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still in their infancy, were helmed in the martial bonnet of their countrymen; and their short tartan petticoats were appended to a certain scarlet or blue juste au corps, laced up the back as if to prevent these children of nature from asserting a primeval contempt of clothing. With the girls, however, this point seemed intrusted to feminine sense of propriety, for their upper garment consisted either of a loose jacket, or a square piece of woollen cloth thrown round the shoulders, and fastened under the chin only by a huge brass pin, or a wooden skewer. The absurdity of their appearance was heightened by the premature gravity of their countenances, which were more like the grim-visaged babes in an old family picture, than the animation of youthful life. In profound silence they stood courtesying as we passed, while the boys remained cap in hand till we entered the hut.
It consisted of two apartments; one of which I dimly discerned through the smoke to be occupied by a group of peasants, collected round some embers which lay in the middle of the floor. Into the other, which was the state chamber, Miss Graham and I made our way. It appeared to have been hastily cleared for our reception; for the earthen floor, as well as the oaken table, which stood in the middle of it, was covered with (Mbris of cheese, oat cakes, and raw onions, intermixed with slops of whisky. The good woman, however, who was doing the honours, rectified the disorder seemingly to her own satisfaction, by taking up the corner of her apron and sweeping the rubbish from the table to the floor. Meanwhile she entered into a conversation with Miss Graham, in which every possible question was directly or indirectly asked, except the only one which on such occasions I was accustomed to hear, namely, what we would choose to have for dinner. But, as it proved, this question would have been the most unnecessary of all; for, upon inquiry, we learnt that our choice was limited to a fowl, or, as the landlady termed it, " a hen."
While this point was settling the head waiter and chambermaid appeared, in the person of a square-built wench, naked up to the middle of a scarlet leg, and without any head-dress except a bandeau of blue worsted tape. Having tossed a lapfull of brushwood into the chimney (for the state chamber had a chimney), she next brought upon a piece of slate some embers which she added to the heap; then squatting herself upon the hearth, she took hold of her petticoat with both hands at the hem, tightening it by her elbows; and, moving her arms quickly up and down, she soon fanned the fire into a blaze.
Next came our landlord, in the full garb of his country; and great was my astonishment to see him hold out his hand to Miss Graham, as to a familiar acquaintance. Nor was my surprise at all lessened when he coolly took his seat between us, and began to favour us with his opinions upon continental politics. Provoked by this impertinence, and by the courtesy with which Miss Graham received it, I interrupted his remarks, by desiring he would get me a glass of water. Without moving from his chair, he communicated my demand to the maid, and went on with his
VOL. III. s s
conversation. I took the first opportunity of reproving Charlotte's tame endurance of all this. "What would you have me do 1" said she, " He is a discreet, sensible man, and a gentleman."
"A gentleman!" repeated I.
"Yes," resumed Charlotte, " I assure you he is my father's third cousin, and can count kindred, besides, with the best in Perthshire.
It was plain that Miss Graham and I affixed somewhat different ideas to the word " gentleman;" however, upon the claims of his ancestors, I was obliged to admit this gentleman to our dinner-table ; when, after a violent commotion among the poultry had announced mortal preparation for our repast, it at last appeared. Our unhappy " hen," whose dying limbs no civilized hand had composed, was reinforced by a dish of salmon (large enough to satisfy ten dragoons), which Miss Graham, with some difficulty, persuaded the landlady that the stranger might condescend to taste.
Towards the close of our meal, our attendant pushed aside the panel of a large wooden bed, which occupied one side of our apartment; and, from a shelf within, produced a large cheese, and an earthen pitcher full of butter, which she placed upon the table. Then, from the coverlet, where they had been arranged to cool, she brought us a large supply of oat cakes. I fear I was not polite enough to suppress some natural signs of loathing; for the girl, with the quick observation of her countrymen, instantly apologized for the cause of my disgust. "It is just for sake of keeping them clean, with your leave;" said she. "there's so many soot drops fall through this house." In spite of this apology, however, I was so thoroughly disgusted, that I heard with great joy the trampling of our horses at the door, and immediately ran out to survey the cavalcade which had been dispatched from Castle Eredine for our accommodation. Mrs. Brunton.
AND THE FAMILY OF THE OSBALDISTONES. The building afforded little to interest a stranger, had I been disposed to consider it attentively; the sides of the quadrangle were of various architecture, and with their stone-shafted latticed windows, projecting turrets, and massive architraves, resembled the inside of a convent, or of one of the older and less splendid colleges of Oxford. I called for a domestic, but was for some time totally unattended to; which was the more provoking, as I could perceive I was the object of curiosity to several servants, both male and female, from different parts of the building, who popped out their heads and withdrew them, like rabbits in a warren, before I could make a direct appeal to the attention of any individual. The return of the huntsmen and hounds relieved me from my embarrassment, and with some difficulty I got one clown to relieve me of the charge of the horses, and another stupid boor to guide me to the presence of Sir Hildebrand. This service he performed with much such grace and goodwill as a peasant who is compelled to act as guide to a hostile patrole; and in the same manner I was obliged to guard against his deserting me in the labyrinth of low vaulted passages, which conducted to "Stun Hall," as he called it, where I was to be introduced to the gracious presence of my uncle.
We did, however, at length reach a long vaulted room, floored with stone, where a range of oaken tables, of a weight and size too massive ever to be moved aside, were already covered for dinner. This venerable apartment, which had witnessed the feasts of several generations of the Osbaldistone family, bore also evidence of their success in field sports. Huge antlers of deer, which might have been the trophies of the hunting of Chevy Chase, were ranged round the walls, interspersed with the stuffed skins of badgers, otters, martins, and other animals of chase. Amidst some remnants of old armour, which had, perhaps, served against the Scotch, hung the more valued weapons of silvan war, cross-bows, guns of various device and construction, nets, fishing-rods, otter-spears, huntingpoles, with many other singular devices and engines for taking or killing game. A few old pictures, dimmed with smoke, and stained with March beer, hung on the walls, representing knights and ladies, honoured, doubtless, and renowned in their day; those frowning fearfully from huge bushes of wig and of beard; and these looking delightfully with all their might at the roses which they brandished in their hands. I had just time to give a glance at these matters, when about twelve blue-coated servants