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towering thunder clouds was fast approaching me. As soon as I had secured my specimen, my sole concern was to look for some convenient place where 1 might take refuge from the violence of the coming storm, of which I had already received repeated warnings in the vivid flashes of lightning and the deepening peals of thunder by which they were succeeded.
The darkened prospect around and beneath me, sufficiently wild at any time, had now assumed the still and solemn aspect of awfid expectation which nature usually puts on when the elements are about to join in dreadful conflict. I soon found a retreat under a projecting crag, where no drop of rain could penetrate, ami here, perched like an eagle on his eyrie, I set myself to watch with a satisfaction, not unmingied with awe, the mustering horrors of the scene. The electrified cloud already rested on the tall dill's directly opposite to that in which I lay ensconced, and seemed rapidly advancing towards me. I could scarcely see the bottom of the valley amidst the lurid shade that brooded over it. I5ut as far as my eye could reach I beheld the bleating flocks crowding together in their alarm, now running, they knew not whither, during the thunder-peal, and again halting after it had died away, to gaze on each other with stupid amazement. The bird of Jove himself appearing to have deserted the charge which the ancients had assigned him, now slowly descended from his ethereal height, and after making several majestic swoops, on a level with my eye, as if to satisfy himself of the security of his abode, made a rapid turn, in which I distinctly heard the sound of his tawny pinions, and took possession of Ms asylum in the bosom of the precipice beneath mo. The only living creatures that seemed to enjoy the deepening gloom were the swarms of rock-swailows, which, as the horrors thickened, continued to skim the dark abyss in increasing numbers and with more noisy chirp, till at length even they wore driven by the thickening drops of rain from their careerings in the sky to seek for shelter in their " claybuilt citadels." Now the tempest niged in all its dread inagniiieence. It seemed as if nature were trying to array herself in her most terrible majesty. The deeply charged cloud now burst around tho lofty rock where I lay. Each vivid flash was instantly followed by a deafening peal which rolled, in deep reverberations, from cliff to cliff, and before its echoes had ceased to send back their long protracted answers another peal followed to sustain the awful sound of "heaven's dread artillery." A sulphurous odour diffused itself around me, and every moment I expected a resistless bolt to strike the rock beside me.
At length tho violence of the storm abated, the war of the elements gradually ceased, the rain abated its force, and the murky vapours, though they did not entirely disperse, became greatly raritied. I still remained snug in my rocky shelter, expecting that tho atmosphere would clear sufficiently to permit of my leaving my retreat. I waited in vain till the approach of night admonished me that I would require all the remaining light of day to make my way to Allan's dwelling. The thick fog in which I was enveloped, and my ignorance of the ground, combined to render my position somewhat hazardous. To find a safe descent to the bottom of tho valley was what 1 now tried to discover, and I made several fruitless attempts to descend. Wherever I found an opening among the rocks, my way was always interrupted by some steep precipice, or some impassible ravine; and by tedious clambering, in various directions, and groping my way in the mist, through crags, dens, and swollen torrents, where one fake step would have been fatal, the daylight was almost entirely gone before I coidd emerge from the obscuring vapours and reach the hollow of the glen. The shepherd's shealing, though no longer visible, I knew' to be still several miles distant, and I was unacquainted with the right road to it. I pushed forward, however, in the direction in which it stood for the space of about two miles, till I found my progress arrested by the junction of two boisterous torrents, which enclosed me between them. Never did benighted wanderer find himself in a more pitiable position. I hurried from one hillock to another. I explored first one stream and then the other, in search of some practicable passage, but all in vain. The twilight was thus consumed to no purpose. The impetuous torrents, foaming and bounding along from rock to rock in its stormy channels, laughed to scorn all my idle attempts. I now could see no alternative but to pass the night, which had closed iu, pitchdark, around me as I best could, exposed to the still drizzling rain, and the importunities of a craving appetite.
Thus beset I began to soliloquize in no very pleasing mood—"Alas, my day's adventures have had but a sorry termination." "II di loda la sera," says the poet; and there is reason in the remark. Would that I had remained in my snug retreat up yonder, on tlio brink of Craig-an-eirigh, where at least I should have had the comfort of a dry though hard resting-place; but let me cheer up, a summer's night, however wet, and the cravings of hunger, however clamorous, will soon pass away, and so reasoning I began to move about to try and restore the circulation of my benumbed limbs. I found a small space of level ground, beside one of the streams, where I walked to and fro like a sentinel on duty, gazing from time to time on the white foam which I could faintly see glancing past me in the pitchy darkness. I thought on poor Allan and his probable fate, but knowing his familiarity with those wilds my mind was soon set at ease regarding him. He is even now most likely, said I, in his cosy sheiling enjoying all the comforts of home with his Ericht, and moreover may be giving a kind thought to the wandering stranger. The belief of the honest-hearted shepherd's sympathy had comfort in it, and contributed not a little to tranquillize my mind.
1'ancy now began to wander and dwelt on the various sorts of superstitions prevalent in those mountain districts. I am not subject to visionary terrors, but the candid mind must admit that the strongest theoretic convictions are not always sufficient to resist the influence of powerful associations, such as those in the midst of which I now found myself placed. Tales of horror which had clung to my memory from infancy, or which 1 had heard in the course of my Highland wanderings, now crowded on my mind, and the feelings which they awakened within me were far from agreeable. My eyes betrayed a perverse inclination to distort every object of which they could obtain a faint glimpse in the darkness, and to array it in uncouth or fantastic attributes. A foaming cascade readily assumed the appearance of a sheeted ghost; and an isolated piece of rock became a hideous water fiend. My ears grew equally expert amidst the hoarse murmur of the torrent in distinguishing the articulate voices of the spirits of the flood or fell. Eut hark 1 that was surely something more than phantasy! Did I not hear a shrill cry, a full octave higher than the bass tones of the waters? Withdrawing a few paces from the stream I put myself in a listening attitude. In about five minutes more the cry was repeated—a loud, prolonged, heart-piercing cry that rung from crag to crag, and then died mournfully away on my ear.
If a creeping horror now seized my trembling limbs, and my mind was possessed by an appalling sense of something dreadful being nigh, I trust the indulgent Teader will not withhold his sympathy from me. Such a shriek at such a time and in such a place, might have startled the strongest nerves, and was by far too distinct and certain to be referred to any fanciful illusion. But methinks I hear some one say "Bah! it was nothing but the screech owl, or the eagle, or the she-fox, on the hill-side." So also did I endeavour to think, though the sound differed widely from that of any owl, or eagle, or fox which I had ever heard. By-and-bye it rung again in my ears—" more deep, more piercing loud," and proceeded, as I supposed, from the side of a hill over against me. Spell-bound, I stood and listened to catch again the sound of that weird cry, as if all my faculties bad been concentrated in the tympanum of my ear. Again and again it was repeated, remaining stationary, but becoming gradually fainter, till at last it seemed to cease entirely, and I resumed my walk beside the stream. The impetuosity of the torrent was not sensibly diminished, for there was a constant drizzle which sometimes increased to a pelting shower, and my clothes wero so completely saturated by it that I might be said, in common parlance, not to have a "dry stitch on me."
In this uncomfortable state of things I continued walking up and down the little patch of green grass, when suddenly a glimmering light burst upon my eye. "Ha! here comes 'Jack O'Lantnorn' next, to add to this night's store of spectre sights and sounds. Surely this is haunted ground that my feet have stumbled on. But let me see if this be Jack or no." For several minutes I watched this new object with attention. It remained in the same place, but sufficiently distinct, apparently, about half-a-Tnile distant, and in a direction opposite to that of all the habitable parts of the glen; so that it seemed unlikely to come from any human dwelling. Besides, Allan had assured me that his shealing was the nearest in the glen, and it was still several miles distant. This then must be none else than Jack O'Lanthorn himself, and as he did not seem disposed to come to me, I resolved to try if I could get nearer to him. Often did I lose sight of the glimmering object I was in search of as I crossed some deep hollow or clambered among the rocky banks of the stream, and at length I began to suspect it had vanished entirely, when suddenly it burst again upon my view, at the distance of a few paces, as I turned the point of a projecting rock. I paused to make observations, and saw before me a strong and steady light that proceeded from a rugged hollow close by a fall of one of the streams within which I was enclosed. When I had cautiously approached it I found myself beside a rude hut, constructed of turf, and constituting the laboratory of a manufacturer of aqua vili*, alias, the whisky bofhie of a Highland smuggler. Groping about with the greatest care, I endeavoured to get a view of the interior before I ventured to solicit admission. Having reached a hole on the roof which served to answer the double purpose of window and chimney, I peeped in, and there heheld a rough shock-headed personage, of sufficiently forbidding aspect, smoking a short tobacco pipe, and basking before a blazing peat fire, while he watched the operations of his still. The ruddy light, thrown upon his grim visage, greatly heightened its natural fieryhue, flanked as it was by a pair of overgrown red whiskers, which a grisly beard threatened soon to emulate in length and colour. Having feasted my eyes for a while on this attractive object, I next surveyed the other contents of his den so far as my range of vision went. These consisted of the usual apparatus and necessaries for illicit distillation in such situations; I could see no symptoms of any living inhabitant but himself.
In any other circumstances I would have been loth to obtrude myself on the notice and hospitality of one whose aspect was so far from being inviting, but I had already experienced enough of the horrors of that dreary night to make mo hail witli joy any face that bore on it, however faintly impressed, the undoubted stamp of humanity. In the coarsest countenance of man I could then have easily persuaded myself that I beheld something divine. AVithout a moment's hesitation I made the best of my way to the door, and having put aside an empty sack or piece of dirty canvas, which was hung across it to exclude the violence of the weather, I entered unceremoniously. The noiso I made attracted the smuggler's attention. He started, turned round, took his pipe from his month, discharged a whiff of smoke, and with a pair of grey eyes almost bursting from their sockets, examined me suspiciously from head to foot. He made no motion, however, to grasp the rusty claymore, which I now for the first time observed lying nigh to him, nor did he betray any symptom of hostility towards me. The expression which marked his features seemed that of superstitious dread, and whon I bethought me of all the circumstances of the case, especially the alarming sounds from the opposite hill which he too might have so lately heard, "the witching hour of night" when I presented myself, the dripping, pale, and haggard appearance of my own person, and the grave silc?nce which I still maintained, I could readily find an excuse for the distrustful glance and the strangeness of manner with which he received my intrusion.
"A dismal night, good friend," I at last exclaimed.
"Aye," was tho only answer lie returned, and oven that little word was pronounced with a quivering hesitation which plainly betrayed the effort which it cost the speaker.
"Excuse my intruding on you; I have been benighted among these hills and, attracted by the light from your dwelling, I have made bold to enter."
"You're welcome," was his brief reply, uttered, however, in a tone that seemed to belie his words, but having resolved to make myself at home if at all possible, I waited for no further encouragement, and so advanced towards the fire.
The smuggler hastily vacated with backward motion his seat for me, and. still keeping a respectful distance, never withdrawing his eyes from me, took up his position in the opposite corner beside his refrigeratory. When I had seated myself I proceeded with my attempts to draw my singular host into conversation; but for some time his answers to my questions and remarks were couched in mere monosyllables, and uttered with the same stupid air. Becoming familiarized to me, by degrees he at last seemed satisfied that I consisted of flesh and blood like himself, and then bethought himself of some of those rites of hospitality which my case so obviously required. He now laid his hands on a large Dutch dram-glass, which, by some mishap, had lost its pedestal, and having filled it to the brim with his sparkling distillation, said " Here's t' ye," and then tasted it himself, and afterwaris handed it to me, remarking that I would be "a' the better o' the dram." He found but little urging necessary; and when, together with his own health, I drank to the prosperity of "the ewie wi' the crooked horn," and liberally complimented him on the excellency of the spirit, his benevolence to his guest seemed to increase rapidly. He proposed that I should divest myself of my wet garments, and wrap myself up in his ample plaid till they could be dried beside the fire, as he had no other change of apparel to offer me. I accordingly stripped, and then, stretching myself before the blazing ■' ingle," I experienced a degree of comfort which formed a pleasing contrast with the recent irksomeness of my feelings. My host next asked whether I had such an appetite as would make the homely fare he could lay before me palatable, and being thankfully answered in the affirmative lie soon produced a preparation of oat meal which, though manufactured by hands not fastidiously neat, was the most acceptable repast I had ever tasted, even with the help of hunger's sauce. By this time the red smuggler and I were on sufficiently gracious terms; and he made it appear that the proverbial courtesy of the Scottish Highlander is not inconsistent with the most forbidding exterior.
"Pray," said I, when we had reached this stage of our acquaintance, "what did you take me for when you first saw me."
"I was in a sort o' swither what to make o' you; I couldna think what could be bringin' ony human body to visit mo on sic a fearsome nicht."
"Did you suppose I was a ' water-kelpie V"
"No, I didna just think that, but to tell you the truth, I was some feared that you might be Kory of the Glen."
As ho said this he turned instinctively an eye full of seeming fear and suspicion towards tho door.
"Eory of the Glen! pray, who is Bory of the Glen?"
"Eory of the Glen is a sort o' a character that is well-known in Glenaverain. Folks will not like to be speaking much about him; but you might have heard him yourself this night, for loud and fearsome did he cry mony a time from the hill ayont the water."
"Why, I heard a screech-owl, or a fox, or some other wild animal, screaming from the opposite hili Is that what you call Bory of the Glen?"
The smuggler shook his head, and as he knocked the ashes out of his pipe, remarked somewhat dryly, " It is an old owlet that, and has screamed hereabouts for the last hunder years, at least if the auldest folks speak true; nor has any other owlet, or fox, been able yet to scream so loud and long that I have heard o'."
Without disputing tho point, I endeavoured to extract from my superstitious host some further information concerning this mysterious person