IT is not very easy to tell how we all bestowed ourselves after Serjeant Archy Stewart’s story of Taillear-Crubach, but it was no sooner brought to a close, than each of us proceeded to exert his own ingenuity, in making up a bed for himself. Some things there were indeed resembling beds in an upper room, but those who occupied them were perhaps not much more fortunate than those who chose a dry, and tolerably even corner of the floor, and there disposed of themselves, rolled up in their plaids. My own experience tells me, that sweeter, sounder, or more refreshing repose is nowhere to be enjoyed, than on such a bed as this, especially after fatigue; and the great proof of its excellence, upon the present occasion, was, that five minutes did not elapse, ere we had all succeeded in our courtship of that sleep which our day’s walk, and the lateness of the hour, had conspired to make it no very difficult matter for us to woo. Next morning, the roaring of the Aven, now turbid and discoloured, and flowing wide over the haughs, the rain still drizzling on, and the wet air and gloomy sky, and the plashy footing on the meadow where Clifford ventured out to experiment and explore, whilst we stood clustered within the door, with our heads out, to mark his proceedings, very speedily made us draw them back again, with a determined resolution to see a fairer promise of weather, before we should venture to thrust them forth to tempt our fate in travel.
Clifford (mincing his steps on tiptoe through a flock of ducklings rejoicing clamorously in the wet). – Fine weather for you young gentlemen, indeed! Well, if the day will neither fish nor walk, we may be thankful that we are well provisioned with food for the body and the mind.
Dominie. – That is a great consolation indeed, Mr. Clifford, and leaves us little to be pitied.
Clifford. – Come then, let us have breakfast; and, after that, let us resume our sitting of last night, and, since we cannot budge out, let us spend the day rationally, with legends and cigars, at Inchrory.
Author. – Pray, Mr. Serjeant, what is supposed to be the origin of the name of Inchrory?
Serjeant. – Why, sir, the place was so called from a certain Rory Mackenzie of Turfearabrad, or Fairburn, as it is called in modern language, who, about the sixteen hundred or so, was wont to drive great herds of cattle from his place in Ross-shire to the south country markets, by this way up Glen-Aven. His story is a sad one.
Grant. – Pray let us have it, Archy.
Serjeant. – With your leave, sir, I’ll rather tell it to you on our way up the glen, when we come near to the place where the cruel deed was done. You will be the better able to understand some of its most important circumstances.
Author. – You are right, Serjeant.
Clifford (taking out his tablets). – Well, Mr. Serjeant, I’ll book you for it, at all events. – Rory Mackenzie of Turfearabrad.
Serjeant. – I’ll not forget it, sir. But, in the meanwhile, gentlemen, I may tell you, that as this Rory Mackenzie used to bring his beasts up this glen, which, as I formerly mentioned, was so full of woods at that time as to make an open patch of pasture a thing of great value, he was so tempted by the fineness and richness of the grass on the meadow that lies hereabouts, all produced, as you will naturally see, from the marly matter brought down upon it by the streams from the hill, that he used to make a regular practice of lodging himself and his animals here for some days, in order to rest and refresh them for their journey; and so, at last, the place got its name from him. But there was no house here in his day.
Dominie. – We have verra great reason to be thankful, Serjeant, that we have so good a house over our heads now, then.
Clifford. – House! why in such weather, a house like this in the wilderness is as good as a palace in a city. Soldier though I be, I by no means envy Rory, the laird of Turfearabrad, his sylvan bivouacs. What think you, Mr. Serjeant?
Serjeant. – Troth, sir, I can lie out when I am obliged to do it. But I am grown old enough now to think, that, in an ill day, the nearer to the fire-side the better, and still better it is in an ill night. What say you to that, Mr. Macpherson?
Dominie. – If my last night’s scramble hither, and the deep mud of that filthy peat pot into which I fell, has not convinced me of that truth, Serjeant, I must be a stubborn bubo indeed.
Clifford. – Truth is generally found at the bottom of a well, but to find it, as you seem to have done, at the bottom of a peat pot, is a new discovery, Mr. Macpherson.
Clifford (after all are done with breakfast). – Come, then, gentlemen, shall we adjourn to the fire, and commence our sitting?
Grant. – Allons!
Author. – Now, my good woman, take away these things, and make the room a little tidy, and then bring us plenty of peats.
Clifford. – Aye, that will do.
Grant. – Who is to be story-teller?
Clifford. – Mr. Macpherson is the man. Now then, Mr. Macpherson, your Serjeant John Smith is the first for duty. He may mount guard as speedily as you please.
Dominie. – He shall obey the captain’s orders without a moment’s delay.