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This was in the autumn of 1799, a year which will be long remembered as a cold, wet, and uncomfortable season; the harvest was uncommonly backward, as the corn was not all cut at the 1st of December; and it was therefore a time of great dearth, such as had not been for a hundred years before. When it got near Halloween, some of those who sold Thomas Hastie the sheep, began to say that they thought he stayed long, as he had purposed to be back about the middle of October; and some of them said they were afraid some misfortune had befallen him. However, on the 22d of November, which is what is called Old Martinmas Day, just in the dusk of the evening, Thomas made his appearance. He came to the door of David French, who kept a toll-bar about two miles from Moffat, and was riding on the same little pony that he took away with him, which seemed ready to drop down with fatigue. He had a poor dog, named Laddie, which had followed him all day amidst wind and rain, and seemed also unable to go any further. He asked David if it was possible that he could put in the horse for a little, as he found himself quite done up, and could not possibly proceed until both he and the horse had some rest and refreshment. David said he could put up the horse for a time, as he had a small house where he kept a cow, and there was some spare room in it. The horse was accordingly put in, and had plenty of hay. Thomas was taken into the dwelling-house; a good fire was put on, and he got plenty to eat and drink ; and even poor Laddie, the dog, was not neglected. Thomas stayed till he was well warmed and dried, when, looking out about nine o'clock, he saw it was quite fair, and the moon was shining brightly ; the wind had also fallen, and it was a tolerably good night after ach a bad day. 'If the night had been no better, said he, 'I must have asked your leave to let me stay all night; and if you could not have given me a bed, I would have been content to sit by the fire, as I could not have gone out; but as it is so well mended, I think I will go on to Moffat; and as the pony is so wearied, if you will have the goodness to let it stand till morning, I will pay


you for keeping it. I can easily go by the short way to Moffat on foot, and will return to-morrow morning, to relieve you of it. The dog is also so much done out, that I would wish him to stay also.'

All this being agreed to on the part of the turnpikekeeper and his wife, Thomas got the loan of a staff, and took the road. French did not mind much although he did not appear next morning, as he thought he might be doing some business in Moffat; but the day began to get far advanced, and still he did not appear: David continued to look with anxiety till the night closed in-still their was no intelligence of him.

On the second morning, after breakfast, as he had some little matters to attend to in Moffat, he left his wife to keep the bar, and went thither. After transacting his business, he called at several houses where he knew Hastie was particularly acquainted, but no person had seen him, at which David was not a little surprised. He went about for some time still inquiring, and telling that Thomas Hastie had come to his house and left his horse and dog, but that he had never returned to take them away. Those to whom he told the circumstance did not pay very great attention, as they were not interested, and, besides, they seemed to think that he would come back after all. Several days, however, elapsed, and yet he did not appear; and after a week was gone, still it was the same. He had a brother who lived in the parish of Kirkpatrick, and with whom he used to stay, for the most part, when he was at home, for he had no family or house of his own. David sent information to him, and he came to the toll-bar, and made the most minute inquiry. What could French say, but just tell the story as it stood. The brother, however, took away the horse and dog, saying that it was a strange and mysterious affair.

Hastie's disappearance was now matter of general talk. The people from whom he bought the sheep came, one after another, and questioned French what could have become of him. No doubt, said they, he would have tho



money with him for which he sold the sheep, and this gives a serious turn to the affair. Poor French could do nothing but still tell the same story over and over again. At last they began to have strange suspicions of David, and in the end did not scruple to say, that surely he had murdered Hastie for the sake of the money. He was therefore taken before the sheriff, who examined him most strictly; still he told the same unvaried tale. The sheriff said that there was strong cause of suspicion, yet there was no proof or certainty of any kind that could justify the ordering him into confinement, as there was a possibility that Hastie might come back after all. French was therefore dismissed ; but although set at liberty, he was far from being happy. Although there was no proof of his guilt, the whole country looked on him as if he were guilty. No person entered his door or scarcely ever spoke to him. This was particularly disheartening, especially in the winter nights. Often he would say to his wife : 'How strange is this affair! Here did a man come to us cold and hungry, and wet and weary; we warmed and fed him, and got him dried and rested; and yet for doing all this good, we have only brought evil upon ourselves. What a most unlucky day that was to us! then he used to pray that his innocence might, after all, be cleared up; but as time ran on, this hope grew more and more faint. The season of letting the toll-bars at last drew near, and he told his wife that he thought they had better give up theirs, and leave the place altogether. She said that if they did that, it would confirm the neighbours more and more in their suspicions of his guilt. 'He is surely guilty,' they would say, 'for he has fled the country. On that account the unhappy couple resolved to stop for another year; for whatever suspicions might exist regarding David, there could be no objections to him as a tenant, as he had always paid his rent punctually. The day of roup or public auction came, but no man bade a shilling against him. Every one imagined that the bar had gained an ill name by the transaction ; so foolish are sometimes the most sensible people. French, therefore, was at liberty to sit still at the former rent. When he came home, he told his wife that they were to stop. 'I should have liked as well to have gone somewhere else,' said she ; ‘yet, after all, I think it may be better to stay, as, before the year is done, I trust Providence will do something for us in the way of clearing up your innocence with respect to Thomas Hastie.' So they just continued in the same solitary way. They formerly sold refreshments, but this they now gave up doing, as no person ever came in to ask for any.

The summer and harvest passed over, and another winter set in, but all continued in the same state of darkness and uncertainty as before regarding Hastie's disappearance. At last the 31st day of December, the last day of the year, came round. It was bitterly cold, and the air was darkened with the drifting snow. When it was rather late, David said to his wife : Mary, my dear, you and I have seen a good many New-Year's Days together, and we always had something rather better than just the common everyday fare wherewith to welcome in another season. o-morrow again begins another year, and I believe we have little in the house ; I will therefore, if you please, go into Moffat, and get some bread and cheese, and also some tea and sugar, which I know you want, as we have lived very poorly for some time past; and although we have no neighbours to come in and rejoice with us, yet let us be as happy as circumstances will allow, between ourselves. I know my own innocence, and God knows it; we will therefore bless him for the bypast, and commit ourselves to him for the future. I have been very unjustly calumniated, but I freely forgive those that did so. They did not, nor could not know that they were wrong, and I must own that appearances were much against me. But it is getting late, and I must be going, continued he ; ‘you will look to the bar till I come back.?

“Do not stay long,' said David's wife ; "it is the last night of the year, and at this time there are often drunk people going about.

He promised to be back as soon as possible, and so set out.

As the snow still continued to fall, and was beginning to get rather deep, Mary mended her fire, and sat down to knit a stocking, and watch the bar through the window. When it began to be rather dark, she went to shut the door, but considered that she would leave it half-open, that she might the more readily run out if she was wanted; which, having done, she resumed her work. After some little time, she thought she heard a foot on the floor, when, lifting her head, a man, muffled up in a big-coat, and buttoned to the chin, stood before her. • How do you do, Mrs French ?' said he.

She thought she knew the voice, and looked at his face, when, jumping up, she gave a loud scream, and falling backward on her chair, she fainted quite away. At that very instant, her husband coming in, was surprised to see his wife in a swoon, and a man standing over her, but much more so when he saw who it was. Thomas Hastie !' cried he; and staggering to a chair, was nearly as bad as his wife. After they had again come a little to themselves, David exclaimed: “What, in the name of wonder, Thomas, has become of you? I have suffered much on your account, and, even to this day, the whole country, far and near, believe me to be a murderer, although there could be no proof got of it. I must, therefore, insist that you stay with us till you and I go into Moffat together, to shew the people that you are still alive.

'I will most undoubtedly do that,' said Thomas ; 'but as this night is very coarse, I would be glad that you could keep me till the morning, and then you and I will go together; and as I have done you an injury, I will make you all the reparation in my power.'

Accordingly, next morning after breakfast, they went together. Every one was amazed to see Thomas Hastie; and many who would not speak to David French before, came forward and shook hands with him, congratulating him on the clearing up of his character. They went into

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