There was not, in all
Annandale, the quarter of the country to which he belonged, a decenter man
than Andrew Rutherford. A simple, good-hearted, inoffensive creature he
was, and one who would much sooner do himself an injury than his
It happened once, that
Andrew had occasion to go to Edinburgh on some particular business. After
he had arrived in the city, Andrew, in going to his lodgings, had to pass
through St Marys Wynd, a well-known mart in the Scottish metropolis for
second-hand wearing apparel. In passing down this wynd, Andrew chanced to
see a huge dreadnought greatcoat, with manifold capes, and immense horn
buttons, hanging at a door for sale; and, as it was winter time, Andrew
conceived a fancy for the coat, and began to contemplate it with a look
which said, as plainly as ever a look said anything"Thats a comfortable
lookin article. I wadna care though it were mine. I wunner what theyll
be seekin fort!" Then, after a pause"Odd! if theyre no very
unconscionable, Ill haet;" and he dashed boldly into the shopfound the
price not far beyond his expectationstruck a bargain, paid down the
money, and took possession of the greatcoat. This done, he clapped the
coat on, as being the most convenient way to carry it, and stalked down
the street, not a little proud of his new acquisition. The coat, although
certainly a comfortable looking article, as Andrew had conjectured it to
be, was a marked, and somewhat singular-looking habiliment.
He had not proceeded many
yards down the street with his new purchase, when a person suddenly made
up to him, and, clapping him on the shoulder, exclaimed, "Aha, friend, so
Ive caught you at last! Come now," he went on, "are you going to pay me
that money or not?"
Andrew stared at the man
for a moment in speechless surprisethen, with a slight smile of utter
unconsciousness"Im thinkin yere mistaen, frien," he said.
"Oh, not at all," replied
the stranger. "No mistake whateverso none of your blarney. Im not to be
done that way. I know your tricks too well for that. So tell me at once
whether you mean to pay me the balance on the brown mare." And the
stranger waxed fiercer and fiercer as he spoke.
"Wull ye be sae gude, sir,
as tell me, preceesely, what ye mean?" inquired Andrew, in a slow,
deliberate tone, but with a face in which consternation was very strongly,
and somewhat ludicrously expressed.
"Oh, I see its no use
bothering with you," replied the man, passionately, "so, hang me, if I
cant have my money from you, you swindler, Ill have pennyworths out of
your skin." And with that the fellow approached Andrew, a la Belcher,
and, gave him two or three severe hits on his face, one of which stretched
him in the kennel; where, after giving him two or three parting kicks, his
merciless assailant left him.
Much did poor Andrew marvel
what could be the reason of his being thus abused by a person whom he had
never injured; but what availed his marvelling. He could make nothing of
it? So, battered and bruised as he was, he hasted, as fast as his damaged
legs would carry him, to his quarters, where he had to confine himself for
a week till his face had recovered something of its original shape and
Well, one night as Andrew
was sitting in the kitchen as usual, two drovers or cattle-dealers came
in, and ordered some drink to be brought them. These persons, however, had
not been seated a moment, when they began to eye Andrew with very
suspicious and very offensive looks. Andrew observed the circumstance, and
was greatly at a loss to comprehend what it meant; but thinking it
possible that he might be mistaken, he endeavoured to enter into
conversation with them; but all advances of this kind were repelled in the
most uncourteous manner, and with such unequivocal expressions of dislike
and impatience, that Andrew finally left the kitchen, and retired to his
own apartment. Here, however, he had not been many minutes when his
landlord entered, and gruffly intimated to him his desire, that he should
pay his bill and instantly quit the house.
Andrew stared with surprise
at the abruptness, incivility, and strangeness of this communication, and
begged an explanation of it.
"I dont choose to
explain," replied the man, saucily; "but perhaps I know something more of
some folks than some folks are aware of, and I only wish I had known it a
little sooner. So I say no more, sir, but request you will settle your
bill, and leave the premises as quick as you like."
It was in vain that poor
Andrew entreated his landlord to speak to him in plain English; and to
tell him at once, and in language which he could understand, what he meant
by such singular conduct. All explanation was refused him.
Finding he could elicit no
information regarding the cause of his landlords sudden and strangely
altered conduct towards him, Andrew, whose pride began to take an interest
in the matter, threw down the amount of his bill, and instantly left the
house; but not before he had been told, that it was as well he shewed a
disposition to walk off quietly, since, if he had not, it would have been
worse for him.
If Andrew was at a loss to
comprehend, for what reason he had been so unmercifully threshed, by the
person who attacked him for the balance of the brown mare, he was no less
puzzled to understand, why he had been thus unceremoniously thrust into
the streets, by his landlord, whom he was as unconscious of having
offended, as the other, having succeeded, though not without some
difficulty, as he was a stranger in the town, in finding another lodging
for the night, Andrew, agreeably to a determination, which he had some
time previously come to, set off, on the following morning, by the coach,
for Glasgow, where he had also some business to transact, before he
When the coach, on the top
of which Andrew was mounted, had proceeded a little way, the guard tapped
him on the shoulder, and saidgiving him, at the same time, a knowing
look, and clapping his finger on his nose"I say, friend, are you going to
try your hand in the west? eh! Some good things done there, in your way,
occasionally; but Im afraid youll find it rather hot quarters, as
theres a special sharp look-out kept there, just now, for birds of
passageyou understand meeh?"
Andrew looked steadily, for
some time, at the person who thus familiarly and mysteriously addressed
him, to discern whether he was in jest or earnest; but, not being able to
make this out-.
"How, frien," said he,
"should the wast be owre het for me, mair than ither folk?What do ye
"Ah! ha! ha!very well,
very well," said the guard, laughing, heartily"Come, now, thats a
capital oneyou dont know anything about it. Oh, no, not you. And you dont
know me either, I warrant?"
Andrew, with the utmost
gravity of countenance, declared that he did not. "Better and better,"
shouted out the guard. Then stretching himself over the top of the coach
towards Andrew, and, clapping his finger again, significantly, to his
nose"I say," he whispered, "do you recollect anything, then, of a certain
score of blackfaced sheep, that you once drove into Morpeth, under an
erroneous impression, that they were your own?and do you recollect of the
owner and I convincing you of your mistake, and of your feelings being so
much hurt on the occasion, that you could not stand it, but took your
heels, as if the old one himself had been after you? Dont recollect that,
either, I suppose, eh?"
Poor simple Andrew gravely
protested that he did not; and this he did with a steadiness and composure
of countenance, that seemed to impress the guard with a very high opinion
of his powers of deception.
"Thats right," he said, on
Andrews denying not only all knowledge of the sheep he alluded to, but of
his ever having been in Morpeth in his life. "Thats right," he said,
slapping him on the shoulder. "My eye, but youre a rare one. Theyll be
devillish clever that make anything of you, friend, with that
simple-looking face of yours, unless their evidence be all the weightier.
Only take care of yourself, my lad, when you go west, thats all, or
theyll bother you, for theres some folks there on the look out for you."
Having said this, the guard
dropped the conversation, and resumed his place and his attention to his
duties, without taking any more notice of his passenger.
On arriving at Glasgow,
Andrew proceeded to a tavern, to which he had been recommended by a
friend, before leaving home; and here he was just about sitting down to a
comfortable dinner, which he had ordered, when two persons abruptly
entered the apartment, and inquired if his name was not "Harry Thomson,
alias, alias," said the man who spoke, at the same time looking at a paper
which he held in his hand"alias Crichton, alias Johnston, alias Aitkin,
alias Walkinshaw, alias Dowie, alias Ewin, alias Willoughby;" and here the
man, fairly run out of breath with his aliases, stopped short; and looking
Andrew stoutly in the face, inquired if he knew any of these gentlemen?
"The neer a ane o them ever I saw, to my knowledge, atween the twa een,"
quoth Andrew, at a loss to conjecture what the meaning of this intrusion
could be. "And my names no Harry Thomson," he added, "but Andrew
"Exactly," said one of the
men, "All right, my man, nothing like a stout denial. But, in the
meantime, youll please to come along with us."
"Wi you?" said Andrew, in
amazement. "For what? And wha are ye?" "Well let you know all that, by
and by," said one of the men. "In the meantime, Andrew, or whatever else
your name is, we apprehend you on a charge of sheep-stealing. Have you had
any hand in any small job of that kind lately?" And, without waiting for a
reply, he went on"and heres a description of your person that fits you
to a nicety;" and he read several particulars from a hand-bill, which
certainly might apply to Andrew; but there was one which was
altogether undeniable. This was a description of Andrews singular looking
greatcoat. To a very button, to a single cape, this part of the picture
was correct. So correct indeed was it, that Andrew himself could not deny
it. He attempted, however, to do away with the effect of this evidence
against him, by explaining how he came by the coat; but the officers, for
such they were, merely gave an incredulous smile, on his stating that he
had bought it a few days before in St. Marys Wynd, in Edinburgh, and
repeated their commands that he should instantly go along with them.
Conscious of his innocence, Andrew immediately complied, and in a few
minutes, found himself snugly entombed in one of the criminal cells in
On the following day,
Andrew was brought before the sheriff for examination, anent the crime of
sheep-stealing, with which he was charged, when the well-known and fatal
greatcoat was again urged against him, in proof of his identity; and again
Andrew related how he came by it. This being a point which it was
indispensably necessary to have cleared up, the prisoner was remanded, and
the coat sent to Edinburgh, that the police there might make the necessary
inquiries on the subject. The result was, that Andrews statement
regarding the greatcoat was found to be correcta circumstance which,
added to the evidence of some acquaintances he had in Glasgow, and whom,
in his extremity, he had called upon to bear witness that he was Andrew
Rutherford, miller at Broomyknowes, in Annandale, and no other person
whatever, finally procured his liberation. And it was now, for the first
time, that Andrew learnt the history of his greatcoata history this which
he obtained from one of the officers who apprehended him. The coat, it
appeared from this account, had belonged to a notorious vagabond, for whom
the police had been long on the look-out, who went about the country in
the character of a horse-jockey or droverswindling, cheating, and
robbing, whenever opportunities presented themselves; and, in this simple
and single fact, Andrew found at once a complete and most satisfactory
solution of the mysterious occurrences which had lately befallen him. He
had been taken for the original owner of the coat, and hence all his
How the coat had come to St
Marys Wynd, it was not so easy to conjecture; but it was supposed that
the original proprietor, finding, from its singularity, that it was rather
an inconvenient wear for a gentleman of his profession, had disposed of it
there, and provided himself with a less remarkable garment. However this
might be, Andrew determined never to buy a greatcoat in St Marys Wynd
again, without being better informed of its history. We need scarcely add,
that he resolved, at the same time, never again to put on the one which he
had already bought there.
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