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CHAPTER XXX I1 —con tin tied.

Meantime there was a civil war at Auchterbardie. Mr. Bacon, by keeping Robin Afleck beside him, contrary to the will and pleasure of Kis factor, Mr. Roderick M'Corkie, had ventured for the first time in his life to rebel against the usurped authority of that high and mighty personage; and the effort had tasked his fortitude td the utmost. Indeed, had he not been seconded by Robin’s superior firmess and sagacity, he would have found it impossible to resist the unceasing endeavors of Mr. M'Corkie to carry his point, which was nothing short of the summary dismissal of the new favourite. And little wonder that Mr. M'Corkie was bent on this; for he had discovered Robin’s design to supplant him, and in truth was jealous of him at first sight as a dangerous rival. The minister of the parish, the Rev. Mr. Smuggerly, conspired with his crony, the factor, to accomplish the expulsion of Robin ' Afleck from Auchterbardie; for the worthy pair felt an interest in the object. They had been so long habituated to treat Mr. Bacon as a cypher, and had taken such advantage of his imbecility, that they benevolently resolved that he should never be his own master, or fall into any other hands than theirs. Al--most inseparable at any rate, they were now continually together, and on the i day we have to refer to they have a ■ special appointment. It must be ex- ' plained that Mr. M'Corkie did not dis- • dain to resort to a means of governv' ment-.which some late disclosures have shown to be practised by still greater men than he, and in wider spheres of influence than Auchterbardie namely, the violation of private correspondence. The imperfect arrangements of the post office in that remote part of the kingdom enabled him, through his local importance and unquestioned authority in all things connected with Auchterbardie, to obtain possession easily of every letter despatched hence or bearing that address. In this way, Robin Afleck’s last epistle to Jean Brown had fallen into his hands, and afforded him a view of his own picture drawn by no flattering hand, while it disclosed the friendly design of the writer to “ hole him oot.” He had nevertheless sent it forward to its destination, in order that it might call forth a reply; for he was sufficiently versed in the history of ' breaking seals —and re-sealing to impose on simple though not quite so perfect an artist in the line as might be found in a higher place. The minister and factor were comfortably seated in the snug parlor of the latter after dinner, when Mr. M'Corkie, after making sure that neither his servant or any third party was within hearing, produced a letter addressed to Mr. Robin Afleck, which had just come to hand. ‘This,’ said he, with a knowing wink, ' I suppose will be an answer to the letter I showed you last week.’ < Oh, the letter dated anno Domini “ten thousand eight hundred and forty-two ? ” ’ replied his friend. ' Exactly; it’s the key to the plot that has been hatching against me, and something to make a handle of against this moon-calf Afleck.’ ‘ Aha ! you’re sore, M'Corkie,’ said Mr. Smuggerly. ‘You have _ not stomached being called a—what is it ? —a red nosed wild cat, or an ettercap, wasn’t it.’

« D’ye think I care for the sumph’s names ? No, no ; just as little as ye do for being ca’d the twin brither o’ some monster in the south country they ca’ Dr. Snapperdudgeon.’ ‘ That was a compliment, Mr. M'Corckle; a compliment, I assure you. Dr. Snapperdudgeon is _no monster, but a monster of ability. Not a lawyer in the country is a match for him, and as for these gabbling Nonintrusionists, he’s the man to snub them. I’m very proud of being compared to him.’ t Well, well, that’s neither here nor there. For my part I don’t care what this clodpole ‘ fleck says about me, but I’m determined to make Auchterbardie too hot for him.’

‘Right, Mr. M'Corkie, right; but push about the bottle, and let us hear what’s in this letter you’ve got hold of.’ 'That’s easier said than done, Mr. Smuggerly. It’ll be from this Jean Brown, I daresay—some drab no doubt. But be she what she may, she is more purpose-like in her way of folding up and sealing than the impudent idiot her correspondent. I have no doubt the jade has been suspicious it might be peeped into, for here she has first one wafer between, the folds and another above, stamped as firmly with the top of her thimble or something of the sort, as if she had known it was to pass through my hands. But hand me the hot water, and I’ll try what a little steaming will do.’ - “Take care, Mr. M'Corkie; be cautious. • Take care not to tear the paper at the edges. Remember we have characters to lose.’ ‘ Have we, faith ? Aweel Mr. Smuggerly, I didna ken that. But at ony rate we have places to keep, and that is reason enough _ for being cautious in a particular kind o’ job like this. Here it comes, though, all safe and sound.”

The factor, in a low stealthy voice, then read as follows :

“ Whynnyside September oath 8100402

‘ deer robin,—yuur letter from auchterbardie maid me both vext and glad i cannot understand how you needed to rin awa frae embro like a ill doer And it Vexes me to think On you needin To hyde yourself for ony Reason i ken It’s unpossible ye Could either cheet Or steal or use the Strong hand rangfoolly soe X canna See what for ye should need to flee Shurely the tup business Canna be brocht against you. yet i am glad to hear of your prospecks of Being maid mr bacons factor But taik care of the fiery Wee man that is Already in the plaice for Hee may do you A ill turn and ye maun Learn to speak genteel and Keep yoursel snodd at whinnyside hear We have had sum droll Wark since I saw you the mistress Has changed Her plan althegither with Stiftrigs she has grown As keen as him of N on e-intrusion and pretends to be As set on kirk matters now as ere she was on’siller Shes as sair on doctor Snapperdudgeon as ever Stiffriggs was or you robin or the Tup

Shes constantly at kirk Meetings and comes hame Raving about some Bill they kali lord Aberdeens bill a wild Brute it maim be if it Hawf as ill as she cawst but what ado it can have with the kirk is Mair than i can Tell then her tongue never Devawls about ministers they ca kandlish and kinikame and chawmers and this is for Stiffriggs But am just feared shell mak the Dose ower strong What all this is to End In i dont know butt if she is Not mistress stimperton before lang itll be a wunder Stiffriggs is Stiff stiff but may be he may be Led though he’ll no be Driven the mistress at ony rate is taiking the Way to manadge him if ony way will do Wan thing is plane Enyough she thinks Herselff shure to wun and that is twa partr Of the geme i Never kent sitch A change as has Been maid on Her by mother Merediths and it is a pleesant Change till everybody about the hous shes just as fou of good Natur now as an egg is fou of meat and for kindness to bairns and Beggars shes no like the saim woman Robin i doot not you and me Kens naething about luve for it has made nae sic difference on us as for The nip ye got from me at habbies how the less ye say About it the Better for ye ken ye deservt Mair than i hav nails to gie you if ye grow a factor yell Shurely learn Sense till behave yourself and if ye dinna ye need Never xpect me to be the factors Wife am gled Mr, Jimes is to jine you at Auchterbardie. for i think he will be mutch the better of the cuntry air if the house be ony way comfortable But I canna See hoo he can be comfortable With mr bacons way of Leaving as for you Robin i suppose ye can bed and Board as rouchly as mr bacon himselff & No be a bit the waur but ye maun Keep mind its Different with jimes Hes no sae strong As you ' at the Best & this illness Maun have maid Him less fit to thole Ony mistiming either of Meet or Sleep i wad maybe Never have Thought of all this if Miss miggummerie had Not been very oneasy About it she heard from me & for oucht i Ken from jimes Himselff that Was to gang to auchterbardie . & byde there till the Colledge opens & since then She has been offen Here unkent by her faither Or ony of the family Speaking and greeting baith about mr jimes now Robin this is Shurely The right kind of luve but theres No a grain of it between you & Mee i often lauch When i think on you But greeting is the Last thing in ray Head miss miggummerie is in a terror in Case jimes should Have a hard Bed . or sleep in a damp room Or forget His mails or No get them right maid ready or catch Cauld or be mislippened in a 1000 Ways & so she may for he just 1 Adores her but what need i concern ; myselff About you When i ken brawly ye have a crap for aw Corns & have Sleepit oftener in The haylaft than Ony ither place and When i ken forbye its no Aright kind o luve ye Have tor Me ava but just a haveral Notion but i Reckon robin i maun be Content till 1 ye gather Mair gumption & in the Meantime i am As Mutch as ye deserve. Vour ain 1 Jean Brown. “S P if ye be Like to get the Manadgeraent of mr backons property ■ & want Me to taik the Manadgement of you ony time shoon ye had Better give me as mutch Warning as ye can to prepair i have Sum plenishing ready ■ already but naething like enyeuch ‘Bn saft shusie is Deeing on her * feet for Luve of mr backon That’s just 1 as shure as yere leaving J-B.” While Mr. M'Corkie read the fore- ’ going letter, his friend, the minister, ; crowed and laughed at every pause, but the factor was less tickled than enraged. The allusions to Robin’s expectations and chances of superseding him, and the prospective calculations : on that event, irritated him exceedingly, and made him forget for the moment his self-confidence and contempt for his upstart rival. ‘ Come, come, Mr. Smuggerly,’ said he, ‘ this is not a laughing matter. It’s funny enough, but provoking too. Confound the wench ! I see she has something in her that will make her ignoramus sweetheart more troublesome than he could be by himself. It is plain enough the chap is a runagate. He has done something he canna stand on the head of, and he’s come here to push me off my stool. Faith, there’ll be pushing gaun before he manage that.’ ‘Are you really afraid of him, M‘Corkle ? Well, that’s a joke.’ ‘ Afraid of him ? .No ; I’m no a man, I think, to be terrified for the face o’ clay, far less for a docas like this. I’ll let him ken that if I’m no master at Auchterbardie, I maybe mair. Yes, I’m the factor, and everybody knows that without me Mr. Bacon is nothing. What does he know about ony farm on the estate ? —what does he know about the quarries, the fishings, and the woodings? Nothing. He knows nothing and can do nothing without me.’ ‘ You take pretty good care of that, M'Corkie. Aha ! that you do.’ (To be continued—commenced on Yuly 26. )

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Bibliographic details

THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 168, 16 October 1880

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 168, 16 October 1880

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