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we, too, have our plains, and to-morrow's sun will show you one almost vying with them in richness. But in return for the politeness with which you have just condescended to answer my perhaps rather impertinent, though, when your arms are considered, somewhat excusable interrogatory, I must tell you that my name is Macgillivray; that I am proprietor of a small estate in the Highlands, some fifty miles from hence; that I am at present on a visit in this neighbourhood; and being engaged to-night in company at a public-house hard by, I walked forth to take a little of the air of this fine evening on the shore, and was, like you, led by the light to enter this cavern. I have now reason to rejoice at my good fortune for thus accidentally bringing me to form so agreeable an acquaintance.”
“ Public-house, did you say, Sir!" exclaimed Cleaver, whose attention having been rivetted by the word, had followed the speaker no farther,—“ I think you mentioned a public-house? By Heavens, I am glad there is an inn so near. Methinks I already, by anticipation, smell some veal-cutlets done in a nice brown sauce, seasoned with a clove of garlic, and a little mace. Pray, my dear Sir, have the goodness to order one of your people to guide us to this same hostel; and if you
will do us the favour to bestow upon us your company at supper, you will add to the obligation."
“ I will do myself the honour of showing you the way thither myself, gentlemen, with the greatest pleasure," said the stranger ; “ and my friends will, I am sure, thank me for presenting them with such an addition to their merry party."
So saying, he gave some orders in Gaelic to his men, who, much to the surprise of Amherst and his friend, remained in the cavern, and leading the way, he was followed by the two gentlemen and O'Gollochar.
The stranger first conducted them for a considerable way along the shore, by the foot of the cliffs, in a direction opposite to that leading to the landing-place, and then they wound up by one of those steep and narrow paths frequently found on such bold coasts, where the fishermen are compelled to avail themselves of every practicable breach in the rocky wall to make a pas
sage to and from the sea-beach, in pursuit of their daily occupation. They then crossed the high barren downs already described, by an indistinct track, leading among the sand heaps, and they ultimately began to descend towards the more inland country, through a series of wild furzy pastures, to which some irregular patches of cultivation succeeded.
After nearly an hour's walk, their eyes were gladdened by the sight of an illuminated window at some distance, which, though consisting of four small panes of glass only, emitted blaze of light enough to have served for a beacon.
Amherst was surprised to find their walk so much longer than Mr Macgillivray had led him to expect it to be.
It was too great
for saunter of pleasure. He could not help thinking there was something very mysterious in the whole behaviour of their new acquaintance; for although he continued to converse with fluency, and with all the urbanity he displayed when they first met him, Amherst frequently observed his keen eyes turned on him in the imperfect light of the moon, as if to scan his face and person. Nothing, however, like an apprehension of
treachery had ever crossed his mind, and, indeed, if any such had arisen there, it must have been soon dispelled by the cheering though confused sounds of merriment proceeding from the black mass before them, which, but for the flickering blaze from its little window, would never have been taken by Amherst for a human dwelling
As they approached the nut, they began to distinguish, what might much more properly have been called the noise than the air of a rude song, supported by an occasional chorus of many voices, and as they drew nearer, their ears caught the words of the conclusion,
Then whilst we have claret,
Come, boys, do not spare it,
See, mirth sits on ilka brow,
Who cares for care now ?
For drown'd in deep goblets the fiend must expire. Then, hey! come! jolly boys, join in the carrol,
And ilka ane fill his point stoup to the nail, Let's fill, drink and fill, till we empty the barrel,
For though it held oceans our thirst would prevail ! A Bacchanalian cheer arose as this chorus terminated, and it had just died away as Mr Mac
gillivray ushered his new acquaintances into the public-house. But before I permit him to introduce them to the party within, I must first give the reader some idea of the interior of the place.
The house was chiefly composed of two large chambers, known in Scotland by the appellation of the but and the ben. The first of these, entering from the doorway, was used as the kitchen and hall. It had a large fire place, with a chimney so much projected into the middle of the apartment, that a company of a dozen might have easily sat under it; and a couple of forms, placed one on each side, showed that it was frequently so occupied. The black smoky rafters were only here and there covered with bits of old boat sails, stretched across, and bent downwards between the beams, as if laden with numerous articles of lumber thrown up there to be out of the way. In other places the eye was permitted to penetrate upwards through a network of cobwebs and dust, till arrested by the interior of the thatched roof. Two or three favourite hens, at roost in the sooty regions above, seemed to sleep perfectly unconscious of the