The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 24
Hamlet: Has this fellow no feeling of his business? he sings at grave making.
Horatio: Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness. Hamlet: 'Tis e'en so:
the hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.
Hamlet, Act V. Scene 1.
THE sleep of Ravenswood was broken by ghastly and agitating visions, and his
waking intervals disturbed by melancholy reflections on the past and painful
anticipations of the future. He was perhaps the only traveller who ever slept in
that miserable kennel without complaining of his lodgings, or feeling
inconvenience from their deficiencies. It is when "the mind is free the body's
delicate." Morning, however, found the Master an early riser, in hopes that the
fresh air of the dawn might afford the refreshment which night had refused him.
He took his way towards the solitary burial-ground, which lay about half a mile
from the inn.
The thin blue smoke, which already began to curl upward, and to distinguish the
cottage of the living from the habitation of the dead, apprised him that its inmate
had returned and was stirring. Accordingly, on entering the little churchyard, he
saw the old man labouring in a half-made grave. "My destiny," thought
Ravenswood, "seems to lead me to scenes of fate and of death; but these are
childish thoughts, and they shall not master me. I will not again suffer my
imagination to beguile my senses." The old man rested on his spade as the
Master approached him, as if to receive his commands; and as he did not
immediately speak, the sexton opened the discourse in his own way.
"Ye will be a wedding customer, sir, I'se warrant?"
"What makes you think so, friend?" replied the Master.
"I live by twa trades, sir," replied the blythe old man-- "fiddle, sir, and spade; filling
the world, and emptying of it; and I suld ken baith cast of customers by head-
mark in thirty years' practice."
"You are mistaken, however, this morning," replied Ravenswood.
"Am I?" said the old man, looking keenly at him, "troth and it may be; since, for as
brent as your brow is, there is something sitting upon it this day that is as near
akin to death as to wedlock. Weel--weel; the pick and shovel are as ready to your
order as bow and fiddle."
"I wish you," said Ravenswood, "to look after the descent interment of an old
woman, Alice Gray, who lived at the Graigfoot in Ravenswood Park."
"Alice Gray!--blind Alice!" said the sexton; "and is she gane at last? that's another
jow of the bell to bid me be ready. I mind when Habbie Gray brought her down to
this land; a likely lass she was then, and looked ower her southland nose at us a'.
I trow her pride got a downcome. And is she e'en gane?"
"She died yesterday," said Ravenswood; "and desired to be buried here beside
her husband; you know where he lies, no doubt?"
"Ken where he lies!" answered the sexton, with national indirection of response.
"I ken whar a'body lies, that lies here. But ye were speaking o' her grave? Lord
help us, it's no an ordinar grave that will haud her in, if a's true that folk said of