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auld now, and think I wad like to spend my last days amang the grass and the gowans.
If it wasna that I wad lie near Thamas in the toon, I wad be dowie to think o’ bein' laid i' the Canongate kirkyard, where the grass never grows fresh, nor birds sit and sing upon the headstanes. But maybe I'll hae my wish yet; for Henry said, only the ither nicht, that if he gaed to Rockhart Hall, I wad be shure to gang tae. But, losh me! what am I haverin' at ?” continued Mrs Ford, checking herself, as she saw the visitor looking at her with peculiar interest. “ Ye canna understand or care ony thing aboot what I mean.”
“Don't I?” rejoined Ned. “ There you are mistaken, good lady. But what about Henry going to Rockhart Hall? I suppose that is the other gentleman who lodges with you. He can't have any connection with Rockbart Hall?”
· Has he no, though? Ah! lad, but ye are oot there. He has connection wi' it, and very guid connection, tae.”
“Indeed! and how does master like that?”
“Of course he is; and a very good master, too."
But may I speer yer name?”
“0, by all means. My name is Ned Oal ham, and I'm not ashamed of it anywhere.”
“ Ned Oakham!” cried Mrs Ford, starting up in amazement. "Guid guide us! are ye Ned Oakham?
Ned only nodded, and looked at her with a quiet, amused smile.
“Preserve us a'! and I've sutten ye doon in the kitchen-you, that should be in the best room in the hoose! But I'm sure ye'll no be angry; for, ye see, I didna ken wha ye were.”
“Heyday! what's the matter now?” cried Ned, astonished at the influence produced by the announcement of his name.
“ Matter!" echoed the landlady. “ Matter enough! Are ye no the brave fallow that saved Diamond frae that awfu' man, the baronet?”
“ Diamond !—0, you mean Mr Gray's daughter? Ah! that was one lucky thing I did in my life.”
Losb, man, come ben to the room. Mr Everly, and Henry tae, will be rale angry at me keepin' ye here."
“0, nonsense; but tell me, what has Henry to do with Rockbart Hall?"
“It's his, Maister Oakham. He's the richtfu' heir to it; for we just fand oot the ither day that he's the son o' Sir Edward's brither
- him that was killed aff his horse-only they canna get the marriage lines. They think they are in a baroo thing that stands in
Henry's room there, but canna fa' in wi' them. Hooever, Mr Strickland the lawwer is gaunna tak the matter afore the coort, and Gracious me! there's somebody at the door. Come awa ben to Mr Everly's room, afore I gang and open
it.” She hastily led the way to the apartment she mentioned, and getting Ned seated, ran away to answer the door, leaving him greatly amazed at the fame avd consideration his late night adventure had brought him. He did not know that this was but the first of a series of similar attentions he was destined to receive in the course of the next day or two; that he would be the lion of the circle into which he was about to be introduced, and experience at all hands the most admiring and grateful attention-consideration, in fact, of a nature that rather annoyed him than otherwise.
While thinking of the unexpected estimation in which he was held by the landlady, he did not pay much attention to voices in the passage; but when the door of the adjoining room opened, and the sound reached him distinctly, he started, and listened with eagerness.
Very weel, sir; ye can just wait here if ye want to see Maister Smith sae," said Mrs Ford. “This is his room, and I
him every moment.”
Very good, ma’am-very good," answered a voice, which, in spite of its attempt at high English, Ned recognised to be Dogwood's.
- Confound it! what can the fellow want here?” muttered the gamekeeper to himself. “ He has come for no good, I warrant. I'll just watch him, seeing that the landlady has gone and left him in that room by himself.”
Ned advanced to the door which separated the rooms, and kneeling down, and putting his eye to the keyhole, had a full view of the valet. He was dressed in tiptop fashion, and disguised with false hair and beard, but not sufficiently so to deceive Ned, who was so well acquainted with his person. When Ned got the first glance of him, he was in the act of rising from the chair to which the landlady had pointed when she left the room. A smile of excited, eager triumph was on his face, and his grey eyes gleamed with delight as they were fixed on the bureau, towards which he slipped.
The gamekeeper held his breath, and gazed steadily through the keyhole. Fortunately, the bureau was opposite the door, and he could distinctly observe the valet's motions.
Dogwood ran his hand over a drawer at one corner, and tugged at the handle; but it was locked. He then took a small key from his pocket, inserted it, and unlocked the drawer with ease. He drew it out a very little, then pressed his thumb on the upper strip of veneer, and pulling out the drawer altogether, looked eagerly behind. He was evidently disappointed, for he quickly replaced it
, and pushing it carefully in to within two or three inches from the gurface, pressed again upon the veneer. This time he did it with
force, and a sharp click was heard; but at the same moment the landlady's foot was heard in the passage, and he hastily ran to his seat.
He had scarcely reached it, and assumed a careless attitude, when Mrs Ford entered the room, and thus addressed him: " I'm vexed, sir, that ye canna see Henry enoo.
He has just sent a message, that he'll no be hame till four o'clock."
Dogwood's face grew pale beneath the dark, false locks, and a discomfited look gathered on his features.
“Not till-till four o'clock?” he stammered, and glanced nervously at the bureau.
" That's just what Betsey says. But if ye ca’ then, ye'll be shure to see him."
"Ah! yes-yes-of course. Pray, would you be kind enough to go
for a little water to me. I feel thirsty."
" O, it's no far awa,” rejoined the landlady. “ There's the jug and the glass at yer elbow.”
Thus foiled in his cunning attempt to get Mrs Ford out of the room, Dogwood seemed utterly at a loss what to do. He slowly poured out a little of the water, and as slowly drank it off; then, apparently unable to make a plea for remaining longer, he rose.
“Four o'clock, did you say, wa'am?" he inquired. “ Will he pot be back before that?”
"He'll no be a moment afore it; but ye may be shure he'll no be
“Ah! well, I will call about that time," he answered, with an effort at carelessness, and followed Mrs Ford out of the room, managing, however, as he passed the bureau, to push in the partially open drawer.
Ned waited not a moment, but turning the handle of the door against which he leaned, giided into the other room, rushed to the -bureau, pulled out the drawer, looked behind, and saw an open recess, in which lay a bundle of papers. These he grasped, shut the drawer into its place, regained the apartment he had left, and had the papers concealed in his breast just as Mrs Ford popped in her head at the door which opened from the passage.
“Maister Oakham, ye'll no see Maister Everly here till four o'clock,” she exclaimed. · Henry and him are gaunna get their denner at Newington. But ye had better gang oot. Here's Betsey will show ye the road, and they'll be a' rale glad to see ye."
“I'd rather not," said Ned. 66 Master ordered me to come here, and I can't disobey orders, you know. So, if I had a bit of a rest, I'll just go out and see the town, and return by four.” “0, very weel; then Betsey can tell Maister Richard that ye
hae Just sit still, and tak yer rest where ye are.” Mrs Ford withdrew, and Ned immediately pulled out the papers, turning them over one by one, and getting highly satisfied with his scrutiny.
“Just as I expected,” he murmured, joyfully. “Now, how could that scoundrel know how to find these things? That villanous master of his must be at the bottom of it. Let me see; what am I to do with them? Here are plenty letters from Master Ringald to prove that the lady was his wife; but if there wasn't, here is the certificate all right. But what am I to do with them?-give them to master? I don't see as how I can do any thing else. Yes, I can. There's Mr Strickland, the lawyer as has the case in hand; he'll be the best to give them to, for he'll know what use to make of them. What a lucky fellow I am! Ha, ha! Master Dogwood, I've spoiled your sport again."
Ned did not sit long in the room after coming to this decision; and yet he did not want to evince precipitancy sufficient to rouse the attention of Mrs Ford, whom he wished for the present to keep in ignorance of the glorious discovery just made. So after sitting a little, and contemplating with extreme satisfaction the fact that Sir Edward was again in his master's power, and that he had realized his wish in being the means of bringing him there, he put on his hat, and sauntered into the kitchen.
“Losh ! Maister Oakham, ye hinna sutten lang," said the landlady.
“No," rejoined Ned; “I am so anxious to see this grand city of yours. I hope I'll not lose myself; but if I do, I suppose some worthy inhabitant will be good enough to set me right.
“O nae fears o' ye losin' yersell," remarked Mrs Ford. “If ye keep to the wide streets, and dinna gang
ony closes, ye canna gang
wrang. Ye maun gang to the Castle, to see that great bis gun they ca' Mons Meg, and Holyrood, and the Parliament Hoose What a pity but had some acquentence to gang But I fancy ye dinna ken ony body in Edinbro' ?”
“Nobody but Mr Strickland, the lawyer," answered Ned, carelessly. “ Does he reside far from this ?”
"Gey. He lives in St Andrew's Square. That's ovre i the New Toon; but it's no ill to find frae here. Just gang up till ye come to the Trone, that great big kirk stannin' by itsel; then turn to per richt, doon the North Brigg, and ye're at the end o' Princes Street; cross owre, and gang up a narrow street they ca’ West Register Street. It has a gey wheen turns in it, but it lands ye in St Andrew's Square."
Ned listened very attentively to this description of the way to the lawyer's; and buttoning his breast carefully up, for sake of the important documents it contained, he prepared to set out.
Ay, that's richt," said the landlady, who observed the motion; "ge canna be owre carefu' o yer pockets, for there's age a wheen licht-fingered gentry gaun aboot."
“ Thank you; I hope I shall avoid them," said Ned, as she let. him out at the door.
Without much difficulty Ned found his way to St Andrew Square, and passing round it, looked carefully at the shining name-plates. He had not long to search, for on a neat, modest piece of brass, which appeared in the centre of a newly-painted door, he saw Mr Strickland's name, and going forward, was about to knock with his stick, when on another brass-plate he read the words, “ Open the Door.”
Ned did as this silent monitor directed. He opened the door, walked along a broad clean passage, and knocked at another door, on which he looked for, but did not see, a similar injunction.
It was opened by a tall lad, who held a pen in one hand; and still keeping the other on the handle of the opened door, mutely inquired Ned's business.
• Is Mr Strickland at home?" inquired the gamekeeper. The youth looked at Ned, and observing his country appearance, thought he might safely have a little fun at his expense; he there fore winked to an older companion, who sat at a desk within, and replied“No; he is not at home." “When do you expect him ?"
Expect him! I don't expect liim at all." “He will not be here to-day, you mean?”
“I mean no such thing. I just mean what I say—that I don't expect him to come here." : Ned liked a joke as well as any one, and could take it too when occasion served; but he began to suspect that the lad was playing upon his supposed country ignorance, and this nettled him. Suppressing his anger, however, he said, with calm emphasis
“Is this Mr Strickland's office?"
“ Yes." “ He is?”
“He is!” answered the lad, with a broad grin. Ned said no more, but walking quietly into the office, sat him