Chapter 12

 In the morning it appeared that Duncan had sat up the greater part of the night, with a candle burning by him in the kitchen, until near day-light; when overcome with sleep he had reclined upon a bench, until the gentleman and his valet had departed, and the Captain had got up, which was about an hour after sunrise. Having breakfasted, which was about nine o’clock, they set out upon their travels, conversing as they went along upon subjects that occurred. The first topic was a comparison of Scotland with this country; in what particulars each had the advantage of the other. Duncan gave a decided preference in all things to the trans-atlantic region; and found nothing on this continent that could encounter the smallest competition.

I should presume, said the Captain, we have more timber in this country than in yours. You may have more, but not half sae guid, said Duncan. Our fir, is far better than the oak that ye find here.

I will allow you the advantage in one particular, said the Captain; you are more closely settled, and the soil of course must be under a more general cultivation. Aye, but that is nathing, said Duncan, it is settled wi’ a better stock o’ people; and we hae dukes and lairds amang us; no as it is here, where ye may gae a day’s journey, and no hear of a piper at a great house, or see a castle; but a’ the folks, and their habitations, luking just for a’ the warld like our cotters in Scotland. But, said the Captain, what do you think of the works of nature here, the sun and moon for instance? The sun is a very guid sun, said Duncan; but he has o’er muckle heat in the middle o' the day. I wad like him better if he wad draw in a little o' it at this season, and let it out i’the winter, when we shall hae more need o’ it. But as to the moon, Duncan, said the Captain, you have seen it since you came in; do you think it as large as the moon in Scotland? I dinna ken quoth Duncan, but it is amaist as large; but it changes far aftener, and it is no se lang at the full as it is in our kintry. But what think you of the stars, Duncan? You have taken notice of them, I presume, in this hemisphere. The stars dinna differ muckle frae the stars at hame, quoth Duncan; save that there are not sae many o’ them. Wi’ us, the firmament is a’ clad wi’ them, like brass buttons; they light it up just like candles. But here they luke blaite, and hae a watery appearance in the night, as if they had got the fever and ague o’ the climate, and were sickly, and had na strength to put forth their fire. I tell you, Captain, there is nothing here equal to what it is in Scotland. How could you expect it; this is but a young kintra. It will be a lang time before it comes to sik perfection as wi’ us; and I dinna ken if it ever does.

How comes it to pass, Duncan, said the Captain that the devil chuses the women of your country, in preference to any other, to make witches of? For it would seem to be the case; as I have heard more of Scotch witches, than of English or American.

I can gie ye a good reason for that, said Duncan. The deel kens weel enough where to find out the best materials. The English women are no worth making witches o'; they could do him little guid when he had them. Ane Scotch witch is worth a dozen English or American. They can loup farther, and sink a ship in half the time.

The Captain having made this experiment of the national partiality of Duncan, was satisfied; and turned the conversation to another subject.

I shall not stop to record the minute incidents that took place in the course of this day’s travel; or that of the two following days; or relate the particulars of the conversation of the Captain with Duncan, or of Duncan with any other person. What I have related was chiefly with a view to give some idea of the new valet’s character and manners.

I think it was the fourth day after leaving the city, that the Captain casting up his eyes at a place where there was a considerable length of straight road before him, saw a person trudging on foot, who by his make and gait, appeared to him to resemble the new revenue officer, the quondam bog-trotter. Duncan, said the Captain, if that man was not on foot, that is before us, I should take him for Teague O’Regan, the waiting man that was in my service, and who gave place to you: having obtained a commission in the revenue, and become an excise officer. But as I had equipped him with a horse, it is not probable that he could be without one already, and have taken to his trotters, after being advanced to be a limb of the government. It would be a degradation to the dignity of office.

I dinna think, quoth Duncan, there is muckle dignity in the office. What is he but a gauger? that is o' na more estimation in our kintra than a hangman. There is na ane that can live in an honest way without it, will take the commission. Duncan, said the Captain, it is not so in this country, where the government is a republic; and all taxes being laid by the people, the collection of every species is a sacred duty, and equally honorable.

Honor! quoth Duncan. Do you talk of honor in a gauger? If that be the way of thinking in this kintra, I wish I were back in Scotland. Every thing seems to be orsa versa here; the wrang side uppermost. I am but a simple waiting man to a gentleman like yoursel, and I wad na take the office o’ gauger upon me, for a’ Philadelphia, which is amaist as big as Perth.

By this time they were within a small distance of the traveller, whom the Captain reconnoitering more perfectly, discovered absolutely to be Teague. The revenue officer, turning round, he recognized the Captain, and accosted him: “By my shoul, and there he is his honor himself; de Captain and a new sharvant dat he has trotting on foot, as I myself used to do.” And as you seem to do yet, said the Captain. What is become of the horse I furnished you? Has he been stolen, or has he strayed away from some pasture in the course of your progress?

By my shoul, said the officer, neither de one nor de oder of dese happened; but I met wid a good affer on de road, and I took it. I swaped him for a watch dat I have in my pocket here. Bless de sweet little shoul of it: It tells de hour of de day, and what time of de clock it is, slaping or waking; and in de night time you have but just to look at de face of it; and de sweet pretty figures dat are dere, and you will know how long it is before de morning come. Not like da dumb baste, that could not answer you a word in de night nor in the day; but hold his tongue like a shape, and say nothing; while dis little watch, as day call it, can spake like a Christian cratur, and keep company along de road like a living person. It was for dat reason dat I took it from a countryman dat I met wid last night at the tavern; and am now going on by myself, and have no horse to take care of, and plague me on de road, and give me falls over his tail, and over his mane, up hill and down hill, so dat I almost broke my neck, and thought it safest to ride upon my foot. Dat is truth, master Captain. But who is dis son of a whore dat you have wid you trotting in my place? Does he take good care of your cratur at night, and clane your boots? I would be after bidding him smell dis cudgel here dat I walk wid, if he neglect a good master, as your honor is.

The blood of Duncan was up at the idea of being cudgeled by an excise officer; and stepping up to Teague he lifted a cudgel on his part. Ye cudgel me, sirrah! said the Caledonian. If it was na for his honor’s presence, I wad lay this rung on your hurdies; or gie ye a rap upon the crown; to talk sik language to your betters. I should make you ken what it is to raise the blood o' a Scotchman. You ca’ yourself a revenue officer. But what is that but a gauger? which is the next to a hangman in our kintra. Captain, will ye stand by and see fair play, till I gie him his paikes for his impertinence? My lug for it, I sall make this rung rattle about the banes o’ his head to some tune.

With that, Duncan was making his advance, having raised his cudgel, and putting himself in the attitude of a person accustomed to the back sword; which Teague on the other hand observing, accosted him with softer words; not disposed to risk an engagement with an unknown adversary. Love your shoul, said he, if I was after affronting you more dan his honor my master; burn me, if I don’t love you, just because you are my master’s sharvant, and takes care of his baste. I was only jokeing. It is just de way I would spake to my own dear cousin Dermot, if he were here; for in Ireland we always spake backwards. Put up your stick, dear honey, I am sure de Captain knows dat I was always good natured, and not given to quarrels; though I could fight a good stick too upon a pinch; but it never came into my head to wrangle with my master’s sharvant, especially such a tight good looking fellow as yourshelf, dat has a good shelalah in your hand, and is fitter to bate than to be baten, dear honey.

Duncan, said the Captain, you have heard the explanation of the hasty words the revenue officer at first used; and it would seem to me, that, consistently with the reputation of courage, and good breeding both, you ought to be satisfied.

I dinna ken, quoth Duncan; it was a very great provocation to talk o’ cudgelling; and it may be the custom o’ a friendly salutation in Ireland, but no in our kintra. While I ha a drop o’ the blood o’ St. Andrew in me, I wad na gae up to sik civilities.

Said the Captain, as far as I can have understood, St. Patrick and St. Andrew were cousins, and you his descendants or disciples ought to be on terms of amity.

St. Andrew a cousin to St. Patrick! said Duncan. I canna acknowledge that, Captain. St. Andrew was a guid protestant, and a covenanter, but St. Patrick was a papist, o’ the kirk o' Rome; and did na keep the second commandment, but worshipped graven images, and pictures o’ saints: and tuke the sacrament wie a wafer. I shall never gie up that, Captain, that St. Patrick was o’ kin to St. Andrew. They might be i’the ministry at the same time, but there is a great difference in their doctrine. Did ye e’er read any o’the works o’ John Knox, Captain? Dinna ye ken, that the church of Rome is the whore of Babylon? If ye had lived in the time of the persecution, ye wad na hae compared a Scotch saint wie an Irish priest.

Said the Captain, I have no particular acquaintance with the distinguishing tenets of the two Evangelists; nor do I know any thing of them, save just to have understood that the one had planted christianity in Scotland, and the other in Ireland. But this is not a point so material to us individually, as that we cultivate peace and have no difference. I must therefore enjoin it on you, Duncan, that you drop your stick, and keep the peace towards the revenue officer on the high way, that he may not be delayed in going forward to enter on the functions of his office.

Said Duncan, Since your honor says the word, I shall lay down my stick; for I ken the law better than to stand out against the civil authority.

But Teague, said the Captain, how can you distinguish the figures of your watch, so as to tell the hours of the day; you that do not understand figures?

By my shoul, said Teague, and I never tought of dat. Will not de figures spake for demselves, when I look at dem. I am sure, I saw de son of a whore dat I got her from, look at her, and tell de hour o’de day, like a pracher at his books: and I am sure and sarten, dat such an ill-looking teef as he was, could neider read nor write. But by my shoul, if dat is de way, dat I have to read de marks myself, I will swap her back for a horse or a cow, on de road; or for something else, dat will plase your anor better; so dere is no harm done, plase your honor, while we are in a christian country, and can meet wid good paple to spake to, and take a watch or a colt off our hands, when we mane to part wid it, plase your anour.

Such was the conversation at the first interview of the Captain’s family, to use a military style; and may be considered as a sample of that which took place in the sequel of this day’s travel, as they proceeded together until noon; when they came to dine at a public house, and umbrage was taken by Duncan, because the Captain had permitted Teague to sit at table with himself; which he did in respect to the office which he held, and in order to respect its dignity. Captain, said Duncan, coming to the hall door, and looking in, d’ye permit an excise officer to sit at the table wie your honor? Sik profanation I never heard o’in a’my born days; if it were in Scotland, it wad cause a sight to the whole neighbourhood. Does your honour ken that he is an excise officer?

Duncan, said the Captain, it is a principle of good citizenship, especially in a republican government, to pay respect to the laws, and maintain the honour of its officers. It is for this reason, that I make it a point to honor one who was lately my bog-trotter; not that I discern in him any remarkable improvement in talents or manners; but simply because the government has discovered something; and has seen fit to give him a commission in the revenue. Who knows but it may be your own fortune, at no distant day to obtain an office, and will you not think it reasonable then, that it should be forgotten that you were once in the capacity of a waiting man; and that you should receive the respect and the precedence due to your new dignity? it is not with us as in monarchies, where the advance is gradual in most cases; though even there, an individual through the favour of the prince, or of the queen, or of a lady or gentleman of the court, may have a sudden promotion: but in a free state, what hinders that the lowest of the people should be taken up, and made magistrates, or put into commissions in the revenue? I must insist, Duncan, that you retire to the kitchen, and take your dinner, and make no disturbance in the house at this time; you will come to understand better the nature of offices in these commonwealths in due time. Duncan retired; but in soliloquy expressing his chagrin, at the strange reversion of affairs in America, from what they were in Scotland, and his mortification at finding himself in the service of a master, that could degrade himself by dining with an excise officer.

Teague, on the other hand, though he was silent in the hearing of Duncan, broke out as soon as he had shut the door; Captain, said he, plase your anour, where did you pick up dat teef-luking son o’d a whore, dat has no more manners, dan a shape stealer in Ireland; or a merchant dat sells yarn at a fair? By Shaint Patrick, if your anour had given me leave in de road, I would have knocked his teet down his troat; and if your anour will excuse de table, I will go out and take him by de troat, and make him talk to himself like a frog in de wet swamps; de son of a whore, to spake to your anour wid a brogue upon his tongue in such words as dese.

By the brogue, Teague, meant the Scottish dialect, which Duncan used.

Teague, said the Captain, the prejudices of education must be tolerated, until time and experience of the world, has lessened or removed them. He is an honest fellow, and I have more confidence in him, than I ever had in you, though his talents have not appeared equal; at least if I am to judge from the estimate made of you, by those who have a better right to judge than I have. However, I am unwilling to have any disturbance between you, and therefore, must insist that you leave him to the reprimands which I myself have occasionally given him, and shall continue to give him, until he attains a better knowledge of the nature of things in this new hemisphere, so different from those to which he has been accustomed.

This put an end to any altercation between the two, the revenue officer and the waiting man, for the remaining part of that day, as they trudged together, until they came to the inn at night, and having supped, were about to go to bed. It was what in some places is called an ordinary; that is, an indifferent tavern, of but mean accommodations. The house was small, and there was but two beds for the reception of strangers; one of these so indifferent, as to appear fit only for the servant of a gentleman, who might happen to travel the road, though large enough to contain two, or three persons. What it wanted in quality of neatness, and perhaps cleanliness, was made up in dimensions. This bed therefore seemed naturally to invite the reception of two of the Company.

Teague, said the Captain, when about to go to bed, I think Duncan and you, being the younger men, may pig in together in that large bed, and leave the other to me who am an older man, and am apt to tumble and toss a little, from weariness in my ride; and may perhaps disturb you in your sleep.

Guid deliver me, said Duncan, frae sik a profanation o’the name o’Ferguson, as to sleep wi’ an excise officer. I am na o’a great family, but am come o’a guid family; and it shall never be said that I came to America to disgrace my lineage, by sik contact as that. Gae to bed wi’ an excise officer! I wad sooner bed out o’doors; or i’the stable amang the horses.

The revenue officer was affronted at this; and gave way to his indignation. De devil burn me, said he, if I will be after slaping wid you, you son of a whore, you teef luking vagabon; wid de itch upon your back; I am sure all your country has de itch; and keep scratching and scratching, as if dey ware in hell, and could get brimstone for noting; you son o’d a whore.

The youke! said Duncan. Do you impeach me wi’ the youke?

You impatche yourself, said the revenue officer. Did not I see you scratching as you came along de road; and do you think, you teef, dat I wish to get de leprosy, or de scurvy, and have to sleep in a bag of brimstone two or tree weeks, before I be fit to travel wid his anour de Captain again?

The deel damn me, said Duncan, if I can bear that.

What, swear, Duncan? said the Captain, or curse rather, you that are a Covenanter, and have religious books in your wallet, the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms!

How can I help it, man, said Duncan. The deel rive his saul, but I maun be at him.

Duncan had by this time seized his walking staff, and put himself in an attitude to attack his adversary, who on the other hand had, instinctively, ensconced himself behind the Captain, and opposed him as a rampart to the fury of the Scot.

Duncan, said the Captain, you are in the wrong on this occasion, you gave the affront, and ought to excuse the revenue officer for what he has said, which, by the bye, was not justifiable, on any other ground but that of provocation. For national reflections are at all times reprehensible. But in order to compose this matter, and that we have no further disturbance, I will take the large, though more humble bed myself, and sleep with the excise officer, for the reputation of the government who has thought it proper to appoint him to this trust.

The deel take me if ye sall do that, Captain, said Duncan; I wad rather take the stain upon mysel, than let my liege be disgraced; for it wad come a’to the same thing in the end, that I had been the waiting man o’ ane that had been the bed fellow o’ a gauger. O! guid keep us, how that would sound in Scotland. What wad my relation Willy Ferguson, that is professor i’the high college o’ E’nburgh, say to that? But rather than your honour shou’d take the stain upon you, I shall put up wie it for a night; though if the landlady has a pickle strae, and a blanket, I wad rather lie by the fire side, than contaminate mysel, bedding wi’ sik a bog-trotting loon as he is, that wad gae into sik an office for the sake o’ filthy lucre, and to make a living; when there are many honest means to get a support other ways.

The landlady gave it to be understood that she could furnish him with a bag of straw and a blanket.

This adjusted the difficulty, and saved the delicacy of the Scotchman, and embarrassment of the Captain, in keeping peace between the bog-trotters; as in reality they both were, though the one had obtained a commission, and the other remained a private person.