The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 28
Was ever woman in this humor wooed?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her.
Richard III.
TWELVE months had passed away since the Master of Ravenswood's departure
for the continent, and, although his return to Scotland had been expected in a
much shorter space, yet the affairs of his mission, or, according to a prevailing
report, others of a nature personal to himself, still detained him abroad. In the
mean time, the altered state of affairs in Sir William Ashton's family may be
gathered from the following conversation which took place betwixt Bucklaw and
his confidential bottle companion and dependant, the noted Captain Craigengelt.
They were seated on either side of the huge sepulchral-looking freestone
chimney in the low hall at Girnington. A wood fire blazed merrily in the grate; a
round oaken table, placed between them, supported a stoup of excellent claret,
two rummer glasses, and other good cheer; and yet, with all these appliances
and means to boot, the countenance of the patron was dubious, doubtful, and
unsatisfied, while the invention of his dependant was taxed to the utmost to parry
what he most dreaded, a fit, as he called it, of the sullens, on the part of his
protector. After a long pause, only interrupted by the devil's tattoo, which Bucklaw
kept beating against the hearth with the toe of his boot, Craigengelt at last
ventured to break silence. "May I be double distanced," said he, "if ever I saw a
man in my life have less the air of a bridegroom! Cut me out of feather, if you
have not more the look of a man condemned to be hanged!"
"My kind thanks for the compliment," replied Bucklaw; "but I suppose you think
upon the predicament in which you yourself are most likely to be placed; and
pray, Captain Craigengelt, if it please your worship, why should I look merry,
when I'm sad, and devilish sad too?"
"And that's what vexes me," said Craigengelt. "Here is this match, the best in the
whole country, andwhich were so anxious about, is on the point of being
concluded, and you are as sulky as a bear that has lost its whelps."
"I do not know," answered the Laird, doggedly, "whether I should conclude or not,
if it was not that I am too far forwards to leap back."
"Leap back!" exclaimed Craigengelt, with a well-assumed air of astonishment,
"that would be playing the back-game with a witness! Leap back! Why, is not the
girl's fortune----"
"The young lady's, if you please," said Hayston, interrupting him.
"Well--well, no disrespect meant. Will Miss Ashton's tocher not weigh against any
in Lothian?"
"Granted," answered Bucklaw; "but I care not a penny for her tocher; I have
enough of my own."
"And the mother, that loves you like her own child?"
"Better than some of her children, I believe," said Bucklaw, "or there would be
little love wared on the matter."