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Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves, and it will go near to be thought so shortly.
Much ado about Nothing.
The hour of midnight was marked on a clock placed over the offices attached to Mr. Armstrong's house, as our hero and the Lieutenant departed from the gate. The latter, in re-conducting the Colonel to the residence of Macgraith, did not return by the way they came ; but striking off through a long narrow lane, they found themselves in the High-street of Edinburgh, which they traversed with hasty steps. They had nearly attained its further extremity, when Armstrong, stopping under the window of a large mansion which fronted the street, asked the Colonel abruptly « if he knew who lived there ?"
"No," replied Sydenham; “since my arrival in this city, I have kept my quarters too close to know either the inhabitants or their liouses."
“ An' yet I wadna lay a bawbee,” cried Armstrong, • anenst a hantle o' siller, that ye dinna weel ken the folk wha occupy this house."
" I tell ye,” said Sydenham, “ except it be Macgraith, I have not a how-do-ye acquaintance with any Scotchman on earth.”
66 What do ye ca' me," said the Lieutenant, smiling; " I trow I'm naebody; an' my gallant kinsmen
that we've maist now left, are they na Scots ? By the holy rood, though poor Scotland has bad her head lain low by the mad freaks o’ her ain children, yet neither I nor ony mon o' my name, wad change the bearing of Scot for the proudest title ae foreign herald bas in his buik.”
“Oh, rot your bearing," cried Sydenliam, - don't bawl so loud; we shall have the guard upon us.And pray what do we wait here for? Let us march on."
“Nay, an ye lack curiosity," answered Armstrong, 6 de'il a bit will I force yer humour."
They then proceeded with great dispatch, and bad soon left the house Armstrong spoke of, far behind. After they had advanced silently some time, the Lieutenant said,
“ I had hoped, Colonel, that the mountain daisy had smelt sweetly to ye ; but I see ye are too muckle of a true Cavalier to waste your love upon one, when there are scores for the pu’ing."
6 I cannot for the life of me, divine," cried Sy. denham," what ye aim at. To-night, when I jestingly gave you my leave (which you requested) to mention the name of Miss Bradshaw, your blood was up in a trice, and your brow knit as black as thunder. Esther was indeed a sweet little girl, and deserved the esteem and admiration of all who knew her; but what the devil, Sir, you would not have me fall in love with an infant ?"
6 It aiblins might hae been weel gin ye had," answered the Lieutenant. « The love of an infant's mair worth than the mercenary passion of a French courtezan."
“ Lieutenant Armstrong,” said Sydenham proudly, “ you forget yourself. I am now forced to bend to the storm ; but you may remember I was your commanding officer.
“I hinna forgotten it, Sir," replied Armstrong, coolly.”
" It would therefore become ye better," pursued the
Colonel, « to delay giving your advice, until I sought it.”
“There is an auld proverb," said Armstrong, “ proffered counsel a'ways stinks, an' the mair when the truth ye teli is disagreeable."
“ I know not, Sir," cried Sydenham, that you were ever appointed the censor of my conduct; and he that voluntarily takes upon himself that office may chance to meet with chastisement for his pains."
• Chastisement !" said the borderer, halting, and eyeing his companion. It is my auld clannish prejudice for my leader, whilk absence an' injury cannot efface, that forbids me to wash out the stain of that threat in yer heart's bleid, Sir. Chastisement! If ye were na the mon ye are ; nay, gin ye didna stand in need of my protection, instead of feeling my vengeance; by the het bleid of my ancestors, I'd gar ye regorge that word wi' a steel vomit.”
“ Whatever protection," cried Sydenham, drawing bis weapon, “ the one circonstance or the other may afford me from your sword, it must be inore than either that can save you from mine.Draw, Sir, if you have a spark of honour or courage; I disclaim your favour, and from me expect none."
“ Colonel Sydenham," said the Lieutenant, “ although it is not in my nature to refuse an invitation of this kind, yet if I were to raise my sword against yer life, I should count mysel a black and fause traitor."
Sir,” cried Sydenham impatiently, you should have considered the consequences, before you used the language you have. I absolve ye from all breach of fidelity, for I have no claim opon your services; and, after all, you had better be branded as a traitor than contemned as a coward."
“ Ye force the sword frae my scabbard,” said the borderer, " whether I will or no.
Ye shall ken, my mettlesome gentleman, that neither coward nor traitor was ever buckled wi' the name of Armstrong.-Now, Sir, watch your life.”