The Black Dwarf HTML version

Chapter 7
Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn!--
. . . .
Return to thy dwelling; all lonely, return;
For the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood,
And a wild mother scream o'er her famishing brood. -- CAMPBELL.
The night continued sullen and stormy; but morning rose as if refreshed by the
rains. Even the Mucklestane-Moor, with its broad bleak swells of barren grounds,
interspersed with marshy pools of water, seemed to smile under the serene
influence of the sky, just as good-humour can spread a certain inexpressible
charm over the plainest human countenance. The heath was in its thickest and
deepest bloom. The bees, which the Solitary had added to his rural
establishment, were abroad and on the wing, and filled the air with the murmurs
of their industry. As the old man crept out of his little hut, his two she-goats came
to meet him, and licked his hands in gratitude for the vegetables with which he
supplied them from his garden. "You, at least," he said--"you, at least, see no
differences in form which can alter your feelings to a benefactor--to you, the
finest shape that ever statuary moulded would be an object of indifference or of
alarm, should it present itself instead of the mis-shapen trunk to whose services
you are accustomed. While I was in the world, did I ever meet with such a return
of gratitude? No; the domestic whom I had bred from infancy made mouths at me
as he stood behind my chair; the friend whom I had supported with my fortune,
and for whose sake I had even stained--(he stopped with a strong convulsive
shudder), even he thought me more fit for the society of lunatics--for their
disgraceful restraints--for their cruel privations, than for communication with the
rest of humanity. Hubert alone--and Hubert too will one day abandon me. All are
of a piece, one mass of wickedness, selfishness, and ingratitude-- wretches, who
sin even in their devotions; and of such hardness of heart, that they do not,
without hypocrisy, even thank the Deity himself for his warm sun and pure air."
As he was plunged in these gloomy soliloquies, he heard the tramp of a horse on
the other side of his enclosure, and a strong clear bass voice singing with the
liveliness inspired by a light heart,
Canny Hobbie Elliot, canny Hobbie now,
Canny Hobbie Elliot, I'se gang alang wi' you.
At the same moment, a large deer greyhound sprung over the hermit's fence. It is
well known to the sportsmen in these wilds, that the appearance and scent of the
goat so much resemble those of their usual objects of chase, that the best-broke
greyhounds will sometimes fly upon them. The dog in question instantly pulled
down and throttled one of the hermit's she- goats, while Hobbie Elliot, who came
up, and jumped from his horse for the purpose, was unable to extricate the
harmless animal from the fangs of his attendant until it was expiring. The Dwarf
eyed, for a few moments, the convulsive starts of his dying favourite, until the
poor goat stretched out her limbs with the twitches and shivering fit of the last
agony. He then started into an access of frenzy, and unsheathing a long sharp