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Examples of Callant
I have seen upwards of a thousand engaged on either side in these frays, which I have no doubt were full as desperate as the fights described in the _Iliad_, and which were certainly much more bloody than the combats of modern Greece in the war of independence: the callants not only employed their hands in hurling stones, but not unfrequently slings; at the use of which they were very expert, and which occasionally dislodged teeth, shattered jaws, or knocked out an eye.
So to the next bicker I went, and to many more, which speedily followed as the summer advanced; the party to which I had given my help on the first occasion consisted merely of outlyers, posted about half-way up the hill, for the purpose of overlooking the movements of the enemy.
Our opponents certainly laboured under considerable disadvantage, being compelled not only to wade across a deceitful bog, but likewise to clamber up part of a steep hill, before they could attack us; nevertheless, their determination was such, and such their impetuosity, that we had sometimes difficulty enough to maintain our own.
Did the latter draw nigh in any considerable force, messengers were forthwith despatched to the 'Auld Toon,' especially to the filthy alleys and closes of the High Street, which forthwith would disgorge swarms of bare-headed and bare-footed 'callants,' who, with gestures wild and 'eldrich screech and hollo,' might frequently be seen pouring down the sides of the hill.
A full-grown baker's apprentice was at their head; he was foaming with rage, and had taken the field, as I was told, in order to avenge his brother, whose eye had been knocked out in one of the late bickers.
It was a beautiful Sunday evening, the rays of the descending sun were reflected redly from the gray walls of the Castle, and from the black rocks on which it was founded.