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- Warlock o' Glenwarlock - 90/98 -


The same day Cosmo left, Lord Lick-my-loof sent to the castle the message that he wanted to see young Mr. Warlock. The laird returned the answer that Cosmo was from home, and would not be back till the day following.

In the afternoon came his lordship, desiring an interview with the laird; which, not a little against his liking, the laird granted.

"Set ye doon, my lord," said Grizzie, "an' rist yer shins. The ro'd atween this an' the ludge, maun be slithery."

His lordship yielded and took the chair she offered, for he would rather propitiate than annoy her, seeing he was more afraid of Grizzie than aught in creation except dogs. And Grizzie, appreciating his behaviour, had compassion upon him and spared him.

"His lairdship," she said, "maunna be hurried puttin' on his dressin'-goon. He's no used to see onybody sae ear'. I s' gang an' see gien I can help him; he never wad hae a man aboot 'im 'cep' the yoong laird himsel'."

Relieved by her departure, his lordship began to look about the kitchen, and seeing Aggie, asked after her father. She replied that he was but poorly.

"Getting old!"

"Surely, my lord. He's makin' ready to gang."

"Poor old man!"

"What wad yer lordship hae? Ye wadna gang on i' this warl' for ever?"

"'Deed and I would have no objection--so long as there were pretty girls like you in it."

"Suppose the lasses had a ch'ice tu, my lord?"

"What would they do?"

"Gang, I'm thinkin'."

"What makes you so spiteful, Aggie? I never did you any harm that I know of."

"Ye ken the story o' the guid Samaritan, my lord?" said Aggie.

"I read my bible, I hope."

"Weel, I'll tell ye a bit mair o' 't nor ye'll get there. The Levite an' the Pharisee--naebody ever said yer lordship was like aither o' them--"

"No, thank God! nobody could."

"--they gaed by o' the ither side, an' loot him lie. But there was ane cam up, an' tuik 'im by the legs,'cause he lay upo' his lan', an'wad hae pu'dhim aff. But jist i' the nick o' time by cam the guid Samaritan, an' set him rinnin'. Sae it was sune a sma' maitter to onybody but the ill neebour, wha couldna weel gang straucht to Paradise. Abraham wad hae a fine time o' 't wi' sic a bairn in 's bosom!"

"Damn the women! Young and old they're too many for me!" said his lordship to himself,--and just then Grizzie returning invited him to walk up to the laird's room, where he made haste to set forth the object of his visit.

"I said to your son, Glenwarlock, when he came to me the other morning, that I would not buy."

"Yes, my lord."

"I have however, lawyer though I be, changed my mind, and am come to renew my offer."

"In the meantime, however, we have changed our minds, my lord, and will not sell."

"That's very foolish of you."

"It may seem so, my lord; but you must allow us to do the best with what modicum of judgment we possess."

"What can have induced you to come to such a fatal resolution! I am thoroughly acquainted with the value of the land all about here, and am convinced you will not get such a price from another, be he who he may."

"You may be right, my lord, but we do not want to sell."

"Nobody, I repeat, will make you a better--I mean an equal offer."

"I could well believe it might not be worth more to anyone else--so long, that is, as your lordship's property shuts it in on every side; but to your lordship--"

"That is my affair; what it is worth to you is the question.

"It is worth more to us than you can calculate."

"I daresay, where sentiment sends prices up! But that is not in the market. Take my advice and a good offer. You can't go on like this, you know. You will lose your position entirely. Why, what are you thinking of!"

"I am thinking, my lord, that you have scarcely been such a neighbour as to induce us to confide our plans to you. I have said we will not sell--and as I am something of an invalid--"

Lord Lick-my-loof rose, feeling fooled--and annoyed with himself and everybody in "the cursed place."

"Good morning, Glenwarlock," he said. "You will live to repent this morning."

"I hope not, my lord. I have lived nearly long enough. Good morning!"

His lordship went softly down the stair, hurried through the kitchen, and walked slowly home, thinking whether it might not be worth his while to buy up Glenwarlock's few remaining debts.

CHAPTER LVIII.

A LITTLE LIFE WELL ROUNDED.

"Pirate or not, the old gentleman was a good judge of diamonds!" said Mr. Burns, laying down one of the largest. "Not an inferior one in all I have gone over! Your uncle was a knowing man, sir: diamonds are worth much more now than when he brought them home. These rough ones will, I trust, turn out well: we cannot be so sure of them."

"How much suffering the earlier possession of them would have prevented!" said the laird. "And now they are ten times more welcome that we have the good of that first."

"Sapphires and all of the finest quality!" continued Mr. Burns, in no mood for reflection. "I'll tell you what you must do, Mr. Cosmo: you must get a few sheets of tissue paper, and wrap every stone up separately--a long job, but the better worth doing! There must be a thousand of them!"

"How can they hurt, being the hardest things in the world?" said Cosmo.

"Put them in any other company you please--wheel them to the equator in a barrowful of gravel, or line their box with sand-paper, and you may leave them naked as they were born! But, bless thy five wits! did you never hear the proverb,'Diamond cut diamond'? They're all of a sort, you see! I'd as soon shut up a thousand game-cocks in the same cellar. If they don't scratch each other, they may, or they might, or they could, or they would, or at any rate they should scratch each other. It was all very well so long as they lay in the wall of this your old diamond-mine. But now you'll be for ever playing with them! No, no! wrap each one up by itself, I say."

"We're so far from likely to keep fingering them, Mr. Burns," said Cosmo, "that our chief reason for wishing you to see them was that you might, if you would oblige us, take them away, and dispose of them for us!"

"A-ah!" rejoined Mr. Burns, "I fear I am getting too old for a transaction of such extent! I should have to go to London--to Paris--to Amsterdam--who knows where?--that is, to make the best of them--perhaps to America! And here was I thinking of retiring!"

"Then let this be your last business-transaction. It will not be a bad one to finish up with. You can make it a good thing for yourself as well as for us."

"If I undertake it, it shall be at a fixed percentage."

"Ten?" suggested Cosmo.

"No; there is no risk, only labour in this. When I took ten for that other diamond, I paid you the money for it, you will remember: that makes a difference. I wish you would come with me; I could help you to see a little of the world."

"I should like it greatly, but I could not leave my father."

Mr. Burns was a little nervous about the safety of the portmanteau that held such a number of tiny parcels in silver paper, and would not go inside the coach although it rained, but took a place in sight of his luggage. I will not say what the diamonds brought. I would not have my book bristle with pounds like a French novel with francs. They more than answered even Mr. Burns's expectations.

When he was gone, and all hope for this world vanished in the fruition of assured solvency, the laird began to fail. While Cosmo was yet on the way with Mr. Burns and the portmanteau to meet the


Warlock o' Glenwarlock - 90/98

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