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fecht 'my battles ower again,' in defiance o' a' your priggis taunts and silly interruptions."
"I got tae the end o' that lang, dreary road at last, resumed mine host, "an' havin' passed Lochty, at the foot o the brae, I at once entered on the marshy moss. Not a hundred yards had I gane when I was surrounded by a count less troop o' haggard demons, dancin' an' grinnin' awa, wi' the maist hellish-lookin' grimaces an' threatenin' gestures I had ever seen. When I moved, they followed me; but observin' they leapt aside as I approached, I held on my way until I reached a grass-covered mound aboot the middle o' the moss.
"Frae this spot I took a survey o' the strange scene afore an' around me. Near at hand, an' as far as my een could reach, the hale moss was thickly covered ower wi' warlocks an' hobgoblins, grinnin', caperin', an' makin' the awfulest antics that ever was seen by mortal man. There were blue deevils an' red deevils an' white deevils an' green deevils; some wi' lang shanks and some wi' short shanks; some wi' straicht an' lythsome bodies, an' some wi' shapeless, distorted bodies; mony wi' countenances lang and lantern-like, een like furnaces, and noses as sharp as scythes new frae the grindstane; and mair wi' faces without flesh, een as hollow as a scoupit neep, and noses as big an' crookit as a Heeland ram's horns when three years auld; while the feck o' them were just a mere rackle o' banes, which shook an' rattled i' the winter wind like as mony craw-mills aifter the fair. Faith, sirs, it was an awfu' sicht! An' when they ogled an' skippit an' cleekit like sae mony thoosand evil speerits lat loose frae the brimstone regions o' the bottomless pit, what could I think but that the Prince o' Darkness had in reality surrounded me wi' a' his legions o' deevils, wi' the underhand intention of sweepin' me aff wi' the beesom o' destruction to the abodes o' the damned, whaur naething is for ever heard but 'weepin' and wailin' an' gnashin' o' teeth.' But, becomin' bolder as my trials increased, an' recollectin' for a moment that other passage o' Scripture which says, that in that awfu'
place the worm dieth not, an' the fire is not quenched,' I resolved that I would endeavour to checkmate auld Cloutie' if I could, or perish in the attempt. So, takin' firm hold o' my gude, sturdy ash stick, an' flourishin' it high in the air to show them. I was not to be tampered with, I strode courageously doon the hillock, charging as I went in grand style, but yearnin' to get a hit at what appeared to be the leader o' the band, I struck out wi' a' my micht, and was in the very act o' annihilating him, when, as bad luck would have it, my foot struck against some peats, and whack doon I tumbled into a mossy hole, wi' a' the deevils an' their leader on my back.
Fa's that lauchin' there?" thundered mine host, while looking savagely round to the farther corner of the kitchen, where the lads and lasses had snugly ensconsed themselves to hear the awful news.
"We wisna misdootin' your word, maister," at last replied one of the group, "we were only wonderin' fat the weight o' the deevils had been that you were able to bear them a' on your back."
The lasses tittered, the Dominie grinned, the gudewife laughed, and the forgiving host, after several ineffectual attempts, to keep his gravity, at last joined in the general laughter himself, to the no small amusement of his wondering household.
"Go on with your narrative," said the Dominie, when the laughter had somewhat subsided; "you must surely be near the grand finale now."
"Finale, or no finale," continued mine host, "I only wish I were safely through the bog, that I micht hae time, to mak' up anither bowl o' punch, for fechtin' wi' the spunkies is gey dry wark. Weel, notwithstanding a' their efforts to keep me doon, I got the better at last o' the mischievous imps, and, managin' to get out o' the miry puddle into which I had fallen, I warstled through the hale pack o' them, brandishin' my heavy stick i' their faces; and whether they were feart
or no, it lookit gey like it, for they retreated as quickly as did the French afore Wellington at Waterloo !
"Thinkin' I had dune weel, I paused a little to tak' breath; but I had no sooner stopped than a' the legions o' the bottomless pit were aroond me again, mair numerous and mair threatenin' than ever. Wishin' to see whether they wid really meddle wi' me or no, I remained for a few minutes quite motionless, during which time they danced, an' capered, an' cleekit, an' grinned; noo peerin' wi' their fiery een into my very face, an' then retreatin' like lichtnin' tae the ither end o' the moss; their places, meanwhile, supplied by ither imps as wild an' uncannie as themselves, wha sprang, as it were, out o' the very earth, like sae mony emissaries o' the Evil One, bent on errands o' wrath an' destruction an' death!
"I could stand it nae langer, an' determined to fecht my way hame, although, like Samson, I should slay my thoosands an' tens o' thoosands, I strode manfully forward, strikin' richt an' left wi' a' my vengeance; and, though tumblin' noo an' then among the peat-holes, I was nae sooner doon than I was up again, wrastlin' an' fechtin' on, till I reached the road to Glamis at last; an' the warlocks, keepin' strictly to the moss, didna farther molest me, though I saw them fine, caperin' an' dancin' awa' i' the distance, until the hedges o' Brigton concealed them from my sicht!"
"Losh me, gudeman," said his wife, "but did you really fecht wi' the warlocks?"
"Fecht wi' the warlocks ?" exclaimed mine host, rising at the same time, and seizing with a firm grasp his faithful ash stick which stood by the fire-"Fecht wi' the warlocks! I would like to see the imp, be it warlock, or hobgoblin, or will-o'-thewisp, that I widna, wi' the aid o' this stick, fecht wi' an' overcome! Notwithstandin' the great odds against me this nicht, I struck at them wi' my sturdy ash in this way"-suiting the action to the word "sae effectually, an' wi' sic uncommon power an' vengeance, that this goblin's head was severed frae his body, and that Jack-o'-the-lanthorn's body frae his legs, in
less time than it tak's tae tell ye. Fat are ye gickerin' at, lassies!"
The fact is, the expression of mine host was so fierce, and his actions so animated and comical, that the whole assemblage burst out into a loud, uncontrollable fit of laughter, during which he walked to the still blazing ingle, laid down his staff in its accustomed place, seated himself in his arm-chair, and, covering his face with his handkerchief, laughed as long and heartily as any of them.
"Esther!" at last cried our host, uncovering his face once more, "Esther, put on the kettle again, my lassie; we maun hae an eik afore Maister Robertson tak's the road to Kinnettles; it's no every nicht he honours us wi' his company." Then, lowering his voice to a whisper, and looking straight in the Dominie's face, he inquiringly said, "You seem to doubt the narration o' this nicht's adventures?"
"A mere phenomenon of nature," loudly and scornfully replied the Dominie.
"Phenominum o' natur' or no, Maister Robertson," rejoined mine host, in a still louder voice, "tak' care as ye gae hame to Kinnettles the nicht that nae 'keemeera' or 'phenominum,' as ye ca' them, disna turn up your heels in a way ye wot not of."
Then, turning with a couthy look to his wife, to whom he was much attached, and by way of changing the current of the conversation, he sang with great feeling and tenderness:
My bounie wee wifie, in life's early morn,
When sweet as the linnet that sings on the thorn,
And aye it grew sweeter, like song of the thrush,
Till in my nights' dreaming, like lark poised on high,
Alas! in proportion the farther you flew,
So, from a heart broken, the voice of true love
My bonnie wee wifie, long, long thou hast lain
"Noo, Maister Robertson," continued mine host, "we'll hae an eik to drink the stirrup cup, and a safe landin' tae you at Kinnettles ;" and while handing him his glass of punch, and another to the gudewife, he wickedly observed, "I hope the waterkelpies are no abroad the nicht, Mr Daniel.”
"Mere myths," courageously rejoined the Dominie. "Weel, weel," replied mine host, "we'll see what we'll see ; that's all I'll say for the present; tak' aff yer glass."
"Bring the lantern, Peter," said the gudewife; "an' ye maun licht Maister Robertson hame, for it's a dark eerie nicht."
"I'm to gie Maister Robertson a convoy hame the nicht mysel'," said mine host, rising at the same time and putting on his hat and overcoat, and grasping firmly in his hand his great ash cudgel, as if preparing for another mysterious encounter with the weird-like denizens of the bog.
"Jamie," said the farmer, "you're a gey whin stronger than Peter; tak' you the lantern, an' I'll lift the stiles mysel'."
"But are ye no feart, aifter what ye've come through this awfu' nicht?" timidly enquired his better-half.
"Feart? gudewife," defiantly replied mine host-" feart! I'm ready for anither fecht whenever the time comes, for—
"Wi' tippeny we fear nae evil,
Wi' usquebae we'll face the
"Fie! for shame, gudeman," interrupted his wife, "an'