"Ay, ay," answered Glossin, "and now I must call in the men." He did so, accordingly.
"I can make nothing of Captain Janson, as he calls himself, Mac-Guffog, and it's now too late to bundle him off to the county jail. Is there not a strong room up yonder in the old castle?"
"Ay is there, sir; my uncle the constable ance kept a man there for three days in auld Ellangowan's time. But there was an unco dust about it--it was tried in the Inner House afore the Feifteen."
"I know all that, but this person will not stay there very long--it's only a makeshift for a night, a mere lock-up house till further examination. There is a small room through which it opens, you may light a fire for yourselves there, and I'll send you plenty of stuff to make you comfortable. But be sure you lock the door upon the prisoner; and, hark ye, let him have a fire in the strongroom too, the season requires it. Perhaps he'll make a clean breast to-morrow."
With these instructions, and with a large allowance of food and liquor, the justice dismissed his party to keep guard for the night in the old castle, under the full hope and belief that they would neither spend the night in watching, nor prayer.
There was little fear that Glossin himself should that night sleep over-sound. His situation was perilous in the extreme, for the schemes of a life of villainy seemed at once to be crumbling around and above him. He laid himself to rest, and tossed upon his pillow for a long time in vain. At length he fell asleep, but it was only to dream of his patron,--now, as he had last seen him, with the paleness of death upon his features, then again transformed into all the vigour and comeliness of youth, approaching to expel him from the mansion-house of his fathers. Then he dreamed, that after wandering long over a wild heath, he came at length to an inn, from which sounded the voice of revelry; and that when he entered, the first person he met was Frank Kennedy, all smashed and gory, as he had lain on the beach at Warroch Point, but with a reeking punch-bowl in his hand. Then the scene changed to a dungeon, where he heard Dirk Hatteraick, whom he imagined to be under sentence of death, confessing his crimes to a clergyman.--"After the bloody deed was done," said the penitent, "we retreated into a cave close beside, the secret of which was known but to one man in the country; we were debating what to do with the child, and we thought of--giving it up to the gipsies, when we heard the cries of the pursuers hallooing to each other. One man alone came straight to our cave, and it was that man who knew the secret--but we made him our friend at the expense of half the value of the goods saved. By his, advice we carried off the child to Holland in our consort, which came the following night to take us from the coast. That man was--"
"No, I deny it!--it was not I!" said Glossin, in half-uttered accents; and, struggling in his agony to express his denial more distinctly, he awoke.
It was, however, conscience chat had, prepared this mental phantasmagoria. The truth was, that, knowing much better than any other person the haunts of the smugglers, he had, while the others were searching in different directions, gone straight to the cave, even before he had learned the murder of Kennedy, whom he expected to find their prisoner. He came upon them with some idea of mediation, but found them in the midst of their guilty terrors, while the rage, which had hurried them on to murder, began, with all but Hatteraick, to sink into remorse and fear. Glossin was then indigent and greatly in debt, but he was already possessed of Mr. Bertram's ear, and, aware of the facility of his disposition, he saw no difficulty in enriching himself at his expense, provided the heir-male were removed, in which case the estate became the unlimited property of the weak and prodigal father. Stimulated by present gain and the prospect of contingent advantage, he accepted the bribe which the smugglers offered in their terror, and connived at, or rather encouraged, their intention of carrying away the child of his benefactor, who, if left behind, was old enough to have described the scene of blood which he had witnessed. The only palliative which the ingenuity of Glossin could offer to his conscience was, that the temptation was great, and came suddenly upon him, embracing as it were the very advantages on which his mind had so long rested, and promising to relieve him from distresses which must have otherwise speedily overwhelmed him. Besides, he endeavoured to think that self-preservation rendered his conduct necessary. He was, in some degree, in the power of the robbers, and pleaded hard with his conscience, that, had he declined their offers, the assistance which he could have called for, though not distant, might not have arrived in time to save him from men, who, on less provocation, had just committed murder.