The boat continued its course close under the point upon which the castle was situated, which frowned from the summit of its rocky site upon the still agitated waves of the bay beneath. "I believe," said the steersman, "ye'll get ashore here as dry as ony gate. [*Any place] There's a place where their berlins and galleys, as they ca'd them, used to lie in lang syne, but it's no used now, because it's ill carrying gudes up the narrow stairs, or ower the rocks. Whiles of a moon-light night I have landed articles there, though."
While he thus spoke, they pulled round a point of rock, and found a very small harbour, partly formed by nature, partly by the indefatigable labour of the ancient inhabitants of the castle, who, as the fisherman observed, had found it essential for the protection of their boats and small craft, thou-h it could not receive vessels of any burden. The two points of rock which formed the access approached each other so nearly, that only one boat could enter at a time-. On each side were still remaining two immense iron rings, deeply morticed into the solid rock. Through these, according to tradition, there was nightly drawn a huge chain, secured by an immense padlock, for the protection of the haven, and the armada which it contained. A ledge of rock had, by the assistance of the chisel and pick-axe, been formed into a sort of quay. The rock was of extremely hard consistence, and the task so difficult, that, according to the fisherman, a labourer who wrought at the work might in the evening have carried home in his bonnet all the shivers which he had struck from the mass in the course of the day. This little quay communicated with a rude staircase, already repeatedly mentioned, which descended from the old castle. There was also a communication between the beach and the quay, by scrambling over the rocks.
"Ye had better land here," said the lad, "for the surfs running high at the Shellicoat-stane, and there will no be a dry thread amang us or we get the cargo out.--Na! na! (in answer to an offer of money) ye have wrought for your passage, and wrought far better than ony o' us. Gude day to ye. . I wuss ye weel."
So saying, he pushed off in order to land his cargo on the opposite side of the bay; and Brown, with a small bundle in his hand, containing the trifling stock of necessaries which he had been obliged to purchase at Allonby, was left on the rocks beneath the ruin.
And thus, unconscious as the most absolute stranger, and in circumstances which, if not destitute, were for the present highly embarrassing; without the countenance of a friend within the circle of several hundred miles; accused of a heavy crime, and, what was as bad as all the rest, being nearly penniless, did the harassed wanderer for the first time, after the interval of so many years, approach the remains of the castle, where his ancestors had exercised all but regal dominion.
--Yes, ye moss-green walls, Ye towers defenceless, I revisit ye Shame-stricken! Where are all your trophies now? Your thronged courts, the revelry, the tumult, That spoke the grandeur of my house, the homage Of neighbouring Barons? Mysterious Mother.
Entering the castle of Ellangowan by a postern door-way, which showed symptoms of having been once secured with the most jealous care, Brown (whom, since he has set font upon the property of his fathers, we shall hereafter call by his father's name of Bertram) wandered from one ruined apartment to another, surprised at the massive strength of some parts of the building, the rude and impressive magnificence of others, and the great extent of the whole. In two of these rooms, close beside each other, he saw signs of recent habitation. In one small apartment were empty bottles, half-gnawed bones, and dried fragments of bread. In the vault which adjoined, and which was defended by a strong door, then left open, he observed a considerable quantity of straw, and in both were the relies of recent fires. How little was it possible for Bertram to conceive, that such trivial circumstances were closely connected with incidents affecting his prosperity, his honour, perhaps his life!
After satisfying his curiosity by a hasty glance through the interior of the castle, Bertram now advanced through the great gateway which opened to the land, and paused to look upon the noble landscape which it commanded. Having in vain endeavoured to guess the position of Woodbourne, and having nearly ascertained that of Kippletringan, he turned to take a parting look at the stately ruins which he had just traversed. He admired the massive and picturesque effect of the huge round towers, which, flanking the gateway, gave a double portion of depth and majesty to the high yet gloomy arch under which it opened. The, carved stone escutcheon of the ancient family, bearing for their arms three wolves' heads, was hung diagonally beneath the helmet and crest, the latter being a wolf couchant pierced with an arrow. On either side stood as supporters, in full human size, or larger, a salvage man proper, to use the language of heraldry, wreathed and cinctured, and holding in his hand an oak-tree eradicated, that is, torn up by the roots.