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The Black Dwarf

Chapter 1
PRELIMINARY.
Hast any philosophy in thee, Shepherd? --- AS YOU LIKE IT.
It was a fine April morning (excepting that it had snowed hard the night before,
and the ground remained covered with a dazzling mantle of six inches in depth)
when two horsemen rode up to the Wallace Inn. The first was a strong, tall,
powerful man, in a grey riding-coat, having a hat covered with waxcloth, a huge
silver-mounted horsewhip, boots, and dreadnought overalls. He was mounted on
a large strong brown mare, rough in coat, but well in condition, with a saddle of
the yeomanry cut, and a double- bitted military bridle. The man who
accompanied him was apparently his servant; he rode a shaggy little grey pony,
had a blue bonnet on his head, and a large check napkin folded about his neck,
wore a pair of long blue worsted hose instead of boots, had his gloveless hands
much stained with tar, and observed an air of deference and respect towards his
companion, but without any of those indications of precedence and punctilio
which are preserved between the gentry and their domestics. On the contrary,
the two travellers entered the court-yard abreast, and the concluding sentence of
the conversation which had been carrying on betwixt them was a joint
ejaculation, "Lord guide us, an this weather last, what will come o' the lambs!"
The hint was sufficient for my Landlord, who, advancing to take the horse of the
principal person, and holding him by the reins as he dismounted, while his ostler
rendered the same service to the attendant, welcomed the stranger to
Gandercleugh, and, in the same breath, enquired, "What news from the south
hielands?"
"News?" said the farmer, "bad eneugh news, I think;--an we can carry through
the yowes, it will be a' we can do; we maun e'en leave the lambs to the Black
Dwarfs care."
"Ay, ay," subjoined the old shepherd (for such he was), shaking his head, "he'll
be unco busy amang the morts this season."
"The Black Dwarf!" said MY LEARNED FRIEND AND PATRON, Mr. Jedediah
Cleishbotham, "and what sort of a personage may he be?"
[We have, in this and other instances, printed in italics (CAPITALS in this etext)
some few words which the worthy editor, Mr. Jedediah Cleishbotham, seems to
have interpolated upon the text of his deceased friend, Mr. Pattieson. We must
observe, once for all, that such liberties seem only to have been taken by the
learned gentleman where his own character and conduct are concerned; and
surely he must be the best judge of the style in which his own character and
conduct should be treated of.]
"Hout awa, man," answered the farmer, "ye'll hae heard o' Canny Elshie the
Black Dwarf, or I am muckle mistaen--A' the warld tells tales about him, but it's
but daft nonsense after a'--I dinna believe a word o't frae beginning to end."
"Your father believed it unco stievely, though," said the old man, to whom the
scepticism of his master gave obvious displeasure.
 
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