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Stap your ways in—I'se warrant ye'll get some venison, an ye get naething else."
And without altering his position, except only in so far as to turn his face in the direction of the entrance, that he might be the better heard by those within, he, in a loud imperious tone, issued his orders in Gaelic. They were no sooner announced, than a woman, in a grey worsted shortgown, imperfectly concealing her bosom, and a dark-blue petticoat, so short as to exhibit to the knees a tolerably well-turned, but very dirty pair of limbs, bareheaded, and her black hair, that no comb seemed to have divided for many a day, hanging in matted locks over her face, appeared at the door. Leaning with one arm against the door-post, and giving her head a shake, so as in some degree to remove the natural veil from before her eyes, she displayed a very fine set of features, though partaking of the general dirt, every where begriming the rest of her person. On perceiving Amherst and Lochandhu, she stepped forth to one side, and laying her hands over one another in front, she dropped a low curtsey, and saluted them in Gaelic. Lochandhu replied to
her in the same language, as he stooped to enter the house followed by Amherst.
They groped their way through a long passage,
ving various doors branching off from it, into holes or dens, to right and left, all put in requisition during the fairs and markets, and not unfrequently on ordinary occasions ; this place being situated at the union of two of those great military roads, constructed by Government, to facilitate the passage
troops through the solitudes of the Highlands. They entered a little chamber at the end of this passage, lighted by one solitary pane of glass, ingeniously inserted among the sods of the wall, and furnished with a wretched little firtable, lame of a leg, and propped with a peat, and an old arm-chair, and two stools of similar materials. The place was so small, that there could have been room for no more. An odd sort
apartment this, thought Amherst, to eat venison in !
Lochandhu, with his usual attention to the ceremonies of life, insisted upon Amherst taking the arm-chair, as the place of honour, whilst he, with some difficulty, seated himself on one of the stools, with his back to the window, and thrust
his large jack-booted legs under the table, his formidable dress, and bulky figure, presenting a very whimsical appearance,
sunk as it was upon the creepy, as he called it, with only his head and shoulders appearing above board.
Whilst they were waiting for the eatables, and talking about indifferent matters, Amherst perceived the light proceeding from the little window to be suddenly diminished, as if some object had approached it on the outside.
He commanded a full view of it over Lochandhu's head, and involuntarily started, for, to his no small astonishment, he beheld the hideous face of the Dwarfie Carline o' the Cove. She gazed at him for some moments, with a fixed and freezing look. Lochandhu observed his emotion, and was in the act of turning round to discover what gave rise to it. The mysterious female seemed to guess his purpose. Her eyes assumed an extraordinary fire of intelligence, and putting her long bony fingers upon her skinny lips, she looked towards Lochandhu, and shooting a penetrating glance at Amherst, she instantaneously disappeared, long before his companion, hampered as he was, could effect his change of posture. See
ing nothing at the window, he again turned towards Amherst, who, struck with the earnest manner of the signal, and judging it prudent to conceal the circumstance from his companion, had by this time clapped his hand to his head, as if attacked by some sudden pain.
I hope there is nothing the matter with you, Mr Oakenwold ?" said Lochandhu, with an air of alarm.
“ Nothing very material,” replied Amherst. “ A sudden twinge of megrim, to which I am frequently subject."
“ Emptiness of stomach, I daresay,” replied Lochandhu; 6 you will be better after eating something ;” and rising, with considerable exertion, he hastened to the door, and transmitted a long and deep-toned sentence of Gaelic along the dark funnel of the
immediately replied to from the other end of the sod edifice, by the shrill clamouring voice of the hostess.
“Aye, aye," said he, after listening to what she had said, and resuming his seat, “she'll be here directly."
Accordingly, in a few minutes she came trotting
along the passage, preceded by a savoury steam issuing from a large wooden dish she carried, and which half obscured her person as she entered. It was put upon the table, but it was as speedily removed, and placed on one of the stools, for something had been forgotten. She ran off, and returned with a towel, with which she covered the table. Then she went for knives and forks, and oatencakes, and salt, all of which were to be sought for, before the chief part of the entertainment was restored to its proper situation.
“ The venison” of which Mr Macphie had spoken, turned out to be a hare, cut down into fragments, and dressed with a very palatable sauce, made of the blood of the animal, seasoned with pepper and onions. During the meal, Amherst could not banish from his mind the strange spectre he had seen; and glancing more than once at the window, he almost expected to see the hideous face still occupying it.
Having finished their meal, Lochandhu called for the horses. Mrs Macphie waited at the door, dressed, in compliment to the gentlemen, in a high cap. Lochandhu anticipated Amherst, by paying her demands.