The Black Dwarf
I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind;
For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog,
That I might love thee something. TIMON OF ATHENS
On the following morning, after breakfast, Earnscliff took leave of his hospitable
friends, promising to return in time to partake of the venison, which had arrived
from his house. Hobbie, who apparently took leave of him at the door of his
habitation, slunk out, however, and joined him at the top of the hill.
"Ye'll be gaun yonder, Mr. Patrick; feind o' me will mistryst you for a' my mother
says. I thought it best to slip out quietly though, in case she should mislippen
something of what we're gaun to do--we maunna vex her at nae rate--it was
amaist the last word my father said to me on his deathbed."
"By no means, Hobbie," said Earnscliff; "she well merits all your attention."
"Troth, for that matter, she would be as sair vexed amaist for you as for me. But
d'ye really think there's nae presumption in venturing back yonder?--We hae nae
special commission, ye ken."
"If I thought as you do, Hobbie," said the young gentleman, "I would not perhaps
enquire farther into this business; but as I am of opinion that preternatural
visitations are either ceased altogether, or become very rare in our days, I am
unwilling to leave a matter uninvestigated which may concern the life of a poor
"Aweel, aweel, if ye really think that," answered Hobbie doubtfully--"And it's for
certain the very fairies--I mean the very good neighbours themsells (for they say
folk suldna ca' them fairies) that used to be seen on every green knowe at e'en,
are no half sae often visible in our days. I canna depone to having ever seen ane
mysell, but, I ance heard ane whistle ahint me in the moss, as like a whaup
[Curlew] as ae thing could be like anither. And mony ane my father saw when he
used to come hame frae the fairs at e'en, wi' a drap drink in his head, honest
Earnscliff was somewhat entertained with the gradual declension of superstition
from one generation to another which was inferred In this last observation; and
they continued to reason on such subjects, until they came in sight of the upright
stone which gave name to the moor.
"As I shall answer," says Hobbie, "yonder's the creature creeping about yet!--But
it's daylight, and you have your gun, and I brought out my bit whinger--I think we
may venture on him."
"By all manner of means," said Earnscliff; "but, in the name of wonder, what can
he be doing there?"
"Biggin a dry-stane dyke, I think, wi' the grey geese, as they ca' thae great loose
stanes--Odd, that passes a' thing I e'er heard tell of!"
As they approached nearer, Earnscliff could not help agreeing with his
companion. The figure they had seen the night before seemed slowly and
toilsomely labouring to pile the large stones one upon another, as if to form a
small enclosure. Materials lay around him in great plenty, but the labour of