Finding the peccadillo was of a venial nature, Mr. Douglas besought the Bailie to us his interest to procure the enfranchisement of this his vassal, which Mr. Broadfoot, happy to oblige a good customer, promised should be obtained on the following day; and Duncan’s emotions being rather clamorous, the party found it necessary to withdraw.
“And noo,” said the Bailie, as they emerged from his place of dole and durance, “will ye step up to the monument, and tak a rest and some refreshment?”
“Rest and refreshment in a monument!” exclaimed Mr. Douglas. “Excuse me, my good friend, but we are not inclined to bait there yet a while.”
The Bailie did not comprehend the joke; and he proceeded in his own drawling humdrum accent to assure them that the monument was a most convenient place.
“It was erected in honour of Lord Neilson’s memory,” said he, “and is let aff to a pastrycook and confectioner, where you can always find some trifles to treat the ladies, such as pies and custards, and berries, and these sort of things; but we passed an order in the cooncil that there should be naething of a spirituous nature introduced; for if ance spirits got admittance there’s no saying what might happen.”
This was a fact which none of the party were disposed to dispute; and the Bailie, triumphing in his dominion over the spirits, shuffled on before to do the honours of this place, appropriated at one and the same time to the manes of a hero and the making of minced pies. The regale was admirable, and Mary could not help thinking times were improved, and that it was a better thing to eat tarts in Lord Nelson’s Monument than to have been poisoned in Julius Caesar’s.
“Having a tongue rough as a cat, and biting like an adder, and all their reproofs are direct scoldings, their common intercourse is open contumely.”—JEREMY TAYLOR.
“THOUGH last, not least of nature’s works, I must now introduce you to a friend of mine,” said Mr. Douglas, as, the Bailie having made his bow, they bent their steps towards the Castle Hill. “Mrs. Violet Macshake is an aunt of my mother’s, whom you must often have heard of, and the last remaining branch of the noble race of Girnachgowl.”
“I am afraid she is rather a formidable person, then?” said Mary.
Her uncle hesitated. “No, not formidable—only rather particular, as all old people are; but she is very good-hearted.”
“I understand, in other words, she is very disagreeable. All ill-tempered people, I observe, have the character of being good-hearted; or else all good people are ill-tempered, I can’t tell which.”
“It is more than reputation with her,” said Mr. Douglas, somewhat angrily: “for she is, in reality, a very good-hearted woman, as I experienced when a boy at college. Many a crown piece and half-guinea I used to get from her. Many a scold, to be sure, went along with them; but that, I daresay, I deserved. Besides, she is very rich, and I am her reputed heir; therefore gratitude and self-interest combine to render her extremely amiable in my estimation.”