The Black Dwarf HTML version

Chapter 3
Brown Dwarf, that o'er the moorland strays,
Thy name to Keeldar tell!
"The Brown Man of the Moor, that stays
Beneath the heather-bell." ----- JOHN LEYDEN
The object which alarmed the young farmer in the middle of his valorous
protestations, startled for a moment even his less prejudiced companion. The
moon, which had arisen during their conversation, was, in the phrase of that
country, wading or struggling with clouds, and shed only a doubtful and
occasional light. By one of her beams, which streamed upon the great granite
column to which they now approached, they discovered a form, apparently
human, but of a size much less than ordinary, which moved slowly among the
large grey stones, not like a person intending to journey onward, but with the
slow, irregular, flitting movement of a being who hovers around some spot of
melancholy recollection, uttering also, from time to time, a sort of indistinct
muttering sound. This so much resembled his idea of the motions of an
apparition, that Hobbie Elliot, making a dead pause, while his hair erected itself
upon his scalp, whispered to his companion, "It's Auld Ailie hersell! Shall I gie her
a shot, in the name of God?"
"For Heaven's sake, no," said his companion, holding down the weapon which he
was about to raise to the aim--"for Heaven's sake, no; it's some poor distracted
"Ye're distracted yoursell, for thinking of going so near to her," said Elliot, holding
his companion in his turn, as he prepared to advance. "We'll aye hae time to pit
ower a bit prayer (an I could but mind ane) afore she comes this length --God!
she's in nae hurry," continued he, growing bolder from his companion's
confidence, and the little notice the apparition seemed to take of them. "She
hirples like a hen on a het girdle. I redd ye, Earnscliff" (this he added in a gentle
whisper), "let us take a cast about, as if to draw the wind on a buck--the bog is no
abune knee-deep, and better a saft road as bad company." [The Scots use the
epithet soft, IN MALAM PARTEM, in two cases, at least. A SOFT road is a road
through quagmire and bogs; and SOFT weather signifies that which is very
Earnscliff, however, in spite of his companion's resistance and remonstrances,
continued to advance on the path they had originally pursued, and soon
confronted the object of their investigation.
The height of the figure, which appeared even to decrease as they approached it,
seemed to be under four feet, and its form, as far as the imperfect light afforded
them the means of discerning, was very nearly as broad as long, or rather of a
spherical shape, which could only be occasioned by some strange personal
deformity. The young sportsman hailed this extraordinary appearance twice,
without receiving any answer, or attending to the pinches by which his
companion endeavoured to intimate that their best course was to walk on,
without giving farther disturbance to a being of such singular and preternatural