Home  »  Guy Mannering, or the Astrologer  »  Chapter XV

Sir Walter Scott. (1771–1832). Guy Mannering.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.

Chapter XV

  • My gold is gone, my money is spent,
  • My land now take it unto thee.
  • Give me thy gold, good John o’ the Scales,
  • And thine for aye my land shall be.
  • Then John he did him to record draw,
  • And John he caste him a god’s-pennie;
  • But for every pounde that John agreed,
  • The land, I wis, was well worth three.
  • Heir of Linne.

  • THE GALWEGIAN John o’ the Scales was a more clever fellow than his prototype. He contrived to make himself heir of Linne without the disagreeable ceremony of ‘telling down the good red gold.’ Miss Bertha no sooner heard this painful, and of late unexpected intelligence, than she proceeded in the preparations she had already made for leaving the mansion-house immediately. Mr. Mac-Morlan assisted her in these arrangements, and pressed upon her so kindly the hospitality and protection of his roof, until she should receive an answer from her cousin or be enabled to adopt some settled plan of life, that she felt there would be unkindness in refusing an invitation urged with such earnestness. Mrs. Mac-Morlan was a ladylike person, and well qualified by birth and manners to receive the visit and to make her house agreeable to Miss Bertha. A home, therefore, and an hospitable reception, were secured to her, and she went on with better heart, to pay the wages and receive the adieus of the few domestics of her father’s family.

    Where there are estimable qualities on either side, this task is always affecting—the present circumstances rendered it doubly so. All received their due, and even a trifle more, and with thanks and good wishes, to which some added tears, took farewell of their young mistress. There remained in the parlor only Mr. Mac-Morlan, who came to attend his guest to his house, Dominie Sampson, and Miss Bertha. ‘And now,’ said the poor girl, ‘I must bid farewell to one of my oldest and kindest friends—God bless you, Mr. Sampsan! and requite to you all the kindness of your instructions to your poor pupil, and your friendship to him that is gone! I hope I shall often hear from you.’ She slid into his hand a paper containing some pieces of gold, and rose, as if to leave the room.

    Dominie Sampsan also rose; but it was to stand aghast with utter astonishment. The idea of parting from Miss Lucy, go where she might, had never once occurred to the simplicity of his understanding. He laid the money on the table. ‘It is certainly inadequate,’ said Mac-Morlan, mistaking his meaning, ‘but the circumstances——’

    Mr. Sampsan waved his hand impatiently—‘It is not the lucre—it it is not the lucre—but that I, that have ate of her father’s loaf, and drank of his cup, for twenty years and more—to think that I am going to leave her—and to leave her in distress and dolour! No, Miss Lucy, you need never think it! You would not consent to put forth your father’s poor dog, and would you use me waur than a messan? No, Miss Lucy Bertram—while I live, I will not separate from you. I’ll be no burden—I have thought how to prevent that. But, as Ruth said unto Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to depart from thee; for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou dwellest I will dwell; thy people shall be my people, and thy God shall be my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death do part thee and me.” ’

    During this speech, the longest ever Dominie Sampsan was known to utter, the affectionate creature’s eyes streamed with tears, and neither Lucy nor Mac-Morlan could refrain from sympathizing with this unexpected burst of feeling and attachment. ‘Mr. Sampsan,’ said Mac-Morlan, after having had recourse to his snuff-box and handkerchief alternately, ‘my house is large enough, and if you will accept of a bed there, while Miss Bertram honours us with her residence, I shall think myself very happy and my roof much favoured by receiving a man of your worth and fidelity.’ And then, with a delicacy which was meant to remove any objection on Miss Bertram’s part to bringing with her this unexpected satellite, he added, ‘My business requires my frequently having occasion for a better accountant than any of my present clerks, and I should be glad to have recourse to your assistance in that way now and then.’

    ‘Of a surety, of a surety,’ said Sampsan eagerly; ‘I understand book-keeping by double entry and the Italian method.’

    Our postilion had thrust himself into the room to announce his chaise and horses; he tarried, unobserved, during this extraordinary scene, and assured Mrs. Mac-Candlish it was the most moving thing he ever saw: ‘the death of the grey mare, puir hizzie, was naething till’t.’ This trifling circumstance afterwards had consequences of greater moment to the Dominie.

    The visitors were hospitably welcomed by Mrs. Mac-Morlan, to whom, as well as to others, her husband intimated that he had engaged Dominie Sampson’s assistance to disentangle some perplexed accounts; during which occupation he would, for convenience sake, reside with the family. Mr. Mac-Morlan’s knowledge of the world induced him to put this colour upon the matter, aware that however honourable the fidelity of the Dominie’s attachment might be, both to his own heart and to the family of Ellangowan, his exterior ill qualified him to be a ‘squire of dames,’ and rendered him upon the whole, rather a ridiculous appendage to a beautiful young woman of seventeen.

    Dominie Sampsan achieved with great zeal such tasks as Mr. Mac-Morlan chose to intrust him with; but it was speedily observed that at a certain hour after breakfast he regularly disappeared, and returned again about dinner time. The evening he occupied in the labour of the office. On Saturday, he appeared before Mr. Mac-Morlan with a look of great triumph, and laid on the table two pieces of gold.

    ‘What is this for, Dominie?’ said Mac-Morlan.

    ‘First to indemnify you of your charges in my behalf, worthy sir—and the balance for the use of Miss Lucy Bertram.’

    ‘But Mr. Sampsan, your labour in the office much more than recompenses me—I am your debtor, my good friend.’

    ‘Then be it all,’ said the Dominie, waving his hand, ‘for Miss Lucy Bertram’s behoof.’

    ‘Well, but Dominie, this money——’

    ‘It is honestly come by, Mr. Mac-Morlan; it is the bountiful reward of a young gentleman, to whom I am teaching the tongues; reading with him three hours daily.’

    A few more questions extracted from the Dominie, that this liberal pupil was young Hazlewood, and that he met his preceptor daily at the house of Mrs. Mac-Candlish, whose proclamation of Sampson’s disinterested attachment to the young lady had procured him this indefatigable and bounteous scholar.

    Mac-Morlan was much struck with what he heard. Dominie Sampsan was doubtless a very good scholar, and an excellent man, and the classics were unquestionably very well worth reading; yet that a young man of twenty should ride seven miles and back again each day in the week, to hold this sort of tête à tête of three hours, was a zeal for literature to which he was not prepared to give entire credit. Little art was necessary to sift the Dominie, for the honest man’s head never admitted any but the most direct and simple ideas. ‘Does Miss Bertram know how your time is engaged, my good friend?’

    ‘Surely not as yet—Mr. Charles recommended it should be concealed from her, lest she should scruple to accept of the small assistance arising from it; but,’ he added, it would not be possible to conceal it long, since Mr. Charles proposed taking his lessons occasionally in this house.’

    ‘Oh, he does!’ said Mac-Morlan: ‘Yes, yes, I can understand that better.—And pray, Mr. Sampsan, are these three hours entirely spent in construing and translating?’

    ‘Doubtless, no—we have also colloquial intercourse to sweeten study—neque semper arcum tendit Apollo.’

    The querist proceeded to elicit from this Galloway Phœbus what their discourse chiefly turned upon.

    ‘Upon our past meetings at Ellangowan—and truly, I think very often we discourse concerning Miss Lucy—for Mr. Charles Hazelwood, in that particular, resembleth me, Mr. Mac-Morlan. When I begin to speak of her I never know when to stop—and, as I say (jocularly), she cheats us out of half our lessons.

    ‘Oh ho!’ thought Mac-Morlan; ‘sits the wind in that quarter? I’ve heard something like this before.’

    He then began to consider what conduct was safest for his proégée, and even for himself, for the senior Mr. Hazlewood was powerful, wealthy, ambitious, and vindictive, and looked for both fortune and title in any connexion which his son might form. At length, having the highest opinion of his guest’s good sense and penetration, he determined to take an opportunity, when they should happen to be alone, to communicate the matter to her as a simple piece of intelligence. He did so in as natural a manner as he could:—‘I wish you joy of your friend Mr. Sampson’s good fortune, Miss Bertram; he has got a pupil who pays him two guineas for twelve lessons of Greek and Latin.’

    ‘Indeed!—I am equally happy and surprised. Who can be so liberal?—is Colonel Mannering returned?’

    ‘No, no, not Colonel Mannering; but what do you think of your acquaintance, Mr. Charles Hazlewood? He talks of taking his lessons here; I wish we may have accommodation for him.’

    Lucy blushed deeply. ‘For Heaven’s sake, no, Mr. Mac-Morlan—do not let that be;—Charles Hazelwood has had enough of mischief about that already.’

    ‘About the classics, my dear young lady!’ wilfully seeming to misunderstand her;—‘most young gentlemen have so at one period or another, sure enough; but his present studies are voluntary.’

    Miss Bertram let the conversation drop, and her host made no effort to renew it, as she seemed to pause upon the intelligence, in order to form some internal resolution.

    The next day Miss Bertram took an opportunity of conversing with Mr. Sampsan. Expressing in the kindest manner her grateful thanks for his disinterested attachment, and her joy that he had got such a provision, she hinted to him that his present mode of superintending Charles Hazlewood’s studies must be so inconvenient to his pupil, that, while that engagement lasted, he had better consent to a temporary separation, and reside either with his scholar, or as near him as might be. Sampsan refused, as indeed she had expected, to listen for a moment to this proposition—he would not quit her to be made preceptor to the Prince of Wales. ‘But I see he added, ‘you are too proud to share my pittance; and per adventure, I grow wearisome unto you.’

    ‘No, indeed—you were my father’s ancient, almost his only friend;—I am not proud—God knows, I have no reason to be so. You shall do what you judge best in other matters; but oblige me by telling Mr. Charles Hazlewood, that you had some conversation with me concerning his studies, and that I was of opinion that his carrying them on in this house was altogether impracticable, and not to be thought of.’

    Dominie Sampsan left her presence altogether crestfallen, and, as he shut the door, could not help muttering the ‘varium et mutabile’ of Virgil. Next day he appeared with a very rueful visage, and tendered Miss Bertram a letter. ‘Mr. Hazlewood,’ he said, ‘was to discontinue his lessons, though he had generously made up the pecuniary loss. But how will he make up the loss to himself of the knowledge he might have acquired under my instruction? Even in that one article of writing, he was an hour before he could write that brief note, and destroyed many scrolls, four quills, and some good white paper: I would have taught him in three weeks a firm, current, clear, and legible hand—he should have been a calligrapher; but God’s will be done.’

    The letter contained but a few lines, deeply regretting and murmuring against Miss Bertram’s cruelty, who not only refused to see him, but to permit him in the most indirect manner to hear of her health and contribute to her service. But it concluded with assurances that her severity was vain, and that nothing could shake the attachment of Charles Hazlewood.

    Under the active patronage of Mrs. Mac-Candlish, Sampsan picked up some other scholars—very different indeed from Charles Hazlewood in rank—and whose lessons were proportionally unproductive. Still, however, he gained something, and it was the glory of his heart to carry it to Mr. Mac-Morlan weekly, a slight peculium only subtracted, to supply his snuff-box and tobacco-pouch.

    And here we must leave Kippletringan to look after our hero, lest our readers should fear they are to lose sight of him for another quarter of a century.