, in half carrying him to Inchrory. When she had got him fairly out of the snow, and into the house, she had the horror to discover, that not only were his shoes and stockings gone, but that even the very flesh was off his feet. When help arrived, they got him into bed, and did all for him that charitable Christians could do. Food was brought to him, but it was some time before he could be made to swallow any portion of it, and that only by feeding him like a child. The poor fellow turned out to be a young man of the name of Thomas Macintosh, servant to the Rev. Mr. MacEachan, the Roman Catholic priest at Castleton, which place he had left on the Wednesday morning, and he had wandered among the snow, without food or shelter, and becoming every moment more and more bewildered, until the Friday evening, when Mrs. Shaw’s praiseworthy exertions brought him to her house. On the Saturday, the good people carried him down the valley to the next farm, on his way to the doctor. But, alas! no doctor was ever destined to do him any good, for he died that same evening. Two one pound notes and a few shillings were found in his pocket, which sum went to pay the expense of his interment in the newly made church-yard at Tomantoul, of which, as it so happened, he was the second tenant.
Grant. – What a melancholy fate!
Serjeant. – Sad, indeed sir. But there are many stories of the same kind connected with this wild path through these desolate mountains.
Author. – Do you remember any more of them, Archy?
Serjeant. – Ou, yes, sir. It was upon that terrible night of drift, the 25th of November, 1826, no farther gone, when so many poor people perished, that a man, three women, and two horses, were buried in the snow upon yon hill, which is called Cairn Elsach, as they were on their way back from the Tomantoul market. So deep was the snow in many places, that one of the horses was found frozen stiff dead, and the beast was so supported in it, as to be sticking upright upon his legs, and a woman was discovered standing dead beside him. Some little time afterwards, a shepherd, who happened to have occasion to cross the hill, had his attention attracted by some long hair which was seen above the icy surface, waving in the wintry blast. On scraping away the snow, he found that it was attached to a woman’s head, who had unfortunately perished. He procured the assistance of some of his friends, who were afraid to dig out the body for fear it might have become offensive. I, who chanced to be there, had no such scruples, first, because I knew very well that the snow must have preserved it, and, secondly, because, if it had been otherwise, I knew that I had lost my sense of smelling in consequence of the desperate wound in my jaw, of which I told you. When the snow was removed, the poor young woman’s body was found quite fresh and entire, but it was perfectly blue in colour.
Author. – These are melancholy details; yet, it must be confessed, they are quite in harmony with the wild and lonely scenery now before our eyes.
Grant. – They remind one of the horrors of the Alps.
Clifford. – The gaunt wolves also ourselves once upon a time, sir; and now the corby, and the hill-fox, and the eagle, do their best to make up for the want of them. But such a wilderness as this, covered deep with snow, and the howling wind carrying the drift across it, has quite terrors enough in it for my taste.
Author. – I am quite of your opinion, Archy.
Serjeant. – Yet it is wonderful how Providence will interfere to preserve people alive, amid such complicated horrors. I remember a story of a man of the name of Macintosh, who left Braemar, with his wife, to come over this way. A dreadful snow storm came upon them, and, being blinded by the snow-drift, and encumbered in the deep and heavy wreathes, the poor people were separated from each other. The man made his way, with great difficulty, to a whisky bothy, where he arrived much exhausted, and quite inconsolable for the loss of his wife. Being thus saved himself, he procured the assistance of people to help him look for the corpse of his lost partner. For two whole days they sought in vain; when, just as they were about to abandon their search, till the surface of the ground should become less burdened with snow, they observed a figure coming slowly and wearily down the hill of Gart. This, as it drew nearer, appeared to be a woman; and, on her approaching nearer still, the overjoyed husband discovered that she was his living wife, for whom he had been weeping as dead. She had been wandering for nearly three days, without wither food or shelter, amid the mountain snows, but, although she was dreadfully exhausted, she eventually recovered.
Grant. – That was indeed the support of Providence, Archy!
Author. – Most wonderful indeed! Her preservation was little short of a miracle.
Serjeant. – Aye, truly, you may well say that, sir. Nothing but a miracle could have preserved the poor woman from so many perils as she must have encountered in her wanderings, – not to mention those of cold, hunger, and fatigue. It was the hand of Providence, assuredly, that supported her. By what means he worked, we have no opportunity of knowing. But surely it was strange that he could have enabled any human being, and especially a woman, to have come through so much fatigue and suffering alive.
Clifford. – Truly, most miraculous!
Serjeant. – And then, gentlemen, how very strangely – so far as we blind mortals can perceive – are others permitted to perish at the very door, as it were, of help. I think it is now about sixteen years ago – and, if I remember rightly, it was about the Christmas time – that James Stewart, son of the miller of the Delnabo, perished, on the very haugh there, just below the House of Inchrory. The poor fellow passed by this place, on his way over to Braemar one morning that I happened to be here. He stopped a few minutes with me, and had some talk. “I’m likely to get a fine day for crossing the hill, Archy,” said he. “Well,” said I, “I hope you will, and wish you may. Yet I don’t altogether like yon mountaneous heap of white tumbling-looking clouds, that are casting up afar off over the hill-top yonder.” “They dinna look awthegither weel, to be sure,” said Jemmy; “but I houp I may be in weel kent land lang or they break.” We parted. The snow came on in a dreadful storm, about mid-day; and I had two or three anxious thoughts about Jemmy Stewart, as the recollection of him was ever and anon brought back to me, during the night, by the fearful whistling of the wind, and the rattling of the hail. Next morning, I, and some of the other men about the place, found a human track, running in a bewildered, irregular, and uncertain line, between the house of Inchrory and the burn yonder, which must be a width of not much more than forty yards. We had not followed this far, when we came to the poor man, whose worn-out feet had made these prints. His walking-stick was standing erect among the snow beside him, – and there lay poor Jemmy Stewart, on his face; his hands were closed, and his head rested on them, just as if he had lain quietly down to sleep. The lads who were with me, stupid gomerills that they were, had a superstitious dread of touching him; but, deeply as I grieved for the poor fellow, I had seen too many dead men in my time to have any such scruples. I accordingly turned him, and found, alas! that he was quite gone. It appeared that he had been suddenly surprised and bewildered by the snow-drift among the hills, and that, having lost all knowledge of his way, he had unconsciously wandered in the very opposite direction to that in which he had intended to go. Becoming more and more confused, as he wandered and wandered, he became at last so entirely stupefied by the multiplied terrors of that awful night, that he ultimately yield to the last drowsiness of death, and so laid himself down to court its fatal repose. Alas! he was unhappily ignorant that he was within a few yards of the friendly house which he had passed on his way upwards on the previous morning, to the reviving shelter of which, the least possible additional exertion might have easily brought him, had he but known in what direction to have made it.
Clifford. – What a sad and fearful story!
Serjeant. – Aye, sir, sad and fearful indeed! Is it not dreadful to think how often the recollection of him crossed my mind during that fatal night, and how little trouble, on my part, would have saved him, had I only known that he was wandering in the snow so near me? Aye, and to think that I should have lain ignorantly all the while in my warm bed, allowing him so cruelly to perish! Willing would I have been to have travelled all night through the drift to have saved poor Jemmy Stewart!
Author. – No one can doubt that, Archy.
Serjeant. – Well, but sir, you see these matters are in the hand of God, and at his wise disposal; and although we, blind moles of the yearth as we are, cannot easily descry why a worthy well-doing young man like Jemmy Stewart should be permitted thus wretchedly to die, without aid, either human or divine, we cannot doubt the justice and wisdom of God’s ways, which are inscrutable, and past man’s finding out. Well, I did all I could for the poor fellow, for I had his corpse carried down to his afflicted father at Delnabo, and I saw him buried at Dounan, near the Bridge of Livat.
Clifford. – That, indeed, was all you could do for the poor man, Archy; and the manner in which you did that little, together with all the sentiments that you have uttered regarding him. are enough to convince anyone that you would not have scrupled to peril your life, if you could have thereby saved that of a fellow-creature, still more that of a friend.
Serjeant. – Thank you, sir, for your good opinion of me; but, as I said before, these matters are in the hand of God: and, whilst he allows the strong to perish, he can, if he so wills it, preserve the weakest. I remember an extraordinary circumstance that happened about eighteen or twenty years ago, which I may mention to you as an example of the truth of this observe of mine. Four women, who had been in the south country, at the harvest, were on their return home over these mountains, when they were caught in a storm. The snow came on so thickly upon them, and the wind raised so great a land-drift, that they became bewildered, lost their way, and, after much wandering, they at last got into the ruins of an old bothy, near the side of the river Gairden, which runs, as I may tell ye, beyond those farther hills there to the south. By this time their shoes were worn off. They were without food – without all means of making a fire – and the cold came on so intense during the night, that the poor things were all frozen to death. They were found in the morning by a party of smugglers, who had been early astir after their trade. The whole of the four women were cold and stiff. But the most wonderful, as well as the most touching circumstance of all was, that a female child, of about sixteen months old, was found alive, vainly attempting to draw nourishment from its mother’s breast. The poor woman’s material anxiety had enabled her to use precautions to keep her babe warm and in life, which she had failed to exercise for her own preservation. The child was taken charge of by Donald Shaw of Lagganall, and brought up by him under the name of Kirstock; and she afterwards went to service in Glen Livat, where — But mark me now, gentlemen! Here we are at Caochan-Seirceag, of which you heard so much from me in my Legend of the Clan-Allan Stewarts.
Clifford. – I see there are no trees here now, as you say there were in the days of Sir Patrick Stewart of Clan-Allan.
Grant. – The cliffs are fine, though, and the ravine itself romantic. How comes it that some of these rocks are so brilliantly white? They absolutely shine like alabaster amid the dazzling radiance of that setting sun.
Author. – If I answer your question, it will draw me into a disquisition which may bring an attack upon us from Clifford, for prosing about geology to one another.
Grant. – Never mind him; he may shut his ears, if he likes.
Author. – Those brilliant streaks of alabastrine white, are nothing more than incrustations of calcareous stalactites, formed on those rocks of gneiss, by the evaporation of these trickling rills, the water of which holds lime in solution, probably derived from the little aquatic marl snail in the moss above, from which they drain themselves.
Clifford. – I’d advise you to think less of your alabastrine incrustations of calcareous stalactites on gneiss, and more of your necks and limbs, during this steep- and somewhat hazardous descent, else you may evaporate like some of those trickling rills you are speaking of. These fellows you told us of, Mr. Serjeant, must have had some little difficulty in carrying the Lady Catherine down and up here. But tell me, I pray you, what is the meaning of the name of Caochan-Seirceag? for I know that all your Gaelic names of places are highly poetical and descriptive.
Serjeant. – The meaning of Caochan-Seirceag, sir, so far as I can make it out, is the rivulet of the beloved maiden.
Clifford. – Poetical in the highest degree! Why, what scope does it not afford to the poet’s mind to fancy the ardour of the passion of the lovers who must have made the romantic bed of this rivulet their trysting place, as well as the beauty of the maiden by whose beloved image the youth thus happily chose to distinguish it – to imagine all the obstacles which the pure stream of their love may have encountered in its course, and of which this vexed and tortured little brook may have formed but too lively a type, until at length it glided into a peaceful channel, as this does in its passage across the green meadow yonder below! What a glorious poetical romance might be suggested by these rocks and rills! confound them! I had nearly tumbled headlong over this slippery stone! What a fall I should have had!
Grant. – You made a narrow escape there, indeed, Clifford. I would have you to remember, that it would have been quite as bad to have died the victim of romantic enthusiasm, as of dry geological speculation.
Clifford. – I beg your pardon, my good fellow, you are quite wrong there. I at least would have infinitely preferred to have died from thinking of the beloved maiden, than from a confusion of brain occasioned by a mixture of alabastrine incrustations of calcareous stalactites and gneiss and marl snails! But to return to my speculations as to the rivulet of the beloved maiden, why may it not have had its name from the Lady Catherine Forbes herself?
Serjeant. – As I shall answer, you have hit the very thing, sir. There cannot be a doubt that it was from her that the rill was so called.
Clifford. – See now how lucky it was for you, Mister Archy, that I was not killed by a fall, as I had so nearly been, else had you been deprived of my ingenious elucidation of this most difficult point. But now, thank heaven, we are all safe in the meadow, and I shall have one touch at the trouts yet ere the light goes away entirely.
Author. – I wish you great success, Clifford. Pray do your best, my good fellow, for I know not what commons we may have in this our hostel of Inchrory here.
Clifford. – Aha! you see that my rod and my piscatorial skill are not without their use. Depend upon it, you shan’t go without supper, if I can help it.
As I suspected, we found that our accommodations at Inchrory were rather of the simplest description. But the good people of the house showed every disposition to do the half of large trouts, which Clifford soon brought in, added to some of those provisions which we carried with us, made up the best part of our repast, and we very speedily prepared ourselves for the intellectual enjoyment of the evening.
Clifford. – One would think that the worthy people here had been forewarned of our story-telling propensities, and that they had made especial provision accordingly for the serjeant’s long yarns. Did you ever see a more magnificent pair of wax candles on any table? Why, these would see out all the narratives that ever were told by Sindbad the Sailor.
Grant. – Who could have expected to have met with wax candles, such as these, in an humble place like this, in the midst of these lonely mountains, and so far from the haunts of men? Nay, who could have expected to have met with any candles at all here?
Author. – How happens it, Archy, that they can give us candles so superb as these, in a place like this, where they have so little else to produce, and nothing at all that can in the least degree correspond with them? They are of enormous size – nearly three inches in diameter, I should say. I have seen no such candles as these, except in a Roman Catholic Church, or procession.
Serjeant. – Troth, sir, I imagine you have solved the mystery. The truth is, as I told you before, that the great mass of Roman Catholics; and it is probable that these candles, which have been originally used for some religious rite, have, from necessity, been this night lighted for your use.
Clifford. – Come, then, serjeant, do you proceed to use the candles as fast as may be. Open your budget, my good man, and give us one of your many legends.
Grant. – You had better allow the serjeant to mix a tumbler of warm stuff in the first place, and whilst he is doing so, he can be considering as to what he had best give us.
Serjeant. – Thank you, sir. I’ll just be doing that same. Would you have any objections to another legend of the Clan-Allan Stewarts, gentlemen?
Author. – Certainly not, Archy, if it be only as good as the last you gave us.
Serjeant. – It is not for me to speak in its praise, sir, though I must e’en say that U think it no worse than the last. But it is a hantel longer.
Grant. – The longer the better, if it be good. We have a long night, and great candles before us, so that you may give your tongue its fullest licence.
Serjeant. – Well, gentlemen, it’s a good thing to be neither gagged in the mouth, nor stinted in the bicker.
Author. – Depend upon it, Archy, you shall be neither the one nor the other.
Clifford. – Come away, then, serjeant, begin as soon as you please.
Archy then took a long snuff out of the box which I handed to him, during which he seemed to be collecting his ideas, and then he began his narrative. Although I regret that I cannot always give the precise words used by him, I shall endeavour to preserve as faithful an outline of its particulars as I can, and that in language which I hope may be at least as intelligible.