The Heart of Mid-Lothian
And some they whistled--and some they sang,
And some did loudly say,
Whenever Lord Barnard's horn it blew,
"Away, Musgrave away!"
Ballad of Little Musgrave.
When the man of office returned to the Heart of Mid-Lothian, he resumed his
conference with Ratcliffe, of whose experience and assistance he now held
himself secure. "You must speak with this wench, Rat--this Effie Deans--you
must sift her a wee bit; for as sure as a tether she will ken Robertson's haunts--till
her, Rat--till her without delay."
"Craving your pardon, Mr. Sharpitlaw," said the turnkey elect, "that's what I am
not free to do."
"Free to do, man? what the deil ails ye now?--I thought we had settled a' that?"
"I dinna ken, sir," said Ratcliffe; "I hae spoken to this Effie--she's strange to this
place and to its ways, and to a' our ways, Mr. Sharpitlaw; and she greets, the silly
tawpie, and she's breaking her heart already about this wild chield; and were she
the mean's o' taking him, she wad break it outright."
"She wunna hae time, lad," said Sharpitlaw; "the woodie will hae it's ain o' her
before that--a woman's heart takes a lang time o' breaking."
"That's according to the stuff they are made o' sir," replied Ratcliffe-- "But to
make a lang tale short, I canna undertake the job. It gangs against my
"Your conscience, Rat?" said Sharpitlaw, with a sneer, which the reader will
probably think very natural upon the occasion.
"Ou ay, sir," answered Ratcliffe, calmly, "just my conscience; a'body has a
conscience, though it may be ill wunnin at it. I think mine's as weel out o' the gate
as maist folk's are; and yet it's just like the noop of my elbow, it whiles gets a bit
dirl on a corner."
"Weel, Rat," replied Sharpitlaw, "since ye are nice, I'll speak to the hussy mysell."
Sharpitlaw, accordingly, caused himself to be introduced into the little dark
apartment tenanted by the unfortunate Effie Deans. The poor girl was seated on
her little flock-bed, plunged in a deep reverie. Some food stood on the table, of a