A man may see how this world goes with no eyes.Look with thine ears: See how yon justice rails upon yon simple thief. Hark in thine earChange places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?
AMONG those who took the most lively interest in endeavouring to discover the person by whom young Charles Hazlewood had been waylaid and wounded, was Gilbert Glossin, Esquire, late writer in , now Laird of Ellangowan, and one of the worshipful commission of justices of the peace for the county of . His motives for exertion on this occasion were manifold; but we presume that our readers, from what they already know of this gentleman, will acquit him of being actuated by any zealous or intemperate love of abstract justice.
The truth was, that this respectable personage felt himself less at ease than he had expected, after his machinations put him in possession of his benefactors estate. His reflections within doors, where so much occurred to remind him of former times, were not always the self-congratulations of successful stratagem. And when he looked abroad, he could not but be sensible that he was excluded from the society of the gentry of the county, to whose rank he conceived he had raised himself. He was not admitted to their clubs; and at meetings of a public nature, from which he could not be altogether excluded, he found himself thwarted and looked upon with coldness and contempt. Both principle and prejudice co-operated in creating this dislike; for the gentlemen of the county despised him for the lowness of his birth, while they hated him for the means by which he had raised his fortune. With the common people his reputation stood still worse. They would neither yield him the territorial appellation of Ellangowan, nor the usual compliment of Mr. Glossin;with them he was bare Glossin and so incredibly was his vanity interested by this trifling circumstance, that he was known to give half a crown to a beggar because he had thrice called him Ellangowan, in beseeching him for a penny. He therefore felt acutely the general want of respect, and particularly when he contrasted his own character and reception in society with those of Mr. Mac-Morlan, who, in far inferior worldly circumstances, was beloved and respected both by rich and poor, and was slowly but securely laying the foundation of a moderate fortune, with the general goodwill and esteem of all who knew him.
Glossin, while he repined internally at what he would fain have called the prejudices and prepossessions of the country, was too wise to make any open complaint. He was sensible his elevation was too recent to be immediately forgotten, and the means by which he had attained it too odious to be soon forgiven. But time (thought he) diminishes wonder and palliates misconduct. With the dexterity, therefore, of one who made his fortune by studying the weak points of human nature, he determined to lie by for opportunities to make himself useful even to those who most disliked him; trusting that his own abilities, the disposition of country gentlemen to get into quarrels, when a lawyers advice becomes precious and a thousand other contingencies, of which, with patience and address, he doubted not to be able to avail himself, would soon place him in a more important and respectable light to his neighbours, and perhaps raise him to the eminence sometimes attained by a shrewd, worldly, bustling man of business, when, settled among a generation of country gentlemen, he becomes, in Burnss language.
The attack on Colonel Mannerings house, followed by the accident of Hazlewoods wound, appeared to Glossin a proper opportunity to impress upon the country at large the service which could be rendered by an active magistrate (for he had been in the commission for some time), well acquainted with the law, and no less so with the haunts and habits of the illicit traders. He had acquired the latter kind of experience by a former close alliance with some of the most desperate smugglers, in consequence of which he had occasionally acted, sometimes as partner, sometimes as legal adviser, with these persons. But the connexion had been dropped many years; nor, considering how short the race of eminent characters of this description, and the frequent circumstances which occur to make them retire from particular scenes of action, had he the least reason to think that his present researches could possibly compromise any old friend who might possess means of retaliation. The having been concerned in these practices abstractedly, was a circumstance which, according to his opinion, ought in no respect to interfere with his now using his experience in behalf of the public,or rather to further his own private views. To acquire the good opinion and countenance of Colonel Mannering would be no small object to a gentleman who was much disposed to escape from Coventry; and to gain the favour of old Hazlewood, who was a leading man in the county, was of more importance still. Lastly, if he should succeed in discovering, apprehending, and convicting the culprits, he would have the satisfaction of mortifying, and in some degree disparaging Mac-Morlan, to whom, as Sheriff-substitute of the county, this sort of investigation properly belonged, and who would certainly suffer in public opinion should the voluntary exertions of Glossin be more successful than his own.
Actuated by motives so stimulating, and well acquainted with the lower retainers of the law, Glossin set every spring in motion to detect and apprehend, if possible, some of the gang who had attacked Woodbourne, and more particularly the individual who had wounded Charles Hazlewood. He promised high rewards, he suggested various schemes, and used his personal interest among his old acquaintances who favoured the trade, urging that they had better make sacrifice of an understrapper or two, than incur the odium of having favoured such atrocious proceedings. But for some time all these exertions were in vain. The common people of the country either favoured or feared the smugglers too much to afford any evidence against them. At length, this busy magistrate obtained information, that a man, having the dress and appearance of the person who had wounded Hazlewood, had lodged on the evening before the rencontre at the Gordon Arms in Kippletringan. Thither Mr. Glossin immediately went, for the purpose of interrogating our old acquaintance, Mrs. Mac-Candlish.
The reader may remember that Mr. Glossin did not, according to this good womans phrase, stand high in her books. She therefore attended his summons to the parlour slowly and reluctantly, and, on entering the room, paid her respects in the coldest possible manner. The dialogue then proceeded as follows:
The short dry cough with which Mrs. Mac-Candlish received this proposal, by no means indicated any dislike to the overture abstractedly considered, but inferred much doubt how far it would succeed under the auspices of the gentleman by whom it was proposed. It was not a cough negative, but a cough dubious, and as such Glossin felt it; but it was not his cue to take offence.
And if they do not, you can do that for them, eh, Mrs. Mac-Candlish?ha! ha! ha!But this young man that I inquire after was upwards of six feet high, had a dark frock, with metal buttons, light-brown hair unpowdered, blue eyes, and a straight nose, travelled on foot, had no servant or baggageyou surely can remember having seen such a traveller?
Indeed, sir, answered Mrs. Mac-Candlish, bent on baffling his inquiries, I canna charge my memory about the mattertheres mair to do in a house like this, I trow, than to look after passengers hair, or their een, or noses either.
Then, Mrs. Mac-Candlish, I must tell you in plain terms, that this person is suspected of having been guilty of a crime; and it is in consequence of these suspicions that I, as a magistrate, require this information from you,and if you refuse to answer my questions, I must put you upon your oath.
Troth, sir, I am no free to swear2 we ay gaed to the Antiburgher meetingits very true, in Bailie Mac-Candlishs time (honest man) we keepit the kirk, whilk was most seemingly in his station, as having officebut after his being called to a better place than Kippletringan, I hae gaen back to worthy Maister Mac-Grainer. And so ye see, sir, I am no clear to swear without speaking to the ministerespecially against ony sackles puir young thing thats gaun through the country, stranger and freendless like.
Gudeness! wha could hae thought the like o that o him?Na, if it had been for debt, or een for a bit tuilzie wi the gauger, the deil o Nelly Mac-Candlishs tongue should ever hae wranged him. But if he really shot young HazlewoodBut I canna think it, Mr. Glossin; this will be some o your skits3 nowI canna think it o sae douce a lad;na, na, this is just some o your auld skitsyell be for having a horning or a caption after him.
I see you have no confidence in me, Mrs. Mac-Candlish; but look at these declarations, signed by the persons who saw the crime committed, and judge yourself if the description of the ruffian be not that of your guest.
He put the papers into her hands, which she perused very carefully, often taking off her spectacles to cast her eyes up to heaven or perhaps to wipe a tear from them, for young Hazlewood was an especial favourite with the good dame. Aweel, aweel, she said, when she had concluded her examination, since its een sae, I gie him up, the villainBut oh, we are erring mortals!I never saw a face I liked better, or a lad that was mair douce and cannyI thought he had been some gentleman under trouble.But I gie him up, the villain!to shoot Charles Hazlewoodand before the young ladies,poor innocent things!I gie him up.
Troth did he, sir, and a the house were taen wi him, he was sic a frank, pleasant young man. It wasna for his spending, Im sure, for he just had a mutton-chop and a mug of ale, and maybe a glass or twa o wineand I asked him to drink tea wi mysell, and didna put that into the bill; and he took nae supper, for he said he was defeat wi travel a the night aforeI dare say now it had been on some hellicat errand or other.
I wot weel did I, said the landlady, now as eager to communicate her evidence as formerly desirous to suppress it. He telld me his name was Brown, and he said it was likely that an auld woman like a gipsy wife might be asking for him. Aye, aye! tell me your company, and Ill tell you wha ye are! Oh the villain!Aweel, sir, when he gaed away in the morning, he paid his bill very honestly, and gae something to the chambermaid, nae doubt, for Grizy has naething frae me, by twa pair o new shoon ilka year, and maybe a bit compliment at Hansel MonandayHere Glossin found it necessary to interfere, and bring the good woman back to the point.
Ou then, he just said, if there comes such a person to inquire after Mr. Brown, you will say I am gone to look at the skaters on Loch Creeran, as you call it, and I will be back here to dinnerBut he never came backthough I expected him sae faithfully, that I gae a look to making the friars chicken mysell, and to the crappit-heads too, and thats what I dinna do for ordinary, Mr. GlossinBut little did I think what skating wark he was gaun aboutto shoot Mr. Charles, the innocent lamb!
Mr. Glossin, having, like a prudent examinator, suffered his witness to give vent to all her surprise and indignation, now began to inquire whether the suspected person had left any property or papers about the inn.
Troth, he put a parcela sma parcel, under my charge, and he gave me some siller, and desired me to get him half a dozen ruffled sarks, and Peg Pasleys in hands wi them een nowthey may serve him to gang up the Lawnmarket4 in, the scoundrel! Mr. Glossin then demanded to see the packet, but here mine hostess demurred.
She dinna kenshe wad not say but justice should take its coursebut when a thing was trusted to ane in her way, doubtless they were responsiblebut she suld cry in Deacon Bearcliff, and if Mr. Glossin liked to tak an inventar o the property, and gie her a receipt before the Deaconor, what she wad like muckle better, an it could be sealed up and left in Deacon Bearcliffs hands, it wad mak her mind easyshe was for naething but justice on a sides.
Mrs. Mac-Candlishs natural sagacity and acquired suspicion being inflexible, Glossin sent for Deacon Bearcliff, to speak anent the villain that had shot Mr. Charles Hazlewood. The Deacon accordingly made his appearance with his wig awry, owing to the hurry with which, at this summons of the Justice, he had exchanged it for the Kilmarnockcap in which he usually attended his customers. Mrs. Mac-Candlish then produced the parcel deposited with her by Brown, in which was found the gipsys purse. On perceiving the value of the miscellaneous contents, Mrs. Mac-Candlish internally congratulated herself upon the precautions she had taken before delivering them up to Glossin, while he, with an appearance of disinterested candour, was the first to propose they should be properly inventoried, and deposited with Deacon Bearcliff, until they should be sent to the Crown-office. He did not, he observed, like to be personally responsible for articles which seemed of considerable value, and had doubtless been acquired by the most nefarious practices.
He then examined the paper in which the purse had been wrapped up. It was the back of a letter addressed to V. Brown, Esquire, but the rest of the address was torn away. The landlady,now as eager to throw light upon the criminals escape as she had formerly been desirous of withholding it, for the miscellaneous contents of the purse argued strongly to her mind that all was not right,Mrs. MacCandlish, I say, now gave Glossin to understand, that her postilion and hostler had both seen the stranger upon the ice that day when young Hazlewood was wounded.
Our readers old acquaintance. Jock Jabos, was first summoned, and admitted frankly that he had seen and conversed upon the ice that morning with a stranger, who he understood, had lodged at the Gordon Arms the night before.
Tut, we just said that was Miss Lucy Bertram of Ellangowan, that should ance have had a great estate in the country,and that was Miss Jowlia Mannering, that was to be married to young HazlewoodSee as she was hinging on his arm. We just spoke about our country clashes likehe was a very frank man.
Ou, he just stared at the young leddies very keen like, and asked if it was for certain that the marriage was to be between Miss Mannering and young Hazlewoodand I answered him that it was for positive and absolute certain, as I had an undoubted right to say saefor my third cousin, Jean Clavers (shes a relation o your ain, Mr. Glossinye wad ken Jean lang syne?) shes sib to the housekeeper at Woodbourne, and shes telld me mair than ance that there was naething could be mair likely.
Say? echoed the postilion, he said naething at ahe just stared at them as they walked round the loch upon the ice, as if he could have eaten them, and he never took his ee aff them, or said another word, or gave another glance at the Bonspiel, though there was the finest fun amang the curlers ever was seenand he turned round and gaed aff the loch by the kirk-stile through Woodbourne fir-plantings, and we saw nae mair o him.
Weel, aweel, sirs, said Jabos, whose hard-headed and uncultivated shrewdness seemed sometimes to start the game when others beat the bushweel, weel, ye may be a mistaen yetIll never believe that a man would lay a plan to shoot another wi his ain gun. Lord help ye, I was the keepers assistant down at the Isle mysell, and Ill uphaud it, the biggest man in Scotland shouldna take a gun frae me or I had weized the slugs through him, though Im but sic a little feckless body, fit for naething but the outside o a saddle and the fore-end o a poschayna, na, nae living man wad venture on that. Ill wad my best buckskins, and they were new coft at Kircudbright fair, its been a chance job after a. But if ye hae naething mair to say to me, I am thinking, I maun gang and see my beasts fedand he departed accordingly.
The hostler, who had accompanied him, gave evidence to the same purpose. He and Mrs. Mac-Candlish were then re-interrogated whether Brown had no arms with him on that unhappy morning. None, they said, but an ordinary big cutlass or hanger by his side.
Now, said the Deacon, taking Glossin by the button (for, in considering this intricate subject, he had forgot Glossins new accession of rank)this is but doubtfu after a, Maister Gilbertfor it was not sae dooms likely that he would go down into battle wi sic sma means.
Glossin extricated himself from the Deacons grasp, and from the discussion, though not with rudeness; for it was his present interest to buy golden opinions from all sorts of people. He inquired the price of tea and sugar, and spoke of providing himself for the year; he gave Mrs. Mac-Candlish directions to have a handsome entertainment in readiness for a party of five friends, whom he intended to invite to dine with him at the Gordon Arms next Saturday week; and, lastly, he gave a half-crown to Jock Jabos, whom the hostler had deputed to hold his steed.
Weel, said the Deacon to Mrs. Mac-Candlish, as he accepted her offer of a glass of bitters at the bar, the deils no sae ill as he s cad. Its pleasant to see a gentleman pay the regard to the business o the county that Mr. Glossin does.
Aye, deed is t, Deacon, answered the landlady; and yet I wonder our gentry leave their ain wark to the like o him.But as lang as siller s current, Deacon, folk mauna look ower nicely at what kings heads ont.