The Bride of Lammermoor
Should I take aught of you? 'Tis true I begged now;
And what is worse than that, I stole a kindness;
And, what is worst of all, I lost my way in't.
Wit Without Money.
THE face of the little boy, sole witness of Caleb's infringement upon the laws at
once of property and hospitality, would have made a good picture. He sat
motionless, as if he had witnessed some of the spectral appearances which he
had heard told of in a winter's evening; and as he forgot his own duty, and
allowed his spit to stand still, he added to the misfortunes of the evening by
suffering the mutton to burn as black as a coal. He was first recalled from his
trance of astonishment by a hearty cuff administered by Dame Lightbody, who, in
whatever other respects she might conform to her name, was a woman strong of
person, and expert in the use of her hands, as some say her deceased husband
had known to his cost.
"What garr'd ye let the roast burn, ye ill-clerkit gude-for- nought?"
"I dinna ken," said the boy.
"And where's that ill-deedy gett, Giles?"
"I dinna ken," blubbered the astonished declarant.
"And where's Mr. Balderstone?--and abune a', and in the name of council and
kirk-session, that I suld say sae, where's the broche wi' the wild-fowl?" As Mrs.
Girder here entered, and joined her mother's exclamations, screaming into one
ear while the old lady deafened the other, they succeeded in so utterly
confounding the unhappy urchin, that he could not for some time tell his story at
all, and it was only when the elder boy returned that the truth began to dawn on
"Weel, sirs!" said Mrs. Lightbody, "wha wad hae thought o' Caleb Balderstone
playing an auld acquaintance sic a pliskie!"
"Oh, weary on him!" said the spouse of Mr. Girder; "and what am I to say to the
gudeman? He'll brain me, if there wasna anither woman in a' Wolf''s Hope."
"Hout tout, silly quean," said the mother; "na, na, it's come to muckle, but it's no
come to that neither; for an he brain you he maun brain me, and I have garr'd his
betters stand back. Hands aff is fair play; we maunna heed a bit flyting."
The tramp of horses now announced the arrival of the cooper, with the minister.
They had no sooner dismounted than they made for the kitchen fire, for the
evening was cool after the thunderstorm, and the woods wet and dirty. The
young gudewife, strong in the charms of her Sunday gown and biggonets, threw
herself in the way of receiving the first attack, while her mother, like the veteran
division of the Roman legion, remained in the rear, ready to support her in case
of necessity. Both hoped to protract the discovery of what had happened--the
mother, by interposing her bustling person betwixt Mr. Girder and the fire, and
the daughter, by the extreme cordiality with which she received the minister and
her husband, and the anxious fears which she expressed lest they should have
"gotten cauld." "Cauld!" quoted the husband, surlily, for he was not of that class