Guy Mannering, after leaving Oxford, is travelling alone through some of the wilder parts of Scotland. After losing his way at nightfall, he is directed to Ellangowan, the home of Mr Godfrey Bertram. The friendly but incompetent Bertram welcomes him, although his wife is in labour with their first child. As they await news, Mannering meets Dominie Sampson, a learned but socially inept tutor, and Meg Merrilies, a wild-looking, strident Gypsy woman, who has come to tell the child's fortune. The young student, however, offers to do this from the stars, and predicts that three periods of the boy's life will be very hazardous. Not wishing to concern the parents, he leaves his predictions to be opened when the child is five years old. Mannering also meets smuggler Dirk Hatteraick, who captains vessels active off the wild coast by Ellangowan.