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- The Junior Classics, V5 - 70/72 -
"Are you here in God's name?" said the guide to the driver.
"Ay, troth I am," said he.
"Open the carriage, then. You, gentlemen, get into it; in a short time you'll be in a place of safety, and remember your promise to the gipsy wife."
Bertram and Dinmont got in at once, followed by little Wasp, and in a moment found themselves travelling at a breakneck pace, neither of them knowing where on earth they were going to.
They were, in fact, on the way to Woodbourne, for the carriage had been sent by Colonel Mannering, after he had read the letter which the dominie brought him from Meg Merrilies. The note had given him no intimation, however, of the persons who were to be conveyed in the chaise to Woodbourne, merely telling him that it should bring the folk that should ask if it were there in God's name.
As the colonel's clock was striking one that night the sound of carriage wheels was heard in the distance, and in no long space after, Bertram and Dinmont found themselves at Woodbourne. Bewilderment and astonishment were depicted on the faces of all as Bertram stepped into the parlour. The colonel saw before him the man whom he supposed he had killed in India; Julia beheld her lover; and Lucy Bertram at once recognised the person who had fired upon young Hazlewood. Each one remained silent, not knowing what to say, when the absent-minded dominie, looking up from a book he had been studying in a corner, exclaimed:
"If the grave can give up the dead, that is my dear and honoured master!"
A lawyer friend of the colonel's, a Mr. Pleydall, was staying at Woodbourne that night, and he at once set about endeavouring to solve the mystery. He questioned Bertram as to his recollections of childhood, and elicited from him some of the incidents of his early life, with which the reader is already acquainted. Amongst the persons whom Bertram recalled, "there was," he said, "a tall, thin, kind-tempered man, who used to teach me my letters and walk with me."
On hearing this, the poor dominie could contain his feelings no longer, and rising hastily from his chair, with clasped hands, trembling limbs and streaming eyes, he called out aloud:
"Harry Bertram, look at me! Was I not the man?"
"Yes," said Bertram, starting from his seat as if a sudden light had burst in upon his mind. "Yes, that was my very name, and that is the voice and the figure of my kind old master!"
The following day Colonel Mannering and Mr. Pleydall succeeded in getting Sir Robert Hazlewood to accept bail for Bertram. While they were so engaged, Bertram, with his newly-found sister and Miss Mannering, went walking to the castle of Ellangowan.
Close by the ruin they were suddenly confronted by Meg Merrilies, who addressed Bertram, saying:
"Remember your promise, and follow me."
It was in vain that his sister and her companion urged him not to go with the gipsy. He told them he must obey. Then, bidding them good-bye, he started to follow Meg Merrilies, accompanied by Dinmont, who had come up a few minutes before.
With quick, long strides the gipsy proceeded straight across the wintry heath. She turned neither to the left nor the right, and moved more like a ghost than a human being. On reaching the wood, she plunged into it, moving still rapidly in the direction of Derncleugh. After travelling thus for some time, she came at length to the ruined tower where Bertram had previously spent the night in concealment from the smugglers. Producing a key from her pocket, the gipsy opened the door and led the way in. She offered Bertram and Dinmont food and drink, and fearing to offend her, they took a little.
"And now," she said, "ye must have arms; but use them not rashly; take captive, but save life; let the law have its own--he must speak ere he die."
She then supplied the two with loaded pistols, and started afresh through the wood in the direction of Warroch Point. She led them by a long and winding passage almost overgrown with brushwood, until they suddenly found themselves by the seashore. They were soon outside the secret cave.
"Follow me as I creep in," she said. "I have placed the firewood so as to screen you. Bide behind it for a space, till I say-- _The hour and the man are both come_. Then run in on him, take his arms and bind him tight."
And having said so, she crept in upon her hands and knees, followed by Bertram and his friend.
As they were creeping in, Dinmont, who was last of the party, felt his leg caught by someone from behind. He with difficulty suppressed a shout, and was much relieved when he heard a voice behind him say: "Be still, I am a friend--Charles Hazlewood."
He had been sent after the others by Lucy Bertram and Miss Mannering, and had only overtaken them as they were making their way into the cavern.
Meg Merrilies, on reaching the interior, was greeted by Dirck Hatteraick with a curse in his old fashion--the smuggler had been expecting her, and was waiting with anxiety for news of his band. The only light within the cave was from a charcoal fire, the dark- red glow from which gave a dismal and unearthly appearance to the smuggler's hiding place.
Bertram and his friends had advanced far enough to enable them to stand upright, and concealed from the view of Hatteraick, they listened to his conversation with the gipsy.
"Have you seen Glossin?" he said to her.
"No," replied Meg Merrilies; "you've missed your blow, ye blood- spiller! and ye have nothing to expect from the tempter."
"What am I to do, then?" said the smuggler, with a Dutch oath.
"Do?" answered the gipsy. "Die like a man, or be hanged like a dog. Didn't I tell ye, when ye took away the boy Harry Bertram, in spite of my prayers, that he would come back again in his twenty- first year? You'll never need to leave this."
"What makes you say that?" asked Hatteraick.
And Meg, who now threw some flax upon the fire, which rose in a bright flame, answered: "_Because the hour and the man are both come_."
At the appointed signal, Bertram and his companions rushed upon Hatteraick. The ruffian, who instantly saw he was betrayed, turned his first vengeance on Meg Merrilies, at whom he discharged a pistol.
She fell, with a piercing shriek, muttering, "I knew it would be this way."
A terrific struggle ensued between the smuggler and his assailants, in which Hatteraick contrived to discharge a second bullet at Bertram, which only missed its mark by a lucky accident. Strong, however, as the ruffian was, he was not equal to the joint efforts of the three men, and at length he was fairly mastered, disarmed, and tightly bound.
Hazlewood, whose horse was outside the cave, then rode off for assistance, and after some time returned with several others. The prisoner was carried out, still firmly bound, and also Meg Merrilies, who was still living, though desperately wounded in the chest.
They wished to take her to the nearest cottage, but she refused to be moved anywhere but to the Kaim of Derncleugh. Accordingly they bore her to the vault in the ruined tower.
The alarm had now spread through the countryside that Kennedy's murderer had been taken on the very spot where the murder had been committed years before; and a crowd of people, with a clergyman and a surgeon, had flocked to the place where the dying gipsy lay. She, however, refused all offers of assistance, and called for Harry Bertram.
When Bertram approached the wretched bed on which she lay, she took his hand.
"Look at him," she said to those about her, "the image of his dead father. And hear me now--let that man," pointing to Hatteraick, "deny what I say if he can." And then she told the story of how the young boy had been carried off from Warroch Wood; how she saved his life from smugglers who would have murdered him; and how she swore an oath to keep the secret till he was one-and-twenty, and vowed that if she lived to see the day of his return she would set him again in his father's seat, though every step was on a dead man. "Dirck Hatteraick," she said, "you and I will never meet again until we are before the Judgment-seat--will ye dare deny it?"
And as Hatteraick refused to open his lips, she added: "Farewell! and God forgive you! your hand has sealed my evidence."
And shortly after, as she heard the crowd about her greet Bertram with enthusiastic cheers as the true Laird of Ellangowan, her troubled spirit passed peacefully away.
The following day, Hatteraick was brought before the magistrates at Kippletringan. The dying declaration of Meg Merrilies was proved by the surgeon and the clergyman who had heard it. Bertram again told his recollections of early childhood. Gabriel, the gipsy, the same man who had avoided meeting Bertram's eye when out hunting with Dandie Dinmont, told the whole story of Kennedy's murder, as he was at Warroch Point on the day of its occurrence. He stated that Glossin was present and accepted a bribe to keep the matter a secret. This witness also stated that it was he that had told his aunt, Meg Merrilies, that Bertram had returned to the country; and that it was by her orders that three or four of the
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