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ghaist, or even his wraith,—wherefore aroint ye, if ye were ten times my master, unless ye come in bodily shape, lith, and limb."
"It is I, you old fool," answered Ravenswood, "in bodily shape, and alive; save that I am half dead with cold."
The light at the upper window disappeared, and glancing from loophole to loophole in slow succession, gave intimation that the bearer was in the act of descending, with great deliberation, a winding staircase, occupying one of the turrets which graced the angles of the old tower. The tardiness of his descent extracted some exclamations of impatience from Ravenswood, and several oaths from his less patient and more mercurial companion. Caleb again paused ere he unbolted the door, and once more asked, if they were men of mould that demanded entrance at this time of night?
"Were I near you, you old fool," said Buck- law, "I would give you sufficient proofs of my bodily condition."
"Open the gate, Caleb," said his master in a more soothing tone, partly from his regard to the ancient and faithful seneschal, partly, perhaps, because he thought that angry words would be thrown away, so long as Caleb had a stout ironclenched oaken door betwixt his person and the speakers.
At length Caleb, with a trembling hand, undid the bars, opened the heavy door, and stood before them, exhibiting his thin gray hairs, bald forehead, and sharp high features, illuminated by a quivering lamp which he held in one hand, while he shaded and protected its flame with the other. The timorous courteous glance which he threw around him—the effect of the partial light upon his white hair and illumined features, might have made a good painting; but our travellers were too impatient for security against the rising storm to permit them to indulge themselves in studying the picturesque. "Is it you, my dear master? is it you yourself, indeed j" exclaimed the old domestic. "I am wae ye suld hae stude waiting at your ain gate; but wha wad hae thought o' seeing ye sae sune, and a strange gentleman with a— (here he exclaimed apart as it were, and to some inmate of the tower, in a voice not meant to be heard in the court)—Mysie—Mysie woman, stir for dear life, and get the fire mended; take the auld three-legged stool, or ony thing that's readiest, that will make a lowe.—I doubt we are but puirly provided, no expecting ye this some months, when doubtless ye wad hae been received conform till your rank, as gude right is; but natheless"
"Natheless, Caleb," said the Master, "we must have our horses put up, and ourselves too, the best way we can. I hope you are not sorry to see me sooner than you expected!"
"Sorry, my lord!—1 am sure ye sail aye be my lord wi' honest folk, as your noble ancestors hae been these three hundred years, and never asked a whig's leave.—Sorry to see the lord of Ravenswood at ane of his ain castles!—(Then again apart to his unseen associate behind the screen)—Mysie, kill the brood-hen without thinking twice on it; let them care that come ahint.— No, to say it's our best dwelling," he added, turning to Bucklaw, " but just a strength for the lord of Ravenswood to flee until,—that is, no to flee, but to retreat until in troublous times, like the present, when it was ill convenient for him to live farther in the country in ony of his better and mair principal manors; but, for its antiquity, maist folk think that the outside of Wolf's Crag is worthy of a large perusal."
"And you are determined we shall have time to make it," said Ravenswood, somewhat amused with the shifts the old man used to detain them without doors, until his confederate Mysie had made her preparations within.
"O, never mind the outside of the house, my good friend," said Bucklaw; " let's see the inside, and let our horses see the stable, that's all." "O yes, sir—ay, sir,—unquestionably, sir,— my lord and ony of his honourable companions"
"But our horses, my old friend—our horses; they will be dead-foundered by standing here in the cold after riding hard, and mine is too good to be spoiled; therefore, once more, our horses," exclaimed Bucklaw.
"True—ay—your horses—yes—I will call the grooms;" and sturdily did Caleb roar till the old tower rung again,—" John—William— Saunders!—The lads are gane out, or sleeping," he observed, after pausing for an answer, which he knew that he had no human chance of receiving. "A' gaes wrang when the master's out bye; but I'll take care o' your cattle mysel." "I think you had better," said Ravenswood j "otherwise I see little chance of their being attended to at all."
"Whisht, my lord,—whisht, for God's sake," said Caleb, in an imploring tone, and apart to his master; " if ye dinna regard your ain credit, think on mine; we'll hae hard aneugh wark to make a decent night o't, wi' a' the lies I can tell."
"Well, well, never mind," said his master; "go to the stable. There is hay and corn, I trust?"
"On ay, plenty of hay and corn:" this was uttered boldly and aloud, and, in a lower tone, "there was some half fou's o' aits, and some tails o' meadow hay, left after the burial/'
"Very well," said Ravenswood, taking the lamp from his domestic's unwilling hand, " I will show the stranger up stairs myself."
"I canna think o' that, my lord;—if ye wad but have five minutes, or ten minutes, or, at raaist, a quarter of an hour's patience, and look at the fine moonlight prospect of the Bass and North Berwick Law till I sort the horses, I would marshal ye up, as reason is ye suld be marshalled, your lordship and your honourable visitor. And I hae lockit up the siller candlesticks, and the lamp is not fit"
"It will do very well in the mean time," said Ravenswood; " and you will have no difficulty for want of light in the stable; for, if I recollect, half the roof is off."
"Very true, my lord," replied the trusty adherent, and with ready wit instantly added, "and the lazy slater loons have never come to put it on a' this while, your lordship."
"If I were disposed to jest at the calamities of my house," said Ravenswood, as he led the way up stairs, " poor old Caleb would furnish me with ample means. His passion consists in representing things about our miserable menage, not as they are, but as, in his opinion, they ought to be; and, to say the truth, I have been often diverted with the poor wretch's expedient to supply what he thought was essential for the credit of the family, and his still more generous apologies for the want of those articles for which his ingenuity could discover no substitute. But though the tower is none of the largest, I shall have some trouble without him to find the apartment in which there is a fire."
As he spoke thus, he opened the door of the hall. "Here, at least," he said, " there is neither hearth nor harbour."
It was indeed a scene of desolation. A large vaulted room, the beams of which, combined like those of Westminster Hall, were rudely carved at the extremities, remained nearly in the situation in which it had been left after the entertainment at Allan Lord Ravenswood's funeral. Overturned pitchers, and black jacks, and pewter stoups, and flagons, still cumbered the large oaken table; glasses, those more perishable implements of conviviality, many of which had been voluntarily sacrificed by the guests in their enthusiastic pledges to favourite toasts, strewed the stone floor with their fragments. As for the articles of plate, lent for the purpose by friends and kinsfolk, those had been carefully withdrawn so soon as the ostentatious display of festivity,