'To Noble House, sir! and what had you to do at Noble House, sir? Do you remember you are studying law, sir?--that your Scots law trials are coming on, sir?--that every moment of your time just now is worth hours at another time?--and have you leisure to go to Noble House, sir?--and to throw your books behind you for so many hours?--Had it been a turn in the meadows, or even a game at golf--but Noble House, sir!'
'I went so far with Darsie Latimer, sir, to see him begin his journey.'
'Darsie Latimer?' he replied in a softened tone--'Humph!--Well, I do not blame you for being kind to Darsie Latimer; but it would have done as much good if you had walked with him as far as the toll-bar, and then made your farewells--it would have saved horse-hire--and your reckoning, too, at dinner.'
'Latimer paid that, sir,' I replied, thinking to soften the matter; but I had much better have left it unspoken.
'The reckoning, sir!' replied my father. 'And did you sponge upon any man for a reckoning? Sir, no man should enter the door of a public-house without paying his lawing.'
'I admit the general rule, sir,' I replied; 'but this was a parting-cup between Darsie and me; and I should conceive it fell under the exception of DOCH AN DORROCH.'
'You think yourself a wit,' said my father, with as near an approach to a smile as ever he permits to gild the solemnity of his features; 'but I reckon you did not eat your dinner standing, like the Jews at their Passover? and it was decided in a case before the town-bailies of Cupar-Angus, when Luckie Simpson's cow had drunk up Luckie Jamieson's browst of ale while it stood in the door to cool, that there was no damage to pay, because the crummie drank without sitting down; such being the very circumstance constituting DOCH AN DORROCH, which is a standing drink, for which no reckoning is paid. Ha, sir! what says your advocateship (FIERI) to that? EXEPTIO FIRMAT REGULAM--But come, fill your glass, Alan; I am not sorry ye have shown this attention to Darsie Latimer, who is a good lad, as times go; and having now lived under my roof since he left the school, why, there is really no great matter in coming under this small obligation to him.'
As I saw my father's scruples were much softened by the consciousness of his superiority in the legal argument, I took care to accept my pardon as a matter of grace, rather than of justice; and only replied, we should feel ourselves duller of an evening, now that you were absent. I will give you my father's exact words in reply, Darsie. You know him so well, that they will not offend you; and you are also aware, that there mingles with the good man's preciseness and formality, a fund of shrewd observation and practical good sense.