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r 



HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




From the Library of 

MRS. COOLIDGE S. ROBERTS 

THE GIFT OF 

MRS. GEORGE P. DIKE 

AND 

MRS. ELLERY C STOWELL 

1938 



HEATHER AND SNOW 



GEORGE MAC DONALD 



" "CASTLS WARLOCK" 




NEW YORK 

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

1893 



JLl^^JS'f/C.S^d 



HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY 

FROM THE LIBRARY OF 

MRS. COOLIOeE 8. ROBERTS 

JUNE 28, 1938 



Copyright, 1893, by Harper & Brothers. 

All ri£kU rturvtd. 




CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAOB 

A Runaway Race» i 

CHAPTER II 
Mother and Son, 9 

CHAPTER III 

Ik 

At the Foot of the Horn, 13 

CHAPTER IV 

DO(>StE£NI£, 25 

CHAPTER V 
Colonel and Sergeant 33 

CHAPTER VI 
Man-Steenie, 3^ 

CHAPTER VII 
Corbyknowe, 43 

CHAPTie^R VIII 
David and his Daughter, 49 

CHAPTER IX 
At Castle Weelset 54 

CHAPTER X 
David and Francis, 59 

• • • 



IV CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XI 

PAGE 
KiRSTY AND PHEMY, . . . • . , .69 

CHAPTER XII 
The Earth-House, 77 

CHAPTER XIII 
A Visit from Francis Gordon, 91 

CHAPTER XIV 
Steenie's House 97 

CHAPTER XV 
Phemy Craig, 109 

CHAPTER XVI 
Sham Love, 113 

CHAPTER XVII 
A Novel Abduction, 118 

CHAPTER XVin 
Phemy's Champion, 132 

CHAPTER XIX 
Francis Gordon's Champion, 141 

CHAPTER XX 
Mutual Ministration 149 

CHAPTER XXI 
PiiEMY Yields Place, 157 

CHAPTER XXII 
The Horn 165 

CHAPTER XXIII 
The Storm Again, 179 



CONTENTS V 

CHAPTER XXIV 

PAGE 

How KiRSTY Fared. 184 

CHAPTER XXV 
Kirsty's Dream 186 

CHAPTER XXVI 
How David Fared, . .191 

CHAPTER XXVn 
How Marion Fared, 194 

CHAPTER XXVIII 
Husband and Wife 197 

CHAPTER XXIX 

David, Marion, Kirsty, and what was Left op 
Steenie, 202 

CHAPTER XXX 
From Snow to Fire, 207 

CHAPTER XXXI 
Kirsty Shows Resentment, 213 

CHAPTER XXXII 
In THE Workshop 217 

CHAPTER XXXIII 
A Race with Death, 219 

CHAPTER XXXIV 
Back from the Grave 224 

CHAPTER XXXV 
Francis Comes to Himself, 229 

CHAPTER XXXVI 
Kirsty Bestirs Herself, 234 



VI CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

PAGE 

A Great Gulf, 243 

CHAPTER XXXVIII 
The Neighbors, 253 

CHAPTER XXXIX 
KiRSTY Gives Advice, 262 

CHAPTER XL 
Mrs. Gordon, 267 



•k 



CHAPTER XLI 
Two Horsewomen 272 

CHAPTER XLII 
The Laird and his Mother, 275 

CHAPTER XLin 
The Coronation 278 

CHAPTER XLIV 
Kirsty's Tocher, 282 

CHAPTER XLV 
Kirsty's Song. 284 



HEATHER AND SNOW 



CHAPTER I 
A RUNAWAY RACE 

Upon neighboring stones, earth-fast, like two 
islands of an archipelago, in an ocean of heather, 
sat a boy and a girl, the girl knitting, or, as she 
would have called it, weaving a stocking, and the boy, 
his eyes fixed on her face, talking with an animation 
that amounted almost to excitement. He had great 
fluency, and could have talked just as fast in good 
English as in the dialect in which he was now pour- 
ing out his ambitions — the broad Saxon of Aberdeen. 

He was giving the girl to understand that he 
meant to be a soldier like his father, and quite as 
good a one as he. But so little did he know himself 
or the world, that, with small genuine impulse to 
action, and moved chiefly by the anticipated results 
of it, he saw success already his, and a grateful coun- 
try at his feet. His inspiration was so purely ambi- 
tion, that, even if, his mood unchanged, he were to 
achieve much for his country, she could hardly owe 
him gratitude. 

" ril no hae the warl' lichtly {make light of) me I** 
he said. 



2 HEATHER AND SNOW 

"Mebbe the warl' winna tribble itsel aboot ye 
sae muckle as e'en to lichtly ye! " returned his com- 
panion quietly. 

" Ye do naething ither!" retorted the boy, rising 
and looking down on her in displeasure. ** What for 
are ye aye girdin at me? A body canna lat his 
thouchts gang, but ye're doon upo them, like doos 
upo corn ! " 

" I wadna be girdin at ye, Francie, but that I care 
ower muckle aboot ye to lat ye think I haud the 
same opingon o' ye 'at ye hae o* yersel," answered 
the girl, who went on with her knitting as she spoke. 

**Ye'll never believe a body!" he rejoined, and 
turned half away. *' I canna think what gars me 
keep comin to see ye ! Ye haena ae guid word to gie 
a body ! " 

"It's nane ye s' get frae me, the gait ye're gaein, 
Francie! Ye think a heap ower muckle o' yersel. 
What ye expec, may some day a' come true, but ye 
hae gien nobody a richt to expec it alang wi' ye, and 
I canna think, gien ye war fair to yersel, ye wad 
coont yersel ane it was to be expeckit o' ! " 

" I tauld ye sae, Kirsty ! Ye never lay ony weicht 
upo what a body says! " 

"That depen's upo the body. Did ye never hear 
Maister Craig pint oot the differ atween believin a 
body and believin in a body, Francie?" 

" No — and I dinna care." 

" I wudna like ye to gang awa thinkin I mis- 
doobtit yer word, Francie! I believe onything ye 
tell me, as far as / think ye ken, but maybe no sae 
far as ye think ye ken. I believe ye, but I confess I 
dinna believe in ye — yet." What hae ye ever done to 



A RUNAWAY RACE 



gie a body ony richt to believe in ye? Ye're a guid 
rider, and a guid shot for a laddie, and ye rin mid- 
dlin fest — I canna say like a deer, for I reckon I 
could lick ye mysel at rinnin! But, efter and 



a*. " 



" Wha's braggin noo, Kirsty ? " cried the boy, with 
a touch of not ill-humored triumph. 

"Me," answered Kirsty; " — and I'll do what I 
brag o' ! ** she added, throwing her stocking on the 
patch of green sward about the stone, and starting 
to her feet with a laugh. "Is't to be up hill or 
alang?" 

They were near the foot of a hill to whose top 
went the heather, but along whose base, between the 
heather and the bogland below, lay an irregular 
belt of moss and grass, pretty clear of stones. The 
boy did not seem eager to accept the challenge. 

" There's nae guid in lickin a lassie! " he said with 
a shrug. 

"There mith be guid in try in to do't though — es- 
pecially gien ye war lickit at it ! " returned the girl. 

" What guid can there be in a body bein lickit at 
onything?" 

" The guid o' haein a body's pride ta'en doon a 
wee." 

" I'm no sae sure o* the guid o' that ! It wud only 
baud ye ohn tried {from hying) again." 

" Jist there's what yer pride does to ye, Francie! 
Ye maun aye be first, or ye'll no try! Ye'll never 
do naething for fear o' no bein able to gang on be- 
lievin ye cud do't better nor ony ither body ! Ye 
dinna want to fin* oot* at ye're naebody in particlar. 
It's a sair pity ye wunna hae yer pride ta'en doon. 



4 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Ye wud be a hantle better wantin aboot three pairts 
o' 't. — Come, I'm ready for ye! Never min' 'at 
I'm a lassie: naebody 'ill ken!" 

" Ye hae nae sheen {shoes) ! " objected the boy. 

" Ye can put aff yer ain ! " 

" My feet's no sae hard as yours! " 

" Weel, I'll put on mine. They're here, sic as they 
are. Ye see I want them gangin throuw the heather 
wi Steenie; that's some sair upo the feet. Straucht 
up hill throuw the heather, and 1*11 put my sheen on! " 

" I'm no sae guid uphill." 

" See there noo, Francie ! Ye tak yersel for 
unco courteous, and honorable, and generous, and 
k-nichtly, and a' that — oh, I ken a' aboot it, and it's 
a' verra weel sae far as it gangs; but what the better 
are ye for't, whan, a' the time ye' re despisin a body 
'cause she's but a quean, ye maun hae ilka advan- 
tage o' her, or ye winna gie her a chance o* lickin 
ye! — Here! I'll put on my sheen, and rin ye 
alang the laich grun' ! My sheen's twice the waucht 
o* yours, and they dinna fit me! " 

The boy did not dare go on refusing: he feared 
what Kirsty would say next. But he relished noth- 
ing at all in the challenge. It was not fit for a man 
to run races with a girl : there were no laurels, noth- 
ing but laughter to be won by victory over her! and 
in his heart he was not at all sure of beating Kirsty : 
she had always beaten him when they were children. 
Since then they had been at the parish school to- 
gether, but there public opinion kept the boys and 
girls to their own special sports. Now Kirsty had 
left school, and Francis was going to the grammar- 
school at the county-town. They were both about 



A RUNAWAY RACE 5 

fifteen. All the sense was on the side of the girl, 
and she had been doing her best to make the boy 
practical like herself — hitherto without much suc- 
cessy although he was by no means a bad sort of fel- 
low. He had not yet passed the stage — some ap- 
pear never to pass it in this world — in which an 
admirer feels himself in the same category with his 
hero. Many are content with themselves because 
they side with those whose ways they do not en- 
deavor to follow. Such are most who call themselves 
Christians. If men admired themselves only for what 
they did, their conceit would be greatly moderated. 

Kirsty put on her heavy-tacketed {hob-naiied) shoes 
— much too large for her, having been made for her 
brother — stood up erect, and putting her elbows back, 
said, 

" I'll gie ye the start o' me up to yon stane wi* the 
heather growin oot o* the tap o' 't." 

" Na, na ; I'll hae nane o' that ! " answered Francis. 
" Fair play to a' ! " 

" Ye'd better tak it!" 

" Aff wi' ye, or I winna rin at a* I " cried the boy, — 
and away they went. 

Kirsty contrived that he should yet have a little 
the start of her — how much from generosity, and 
how much from determination that there should be 
nothing doubtful in the result, I cannot say — and 
for a good many yards he kept it. But if the boy, 
who ran well, had looked back, he might have seen 
that the girl was not doing her best — that she was in 
fact restraining her speed. Presently she quickened 
her pace, and was rapidly lessening the distance be- 
tween them, when, becoming aware of her approach. 



6 HEATHER AND SNOW 

the boy quickened his, and for a time there was no 
change in their relative position. Then again she 
quickened her pace — with an ease which made her 
seem capable of going on to accelerate it indefinitely 
— and was rapidly overtaking him. But as she drew 
near^ she saw he panted, not a little distressed; 
whereupon she assumed a greater speed still, and 
passed him swiftly — nor once looked round or slack- 
ened her pace until, having left him far behind, she 
put a shoulder of the hill between them. 

The moment she passed him, the boy flung him- 
self on the ground and lay. The girl had felt certain 
he would do so, and fancied she heard him flop 
among the heather, but could not be sure, for, al- 
though not even yet at her speed, her blood was 
making tunes in her head, and the wind wks blowing 
in and out of her ears with a pleasant but deafening 
accompaniment. When she knew he could see her 
dao longer, she stopped likewise and threw herself 
down for a few minutes, thinking whether she should 
leave him, or walk back at her leisure, and let him 
see how little she felt the run. She came to the con- 
clusion that it would be kinder to allow him to get 
over his discomfiture in private. She rose, there- 
fore, and went straight up the hill. 

About half-way to the summit, she climbed a rock 
as if she were a goat, and looked all round her. 
Then she uttered a shrill, peculiar cry, and listened. 
No answer came. Getting down as easily as she had 
got up, she walked along the side of the hill, making 
her way nearly parallel with their late race-course, so 
passing considerably above the spot where her de- 
feated rival yet lay, and descending at length a little 



A RUNAWAY RACE 7 

hollow not far from where she and Francis had been 
sitting. 

In this hollow, which was covered with short, sweet 
grass, stood a very small hut, built of turf from the 
peat-moss below, and roofed with sods on which the 
heather still stuck, if indeed some of it was not still 
growing. So much was it, therefore, of the color of 
the ground about it, that it scarcely caught the eye. 
Its walls and its roof were so thick that, small as it 
looked, it was smaller inside, while outside it could 
not have measured more than ten feet in length, 
eight in width, and seven in height. Kirst^ and her 
brother Steenie, not without help from Francis Gor- 
don, had built it for themselves two years before. 
Their father knew nothing of the scheme until one 
day, proud of their success, Steenie would have him 
see their handiwork ; when he was so much pleased 
with it that he made them a door, on which he put a 
lock : — 

" For though this be na the kin' o* place to draw 
crook-fingered gentry," he said, "somegangrel body 
micht creep in and mak his bed intil't, and that lock 
'ill be eneuch to haud him oot, I'm thinkin! " 

He also cut for them a hole through the wall, and 
fitted it with a window that opened and shut, which 
was more than could be said of every window at the 
farm-house. 

Into this nest Kirsty went, and in it remained 
quiet until it began to grow dark. She had hoped 
to find her brother waiting for her, and, although dis- 
appointed, chose to continue there until Francis 
Gordon should be well on his way to the castle, when 
she crept out, and ran to recover her stocking. 



8 HEATHER AND SNOW 

When she got home, she found Steenie engrossed 
in a young horse their father had just bought. She 
would fain have mounted him at once, for she would 
ride any kind of animal able to carry her; but as he 
had never yet been backed, her father would not 
permit her. 



CHAPTER II 
MOTHER AND SON 

Francis lay for some time, thinking Kirsty sure to 
come back to him, but half-wishing she would not. 
He rose at length to see whether she was on the way ; 
but no one was in sight. At once the place was 
aghast with loneliness, as it must indeed have looked 
to any one not at peace with solitude. Having sent 
several ringing shouts, but in vain, after Kirsty, he 
turned, and, in the descending light of an autumn 
afternoon, set out on the rather long walk to his 
home, which was the wearier that he had nothing 
pleasant at hand to think about. 

Passing the farm where Kirsty lived, about three 
miles brought him to an ancient, turreted house on 
the top of a low hill, where his mother sat expecting 
him, ready to tyrannize over him as usual, and none 
the less ready that he was going to leave her within 
a week. 

" Where have you been all day, Frank ? " she said. 

" I have been a long walk," he answered. 

" You've been to Corbyknowe ! *' she returned. " I 
know it by your eyes! I know by the very color of 
them you're going to deceive me! — Now don't tell 
me you haven't been there ; I shall not believe you ! " 

"I haven't been near the place, mother," said 
Francis; but as he said it his face glowed with a heat 

9 



lO HEATHER AND SNOW 

that did not come from the fire. He was not natu- 
rally an untruthful boy, and what he said was correct, 
for he had passed the house half a mile away; but 
his words gave, and were intended to give the im- 
pression that he had not been that day with any of 
the people of Corbyknowe. His mother objected to 
his visiting the farmer, but he knew instinctively she 
would have objected yet more to his spending half 
the day with Kirsty whom she never mentioned, and 
of whom she scarcely recognized the existence. 
Little as she loved her son, Mrs. Gordon would have 
scorned to suspect him of preferring the society of 
such a girl to her own. In truth, however, there 
were very few of his acquaintance whose company 
Francis would not have chosen rather than his 
mother's — except indeed when he was ill, when she 
was generally very good to him. 

" Well, this once I shall believe you," she answered, 
'* and I am glad to be able. It is a painful thought 
to me, Frank, that a son of mine should feel the 
smallest attraction to low company. I have told you 
twenty times that the man was nothing but a private 
in your father's regiment." 

" He was my father's friend I " answered the boy. 

"He tells you so, I do not doubt," returned his 
mother. " He was not likely to leave that mouldy 
old stone unturned \ '* 

The mother sat, and the son stood before her, in 
a drawing-room whose furniture of a hundred years 
old must once have looked very modern and new- 
fangled under windows so narrow and high up, and 
within walls so thick : without a fire it was always 
cold. The carpet was very dingy, and the mirrors 



MOTHER AND SON n 

were much spotted ; but the poverty of the room was 
the respectable poverty of age : old furniture had be- 
come fashionable just in time to save it frpm being 
metamorphosed by its mistress into a show of gay 
meanness and costly ugliness. A good fire of min- 
gled peat and coal burned bright in the barrel-fronted 
steel grate, and shone red in the brass fender. The 
face too of the boy looked very red in the glow, but 
its color came more from within than from without; 
he cherished the memory of his father, and did not 
love his mother more than a little. 

" He has told me a great deal more about my 
father than ever you did, mother! " he answered. 

"Well he may have!" she returned. "Your 
father was not a young man when I married him, and 
they had been together through I don't know how 
many campaigns." 

" And you say he was not my father's friend ! " 

" Not his friend^ Frank ; his servant — what do they 
call them ? — his orderly, I dare say! certainly not his 
friend." 

" Any man may be another man's friend! " 

" Not in the way you mean ; not that his son should 
go and see him every other day ! A dog may be a 
man's good friend, and so was sergeant Barclay your 
father's — a very good friend that way, I don't doubt ! " 

" You said a moment ago he was but a private, and 
now you call him sergeant Barclay ! '* 
Well, Where's the difference?" 
To be made sergeant shows that he was not a 
common man. If he had been, he would not have 
been set over others! " 

" Of course he was then, and is now, a very re- 



c< 
(t 



12 HEATHER AND SN(?W 

spectable man. If he were not I should never have 
let you go and see him at all. But you must learn 
to behave like the gentleman you are, and that you 
never will while you frequent the company of your 
inferiors. Your manners are already almost ruined — 
fit ifor nothing but a farm-house ! There you are, 
standing on the side of your foot again ! — Old Bar- 
clay, I dare say, tells you no end of stories about your 
mother! *' 

** He always asks after you, mother, and then never 
mentions you more." 

She knew perfectly that the boy spoke the truth. 

** Don't let me hear of your being there again be- 
fore you go to school! " she said definitively. " By 
the time you come home next year I trust your tastes 
will have improved. Go and make yourself tidy for 
dinner. A soldier's son must before everything at- 
tend to his dress." 

Francis went to his room, feeling it absolutely im- 
possible to have told his mother that he had been 
with Kirsty Barclay, that he had run a race with her, 
and that she had left him alone at the foot of the 
Horn. That he could not be open with his mother, 
no one that knew her unreasoning and stormy tem- 
per, would have wondered; but the pitiful boy, who 
did not like lying, actually congratulated himself that 
he had got through without telling a downright false- 
hood! It would not have bettered matters in the 
least had he disclosed to her the good advice Kirsty 
gave him: she would only have been furious at the 
impudence of the hussy in talking so to her son. 



CHAPTER III 
AT THE FOOT OF THE HORN 

The region was ]^ke a. waste place in the troubled 
land of dreams — a spot so waste that the dreamer 
struggles to rouse himself from his dream, finding it 
too dreary to dream on. I have heard it likened to 
" the ill place, wi' the fire oot; " but it did not so im- 
press me when first, after long desire, I saw it. There 
was nothing to suggest the silence of once-roaring 
flame, no half-molten rocks, no huge, honey-combed 
scoriae, no depths within depths glooming mystery 
and ancient horror. It was the more desolate that 
it moved no active sense of dismay. What I saw was 
a wide stretch of damp-looking level, mostly of un- 
determined or of low-toned color, with here and 
there a black spot, or, on the margin, the brighter 
green of a patch of some growing crop. Flat and 
wide, the eye found it difficult to rest upon it and 
not sweep hurriedly from border to border for lack 
of self-asserted object on which to alight. It looked 
low, but indeed lay high ; the bases of the hills sur- 
rounding it were far above the sea. These hills at 
this season, a ring of dull-brown high-heaved hum- 
mocks, appeared to make of it a huge circular basin, 
miles in diameter, over the rim of which peered the 
tops and peaks of mountains more distant. Up the 
side of the Horn, which was the loftiest in the ring, 

13 



14 HEATHER AND SNOW 

ran a stone wall, in the language of the country, a 
dry-stane-dyke, of considerable size, climbing to the 
very -top — an ugly thing which the eye could not 
avoid. There was nothing but the grouse to have 
rendered it worth the proprietor's while to erect such 
a boundary to his neighbor's property, plentiful as 
were the stones ready for that poorest use of stones 
— division. 

The farms that border the hollow, running each a 
little way up the side of the basin, are, some of them 
at least, as well cultivated as any in Scotland, but 
Winter claims there the paramountcy, and yields to 
Summer so few of his rights that the place must look 
forbidding, if not repulsive, to such as do not live in 
it. To love it, I think one must have been born 
there. In the summer, it is true, it has the character 
of bracing y but can be such, I imagine, only to those 
who are pretty well braced already; the delicate of 
certain sorts, I think it must soon brace with the 
bands of death. 

The region is in constant danger of famine. If 
the snow come but a little earlier than usual, the 
crops lie green under it, and no store of meal can be 
laid up in the cottages. Then, if the snow lie deep, 
the difficulty of conveying supplies of the poor fare 
which their hardihood counts sufficient, will cause 
the dwellers there no little suffering. Of course they 
are but few. A white cottage may be seen here and 
there on the southerly slopes of the basin, but hardly 
one in its bottom. 

It was now summer, and in a month or two the 
landscape would look more cheerful; the heather 
that covered the hills would no longer be dry and 



AT THE FOOT OF THE HORN 1 5 

brown and in places black with fire, but a blaze of red 
purple, a rich mantle of bloom. Even now, early in 
July, the sun had a little power. I cannot say it 
would have been warm had there been the least mo- 
tion in the air, for seldom indeed could one there 
from the south grant that the wind had no keen edge 
to it ; but on this morning there was absolute still- 
ness, and although it was not easy for Kirsty to im- 
agine any summer air other than warm, yet the 
wind's absence had not a little to do with the sense 
of luxurious life that now filled her heart. She sat 
on her favorite grassy slope near the foot of the 
cone-shaped Horn, looking over the level miles be- 
fore her, and knitting away at a ribbed stocking of 
dark blue whose toe she had nearly finished, glad in 
the thought, not of rest from her labor, but of begin- 
ning the yet more important fellow-stocking. She 
had no need to look close at her work to keep the 
loops right ; but she was so careful and precise that, 
if she lived to be old and blind, she would knit better 
then than now. It was to her the perfect glory of a 
summer day ; and I imagine her delight in the divine 
luxury greater than that of many a poet dwelling in 
softer climes. 

The spot where she sat was close by the turf-hut 
which I have already described. At every shifting 
of a needle she would send a new glance all over her 
world, a glance to remind one somehow of the sweep 
of a broad ray of sunlight across earth and sea, 
when, on a morning of upper wind, the broken clouds 
take endless liberties with shadow and shine. What 
she saw I cannot tell ; I know she saw far more than 
a stranger would have seen, for she knew her home. 



1 6 HEATHER AND SNOW 

His eyes would, I believe, have been drawn chiefly 
to those intense spots of live white, opaque yet brill- 
iant, the heads of the cotton-grass here and there 
in thin patches on the dark ground. For nearly the 
whole of the level was a peat-moss. Miles and miles 
of peat, differing in quality and varying in depth, 
lay between those hills, the only fuel almost of the 
region. In some spots it was very wet, water lying 
beneath and all through its substance; in others, 
dark spots, the sides of holes whence it had been dug, 
showed where it was drier. His eyes would rest for 
a moment also on those black spaces on the hills 
where the old heather had been burned that its roots 
might shoot afresh, and feed the grouse with soft 
young sprouts, their chief support : they looked now 
like neglected spots where men cast stones and shards, 
but by and by would be covered with a tenderer green 
than the rest of the hill-side. He would not see the 
moorland birds that Kirsty saw ; he would only hear 
their cries, with now and then perhaps the bark of a 
sheep-dog. 

My reader will probably conclude the prospect 
altogether uninteresting, even ugly; but certainly 
Christina Barclay did not think it such. The girl 
was more than well satisfied with the world-shell in 
which she found herself; she was at the moment bask- 
ing, both bodily and spiritually, in a full sense of the 
world's bliss. Her soul was bathed in its own con- 
tent, calling none of its feelings to account. The 
sun, the air, the wide expanse; the hill-tops' near- 
ness to the heavens which yet they could not invade ; 
the little breaths which every now and then awoke to 
assert their existence by immediately ceasing ; doubt- 



AT THE FOOT OF THE HORN 1 7 

less also the knowledge that her stocking was nearly 
done, that her father and mother were but a mile or 
so away, that she knew where Steenie was, and that 
a cry would bring him to her feet; — all these things 
bore each a part in making Kirsty quiet with satisfac- 
tion. That there was, all the time, a depeer cause 
of her peace Kirsty knew well — the same that is the 
root of life itself; and if it was not at this moment 
or at that filled with conscious gratitude, her heart was 
yet like a bird ever on the point of springing up 
to soar, and often soaring high indeed. Whether it 
came of something special in her constitution that 
happiness always made her quiet, as nothing but sor- 
row will some, I do not presume to say. I only 
know that, had her bliss changed suddenly to sad- 
ness, Kirsty would have been quiet still. Whatever 
came to Kirsty seemed right, for there it wasj 

She was now a girl of sixteen. The only sign she 
showed of interest in her person, appeared in her hair 
and the covering of her neck. Of one of the many 
middle shades of brown, with a rippling tendency to 
curl in it, her hair was parted with nicety, and drawn 
back from her face into a net of its own color, while 
her neckerchief was of blue silk. It covered a very 
white skin, leaving bare a brown throat. She wore 
a blue print wrapper, nowise differing from that of a 
peasant woman, and a blue winsey petticoat, beyond 
which appeared her bare feet, lovely in shape, and 
brown of hue. Her dress was nowise trim, and sug- 
gested neither tidiness nor disorder. The hem of 
the petticoat was in truth a little rent, but not more 
than might seem admissible where the rough wear 
was considered to which the garment was necessarily 

2 



1 8 HEATHER AND SNOW 

exposed: when a little worse it would receive the 
proper attention, and be brought back to respecta- 
bility! Kirsty grudged the time spent on her gar- 
ments. She looked down on them as the moon 
might on the clouds around her. She made or 
mended them to wear them, not think about them. 

Her forehead was wide and rather low, with straight 
eyebrows. Her eyes were of a gentle hazel, not the 
hazel that looks black at night. Her nose was strong, 
a little irregular, with plenty of substance, and sen- 
sitive nostrils. A decided and well-.shaped chin 
dominated a neck by no means slender, and seemed 
to assert the superiority of the face over the whole 
beautiful body. Its chief expression was of a strong 
repose, a sweet, powerful peace, requiring but occa- 
sion to pass into determination. The sensitiveness 
of the nostrils, with the firmness in the meeting of 
the closed lips, suggested a faculty of indignation 
unsparing toward injustice; while the clearness of 
the heaven of the forehead gave confidence that such 
indignation would never show itself save for another. 

I wish, presumptuous wish ! that I could see the 
mind of a woman grow as she sits spinning or weav- 
ing: it would reveal the process next highest to cre- 
ation. But the only hope of ever understanding such 
things lies in growing one's self. There is the still 
growth of the moonlit night of reverie; cloudy, with 
wind, and a little rain, comes the morning of thought, 
when the mind grows faster and the heart more 
slowly ; then wakes the storm in the forest of human 
relation, tempest and lightning abroad, the soul 
enlarging by great bursts of vision and leaps of under- 
standing and resolve ; then floats up the mystic twi- 



AT THE FOOT OF THE HORN 1 9 

light eagerness, not unmingled with the dismay of 
compelled progress, when, bidding farewell to that 
which is behind, the soul is driven toward that which 
is before, grasping at it with all the hunger of the 
new birth. The story of God's universe lies in the 
growth of the individual soul. Kirsty's growth had 
been as yet quiet and steady. 

Once more as she shifted her needle, her glance 
went flitting over the waste before her. This time 
there was more life in sight. Far away Kirsty de- 
scried something of the nature of man upon horse : 
to say how far. would have been as difficult for one 
unused to the flat moor as for a landsman to reckon 
distances at sea. Of the people of the place hardly 
another, even under the direction of Kirsty, could 
have contrived to see it. At length, after she had 
looked many times, she could clearly distinguish a 
youth on a strong, handsome hill-pony, and remained 
no longer in the slightest doubt as to who he was. 

He came steadily over the dark surface of the 
moor, and it was clear that his pony must know the 
nature of the ground well ; for now he galloped along 
as fast as he could go, now made a succession of 
short jumps, and now half-halted, and began slowly 
picking his way. 

Kirsty watched his approach with gentle interest, 
while his every movement indicated eagerness. Gor- 
don had seen her on the hill-side, probably long be- 
fore she saw him, had been coming to her in as 
straight a line as the ground would permit, and at 
length was out of the boggy level, and ascending the 
slope of the hill-foot to where she sat. When he was 
within about twenty yards of her she gave him a 



20 HEATHER AND SNOW 

little nod, and then fixed her eyes on her knitting. 
He held on till within a few feet of her, then pulled 
up and threw himself from his pony's back. The 
creature, covered with foam, stood a minute panting, 
then fell to work on the short grass. 

Francis had grown considerably, and looked al- 
most a young man. He was a little older than 
Kirsty, but did not appear so, his expression being 
considerably younger than hers. Whether self-indul- 
gence or aspiration was to come out of his evident 
joy in life, seemed yet undetermined. His counte- 
nance indicated nothing bad. He might well have 
represented one at the point before having to choose 
whether to go up or down hill. He was dressed a 
little showily in a short coat of dark tartan and a 
highland bonnet with a brooch and feather, and car- 
ried a lady's riding-whip — his mother's, no doubt — 
its top set with stones — so that his appearance was 
altogether a contrast to that of the girl. She was a 
peasant, he a gentleman! Her bare head and yet 
more her bare feet emphasized the contrast. But 
which was by nature and in fact the superior, no one 
with the least insight could have doubted. 

He stood and looked at her, but neither spoke. 
She cast at length a glance upward, and said, 

" Weel ? " 

Francis did not open his mouth. He seemed ir- 
resolute. Nothing in Kirsty's look or carriage or 
in the tone of her one word gave sign of conscious- 
ness that she was treating him, or he her, strangely. 
With complete self-possession she left the initiative 
to the one who had sought the interview : let him say 
why he had come ! 



AT THE FOOT OF THE HORN 21 

In his face began to appear indication of growing 
displeasure. Two or three times he turned half away 
with a movement instantly checked which seemed to 
say that in a moment, more, if there came no change, 
he would mount and ride: was this all his welcome? 

At last she appeared to think she must take mercy 
on him : he used to say thirty words to her one ! 

"That's a bonny powny ye hae," she remarked, 
with a look at the creature as he fed. 

"It's a' that," he answered dryly. 

" Whaur did ye get it ? " she asked. 

" My mither coft {bought) it agen my hame-comin," 
he replied. 

He prided himself on being able to speak the 
broadest of the dialect. 

"She maun hae a straught e'e for a guid beast! " 
returned Kirsty, with a second glance at the pony. 

"He's a bonny cratur and a willin," answered the 
youth. " He'll gang skelp throuw onything — watter 
onygait; — I'm no sae sure aboot fire." 

A long silence followed, broken this time by the 
youth, 

"Winna ye gie me luik nor word, and me ridden 
like mad to hae a sicht o' ye?" he said. 

She glanced up at him. 

" Weel ye hae that ! " she answered, with a smile 
that showed her lovely white teeth : " ye're a' dubs 
(all bemiredy. What for sud ye be in sic a hurry? 
Ye saw me no three days gane ! " 

"Ay, I saw ye, it's true; but I didna get a word 
o'ye!" • 

"Ye was free to say what ye likit! There was 
nane by but my mither! " 



22 HEATHER AND SNOW 

" Wud ye hae me say a'thing afore yer mither jist 
as I wud til ye yer lane {alone) ? " he asked. 

"Ay wud I,*' she returned. "Syne she would 
ken, *ithoot my haein to tell her sic a geese as ye 
was!" 

Had he not seen the sunny smile that accompanied 
her words he might well have taken offence. 

"I wuss ye war anither sic-like!" he answered 
simply. 

"Syne there wud be twa o' *s!" she returned, 
leaving him to interpret. 

Silence again fell. 

"Weel, what wud ye hae, Francie?" said Kirsty 
at length. 

" I wud hae ye promise to merry me, Kirsty, come 
the time," he answered; " and that ye ken as weel as 
1 dee mysel ! " 

"That*s straucht oot ony gait! " rejoined Kirsty. 
"But ye see, Francie," she went on, "yer father, 
whan he left ye a kin' o* a legacy, as ye may ca' 't, 
to mine, hed no intention that / was to be left oot ; 
neither had my father whan he acceppit o* 't! " 

" I dinna unerstan ye ae styme {one atom) ! " inter- 
rupted Gordon. 

" Haud yer tongue and hearken," returned Kirsty. 
"What I'm meanin's this: what lies to my father's 
han' lies to mine as weel; and I'll never hae't kenned 
or said that, whan my father pu't {pulled) ae gait, I 
pu't anither! " 

"Sakes, lassie! what ar^ ye haverin at? Wud it 
be pu'in agen yer father to merry tne?** 

"It would be that." 

" I dinna see hoo ye can mak it oot! I dinna see 



AT THE FOOT OF THE HORN 23 

hoc, bein' sic a frien' o' my father's, he sud objeck 
to my father's son ! ** 

" Eh, but laddies ir gowks! " cried Kirsty. " My 
father was your father's frien* for his sake, no for 
his ain ! He thinks o' what wud be guid for you, no 
for himsel ! " 

"Weel, but," persisted Gordon, "it wud be mair 
for my guid nor onything ither he could wuss for, to 
hae you for my wife! " 

Kirsty's nostrils began to quiver, and her lip rose 
in a curve of scorn. 

" A bonnie wife ye wud hae, Francie Gordon, wha, 
kennin her father doin ilka mortal thing for the love 
o' his auld maister an comrade, tuik the fine chance 
to mak her ain o' 't, and baud her grip o' the callan 
til hersel! — Think ye aither o' the auld men ever 
mintit at sic a thing as fatherin baith ? That my 
father had a lass-bairn o' *s ain shawed mair nor 
onything the trust your father pat in *im! Francie, 
the verra grave wud cast me oot for shame 'at I sud 
ance hae thoucht o* sic a thing! Man, it wud maist 
drive yer leddy-mither dementit ! " 

"It's my business, Kirsty, wha I merry! " 

"And I houp yer grace '11 alloo it's pairt my busi- 
ness wha ye sail not marry — and that's me, Francie! " 

Gordon sprang to his feet with such a look of 
wrath and despair as for a moment frightened Kirsty 
who was not easily frightened. She thought of the 
terrible bog-holes on the way her lover had come, 
sprang also to her feet, and caught him by the arm 
where, his foot already in the stirrup, he stood in 
the act of mounting. 

"Francie! Francie! " she cried, "hearken to riz- 



24 HEATHER AND SNOW 

zon! There's no a body, man or wuman, I like bet- 
ter nor yersel to do ye ony guid or turn o' guid — 
cep' my father, of coorse, and my mi t her, and my 
ain Steenie! " 

" And hoo mony mair, gien I had the wull to hear 
the lang bible-chapter o' them, and see mysel* comin 
in at the tail o* them a*, like the hin'most sheep, takin 
his bite as he cam ? Na, na ! it's time I was hame, and 
had my slip on, and was astride o* a stick ! Gien ye 
had a score o* idiot brithers ye wud care mair for ilk 
ane o* them nor for me ! I canna bide to think o' 't. " 

" It's true a' the same, whether ye can bide to think 
o' 't or no, Francie!" returned the girl, her face, 
which had been very pale, now rosy with indignation. 
" My Steenie's mair to me nor a' the Gordons the- 
gither, Bow-o'-meal or Jock-and-Tam as ye like! " 

She drew back, sat down again to the stocking she 
was knitting for Steenie, and left her lover to mount 
and ride, which he did without another word. 

"There's mair nor ae kin' o* idiot," she said to 
herself, " and Steenie's no the kin* that oucht to be 
ca'd ane. There's mair in Steenie nor in sax Francie 
Gordons!" 

If ever Kirsty came to love a man, it would be 
just nothing to her to die for him; but then it never 
would have been anything to her to die for her father 
or her mother or Steenie ! 

Gordon g-alloped off at a wild pace, as if he would 
drive his pony straight athwart the terrible moss, 
taking hag and well-eye as it came. But glancing 
behind and seeing that Kirsty was not looking after 
him, he turned the creature's head in a safer direc- 
tion, and left the moss at his back. 



CHAPTER IV 
DOG-STEENIE 

She sat for some time at the foot of the hill, mo- 
tionless as itself, save for her hands. The sun shone 
on in silence, and the blue butterflies which haunted 
the little bush of bluebells, that is harebells, beside 
her, made no noise ; only a stray bee, happy in the 
pale heat, made a little music to please itself — and 
perhaps the butterflies. Kirsty had an unusual power 
of sitting still, even with nothing for her hands to 
do. On the preseot occasion, however, her hands 
and fingers went faster than usual — not entirely from 
eagerness to finish her stocking, but partly from her 
displeasure with Francie. At last she broke her 
"worset," drew the end of the thread through the 
final loop, and, drawing it, rose and scanned the side 
of the hill. Not far off she spied the fleecy backs 
of a few feeding sheep, and straightway sent out on 
the still air a sweet, strong, musical cry. It was in- 
stantly responded to by a bark from somewhere up 
the hill. She sat down, clasped her hands over her 
knees, and waited. 

She had not to wait long. A sound of rushing 
came through the heather, and in a moment or two 
a fine collie, with long, silky, wavy coat of black and 
brown, and one white spot on his face, shot out of 
the heather, sprang upon her, and, setting his paws 

25 



26 HEATHER AND SNOW 

on her shoulders, began licking her face. She threw 
her arms round him, and addressed him in words of 
fondling rebuke: — 

"Ye ill-mannered tyke!" she said; "what richt 
hae ye to tak the place o' yer betters ? Gang awa 
doon wi* ye, and wait. What for sud ye tak ad- 
vantage o* your four legs to his twa, and him the 
maister o* ye! But, eh man, ye' re a fine doggie, and 
I canna bide the thoucht that yer langest day maun 
be sae short, and tak ye awa hame sae lang afore 
the lave o' *s!" 

While she scolded, she let him caress her as he 
pleased. Presently he left her, and going a yard or 
two away, threw himself on the grass with such 
abandon as no animal but a weary dog seems capable 
of reaching. He had made haste to be first that he " 
might caress her before his master came. Now he 
heard him close behind, and knew his opportunity 
was over. 

Stephen came next out of the heather, creeping to 
Kirsty's feet on all-fours. He was a gaunt, long- 
backed lad, who, at certain seasons, undetermined, 
either imagined himself the animal he imitated, or 
had some notion of being required, or, possibly, com- 
pelled to behave like a dog. When the fit was upon 
him, all the day long he would speak no word even 
to his sister, would only bark or give a low growl 
like the collie. In this last he succeeded much better 
than in running like him, although, indeed, his arms 
were so long that it was comparatively easy for him 
to use them as forelegs. He let his head hang low 
as he went, throwing it up to bark, and sinking it 
yet lower when he growled, which was seldom, and 



DOG-STEENIE 27 

to those that loved him indicated great trouble. He 
did not like Snootie raise himself on his hind legs to 
caress his sister, but gently subsided upon her feet, 
and there lay panting, his face to the earth, and his 
forearms crossed beneath his nose. 

Kirsty stooped, and stroked and patted him as if 
he were the dog he seemed fain to be. Then draw- 
ing her feet from under him, she rose, and going a 
little way up the hill to the hut, returned presently 
with a basin full of rich-looking milk and a quarter 
of thick oat-cake which she had brought from home 
in the morning. The milk she set beside her as she 
resumed her seat. Then she put her feet again un- 
der the would-be dog, and proceeded to break small 
pieces from the oat-cake and throw them to him. 
He sought every piece eagerly as it fell, but with 
his mouth only, never moving either hand, and 
seemed to eat it with a satisfaction worthy of his 
simulated nature. When the oat-cake was gone, she 
set the bowl before him, and he drank the milk with 
care and neatness, never putting a hand to steady it. 

" Now you must have a sleep, Steenie ! " said his 
sister. 

She rose, and he crawled slowly after her up the 
hill on his hands and knees. All the time he kept 
his face down, and, his head hanging toward the 
earth, his long hair hid it quite. He strongly sug- 
gested a great Skye-terrier. 

When they reached the hut, Kirsty went in, and 
Steenie crept after her. They had covered the floor 
of it with heather, the stalks set upright and close 
packed, so that, even where the bells were worn off, 
it still made a thick long-piled carpet, elastic and 



28 HEATHER AND SNOW 

warm. When the door was shut, they were snug 
there even in winter. 

Inside, the hut was about six feet long, and four 
wide. Its furniture was a little deal table and one 
low chair. In the turf of which the wall consisted, 
at the farther end from the door, Kirsty had cut out 
a small oblong recess, to serve as a shelf for her 
books. The hut was indeed her library, for in that 
bole stood, upright, with its back to the room, in 
proper and tidy fashion, almost every book she could 
call her own. They were about a dozen, several 
with but one board and some with no title, one or 
two very old, and all well used. Most of her time 
there, when she was not knitting, Kirsty spent in 
reading and thinking about what she read; many a 
minute, even when she was knitting, she managed to 
read as well. She had read two of Sir Walter's 
novels, and several of the Ettrick-Shepherd*s shorter 
tales, which the schoolmaster had lent her; but on 
her shelf and often in her hands were a Shakspcre, a 
Milton, and a translation of Klopstock's" Messiah" — 
which she liked far better than the " Paradise Lost," 
though she did not admire it nearly so much. Of 
the latter she would say, " It's unco gran', but it 
never maks my hert grit (great)^*' meaning that it 
never caused her any emotion. Among her treasures 
was also a curious old book of ghost-stories, con- 
cerning which the sole remark she was ever heard to 
make was, that she would like to know whether they 
were true: she thought Steenie could tell, but she 
would not question him about them. Ramsay's " Gen- 
tle Shepherd " was there too, which she liked for the 
good sense in it. There was a thumbed edition of 



DOG-STEENIE 29 

Burns also, but I do not think much of the thumbing 
was Kirsty's, though she had several of his best 
poems by heart. 

Between the ages of ten and fifteen Kirsty had 
gone to the parish school of the nearest town: it 
looked a village, but they always called it the town. 
There a sister of her father lived, and with her she 
was welcome to spend the night, so that she was 
able to go in most weathers. But when she stayed 
there, her evening was mostly spent at the school- 
master's. Mr. Craig was an elderly man, who had 
married late, and lost his wife early. She had left 
him one child, a delicate, dainty, golden-haired thing, 
some three or four years younger than Kirsty, who 
cherished for her a love and protection quite mater- 
nal. Kirsty was one of the born mothers, who are 
not only of the salt, but are the sugar and shelter of 
the world. I doubt if little Phemie would have 
learned anything but for Kirsty. Not to the day of 
her death did her father see in her anything but the 
little girl his wife had left him. He spoiled her a 
good deal, nor ever set himself to instruct her, leav- 
ing it apparently to the tendency of things to make 
of her a woman like her mother. 

He was a real student, and excellent teacher. 
When first he came as schoolmaster to Tiltowie, he 
was a divinity student, but a man so far of thought 
original that he saw lions in the way of becoming a 
minister. Such men as would be servants of the 
church before they are slaves of the church's Master 
will never be troubled with M^ Craig's difficulties. 
For one thing, his strong poetic nature made it im- 
possible for him to believe in a dull, prosaic God : 



30 HEATHER AND SNOW 

when told that God's thoughts are not as our 
thoughts, he found himself unable to imagine them 
inferior to ours ! The natural result was that he re- 
mained a schoolmaster— to the advantage of many a 
pupil, and very greatly to the advantage of Kirsty, 
whose nature was peculiarly open to his influences. 
The dominie said he had never had a pupil that gave 
him such satisfaction as Kirsty ; she seemed to an- 
ticipate and catch at everything he wanted to make 
hers. There was no knowledge, he declared, that 
he could offer her, which the lassie from Corbyknowe 
would not take in like her porridge. Best thing of 
all for her was that, following his own predilections, 
he paid far more attention in his class for English to 
poetry than to prose. Colin Craig was himself no 
indifferent poet, and was even a master of the more 
recondite forms of verse. If, in some measure led 
astray by the merit of the form, he was capable of 
admiring verse essentially inferior, he yet certainly 
admired the better poetry more. He had, besides, 
the faculty of perceiving whether what he had written 
would or would not convey his thought — a faculty in 
which even a great poet may be deficient. 

In a word Kirsty learned everything Mr. Craig 
brought within her reach; and long after she left 
school, the Saturday on which she did not go to see 
him was a day of disappointment both to the dominie 
and to his little Phemie. 

When she had once begun to follow a thing, 
Kirsty would never leave the trail of it. Her chief 
business as well as delight was to look after Steenie, 
but perfect attention to him left her large opportunity 
of pursuing her studies, especially at such seasons in 



DOG-STEENIE 3 1 

which his peculiar affection, whatever it really was, 
required hours of untimely sleep. For, although at 
other times he wandered at his will without her, he 
always wanted to be near her when he slept ; while 
she, satisfied that so he slept better, had not once at 
such a time left him. During summer, and as long 
before and after as the temperature permitted, the 
hut was the place he preferred when his necessity 
was upon him; and it was Kirsty's especial delight 
to sit in it on a warm day, the door open and her 
brother asleep on her feet, reading and reading while 
the sun went down the sky, to fill the hut as he set 
with a glory of promise ; after which came the long 
gloamin, like a life out of which the light but not the 
love has vanished. Then indeed she neither worked 
nor read, but brooded over many things. 

Leaving the door open behind them, Kirsty took 
a book from the bole, and seated herself on the low 
chair; instantly Steenie, who had waited motionless 
until she was settled, threw himself across her feet 
on the carpet of heather, and in a moment was fast 
asleep. 

There they remained, the one reading, the other 
sleeping, while the hours of the warm summer after- 
noon slipped away, ripples on the ocean of the lovely, 
changeless eternity, the consciousness of God. For 
a time the watching sister was absorbed in " King 
Lear;" then she fell to wondering whether Cordelia 
was not unkindly stiff toward her old father, but per- 
ceived at length that, with such sisters listening, she 
could not have spoken otherwise. Then she won- 
dered whether there could be women so bad as Gon- 
eril and Regan^ concluding that Shakspere must 



3« HEATHER AND SNOW 

know better than she. At last she drew her bare 
feet from under Steenie, and put them on his back, 
where the coolness was delightful. Then first she 
became aware that the sun was down and the gloamin 
come, and that the whole world must be feeling just 
like her feet. The long clear twilight, which would 
last till morning, was about her, the eerie sleeping 
day, when the lovely ghosts come out of their graves 
in the long grass, and walk about in the cool world, 
with little ghostly sighs at sight of the old places, 
and fancy they are dreaming. Kirsty was always 
willing to believe in ghosts: awake in the dark nights 
she did not; but in her twilight reveries she grew 
very nearly a ghost herself. 

It was a wonder she could sit so long and not feel 
worn out, but Kirsty was exceptionally strong, in ab- 
solute health, and specially gifted with patience. 
She had so early entertained, and so firmly grasped 
the idea that she was sent into the world expressly 
to take care of Steenie, that devotion to him had 
grown into a happy habit with her. The waking 
mind gave itself up to the sleeping, the orderly to 
the troubled brain, the true heart to the heart as 
true. 



CHAPTER V 

COLONEL AND SERGEANT 

• 

There was no difference of feeling betwixt the 
father and mother in regard to this devotion of 
Kirsty's very being to her Steenie; but the mother 
in especial was content with it, for while Kirsty was 
the apple of her eye, Steenie was her one loved 
anxiety. 

David Barclay, a humble unit in the widespread 
and distinguished family of the Barclays or Berkeleys, 
was born, like his father and grandfather and many 
more of his ancestors, on the same farm he now oc- 
cupied. While his father was yet alive, with an 
elder son to succeed him, David listed — mainly from 
a strong desire to be near a school-friend, then an 
ensign in the service of the East India Company. 
Throughout their following military career they were 
in the same regiment, the one rising to be colonel, 
the other sergeant-major. All the time the school- 
boy attachment went on deepening in the men ; and 
all the time was never man more respectfully obedient 
to orders than David Barclay to those of the superior 
officer with whom in private he was on terms of in- 
timacy. As often as they could without attracting 
notice, the comrades threw aside all distinction of 
rank, and were again the Archie Gordon and Davie 
Barclay of old school days — as real to them still as 
3 33 



34 HEATHER AND SNOW 

those of the hardest battles they had fought together. 
In more primitive Scotland, such relations are, or 
were more possible than in countries where more di- 
vergent habits of life occasion wider social separa- 
tions. And then these were sober-minded men, who 
neither made much of the shows of the world, nor 
were greedy after distinction, which is the mere coffin 
wherein Duty-done lies buried. 

When they returned to their country, both some- 
what disabled, the one retired to his inherited estate, 
the other to the family farm upon that estate. Where 
his brother had died shortly before; so that Archie 
was now Davie's landlord. But no new relation 
would ever destroy the friendship which school had 
made close, and war had welded. Almost every week 
the friends met and spent the evening together — 
much oftener, by and by, at Corbyknowe than at 
Castle Weelset. For both married soon after their 
return, and their wives were of different natures. 

** My colonel has the glory,** Barclay said once, 
and but once, to his sister, " but, puir fallow, I hae 
the wife ! " And truly the wife at the farm had in 
her material enough, both moral and intellectual, for 
ten ladies better than the wife at the castle. 

David's wife brought him a son the first year of 
their marriage, and the next year came a son to the 
colonel and a daughter to the sergeant. One night, 
as the two fathers sat together at the farm, some 
twelve hours after the birth of David's girl, they 
mutually promised that the survivor would do his 
best for the child of the other. Before he died the 
colonel would gladly have taken his boy from his 
wife and given him to his old comrade. 



COLONEL AND SERGEANT 35 

As to Steenie the elder of David's children, he 
was yet unborn when his father, partly in conse- 
quence of a wound from which he never quite re- 
covered, met with rather a serious accident through 
a young horse in the harvest-field, and the report 
reached his wife that he was killed. To the shock 
she thus received was generally attributed the pecu- 
liarity of the child, prematurely born within a month 
after. He had long passed the age at which children 
usually begin to walk, before he would even attempt 
to stand, but he had grown capable of a speed on 
all-fours that was astonishing. When at last he did 
walk, it was for more than two years with the air of 
one who had learned a trick; and throughout his 
childhood and a great part of his boyhood, he was 
always more ready to go on all-fours than on his feet. 



CHAPTER VI 
M AN-STEEN IE 

The sleeping youth began at length to stir: it was 
more than an hour before he quite woke up. Then 
all at once he started to his feet with his eyes wide 
open, putting back from his forehead the long hair 
which fell over them, and revealing a face not actually 
looking old, but strongly suggesting age. His eyes 
were of a pale blue, with a hazy, mixed, uncertain 
gleam in them, reminding one of the shifty shudder 
and shake and start of the northern lights at some 
heavenly version of the game of Puss in the Corner. 
His features were more than good ; they would have 
been grand had they been large, but they were pe- 
culiarly small. His head itself was very small in pro- 
portion to his height, his forehead, again, large in 
proportion to his head, while his chin was such as we 
are in the way of calling strong. Although he had 
been all day acting a dog in charge of sheep, and 
treating the collie as his natural companion, there 
was, both in his countenance and its expression, 

I 

a remarkable absence of the animal. He had a 
kind of exaltation in his look; he seemed to ex- 
pect something, not at hand but sure to come. His 
eyes rested for a moment, with a love of abso- 
lute devotion, on the face of his sister; then he 

knelt at her feet, and, as if to receive her blessing, 

36 



MAN-STEENIE 37 

bowed his head before her. She laid her hand upon 
it, and in a tone of unutterable tenderness said, '^ Man- 
Steenie ! " Instantly he rose to his feet. Kirsty rose 
also, and they went out of the hut. 

The sunlight had not left the west, but had crept 
round some distance toward the north. Stars were 
shining faint through the thin shadows of the world. 
Steenie stretched himself up, threw his arms aloft, 
and held them raised, as if at once he would grow and 
reach toward the infinite. Then he looked down on 
Kirsty, for he was taller than she, and pointed straight 
up, with the long lean forefinger of one of the long 
lean arms that had all day been a leg to the would- 
be dog — into the heavens, and smiled. Kirsty looked 
up, nodded her head, and smiled in return. Then 
they started in the direction of home, and for some 
time walked in silence. At length Steenie spoke. 
His voice was rather feeble, but clear, articulate, 
and musical. 

"My feet*s terrible heavy the nicht, Kirsty!" he 
said. " Gien it wasna for them, the lave o' me wud 
be up and awa. It*s terrible to be hauden doon by 
the feet this gait ! " 

"We're a' hauden doon the same gait, Steenie. 
Maybe it's some waur for you 'at would sae fain 
gang up, nor for the lave o* *s 'at's mair willin to 
bide a wee; but it '11 be the same at the last whan 
we're a' up there thegither." 

" I wudna care sae muckle gien he didna grip me 
by the queets (ankles)^ like! I dinna like to be 
grippit by the queets ! He winna lat me win at the 
thongs ! " 

"Whan the richt time comes," returned Kirsty 



38 HEATHER AND SNOW 

solemnly, "the bonny man '11 lowse the thongs 
himsel." 

" Ay, ay ! I ken that weel. It was me *at tellt ye. 
He tauld me himsel! I'm thinkin I'll see him the 
nicht, for I'm sair hauden doon, sair needin a sicht 
o' 'im. He's whiles lang o* comin! " 

"I dinna won'er 'at ye're sae fain to see 'im, 
Steenie!" 

" I am that ; fain, fain ! " 

" Ye'll see 'im or lang. It's a fine thing to hae 
patience." 

"Ye come ilka day, Kirsty: what for sudna he 
come ilka nicht ? " 

" He has reasons, Steenie. He kens best." 

" Ay, he kens best. I ken naething but him — and 
you, Kirsty I " 

Kirsty said no more. Her heart was too full. 

Steenie stood still, and throwing back his head, 
stared for some moments up into the great heavens 
over him. Then he said : 

" It's a bonny day, the day the bonny man bides 
in ! The ither day — the day the lave o' ye bides in — 
the day whan I'm no mysel but a sair ooncomforta- 
ble collie — that day's ower het — and sometimes ower 
cauld; but the day he bides in is aye jist what a day 
sud be! Ay, it's that! it's that! " 

He threw himself down, and lay for a minute look- 
ing up into the sky. Kirsty stood and regarded him 
with loving eyes. 

" I hae a' the bonny day afore me! " he murmured 
to himself. " Eh, but it's better to be a man nor a 
beast! Snootie's a fine beast, and a gran' collie, 
but I wud raither be mysel — a heao raither — aye at 



MAN-STEENIE 39 

han* to catch a sicht o* the bonny man! Ye maun 
gang hame to yer bed, Kirsty! — Is't the bonny man 
comes til ye i* yer dreams and says, *Gang til him, 
Kirsty, and be mortal guid til him' ? It maun be 
surely that!" 

"Willna ye gang wi' me, Steenie, as far as the 
door?" rejoined Kirsty, almost beseechingly, and 
attempting no answer to what he had last said. 

It was at times such as this that Kirsty knew sad- 
ness. When she had to leave her brother on the 
hill-side all the long night, to look on no human face, 
hear no human word, but wander in strangest worlds 
of his own throughout the slow dark hours, the sense 
of a separation worse than death would wrap her as 
in a shroud. In his bodily presence, however far 
away in thought or sleep or dreams his soul might 
be, she could yet tend him with her love ; but when 
he was out of her sight, and she had to sleep and 
forget him, where was Steenie and how was he faring ? 
Then he seemed to her as one forsaken, left alone 
with his sorrows to an existence companionless and 
dreary. But in truth Steenie was by no means to be 
pitied. However much his life was apart from the 
lives of other men, he did not therefore live alone. 
Was he not still of more value than many sparrows? 
And Kirsty's love for him had in it no shadow of 
despair. Her pain at such times was but the inde- 
scribable love-lack of mothers when their sons are 
far away, and they do not know what they are doing, 
what they are thinking; or when their daughters 
seem to have departed from them or ever the silver 
cord be loosed, or the golden bowl broken. And yet 
how few, when the air of this world is clearest, ever 



40 HEATHER AND SNOW 

come into essential contact with those they love best! 
But the triumph of Love, while most it seems to de- 
lay, is yet ceaselessly rushing hitherward on the 
wings of the morning. 

" Willna ye gang as far as the door wi' me, Steenie ?" 
she said. 

" I wull do that, Kirsty. But ye're no feart, are 
ye?" 

" Na, no a grain ! What would I be feart for ? " 

"Ow, naething! At this time there's naething 
oot and aboot to be feart at. In what ye ca' the 
daytime, I'm a kin' o' in danger o' knockin mysel 
again things; I never do that at nicht." 

As he spoke he sprang to his feet, and they walked 
on. Kirsty's heart seemed to swell with pain; for 
Steenie was at once more rational and more strange 
than usual, and she felt the farther away from him. 
His words were very quiet, but his eyes looked full 
of stars. 

" I canna tell what it is aboot the sun 'at maks a 
dog o' me!" he said. "He's hard-like, and bauds 
me oot, and gars me hing my heid, and feel as gien I 
wur a kin* o' ashamed, though I ken o' naething. 
But the bonny nicht comes straught up to me, and 
into me, and gangs a* throuw me, and bides i' me; 
and syne I luik for the bonny man! " 

" I wuss ye wud lat me bide oot the nicht wi* ye, 
Steenie!" 

"What for that, Kirsty? Ye maun sleep, and 
I'm better my lane." 

"That's jist hit!" returned Kirsty, with a deep- 
drawn sigh. " I canna bide yer bein yer lane, and 
yet, do what I like, I canna, whiles, even i' the day- 



MAN-STEENIE 4 1 

time, win a bit nearer til ye! Gien only ye was as 
little as ye used to be, whan I cud carry ye aboot a' 
day, and tak ye intil my ain bed a' nicht! But noo 
we're jist like the sun and the mune! — whan ye're 
oot, I'm in; and whan ye're in — weel I'm no oot, 
but my sowl's jist as blear-faced as the mune i' the 
daylicht to think ye'll be awa again sae sune! — But 
it canna gan on like this to a' eternity, and that's a 
comfort ! " 

"I ken naething aboot eternity. I'm thinkin it '11 
a' turn intil a lown starry nicht, wi' the bonny man 
intil't. I'm sure o' ae thing, and that only — 'at 
something 'ill be putten richt 'at's far frae richt the 
noo; and syne, Kirsty, ye'll hae yer ain gait wi' me, 
and I'll be sae far like ither fowk: idiot 'at I am, I 
wud be sorry to be turnt a'thegither the same as 
some! Ye see I ken sae muckle they ken naething 
aboot or they wudna be as they are ! It maybe disna 
become me to say't, ony mair nor Gowk Murnock 
'at sits o' the pu'pit stair; but eh thestyte [nonsense) 
oor minister dings oot o' his ain heid, as gien it war 
the stoor oot o* the bible-cushion! It's no possible 
he's ever seen the bonny man as I hae seen him! " 

" We'll a' hae to come ower to you, Steenie, and 
learn frae ye what ye ken. We'll hae to mak you 
the minister, Steenie!" 

" Na, na ; I ken naething for ither fowk — only for 
mysel; and that's whiles mair nor I can win roun', 
no to say gie again! " 

"Some nicht ye'll lat me bide oot wi' ye a' nicht? 
I wud sair like it, Steenie! " 

"Ye sail, Kirsty; but it maun be some nicht ye 
hae sleepit a' day." 



42 HEATHER AND SNOW 

** Eh, but I cudna do that, tried I ever sae hard! " 

"Ye cud lie i* yer bed ony gait, and mak the best 
o* *t! Ye hae naebody, I ken, to %2X you sleep!" 

They went all the rest of the way talking thus, 
and Kirsty's heart grew lighter, for she seemed to 
get a little nearer to her brother. He had been her 
live doll and idol ever since his mother laid him in 
her arms when she was little' more than three years 
old. For though Steenie was nearly a year older 
than Kirsty, she was at that time so much bigger 
that she was able, not indeed to carry him, but to 
nurse him on her knees. She thought herself the 
elder of the two until she was about ten, by which 
time she could not remember any beginning to her 
carrying of him. About the same time, however, he 
began to grow much faster, and she found before 
long that only upon her back could she carry him any 
distance. 

The discovery that he was the elder somehow gave 
a fresh impulse to her love and devotion, and inten- 
sified her pitiful tenderness. Kirsty's was indeed 
a heart in which the whole unhappy world might 
have sought and found shelter. She had the notion, 
notwithstanding, that she was harder-hearted than 
most, and therefore better able to do things that 
were right but not pleasant. 



CHAPTER VII 
CORBYKNOWE 

"Ye'll come in and say a word to mother, 
Steenie?" said Kirsty, as they came near the door 
of the house. 

It was a long, low building, with a narrow paving 
in front from end to end, of stones cast up by the 
plough. Its walls, but one story high, rough-cast 
and whitewashed, shone dim in the twilight. Under 
a thick projecting thatch the door stood wide open, 
and from the kitchen, whose door was also open, 
came the light of a peat-fire and a fish-oil-lamp. 
Throughout the summer Steenie was seldom in the 
house an hour out of the twenty-four, and now he 
hesitated to enter. In the winter he would keep about 
it a good part of the day, and was generally indoors 
the greater part of the night, but by no means always. 

While he hesitated, his mother appeared in the 
doorway of the kitchen. She was a tall, fine-looking 
woman, with soft gray eyes, and an expression of 
form and features which left Kirsty accounted for. 

" Come awa in by, Steenie, my man ! " she said, in 
a tone that seemed to wrap its object in fold upon 
fold of tenderness, enough to make the peat-smok3 
that pervaded the kitchen seem the very atmosphere 
of the heavenly countries. " Come and hae a drappy 
o* new-milkit milk, and a piece {piec< of bread).** 

43 



44 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Steenie stood smiling and undecided on the slab in 
front of the door-step. 

"Dreid naething, Steenie," his mother went on. 
" There's no ane to interfere wi' yer wull, whatever 
it be. The hoose is yer ain to come and gang as ye 
see fit. But ye ken that, and Kirsty kens that, as 
weel's yer father and mysel." 

" Mother, I ken what ye say to be the trowth, and 
I hae a gran' pooer o' believin the trowth. But 
a'body believes their ain mither : that's i* the order o' 
things as they were first startit ! Still I wud raither 
no come in the nicht. I wud raither haud awa and 
no tribble ye wi* mair o' the sicht o' me nor I canna 
help — that is, till the cheenge come, and things be 
set richt. I dinna aye ken what I'm aboot, but I 
aye ken 'at Tm a kin* o* a disgrace to ye, though I 
canna tell hoo I'm to blame for't. Sae I'll jist bide 
theroot wi* the bonny stars *at*s aye theroot, and 
kens a' aboot it, and disna think nane the waur o' 
me. 

"Laddie! laddie! wha on the face o' God's yerth 
thinks the waur o' ye for a wrang dune ye ? — though 
wha has the wyte o' that same I daurna think, weel 
^kennin 'at a' thing's aither ordeent or allooed, mak- 
in muckle the same. Come winter, come summer, 
come richt, come wrang, come life, come deith, what 
are ye, what can ye be, but my ain, ain laddie! " 

Steenie stepped across the threshold and followed 
his mother into the kitchen, where the pot was al- 
ready on the fire for the evening's porridge. To 
hide her emotion she went straight to it, and lifted 
the lid to look whether boiling point had arrived. 
The same instant the stalwart form of her husband 



CORBYKNOWE 45 

appeared in the doorway, and there stood for a single 
moment Arrested. 

He was a good deal older than his wife, as his long 
gray hair, among other witnesses, testified. He was 
six feet in height, and very erect, with a rather stifif, 
military carriage. His face wore an expression of 
stern good- will, as if he had been sent to do his best 
for everybody, and knew it. 

Steenie caught sight of him ere he had taken a 
step into the kitchen. He rushed to him, threw 
his arms round him, and hid his face on his bosom. 

" Bonny, bonny man ! ** he murmured, then turned 
away and went back to the fire. 

His mother was casting the first handful of meal 
into the pot. Steenie fetched a three-leggit creepie and 
sat down by her, looking as if he had sat there every 
night since first he was able to sit. 

The farmer came forward, and drew a chair to the 
fire beside his son. Steenie laid his head on his 
father's knee, and the father laid his big hand on 
Steenie's head. Not a word was uttered. The 
mother might have found them in her way had she 
been inclined, but the thought did not come to her, 
and she went on making the porridge in great con- 
tentment, while Kirsty laid the cloth. The night 
was as still in the house as in the world, save for the 
bursting of the big blobs of the porridge. The peat 
fire made no noise. 

The mother at length took the heavy pot from 
the fire, and, with what to one inexpert might have 
seemed wonderful skill, poured the porridge into 
a huge wooden bowl on the table. Having then 
scraped the pot carefully that nothing should be lost, 



46 HEATHER AND SNOW 

she poured some water into it, and setting it on the 
fire again, went to a hole in the wall, took thence 
two eggs, and placed them gently in it. 

She went next to the dairy, and came back with 
a jug of the richest milk, which she set beside the 
porridge; whereupon they drew their seats to the 
table — all but Steenie. 

"Come, Steenie," said his mother, "here's yer 
supper." 

" I dinna care aboot ony supper the nicht, mother," 
answered Steenie. 

"Guidsake, laddie, I kenna hoo ye live!" she re- 
turned in an accent almost of despair. 

"I'm thinkin I dinna need sae muckle as ither 
fowk," rejoined Steenie, whose white face bore tes- 
timony that he took far from nourishment enough. 
"Ye see I'm no a' there," he added with a smile, 
" sae I canna need sae muckle ! " 

" There's eneuch o' ye there to fill my hert unco 
fou, " answered his mother with a deep sigh. " Come 
awa, Steenie, my bairn ! " she went on coaxingly. 
"Yer father winna ate a moufu' gien ye dinna: ye'll 
see that! — Eh, Steenie," she broke out, "gien ye 
wud but tak yer supper and gang to yer bed like the 
lave o' *s! It gars my hert swall as gien't wud burst 
like a blob to think o* ye oot i' the mirk nicht! 
Wha's to tell what michtna be happenin ye! Oor 
herts are whiles that sair, yer father's and mine, i' 
oor beds, 'at we daurna say a word for fear the tane 
set the tither greetin. " 

"I'll bide in, gien that be yer wull, " replied Steenie ; 
"but eh, gien ye kent the differ to me, ye wudna 
wuss't. I seldom sleep at nicht as ye ken, and i' 



CORBYKNOWE 47 

the hoose it's jist as gien the darkness wan inside o* 
me, and was chokin me." 

" But it's as dark theroot as i' the hoose — whiles, 
onygait ! " 

"Na, mother; it's never sae dark theroot but 
there's licht eneuch to ken Fm theroot and no i' the 
hoose. I can aye draw a guid full breath oot i' the 
open." 

^'Lat the laddie gang his ain gait, 'uman," inter- 
posed David. " The thing born in 'im 's better for 
him nor the thing born in anither. A man maun 
gang as God made him. " 

" Ay, whether he be man or dog! " assented Steenie 
solemnly. 

He drew his stool close to his father where he sat 
at the table, and again laid his head on his knee. 
The mother sighed but said nothing. She looked 
nowise hurt, only very sad. In a minute, Steenie 
spoke again : 

" I'm thinkin nane o' ye kens," he said, " what it's 
like whan a' the hill-side's gien up to the ither anes! " 

"What ither anes?" asked his mother. "There 
can be nane there but yer ain lane sel ! " 

"Ay, there's a' the lave o' *s," he rejoined, with a 
wan smile. 

The mother looked at him with something almost 
of fear in her eyes of love. 

"Steenie has company we ken little aboot," said 
Kirsty. " I whiles think I wud gie him my wits for 
his company. " 

" Ay, the bonny man ! '/ murmured Steenie. " — I 
maun be gauin ! " 

But he did not rise, did not even lift his head from 



48 HEATHER AND SNOW 

his father's knee: it would be rude to go before the 
supper was over — the ruder that he was not partak- 
ing of it ! 

David had eaten his porridge, and now came the 
almost nightly difference about the eggs. Marion 
had been " the perfect spy o' the time " in taking 
them from the pot, but when she would as usual have 
her husband eat them, he as usual declared he neither 
needed nor wanted them. This night, however, he 
did not insist, but at once proceeded to prepare one, 
with which, as soon as it was nicely mixed with salt, 
he began to feed Steenie. The boy had been longer 
used to being thus fed than most children, and now 
took the first mouthful instinctively, and then moved 
his head, but without raising it from his knee, so 
that his father could feed him more comfortably. In 
this position he took every spoonful given him, and 
so ate both the eggs, greatly to the delight of all the 
rest of the company. 

A moment more and Steenie got up. His father 
rose also. 

"I'll convoy ye a bit, my man," he said. 

"Eh, na! ye needna that, father! It's nearhan' 
yer bed-time! I hae naegait to be convoyt. I'll 
jist be aboot i' the nicht — maybe a stanes-cast 
frae the door, maybe the tither side o' the Horn. 
Here or there I'm never frae ye. I think whiles I'm 
jist like ane o' them 'at ye ca' deid: I'm no awa; 
I'm only deid!" 

So saying, he went. He never on any occasion 
wished them good-night: that would be to leave 
them, and he was not leaving them! he was with 
them all the time! 



CHAPTER VIII 
DAVID AND HIS DAUGHTER 

The instant he was gone, Kirsty went a step or 
two nearer to her father, and, looking up in his face, 
said, 

"I saw Francie Gordon the day, father." 

"Weel, lassie, I reckon that wasna ony ferly 
{strange occurrence) ! Whaur saw ye him ? " 

"He cam to me o' the Hornside, whaur I sat 
weyvin my stockin, ower the bog on's powny — a 
richt bonny thing, and clever — a new ane he's gotten 
frae's mither. And it*s no the first time he's been 
owre there to see me sin* he cam hame! " 

"Whatfor gied he there? My door's aye been 
open till's father's son! " 

" He kenned whaur he was likest to see me : it was 
me he wantit." 

" He wantit you, did he ? An' he's been mair nor 
ance efterye? — Whatfor didna ye tell me afore, 
Kirsty ? " 

"We war bairns thegither, ye ken, father, and 
I never ance thoucht the thing worth fashin ye aboot 
till the day. We've aye been used to Francie comin 
and gaein ! I never tellt my mither onything he said, 
and I tell her a'thing worth tellin, and mony a thing 
forby. I aye leuch at him as I would at a bairn till 
the day. He spak straucht oot the day, and I did 

4 49 



50 HEATHER AND SNOW 

the same, and angert him; and syne he angert 
me. 

" And whatfor are ye tellin me noo ? " 

" 'Cause it cam intil my held that maybe it would 
be better — no that it males ony dififer I can see." 

During this conversation Marion was washing the 
supper-things, putting them away, and making gen- 
eral preparation for bed. She heard every word and 
went about her work softly that she might hear, never 
opening her mouth to speak. 

" There's something ye want to tell me and dinna 
like, lassie! " said David. "Gien ye be feart at yer 
father, gang til yer mither. " 

"Feart at my father! I would be, gien I had 
onything to be ashamet o*. Syne I micht gang to 
my mither, I daursay — I dinna ken." 

" Ye would that, lassie ! Fathers maun sometimes 
be fearsome to lass-bairns ! " 

** Whan I'm feart at you, father, I'll be a gey bit 
on i* the ill gait!" returned Kirsty, with a solemn 
face, looking straight into her father's eyes. 

** Than it'll never be, or I maun hae a heap to 
blame mysel for! I think whiles, gien bairns kenned 
the terrible wyte their fathers micht hae to dree for 
no doin better wi' them, they wud be mair particular 
to haud straucht. I hae been owre muckle taen up 
wi' my beasts and my craps — mair, God forgie me, 
than wi' my twa bairns; though, God kens, ye're 
mair to me, the twa, than oucht else save the mither 
o' ye!" 

" The beasts and the craps cudna weel do wi' less: 
there was aye oor mither to see efter hiz ! " 

"That's true, lassie! I only houp it wasna greed 



DAVID AND HIS DAUGHTER 51 

at the hert o' me! At the same time, wha wud I be 
greedy for but yersels ? — Weel, and what's it a' aboot ? 
What garred ye come to me aboot Francie? I'm 
some feart for him whiles, noo 'at he's sae muckle 
oot o' oor sicht. The laddie's no by natur an ill 
laddie — far frae 't! but it's a sore pity he cudna hae 
been a' his father's, an nane o* him his mither's! " 

"That wudna hae been sae weel contrived, I 
doobt! " remarked Kirsty. " There wudna hae been 
the variety, I'm thinking! " 

"Ye'rericht there, lass I — But what's this aboot 
Francie ? " 

" Ow naething, father, worth mentionin ! The 
daft loon would hae had me promise to merry him — 
that's a' ! " 

" The Lord preserve's!— Aff han' ? " 

" There's no tellin what micht hae been i' the heid 
o' 'im: he didna win sae far as to say that onygait! " 

"God forbid!" exclaimed her father with solem- 
nity, after a short pause. 

" I'm thinkin God's forbidden langsyne! " rejoined 
Kirsty. 

"What said ye til 'im, lassie?" 

" First I leuch at him — as weel as I can min' the 
nonsense o* *t — and ca'd him the gowk he was; and 
syne I sent him awa' wi' a flee in's lug: hadna he the 
impidence to fa* oot upo* me for carin mair aboot 
Steenie nor the likes o' him! As gien even he cud 
come 'ithin sicht o' Steenie! " 

Her father looked very grave. 

" Are ye no pleased, father ? I did what I thoucht 
richt." 

"Ye cudna hae dune better, Kirsty. But I'm 



52 HEATHER AND SNOW 

sorry for the callan, for eh but I loed his father! 
Lassie, for his father's sake I cud tak Francie intil 
the hoose, and work for him as for you and Steenie 
— though it's little guid Steenie ever gets o* me, puir 
sowl ! •' 

" Dinna say that, father. It wud be an ill thing 
for Steenie to hae onybody but yersel to the father o' 
*im! A muckle pairt o* the nicht he wins ower in 
loein at you and his mother." 

"Arfd yersel, Kirsty." 

" Tm thinkin I hae my share i* the daytime." 

" And hoo, think ye, gangs the lave o' the nicht 
wi im r 

" The bonny man has the maist o' *t, I dinna 
doobt, and what better cud we desire for 'im! — But, 
father, gien Francie come back wi' the same tale — I 
dinna think he wull efter what I telled him, but he 
may; — what wud ye hae me say til *im?" 

" Say what ye wull, lassie, sae lang as ye dinna lat 
him for a moment believe there's a grain o* possibility 
in the thing. Ye see, Kirsty, — " 

" Ye dinna imaigine, father, I cud for ae minute 
think itherwise aboot it than ye du yersel! Div I no 
ken that his father gied him in chairge to you ? and 
haena I therefore to luik efter him ? Didna ye tell 
me a' aboot yer gran' frien, and hoo, and hoo lang 
ye had loed him ? and didna that mak Francie my 
business as weel's yer ain ? I'm verra sure his father 
would never appruv o' ony gaeins on atween him and 
a lassie sic like's mysel; and fearna ye, father, but 
I s' haud him weel ootby. No that it's ony tyauve 
{struggle) to me, though I aye likit Francie! Haena 
I my ain Steenie ? " 



DAVID AND HIS DAUGHTER 53 

" Glaidly wud I shaw Francie the ro'd to sic a wife 
as ye wud male him, my bonny Kirsty ! -But ye see 
clearly the thing itsel's no to be thoucht upon. — 
Eh, Kirsty, but it's gran' to an auld father's hert to 
hear ye tak yer pairt in his devours efter sic a wum- 
anly fashion ! " 

" Am I no yer ain lass-bairn, father ? Whaur wud I 
be wi' a father that didna keep his word ? and what 
less cud I du nor help ony man to keep his word ? 
Gien breach o' the faimily-word cam throuw me, my 
life wud gang frae me. Wad ye hae me tell the lad- 
die's mither? I wudna like to expose the folly o' 
him, but gien ye think it necessar, I'll gang the 
morn's morn in." 

"I dinna think that wud be weel. It wad but 
raise a strife atween the twa, ohn dune an atom o' 
guid. She wud only rage at the laddie, and pit him 
in sic a reid heat as wad but wald thegither him and 
his wull sae 'at they wud maist never come in twa 
again. And though ye gaed and tauld her yer ain 
sel, my lady wad lay a' the wyte upo' you nane the 
less. There's no rizzon, tap nor tae, i' the puir 
body, and ye're naewise b'und to her farther nor to 
do richt by her. " 

" I'm glaid ye dinna want me to gang," answered 
Kirsty. **She carries hersel that gran' 'at ye're 
maist driven to the consideration hoo little she's 
worth ; and that's no the richt speerit anent ony body 
God thoucht worth makin." 



CHAPTER IX 
AT CASTLE WEELSET 

Francie's anger had died down a good deal by the 
time he reached home. He was, as his father's friend 
had just said, by no means a bad sort of fellow, only 
he was full of himself, and therefore of little use to 
anybody. His mother and he, when not actually at 
strife, were constantly on the edge of a quarrel. The 
two must have their own way, each of them. Fran- 
cie's way was sometimes good, his mother's some- 
times not bad, but both were usually selfish. The 
boy had fits of generosity, the woman never, except 
toward her son. If she thought of something to 
please him, good and well ! if he wanted anything of 
her, it would never do ! The idea must be her own, 
or meet with no favor. If she imagined her son de- 
sired a thing, she felt it one she never could grant, 
and told him so: thereafter Francis would not rest 
until he had compassed the thing. Sudden division 
and high words would follow, with speechlessness on 
the mother's part in the rear, which might last for 
days. Becoming all at once tired of it, she would 
one morning appear at breakfast looking as if noth- 
ing had ever come between them, and they would be 
the best of friends for a few days, or perhaps a week, 
seldom longer. Some fresh discord, nowise different 
in character from the preceding, would arise between 

54 



AT CASTLE WEELSET 



55 



them, and the same weary round be tramped again, 
each always in the right, and the other in the wrong. 
Every time they made it up, their relation seemed un- 
impaired, but it was hardly possible things should go 
on thus and not at length quite estrange their hearts. 

In matters of display, to which Francis had much 
tendency, his mother's own vanity led her to indulge 
and spoil him, for, being hers, she was always pleased 
he should look his best. On his real self she neither 
had nor sought any influence. Insubordination or 
arrogance in him, her dignity unslighted, actually 
pleased her : she liked him to show his spirit : was it 
not a mark of his breeding ? 

She was a tall and rather stout woman, with a 
pretty, small-featured, regular face, and a thin nose 
with the nostrils pinched. 

Castle Weelset was not much of a castle: to an 
ancient round tower, discomfortably habitable, had 
been added in the last century a rather large, defensi- 
ble house. It stood on the edge of a gorge, crown- 
ing one of its stony hills of no great height. With 
scarce a tree to shelter it, the situation was very cold 
in winter, and it required a hardy breeding to live 
there in comfort. There was little of a garden, and 
the stables were somewhat ruinous. For the former 
fact the climate almost sufficiently accounted, and 
for the latter a long period of comparative poverty. 

The young laird did not like farming, and had no 
love for books: in this interval between school and 
college, he found very little to occupy him, and not 
much to amuse him. Had Kirsty been as encour- 
aging as he had expected, he would on his return 
have made use of his new pony almost only to ride to 



56 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Corbyknowe in the morning and back to the castle 
at night. 

His mother knew old Barclay, as she called him, 
well enough — that is, not at all, and had never shown 
him any cordiality, anything indeed better than con- 
descension. To treat him like a gentleman, even 
when he sat at her own table, she would have counted 
absurd. He had never been to the castle since the 
day after her husband's funeral, when she treated 
him with such emphasized superiority that he felt he 
could not go again without running the risk either of 
having his influence with the boy ruined, or giving 
occasion to a nature not without generosity to take 
part against his mother. Thenceforward, therefore, 
he was content with giving him an invariable wel- 
come to his farm, and doing what he could to make 
his visits pleasant. Chiefly, on such not infrequent 
occasions, the boy delighted in drawing from his 
father's friend what tales about his father, and ad- 
ventures of their campaigns together, he had to tell ; 
and in this way David*s wife and children heard many 
things about himself which would not otherwise have 
reached them. Naturally Kirsty and Francie grew 
to be good friends; and after they went to the parish 
school, there were few days indeed on which they did 
not walk as far homeward together as the midway 
divergence of their roads would permit. It is not 
wonderful, therefore, that at length Francie should 
be, or should fancy himself in love with Kirsty. But 
I believe all the time he thought of marrying her as 
a heroic deed, in raising the girl his mother despised 
to share the lofty position he and his foolish mother 
imagined him to occupy. The anticipation of op- 



AT CASTLE WEELSET 57 

position from his mother naturally strengthened his 
determination; of opposition on the part of Kirsty 
he had not dreamed. He took it as of course that, 
the moment he stated his intc^ntion, Kirsty would be 
charmed, her mother more than pleased, and the 
stern old soldier overwhelmed with the honor of al- 
liance with the son of his colonel. I do not doubt, 
however, that he had an affection for Kirsty far deeper 
and better than his notion of their relations to each 
other would indicate. Although it was mainly his 
pride that suffered in his humiliating dismissal, he 
had, I am sure, a genuine heartache as he galloped 
home. When he reached the castle, he left his pony 
to go where he would, and rushed to his room. There, 
locking the door that his mother might not enter, he 
threw himself on his bed in the luxurious conscious- 
ness of a much-wronged lover. An uneducated 
country girl, for so he regarded her, had cast from 
her, not without insult, his splendidly generous offer 
of himself! 

Poor King Cophetua did not, however, shed many 
tears for the loss of his recusant beggar-maid. By 
and by he forgot everything, found he had gone to 
sleep, and, endeavoring to weep again, did not suc- 
ceed. 

He grew hungry soon, and went down to see what 
was to be had. It was long past the usual hour for 
dinner, but Mrs. Gordon had not seen him return, 
and had had it put back ; and here was an opportu- 
nity of quarrel not to be neglected by a conscientious 
mother! She lost it, however. 

"Gracious, you've been crying!" she exclaimed, 
the moment she saw him. 



SB HEATHER AND SNOW 

Now certainly Francis had not cried much; his 
eyes were, notwithstanding, a little red. 

He had not yet learned to lie, but he might then 
have made his first essay had he had a fib at his 
tongue's end; as he had not, he gloomed deeper, 
and made no answer. 

** You've been fighting! " said his mother. 

**I haena," he returned with rude indignation. 
" Gien I had been, div ye think I wud hae grutten ? " 

" You forget yourself, laird ! " remarked Mrs. Gor- 
don, more annoyed with his Scotch than the tone of 
it. " I would have you remember I am mistress of 
the house ! " 

"Till I marry, mother! " rejoined her son. 

"Oblige me in the mean time," she rejoined, "by 
leaving vulgar language outside the walls of it." 

Francis was silent ; and his mother, content with 
her victory, and in her own untruthfulness of nature 
believing he had indeed been fighting and had had the 
worst of it, said no more, but began to pity and pet 
him. A pot of his favorite jam presently consoled 
the love-wounded hero — in the acceptance of which 
consolation he showed himself far less unworthy than 
many a grown man similarly circumstanced in the 
choice of his. . 



CHAPTER X 
DAVID AND FRANCIS 

One day there was a market at a town some eight 
or nine miles off, and thither, for lack of anything 
else to do, Francis had gone to display himself and 
his pony, which he was riding with so tight a curb 
that the poor thing every now and then reared in 
protest against the agony he suffered. 

On one of these occasions Don was on the point of 
falling backward, when a brown wrinkled hand laid 
hold of him by the head, half-pulling the reins from 
his rider's hand, and ere he had quite settled again 
on his forelegs, had unhooked the chain of his curb, 
and fastened it some three links looser. Francis was 
more than indignant, even when he saw that the 
hand was Mr. Barclay's: was he to be treated as one 
who did not know what he was about ! 

" Hoots, my man ! '* said David gently, " there's no 
occasion to put a water-chain upo' the bonny beastie: 
he has a mou like a leddy's! and to hae 't linkit up 
sae ticht is naething less nor tortur til *im! — It's a 
won'er to me he hasna brocken your banes and his 
ain back thegither, puir thing ! " he added, patting 
and stroking the spirited little creature that stood 
sweating and trembling. 

"I thank you, Mr. Barclay," said Francis inso- 
lently, " but I am quite able to manage the brute 
myself. You seem to take me for a fool ! " 

59 



6o HEATHER AND SNOW . 

" 'Deed, he's no far aff ane 'at cud ca' a bonny 
cratur like that a brute!" returned David, nowise 
pleased to discover such hardness in one whom he 
would gladly treat like a child of his own. It was a 
great disappointment to him to see the lad getting 
farther away from the possibility of being helped by 
him. "What 'ud yer father say to see ye illuse ony 
helpless bein! Yer father was awfu guid til's horse- 
fowk." 

The last word was one of David's own: he was a 
great lover of animals. 

" I'll do with my own as I please! " cried Francis, 
and spurred the pony to pass David. But one stal- 
wart hand held the pony fast, while the other seized 
his rider by the ankle. The old man was now thor- 
oughly angry with the graceless youth. 

" God bless my sowl ! " he cried, " hae ye the spurs 
on as weel? Stick ane o' them intil him again, and 
I'll cast ye frae the seddle. I' the thick o' a fecht, 
the lang blades playin aboot yer father's heid like 
lichts i' the north, he never stack spur intil 's chairger 
needless! " 

** I don't see," said Francis, who had begun to cool 
down a little, " how he could have enjoyed the fight 
much if he never forgot himself! I should forget 
everything in the joy of the battle! " 

"Yer father, laddie, never forgot onything but 
himsel. Forgettin himsel left him free to min' a'thing 
f orbye. Ye wud forget ilka thing but yer ain rage ! 
Yer father was a great man as weel's a great soger, 
Francie, and a deevil to fecht, as his men said. I 
hae mysel seen by the set mou 'at the teeth war 
clinched i' the inside o' 't, whan a' the time on the 



DAVID AND FRANCIS 6 1 

broo o' 'im sat never a runkle. Gien ever there was 
a man 'at cud think o' twa things at ance, your 
father cud think o' three; and thae three war God, 
his enemy, and the beast aneath him. Francie, 
Francie, i' the nam o' yer father I beg ye to regaird 
the richts o* the neebour ye sit upo*. Gien ye dinna 
that, ye'll come or lang to think little o* yer human 
neebour as weel, carin only for what ye get oot o* 
im! 

A voice inside Francis took part with the old man, 
and made him yet angrier. Also his pride was the 
worse annoyed that David Barclay, his tenant, should, 
in the hearing of two or three loafers gathered be- 
hind him, of whose presence the old man was un- 
aware, not only rebuke him, but address him by his 
name, and the diminutive of it. So when David, in 
the appeal that burst from his enthusiastic remem- 
brance of his officer in the battle-field, let the pony's 
head go, Francis dug his spurs in his sides, and 
darted off like an arrow. The old man for a moment 
stared open-mouthed after him. The fools around 
laughed : he turned and walked away, his head sunk 
on his breast. 

Francis had not ridden far before he was vexed 
with himself. He was not so much sorry, as an- 
noyed that he had behaved in fashion undignified. 
The thought that his childish behavior would justify 
Kirsty in her opinion of him, added its sting. He 
tried to console himself with the reflection that the 
sort of thing ought to be put an end to at once: 
how far, otherwise, might not the old fellow's inter- 
ference go ! I am afraid he even said to himself that 
such was a consequence of familiarity with inferiors. 



62 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Yet angry as he was at his fault-finding, he would 
have been proud of any approval from the lips of the 
old soldier. He rode his pony mercilessly for a mile 
or so, then pulled up, and began to talk pettingly to 
him, which I doubt if the little creature found con- 
soling, for love only makes petting worth anything, 
and the love here was not much to the front. 

About half-way home, he had to ford a small 
stream, or go round two miles by a bridge. There 
had been much rain in the night, and the stream was 
considerably swollen. As he approached the ford, he 
met a knife-grinder, who warned him not to attempt 
it : he had nearly lost his wheel in it, he said. But 
Francis always found it hard to accept advice. His 
mother had so often predicted from neglect of hers 
evils which never followed, that he had come to 
think counsel the one thing not to be heeded. 

"Thank you," he said; "I think we can manage 
it ! '* and rode on. 

When he reached the ford, where of all places the 
pony's head ought to have been free, he foolishly be- 
thought himself of the curb-chain, and dismounting 
took it up a couple of links. 

But when he remounted, whether from dread of 
the rush of the brown water, or resentment at the 
threat of renewed torture, the pony would not take 
the ford, and a battle royal arose between them, in 
which Francis was so far victorious that, after many 
attempts to run away, little Don, rendered desperate 
by the spur, dashed wildly into the stream. He went 
plunging along for two or three yards and fell, where- 
upon Francis found himself rolling in the water, swept 
along by the current. 



DAVID AND FRANCIS 63 

A little way lower down, at a sharp turn of the 
stream under a high bank, was a deep pool, a place 
held much in dread by the country lads and lassies, 
being a haunt of the kelpie. Francis knew the spot 
well, and had good reason to fear that, carried into 
it, he must be drowned, for he could not swim. 
Struggling yet harder at the thought of it, he suc- 
ceeded in recovering his footing, and managed to get 
out, but lay on the bank for a while exhausted. 
When at length he came to himself and rose, he found 
the water still between him and home, and nothing 
of his pony to be seen. If the youth's good sense 
had been equal to his courage, he would have been a 
fine fellow. He dashed straight into the ford, 
floundered through it, and lost his footing no more 
than had Don, treated properly. When he reached 
the high ground on the other side, he could still see 
nothing of him, and with sad heart concluded him 
carried into the Kelpie's Hole, and never more to 
be seen : what would his mother and Mr. Barclay say ! 
Shivering and wretched, and with a growing com- 
punction in regard lo his behavior to Don, he crawled 
wearily home. 

Don, however, had at no moment been much in 
danger. Rid of his master he could take very good 
care of himself. He got to the bank without diffi- 
culty, and took care it should be on the home-side of 
the stream. Not once looking behind him after his 
tyrant, he set off at a good round trot, much refreshed 
by his bath, and making for his loose box at Castle 
Weelset. 

In a narrow part of the road, however, he overtook 
a cart of Mr. Barclay's; and attempting to pass be- 



64 HEATHER AND SNOW 

tween it and the high bank, the man on the shaft 
caught at his bridle, made him prisoner, tied him to 
the cart behind, and took him to Corbyknowe. When 
David came home and saw him, he conjectured pretty 
nearly what had happened, and tired as he was set 
out for the castle. Had he not feared that Francis 
might have been injured, he would not have cared to 
go, much as he knew it must relieve him to learn that 
his pony was safe. 

Mrs. Gordon declined to see David, but he ascer- 
tained from the servants that Francis had come 
home half-drowned, leaving Don in the Kelpie's 
Hole. 

David hesitated a little whether or not to punish 
him for his behavior to the pony by allowing him to 
remain in ignorance of his safety, and so leaving him 
to the agen-bite of conscience; but concluding that 
such was not his part, he told them that the animal 
was safe at Corbyknowe, and went home again. 

But he wanted Francis to fetch the pony himself, 
therefore did not send him, and in the mean time fed 
and groomed him with his own hands as if he had 
been his friend's charger. Francis having just 
enough of the grace of shame to make him shrink 
from going to Corbyknowe, his mother wrote to 
David, asking why he did not send home the 
animal. David, one of the most courteous of men, 
would take no order from any but his superior officer, 
and answered that he would gladly give him up to 
the young laird in person. 

The next day Mrs. Gordon drove, in what state 
she could muster, to Corbyknowe. Arrived there, 
she declined to leave her carriage, requesting Mrs. 



DAVID AND FRANCIS 65 

Barclay, who came to the door, to send her husband 
to her. Mrs. Barclay thought it better to comply. 

David came in his shirt-sleeves, for he had been 
fetched from his work. 

" If I understand your answer to my request, Mr. 
Barclay, you decline to send back Mr, Gordon's 
pony ! Pray, on what grounds ? " 

" I wrote, ma'am, that I should be glad to give 
him over to Mr. Francis himself. " 

" Mr. Gordon does not find it convenient to come 
all this way on foot. In fact he declines to do it, 
and requests that you will send the pony home this 
afternoon." 

" Excuse me, mem, but it's surely enough done that 
a man make known the presence o' strays, and tak 
proper care o' them until they're claimt! I was fain 
forbye to gie the bonny thing a bit pleesur in life: 
Francie's ower hard upon him." 

" You forget, David Barclay, that Mr. Gordon is 
your landlord!" 

" His father, mem, was my landlord, and his 
father's father was my father's landlord; and the 
interests o' the landlord hae aye been oors. Ither 
nor Francie's herty frien' I can never be! " 

" You presume on my late husband's kindness to 
you, Barclay ! " 

" Gien devotion be presumption, mem, I presume. 
Archibald Gordon was and is my frien', and will be 
for ever. We hae been throuw ower muckle thegither 
to change to ane anither. It was for his sake and 
the laddie's ain that I wantit him Jto come to me. I 
wantit a word wi' him aboot that powny o' his. He'll 
never be true man 'at taks no tent o' dumb animals! 

5 



66 HEATHER AND SNOW 

You *at's sae weel at hame i* the seddle yersel, mem, 
micht tak a kin'ly care o* what's aneth his! " 

" I will have no one interfere with my son. I am 
quite capable of teaching him his duty myself.** 

" His father requestit me to do what I could for 
him, mem! " 

" His /a/^ father, if you please, Barclay! *' 

"He s'never be Francie's /a/€ father to Francie, 
gien I can help it, mem! He may be your /ate hus- 
band, mem, but he's my cornel yet, and I s' keep my 
word till him! It'll no be lang noo, i' the natur o* 
things, till I gang til him; and sure am I his first 
word *ill be aboot the laddie : I wud ill like to answer 
him, * Archie, I ken naething aboot him but what I 
cud weel wuss itherwise ! * Hoo wud ye like to gie 
sic an answer yersel, mem ? " 

"I'm surprised at a man of your sense, Barclay, 
thinking we shall know one another in heaven! We 
shall have to be content with God there! " 

" I said naething about h'aven, mem! Fowk may 
ken ane anither and no be in ae place. I took note 
i* the kirk last Sunday 'at Abrahaam kent the rich 
man, and the rich man him, and they warna i' the 
same place. — But ye'll lat the yoong laird come and 
see me, mem ? " concluded David, changing his tone 
and speaking as one who begged a favor; for the 
thought of meeting his old friend and having noth- 
ing to tell him about his boy, quenched his pride. 

"Home, Thomas!" cried her late husband's wife 
to her coachman, and drove away. 

" Dod ! they'll hae to gie that wife a hell til hersel ! " 
said David, turning to the door discomfited. 

" And maybe she'll no like it whan she hes't ! " re- 



DAVID AND FRANCIS 67 

turned his wife, who had heard every word. " There's 
fowk 'at's no fit company for onybody; and I'm 
thinkin she's ane gien there bena anither! " 

"I'll sen' Jemie hame wi' the powny the nicht," 
said David. " A body canna insist whaur fowk are 
no frien's. That would grow to enmity, and the en' 
o' a' guid. Na, we maun sen' hame the powny; and 
gien there be ony grace i' the bairn, he canna but 
come and say thank ye! " 

Mrs. Gordon rejoiced in her victory; but David's 
yielding showed itself the true policy. Francis did 
call and thank him for taking care of Don. He 
even granted that perhaps he had been too hard on 
the pony. 

"Ye cud richteously expeck naething o' a powny 
o' his size that that powny o' yours cudna du, Fran- 
cie!" said David. "But, in God's name, dear lad- 
die, be a richteous man. Gien ye requere no more 
than's fair frae man or beast, ye'll maistly aye get 
it. 5ut gien yer ootluik in life be to get a'thing and 
gie naething, ye maun come to grief ae w'y and a' 
w'ys. Success in an ill attemp is the warst failyie a 
man can mak." 

But it was talking to the wind, for Francis thought, 
or tried to think David only bent, like his mother, on 
finding fault with him. He made haste to get away, 
and left his friend with a sad heart. 

He rode on to the foot of the Horn, to the spot 
where Kirsty was usually at that season to be found ; 
but she saw him coming, and went up the hill. Soon 
after, his mother contrived that he should pay a visit 
to some relatives in the south, and for a time neither 
the castle nor the Horn saw anything of him. With- 



68 HEATHER AND SNOW 

out returning home he went in the winter to Edin- 
burgh, where he neither disgraced nor distinguished 
himself. David was glad to hear no ill of him. To 
be beyond his mother's immediate influence was per- 
haps to his advantage, but as nothing superior was 
substituted, it was at best but little gain. His com- 
panions were like himself, such as might turn to 
worse or better, no one could tell which. 



CHAPTER XI 
KIRSTY AND PHEMY 

During the first winter Francis spent at college, 
his mother was in England, and remained there all 
the next summer and winter. When at last she came 
home, she was even less pleasant than before in the 
eyes of her household, no one of which had ever 
loved her. Throughout the summer she had a suc- 
cession of visitors, and stories began to spread con- 
cerning strange doings at the castle. The neighbors 
talked of extravagance, and the censorious among 
them of riotous living; while some of the servants 
more than hinted that the amount of wine and whiskey 
consumed was far in excess of what served when the 
old colonel was alive. 

One of them who, in her mistress' frequent fits of 
laziness, acted as housekeeper, had known David 
Barclay from his boyhood, and understood his real 
intimacy with her late master: it was not surprising, 
therefore, that she should open her mind to him, 
while keeping toward every one else a settled silence 
concerning her mistress' affairs: none of the stories 
current in the country-side came from her. But 
David was to Mrs. Bremner the other side of a deep 
pit, into the bottom of which whatever was said be- 
tween them dropped. 

'"There'll come a catastroif or lang," said Mrs. 

69 



70 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Bremner, one evening when David Barclay had over- 
taken her on the road to the town, " and that'll be 
seen ! The property's jist awa to the dogs! There's 
Maister Donal, the factor, gaein aboot like ane in a 
dilemmas to cuttin 's thro't or blawin his harns oot! 
He daursna say a word, ye see! The auld laird 
trustit him, and he's feart 'at he be blamit, but there's 
nae duin onything wi' that wuman : the siller maun be 
forthcomin whan she*s wantin 't! " 

" The siller's no hers ony mair nor the Ian' ; a's 
the yoong laird's!" remarked David. 

"That's true; but she's i' the pooer o' 't till he 
come o' age: and Maister Donal, puir man, mony's 
the time he's jist driven to ane mair to get what's 
aye wantit and want it. What comes o' the siller it 
jist blecks me to think: there's no a thing aboot the 
hoose to shaw for't ! And hearken, Dawvid, but latna 
baith lugs hear 't, for dreid the tane come ower 't 
again to the tither — I'm doobtin the drink's gettin a 
sair grup o* her!" 

"'Deed I wudna be nane surprised!" returned 
David. " Whatever micht want in at her door, there's 
naething inside to haud it oot. Eh, to think o' Archie 
Gordon takin til himsel sic a wife ! that a man like 
him, o' guid report, and come to years o* discretion — 
to think o' brains like his turnin as fozy as an auld 
neep at sicht o' a bonny front til an ae wa' hoose (a 
?iou5e of but one walt)\ It canna be 'at witchcraft's 
clean dune awa wi* ! " 

"Bonny, Dawvid! — Ca'd ye the mistress bonny?" 

" She used to be — bonny, that is, as a button or a 
buckle micht be bonny. What she may be the noo, 
I dinna ken ; for I haena set ee upon her sin' she 



KIRSTY AND PHEMY 71 

cam to the Knowe orderin me to sen* back Francie's 
powny: she was suppercilly eneuch than for twa 
cornels and a corporal, but no ill luikin. Gien she 
hae a spot o' beaouty left, the drink MI tak it or it 
hae dune wi' her! " 

"Or she hae dune wi' hit, Dawvid! It's ta'en ae 
color frae her a'ready, and begud to gie her anither! 
But it concerns me mair aboot Francie nor my lady : 
what's to come o* him when a*s gane? what'll there 
be for him to come intil ? " 

Gladly would David have interfered, but he was 
helpless ; he had no legal guardianship over or for 
the boy ! Nothing could be done till he was a man ! 
— " if ever he be a man ! " said David to himself with 
a sigh, and the thought how much better off he was 
with his half-witted Steenie than his friend with his 
clever Francie. 

Mrs. Bremner was sister-in-law to the school- 
master, and was then on her way to see him and his 
daughter Phemy. From childhood the girl had been 
in the way of going to the castle to see her aunt, and 
so was well known about the place. Being an en- 
gaging child, she had become not only welcome to 
the servants but something of a favorite with the 
mistress, whom she amused with her little airs, and 
pleased with her winning manners. She was now 
about fourteen, a half-blown beauty of the red and 
white, gold and blue kind. She had long been a vain 
little thing, approving of her own looks in the glass, 
and taking much interest in setting them off, but so 
simple as to make no attempt at concealing her self- 
satisfaction. Her pleased contemplation of this or 
that portion of her person, and the frantic attempts 



72 HEATHER AND SNOW 

she was sometimes espied making to get a sight of 
her back, especially when she wore a new frock, were 
indeed more amusing than hopeful, but her vanity 
was not yet so pronounced as to overshadow her 
, better qualities, and Kirsty had not thought it well 
to take notice of it, although, being more than any 
one else a mother to her, she was already a little 
anxious on the score of it, and the rather that her 
aunt, like her father, neither saw nor imagined fault 
in her. 

That the child had no mother, drew to her the 
heart of the girl whose mother was her strength and 
joy; while gratitude to the child's father, who, in 
opening for her some doors of wisdom and more of 
knowledge, had put her under eternal obligations, 
moved her to make what return she could. It deep- 
ened her sense of debt to Phemy that the schoolmaster 
did not do for his daughter anything like what he 
had years long been doing for his pupil, whence she 
almost felt as if she had diverted to her own use much 
that rightly belonged to Phemy. At the same time 
she knew very well that had she never existed the re- 
lation between the father and the daughter would 
have been the same. The child of his dearly loved 
wife, the schoolmaster was utterly content with his 
Phemy ; for he felt as if she knew everything her 
mother knew, had the same inward laws of being, 
and the same disposition, and was simply, like her, 
perfect. 

That she should ever do anything wrong was an 
idea inconceivable to him. Nor was there much 
chance of his discovering it if she did. When not at 
work, he was constantly reading. Most people close 



KIRSTY AND PHEMY 73 

a book without having gained from it a single germ 
of thought ; Mr. Craig seldom opened one without 
falling directly into a brown study over something 
suggested by it. But I believe, that, even when thus 
absorbed, Phemy was never far from his thought. At 
the same time, like many Scots, while she was his 
one joy, he seldom showed her sign of affection, sel- 
dom made her feel, and never sought to make her 
feel how he loved her. His love was taken by him 
for understood by her, and was to her almost as if it 
did not exist. 

That his child required to be taught had scarcely 
occurred to the man who could not have lived with- 
out learning, or enjoyed life without teaching — ^as 
witness the eagerness with which he would help Kirsty 
along any path of knowledge in which he knew how 
to walk. The love of knowledge had grown in him 
to a possessing passion, paralyzing in a measure those 
powers of his life sacred to life — that is, to God and 
his neighbor. 

Kirsty could not do nearly what she would to make 
up for his neglect. For one thing, the child did not 
take to learning, and though she loved Kirsty and 
often tried to please her, would not keep on doing 
anything without being more frequently reminded of 
her duty than the distance between their two abodes 
permitted. Kirsty had her to the farm as often as 
the schoolmaster would consent to her absence, and 
kept her as long as he went on forgetting it ; while 
Phemy was always glad to go to Corbyknowe, and 
always glad to get away again. For Mrs. Barclay 
thought it her part to teach her household matters, 
and lessons of that sort Phemy relished worse than 



74 HEATHER AND SNOW 

some of a more intellectual nature. If left with 
her, the moment Kirsty appeared again the child 
would fling from her whatever might be in her hand, 
and flee as to her deliverer from bondage and hard 
labor. Then would Kirsty always insist on her finish- 
ing what she had been at, and Phemy would obey, 
with the protest of silent tears, and the airs of a much- 
injured mortal. Had Kirsty been backed by the 
child's father, she might have made something of 
her ; but it grew more and more painful to think of 
her future, when her self-constituted guardian should 
have lost what influence she had over her. 

Phemy was rather afraid of Steenie. Her sunny 
nature shrank from the shadow, as of a wall, in which 
Steenie appeared to her always to stand. From any 
little attention he would offer her, she, although never 
rude to him, would involuntarily recoil, and he soon 
learned to leave her undismayed. That the child's 
repugnance troubled him, though he never spoke of 
it, Kirsty saw quite plainly, for she could read his 
face like a book, and heard him sigh when even his 
mother did not. Her eyes were constantly regarding 
him, feeding like sheep on the pasture of his face: — 
I think I have used a figure of sir Philip Sidney's. 
But say rather — the thoughts that strayed over his 
face were the sheep to which all her life she had been 
the devoted shepherdess. 

At Corbyknowe things went on as hitherto. Kirsty 
was in no danger of tiring of the even flow of her life. 
Steepie's unselfish solitude of soul made him every 
day dearer to her. Books she sought in every ac- 
cessible, and found occasionally^ in an unhopeful 
quarter. She had no thought of distinguishing her- 



KIRSTY AND PHEMY 75 

self, no smallest ambition of becoming learned ; her 
soul was athirst to understand, and what she under- 
stood found its way from her mind into her life. 
Much to the advantage of her thinking were her keen 
power and constant practice of observation. I ut- 
terly refuse the notion that we cannot think without 
words, but certainly the more forms we have ready 
to embody our thoughts, the farther we shall be able 
to carry our thinking. Richly endowed, Kirsty re- 
quired the more mental food, and was the more able 
to use it when she found it. To such of the neigh- 
bors as had no knowledge of any diligence save that 
of the hands, she seemed to lead an idle life ; but in- 
deed even Kirsty's hands were far from idle. When 
not with Steenie she was almost always at her 
mother's call, who from the fear that she might grow 
up incapable of managing a house, often required a 
good deal of her. But the mother did not fail to note 
with what alacrity she would lay her book aside, 
sometimes even dropping it in her eagerness to an- 
swer her summons. Dismissed for the moment, she 
would at once take her book again and the seat 
nearest to it: she could read anywhere, and gave 
herself none of the student-airs that make some 
young people so pitifully unpleasant. At the same 
time solitude was preferable for study, and Kirsty 
was always glad to find herself with her books in the 
little hut, Steenie asleep on the heather carpet on 
her feet, and the assurance that there no one would 
interrupt her. 

It was not wonderful that, in the sweet absence 
of selfish cares, her mind full of worthy thoughts, and 
her heart going out in tenderness, her face should go 



76 HEATHER ^AND SNOW 

on growing in beauty and refinement. She was not 
yet arrived at physical full growth, and the forms of 
her person being therefore in a process of change 
were the more easily modelled after her spiritual 
nature. She seemed almost already one that would 
not die, but live forever, and continue to inherit the 
earth. Neither her father nor her mother could have 
imagined anything better to be made of her. 

Steenie had not changed his habits, neither seemed 
to grow at all more like other people, but he was now 
less frequently unhappy, and seldom so much de- 
pressed. But he showed no sign of less dependence 
on Kirsty. 



CHAPTER XII 
THE EARTH-HOUSE 

About a year after Francis Gordon went to Edin- 
burgh, Kirsty and Steenie made a discovery. 

Between Corbyknowe and the Horn, on whose 
sides David Barclay had a right of pasturage for the 
few sheep to which Steenie and Snootie were the 
shepherds, was. a small glen, through which, on its 
way to join the little river with the kelpie-pot, ran a 
brook, along whose banks lay two narrow breadths 
of nice grass. The brother and sister always crossed 
this brook when they wanted to go straight to the 
top of the hill. 

One morning, having each taken the necessary run 
and jump, they had begun to climb on the other side, 
when Kirsty, who was a few paces before him, turned 
at an exclamation from Steenie. 

" It's a' the weicht o' my muckle feet! " he cried, 
as he dragged one of the troublesome members out of 
a hole. " Losh, I dinna ken hoo far it michtna hae 
gane doon gien I hadna gotten a baud o' 't in time 
and pu'd it oot!" 

How much of humor, how much of silliness, and 
how much of truth were wrapped up together in 
some of the things he. said, it was impossible to de- 
termine. I believe Kirsty came pretty near know- 
ing, but even she was not always sure where wilful 

77 



78 HEATHER AND SNOW 

oddity and where misapprehension was at the root of 
a remark. 

"Gien ye set yer fit upon a hole," said Kirsty, 
"what can the puir thing du but gang doon intil't? 
Ye maunna be oonrizzonable wi' the craturs, Steenie! 
Ye maun be fair til them." 

"But there was nae hole!" returned Steenie. 
" There cudna hae been. There's the hole noo ! My 
fit made it, and there it'll hae to bide! It's a some 
fearsome thing, divna ye think, 'at what aiven the fit 
o* a body dis, bides? What for disna the hole gang 
awa whan the fit lifts? Luik ye there! Ye see thae 
twa stanes stan'in up by themsels, and there's the 
hole — atween the twa! There cudna hae been a 
hole there afore the weicht o' my fit cam doon upo' 
the spot and ca'd it throuw! I gaed in maist til 
my knee! " 

"Lat'sluik!" said Kirsty, and proceeded to ex- 
amine the place. 

She thought at first it must be the burrow of some 
animal, but the similarity in shape of the projecting 
stones suggesting that their position might not be 
fortuitous, she would look a little farther, and began 
to pull away the heather about the mouth of the open- 
ing. Steenie set himself with might and main to 
help her. Kirsty was much the stronger of the two, 
but Steenie always did his best to second her in any- 
thing that required exertion. 

They soon spied the lump of sod and heather which 
Steenie 's heavy foot had driven down, and when they 
had pulled that out, they saw that the hole went 
deeper still, seeming a very large burrow indeed — 
therefore a little fearsome. Having widened the 



THE EARTH-HOUSE 79 

mouth of it by clearing away a thick growth of roots 
from its sides, and taken out a quantity of soft earth, 
they perceived that it went sloping into the ground 
still farther. With growing curiosity they leaned 
down into it lying on the edge, and reaching with 
their hands removed the loose earth as low as they 
could. This done, the descent showed itself about 
two feet square, as far down as they had cleared it, 
beyond which a little way it was lost in the dark. 

What were they to do next ? There was yet 
greater inducement to go on, but considerations came 
which were not a little deterrent. Although Steenie 
had worked well, Kirsty knew he had a horror of 
dark places, associating them somehow with the 
weight of his feet. Whether such places had for him 
any suggestion of the grave, I cannot tell : certainly 
to get rid of his feet was the form his idea of the sal- 
vation he needed was readiest to take. Then might 
there not be some animal inside? Steenie thought 
not, for there was no opening until he made it ; and 
Kirsty also thought not, on the ground that she knew 
no wild animal larger than fox or badger, neither of 
which would have made such a big hole. One mo- 
ment, however, her imagination was nearly too much 
for her: what if some huge bear had been asleep in 
it for hundreds of years, and growing all the time ! 
Certainly he could not get out, but if she roused him, 
and he got a hold of her! The next instant her 
courage revived, for she would have been ashamed 
to let what she did not believe influence any action. 
The passage must lead somewhere, and it was large 
enough for her to explore it ! 

Because of her dress, she must creep in head fore- 



8o HEATHER AND SNOW 

most — in which lay the advantage that so she would 
meet any danger face to face. Telling Steenie that 
if he heard her cry out, he must get hold of her feet 
and pull, she laid herself on the ground and crawled 
in. She thought it must lead to an ancient tomb, but 
said nothing of the conjecture for fear of horrifying 
Steenie, who stood trembling, sustained only by his 
faith in Kirsty. 

She went down and down and quite disappeared. 
Not a foot was left for Steenie to lay hold of. Ter- 
rible and long seemed the time to him as he stood 
there forsaken, his darling out of sight in the heart 
of the earth. He knew there were wolves in Scot- 
land once: who could tell but a she- wolf had been 
left, and a whole clan of them lived there under- 
ground, never issuing in the daytime: there might 
be the open mouth of a passage, under a rock and 
curtained with heather, in some other spot of the hill ! 
What if one of them got Kirsty by the throat before 
she had time to cry out ! Then he thought she might 
have gone till she could go no farther, and not hav- 
ing room to turn, was trying to creep backward, but 
her clothes hindered her. Forgetting his repugnance 
in overmastering fear, the faithful fellow was already 
half inside the hole to go after her, when up shot the 
head of Kirsty, almost in his face. For a moment 
he was terribly perplexed : he had been expecting to 
come on her feet, not her head : how could she have 
gone in head foremost, and not come back feet fore- 
most ? 

"Eh, wuman," he said in a fear-struck whisper, 
** it's awfu to see ye come oot o* the yird like a muckle 
worm!" 



THE EARTH-HOUSE 8 1 

" Ye saw me gang in, Steenie, ye gowk ! " returned 
Kirsty, dismayed herself at sight of his solemn dread. 

" Ay," answered Steenie, *.* but I didna see ye come 
oot ! Eh, Kirsty, wuman, hae ye a heid at baith 
en's o' ye?** 

Kirsty*s laughter blew Steenie's discomposure 
away, and he too laughed. 

" Come back hame," said Kirsty; " I maun get haud 
o'acan'le! Yon*s a place maun be seen intil. I 
never saw, or raither faun' (/>//) the like o' *t, for o' 
seein there's nane, or next to nane. There's room 
eneuch; ye can see that wi' yer airms! " 

" What is there room eneuch for ? " asked Steenie. 

" For you and me, and twenty or thirty mair, mebbe 
— I dinna ken," replied Kirsty. 

" I s* mak ye a present o' my room intil 't," returned 
Steenie. "I want nane o' 't." 

"I'll gang doon wi' the can'le," said Kirsty, "and 
see whether 't be a place for ye. Gien I cry oot, 'Ay 
is't,' wull ye come?" 

"That I wull, gien 't war the whaul's belly! " re- 
plied Steenie. 

They set off for the house, and as they walked 
they talked. 

"I div won'er what the place cud ever hae been 
for!" said Kirsty, more to herself than Steenie. 
" It's bigger nor ony thoucht I had o* 't." 

"What is't like, Kirsty?" inquired Steenie. 

"Hoocan I tell whan I saw naething!" replied 

Kirsty. "But," she added thoughtfully, "gien it 

warna that we're in Scotlan', and they're nighhan' 

Rom*, I wud hae been 'maist sure I had won intil 

ane o' the catacombs! " 
6 



$2 HEATHER AND SNOW 

" Eh, losh, lat me awa to the hill ! *' cried Steenie, 
stopping and half turning. '* I canna bide the verra 
word o' the craturs! " 

"What word than?" asked Kirsty, a little sur- 
prised ; for how did Steenie know anything about the 
catacombs ? 

"To think," he went on, "o' a haill kirk o* cats 
aneath theyird — a* sittin kaimin themsels wi' kaims! 
— Kirsty, ye winna think it a place for me t Ye see 
I'm no like ither fowk, and sic a thing micht ca 
{drive) me oot o* a' the sma* wits ever I had ! " 

" Hoots! " rejoined Kirsty, with a smile, " the cata- 
combs has naething to du wi cats or kaims! *' 

" Tell me what are they, than. " 

"The catacombs, " answered Kirsty, "was what in 
auld times, and no i' this Cueentry ava, they ca'd 
the places whaur they laid their deid." 

" Eh, Kirsty, but that's waur! " returned Steenie. 
" I wudna gang intil sic a place wi' feet siclike's 
my ain — na, no for what the warl cud gie me ! — no 
for lang Lowrie's fiddle and a' the tunes intil't! I 
wud never get my feet oot o* 't! They'd haud me 
there!" 

Then Kirsty began to tell him, as she would have 
taught a child, something of the history of the cata- 
combs, knowing how it must interest him. 

" I' the days langsyne," she said, " there was fowk, 
like you and me,, unco fain o' the bonny man. The 
verra soun o' the name o' 'im was eneuch to gar 
their herts loup wi' doonricht glaidness. And they 
gaed here and there and a* gait, and tellt ilka body 
aboot him; and fowk 'atdidna ken him, and dinna 
want to ken him, couldna bide to hear tell o' him. 



THE EARTH-HOUSE 83 

and they said, ' Lat's hae nae mair o* this ! Hae dune 
wi yer bonny man! Haud yer tongues,* they cryit. 
But the ithers, they wadna hear o' haudin their 
tongues. A'body maun ken aboot him! *Sae lang's 
we ?iae tongues, and can wag them to the name o* 
him! • they said, * we'll no haud them.' And at that 
they fell upo' them, and ill-used them sair; some o' 
them they tuik and burnt alive — that is, brunt them 
deid; and some o' them they flang to the wild beasts, 
and they bitit them and tore them to bits. And " 

"Was the bitin o* the beasts terrible sair?" inter- 
rupted Steenie. 

"Ay, I reckon it was some sair; but the puir fowk 
aye said the bonny man was wi' them, and lat them 
bite ! — they didna care ! " 

" Ay, of coorse, gien he was wi' them, they wadna 
min* 't a hair, or at least, no twa hairs! Wha wud! 
Gien he be in yon hole, Kirsty, I'll gang back and 
intil't my lee lane. I wull noo! " 

Steenie turned and had run some distance before 
Kirsty succeeded in stopping him. She did not run 
after him. 

"Steenie! Steenie!" she cried, "I dinna doobt 
he's there, for he's a'gait ; but ye ken yersel ye canna 
aye see him, and maybe ye wudna see him there the 
noo, and micht think he wasna there, and turn fleyt. 
Bide till we hae a licht, and I gang doon first." 

Steenie was persuaded, and turned and came back 
to her. To father, mother, and sister he was always 
obedient, even on the rare occasions when it cost him 
much to be so. 

"Ye see, Steenie," she continued, "yon'snothe 
place! I dinna ken yet what place yon is. I was 



84 HEATHER AND SNOW 

only gaein to tell ye aboot the places it min*t me o' ! 
Wud ye like to hear aboot them ? " 

" I wad that, richt weel! Say awa, Kirsty." 

" The fowk, than, ye see, 'at lo'ed the bonny man, 
gethert themsels aye thegither to hae cracks and 
newses wi' ane anither aboot him; and, as I was 
tellin ye, the fowk that didna care aboot him war that 
angert 'at they set upo them, and jist wud hae nane 
o* them nor him. Sae to baud oot o' their grip, 
they coonselled thegither, and concludit to gether in 
a place whaur naebody wud think o' luikin for them 
— whaur but i' the booels o' the earth, whaur they 
laid their deid awa upo' skelfs, like in an aumry ! " 

" Eh, but that was fearsome ! " interposed Steenie. 
** They maun hae been sair set! — Gien I had been 
there, wud they hae garred me gang wi' them ? " 

" Na, no gien ye didna like. But ye wud hae likit 
weel to gang. It wasna an ill w'y to beery fowk, 
nor an ill place to gang til, for they aye biggit up the 
skelf, ye ken. It was howkit oot — whether oot o' 
hard earth or saft stane, I dinna ken, I reckon it 
wud be some no sae hard kin' o' a rock — and whan 
the deid was laid intil't, they biggit up tlie mou o' 
the place, that is, frae that same skelf to the ane 'at 
was abune 't, and sae a' was weel closed in." 

" But what for didna they beery their deid mense- 
fulike i* their kirkyairds?" 

" 'Cause theirs was a great muckle toon, wi sic a 
heap o' hooses that there wasna room for kirkyards; 
sae they tuik them ootside the toon, and gaed aneth 
wi' them a'thegither. For there they howkit a lot o' 
passages like trances, and here and there a wee 
roomy like, wi' ither trances gaein frae them this 



THE EARTH-HOUSE 85 

gait and that. Sae, whan they tuik themsels there, 
the friens o* the bonny man wud fill ane o' the 
roomies, and stan' awa in ilk ane o' the passages 'at 
gaed frae 't; and that w'y, though there cudna mony 
o' them see ane anither at ance, a gey lottie wud 
hear, some a', and some a hantle o' what was said. 
For there they cud speyk lood oot, and a body abune 
hear naething and suspec naething. And jist think, 
Steenie, there's a pictur o' the bonny man himsel 
paintit upo the wa' o' ane o' thae places doon aneth 
the grun' ! " 

" I reckon it'll be unco like him! " 

"Maybe: I canna tell aboot that." 

"Gien I cud see 't, I cud tell; but I'm thinkin 
it'll be some gate gey and far awa?" 

"Ay, it's far, far. — It wud tak a body — lat me see 
— maybe half a year to trevel there upo's ain fit," an- 
swered Kirsty, after some meditation. 

"And me a hantle langer, my feet's sae odious 
heavy! " remarked Steenie with a sigh. 

As they drew near the house, their mother saw 
them coming, and went to the door to meet them. 

"We're wantin a bit o' a can'le, and a spunk or 
twa, mother," said Kirsty. 

"Ye s* get that," answered Marion. '"But what 
want ye a can'le for i' the braid mids o' the daylicht ? " 

"We want to gang doon a hole," replied Steenie 
with flashing eyes, " and see the pictur o* the bonny 



man. " 



"Hoot, Steenie! I tellt ye it wasna there," inter- 
posed Kirsty. 

"Na," returned Steenie: "ye only said yon hole 
wasna that place. Ye said the bonny man was there. 



S6 HEATHER AND SNOW 

though I michtna see him. Ye didna say the pictur 
wasna there!" 

"The pictur's no there, Steenie. — We've come 
upon a hole, mother, 'at we want to gang doon intil 
and see what it's like," said Kirsty. 

"The weicht o* my feet brak throu intil't," added 
Steenie. 

"Preserve 's, lassie! tak tent whaur ye cairry the 
bairn! " cried the mother. " But, eh, tak him whaur 
ye like," she substituted, correcting herself. " Weel 
ken I ye'll tak him naegait but whaur it's weel he sud 
gang ! The laddie needs twa mithers, and the Mer- 
ciful has gien him the twa! Ye' re full mair his 
mither nor me, Kirsty! " 

She asked no more questions, but got them the can- 
dle and let them go. They hastened back, Steenie 
in his most jubilant mood, which seemed always to 
have in it a touch of deathly frost and a flash as of 
the primal fire. What could be the strange displace- 
ment or maladjustment which, in the brain harbor- 
ing the immortal thing, troubled it so, and made it 
yearn after an untasted liberty ? The source of his 
jubilance now was easy to tell : the idea of the bonny 
man was henceforth, in that troubled brain of his, as- 
sociated with the place into which they were about 
to descend. 

The moment they reached the spot, Kirsty, to the 
renewed astonishment of Steenie, dived at once into 
the ground at her feet, and disappeared. 

" Kirsty ! Kirsty ! " he cried out after her, and 
danced like a terrified child. Then he shook with a 
fresh dismay at the muffled sound that came back to 
him in answer from the unseen hollows of the earth. 



THE EARTH-HOUSE 87 

Already Kirsty stood at the bottom of the sloping 
tunnel, and was lighting her candle. When it burned 
up, she found herself looking into a level gallery, 
the roof of which she could touch. It was not an 
excavation, but had been trenched from the surface, 
for it was roofed with great slabs of stone. Its sides, 
of rough stones, were six or seven feet apart at the 
floor, which was paved with small boulders, but 
sloped so much toward each other, that at the top 
their distance was less by about two and a half feet. 
Kirsty was, as I have said, a keen observer, and her 
power of seeing had been greatly developed through 
her constant conscientious endeavor to realize every 
description she read. 

She went on about ten or twelve yards, and came 
to a bend in the gallery, succeeded by a sort of 
chamber, whence branched a second gallery, which 
soon came to an end. The place was in truth not 
unlike the catacombs, only its two galleries were 
built, and much wider than the excavated thousands 
in the catacombs. She turned back to the entrance, 
there left her candle alight, and again startled 
Steenie, still staring into the mouth of the hole, 
with her sudden reappearance. 

" Wud ye like to come doon, Steenie ? " she said. 
" It's a queer place." 

"'Is *t awfu fearsome?*' asked Steenie, shrinking. 

His feeling of dismay at the cavernous, the terrene 
dark, was not inconsistent with his pleasure in being 
out on the wild waste hill -side, when heaven and earth 
were absolutely black, not seldom the whole of the 
night, in utter loneliness to eye or ear, without ever 
feeling anything like dread. Then and there only 



88 HEATHER AND SNOW 

did he seem to have room enough. His terror was 
of the smallest pressure on his soul, the least hint at 
imprisonment. That he could not rise and wander 
about among the stars at his will, shaped itself to 
him as the heaviness of his feet holding him down. 
His feet were the loaded gyves that made of the 
world but a roomy prison. The limitless was essen- 
tial to his conscious well-being. 

"No a bittock," answered Kirsty, who felt awe 
anywhere — on hill-top, in churchyard, in sunlit silent 
room — but never fear. " It's as like the place I was 
tellin ye aboot " 

"Ay, the cat-place!" interrupted Steenie 

"The place wi* the pictur," returned Kirsty. 

Steenie darted forward, shot head-first into the 
hole as he had seen Kirsty do, and crept undismayed 
to the bottom of the slope. Kirsty followed close 
behind, but he was already on his feet when she 
joined him. He grasped her arm eagerly, his face 
turned from her, and his eyes gazing fixedly into the 
depth of the gallery, lighted so vaguely by the candle 
on the floor of its entrance. 

" I think I saw him ! " he said in a whisper full of 
awe and delight. "I think I did see him! — but, 
Kirsty, hoo am I to be sure 'at I saw him?" 

" Maybe ye did and maybe ye didna see him," re- 
plied Kirsty; "but that disna metter sae muckle, 
for he's aye seein you; and ye'll see him, and be sure 
'at ye see him, whan the richt times comes." 

" Ye div think that, Kirsty ? " 

"Ay div I," returned Kirsty, confidently. 

"I s' wait," answered Steenie, and in silence fol- 
lowed Kirsty along the gallery. 



THE EARTH-HOUSE 89 

This was Steenie's first, and all but his last de- 
scent into the earth-house^ or Picts* hause^ or weem^ 
as a place of the sort is called : there are many such 
in the east of Scotland, their age and origin objects 
of merest conjecture. The moment Steenie was out 
of it, he fled to the Horn. 

The next Sunday he heard read at church the story 
of the burial and resurrection of the Lord, and, un- 
avoidably after their talk about the catacombs, as- 
sociated the chamber they had just discovered with 
the tomb in which ''they laid him," at the same time 
concluding the top of the hill, where he had, as he 
believed on certain favored nights met the bonny 
man, the place whence he ascended, to come again 
as he did ! The earth-house had no longer any at- 
traction for Steenie : the bonny man was not there ; 
he was risen ! He was somewhere above the moun- 
tain-top haunted by Steenie, and Steenie already 
knew, that he sometimes descended upon it for had 
he not seen him there! 

Happy Steenie ! Happier than so many Christians 
who, more in their brain-senses but far less in their 
heart-senses than he, haunt the sepulchre as if the 
dead Jesus lay there still, and forget to walk the 
world with him who dieth no more, the living one! 

But his sister took a great liking to the place, nor 
was repelled by her mistaken suspicion that there the 
people of the land, in times unknown, had buried 
some of their dead. In the hot days, when the earth- 
house was cool, and in the winter when the thick 
blanket of the snow lay over it, and it felt warm as 
she entered it from the frosty wind, she would sit 
there in the dark, sometimes imagining herself one 



90 HEATHER AND SNOW 

of the believers of the old time, thinking the Lord 
was at hand, coming in person to fetch her and her 
friends. When the spring came, she carried down 
sod and turf, and made for herself a seat in the cen- 
tral chamber, there to sit and think. By and by she 
fastened an oil lamp to the wall, and would light its 
rush-pith wick, and read by it. Occasionally she 
made a good peat fire, for she had found a chimney 
that went sloping into the upper air; and if it did not 
always draw well, peat-smoke is as pleasant as whole- 
some, and she could bear a good deal of its smother- 
ing. Not unfrequently she carried her book there 
when no one was likely to want her, and enjoyed to 
the full the rare and delightful sense of absolute 
safety from interruption. Sometimes she would 
make a little song there, with which as she made it 
its own music would come, and she would model the 
air with her voice as she wrote the words in a little 
book on her knee. 



CHAPTER XIII 
A VISIT FROM FRANCIS GORDON 

The summer following Gordon's first session at 
college, Castle Weelset and Corbyknowe saw noth- 
ing of him. No one missed him much, and but for 
his father's sake no one would have thought much 
about him. Kirsty, as one who had told him the 
truth concerning himself, thought of him oftener 
than any one except her father. 

The summer after, he paid a short visit to Castle 
Weelset, and went one day to Corbyknowe, where he 
left a favorable impression upon all, which impres- 
sion Kirsty had been the readier to receive because 
of the respect she felt for him as a student. The 
old imperiousness which made him so unlike his 
father had retired into the background; his smile, 
though not so sweet, came oftener; and his carriage 
was full of courtesy. But something was gone which 
his old friends would gladly have seen still. His 
behavior in the old time was not so pleasant, but he 
had been as one of the family. Often disagreeable, 
he was yet loving. Now, he laid himself out to make 
himself acceptable as a superior. Freed so long 
from his mother's lowering influence what was of his 
father in him might by this time have come more to 
the surface but for certain ladies in Edinburgh, con- 
nections of the family, who, influenced by his good 

91 



92 HEATHER AND SNOW 

looks and pleasant manners, and possibly by his 
position in the Gordon country, sought his favor by 
deeds of flattery, and succeeded in spoiling him not 
a little. 

Steenie happening to be about the house when he 
came, Francis behaved to him so kindly that the 
gentle creature, overcome with grateful delight, 
begged him to go and see a house he and Kirsty were 
building. 

In some families the games of the children mainly 
consist in the construction of dwellings, of this kind 
or that — castle, or ship, or cave, or nest in the tree- 
top — according to the material attainable. It is an 
outcome of the aboriginal necessity for shelter, this 
instinct of burrowing: Welbeck Abbey is the de- 
velopment of a weem or Picfs house, Steenie had 
very early shown it, probably from a vague conscious- 
ness of weakness, and Kirsty came heartily to his aid 
in following it, with the reaction of waking in herself 
a luxurious idea of sheltered safety. Northern chil- 
dren cherish in their imaginations the sense of pro- 
tection more, I fancy, than others. This is partly 
owing to the severity of their climate, the snow and 
wind, the rain and sleet, the hail and darkness they 
encounter. I doubt whether an English child can 
ever have such a sense of protection as a Scots bairn 
in bed on a winter night, his mother in the nursery, 
and the wind howling like a pack of wolves about 
the house. 

Francis consented to go with Steenie to see his 
house, and Kirsty naturally accompanied them. By 
this time she had gathered the little that was 
known, and there is very little known yet, concern- 



A VISIT FROM FRANCIS GORJ>ON 93 

ing Puts' houseSy and as they went it occurred to her 
that it would be pleasant to the laird to be shown 
something on his own property of which he had never 
heard, and which, in the eyes of many, would add to 
its value. She took the way, therefore, that led past 
the weem. 

She had so well cleared out its entrance, that it 
now was comparatively easy of access, else I doubt 
if the young laird would have risked the spoiling of 
his admirably fitting clothes to satisfy the mild curi- 
osity he felt regarding Kirsty's discovery. As it 
was, he pulled ofE his coat, before entering, despite 
her assurance that he '^needna fear blaudin ony- 
thing. " 

She went in before him to light her candle and he 
followed. As she showed him the curious place, she 
gave him the results of her reading about such con- 
structions, telling him who had written concerning 
them, and what they had written. " There's mair o' 
them, I gether," she said, ''and mair remarkable 
anes, in oor ain coonty nor in ony ither in Scotlan'. 
I hae mysel seen nane but this. " Then she told him 
how Steenie had led the way to its discovery. By 
the time she ended, Gordon was really interested — 
chiefly, no doubt, in finding himself possessor of a 
thing which many men, learned and unlearned, would 
think worth coming to see. 

" Did you find this in it ? '* he asked, seating him- 
self on her little throne of turf. 

"Na; I put that there mysel," answered Kirsty. 
''There was naething intil the place, jist naething 
ava ! There was naething ye cud hae picked aff o' 
the flure. Gien it hadna been oot o' the gait o' the 



94 HEATHER AND SNOW 

win*, ye wud hae thoucht it had swecpit it clean. Ye 
cud hae tellt by naething intil't what ever it was 
meant for, hoose or byre or barn, kirk or kirk-yard. 
It had been jist a hidy-hole in troubled times, whan 
the cuintry wud be swarmin wi' stravaguin marau- 
ders!" 

"What made ye the seat for, Kirsty?" asked 
Gordon, calling her by her name for the first time, 
and falling into the mother tongue with a flash of his 
old manner. 

"I come here whiles," she answered, "to be my 
lane and read a bit. It's sae quaiet. Eternity seems 
itsel to come and hide in't whiles. I'm tempit whiles 
to bide a' nicht." 

"Isna't awfu cauld?" 

"Na, no aften that. It's fine and warm i' the 
winter. And I can licht a fire whan I like. — But ye 
haena yer coat on, Francie ! I ouchtna to hae latten 
ye bide sae lang!" 

He shivered, rose, and made his way out. Steenie 
stood in the sunlight waiting for them. 

"Why, Steenie," said Gordon, "you brought me 
to see your house: why didn't you come in with 
me?" 

"Na, na! I'm feart for my feet: this is no my 
hoose '." answered Steenie. " I'm biggin ane. 
Kirsty 's helpin me: I couldna big a hoose wantin' 
Kirsty! That's what I wud hae ye see, no this ane. 
This is Kirsty' s hoose. It was Kirsty wantit ye to 
see this ane. — Na, it's no mine," he added reflec- 
tively. " I ken I maun come til 't some day, but I 
s' bide oot o' 't as lang's I can. I like the hill a heap 
better." 



it 



A VISIT FROM FRANCIS GORDON 95 

" What does he mean ? " asked Francis, turning to 
Kirsty. 

"Ow, he has a heap o' notions o* 's ain!" an« 
swered Kirsty, who did not care, especially in his 
presence, to talk about her brother save to those 
who loved him. 

When Francis turned again, he saw Steenie a good 
way up the hill. 

" Where does he want to take me, Kirsty ? Is it 
far ? " he asked. 

"Ay, it's a gey bitty; it's nearhan' at the tap o* 
the Horn, a wee ayont it." 

"Then I think I shall not go," returned Francis. 
I will come another day." 

Steenie! Steenie!" cried Kirsty, "he'll no gang 
the day. He maun gang hame. He says he'll 
come anither time. Haud ye awa on to yer hoose ; 
I s' be wi' ye by and by." 

Steenie went up the hill, and Kirsty and Francis 
walked toward Corbyknowe. 

" Has no young man appeared yet to put Steenie's 
nose out of joint, Kirsty ? " asked Gordon. 

Kirsty thought the question rude, but answered, 
with quiet dignity, " No ane. I never had muckle 
opinion o' young men, and dinna care aboot their 
company. — But what are ye thinkin o* duin yersel — 
I mean, whan ye're throu wi' the college?" she con- 
tinued. " Ye'Il surely be comin hame to tak things 
intil yer ain han' ? My father says whiles he's some 
feart they're no bein made the maist o*." 

"The property must look after itself, Kirsty. \ 
will be a soldier like my father. If it could do with 
out him when he was in India, it may just as well do 



96 HEATHER AND SNOW 

without me. As long as my mother lives, she shall 
do what she likes with it." 

Thus talking, and growing more friendly as they 
went, they walked slowly back to the house. There 
Francis mounted his horse and rode away, and for 
more than two years they saw nothing of him. 



CHAPTER XIV 

steenie's house 

Steenie seemed always to experience a strange 
sort of terror while waiting for any one to come out 
of the weem, into which he never entered, and it was 
his repugnance to the place that chiefly moved him 
to build a house of his own. He may have also cal- 
culated on being able, with such a refuge at hand, to 
be on the hill in all weathers. They still made use 
of their little hut as before, and Kirsty still kept her 
library in it, but it was at the root of the Horn, and 
Steenie loved the peak of it more than any other spot 
in his narrow world. 

I have already said that when, on the occasion of 
its discovery, Steenie, for the first and the last time, 
came out of the weem, he fled to the Horn. There 
he roamed for hours, possessed with the feeling that 
he had all but lost Kirsty who had taken possession 
of a house into which he could never accompany her. 
For himself he would like a house on the very top of 
the Horn, not one inside it ! 

Near it was a little scoop out of the hill-side, 
sheltered on all sides except the south, which, the 
one time I saw it, reminded me strongly of Dante's 
grembo in the purgatorial hill, where the upward pil- 
grims had to rest outside the gate, because of the 
darkness during which no man could ^o higher. 

7 97 



98 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Here, it is true, were no flowers to weave a pattern 
upon its carpet of green; true also here were no 
beautiful angels, in green wings and green garments, 
poised in the sweet night-air, watchful with their 
short, pointless, flaming swords against the creeping 
enemy; but it was, nevertheless, the loveliest carpet 
of grass and moss, and as to the angels, I And it im- 
possible to imagine, even in the heavenly host, one 
heart more guardant than that of Kirsty, one truer, 
or more devoted to its charge. The two Vere to- 
gether as the child of earth, his perplexities and 
terrors ever shot through with flashes of insight and 
hope, and the fearless, less imaginative, confident 
angel, appointed to watch and ward and see him 
safe through the loose-cragged mountain-pass to the 
sunny vales beyond. 

On the northern slope of the hollow, full in the 
face of the sun, a little family of rocks had fallen to- 
gether, odd in shapes and positions, but of long 
stable equilibrium, with narrow spaces between them. 
The sun was throwing his last red rays among these 
rocks when Steenie the same evening wandered into 
the little valley. The moment his eyes fell upon 
them, he said in his heart, "Yon's the place for a 
hoose: I'll get Kirsty to big ane, and mebbe she'll 
come and bide in*t wi' me whiles! " 

In his mind there were for some years two conflict- 
ing ideas of refuge, one embodied in the heathery hut 
with Kirsty, the other typified by the uplifted loneli- 
ness, the air and the space of the mountain upon 
which the bonny man sometimes descended : for the 
last three years or more the latter idea had had the 
upper hand : now it seemed possible to have the two 



STEENIE'S HOUSE 99 

kinds of refuge together, where the more material 
would render the more spiritual easier of attainment! 
Such were not Steenie*s words; indeed he used none 
concerning the matter; but such were his vague 
thoughts — feelings rather, not yet thoughts. 

The spot had indeed many advantages. For one 
thing, the group of rocks was the ready skeleton of 
the house Steenie wanted. Again, if the snow some- 
times lay deeper there than in other parts of the hill, 
there first it began to melt. A third advantage was 
that, while, as I have said, the valley was protected 
by higher ground everywhere but on the south, it 
there afforded a large outlook over the boggy basin 
and over the hills beyond its immediate rim, to a 
horizon in which stood some of the loftier peaks of 
the highland mountains. 

When Steenie*s soul was able for a season to ban- 
ish the nameless forms that haunt the dim borders of 
insanity, he would sit in that valley for hours, re- 
garding the wider-spread valley below him, in which 
he knew every height and hollow, and, with his ex- 
ceptionally keen sight, he could descry signs of life 
where another would have beheld but an every-way 
dead level. Not a live thing, it seemed almost, could 
spread wing or wag tail, but Steenie would become 
thereby aware of its presence. Kirsty, boastful to 
her parents of the faculty of Steenie, said to her 
father one day, 

" I dinna believe, father, wi Steenie on the bog, a 
reid worm cud stick up his heid oot o' 't ohn him 
seen't ! " 

" I'm thinkin that'snosayin ower muckle,wuman! " 
returned David. " I never jist set mysel to luik, but 



lOO HEATHER AND SNOW 

I dinna think I ever did tak notice o' a worm settin 
up that heid o' his oot o' a bog. I dinna think it's 
a sile they care aboot. I kenna what they would get 
to please them there. It's the yerd they live upo'. 
Whaur craps winna grow, I doobt gien worms can 
live." 

Kirsty laughed : she had made herself ridiculous, 
but the ridicule of some is sweeter than the praise of 
others. 

Steenie set about his house-building at once, and 
when he had got as far as he could without her, called 
for help from Kirsty, who never interfered with, and 
never failed him. Divots he was able to cut, and of 
them he provided a good quantity, but when it came 
to moving stones, two pairs of hands were often 
wanted. Indeed, before the heavier work of 
" Steenie 's hoosie " was over, the two had to beg the 
help of more — of their father, and of men from the 
farm. 

During its progress, Phemy Craig paid rather a 
lengthened visit to Corbyknowe, and often joined 
the two in their labor on the Horn. She was not 
very strong, but would carry a good deal in the course 
of the day; and through this association with 
Steenie, her dread of him gradually vanished, and 
they became comrades. 

When Steenie's design was at length carried out, 
they had built up with stone and lime the open spaces 
between several of the rocks; had cased these cur- 
tain-walls outside and lined them inside with softer 
and warmer walls of fells or divots cut from the green 
sod of the hill; and had covered in the whole as 
they found it possible — very irregularly no doubt, 



ST££NI£ S HOUSE loi 

but smoothing up all the corners and hollows with 
turf and heather. This done, one of the men who 
was a good thatcher, fastened the whole roof down 
with strong lines, so that the wind should not get 
under and strip it off. The result was a sort of bur- 
row, consisting of several irregular compartments 
with open communication — or rather, perhaps, of a 
single chamber composed of recesses. One small 
rock they included quite : Steenie would make it serve 
for a table, and some of its inequalities for shelves. 
In one of the compartments or recesses, they con- 
trived a fireplace, and in another a tolerably well-con- 
cealed exit; for Steenie, like a trap-door-spider, 
could not endure the thought of only one way out : 
one way was enough for getting in, but two were 
needful for getting out, his best refuge being the open 
hill. 

The night came at length when Steenie, in whose 
heart was a solemn, silent jubilation, would take for- 
mal possession of his house. It was soft and warm, 
in the middle of the month of July. The sun had 
been set about an hour when he got up to leave the 
parlor, where the others always sat in the summer, 
and where Steenie would now and then appear among 
them. As usual he said good-night to no one of them, 
but stole gently out. 

Kirsty knew what was in his mind, but was careful 
not to show that she took any heed of his departure. 
As soon as her father and mother retired, however, 
when he had been gone about half an hour, she put 
aside her work, and hastened out. She felt a little 
anxious about him though she could not have said 
why. She had no dread of displeasing by rejoining 



I02 HEATHER AND SNOW 

him ; nothing but a sight of the bonny man could, 
she knew, give him more delight than having her to 
share his night-watch with him. This she had done 
several times, and they were the only occasions on 
which, so far as he could tell, he had slept any part 
of the night. 

Folded in the twilight. Earth lay as still and 
peaceful as if she had never done any wrong, never 
seen anything wrong in one of her children. There 
was light everywhere, and darkness everywhere to 
make it strange. A pale-green gleam prevailed in 
the heavens, as if the world were a glow-worm that 
sent abroad its home-born radiance into space, and 
colored the sky. In the green light rested a few small 
solid clouds with sharp edges, and almost an asser- 
tion of repose. Throughout the night it would be 
no darker ! The sun seemed already to have begun 
to rise, only he would be all night about it. From 
the door she saw the point of the Horn clear against 
the green sky : Steenie would be up there soon ! he 
was hurrying thither! Sometimes he went very 
leisurely, stopping and gazing, or sitting down to med- 
itate: he would not do so that night! A special so- 
lemnity in his countenance made her sure that he 
would go straight to his new house. But she could 
walk faster than he, and would not be long behind 
him! 

The sky was full of pale stars, and Kirsty amused 
herself, as she went, with arranging them — not into 
their constellations, though she knew the shapes and 
names of most of them, but into mathematical figures. 
The only star Steenie knew by name was the pole 
star, which, however, he always called The bonr^ 



STEENIE'S HOUSE 1 03 

man^s lantern. Kirsty believed he had thoughts of 
his own about many another, and a name for it 
too. 

She had climbed the hill, and was drawing near 
the house, when she was startled by a sound of some- 
thing like singing, and stopped to listen. She had 
never heard Steenie attempt to sing, and the very 
thought of his doing so moved her greatly : she was 
always expecting something marvellous to show 
itself in him. She drew nearer. It was not singing, 
but it was something like it, or something trying to 
be like it — a succession of broken, harsh, imperfect 
sounds, with here and there a tone of brief sweet- 
ness. She thought she perceived in it an attempt at 
melody, but the many notes that refused to be made, 
prevented her from finding the melody intended, or 
the melody, rather, after which he was feeling. The 
broken music ceased suddenly, and a different kind 
of sound succeeded. She went yet nearer. He 
could not be reading : she had tried to teach him to 
read, but the genuine effort he put forth to learn 
made his head ache, and his eyes feel wild, he said, 
and she at once gave up the endeavor. When she 
reached the door, she could plainly hear him praying. 

He had been accustomed to hear his father pray — 
always extempore. To the Scot's mind it is a per- 
plexity how prayer and reading should ever seem one. 
Kirsty went a little deeper into the matter when she 
said : — 

" The things that I want, I ken ; and I maun hae 
them! There's nae necessity ava to tell me what I 
want. The bulk may wauk a sense o' want, I daur 
say, I dinna ken, but it maistly pits intil me the 



I04 HEATHER AND SNOW 

ft 

thoucht o' something a body micht weel want, with- 
out makin me awaur o' wantin't at that preceese 
moment." 

Prayer, with Steenie, as well as with Kirsty, was 
the utterance, audible or silent, in the ever open ear, 
of what was moving in him at the time. This was 
what she now heard him say : — 

" Bonny man, I ken ye weel : there's naebody in 
h'aven or earth *at's like ye! Ye ken yersel I wad 
jist dee for ye; or gien there be onything waur to 
bide nor deein, that's what I would du for ye — gien 
ye wantit it o' me, that is, for I'm houpin sair 'at ye 
winna want it, I'm that awfu cooardly! Oh bonny 
man, tak the fear oot o' my hert, and mak me ready 
jist to walk aff o* the face o' the warl, weichty feet 
and a', to du yer wuU, ohn thoucht twise aboot it! 
And eh, bonny man, willna ye come doon sometime 
or lang, and walk the hill here, that I may luik upo' 
ye ance mair — as i' the days of old, whan the starlicht 
muntain shook wi' the micht o' the prayer ye heavit 
up til yer father in h'aven? Eh, gien ye war but 
ance to luik in at the door o' this my hoose that ye 
hae gie me, it wud henceforth be to me as the gate 
o' paradise! But, 'deed, it's that onygait, for it's 
nigh whaur ye tak yer walks abro'd. But gien ye 
war to luik in at the door, and cry Steenie! sune wud 
ye see whether I was in the hoose or no ! — I thank ye 
sair for this hoose: I'm gaein to hae a rich and a 
happy time upo' this hill o' Zion, whaur the feet o' 
the ae man gangs walkin ! — And eh, bonny man, gie 
a luik i' the face o' my father and mither i' their bed 
ower at the Knowe; and I pray ye see 'at Kirsty's 
gettin a fine sleep, for she has a heap o' tribble wi' 



STEENIE S HOUSE 105 

me. I'm no worth min'in', yet ye min' me: she is 
worth min'in'! — and that clever! — as ye ken wha 
made her! And luik upo' this bit hoosie, 'at I ca' 
my ain, and they a' helpit me to bigg, but as a lean-to 
til the hoose at hame, for I'm no awa frae it or them 
— jist as that hoose and this hoose and a' the hooses 
are a' jist but bairnies' hooses biggit by themsels 
aboot the big flure o* thy kitchie and i' the neuks o' 
the same — wi' yer ain truffs and stanes and divots^ 
sir." 

Steenie's voice ceased, and Kirsty, thinking his 
prayer had come to an end, knocked at the door, lest 
her sudden appearance should startle him. From his 
knees, as she knew by the sound of his rising, 
Steenie sprang up, came darting to the door with the 
cry, "It'syersel'! It's yersel', bonny man!" and 
seemed to tear it open. - Oh, how sorry was Kirsty 
to stand where the loved of the human was not! 
She had almost turned and fled. 

"It's only me, Steenie!" she faltered, nearly 
crying. 

Steenie stood and stared. Neither, for a moment 
or two, could speak. 

"Eh, Steenie," said Kirsty at length, "I'm richt 
sorry I disapp'intit ye ! I didna ken what I was duin. 
I oucht to hae turnt and gane hame again ! " 

"Ye cudna help it," answered Steenie. "Ye 
cudna be him, or ye wud! But ye're the neist best, 
and richt welcome. I'm as glaid as can be to see ye, 
Kirsty. Come awa ben the hoose." 

Kirsty followed him in silence, and sat down de- 
jected. The loving heart saw it. 

" Maybe ye're him ef ter a' ! " said Steenie. " He 



Io6 HEATHER AND SNOW 

can tak ony shape he likes. I wudna won'er gien ye 
was him! Ye're unco like him ony gait! " 

" Na, na, Steenie! I'm far frae that! But I wud 
fain be what he wud hae me, jist as ye wud yersel. 
Sae ye maun tak me, what I am, for his sake, 
Steenie ! " 

This was the man's hour, not the dog's, yet Steenie 
threw himself at her feet. 

"Gang oot a bit by yersel, Steenie," she said, 
caressing him with her hand. "That's what ye like 
best, I ken! Ye needna min' me! I only cam to 
see ye sattlet intil yer ain hoose. I'll bide a gey bit. 
Gang ye oot, and ken 'at I'm i' the hoose, and that 
ye can come back to me whan ye like. I hae my 
buik, and can sit and read fine. " 

Ye're aye richt,Kirsty ! " answered Steenie, rising. 
Ye aye ken what I'm needin. I maun win oot, for 
I'm some chokin like. — But jist come here a minute 
first, " he went on, leading the way to the door. There 
he pointed up into the wild of stars, and said, " Ye 
see yon star o' the tap o' that ither ane 'at's brichter 
nor itsel ? " 

"I see 't fine, and ken 't weel," answered Kirsty. 

"Weel, whan that starnie comes richt ower the 
white tap o' yon stane i' the mids o' that side o' the 
howe, I s' be here at the door." 

Kirsty looked at the stone, saw that the star would 
arrive at the point indicated in about an hour, and 
said, "Weel, I'll be expeckin ye, Steeniel" where- 
upon he departed, going farther up the hill to court 
the soothing of the silent heaven. 

In conditions of consciousness known only to him- 
self and incommunicable, the poor fellow sustained 






STEENIE S HOUSE 107 

an all but continuous hand-to-hand struggle with in- 
sanity, more or less agonized according to the nature 
and force of its varying assault; in which struggle, 
if not always victorious, he had yet never been 
defeated. Often tempted to escape misery by death, 
he had hitJ;ierto stood firm. Some part of every 
solitary night was spent, I imagine, in fighting that 
or other evil suggestion. Doubtless, what kept him 
lord of himself through all the truth-aping delusions 
that usurped his consciousness, was his unyielding 
faith in the bonny man. 

The name by which he so constantly thought and 
spoke of the saviour of men was not of his own find- 
ing. The story was well known. of the idiot, who, 
having partaken of the Lord's supper, was heard, 
as he retired, murmuring to himself, ** £h, the bonny 
man ! the bonny man ! " and persons were not want- 
ing, sound in mind as large of heart, who thought 
the idiot might well have seen him who came to de- 
liver them that were bound. Steenie took up the 
tale with most believing mind. Never doubting the 
man had seen the Lord, he responded with the pas- 
sionate desire himself to see M^ donny man. It awoke 
in him while yet quite a boy, and never left him, but, 
increasing as he grew, became, as well it might, a 
fixed idea, a sober, waiting, unebbing passion, urging 
him to righteousness and loving-kindness. 

Kirsty took from her pocket an old translation of 
Plato's *' Phaedo," and sat absorbed in it until the star, 
unheeded of her, attained its goal, and there was 
Steenie by her side ! She shut the book and rose. 

•* I'm a heap better, Kirsty," said Steenie. " The 
ill color's awa doon the stair, and the saft win' 's 



Io8 HEATHER AND SNOW 

made its w'y oot o' the lift, an' 's won at me. I 
'maist think a han' cam and clappit my heid. Sae 
noo I'm jist as weel's there's ony need to be o' this 
side the mist. It helpit me a heap to ken 'at ye was 
sittin there: I cud aye rin til ye! — Noo gang awa to 
yer bed, ond tak a guid sleep. I^m some thinkin I'll 
be hame til my br'akfast." 

" Weel, mother's gaein to the toon the mom, and 
I'll be wantit fell air; I may as weel gang!" an- 
swered Kirsty, and without a good-night, or farewell 
of any sort, for she knew how he felt in regard to 
leave-takings, Kirsty left him, and went slowly home. 
The moon was up and so bright that every now and 
then she would stop for a moment and read a little 
from her book, then walk on thinking about it. 

From that night, even in the stormy dark of winter, 
Kirsty was not nearly so anxious about Steenie away 
from the house : on the Horn he had his place of 
refuge, and she knew he never ventured on the bog 
after sunset. He always sought her when he wanted 
to sleep in the daytime, but he was gradually grow- 
ing quieter in his mind, and Kirsty had reason to 
think, slept a good deal more at night. 

But the better he grew the more had he the look 
of one expecting something ; and Kirsty often heard 
him saying to himself — " It's comin! it's comin! " 

''And at last," she said, telling his story many 
years after, ''at last it cam; and ahint it, I doobtna, 
cam the face o' the bonny man! " 



CHAPTER XV 
PHEMY CRAIG 

Things went on in the same way for four years 
more, the only visible change being that Kirsty sel- 
domer went about barefooted. She was now be- 
tween two and three and twenty. Her face, whose 
ordinary expression had always been of quiet, was 
now in general quieter still ; but when heart or soul 
was moved, it would flash and glow as only such a 
face could. Live revelation of deeps rarely rippled 
save by the breath of God, how could it but grow 
more beautiful ! Cloud or shadow of cloud was hardly 
ever to be seen upon it. Her mother, much younger 
than her father, was still well and strong, and Kirsty, 
still not much wanted at home, continued to spend 
the greater part of her time with her brother and 
her books. As to her person, she was now in the 
first flower of harmonious womanly strength. Nature 
had indeed done what she could to make her a lady, 
but Nature was not her mother, and Kirsty's essential 
ladyhood came from higher up, namely, from the 
Source itself of Nature. Simple truth was its crown, 
and grace was the garment of it. To see her walk 
or run was to look on the divine idea of Motion. 

As for Steenie, he looked the same loose lank lad 
as before, with a smile almost too sad to be a smile, 
and a laugh in which there was little hilarity. His 

109 



no HEATHER AND SNOW 

pleasures were no doubt deep and high, but seldom, 
even to Kirsty, manifested themselves except in the 
after-glow. 

Phemy was now almost a woman. She was rather 
little, but had a nice figure, which she knew instinc- 
tively how to show to advantage. Her main charm 
lay in her sweet complexion — strong in its contrast 
of colors, but wonderfully perfect in the blending ol 
them: the gradations in the live picture were ex- 
quisite. She was gentle of temper, with a shallow 
birdlike friendliness, an accentuated confidence that 
every one meant her well, which was very taking. 
But she was far too much pleased with herself to be 
a necessity to any one else. Her father grew more 
and more proud of her, but remained entirely inde- 
pendent of her ; and Kirsty could not help wondering 
at times how he would feel were he given one peep 
into the chaotic mind which he fancied so lovely a 
cosmos. A good fairy godmother would for her dis- 
cipline, Kirsty imagined, turn her into the prettiest 
wax doll, but with real eyes, and put her in a glass 
case for the admiration of all, until she sickened of 
her very consciousness. But Kirsty loved the pretty 
doll, and cherished any influence she had with her 
against a possible time when it might be sorely 
needed. She still encouraged her, therefore, to come 
to Corbyknowe as often as she felt inclined. Her 
father never interfered with any of her goings and 
comings. At the present point of my narrative, 
however, Kirsty began to notice that Phemy did not 
care so much for being with her as hitherto. 

She had been, of course, for some time, the cyno- 
sure of many neighboring eyes, but had taken only 



PHEMY CRAIG III 

the more pleasure in the cynosure, none in the per- 
sons with the eyes, all of whom she regarded as much 
below her. To herself she was the only young lady 
in Tiltowie, an assurance strengthened by the fact 
that no young man had yet ventured to make love 
to her, which she took as a general admission of their 
social inferiority, behaving to all the young men the 
more sweetly in consequence. 

The tendency of a weakly artistic nature to occupy 
itself much with its own dress was largely developed 
in her. It was wonderful, considering the smallness 
of her father's income, how well she arrayed herself. 
She could make a scanty material go a great way in 
setting off her attractions. The judicial element of 
the neighborhood, not content with complaining that 
she spent so much of her time in making her dresses, 
accused her of spending much money upon them, 
whereas she spent less than most of the girls of the 
neighborhood, who cared only for a good stuff, a 
fast color, and the fashion : fit to figure and fitness 
to complexion they did not trouble themselves about. 
The possession of a fine gown was the important 
thing. As to how it made them look, they had not 
imagination enough to consider that. 

She possessed, however, another faculty on which 
she prided herself far more, her ignorance and vanity 
causing her to mistake it for a grand accomplishment 
— the faculty of verse-making. She inherited a 
certain modicum of her father's rhythmic and rhym- 
ing gift; she could string words almost as well as 
she could string beads, and many thought her clever 
because she could do what they could not. Her aunt 
judged her verses marvellous, and her father con- 
sidered them full of promise. The minister, on the 



112 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Other hand, held them unmistakably silly — as her 
father would had they not been hers and she his. 
Only the poorest part of his poetic equipment had 
propagated in her, and had he taught her anything, 
she would not have overvalued it so much. Herself 
full of mawkish sentimentality, her verses could not 
fail to be foolish, their whole impulse being the am- 
bition that springs from self-admiration. She had 
begun to look down on Kirsty, who would so gladly 
have been a mother to the motherless creature : she 
was not a lady! Neither in speech, manners, nor 
dress, was she or her mother genteel I Their free, 
hearty, simple bearing, in which was neither smallest 
roughness, nor least suggestion of affected refine- 
ment, was not to Phemy*s taste, and she began to as- 
sume condescending ways. 

It was of course a humiliation to Phemy to have 
an aunt in Mrs. Bremner*s humble position, but she 
loved her after her own feeble fashion, and, although 
she would willingly have avoided her upon occasion, 
went not unfrequently to the castle to see her; for 
the kind-hearted woman spoiled her. Not only did 
she admire her beauty, and stand amazed at her 
wonderful cleverness, but she drew from her little 
store a good part of the money that went to adorn 
the pretty butterfly. She gave her at the same time 
the best of advice, and imagined she listened to it ; 
but the young who take advice are almost beyond 
the need of it. Fools must experience a thing them- 
selves before they will believe it ; and then, remaining 
fools, they wonder that their children will not heed 
their testimony. Faith is the only charm by which 
the experience of one becomes a vantage-ground for 
the start of another. 



CHAPTER XVI 
SHAM LOVE 

One day Phemy went to Castle Weelset to see her 
aunt, and walking down the garden to find her, met 
the young laird. 

Through respect for the memory of his father, he 
had just received from the East India Company a com- 
mission in his father's regiment; and having in about 
six weeks to pass the slight examination required, 
and then sail to join it, had come to see his mother 
and bid her good-by. He was a youth no longer, 
but a handsome young fellow, with a pale face and a 
rather weary, therefore what some would call an in- 
teresting look. For many months he had been lead- 
ing an idle life. 

He lifted his hat to Phemy, looked again, and 
recognized her. They had been friends when she 
was a child, but since he saw her last she had grown 
a young woman. She was gliding past him with a 
pretty bow, and a prettier blush and smile, when he 
stopped and held out his hand. 

" It's not possible! " he said; "you can't be little 
Phemy! — Yet you must be! — Why, you're a grown 
lady! To think how you used to sit on my knee, and 
stroke my face ! How is your father ? " 

Phemy murmured a shy answer, a little goose but 
blushing a very flamingo. In her heart she saw be- 
fore her the very man for her hero. A woman's hero 
8 113 



114 HEATHER AMD SNOW 

gives some measure, not of what she is, hardly of 
what she would like to be, but of what she would like 
to pass for : here was the ideal for which Phemy had 
so long been waiting, and wherein consisted his glory ? 
In youth, position, and good looks! She gazed up 
at him with a mixture of shyness and boldness not 
uncommon in persons of her silly kind, and Francis 
not only saw but felt that she was an unusually pretty 
girl: although he had long ceased to admire his 
mother, he still admired the sort of beauty she once 
had. He saw also that she was very prettily dressed, 
and, being one of those men who, imagining them- 
selves gentlemen, feel at liberty to take liberties with 
women socially their inferiors, he plucked a pheasant- 
eye-narcissus in the border, and said — at the same 
time taking the leave he asked, — 

"Let me finish your dress by adding this to it! 
Have you got a pin ? — There! — all you wanted to 
make you just perfect! " 

Her face was now in a very flame. She saw he 
was right in the flower he had chosen, and he saw, 
not his artistic success only, but her recognition of it 
as well, and was gratified. He had a keen feeling 
of harmony in form and color, and flattered women, 
while he paraded his own insight, by bringing it to 
bear on their dress. 

The flower, in its new position, seemed radiant with 
something of the same beauty in which it was set ; 
it was like the face above it, and hinted a sympathetic 
relation with the whole dainty person of the girl. 
But in truth there was more expression in the flower 
than was yet in the face. The flower expressed what 
God was thinking of when he made it ; the face what 



SHAM LOVE 115 

the girl was thinking of herself. When she ceased 
thinking of herself then, like the flower, she would 
show what God was thinking of when he made her. 

Francis, like the man he was, thought what a dainty 
little lady she would make if he had the making of 
her, and at once began talking as he never would 
have talked had she been what is conventionally called 
a lady — with a familiarity, namely, to which their 
old acquaintance gave him no right, and which showed 
him not his sister's keeper. She, poor child, was 
pleased with his presumption, taking it for a sign 
that he regarded her as a lady ; and from that mo- 
ment her head at least was full of the young laird. 
She had forgotten all she came about. When he 
turned and walked down the garden, she walked 
alongside of him like a linnet by a tall stork, who 
thought of her as a very pretty green frog. Lost in 
delight at his kindness, and yet more at his admira- 
tion, she felt as safe in his hands as if he had been 
her guardian angel : had he not convinced her that 
her notion of herself was correct ! Who should know 
better whether she was a lady, whether she was lovely 
or not, than this great, handsome, perfect gentle- 
man ! Unchecked by any question of propriety, she 
accompanied him without hesitation into a little arbor 
at the bottom of the garden, and sat down with him 
on the bench there provided for the weary and the 
idle — in this case a going-to-be gallant officer, bored 
to death by a week at home with his mother, and a 
girl who spent the most of her time in making, alter- 
ing, and wearing her dresses. 

"How good it was of you, Phemy," he said, "to 
come and see me! I was ready to cut my throat for 



Il6 HEATHER AND SNOW 

want of something pretty to look at. I was thinking 
it the ugliest place with the ugliest of people, won- 
dering how I had ever been able to live in it. How 
unfair I was! The whole country is beautiful now! " 

"I am so glad," answered poor Phemy, hardly 
knowing what she said : it was to her the story of a sad 
gentleman who fell in love at first sight with a beauti- 
ful lady who was learning to love him through pity. 

Her admiration of him was as clear as the red and 
white on her face ; and foolish Francis felt in his turn 
flattered, for he too was fond of himself. There is 
no more pitiable sight to lovers of their kind, or any 
more laughable to its haters, than two persons falling 
into the love rooted in self-love. But possibly they 
are neither to be pitied nor laughed at; they may 
be plunging thus into a saving hell. 

'* You would lil^e to make the world beautiful for 
me, I^hemy?" rejoined Francis. 

'^ I should like to make it a paradise!" returned 
Phemy. 

*' A garden of Eden, and you the Eve in it ? " sug- 
gested Francis. 

Phemy could find no answer beyond a confused 
look and a yet deeper blush. 

Talk elliptical followed, not unmingled with looks 
bold and shy. They had not many objects of 
thought in common, therefore not many subjects for 
conversation. There was no poetry in Gordon, and 
but the flimsiest sentiment in Phemy. Her mind was 
feebly active, his full of tedium. Hers was open to 
any temptation from him, and his to the temptations 
of usurping the government of her world, of consti- 
tuting himself the benefactor of this innocent creature. 



SHAM LOVE 117 

and enriching her life with the bliss of loving a noble 
object. Of course he meant nothing serious ! Equally 
of course he would do her no harm ! To lose him 
would make her miserable for a while, but she would 
not die of love, and would have something to think 
about all her dull life afterward! 

Phemy at length got frightened at the thought of 
being found with him, and together they went to look 
for her aunt. Finding her in an outhouse that was 
used for a laundry, Francis told Mrs. Bremner that 
they had been in the garden ever so long searching 
for her, and he was glad of the opportunity of hearing 
about his old friend, Phemy *s father! 

The aunt was not quite pleased, but said little. 

The following Sunday she told the schoolmaster 
what had taken place, and came home in a rage at 
the idiocy of a man who would not open his eyes 
when his house was on fire. It was all her sister's 
fault, she said, for having married such a book-idiot ! 
She felt indeed very uncomfortable, and did her best 
in the way of warning; but Phemy seemed so in- 
capable of understanding what ill could come of let- 
ting the young laird talk to her, that she despaired 
of rousing in her any sense of danger, and having no 
authority over her was driven to silence for the 
present. She would have spoken to her mistress, had 
she not plainly foreseen that it would be of no use, 
that she would either laugh, and say young men must 
have their way, or fly into a fury with Phemy for tr}'- 
ing to entrap her son, and with Mrs. Bremner for im- 
agining he would look at the hussy; while one thing 
was certain — that, if his mother opposed him, Francis 
would persist. 



CHAPTER XVII 
A NOVEL ABDUCTION 

Phemy went seldom to the castle, but the young 
laird and she met pretty often : there was solitude 
enough in that country for an army of lovers. Once 
or twice Gordon, at Phemy *s entreaty, went and took 
tea with her at her father's, and was cordially re- 
ceived by the schoolmaster, who had no sense of im- 
propriety in their strolling out together afterward, 
leaving him well content with the company of his 
books. Before this had happened twice, all the town 
was talking about it, and predicting evil. Phemy 
heard nothing and feared nothing; but if feeling had 
been weather and talk tempest, she would have been 
glad enough to keep within. So rapidly, however, 
did the whirlwind of tongues extend its gyration that 
within half a week it reached Kirsty, and cast her 
into great trouble : her poor silly defenceless Phemy, 
the child of her friend, was in danger from the son of 
her father's friend ! Her father could do nothing, 
for Francis would not listen to him, therefore she 
herself, must do something! She could not sit still 
and look on at the devil's work! Having always 
been on terms of sacred intimacy with her mother, 
she knew more of the dangers of the world, while 
she was far safer from them, than such girls as their 
natural guardians watch instead of fortifying, and un- 

iiS 



A NOVEL ABDUCTION 1 19 

derstood perfectly that an unwise man is not to be 
trusted with a foolish girl. She felt, therefore, that 
inaction on her part would be faithlessness to the 
teaching of her mother, as well as treachery to her 
father, whose friend's son was in peril of doing a fear- 
ful wrong to one to whom he owed almost a brother's 
protection for his schoolmaster's sake. She did not 
believe that Francis meant Phemy any harm, but she 
was certain he thought too much of himself ever to 
marry her, and were the poor child's feelings to go 
for nothing? She had no hope that Phemy would 
listen to expostulation from her, but she must in fair- 
ness, before she did anything, have some speech with 
her! 

She made repeated efforts, therefore, to see her, 
but without success. She tried one time of the day 
after another, but, now by accident and now by clever 
contrivance, Phemy was not to be come at. She had 
of late grown tricky. One of the windows of the 
schoolmaster's house commanded the street in both 
directions, and Phemy commanded the window. 
When she saw Kirsty coming, she would run into the 
garden and take refuge in the summer-house, telling 
the servant on her way that she was going out, and 
did not know what time she would be in. On more 
occasions than one Kirsty said she would wait, when 
Phemy, learning she was not gone, went out in 
earnest, and took care she had enough of waiting. 
Such shifts of cunning no doubt served laughter to 
the lovers when next they met, but they showed that 
Phemy was in some degree afraid of Kirsty. 

Had Kirsty known the schoolmaster no better than 
his sister-in-law knew him, she would, like her, have 



I20 HEATHER AND SNOW 

gone to him ; but she was perfectly certain that it 
would be almost impossible to rouse him, and that, 
once convinced that his confidence had been abused, 
he would be utterly furious, and probably bear him- 
self in such fashion as to make Phemy desperate: 
perhaps make her hate him. As it was, he turned a 
deaf ear and indignant heart to every one of the re- 
ports that reached him. To listen to it would be to 
doubt his child ! Why should not the young laird fall 
in love with her? What more natural? Was she 
not worth as much honor as any man, be he who he 
might, could confer upon her ? He cursed the gossips 
of the town, and returned to his book. 

Convinced at length that Phemy declined an inter- 
view, Kirsty resolved to take her own way. And her 
way was a somewhat masterful one. 

About a mile from Castle Weelset, in the direction 
of Tiltowie, the road was, for a few hundred yards, 
close-flanked by steep heathery braes. Now Kirsty 
had heard of Phemy's being several times seen on 
this road of late; and near the part of it I have just 
described, she resolved to waylay her. From the 
brae on the side next Corbyknowe, she could see the 
road for some distance in either direction. 

For a week she watched in vain. She saw the 
two pass together more than once, and she saw 
Francis pass alone, but she had never seen Phem}*^ 
alone. 

One morning, just as she arrived at her usual out- 
look, she saw Mrs. Bremner in the road below, com- 
ing from the castle, and ran down to speak to her. 
In the course of their conversation she learned that 
Francis was to start for London the next morning. 



A NOVEL ABDUCTION 121 

When they parted, the old woman resuming her walk 
to Tiltowie, Kirsty climbed the brae and sat down in 
the heather. She was more anxious than ever. She 
had done her best, but it had come to nothing, and 
now she had but one chance more! That Francis 
Gordon was going away so soon was good news, but 
what might not happen even yet before he went! At 
the same time she could think of nothing better than 
keep watch as hitherto, firm as to her course if she 
saw Phemy alone, but now determined to speak to 
both if Francis was with her, and all but determined 
to speak to Francis alone, if an opportunity of doing 
so should be given her. 

All the morning and afternoon she watched in vain^ 
eating nothing but a piece of bread that Steenie 
brought her. At last, in the evening — it was an even- 
ing in September, cold and clear, the sun down, and 
a melancholy glory hanging over the place of his 
vanishing — she spied the solitary form of Phemy 
hastening along the road in the direction of the castle. 
Although she had been on the outlook for her all day, 
she was at the moment so taken up with the sunset, 
that Phemy was almost under where she stood before 
she saw her. She ran at full speed a hundred yards, 
then slid down a part of the brae too steep to climb, 
and leaped into the road a few feet in front of Phemy 
— so suddenly, that the girl started with a cry, and 
stopped. The moment she saw who it was, however, 
she drew herself up, and would have passed with a 
stiff greeting. But Kirsty stood in front of her, and 
would not permit her. 

" What do you want, Kirsty Barclay ? " demanded 
Phemy, who had within the last week or two ad- 



122 HEATHER AND SNOW 

vanced considerably in confidence of manner; " I am 
in a hurry ! " 

" Ye're in a waur hurry nor ye ken, for yer hurry 
sud be the ither gait! " answered Kirsty; "and I'm 
gaein to turn ye, or at least, no gaein to lat ye gang, 
ohn heard a bit o' the trowth frae a woman aulder 
nor yersel ! Lassie, ye seem to think naebody worth 
hearkenin til a word frae 'cep ae man, but I mean ye 
to hearken to me! Ye dinna ken what ye're aboot! 
I ken Francie Gordon a heap better nor you, and 
though I ken nae ill o* him, I ken as little guid : he 
never did naething yet but to please himsel, and there 
never came salvation or comfort to man, woman, or 
bairn frae ony puir cratur like Aim / " 

" How dare you speak such lies of a gentleman 
behind his back ! ** cried Phemy, her eyes flashing. 
" He is a friend of mine, and I will not hear him 
maligned ! " 

" There's sma' hairm can come to ony man frae the 
trowth, Phemy ! " answered Kirsty. " Set the man 
afore me, and I'll say word for-^ord intil his face 
what I*m say in to you ahint his back." 

"Miss Barclay," rejoined Phemy, with a rather 
pitiable attempt at dignity, " I can permit no one to 
call me by my Christian name who speaks ill of the 
man to whom I am engaged ! " 

" That s' be as ye please. Miss Craig. But I wud 
lat you ca' me a* the ill names in the dictionar to 
get ye to heark to me! I'm tellin ye naething but 
what's true as death." 

" I call no one names. I am always civil to my 
neighbors whoever they may be ! I will not listen to 
you." 



NOVEL ABDUCTION 1 23 

" Eh, lassie, there's but feow o' yer neebors ceevil 
to yer name, whatever they be to yersel ! There's 
hardly ane has a guid word for ye, Phemy ! — Miss 
Craig — I beg yer pardon ! " 

" Their lying tongues are nothing to me ! I know 
what I am about! I will not stay a moment longer 
with you! I have an important engagement." 

Once more, as several times already, she would 
have passed her, but Kirsty stepped yet again in front 
of her. 

"I can weel tak yer word," replied Kirsty, "'at 
ye hae an engagement ; but ye said a minute ago 'at 
ye was engaged til him: tell me in ae word — has 
Francie Gordon promised to merry ye ? " 

*' He has as good as asked me," answered Phemy, 
who had fits of apprehensive recoil from a downright 
lie. 

" Noo there I cud 'maist believe ye! Ay, that wud 
be ill eneuch for Francie! He never was a doonricht 
leear, sae lang's I kenned him — ony mair nor yersel! 
But, for God's sake, Phemy, dinna imagine he'll ever 
merry ye, for that he wull not." 

" This is really insufferable ! " cried Phemy, in a 
voice that began to tremble from the approach of 
angry tears. " Pray, have you a claim upon him ? " 

"Nane, no a shedow o' ane," returned Kirsty. 
" But my father and his father war like brithers, and 
we hae a' to du what we can for his father's son. 
I wud fain baud him ohn gotten into trouble wi' you 
or ony lass." 

"/get him into trouble! Really, Miss Barclay, I 
do not know how to understand you ! " 

" I see I maun be plain wi' ye : I wudna hae ye get 



124 HEATHER AND SNOW 

him into trouble by lattin him get you into trouble! 
— and that's plain speykin! " 

" You insult me ! " said Phemy. 

" Ye drive me to speyk plain ! " answered Kirsty. 
" That lad, Francie Gordon, " 

" Speak with respect of your superiors," interrupted 
Phemy. 

" ril speyk wi respec o' onybody I hae respec for! " 
answered Kirsty. 

" Let me pass, you rude young woman ! " cried 
Phemy, who had of late been cultivating in her imagi- 
nation such speech as she thought would befit Mrs. 
Gordon of Castle Weelset. 

"I winna lat ye pass," answered Kirsty; " — that 
is, no till ye hear what I hae to say to ye." 

'* Then you must take the consequences! " rejoined 
Phemy, and, in the hope that her lover would prove 
within earshot, began a piercing scream. 

It roused something in Kirsty which she could not 
afterward identify : she was sure it had nothing to do 
with anger. She felt, she said, as if she had to deal 
with a child who insisted on playing with fire beside 
a barrel of gunpowder. At the same time she did 
nothing but what she had beforehand, in case of the 
repulse she expected, resolved upon. She caught up 
the little would-be lady, as if she had been that same 
naughty child, and the suddenness of the action so 
astonished her that for a moment or two she neither 
moved nor uttered a sound. The next, however, she 
began to shriek and struggle wildly, as if in the hug 
of a bear or the coils of an anaconda, whereupon 
Kirsty closed her mouth with one hand while she held 
her last with the other. It was a violent proceeding, 



A NOVEL ABDUCTION X25 

doubtless, but Kirsty chose to be thus far an offender, 
and yet farther. 

Bearing her as she best could in one arm, she ran 
with her toward Tiltowie until she reached a place 
where the road was bordered by a more practicable 
slope ; here she took to the moorland, and made for 
Corbyknowe. Her resolve had been from the first, 
if Phemy would not listen, to carry her, like the un- 
manageable child she was, home to the mother whose 
voice had always been to herself the oracle of God. 

• 

It was in a loving embrace, though hardly a com- 
fortable one, and to a heart full of pity, that she 
pressed the poor little runaway lamb: her mother 
was God*s vicar for all in trouble: she would bring 
the child to reason ! Her heart beating mightily with 
love and labor, she waded through the heather, 
hurrying along the moor. 

It was a strange abduction ; but Kirsty was divinely 
simple, and that way strange. Not until they were 
out of sight of the road did she set her down. 

Noo, Phemy," she said, panting as she spoke, 
haud yer tongue like a guid lassie, and come awa 
upo* yer ain feet." 

Phemy took at once to her heels and her throat, 
and ran shrieking back toward the road, with Kirsty 
after her like a greyhound. Phemy had for some 
time given up struggling and trying to shriek, and 
was therefore in better breath than Kirsty whose 
lungs were pumping hard, but she had not a chance 
with her, for there was more muscle in one of Kirsty's 
legs than in Phemy's whole body. In a moment she 
had her in her arms again, and so fast that she could 
not even kick. She gave way and burst into tears. 



« 



126 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Kirsty relaxed her hold. 

"What are you gaein to du wi* me?" sobbed 
Phemy. 

"I'm takin ye to the best place I ken — hame to 
my mother," answered Kirsty, striding on for home- 
heaven as straight as she could go. 

*-* I winna gang! " cried Phemy, whose Scotch had 
returned with her tears. 

"Ye are gaein," returned Kirsty dryly; " — at 
least I*m takin ye, and that's neist best." 

"What for? I never did ye an ill turn 'at I ken 
o' ! " said Phemy, and burst afresh into tears of self- 
pity and sense of wrong. 

" Na, my bonny doo," answered Kirsty, " ye never 
did me ony ill turn! It wasna in ye. But that's the 
less rizzon 'at I sudna du you a guid ane. And yer 
father has been like the Bountiful himsel to me! It's 
no muckle I can for you or for him, but there's ae 
thing I'm set upo', and that's haudin ye frae Francie 
Gordon the nicht. He'll be awa the morn! " 

" Wha tellt ye that ? " returned Phemy with a start. 

" Jist yer ain aunt, honest woman ! " answered 
Kirsty, " and sair she grat as she telled me, but it 
wasna at his gaein ! " 

" She micht hae held the tongue o' her till he was 
gane! What was there to greit aboot! " 

" Maybe she thocht o' her sister's bairn in a trib- 
ble 'at silence wadna hide! " answered Kirsty. " Ye 
haena a notion, lassie, what ye're duin wi' yersel! 
But my mither *11 lat ye ken, sae that ye gangna 
blinlins intil the tod's hole." 

" You dinna ken Frank, or ye wudna speyk o' *im 
that gait ! " 



A NOVEL ABDUCTION 1 27 

" I ken him ower weel to trust you til him." 

"It's naething but ye're eenvious o' me, Kirsty, 
'cause ye canna get him yersel ! He wud never luik 
at a lass like you ! " 

" It's weel a'body seesna wi' the same een, Phemy ! 
Gien I had yer Francie i' the parritch-pat, I wudna 
pike him oot, but fling f rae me pat and parritch. For 
a' that, I hae a haill side o' my hert saft til him: my 
father and his lo'ed like brithers." 

" That canna be Kirsty — and it's no like ye to blaw ! 
Your father was a common so'dier and his was cornel 
o' the regiment ! " 

"Allooin!" was all Kirsty 's answer. Phemy be- 
took herself to entreaty. 

"Latmegang, Kirsty!* Please! I'll gang doon 
o' my knees til ye! I canna bide him to think I've 
played him fause. " 

" He'll play you fause, my lamb, whatever ye du 
or he think ! It maks my hert sair to ken 'at no guid 
will your hert get o' his. — He s'no see ye the nicht, 
ony gait ! " 

Phemy uttered a childish howl, but immediately 
choked it with a proud sob. 

" Ye're hurtin me, Kirsty," she said, after a minute 
or so of silence. " Lat me doon, and I'll gang straucht 
hame to my father. I promise ye. " 

" I'll set ye doon," answered Kirsty, "but ye maun 
come hame to my mither." 

"What'll my father think?" 

" I' s'no forget yer father," said Kirsty. 

She sent out a strange, piercing cry, set Phemy 
down, took her hand in hers, and went on, Phemy 
making no resistance. In about three minutes there 



128 HEATHER AND SNOW 

was a noise in the heather, and Snootie came rushing 
to Kirsty. A few moments more and Steenie lifted 
his bonnet to Phemy, and stood waiting his sister's 
commands. 

"Steenie," she said, "tak the dog wi' ye, and rin 
doon to the toon, and tell Mr. Craig *at Phemy here's 
comin hame wi' me, to bide the nicht. Ye winna be 
langer nor ye canna help, and ye '11 come to the hoose 
afore ye gang to the hill ? " 

"I'll du that, Kirsty. Come, doggie." 

Steenie never went to the town of his own ac- 
cord, and Kirsty never liked him to go, for the boys 
were rude, but to-night it would be dark before he 
reached it. 

** Ye're no surely gaun to gar me bide a* nicht! " 
said Phemy, beginning again to cry. 

"I am that — the nicht, and maybe the morn's 
nicht, and ony nummer o' nichts till we're sure he*s 
awa!" answered Kirsty, resuming her walk. 

Phemy wept aloud, but did not try to escape. 

" And him gaein to promise this verra nicht 'at he 
would merry me ! " she cried — but through her tears 
and sobs her words were indistinct. 

Kirsty stopped, and faced round on her. 

** He promised to merry ye ? " she said. 

" I didna say that ; I said he was gaein to promise 
the nicht. And noo he'll be gane, and never a word 
said!" 

" He promised, did he, 'at he would promise the 
nicht? — Eh, Francie! Francie! ye're no yer father's 
son! — He promised to promise to merry ye! Eh, ye 
puir gowk o* a bonny lassie ! " 

" Gien I met him the nicht — ay, it cam to that ** 



A NOVEL ABDUCTION 129 

All Kirsty's inborn motherhood awoke. She 
turned to her, and, clasping the silly thing in her 
arms, cried out — 

" Puir wee dauty ! Gien he hae a hert ony bigger 
nor Tod Lowrie's {the fox's) ain, he'll come to ye to 
the Knowe, and say what he has to say ! " 

" He winna ken whaur I am ! *' answered Phemy, 
with an agonized burst of dry sobbing. 

"Will he no? I s' see to that — and this verra 
nicht ! " exclaimed Kirsty. " I'll gie him ilka chance 
o' doin the richt thing! " 

" But he'll be angert at me! " 

" What for ? Did he tell ye no to tell ? " 

" Ay did he. " 

"Waur and waur!" cried Kirsty indignantly. 
" He wad hae ye a' in his grup ! He tellt ye, nae 
doobt, 'at ye was the bonniest lassie 'at ever was 
seen, and bepraised ye 'at yer ain minnie wouldna 
hae kenned ye! Jist tell me, Phemy, dinna ye 
think a hantle mair o' yersel sin' he took ye in 
han'?" 

She would have Phemy see that she had gathered 
from him no figs or grapes, only thorns and thistles. 

Phemy made no reply : had she not every right to 
think well of herself? He had never said anything 
to her on that subject which she was not quite ready 
to believe. 

Kirsty seemed to divine what was passing in her 
thought. 

"A man," she said, " 'at disna tell ye the trowth 

aboot himsel's no likely to tell ye the trowth aboot 

your^ ! Did he tell ye hoo mony lassies he had said 

the same thing til afore ever he cam to you? It 

9 



130 HEATHER AND SNOW 

maitered little sae lang as they war lasses as hertless 
and toom-heidit as himsel, and ower weel used to 
sic havers; but a lassie like you, 'at never afore 
hearkent to siclike, she taks them a' for trowth, and 
the leein sough o* him gars her trow there was nev- 
er on earth sic a won'erfu cratur as her! What 
pleesur there can be i* leein 's mair nor I can faddom! 
Ye're jist a gey bonny lassie, siclike as mony anither; 
but gien ye war a* glorious within, like the queen o' 
Sheba, or whaever she may happen to hae been, there 
wad be naething to be proud o' i* that, seein ye 
didna contrive yersel. No ae stane, to bigg yersel, 
hae j/^ putten upo the tap o* anither! " 

Phemy was nowise capable of understanding such 
statement and deduction. If she was lovely, as 
Frank told her, and as she saw in the glass, why 
should she not be pleased with herself ? If Kirsty 
had been made like her, she would have been just as 
vain as she! 

All her life the doll never saw the beauty of the 
woman. Beside Phemy, Kirsty walked like an 
Olympian goddess beside the naiad of a brook. 
And Kirsty was a goddess, for she was what she had 
to be, and never thought about it. 

Phemy sank down in the heather, declaring she 
could go no farther, and looked so white and so piti- 
ful that Kirsty's heart filled afresh with compassion. 
Like the mother she was, she took the poor girl yet 
again in her arms, and, carrying her quite easily now 
that she did not struggle, walked with her straight 
into her-mother's kitchen. 

Mrs. Barclay sat darning the stocking which would 
have been Kirsty's affair had she not been stalking 



A NOVEL ABDUCTION 131 

Phemy. She took it out of her mother's hands, and 
laid the girl in her lap. 

"There's a new baimie til ye, mother! Ye maun 
daut her a wee, she's unco tired!" she said, and 
seating herself on a stool, went on with the darning 
of the stocking. 

Mistress Barclay looked down on Phemy with such 
a face of loving benignity that the poor miserable 
girl threw her arms round her neck, and laid her 
head on her bosom. Instinctively the mother began 
to hush and soothe her, and in a moment more was 
singing a lullaby to her. Phemy fell fast asleep. 
Then Kirsty told what she had done, and while she 
spoke, the mother sat silent, brooding, and hushing, 
and thinking. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

phemy's champion 

When she had told all, Kirsty rose, and laying 
aside the stocking, said, 

" I maun awa to Weelset, mother. I promised the 
bairn I would lat Francie ken whaur she was, and 
gie him the chance o* sayin his say til her." 

"Verra weel, lassie! ye ken what ye*re aboot, 
and I s* no interfere wi' ye. But, eh, ye'U be tired 
afore ye win to yer bed! ** 

" I'll no tramp it, mother; Til tak the gray mear." 

" She's gey and fresh, lassie; ye maun be on yer 
guaird. " 

"A' the better! " returned Kirsty.— "To hear ye, 
mother, a body wud think I cudna ride! " 

" Forbid it, bairn ! Yer father says, man or wuman, 
there's no ane i' the countryside like ye upo' beast- 
back." 

** They tak to me, the craturs ! It was themsels 
learnt me to ride! " answered Kirsty, as she took a 
riding whip from the wall, and went out of the 
kitchen. 

The mare looked round when she entered the stable, 
and whinnied. Kirsty petted and stroked her, gave 
her two or three handfuls of oats, and while she was 
eating, strapped a cloth on her back : there was no 
side-saddle about the farm. Kirsty could ride well 

132 



phemy's champion 133 

enough sideways on a man's, but she liked the way 
her father had taught her far better. Utterly fear- 
less, she had, in his training from childhood until he 
could do no more for her, grown to be a horsewoman 
such as few. 

The moment the mare had finished her oats she 
bridled her, led her out, and sprang on her back; 
where sitting as on a pillion, she rode quietly out of 
the farm-close. The moment she was beyond the 
gate, she leaned back, and throwing her right foot 
over the mare's crest, rode like an Amazon, at ease, 
and with mastery. The same moment the mare was 
away, up hill and down dale, almost at racing speed. 
Had the coming moon been above the horizon, the 
Amazon farm-girl would have been worth meeting! 
So perfectly did she yield her lithe, strong body to 
every motion of the mare, abrupt or undulant, that 
neither ever felt a jar, and their movements seemed 
the outcome of a vital force common to the two. 
Kirsty never thought whether she was riding well or 
ill, gracefully or otherwise, but the mare knew that 
all was right between them. Kirsty never touched 
the bridle except to moderate the mare's pace when 
she was too much excited to heed what she said to her. 

Doubtless, to many eyes, she would have looked 
better in a riding-habit, but she would have felt like 
an eagle in a nightgown. She wore a full winsey 
petticoat, which she managed perfectly, and stockings 
of the same color. On her head she had nothing 
but the silk net at that time and in that quarter much 
worn by young unmarried women. In the rush of 
the gallop it slipped and its contents escaped : she put 
the net in her pocket, and cast a knot upon her long 



134 HEATHER AND SNOW 

hair as if it had been a rope. This she did without 
even slackening her speed, transferring from her 
hand to her teeth the whip she carried. It was one 
colonel Gordon had given her father in remembrance 
of a little adventure they had together, in which a 
lash from it in the dark night was mistaken for a 
sword-cut, and did them no small service. 

By the time they reached the castle, the moon was 
above the horizon. Kirsty brought the mare to a 
walk, and resuming her pillion-seat, remanded her 
hair to its cage, and readjusted her skirt; then, set- 
ting herself as in a side-saddle, she rode gently up 
to the castle-door. 

A man, servant, happening to see her from the hall- 
window, saved her having to ring the bell, and greeted 
her respectfully, for everybody knew Corbyknowe's 
Kirsty. She said she wanted to see Mr. Gordon, 
and suggested that perhaps he would be kind enough 
to speak to her at the door. The man went to find 
his master, and in a minute or two brought the mes- 
sage that Mr. Gordon would be with her presently. 
Kirsty drew her mare back into the shadow which, 
the moon being yet low, a great rock on the crest of 
the neighboring hill cast upon the approach, and 
waited. 

It was three minutes before Francis came saunter- 
ing bare-headed round the corner of the house, his 
hands in his pockets, and a cigar in his mouth. He 
gave a glance round, not seeing his visitor at once, 
and then, with a nod, came toward her, still smoking. 
His nonchalance, I believe, was forced and meant to 
cover uneasiness. For all that had passed to make 
him forget Kirsty, he yet remembered her uncomfort- 



phemy's champion 135 

ably, and at the present moment could not help 
regarding her as an angelic bite rwir^ of whom he 
was more afraid than of any other human being. 
He approached her in a sort of sidling stroll as if he 
had no actual business with her, but thought of just 
asking whether she would sell her horse. He did 
not speak, but Kirsty sat motionless until he was 
near enough for a low-voiced conference. 

"What are ye aboot wi' Phemy Craig, Francie?" 
she began, without a word of greeting. 

Kirsty was one of the few who practically deny 
time; with whom what was, is; what is, will be. 
She spoke to the tall handsome man in the same tone 
and with the same forms as when they were boy and 
girl together. 

He had meant their conversation to be at arm's 
length, so to say, but his intention broke down at 
once, and he answered her in the same style. 

" I ken naething aboot her. What for sud I ? " he 
answered. 

" I ken ye dinna ken whaur she is, for I div," re- 
turned Kirsty. "Ye answer a question I never 
speired. What are ye aboot wi' Phemy, I challenge 
ye again ! Puir lassie, she has nae brither to say the 
word ! " 

"That's a' verra weel; but ye see, Kirsty," he 
began — then stopped, and having stared at her a 
moment in silence, exclaimed, " Lord, what a splen- 
did woman you've grown! " — He had probably been 
drinking with his mother. 

Kirsty sat speechless, motionless, changeless as a 
soldier on guard. Gordon had to resume and finish 
his sentence. 



136 HEATHER AND SNOW 

"As I was going to say, you can't take the* place 
of a brother to her, Kirsty, else I should know how 
to answer you! — It's awkward when a lady takes you 
to task ! " he added with a drawl. 

" Dinna trouble yer heid aboot that, Francie : hert 
ye hae little to trouble aboot ony thing 1 " rejoined 
Kirsty. Then changing to English as he had done, 
she went on: ''I claim no consideration on that 
score." 

Francis Gordon felt very uncomfortable. It was 
deuced hard to be bullied by a woman ! 

He stood silent because he had nothing to say. 

"Do you mean to marry my Phemy?" asked 
Kirsty. 

" Really, Miss Barclay," Francis began, but Kirsty 
interrupted him. 

"Mr. Gordon," she said sternly, "be a man, and 
answer me. If you mean to marry her, say so, and 
go and tell her father — or my father, if you prefer. 
She is at the Knowe, miserable, poor child! that she 
did not meet you to-night. That was my doing; she 
could not help herself." 

Goirdon broke into a strained laugh. 

"Well, you've got her, and you can keep her!" 
he said. 

" You have not answered my question ! " 

" Really, Miss Barclay, you must not be too hard 
on a man ! Is a fellow not to speak to a woman but 
he must say at once whether or not he intends to 
marry her ? " 

" Answer my question. " 

" It is a ridiculous one ! " 

"You have been trystin' with her almost every 



phemy's champion 137 

night for something like a month! " rejoined Kirsty, 
"and the question is not at all ridiculous." 

" Let it be granted then, and let the proper person 
ask me the question and I will answer it. You, par- 
don me, have nothing to do with the matter in hand." 

" That is the answer of a coward, " returned Kirsty, 
her cheek flaming at last. " You know the guileless 
nature of your old schoolmaster, and take advantage 
of it! You know that the poor girl has not a man to 
look to, and you will not have a woman befriend her! 
It is cowardly, ungrateful, mean, treacherous! You 
are a bad man, Francie! You always were a fool, 
but now you are a wicked fool! If I were her 
brother — if I were a man, I would thrash you ! " 

" It's a good thing you're not able, Kirsty ! I should 
be frightened! " said Gordon, with a laugh and shrug, 
thinking to throw the thing aside as done with. 

" I said, if I was a man ! " returned Kirsty. " I 
did not say, if I was able. I am able." 

" I don't see why a woman should leave to any man 
what she's able to do for herself!" said Kirsty, as 
if communing with her own thoughts. — "Francie, 
you are no gentleman ; you are a scoundrel and a 
coward ! " she immediately added aloud. 

"Very well," returned Francis angrily; "since 
you choose to be treated as a man, and tell me I am 
no gentleman, I tell you I wouldn't marry the girl if 
the two of you went on your knees to me! — A com- 
mon, silly, country-bred flirt! — ready for anything 



a man " 



Kirsty's whip descended upon him with a merci- 
less lash. The hiss of it, as it cut the air with all 
the force of her strong arm, startled her mare, and 



138 HEATHER AND SNOW 

she sprang aside, so that Kirsty, who, leaning for- 
ward, had thrown the strength of her whole body 
into the blow, could not but lose her seat. But it 
was only to stand upright on her feet, fronting her — 
call him enemy, antagonist, victim, what you will. 
Gordon was grasping his head : the blow had for a 
moment blinded him. She gave him another sting- 
ing cut across the hands. 

"That's frae yer father! The whip was his, and 
his swoord never did fairer wark ! " she said. " — I 
hae dune for him what I cud! *' she added in a low 
sorrowful voice, and stepped back, as having fulfilled 
her mission. 

He rushed at her with a sudden torrent of evil 
words. But he was no match for her in agility, as, 
I am almost certain, he would have proved none in 
strength had she allowed him to close with her: she 
avoided him as she had more than once jinkit a 
charging bull, every now and then dealing him an- 
other sharp blow from his father's whip. The treat- 
ment began to bring him to his senses. 

"For God's s^ke, Kirsty," he cried, ceasing his 
attempts to lay hold of her, "behaud, or we'll hae 
the haill hoose oot, and what'II come o' me than I 
daurna think! I doobt I'll never hear the last o' 't 
as 'tis!" 

" Am I to trust ye, Francie ? " 

"I winna lay a finger upo ye, damn ye! " he said 
in mingled wrath and humiliation. 

Throughout, Kirsty had held her mare by the 
bridle, and she, although behaving as well as she 
could, had, in 'the fright the laird's rushes and the 
sounds of the whip caused her, added not a little to 



PHEMY S CHAMPION 139 

her mistress' difficulties. Just as she sprang on her 
back, the door opened, and faces looked peering out ; 
whereupon with a cut or two she encouraged a few 
wild gambols, so that all the trouble seemed to have 
been with the mare. Then she rode quietly through 
the gate. 

Gordon stood in a motionless fury until he heard 
the soft thunder of the mare's hoofs on the turf as 
Kirsty rode home at a fierce gallop; then he turned 
and went into the house, not to communicate what 
had taken place, but to lie about it as like truth as 
he might find possible. 

About half-way home, on the side of a hill, across 
which a low wind, the long death-moan of autumn, 
blew with a hopeless, undulant, but not intermittent 
wail among the heather, Kirsty broke into a passion- 
ate fit of weeping, but ere she reached home, all 
traces of her tears had vanished. 

Gordon did not go the next day, nor the day after, 
but he never saw Phemy again. It was a week be- 
fore he showed himself, and then he was not a beauti- 
ful sight. He attributed the one visible wale on his 
cheek and temple to a blow from a twig as he ran in 
the dusk through the shrubbery after a strange dog. 
Even at the castle they did not know exactly when 
he left it. His luggage was sent after him. 

The domestics at least were perplexed as to the 
wale on his face until the man to whom Kirsty had 
spoken at the door hazarded a conjecture or two, 
which being not far from the truth, and as such ac- 
cepted, the general admiration and respect which 
already haloed Corbyknowe's Kirsty, were thence- 
forward mingled with a little wholesome fear. 



I40 HEATHER AND SNOW 

When Kirsty told her father and mother what she 
had done at Castle Weelset, neither said a word. 
Her mother turned her head away, but the light in 
her father's eyes, had she had any doubt as to how 
they would take it, would have put her quite at her 
ease. 



CHAPTER XIX 
FRANCIS GORDON'S CHAMPION 

Poor little Phemy was in bed, and had cried her- 
self asleep. Kirsty was more tired than she had ever 
been before. She went to bed at once, but, for a 
long time, not to sleep. 

She had no doubt her parents approved of the 
chastisement she had given Gordon, and she herself 
nowise repented of it; yet the instant she lay down, 
back came the same sudden something that set her 
weeping on the hill-side. As then, all unsent-for, the 
face of Francie Gordon, such as he was in their child- 
hood, rose before her, but marred by her hand with 
stripes of disgrace from his father's whip; and with 
the vision came again the torrent of her tears, for, if 
his father had then struck him so, she would have 
been bold in his defence. She pressed her face into 
the pillow lest her sobs should be heard. She was by 
no means a young woman ready to weep, but the 
thought of the boy-face with her blows upon it got 
within her guard, and ran her through the heart. It 
seemed as if nevermore would she escape the imagined 
sight. It is a sore thing when a woman, born a pro- 
tector, has for protection to become an avenger, and 
severe was the revulsion in Kirsty from an act of 
violence foreign to the whole habit, though nowise 
inconsistent with the character, of the calm, thought- 

141 



142 HEATH£R AND SNOW 

ful woman. She had never struck even the one- 
horned cow that would, for very cursedness, kick over 
the milk-pail ! Hers was the wrath of the mother, 
whose very presence in a calm soul is its justification 
— for how could it be there but by the original en- 
ergy? The wrath was gone, and the mother soul 
turned against itself — not in judgment at all, but in 
irrepressible feeling. She did not for one moment 
think, I repeat, that she ought not to have done it, 
and she was glad in her heart to know that what he 
had said and she had done must keep Phemy and him 
apart ; but there was the blow on the face of the boy 
she had loved, and there was the reflex wound in her 
own soul ! Surely she loved him yet with her mother- 
love, else how could she have been angry enough with 
him to strike him! For weeks the pain lasted keen, 
and it was ever after ready to return. It was a human 
type of the divine suffering in the discipline of the 
sinner, which with some of the old prophets takes the 
shape of God's repenting of the evils he has brought 
on his people; and was the only trouble she ever 
kept from her mother: she feared to wake her own 
pain in the dearer heart. She could have told her 
father; for, although he was, she knew, just as lov- 
ing as her mother, he was not so soft-hearted, and 
would not, she thought, distress himself too much 
about an ache more or less in a heart that had done 
its duty ; but as she could not tell her mother, she 
would not tell her father. But her father and mother 
saw that a change had passed upon her, and partially, 
if not quite, understood the nature of it. They per- 
ceived that she left behind her on that night a 
measure of her gayety, that thereafter she was yet 



FRANCIS GORDON'S CHAMPION 143 

gentler to her parents, and if possible yet tenderer to 
her brother. 

For all the superiority constantly manifesed by 
her in her relations with Francis, the feeling was 

never absent from her that he was of a race above 

« 

her own ; and now the visage of the young officer in 
her father's old regiment never, any more than that 
of her playfellow, rose in her mind's eye uncrossed 
by the livid mark of her whip from the temple down 
the cheek ! Whether she had actually seen it so, she 
did not certainly remember, but so it always came to 
her, and the face of the man never cost her a tear ; 
it was only that of the boy that made her weep. 

Another thing distressed her even more: the in- 
stant ere she struck the first, the worst blow, she saw 
on his face an expression so meanly selfish that she 
felt as if she hated him. That expression had van- 
ished from her visual memory, her whip had wiped 
it away, but she knew that for a moment she had all 
but hated him — if it was indeed all but! 

All the house was careful the next morning that 
Phemy should not be disturbed; and when at length 
the poor child appeared, looking as if her color was 
not ''ingrain," and so had been washed out by her 
tears, Kirsty made haste to get her a nice breakfast, 
and would answer none of her questions until she had 
made a proper meal. 

**Noo, Kirsty," said Phemy at last, "ye maun tell 
me what he said whan ye loot him ken 'at I cudna 
win til him 'cause ye wudna lat me! " 

" He saidna muckle to that. I dinna think he had 
been sair missin ye." 

"I see ye're no gaein to tell me the trowth, 



144 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Kirsty! I ken by mysel he maun hae been missin 
me dreidfu' ! " 

** Ye can jeedge nae man by yersel, Phemy. Men's 
no like hiz lass-fowk ! " 

Phemy laughed superior. 

" What ken ye aboot men, Kirsty ? There never 
cam a man near ye, i* the w'y o* makin up til ye! " 

"I'm no preten'in to ony exparience," returned 
Kirsty; " I wad only hae ye tak coonsel wi* common 
sense. Is't Hkly, Phemy, *at a man wi* gran* rela- 
tions, and gran' notions, a man wi' a fouth o' grit 
leddies in's acquantance to mak a fule o' him and 
themsel's thegither, special noo 'at he's an offisher i' 
the Company's service — is't onygait likly, I say, *at 
he sud be as muckle te'en up wi' a wee bit cuintry 
lassie as she cudna but be wi' him ? " 

" Noo, Kirsty, ye jist needna gang aboot to gar me 
mistrust ane wha's the verra mirror o* a* knichtly 
coortesy," rejoined Phemy, speaking out of the high- 
flown, thin atmosphere she thought the region of 
poetry, " for ye canna! Naething ever onybody said 
cud gar me think different o* him I " 

" Nor naething ever he said himsel ? " asked Kirsty. 

"Naething," answered Phemy, with strength and 
decision. 

" No gien it was 'at naething wud ever gar him 
merry ye ? " 

" That he micht weel say, for he winna need garrin ! 
— But he never said it, and ye needna try to threpe 
it upo' me ! " she added, in a tone that showed the 
very idea too painful. 

" He did say 't, Phemy." 

" Wha tellt ye ? It's lees ! Somebody's leein ! " 



FRANCIS GORDON'S CHAMPION 145 

" He said it til me himsel. Never a lee has ony- 
body had a chance o' puttin intil the tale! '' 

"He never said it, Kirsty!" cried Phemy, her 
cheeks now glowing, now pale as death. "He 
daurna ! " 

" He daured ; and he daured to wrr / He said, * I 
wudna merry her gien baith o* ye gaed doon upon yer 
knees to me ! * " 

"Ye maun hae sair angert him, Kirsty, or he 
wudna hae said it ! Of coorse he wasna to be guidit 
by you ! He cudna hae meaned what he said ! He 
wad never hae said it to me! I wuss wi* a' my hert 
I hadna latten ye til *im! Ye hae ruined a' ! " 

" Ye never loot me gang, Phemy ! It was my busi- 
ness to gang." 

" I see what's intil't! " cried Phemy, bursting into 
tears. " Ye tellt him hoo little ye thoucht o' me, and 
that gart him change his min' ! " 

" Wud he be worth greitin aboot gien that war the 
case, Phemy ? But ye ken it wasna that ! Ye ken 
'at I jist cudna du onything o* the sort! — I'm jist 
ashamed to deny't! " 

" Hoo am I to ken ? There's nae a wuman born 
but wad fain hae him til hersel ! " 

Kirsty held her peace for pity, thinking what she 
could say to convince her of Gordon's faithless- 
ness. 

"He didna say he hadna promised?" resumed 
Phemy through her sobs. 

"We camna upo that." 

" That's what I'm thinkin! " 

"I kenna what ye're thinking, Phemy! " 

" What did ye gie him, Kirsty, whan he tauld ye — 
10 



146 HEATHER AND SNOW 

no 'at I believe a word o* 't — 'at he wud nanc o* 
me?" 

Kirsty laughed with a scorn none the less clear that 
it was quiet. 

" Jist a guid lickin," she answered. 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Phemy hysterically. " I tellt 
ye ye was leein ! Ye hae been naething but leein — 
a* for fun, of coorse, I ken that — to mak a fule o* 
me for being fleyt! " 

Despair, for a moment, seemed to overwhelm 
Kirsty. Was it for this she had so wounded her own 
soul ! How was she to make the poor child under- 
stand ? She lifted up her heart in silence. At last 
she said, — 

" Ye winna see mair o* him this year or twa ony- 
gait, I'm thinkin! Gien ever ye get a scart o' *s 
pen, it'll surprise me. But gien ever ye hae the 
chance, which may God forbid, tell him I said I had 
gien him his licks, and daured him to come and 
deny't to my face. He winna du that, Phemy! He 
kens ower weel I wad jist gie him them again! " 

" He wud kill ye, Kirsty! You gie him his licks! " 

" He micht kill me, but he'd hae a pairt o' his licks 
first! — And noo gien ye dinna believe me I winna 
answer a single question mair ye put to me. I hae 
been tellin ye — no God's trowth, it's true, but the 
deevil's — and it's no use, for ye winna believe a word 
o' 't!" 

Phemy rose up a pygmy Fury. 

"And ye laid han' to cheek o' that king o' men, 
Kirsty Barclay ? Lord, baud me ohn killt her! Little 
bauds me frae rivin ye to bits wi' my twa ban's! " 

" I laidna ban' to cheek o' Francie Gordon, Phemy; 



FRANCIS GORDON'S CHAMPION 147 

I jist throosh him wi' his father's ain ridin-whup 'at 
my hert's like to brak to think o* *t. I doobt he'll 
carry the marks til's grave! " 

Kirsty broke into a convulsion of silent sobs and 
tears. 

" Kirsty Barclay, ye're a deevil! " cried Phemy in 
a hoarse whisper : she was spent with passion. 

The little creature stood before Kirsty, her hands 
clenched and shaking with rage, blue flashes darting 
about in her eyes. Kirsty, at once controlling the 
passion of her own heart, sat still as a statue, regard- 
ing her with a sad pity. A sparrow stood chattering 
at a big white brooding dove ; and the dove sorrowed 
for the sparrow, but did not know how to help the 
fluttering thing. 

"Lord! " cried Phemy, "I'll be cursin a' the warl 
and God himsel, gien I gang on this gait! — Eh, ye 
f ause wuman ! " 

Kirsty sprang upon her at one bound from her 
seat, threw her arms round her so that she could not 
move hers, and sitting down with her on her lap, 
said — 

" Phemy, gien I was yer mither, I wad gie ye yer 
licks for sayin what ye didna i* yer hert believe! A* 
the time ye was keepin company wi' Francie Gordon, 
ye ken i* yer ain sowl ye was never richt sure o' him! 
And noo I tell ye plainly that, although I strack him 
times and times wi' my whup— and saired him weel ! — 
I div not believe him sae ill-contrived as ye wad gar 
me think him. Him and me was bairns thegither, 
and I ken the natur o' him, and tak his pairt again 
ye, for, oot o' pride and ambition, ye're an enemy 
til him: I div not believe ever he promised to merry 



14^ HEATHER AND SNOW 

ye! He's behaved ill eneuch wantin that — lattin a 
gowk o' a lassie like you believe what ye likit, and 
him only carryin on wi' ye for the ploy o* 't, haein 
naething to du, and sick o* his ain toom heid and 
still toomer hert; but a man's word's his word, and 
Francie's no sae ill as your tale wud mak him ! There, 
Phemy, I hae said my say ! " 

She loosened her arms. But Phemy lay still, and 
putting her arms round Kirsty's neck, wept in a 
bitter silence. 



CHAPTER XX 
MUTUAL MINISTRATION 

In a minute or so, the door opened, and Steenie 
coming one step into the kitchen, stood and stared 
with such a face of concern that Kirsty was obliged 
to speak. I do not believe he had ever before seen 
a woman weeping. He shivered visibly. 

"Phemy'sno that weel," she said. "Her hert's 
sae sair it gars her greit. She canna help greitin, 
puir dauty ! *' 

Phemy lifted her face from Kirsty *s bosom, where, 

like a miserable child, she had been pressing it hard, 

and, seeming to have lost in the depth of her grief 

all its natural shyness, looked at Steenie with the 

most pitiful look ever countenance wore: her rage 

had turned to self-commiseration. The cloud of 

mingled emotion and distress on the visage of Steenie 

wavered, shifted, changed, and settled into the di- 

vinest look of pity and protection. Kirsty said she 

never saw anything so unmistakably Godlike upon 

human countenance. Involuntarily she murmured, 

" Eh, the bonny man ! " He turned away from them, 

and, his head bent upon his breast, stood for a time 

utterly motionless. Even Phemy, overpowered and 

stilled by that last look he cast upon her, gazed at 

him with involuntary reverence. But only Kirsty 

knew that the half-witted had sought and found 

149 



ISO HEATHER AND SNOW 

audience with the Eternal, and was now in his 
presence. 

He remained in this position, Kirsty thought about 
three minutes. Then he lifted his head, and walked 
straight from the house, nor turned nor spoke. 
Kirsty did not go after him : she feared to tread on 
holy ground uninvited. Nor would she leave Phemy 
until her mother came. 

She got up, set the poor girl on the chair, and be- 
gan to get ready the mid-day meal, hoping Phemy 
would help her, and gain some comfort from activity. 
Nor was she disappointed. With a childish air of 
abstraction, Phemy rose and began, as of old in the 
house, to busy herself, and Kirsty felt much relieved. 

" But, oh," she said to herself, " the sairness o* that 
wee herty i' the inside o* her! " 

Phemy never spoke, and went about her work me- 
chanically. When at length Mrs. Barclay came into 
the kitchen, Kirsty thought it better to leave them 
together, and went to find Steenie. She spent the 
rest of the day with him. Neither said a word 
about Phemy, but Steenie*s countenance shone all 
the afternoon, and she left him at night in his house 
on the Horn, still in the after-glow of the mediation 
which had irradiated him in the morning. 

When she came home, Kirsty found that her mother 
had put Phemy to bed. The poor child had scarcely 
spoken all day, and seemed to have no life in her. 
In the evening an attack of shivering, with other 
symptoms, showed she was physically ill. Mrs. 
Barclay had sent for her father, but the girl was 
asleep when he came. Aware that he would not 
hear a word casting doubt on his daughter's discre- 



MUTUAL MINISTRATION 151 

tion, and fearing therefore that, if she told him how 
she came to be there, he would take her home at any 
risk, where she would not be so well cared for as at 
the Knowe, she had told him nothing of what had 
taken place; and he, thinking her ailment would 
prove but a bad cold, had gone back to his books 
without seeing her. At Mrs. Barclay's entreaty he 
•had promised to send the doctor, but never thought 
of it again. 

Kirsty found her very feverish, breathing with 
difficulty, and in considerable pain. She sat by her 
through the night. She had seen nothing of illness, 
but sympathetic insight is the first essential endow- 
ment of a good nurse. 

All the night long — and Kirsty knew he was near 
— Steenie was roving within sight of the window 
where the light was burning. He did not know that 
Phemy was ill; pity for her heart-ache drew him 
thither. As soon as he thought his sister would be 
up, he went in: the door was never locked. She 
heard him, and came to him. The moment he learned 
Phemy's condition, he said he would go for the doctor. 
Kirsty in vain begged him to have some breakfast 
first: he took a piece of oatcake m his hand and 
went. 

The doctor returned with him, and pronounced the 
attack pleurisy. Phemy did not seem to care what 
became of her. She was ill a long time, and for a 
fortnight the doctor came every day. 

There was now so much to be done that Kirsty 
could seldom go with Steenie to the hill. Nor did 
Steenie himself care to go for any time, and was 
never a night from the house. When all were in bed, 



IS 2 HEATHER AND SNOW 

he would generally coil himself on a bench by the 
kitchen-fire, at any moment ready to answer the 
lightest call of Kirsty, who took pains to make him 
feel himself useful, as indeed he was. Although 
now he slept considerably better at night and less in 
the day, he would start to his feet at the slightest 
sound, like the dog he had almost ceased to imagine 
himself except in his dreams. In carrying messages, 
or in following directions, he had always shown 
himself perfectly trustworthy. 

Slowly, very slowly, Phemy recovered. But long 
before she was well, his family saw that the change 
for the better which had been evident in Steenie's 
mental condition for some time before Phemy 's ill- 
ness, was now manifesting itself plainly in his person. 
The intense compassion which, that memorable 
morning, roused his spirit even to the glorifying of 
his visage, seemed now settling in his looks and 
clarifying them. His eyes appeared to shine less 
from his brain, and more from his mind ; he stood 
more erect; and, as encouraging a symptom, per- 
haps, as any, he had grown more naturally conscious 
of his body and its requirements. Kirsty, coming 
upon him one morning as he somewhat ruefully re- 
garded his trousers, suggested a new suit, and was 
delighted to see his face shine up, and hear him de- 
clare himself ready to go with her and be measured 
for it. She found also soon after, to her joy, that 
he had for some time been enlarging with hammer 
and chisel a certain cavity in one of the rocks inside 
his house on the Horn, that he might use it for a 
bath. 

In all these things she saw evident signs of a new 



MUTUAL MINISTRATION 153 

Start in the growth of his spiritual nature ; and if she 
spied danger ahead, she knew that the God whose 
presence in him was making him gjrow, was ahead 
with the danger also. 

Steenie not only now went attired as befitted David 
Barclay's son, but to an ordinary glance would have 
appeared nowise remarkable. Kirsty ceased to look 
upon him with the pity hitherto coloring all her de- 
votion ; pride had taken its place, which she buttressed 
with a massive hope, for Kirsty was a splendid hoper. 
People in the town, where now he was oftener seen, 
would remark on the wonderful change in him. — 
" What's come to f ule Steenie ? " said one of a group 
he had just passed, " Haith he's luikin 'maist like 
ither fowk ! " — " I'm think in the deevil maun hae gang 
oot o' him!" said another, and several joined in 
with their remarks. — " Nae muckle o' a deevil was 
there to gang oot! He was aye an unco hairmless 
cratur! " — "And that saft-hertit til a' leevin thing! " 
— "He was that! I saw him ance face a score o' 
laddies to proteck a poddick they war puttin to tor- 
ment, whan, the Lord kens, he had need o' a' his 
wits to tak care o' himsel ! " — " Aye, jist like him ! " — 
"Weel, the Lord taks care o' him, for he's ane o* 
his ain innocents! " 

Kirsty, before long, began to teach him to sit on a 
horse, and, after but a few weeks of her training, he 
could ride pretty well. 

It was many weeks before Phemy was fit to go 
home. Her father came to see her now and then, 
but not very often : he had his duties to attend to, 
and his books consoled him. 

As soon as Phemy was able to leave her room. 



154 HEATHER AND SNOW 

Steenie constituted himself her slave, and was ever 
within her call. He seemed always to know when 
she would prefer having him in sight, and when she 
would rather be alone. He would sit for an hour at 
the other end of the room, and watch her like a dog 
without moving. He could have sat so all day, but, 
as soon as she was able to move about, nothing could 
keep Phemy in one place more than an hour at the 
utmost. By this time Steenie could read a little, and 
his reading was by no means as fruitless as it was 
slow : he would sit reading, nor at all lose his labor 
that, every other moment when within sight of her, 
he would look up to see if she wanted anything. To 
this mute attendance of love the girl became so ac- 
customed that she regarded it as her right, nor had 
ever the spoiled little creature occasion to imagine 
that it was not yielded her; and if at a rare moment 
she threw him glance or small smile — a crumb from 
her table to her dog — Steenie would for one joyous 
instant see into the seventh heaven, and all the day 
after dwell in the fifth or sixth. On fine clear noon- 
tides she would walk a little way with him and 
Snootie, and then he would talk to her as he had 
never done except to Kirsty, telling her wonderful 
things -about the dog and the sheep, the stars and the 
night, the clouds and the moon ; but he never spoke 
to her of the bonny man. When, on their return, 
she would say they had had a pleasant walk together, 
his delight would be unutterable; but all the time 
Steenie had not once ventured a word belonging to 
any of the deeper thoughts in which his heart was 
most at home. Was it that in his own eyes he was 



MUTUAL MINISTRATION. 155 

but a worm glorified with the boon of serving an 
angel ? was it that he felt as if she knew everything 
of that kind, and he had nothing to tell her but the 
things that entered at his eyes and ears ? or was it 
that a sitcred instinct of her incapacity for holy 
things kept him silent concerning such ? At times he 
would look terribly sad, and the mood would last for 
hours. 

Not once since she began to get better, had Phemy 
alluded to her faithless lover. In its departure her 
illness seemed to have carried with it her unwhole- 
some love for him ; and certainly, as if overjoyed at 
her deliverance, she had become much more of a 
child. Kirsty was glad for her sake, and gladder 
still that Francie Gordon had done her no irreparable 
injury — seemed not even to have left his simulacrum 
in her memory and imagination. As her strength 
returned, she regained the childish merriment which 
had always drawn Kirsty, and the more strongly that 
she was not herself light-hearted. Kirsty's rare 
laugh was indeed a merry one, but when happiest of 
all she hardly smiled. Perhaps she never would laugh 
her own laugh until she opened her eyes in heaven! 
But how can any one laugh his real best before that! 
Until then he does not even know his name! 

Phemy seemed more pleased to see her father 
every time he came ; and Kirsty began to hope she 
would tell him the trouble she had gone through. 
But then Kirsty had a perfect faith in her father, 
and a girl like Phemy never has! Her father, be- 
sides, had never been father enough to her. He had 
been invariably kind and trusting, but his books had 



15^ HEATHER AND SNOW 

been more to his hourly life than his daughter. He 
had never drawn her to him, never given her oppor- 
tunity of coming really near him. No story, how- 
ever, ends in this world. The first volume may have 
been very dull, and yet the next be full of delight. 



J 



CHAPTER XXI 
PHEMY YIELDS PLACE 

It was the last week in November when the doctor 
came himself to take Phemy home to her father. 
The day was bright and blue, with a thin carpet of 
snow on the ground, beneath which the roads were 
in good condition. While she was getting ready, old 
David went out and talked to the doctor who would 
not go in, his wrinkled face full of light, and his 
heart glad with the same gladness as Kirsty's. 

Mrs. Barclay and Kirsty busied themselves about 
Phemy, who was as playful and teasing as a pet 
kitten while they dressed her, but Steenie kept in the 
darkest corner, watching everything, but offering no 
unneeded help. Without once looking or asking 
for him, never missing him in fact, Phemy climbed, 
with David's aid, into the gig beside the doctor, at 
once began talking to him^ and never turned her 
head as they drove away. The moment he heard the 
sound of the horse's hoofs, Steenie came quietly from 
the gloom and went out of the back-door, thinking 
no eye was upon him. But his sister's heart was 
never off him, and her eyes were oftener on him than 
he knew. 

Of late he had begun again to go to the hill at 
night, and Kirsty feared his old trouble might be re- 
turning. Glad as she was to serve Phemy, and the 
father through the daughter, she was far from re- 

157 



153 HEATHER AND SNOW 

gretting her departure, for now she would have leisure 
for Steenie and her books, and now the family would 
gather itself oncfe more into the perfect sphere to 
which drop and ocean alike desires to shape itself! 

" I thoucht ye wud be ef ter me ! " cried Steenie, as 
she opened the door of his burrow, within an hour of 
his leaving the house. 

Now Kirsty had expected to find him full of grief 
because of Phemy's going, especially as the heartless 
girl, for such Steenie's sister could not help thinking 
her, never said good-by to her most loving slave. 
And she did certainly descry on his countenance traces 
of emotion, and in his eyes the lingering trouble as 
of a storm all but over blown. There was however 
in his face the light as of a far sunk aurora, the 
outmost rim of whose radiance, doubtfully visible, 
seemed- to encircle his whole person. He was not 
lost in any gloom! She sat down beside him, and 
waited for him to speak. 

Never doubting she would follow him, he had al- 
ready built up a good peat-fire on the hearth, and 
placed for her beside it a low settle which his father 
had made for him, and he had himself covered with 
a sheepskin of thickest fleece. They sat silent for 
a while. 

" Wud ye say noo, Kirsty, *at I was ony use til 
her ? ** he asked at length. 

" Jist a heap," answered Kirsty. "I kenna what 
ever she or I wud hae dune wantin ye I She nott 
(needed^ a heap o* luikin til! " 

" And ye think mebbe she'll be some the better, 
some w*y or ither, for't?" 

" Ay, I div think that, Steenie. But to tell the 



PHEMY YIELDS PLACE 1 59 

trowth, I'm no sure she'll think verra aft aboot what 
ye did for her ! " 

"Ow, na! What for sud she? There's no need 
for that ! It was for hersel, no for her think-aboot- 
it, I tried. I was jist fain to du something like wash 
the feet o* her. Whan I cam in that day — the day 
efter ye broucht her hame, ye ken — the luik of her 
puir, bonny, begrutten facy, jist turnt my hert ower 
i' the mids o* me. I maist think, gien I hadna been 
able to du onything for her afore she gaed, I wud 
hae come hame here to my ain hoose like a deein 
sheep, and lain doon. Yon face o* hers comes back 
til me noo like the face o' a lost lammie 'at the shep- 
herd didna think worth gaein oot to luik for. But 
gien I had sic a sair hert for her, the bonny man maun 
hae had a sairer, and he'll du for her what he can — 
and that maun be muckle — muckle! They ca* *im 
the gude shepherd, ye ken ! " 

He sat silent for some minutes, and Kirsty's heart 
was too full to let her speak. She could only say to 
herself — "And folk ca's him half-wuttit, div they! 
Weel, lat them! Gien he be half-wuttit, the Lord's 
made up the ither half wi better! " 

" Ay ! " resumed Steenie, " the gude shepherd tynes 
{^ses) no ane o' them a* ! But I'll miss her dreidfu! 
Eh, but I likit to watch the wan bit facy grow and 
grow till't was roon' and rosy again! And, eh, sic 
a bonny reid and white as it was! And better yet 
I likit to see yon hert-brakin luik o' the lost ane 
weirin aye awa and awa till't was clean gane! — And 
noo she's back til her father, bricht and licht and 
bonny as the lown starry nicht ! — Eh, but it maks 
me happy to think o' 't! " 



l6o HEATHER AND SNOW 

"Saeitmaks me!" responded Kirsty, feeling, as 
she regarded him, like a glorified mother beholding 
her child walking in the truth. 

"And noo," continued Steenie, "I'm richt glaid 
she's gane, and my min' '11 be mair at ease gien I 
tell ye what for: — I maun aye tell you a' thing 'at'll 
bide tellin, Kirsty, ye ken ! — Weel, a week or twa ago, 
I began to be troubled as I never was troubled afore. 
I canna weel say what was the cause o* *t, or the kin* 
o' thing it was, but something had come that I didna 
want to come, and couldna keep awa. Maybe ye'll 
ken what it was like whan I tell ye 'at I was aye 
think-thinkin aboot Phemy. Noo, afore she cam, I 
was maist aye thinkin aboot the bonny man ; and it 
wasna that there was ony sic necessity for thinkin 
aboot Phemy, for by that time she was oot o' her 
meesery, whatever that was, or whatever had the 
wyte {blame) o' *t. I' the time afore her, whan my 
min* wud grow a bit quaiet, and the pooers o' dark- 
ness wud draw themsels awa a bit, aye wud come the 
face o' the bonny man intil the toom place, and fill 
me fresh up wi' the houp o* seein him or lang; but 
noo, at ilka moment, up wud come, no the face o' 
the bonny man, but the face o' Phemy ; and I didna 
like that, and I cudna help it. And a scraichin fear 
grippit me, 'at I was turnin fause to the bonny man. 
It wisna that I thoucht he wud be vext wi' me, but 
that I cudna bide onything to come atween me and 
him. I teuk mysel weel ower the heckles, but I cudna 
mak oot 'at I cud a'thegither help it. Ye see, some- 
hoo, no bein made a'thegither like ither fowk, I 
cudna think aboot twa things at ance, and I bude to 
think aboot the ane that cam o' 'tsel like. But, as 



PHEMY YIELDS PLACE l6l 

I say, it troubled me. Weel, the day, my hert was 
sair at her gangin awa, for I had been lang used to 
seein her ilka hoor, maist ilka minute ; and the ae 
wuss i* my hert at the time was to du something worth 
duin for her, and syne dee and hae dune wi *t — and 
there, I doobt, I clean forgot the bonny man ! Whan 
she got intil the doctor's gig and awa they drave, my 
hert grew cauld ; I was like ane deid and beginnin to 
rot i* the grave. But that minute I h'ard, or it was 
jist as gien I h'ard — I dinna mean wi' my lugs, but 
i' my hert, ye ken — a v' ice cry, 'Steenie! Steenie!' 
and I cried lood oot, *Comin, Lord!' but I kent 
weel eneuch the v'ice was inside o* me, and no i* my 
heid, but i* my hert — and nane the less i* me for that! 
Sae awa at ance I cam to my closet here, and sat 
doon, and hearkent i' the how o' my hert. Never 
a word cam, but I grew quaiet— eh, sae quaiet and 
content like wi'oot onything to mak me sae, but may- 
be 'at he was thinkin aboot me! And I'm quaiet yet. 
And as sune's it's dark, I s' gang oot and see whether 
the bonny man be onywhaur aboot. There's naething 
atween him and me noo ; for, the moment I begin to 
think, it's him 'at comes to be thoucht aboot, and no 
Phemy ony mair! " 

"Steenie," said Kirsty, "it was the bonny man 
sent Phemy til ye — to gie ye something to du for him, 
luikin efter ane o' his silly lambs." 

"Ay," returned Steenie; "I ken she wasna wise- 
like, sic as you and my mither. She needit a heap 
o' luikin efter, as ye said." 

" And wi' haein to luik efter her, he kenned that 

the thouchts that troubled ye wudna sae weel win in, 

and wud learn to bide oot. Jist luik at ye noo! See 
II 



1 63 HEATHER AND SNOW 

hoo ye hae learnt to luik efter yersel! Ye saw it 
cudna be agreeable to her to hae ye aboot her no 
that weel washed, and wi' claes ye didna keep tidy 
and clean ! Sin ever ye tuik to luikin efter Phemy, 
I hae had little trouble luikin efter you ! " 

"I see't, Kirsty, I see't! I never thoucht o' the 
thing afore! I micht du a heap to mak mysel mair 
like ither fowk ! I s* no forget, noo 'at I hae gotten 
a grip o* the thing. Ye'll see, Kirsty! " 

" That's my ain Steenie ! " answered Kirsty. " May- 
be the bonny man cudna be aye comin to ye himsel, 
haein ither fowk a heap to luik til, and sae sent Phemy 
to lat ye ken what he would hae o* ye. Noo 'at ye 
hae begun, ye'U be growin mair and mair like ither 
fowk." 

" Eh, but ye fleg me! I may grow ower like ither 
fowk! I maun awa oot, Kirsty! I'm growin fleyt! " 

"What for, Steenie?" cried Kirsty, not a little 
frightened herself, and laying her hand on his arm. 
She feared his old trouble was returning in force. 

" 'Cause ither fowk never sees the bonny man, 
they tell me," he replied. 

" That's their ain wyte," answered Kirsty. " They 
micht a' see him gien they wud — or at least hear him 
say they sud see him or lang." 

"Eh, but I'm no sure 'at ever I did see him, 
Kirsty ! " 

" That winna haud ye ohn seen him whan the hoor 
comes. And the like's true o' the lave." 

" Ay, for I canna du wantin him — and sae nouther 
can they!" 

" Naebody can. A' maun hae seen him, or be gaein 
to see him!" 



PHEMY YIELDS PLACE 1 63 

"I hae as guid as seen him, Kirsty! He was 
there! He helpit me whan the ill folk cam to pu' at 
me! — Ye div think though, Kirsty, 'at I'm b'un' to 
see him some day ? " 

"I'm thinkin the hoor's been aye set for that 
same ! " answered Kirsty. 

" Kirsty," returned Steenie, not quite satisfied with 
her reply, "I'll gang clean oot the wuts I hae, gien 
ye tell me I'm never to see him face to face! " 

"Steenie," rejoined Kirsty solemnly, "I wud gang 
oot o' my wuts mysel gien I didna believe that ! I 
believe 't wi' a* my heart, my bonny man." 

"Weel, and that's a' richt! But ye maunna ca' 
me yer bonny man, Kirsty; for there's but ae bonny 
man, and we're a' brithers and sisters. He said it 
himsel ! " 

"That's verra true, Steenie; but whiles ye're sae 
like him I canna help ca'in ye by his name." 

" Dinna du't again, Kirsty. I canna bide it. I'm 
no bonny ! No but I wud sair like to be bonny — 
bonny like him, Kirsty! — Did ye ever hear tell 'at he 
had a father? I h'ard a man ance say 'at he hed. 
Sic a bonny man as that father maun be! Jist think 
o' his haein a son like him! — Dauvid Barclay maun 
be richt sair disappintit wi' sic a son as me — and him 
sic a man himsel ! What for is't, Kirsty? " 

"That'll be ane o' the secrets the bonny man's 
gaein to tell his ain fowk whan he gets them hame 
wi' him!" 

" His ain fowk, Kirsty ? " 

" Ay, siclike's you and me. Whan we gang hame, 
he'll tell 's a' aboot a heap o' things we wad fain 
ken." 



X64 HEATHER AND SNOW 

" His ain fowk ! His ain f owk ! " Steenie went on 
for a while murmuring to himself at intervals. At 
last he said, 

"What maks them his ain fowk, Kirsty?" 

" What maks me your fowk, Steenie ? " she rejoined. 

" That's easy to tell. It's 'cause we hae the same 
father and mither; I hae aye kenned that!" answered 
Steenie with a laugh. 

She had been trying to puzzle him^ he thought, but 
had failed I 

" Weel, the bonny man and you and me, we hae a* 
the same father: that's what maks us his ain fowk! 
— Ye see noo ? " 

** Ay, I see! I see! " responded Steenie, and again 
was silent. 

Kirsty thought he had plenty now to meditate 
upon. 

"Are ye comin hame wi' me," she asked, "or are 
ye gaein to bide, Steenie ? " 

"I'll gang hame wi' ye, gien ye like, but I wud 
raither bide the nicht," he answered. "I'll hae jist 
this ae nicht mair oot upo' the hill, and syne the 
morn I'll come hame to the hoose, and see gien I 
can help my mither, or maybe my father. That's 
what the bonny man wud like best, I'm sure." 

Kirsty went home with a glad heart : surely Steenie 
was now in a fair way of becoming, as he phrased it, 
" like ither fowk ! " 

"But the Lord's gowk's better nor the warl's 
prophet ! " she said to herself. 



CHAPTER XXII 
THE HORN 

The beginning of the winter had been open and 
warm, and very little snow had fallen. This was 
much in Phemy's favor, and by the new year she was 
quite well. But, notwithstanding her heartlessness 
toward Steenie, she was no longer quite like her old 
self. She was quieter — and less foolish ; she had had 
a lesson in folly, and a long ministration of love, and 
knew now a trifle about both. It is true she wrote 
nearly as much silly poetry, but it was not so silly as 
before, partly because her imagination had now some- 
thing of fact to go upon, and poorest fact is better 
than mere fancy. So free was her heart, however, 
that she went of herself to see her aunt at the castle, 
to whom, having beheld the love between David and 
his daughter, and begun to feel injured by the little 
notice her father took of her, she bewailed his indif- 
ference. 

At Mrs. £remner's request she had made an ap- 
pointment to go with her from the castle on a certain 
Saturday to visit a distant relative, living in a lonely 
cottage on the other side of the Horn — a woman too 
old ever to leave her home. When the day arrived, 
both saw that the weather gave signs of breaking, 
but the heavy clouds on the horizon seemed no worse 
than had often shown themselves that winter, and as 

165 



X66 HEATHER AMD SNOW 

often passed away. The air was warm, the day bright, 
the earth dry, and Phemy and her aunt were in good 
spirits. They had purposed to return early to Weelset, 
but agreed as they went that Phemy, the days being 
so short, should take the nearer path to Tiltowie, 
over the Horn. By this arrangement, their visit 
ended, they had no great distance to walk together, 
Mrs. Bremner's way lying along the back of the hill, 
and Phemy *s over the nearer shoulder of it. 

As they took leave of each other, a little later 
than they had intended, Mrs. Bremner cast a glance 
at the gathering clouds, and said, 

*^ I doobt, lassie, it*s gaein to ding on afore the 
nicht! I wuss we war hame the twa o' 's! Gien it 
cam on to snaw and blaw baith, we micht hae ill 
winnin there! " 

" Noucht*s to fear, auntie," returned Phemy. ** It's 
a heap ower warm to snaw. It may rain — I wudna 
won'er, but there'll be nae snaw — no afore I win 
hame, onygait." 

"Weel, min*, gien there be ae drap o* weet, ye 
maun change ilka stic the minute ye 're i' the hoose. 
Ye're no that stoot yet! " 

" I'll be sure, auntie! " answered Phemy, and they 
parted almost at a right angle. 

Before Phemy got to the top of the hill-shoulder, 
which she had to cross by a path no better than a 
sheep-track, the wind had turned to the north, and 
was blowing keen, with gathering strength, from the 
regions of everlasting ice, bringing with it a cold 
terrible to be faced by such a slight creature as 
Phemy ; and so rapidly did its force increase that in 
a few minutes she had to fight for every step she 



THE HORN 167 

took ; SO that, when at length she reached the top, 
which lay bare to the continuous torrent of fierce and 
fiercer rushes, her strength was already all but ex- 
hausted. The wind brought up heavier and heavier 
snow-clouds, and darkness with them, but before ever 
the snow began to fall, Phemy was in evil case — in 
worse case, indeed, than she could know. In a few 
minutes the tempest had blown all energy out of her, 
and she sat down where was not a stone to shelter 
her. When she rose, afraid to sit longer, she could 
no more see the track through the heather than she 
could tell without it in which direction to turn. She 
began to cry, but the wind did not heed her tears; 
it seemed determined to blow her away. And now 
came the snow, filling the wind faster and faster, 
until at length the frightful blasts had in them, per- 
haps, more bulk of blinding and dizzying snow-flakes 
than of the air which drove them. They threatened 
between them to fix her there in a pillar of snow. It 
would have been terrible indeed for Phemy on that 
waste hill-side, but that the cold and the tempest 
speedily stupefied her. 

Kirsty always enjoyed the winter heartily. For 
one thing, it roused her poetic faculty — oh, how 
different in its outcome from Phemy *s! — far more 
than the summer. That very afternoon, leaving 
Steenie with his mother, she paid a visit to the weem, 
and there, in the heart of the earth, made the follow- 
ing little song, addressed to the sky-soaring lark : — 

What gars ye sing sae, birdie, 

As gien ye war lord o' the lift ? 
On breid ye're an unco sma' lairdie, 

But in hicht ye've a kingly gift ! 



1 68 HEATHER AND SNOW 

A' ye hae to coont yerstX rich in, 

'S a wee mawn o* gloxy-motes ! 
The whilk to the throne ye*re aye hitchin 

Wi* a lang tow o* sapphire notes ! 

Ay, yer sang-*s the sang- o* an angel 

For a sinfu* thrapple no meet. 
Like the pipes til a heavenly braingel 

Whaur they dance their herts intil their feet! 

But though ye canna behaud, birdie. 

Ye needna gar a' thing wheesht! 
I*m noucht but a hirplin herdie. 

But I hae a sang i' my breist! 

Len' me yer throat to sing throuw, 

Len* me yer wings to gang hie, 
And 1*11 sing ye a sang a laverock to cow, 

And for bliss to gar him dee! 

Long before she had finished writing it, the world 
was dark outside. She had heard but little heeded 
the roaring of the wind over her: when at length she 
put her head up out of the earth, it seized her by the 
hair as if it would drag it off. It took her more than 
an hour to get home. 

In the mean time Steenie had been growing restless. 
Coming wind often affected him so. He had been 
out with his father, who expected a storm, to see 
that all was snug about byres and stables, and feed 
the few sheep in an outhouse ; now he had come in, 
and was wandering about the house, when his mother 
prevailed on him to sit down by the fireside with her. 
The clouds had gathered thick, and the afternoon 
was very dark, but all was as yet still. He called his 
dog, and Snootie lay down at his feet, ready for 
what might come. Steenie sat on a stool, with his 



THE HORN 169 

head on his mother's knee, and for a while seemed 
lost in thought. Then, without moving or looking 
up, he said, as if thinking aloud, — 

" It maun be fine fun up there amang thae cloods 
afore the flauks begin to spread ! '* 

** What mean ye by that, Steenie, my man ? " asked 
his mother. 

'^ They maun be packit sae close, sae unco close i' 
their muckle pocks, like the feathers in a feather-bed ! 
and syne, whan they lat them a' oot thegither, like 
haudin the bed i' their twa han*s by the boddom 
corners, they maun be smorin thick till they begin to 
spread ! " 

" And wha think ye shaks oot the muckle pocks, 
Steenie ? " 

" I dinna ken. I hae af ten thoucht aboot it. I 
dinna think it's likly to be the angels. It's mair 
like wark for the bairnies up yoner at the muckle 
ferm at hame, whaur ilk ane, to the littlest littlin, 
kens what he's aboot, and no ane o' them's like some 
o' 's doon here, 'at gangs a' day in a dream, and 
canna get oorsels waukent oot o' 't. I wud be surer 
but that I hae thoucht whiles I saw the muckle angels 
themsels gaein aboot, throu and throu the ondingin 
flauchter o' the snaw — no mony o* them, ye ken, but 
jist whiles ane and whiles anither, throu amo' the 
cauld feathers, gaein aye straucht wi' their heids up, 
walkin comfortable, as gien they war at hame in't. 
I'm thinkin at sic a time they'll be efter helpin some 
puir body 'at the snaw's like to be ower muckle for. 
Eh me! gien I cud but get rid o' my feet, and win 
up to see ! " 

" What for yer feet, Steenie ? What ails ye aye at 



170 HEATHER AND SNOW 

yer feet? Feet's gey usefu* kin o* things to craturs, 
whether gien them in fours or twas! " 

*' Ay, but mine's sic a weicht ! It's them 'at's aye 
haudin me doon ! I wad hae been up and awa lang 
syne gien it hadna been for them ! " 

" And what wud hae been comin o* hiz wantin ye, 
Steenie ? " 

"Ye wad be duin sae weel wantin me, 'at ye wud 
be aye wantin to be up and efter me! A body's 
feet's nae doobt usefu to hand a body steady, and 
ohn gane blawin aboot, but eh, they're unco cum- 
marsum! But syne they're unco guid tu to baud a 
body ohn thoucht owre muckle o' himsel! They're 
fine heumblin things, a body's feet! But, eh, it'll 
be fine wantin them ! " 

" Whaur on earth gat ye sic notions aboot yer feet ? 
Guid kens there*s naething amiss wi' yer feet! 
Nouther o' ye hes ony rizzon to be ashamit o' yer 
feet. The fac is, your feet's by ordinar sma*, Steenie, 
and can add but unco little to yer weicht! " 

"It's a' 'at ye ken, mother!" answered Steenie 
with a smile. " But, 'deed, I got my information 
aboot the feet o' fowk frae naegate i' thiswarl'! 
The bonny man himsel sent word aboot them. He 
tellt the minister 'at tellt me, ance I was at the kirk 
wi' you, mother — lang, lang syne — twa or three 
hun'er years, I'm thinkin'. The bonny man tellt his 
ain fowk first that he was gaein awa in order that 
they michtna be able to do wantin him, and bude to 
stir themselves and come up efter him. And syne he 
slippit aff his feet, and gaed awa up intil the air 
whaur the snaw comes frae. And ever sin syne he 
comes and gangs as he likes. And efter that he 



- •*' 



THE HORN 171 

telled the minister to tell hiz 'at we was to lay aside 
the weicht that sae easy besets us, and rin. Noo by 
rin he maun hae meaned rin up^ for a body's no to 
rin frae the deevil but resist him; and what is't that 
bauds onybody frae rinnin up the air but his feet ? 
There! — But he's promised to help me aff wi' my feet 
some day : think o' that ! — Eh, gien I cud but get 
my feet aff! Eh, gien they wad but stick i' my 
shune, and gang wi' them whan I pu' them aff! 
They're naething efter a', ye ken, but the shune o* 
my sowl ! " 

A gust of wind drove against the house, and sank 
as suddenly. 

"That'll be ane o* them!" said Steenie, rising 
hastily. "He'll be wantin me! It's no that aften 
thay want ony thing o' me ay out the fair words a' 
God's craturs luik for frae ane anither, but whiles 
they do want me, and I'm thinkin they want me the 
nicht. I maun be gaein ! " 

" Hoots, laddie! " returned his mother, " what can 
they be wantin, thae gran' offishers, o' siclike as you ? 
Sit ye doon, and bide till they cry ye plain. I wud 
fain hae ye safe i' the hoose the nicht! " 

"It's a* his hoose, mother! A' theroot's therein 
to him. He's in's ain hoose a' the time, and I'm 
jist as safe atween his wa's as atween yours. Didna 
naebody ever tell ye that, mother ? Weel, I ken it 
to be true! And for wantin sic like as me, gien God 
never has need o' a midge what for dis he mak sic a 
lot o' them ? " 

"'Deed it's true eneuch ye say!" returned his 
mother. " But I div won'er ye're no fleyt! " 

" Fleyt ! " rejoined Steenie ; " what for wud I be 



173 HEATHER AND SNOW 

fleyt ? What is there to be fleyt at ? I never was 
fleyt at face o* man or wuman — na, nor o* beast 
naither! — I was ance, and never but that ance, fleyt 
at the face o* a bairn! " 

" And what for that, Steenie ? " 

'* He was rinnin efter his wee sister to lick her, and 
his face was the face o* a deevil. He nearhan' 
garred me hate him, and that wud hae been a terrible 
sin. But, eh, puir laddie, he hed a richt fearsome 
wife to the mither o* him! I'm thinkin the bonny 
man maun hae a heap o' tribble wi' siclike, be they 
bairns or mithers!" 

"Eh, but ye're i* the richt there, laddie! — Noo 
hearken to me: ye maunna gang the nicht!" said 
his mother anxiously. ** Gien yer father and Kirsty 
wad but come in to persuaud ye! I*m clean lost 
wi'oot them!" 

" For the puir idiot hasna the sense to ken what's 
wantit o' him!" supplemented Steenie, with a laugh 
almost merry. 

"Daur ye," cried his mother, indignantly, "mint 
at sic a word and my bairn thegither? He*s my 
bonny man ! " 

"Na, mother, na! I/e*s the bonny man at wha's 
feet I sail ae day sit, clothed and i* my richt min*. 
He is the bonny man ! " 

"Thank the Lord," continued his mother, still 
harping on the outrage of such as called her child an 
idiot, " 'at ye're no an orphan — 'at there's three o' 's 
to tak yer part ! " 

"Naebody can be an orphan," said Steenie, "sae 
lang's God's nae deid." 

" Lord, and they ca' ye an idiot, div they ! " ex- 



"" THE HORN , 173 

claimed Marion Barclay. " — Weel, be ye or no, 
ye* re ane o' the babes in wha's mooth he perfecteth 
praise ! " 

"He'll du that some day, maybe!" answered 
Steenie. 

" But! eh, Steenie," pursued his mother, " ye winna 
gang the nicht ! " 

" Mother," he answered, " ye dinna ken, nor yet do 
I, what to mak o* me — what wits I hae, and what 
wits I haena; but this ye'U alloo, that, for onything 
ye ken, the bonny man may be cryin upon me to 
gang efter some puir little yowie o' his, oot her lane 
i* the storm and the nicht! " 

With these words he walked gently from the 
kitchen, his dog following him. 

A terrible blast rushed right into the fire when he 
opened the door. But he shut it behind him easily, 
and his mother comforted herself that she had known 
him out in worse weather. Kirsty entered a moment 
after, and her father came in from the loft he called 
his workshop, they had their tea, and sat round the 
fire after it, peacefully talking, a little troubled, but 
nowise uneasy that their Steenie, the darling of them 
all, was away on the Horn : he knew every foot of 
its sides better than the collie who, a moment ago 
asleep before the fire, was now following at his 
master's heel. 

The wind, which had fallen immediately after the 
second gust as after the first, now began to blow with 
gathering force, and it took Steenie much longer than 
usual to make his way over height and hollow from 
his father's house to his own. But he was in no 
hurry, not knowing where he was wanted. I do not 



174 HEATHER AND SNOW 

think he met any angels as he went, but it was a 
pleasure to think they might be about somewhere, 
for they were sorry for his heavy feet, and always 
greeted him kindly. Not that they ever spoke to him, 
he said, but they always made a friendly gesture — 
nodding a stately head, waving a strong hand, or 
sending him a waft of cool air as they went by, a 
waft that would come to him through the fiercest 
hurricane as well as through the stillest calm. 

Before, strong toiling against the wind, man and 
dog reached their refuge among the rocks, the snow 
had begun to fall, and the night seemed solid with 
blackness. The very flakes might have been black 
as the snow of hell for any gleam they gave. But 
they arrived at last, and Steenie, making Snootie go 
in before him, entered the low door with bent head, 
and closed it behind them. The dog lay down 
weary, but Steenie set about lighting the peats ready 
piled between the great stones of the hearth. The 
wind howled over the waste hill in multitudinous 
whirls, and swept like a level cataract over the 
ghastly bog at its foot, but scarce a puff blew against 
the door of their burrow. 

When his fire was well alight, Steenie seated him- 
self by it on the sheepskin settle, and fell into a rev- 
erie. How long he had sat thus he did not know, 
when suddenly the wind fell, and with the lull master 
and dog started together to their feet : was it indeed 
a cry they had heard, or but a moan between wind 
and mountain? The dog flew to the door with a 
whine, and began to sniff and scratch at the crack 
of the threshold; Steenie, thinking it was still dark, 
went to get a lantern Kirsty had provided him with. 



THE HORN 175 

but which he had never yet had occasion to use. The 
dog ran back to him, and began jumping upon him, 
indicating thus in the recess where he found him that 
he wanted him to open the door. A moment more 
and they were in the open universe, in a night all of 
snow, lighted by the wide swooning gleam of a hid- 
den moon, whose radiance, almost absorbed, came 
filtering through miles of snow-cloud to reach the 
world. Nothing but snow was to be seen in heaven 
or earth, but for the present no more was falling. 
Steenie set the lighted lantern by the door, and fol- 
lowed Snootie, who went sniffing and snuffing about. 

Steenie always regarded inferior animals, and es- 
pecially dogs, as a lower sort of angels, with ways of 
their own, into which it would be time to inquire by 
and by, when either they could talk or he could bark 
intelligently and intelligibly — in which it used to 
annoy him that he had not yet succeeded. It was 
in part his intense desire to enter into the thoughts 
of his dog, that used to make him imitate him the 
most of the day. I think he put his body as nearly 
into the shape of the dog's as he could, in order thus 
to aid his mind in feeling as the dog was feeling. 

As the dog seemed to have no scent of anything, 
Steenie, after considering for a moment what he must 
do, began to walk in a spiral, beginning from the 
door, with the house for the centre. He had thus 
got out of the little valley on to the open hill, and 
the wind had begun to threaten reawaking, when 
Snootie, who was a little way to one side of him, 
stopped short, and began scratching like a fury in 
the snow. Steenie ran to him, and dropped on his 
knees to help him: he had already got a part of 



176 HEATHER AND SNOW 

something clear! It was the arm of a woman. . So 
deep was the snow over her, that the cry he and the 
dog had heard, could not surely have been uttered by 
her ! He was gently clearing the snow from the head, 
and the snow-like features were vaguely emerging, 
when the wind gave a wild howl, the night grew 
dark again, and in bellowing blackness the death- 
silent snow was upon them. But in a moment or 
two more, with Snootie's vigorous aid, he had 
drawn the body of a slight, delicately formed woman 
out of its cold, white mould. Somehow, with diffi- 
culty, he got it on his back, the only way he could 
carry it, and staggered away with it toward his house. 
Thus laden, he might never have found it, near as 
it was, for he was not very strong, and the ground 
was very rough as well as a little deep in snow, but 
they had left such a recent track that the guidance 
of the dog was sure. The wise creature did not, 
however, follow the long track, but led pretty straight 
across the spiral for the hut. 

The body grew heavy on poor Steenie's back, and 
the cold of it came through to his spine. It was so 
cold that it must be a dead thing, he thought. His 
breathing grew very short, compelling him, several 
times, to stop and rest. His legs became insensible 
under him, and his feet got heavier and heavier in 
the snow-filled entangling, impeding heather. 

What if it were Phemy ! he thought as he struggled 
on. Then he would have the beautiful thing all to 
himself! But this was a dead thing, he feared — only 
a thing ; and no woman at all ! Of course it couldn't 
be Phemy! She was at home, asleep in her father's 
house ! He had always shrunk from death ; even a 



THE HORN 177 

dead mouse he could not touch without a shudder; 
but this was a woman, and might come alive! It 
belonged to the bonny man, anyhow, and he would 
stay out with it all night rather than have it lie there , 
alone in the snow! He would not be afraid of her: 
he was nearly dead himself, and the dead were not 
afraid of the dead! She had only put off her shoes! 
But she might be alive, and he must get her into the 
house ! He would like to put off his feet, but most 
people would rather keep them on, and he must try 
to keep hers on for her ! 

With fast-failing energy he reached the door, stag- 
gered in, dropped his burden gently on his own soft 
heather-bed, and fell exhausted. 

He lay but a moment, came to himself, rose, and 
looked at the lovely thing he had labored to redeem 
from " cold obstruction." It lay just as it had fallen 
from his back, its face uppermost: it was Phemy! 

For a moment his blood seemed to stand still ; then 
all the divine sehses of the half-witted returned to 
him. There was no time to be sorrowful over her : 
he must serve the life that might yet be in that frozen 
form! He had nothing in the house except warmth, 
but warmth more than aught else was what the cold 
thing needed ! With trembling hands he took off her 
half-thawed clothes, laid her in the thick blankets 
of his bed, and covered her with every woollen thing 
in the hut. Then he made up a large fire, in the 
hope that some of its heat might find her. 

She showed no sign of life. Her eyes were fast 

shut : those who die of cold only sleep into a deeper 

sleep. Not a trace of suffering was to be seen on 

her countenance. Death alone, pure, calm, cold, 
12 



17^ HEATHER AND SNOW 

and sweety was there. But Steenie had never seen 
Death, and there was room for him to doubt and 
hope. He laid one fold of a blanket over the lovely 
white face, as he had seen a mother do with a sleep- 
ing infant, called his dog, made him lie down on her 
feet, and told him to watch ; then turned away, and 
went to the door. As he passed the fire, he coughed 
and grew faint, but recovering himself, picked up his 
fallen stick, and set out for Corbyknowe and Kirsty. 
Once more the wind had ceased, but the snow was 
yet falling. 



.^1 



CHAPTER XXIII 
THE STORM AGAIN 

KiRSTY woke suddenly out of a deep, dreamless 
sleep. A white face was bending over her — Steenie*s 
— whiter than ever Kirsty had seen it. He was 
panting, and his eyes were huge. She started up. 

" Come; come," was all he was able to say. 

"What's the metter, Steenie?" fehe gasped. 

For a quarter of a minute he stood panting, unable 
to speak. 

"I'm no thinkin onything's gane wrang," he fal- 
tered at length with an effort, recovering breath and 
speech a little. " The bonny man " 

He burst into tears, and turned his head away. A 
vision of the white, lovely, motionless thing, whose 
hand had fallen from his like a lump of lead, lying 
alone at the top of the Horn, with the dog on her 
feet, had overwhelmed him suddenly. 

Kirsty was sore distressed. She dreaded the worst 
when she saw him thus lose the self-restraint hitherto 
so remarkable in him. She leaned from her bed, 
threw her arms round him, and drew him to her. He 
kneeled, laid his head on her bosom, and wept as 
she had never known him weep. 

"I'll tak care o' ye, Steenie, my man!" she mur- 
mured. " Fear ye naething. " 

179 



l8o HEATHER AND SNOW 

It is amazing how much, in the strength of its own 
divinity, love will dare promise ! 

"Ay, Kirsty, I ken ye wull, but it's no me! " said 
Steenie. 

Thereupon he gave a brief, lucid account of what 
had occurred in the night. 

" And noo 'at I hae telt ye," he added, " it luiks a' 
sae strange 'at maybe I hae been but dreamin, efter 
a' ! But it maun be true, for that maun hae been 
what the angels cam cryin upo' me for. I'm thinkin 
they wud hae broucht me straucht til her themsels — 
they maistly gang aboot in twas, as whan they gaed 
and waukent the bonny man— gien it hadna been 'at 
the guid collie was aiqual to that ! " 

Kirsty told him to go and rouse the kitchen fire, 
and she would be with him in a minute. She sprang 
out of bed, and dressed as fast as she could, think- 
ing what she had best take with her. " The puir 
lassie," she said to herself, "may be growin warm, 
and sleepin deith awa; and by the time we win there 
she'll be needin something, like the lassie 'at the 
Lord liftit! " But in her heart she had little hope: 
it would be a sad day for the schoolmaster* 

She went to her father and mother's room, found 
them awake, and told them Steenie's tale. 

"It's time we war up, wuman! " said David. 

" Ay," returned his wife, " but Kirsty canna bide 
for's. Ye maun be aff, lassie! Tak a wee whuskey 
wi' ye; but min* it's no that safe wi' frozen fowk. 
Het milk's the best thing. Tak a drappie o' that wi' 
ye, I s' be efter ye wi' main And dinna forget a 
piece to uphaud ye as ye gang; it'll be ill fechtin the 
win'. Dinna lat Steenie gang back wi' ye; he canna 



THE STORM AGAIN i8l 

be fit. Sen' him to me, and I'll persuaud him. — 
David, man, ye'Il hae to saiddle and ride: the doctor 
maun gang wi ye straucht to Steenie's hoose." 

** Lat me up," said David, making a motion to free 
himself of the bedclothes. 

Kirsty went, and got some milk to make it hot. 
But when she reached the kitchen, Steenie was not 
there, and the fire, which he had tried to wake up, 
was all but black. The house-door was open, and 
the snow drifting in. Steenie was gone into the 
storm again ! She hurriedly poured the milk into a 
small bottle, and thrust it into her bosom to grow 
warm as she went. Then she lighted a lantern, 
chiefly that Steenie might catch sight of it, and set 
out. 

She started running, certain, she thought, to over- 
take him. The wind was up again, but it was almost 
behind her, and the night was not absolutely dark 
for the moon was somewhere. She was far stronger 
than Steenie, and could walk faster, but, keen as was 
her outlook on all sides, for the snow was not falling 
too thick to let her see a little way through it, she 
was at length near the top of the Horn without hav- 
ing caught a glimpse of him. Had he dropped on 
the way ? Had she in her haste left him after all in 
the house ? She might have passed him : that was 
easy to do ! One thing she was sure of — he could 
not have got to his house before her! 

As she drew near the door she heard a short howl, 
and knew it for Snootie's. Perhaps Phemy had re- 
vived! But no! it was a desolate, forsaken cry! 
The next moment came a glad bark : was it the foot- 
step of Kirsty it greeted, or the soul of Phemy ? 



l32 HEATHER AND SNOW 

With steady hand, aiid heart prepared, she opened 
the door and went in. The dog came bounding to 
her: either he counted himself relieved, or could 
bear it no longer. He cringed at her feet; he leaped 
upon her; he saw in her his savior from the terrible 
silence and cold and motionlessness. Then he stood 
still before her, looking up to her, and wagging his 
tailj but his face said plainly: It is there! 

Kirsty hesitated a moment ; a weary sense of use- 
lessness had overtaken her, and she shrank from en- 
countering the unchanging and unchangeable; but 
she cast off the oppression, and followed the dog to 
the bedside. He jumped up, and lay down where 
his master had placed him, as if to say he had been 
lying there all the time, and had only got up the 
moment she came. It was the one warm spot in all 
the woollen pile ; the feet beneath it were cold as the 
snow outside, and the lovely form lay motionless as 
a thing that would never move again. Kirsty lifted 
the blanket: there was Phemy's face, blind with the 
white death ! It did not look at her, did not recog- 
nize her : Phemy was there and not there ! Phemy 
was far away ! Phemy could not move from where 
she lay! 

Hopeless, Kirsty yet tried her best to wake her 
from her snow-sleep, shrinking from nothing, except 
for the despair of it. But long ere she gave up the 
useless task, she was thinking far more about Steenie 
than Phemy. 

He did not come! "He must be safe with his 
mother ! *' she kept saying in her heart ; but she could 
not reassure herself. The forsaken fire, the open 
door haunted her. She would succeed for a moment 



THE STORM AGAIN 183 

or two in quieting her fears, calling them foolish ; 
the next they would rush upon her like a cataract, 
and almost overwhelm her. While she was busy with 
the dead, he might be slowly sinking into the same 
sleep from which she could not wake Phemy! 

She laid the snow-cold captive straight, and left 
her to sleep on. Then, calling the dog, she left the 
hut, in the hope of meeting her mother, and learning 
that Steenie was at home. 

Now and then, while at her sad task, she had been 
reminded of the wind by its hollow roaring all about 
the hill, but not until she opened the door had she 
any notion how the snow was falling; neither until 
she left the hollow for the bare hill-side did she realize 
how the wind was raging. Then indeed the world 
looked dangerous! If Steenie was out, if her mother 
had started, they were lost ! She would have gone 
back into the hut with the dead, but that she might 
get home in time to prevent her mother from setting 
out, or might meet her on the way. At the same 
time the tempest between her and her home looked 
but a little less terrible to her than a sea breaking 
on a rocky shore. 



CHAPTER XXIV 
HOW KIRSTV FARED 

It was quite dark, and round her swept as it were 
a whirlpool of snow. The swift flakes struck at her 
eyes and ears like a swarm of vicious flies. In such 
a wind, the blows of the soft thin snow, beating upon 
her face, now from one quarter, now from another, 
were enough to bewilder even a strong woman like 
Kirsty. They were like hail to a horse. After try- 
ing for a while to force her way, she suddenly became 
aware of utter ignorance as to the direction in which 
she was going, and, for the first time in her life, a 
fell terror possessed her — not for herself, but' for 
Steenie and her father and mother. To herself, 
Kirsty was nobody, but she belonged to David and 
Marion Barclay, and what were they and Steenie to 
do without her! They would go on looking for her 
till they too died, and were buried yards deep in the 
snow! 

She kept struggling on, her head bent, and her 
body leaning forward, forcing herself against, it 
hardly seemed through, the snow-filled wind — but 
whither ? It was only by the feel of the earth under 
her feet, that she could tell, and at times she was by 
no means sure, whether she was going up or down 
hill. She kept on and on, almost hopeless of getting 
anywhere, certain of nothing but that, if once she 

184 






HOW RIRSTY FARED 185 

m 

sat down, she would never rise again. Fatigue that 
must not yield, and the inroads of the cold sleep, at 
length affected her brain, and her imagination began 
to take its own way with her. She thought herself 
condemned to one of those awful dust-towers, for she 
had read Prideaux, specially devilish invention of the 
Persians, in which, by the constant stirring of the 
dust so that it filled the air, the lungs of the culprit 
were at length absolutely choked up. Dead of the 
dust, she revived to the snow : it was fearfully white, 
for it was all dead faces; she crushed and waded 
through those that fell, while multitudes came whirl- 
ing up on her from all sides. Gladly would she have 
thrown herself down among them, but she must walk, 
walk on forever! 

All the time, she felt in her dim suffering as if not 
she but those at home suffered : she had deserted them 
in trouble, and do what she might — she would never 
get back to them ! She could, she thought, if she 
but put forth the needful energy, but the last self- 
exhaustive effort never would come! 

Where was the dog? He had left her! he was no- 
where near her! She tried to call him, but the storm 
choked every sound in her very throat. He would 
never have left her to save hi/nself ! He who makes 
the dogs must be at least as faithful as they ! So 
she was not left comfortless! 

Then she heard, or thought she heard the church- 
bell, and that may have had something to do with 
the strange dream out of which she came gradually 
to herself. 



CHAPTER XXV 

kirsty's dream 

Her dream was this : — 

She sat at the communion-table in her own parish- 
church, with many others, none of whom she knew. 
A man with piercing eyes went along the table, ex- 
amining the faces of all to see if they were fit to par- 
take. When he came to Kirsty, he looked at her for 
a moment sharply, then said, " That woman is dead. 
She has been in the snow all night. Lay her in the 
vault under the church." She rose to go because 
she was dead, and hands were laid upon her to guide 
her as she went. They brought her out of the church 
into the snow and wind, and turned away to leave 
her. But she remonstrated: "The man with the 
eyes," she said, "gave the order that I should be 
taken to the vault of the church!" — "Very well," 
answered a voice, " there is the vault! creep into it." 
She saw an opening in the ground, at the foot of the 
wall of the church, and getting down on her hands 
and knees, crept through it, and with difficulty got 
into the vault. There all was still. She heard the 
wind raving, but it sounded afar off. Who had 
guided her thither? One of Steenie's storm-angels, 
or the Shepherd of the sheep ? It was all one, for 
the storm-angels were his sheep-dogs ! She had been 

bewildered by the terrible beating of the snow-wind, 

x86 



kirsty's dream 187 

but her own wandering was another's guiding ! Be- 
yond the turmoil of life and unutterably glad, she 
fell asleep, and the dream left her. In a little while, 
however, it came again. 

She was lying, she thought, on the stone-floor of 
the church-vault, and wondered whether the ex- 
aminer, notwithstanding the shining of his eyes, might 
not have made a mistake : perhaps she was not so 
very dead ! perhaps she was not quite unfit to eat of 
the bread of life after all! She moved herself a 
little; then tried to rise, but failed; tried again and 
again, and at last succeeded. All was dark around 
her, but something seemed present that was known 
to her — whether man, or woman, or beast, or thing, 
she could not tell. At last she recognized it; a 
familiar odor it was, a peculiar smell, of the kind we 
call earthy : — it was the air of her own earth-house, 
in days that seemed far away ! Perhaps she was in 
it now! Then her box of matches might be there 
too ! She felt about and found it. With trembling 
hands she struck one, and proceeded to light her 
lamp. 

It burned up. Something seized her by the heart. 

A little farther in, stretched on the floor, lay a 
human form on its face. She knew at once that it 
was Steenie's. The feet were toward her, and be- 
tween her and them a pair of shoes: he was dead! — 
he had got rid of his feet ! — he was gone after Phemy 
— gone to the bonny man! She knelt, and turned 
the body over. Her heart was like a stone. She 
raised his head on her arm : it was plain he was dead. 
A small stream of blood had flowed from his mouth, 
and made a little pool, not yet quite frozen. Kirsty's 



1 88 HEATHER AND SNOW 

heart seemed about to break from her bosom to go 
after him ; then the eternal seemed to descend upon 
her like a waking sleep, a clear consciousness of 
peace. It was for a moment as if she saw the Father 
at the heart of the universe, with all his children 
about his knees: her pain and sorrow and weakness 
were gone; she wept glad tears over the brother 
called so soon from the nursery to the great presence 
chamber. " Eh, bonny man ! " she cried ; " is't possi- 
ble to expec ower muckle frae your father and mine! " 

She sat down beside what was left of Steenie, and 
ate of the oatcake, and drank of the milk she had 
carried forgotten until now. 

" I won'er what God'll du wi' the twa ! " she said to 
herself. " Gien / lo'ed them baith as I did, he lo'es 
them better! / wud hae dee'd for them; he did! " 

She rose and went out. 

Light had come at last, but too dim to be more 
than gray. The world was one large white sepulchre 
in which the earth lay dead. Warmth and hope and 
spring seemed gone forever. But God was alive ; his 
hearth-fire burned; therefore death was nowhere. 
She knew it in her own soul, for the Father was there, 
and she knew that in his soul were all the loved. The 
wind had ceased, but the snow was still falling, here 
and there a flake. A faint blueness filled the air, 
and was colder than the white. Whether the day 
was at hand or the night, she could not distinguish. 
The church bell began to ring, sounding from far 
away through the silence: what mountains of snow 
must yet tower unfallen in the heavens, when it was 
nearly noon and still so dark ! But Steenie was out 
of the snow — that was well ! Or perhaps he was be- 



KIRSTY*S DREAM 189 

side her in it, only he could leave it when he would! 
Surely anyhow Phemy must be with him! She could 
not be left all alone and she so silly! Steenie would 
have her to teach ! His trouble must have gone the 
moment he died, but Phemy would have to find out 
what a goose she was ! She would be very miserable, 
and would want Steenie ! Kirsty 's thoughts cut their 
own channels: she was as far ahead of her church 
as the woman of Samaria was ahead of the high priest 
at Jerusalem. 

Thus thinking, thinking, she kept on walking 
through the snow to weep on her mother's bosom. 
Suddenly she remembered, and stood still : her mother 
was going to follow her to Steenie's house! She too 
must be dead in the snow! — Well, let Heaven take 
all ! They were born to die, and it was her turn now 
to follow her mother ! She started again for home, 
and at length drew near the house. 

It was more like a tomb than a house. The door 

« 

looked as if no one had gone in there or out for ages. 
Had she slept in the snow like the seven sleepers in 
the cave ? Were the need and the use of houses and 
doors long over ? Or was she a ghost come to have 
one look more at her old home in a long dead world ? 
Perhaps her father and mother might have come back 
with like purpose, and she would see and speak to 
them! Or was she, alas! only in a dream, in which 
the dead would not speak to her? But God was not 
dead, and while God lived she was not alone even in 
a dream ! 

A dark bundle lay on the door-step : it was Snootie. 
He had been scratching and whining until despair 
came upon him, and he lay down to die. 



19^ HEATHER AND SNOW 

She lifted the latch, stepped over the dog, and en- 
tered. The peat-fire was smouldering low on the 
hearth. She sat down and closed her eyes. When 
she opened them, there lay Snootie, stretched out 
before the fire ! She rose and shut the door, fed and 
roused the fire, and brought the dog some milk, which 
he lapped up eagerly. 

Not a sound was in the house. She went all over 
it. Father nor mother was there. It was Sunday, 
and all the men were away. A cow lowed, and in 
her heart Kirsty blessed her : she was a live creature i 
She would go and milk her! 



CHAPTER XXVI 
HOW DAVID FARED 

David Barclay got up the moment Kirsty was 
out of the room, dressed himself in haste, swallowed 
a glass of whiskey, saddled the gray mare, gave her 
a feed of oats, which she ate the faster that she felt 
the saddle, and set out for Tiltowie to get the doctor. 
Threatening as the weather was, he was well on the 
road before the wind became so full of snow as to 
cause him any anxiety either for those on the hill or 
for himself. But after the first moment of anxiety, 
a very few minutes convinced him that a battle with 
the elements was at hand more dangerous than he 
had ever had to fight with armed men. For some 
distance the road was safe enough as yet, for the 
storm had not had time to heap up the snow be- 
tween the bordering hills; but by and by he must 
come out upon a large tract recovered by slow de- 
grees and great labor from the bog, and be exposed 
to the full force of the now furious wind where, in 
many places it would be far easier to wander off than 
to stay upon a road level with the fields, and bound- 
ed not even by a ditch the size of a wheel-track. 
When he reached the open, therefore, he was com- 
pelled to go at a foot-pace through the thick, blind- 
ing, bewildering, tempest-driven snow; and was not 

surprised when, in spite of all his caution, he found* 

191 



192 HEATHER AND SNOW 

by the sudden sinking and withdrawing of one of 
his mare's legs with a squelching noise, that he had 
got astray upon the bog, nor knew any more in what 
direction the town or other abode of humanity lay. 
The only thing he did know was the side of the 
road to which he had turned ; and that he knew only 
by the ground into which he had got: no step farther 
must in that direction be attempted! His mare 
seemed to know this as well as himself, for when she 
had pulled her leg out, she drew back a pace, and 
stood ; whereupon David cast a knot on the reins, 
threw them on her neck, and told her to go where 
she pleased. She turned half round and started at 
once, feeling her way at first very carefully. Then 
she walked slowly on, with her head hanging low. 
Again and again she stopped and snuffed, diverged a 
little, and went on. 

The wind was packed rather than charged with 
snow. Men said there never was a wind of the 
strength with so much snow in it. David began to 
despair of ever finding the road again, and naturally 
in such strait thought how much worse would Kirsty 
and Steenie be faring on the open hill-side. His 
wife, he knew, could not have started before the 
storm rose to tempest, and would delay her depar- 
ture. Then came the reflection, how little at any 
time could a father do for the well-being of his chil- 
dren! The fact of their being children implied their 
need of an all-powerful father: must there not then 
be such a father ? Therewith the truth dawned upon 
him, that first of truths, which all his church-going 
and Bible-reading had hitherto failed to disclose, 
that, for life to be a good thing and worth living, a 



HOW DAVID FARED 193 

man must be the child of a perfect father, and know 
him. In his terrible perturbation about his children, 
he lifted up his heart — not to the Governor of the 
world ; not to the God of Abraham or Moses ; not in 
the least to the God of the Kirk ; least of all to the 
God of the Shorter Catechism ; but to the faithful 
creator and Father of David Barclay, The aching 
soul which none but a perfect father could have 
created capable of deploring its own fatherly imper- 
fection, cried out to the father of fathers on behalf 
of his children, and as he cried, a peace came stealing 
over him such as he had never before felt. 

Then he knew that his mare had been for some 
time on hard ground, and was going with purpose in 
her gentle trot. In five minutes more, he saw the 
glimmer of a light through the snow. Near as it was, 
or he could not have seen it, he failed repeatedly in 
finding his way to it. The mare at length fell over 
a stone wall out of sight in the snow, and when they 
got up they found themselves in a little garden at the 
end of a farm-house. Not, however, until the farmer 
came to the door, wondering who on such a morning 
could be their visitor, did he know to what farm the 
mare had brought him. Weary, and well aware that 
no doctor in his senses would set out for the top of 
the Horn in such a tempest of black and white, he 
gratefully accepted the shelter and refreshment of 
which his mare and he stood by this time in much 
need, and waited for a lull in the storm. 
13 



CHAPTER XXVII 
HOW MARION FARED 

In the mean time the mother of the family, not her- 
self at the moment in danger, began to suffer the 
most. It dismayed her to find, when she came down, 
that Steenie had, as she thought, insisted on accom- 
panying Kirsty, but it was without any great anxiety 
that she set about preparing food with which to follow 
them. 

She was bending over her fire, busy with her cook- 
ing, when all at once the wind came rushing straight 
down the chimney, blew sleet into the kitchen, blew 
soot into the pot, and nearly put out the fire. It 
was but a small whirlwind, however, and presently 
passed. 

She went to the door, opened it a little way, and 
peeped out: the morning was a chaos of blackness 
and snow and wind. She had been born and brought 
up in a yet wilder region, but the storm threatened 
to be such as in her experience was unparalleled. 

"God preserve 's!" cried the poor woman, "can 
this be the en' o* a'thing? Is the earth turnin intil a 
muckle snaw-wreath, 'at whan a' are deid, there may 
be nae miss o' fowk to beery them ? Eh, sic a sepnl- 
chrin ! Mortal wuman cudna carry a basket in sic a 
leevin snaw-drift! Losh, she wudna carry hersel 
far! I maun bide a bit gien I wad be ony succor til 

194 



HOW MARION FARED 195 

them! It's my basket they'll be wantin*, no me, 
and i' this drift, basket may flee but it winna float! " 

She turned to her cooking as if it were the one thing 
to save the world. Let her be prepared for the best 
as well as for the worst ! Kirsty might find Phemy 
past helping, and bring Steenie home ! Then there 
was David, at that moment fighting for his life, per- 
haps ! — if he came home now, or any of the three, 
she must be ready to save their lives! they must not 
perish on her hands ! So she prepared for the possible 
future, not by brooding on it, but by doing the work 
of the present. She cooked and cooked, until there 
was nothing more to be done in that way, and then 
having thus cleared *the way for it, sat down and 
cried. There was a time for tears: the Bible said 
there was! and when Marion's hands fell into her 
lap, their hour — and not till then, was come. To go 
out after Kirsty would have been the bare foolishness 
of suicide, would have been to abandon her husband 
and children against the hour of their coming need: 
one of the hardest demands on the obedience of faith 
is to do nothing; it is often so much easier to do 
foolishly ! 

But she did not weep long. A moment more and 
she was up and at work again, hanging the great 
kettle of water on the crook, and blowing up the fire, 
that she might have hot bottles to lay in every bed. 
Then she assailed the peat-stack in spite of the wind, 
making to it journey after journey, until she had 
heaped a great pile of peats in the corner nearest the 
hearth. 

The morning wore on ; the storm continued raging; 
no news came from the white world; mankind had 



196 HEATHER AND SNOW 

vanished in the whirling snow. It was well the men 
had gone home, she thought : there would only have 
been the more in danger, the more to be fearful 
about, for all would have been abroad in the drift, 
hopelessly looking for one another! But oh Steenie, 
Steenie! and her ain Kirsty! 

About half-past ten o'clock, the wind began to 
abate its violence, and speedily sank to a calm, 
wherewith the snow lost its main terror. She looked 
out : it was falling in straight, silent lines, flickering 
slowly down, but very thick. She could find her way 
now ! Hideous fears assailed her, but she banished 
them imperiously: they should not sap the energy 
whose every jot would be wanted! She caught up 
the bottle of hot milk she had kept ready, wrapped 
it in flannel, tied it, with a loaf of bread, in a shawl 
about her waist, made up the fire, closed the door, 
and set out for Steenie 's house on the Horn. 






CHAPTER XXVIII 
HUSBAND AND WIFE 

Two hours or so earlier, David, perceiving some 
assuagement in the storm, and his host having offered 
to go at once to the doctor and the schoolmaster, 
had taken his mare, and mounted to go home. He 
met with no impediment now except the depth of the 
snow, which made it so hard for the mare to get along 
that, full of anxiety about his children, he found the 
distance a weary one to traverse. 

When at length he reached the Knowe no one was 
there to welcome him. He saw, however, by the fire 
and the food, that Marion was not long gone. He ! 

put up the gray, clothed her and fed her, drank some 
milk, caught up a quarter of cakes, and started for 
the hill. : 

The snow was not falling so thickly now, but it ; 

had already almost obliterated the footprints of his 
wife. Still he could distinguish them in places, and : 

with some difficulty succeeded in following their track : 

until it was clear which route she had taken. They ; 

■ 

indicated the easier, though longer way — not that by 
the earth-house, and the father and daughter passed 
without seeing each other. When Kirsty got to the ! 

farm, her father was following her mother up the hill. i 

When David reached the Hillfauld, the name he • 

always gave Steenie's house, he found the door open, 

197 



X98 HEATHER AND SNOW 

and walked in. His wife did not hear him, for his 
iron-shod shoes were balled with snow. She was 
standing over the body of Pbemy, looking down on 
the white sleep with a solemn, motherly, tearless 
face. She turned as he drew near, and the pair, like 
the lovers they were, fell each in the other's arms. 
Marion was the first to speak. 

** Eh Dauvid ! God be praised I hae yersel ! " 

" Is the puir thing gane ? " asked her husband in an 
awe-hushed tone, looking down on the maid that was 
not dead but sleeping. 

"I doobt there's no doobt aboot that," answered 
Marion. "Steenie, I was jist thinkin, wud be sair 
disapp'intit to learn 'at there was. Eh, the faith o' 
that laddie! H'aven to him's sic a rale place, and 
sic a hantle better nor this warl, 'at he wad not only 
fain be there himsel, but wad hae Phemy there — ay, 
gien it war ever sae lang afore himsel ! Ye see he 
kens naething aboot sin and the saicrifeece, and he 
disna un'erstan 'at Phemy was aye a gey wull kin' o' 
a lassie ! " 

"Maybe the bonny man, as Steenie ca's him," 
returned David, " may hae as muckle compassion for 
the puir thing i' the hert o' 'im as Steenie himsel! " 

" Ow ay ! Whatfor no ! But what can the bonny 
man himsel du, a' bein sattlet ? " 

" Dinna leemit the Almichty, wuman — and that i' 
the verra moment whan he's been to hiz — I wunna 
say mair gracious nor ord'nar, for that cudna be — 
but whan he's latten us see a bit plainer nor common 
that he is gracious! The Lord o' mercy 'ill manage 
to luik efter the lammie he made, ae w'y or ither, 
there as here. Ye daurna say he didna du his best 



HUSBAND AND WIFE 199 

for her here, and wuU he no du his best for her there 
as weel ? " 

" Doobtless, Dauvid ! But ye f richt me ! It souns 
jist rank papistry — naither mair nor lessl What can 
he du? He canna dee again for ane 'at wudna turn 
til 'im i' this life! The thing's no to be thoucht! " 

"Hoo ken ye that, wuman? Ye hae jist thoucht 
it yersel! Gien I was you, I wudna daur to say what 
he cudna du! I' the mean time, what he maks me 
able to houp, I'm no gaein to fling frae me! " 

David was a true man : he could not believe a thing 
with one half of his mind, and care nothing about it 
with the other. He, like his Steenie, believed in the 
bonny man about in the world, not in the mere image 
of him standing in the precious shrine of the New 
Testament. 

After a brief silence — 

" Whaur's Kirsty and Steenie? " he said. 

"The Lord kens; I dinna." 

"They'll be safe eneuch." 

"It'snolikly.". 

"It's sartin," said David. 

And therewith, by the side of the dead, he imparted 
to his wife the thoughts that drove misery from his 
heart as he sat oh his mare in the storm with the reins 
on her neck, nor knew whither she went. 

"Ay, ay," returned his wife after a pause, "ye're 
unco richt, : Dauvid, as aye ye are! And I'm jist 
conscience-stricken to think 'at a' my life lang I hae 
been ready to murn ower the sorrow i' my hert, never 
thinkin o' the glaidness i' God's! What call had I 
to greit ower Steenie, whan God maun hae been aye 
sair pleased wi' him! What sense is there in lamen- 



aoo HEATHER AND SNOW 

tation sae lang's God's eident settin richt a' ! His 
hert's the safity o' oors. And eh, glaid sure he maun 
be, wi sic a lot o' his bairns at hame aboot him ! '* 

"Ay," returned David with a sigh, thinking of his 
old comrade and the son he had left behind him, 
"but there's the prodigal anes! " 

"Thank God, we hae nae prodigal! " 

" Aye, thank him ! " rejoined David ; " but he has 
prodigals that trouble him sair, and we maun see til't 
'at we binna thankless auld prodigals oorsels! " 

Again followed a brief silence. 

" Eh, but isna it strange ? " said Marion. " Here's 
you and me stanin murnin ower anither man's bairn, 
and naewise kennin what's come o' oor ain twa! — 
Dauvid, what can hae come o* Steenie and Kirsty ?" 

"The wull o' God's what's come o* them; and 
God baud me i' the grace o' wussin naething ither 
nor that same ! " 

"Haud to that, Dauvid, and haud me till't: we 
kenna what's comin ! " 

" The wull o' God's comin," insisted David. " But 
eh," he added," I'm concernt for puir Maister Craig! " 

" Weel, lat's awa hame and see whether the twa 
bena there afore's! — Eh, but the sicht o* the bonny 
corp maun hae gien Steenie a sair hert! I wudna 
won'er gien he never wan ower't i* this life! " 

" But what'll we du aboot it or we gang ? It's the 
storm may come on again waur nor ever, and mak it 
impossible to beery her for a month ! " 

"We cudna carry her hame at ween 's, Dauvid — 
think ye ? " 

"Na, na; it's no as gien it was hersel! And 
cauld's a fine keeper — better nor a' the embalmin o' 



HUSBAND AND WIFE 20I 

the Egyptians! Only Vm fain to haud Steenie ohn 
seen her again ! " 

"Weel, lat's hap her i' the bonny white snaw!" 
said Marion. " She'll keep there as lang as the snow 
keeps, and naething 'ill disturb her till the time comes 
to lay her awa!" 

•* That's weel thoucht o' ! " answered David. " Eh, 
wuman, but it's a bonny beerial compared wi sic as I 
hae aften gien comrade and foe alike! " 

They went out and chose a spot close by the house 
where the snow lay deep. There they made a hollow, 
and pressed the bottom of it down hard. Then they 
carried out and laid in it the death-frozen dove, and 
heaped upon her a firm, white, marble-like tomb of 
heavenly new-fallen snow. 

Without re-entering it, they closed the door of 
Steenie's refuge, and leaving the two deserted houses 
side by side, made what slow haste they could, with 
anxious hearts, to their home. The snow was falling 
softly, for the wind was still asleep. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

DAVID, MARION, KIRSTY, SNOOTIE, AND WHAT WAS 

LEFT OF STEENIE 

KiRSTY saw their shadows darken the wall, and 
turning from her work at the dresser, ran to the door 
to meet them. 

" God be thankit ! " cried David. 

Marion gave her daughter one loving look, and 
entering cast a fearful, questioning glance around 
the kitchen. 

" Whaur's Steenie ? " she said. 

" He's wi' Phemy, I'm thinkin," faltered Kirsty. 

" Lassie, are ye dementit ? " her mother almost 
screamed. " We're this minute come frae there ! " 

"He is wi' Phemy, mother. The Lord canna 
surely hae pairtit them, gangin in maist haudin 
han's!" 

"Kirsty, I haud ye accoontable for my Steenie!" 
cried Marion, sinking on a chair, and covering her 
face with her hands. 

" It's the wuU o' God 'at's accoontable for him, 
wuman ! " answered David, sitting down beside her, 
and laying hold of her arm. 

She burst into terrible weeping. 

" He maun be sair at hame wi* the bonny man! " 
said Kirsty. 

202 



DAVID, MARION, KIRSTY, SNOOTIE, AND STEENIE 203 

" Lassie," said David, " you and me and yer mither, 
we hae naething left but be better bairns,, and gang 
the fester to the bonny man! — Whaur's what's left 
o* the laddie, Kirsty ? " 

" Lyin i* my hoose, as he ca'd it. Mine was i* the 
yerd, his i* the air, he said. He was awa afore I 
wan to the kitchen. He had jist killt himsel savin 
at Phemy, rinnin and fechtin on, upo' the barest 
chance o' savin her life ; and sae whan he set aff to 
gang til her, no bidin for me, he was that forfouchten 
'at he hed a bluid-brak in 's breist, and was jist able, 
and nae mair, to creep intil the weem oot o' the 
snaw. He didna like the place, and yet had a kin' 
o' a notion o' the bonny man bein there whiles. I'm 
thinkin Snootie maun hae won til him, and run hame 
for help, for I faund him maist deid upo' the door- 
step." 

David stooped and patted the dog. 

"Na, that cudna be," he said, "or he wud never 
hae left him, I'm thinkin. — Ye're a braw dog," he 
went on to the collie, "and I'm thankfu' ye're no 
lyin wi yer tongue oot! — But guid comes to guid 
doggies! " he added, fondling the creature, who had 
risen, and feebly set his paws on his knees. 

" And ye left him lyin there ! Hoo hed ye the hert, 
Kirsty?" sobbed the mother reproachfully. 

" Mother, he was better aff nor ony ither ane o' 's! 
I winna say, mother, 'at I lo'ed him sae weel as ye 
lo'ed him, for maybe that wudna be natur — I dinna 
ken; and I daurna say 'at I lo'e him as the bonny 
man lo'es his brithers and sisters a' ; but I hae yet to 
learn hoo to lo'e him better. Onygait, the bonny 
man wantit him, and he has him ! And whan I left 



204 HEATHER AND SNOW 

him there, it was jist as gien I hield him oot i' my 
airms and said, 'Hae, Lord ; tak him : he's yer ain! ' " 

" Ye're i' the richt, Kirsty, my bonny bairn ! " said 
David. "Yer mither and me, we was never but 
pleased wi' onything 'at ever ye did. — Isna that true, 
Mar'on, my ain wuman ? " 

"True as his word!" answered the mother, and 
rose, and went to her room. 

David sought the yard, saw that all was right with 
the beasts, and fed them. Thence he made his way 
to his workshop over the cart-shed, where in five 
minutes he constructed, with two poles run through 
two sacks, a very good stretcher. Carrying it to the 
kitchen, where Kirsty sat motionless, looking into 
the fire, — 

"Kirsty, "he said, "ye're 'maist as strong's a man, 
and I wudna wullinly ony but oor ain three sels laid 
finger upo* what's left o' Steenie: are ye up to takin 
the feet o' *im to fess himhame? Here's what'll 
mak it 'maist easy! " 

Kirsty rose at once. 

" A drappy o' milk, and I'm ready," she answered. 
"Wull ye no tak a moofu' o' whuskey yersel, 
father ? " 

**Na, na; I want naething," replied David. 

He had not yet learned what Kirsty went through 
the night before, when he asked her to help him carry 
the body of her brother home through the snow. 
Kirsty, however, knew no reason why she should not 
be as able as her father. 

He took the stretcher, and they set out, saying 
nothing to the mother: she was still in her own room, 
and they hoped she might fall asleep. 



H 



DAVID, MARION, KIRSTY, SNOOTIE, AMD STEENIE 205 

" It min's me o' the women gauin til the sepulchre! " 
said David. " Eh, but it maun hae been a sair time 
til them ! — a heap sairer nor this hert-brak here ! " 

"Ye see they didna ken 'at he wasna deid," as- 
sented Kirsty, "and we div ken 'at Steenie's no 
deid! He's maybe walkin aboot wi the bonny man 
— or maybe jist ristin himsel a wee efter the uprisin! 
Jist think o' his heid bein a* richt, and his een as 
clear as the bonny man's ain! Eh, but Steenie maun 
be in grit glee ! " 

Thus talking as they went, they reached and en- 
tered the earth-house. They found no angels on 
guard, for Steenie had not to get up again. 

David wept the few tears of an old man over the 
son who had been of no use in the world but the best 
use — to love and be loved. Then, one at the head 
and the other at the feet, they brought the body out, 
and laid it on the bier. 

Kirst/ went in again, and took Steenie's shoes, 
tying them in her apron. 

"His feet's no sic a weicht noo! " she said, as to- 
gether they carried their burden home. 

The mother met them at the door. 

" Eh ! " she cried, " I thoucht the Lord had taen 
ye baith, and left me my lane 'cause I was sae hard- 
hertit til him! But noo 'at he's broucht ye back — 
and Steenie, what there is o* him, puir bairn! — I s' 
never say anither word, but jist lat him du as he likes. 
— There, Lord, I hae dune ! Pardon thoo me wha 
canst." 

They carried the forsaken thing up the stair, and 
laid it on Kirsty's bed, looking so like and so unlike 
Steenie asleep. Marion was so exhausted, both 



306 HEATHER AND SNOW 

roind and body, that her husband insisted on her 
postponing all further ministration till the morning; 
but at night Kirsty unclothed the untenanted, and 
put on it a long white nightgown. When the mother 
saw it lying thus, she smiled, and wept no more ; she 
knew that the bonny man had taken home his idiot. 



^ 



CHAPTER XXX 
FROM SNOW TO FIRE 

My narrative must now go a little way back in 
time, and a long way from the region of heather and 
snow, to India in the year of the mutiny. The regi- 
ment in which Francis Gordon served, his father's 
old regiment, had lain for months besieged in a well- 
known city by the native troops, and had begun to 
know what privation meant, its suffering aggravated 
by that of not a few women and children. With the 
other portions of the Company's army there shut up, 
it had behaved admirably. Danger and sickness, 
wounds and fatigue, hunger and death, had brought 
out the best that was in the worst of them : when 
their country knew how they had fought and endured, 
she was proud of them. Had their enemies, how- 
ever, been naked Zulus, they would have taken the 
place within a week. 

Francis Gordon had done his part, and well. 

It would be difficult to analyze the effect of ihe 
punishment Kirsty had given him, but its influence 
was upon him through the whole of the terrible time 
— none the less beneficent that his response to her 
stinging blows was indignant rage. I dare hardly 
speculate what, had she not defended herself so that 
he could not reach her, he might not have done in 
the first instinctive motions of natural fury. It is 

207 



3o8 HEATHER AND SNOW 

possible that only Kirsty's skill and courage saved 
him from what he would never have surmounted the 
shame of — taking revenge on a woman avenging a 
woman's wrong: from having deserved to be struck 
by a woman, nothing but repentant shame could 
save him. 

When he came to himself, the first bitterness of 
the thing over, Jie could not avoid the conviction, 
that the playmate of his childhood, whom once he 
loved best in the world, and who when a girl refused 
to marry him, had come to despise him, and that 
righteously. The idea took a firm hold on him, and 
became his most frequently recurrent thought. The 
wale of Kirsty's whip served to recall it a good many 
nights; and long after that had ceased to either 
smart or show, the thought would return of itself in 
the night-watches, and was certain to come when he 
had done anything his conscience called wrong, or 
his judgment foolish. 

The officers of his mess were mostly men of 
character with ideas better at least than ordinary as 
to what became a man ; and their influence on one 
by no means of a low, though of an unstable nature, 
was elevating. It is true that a change into a regi- 
ment of jolly, good-mannered, unprincipled men, 
would within a month have brought him to do as 
they did; and in another month ¥70uld have quite 
silenced, for a time at least, his poor little con- 
science; but he was at present rising. Events had 
been in his favor; after reaching India, he had no 
time to be idle; the mutiny broke out, he must be- 
stir himself, and, as I have said, the best in him was 
called to the front. 



FROM SNOW TO FIRE 209 

He was specially capable of action with show in it. 
Let the eyes be bent upon him, and he would go far. 
The presence of his kind to see and laud was an in- 
spiration to him. Left to act for himself, undirected 
and unseen, his courage would not have proved of 
the highest order. Throughout the siege, neverthe- 
less, he was noted for a daring that often left the 
bounds of prudence far behind. Mqre than once he 
was wounded^-once seriously; but even then he 
was in four days again at his post. His genial man- 
ners, friendly carriage, and gay endurance, rendered 
him a favorite with all. 

The suflFerings of the besieged at length grew such, 
and there was so little likelihood of the approaching 
army being able for some time to relieve the place, 
that orders were issued by the commander-in-chief 
to abandon it : every British person must be out of 
the city before the night of the day following. The 
general in charge thereupon resolved to take ad- 
vantage of the very bad watch kept by the enemy, 
and steal away in silence the same night. 
, The order was given to the companies, to each man 
individually, to prepare for the perilous attempt, but 
to keep it absolutely secret save from those who were 
to accompany them ; and so cautious was the little 
English colony as well as the garrison, that not a 
rumor of the intending evacuation reached the be- 
siegers, while, throughout the lines and in the can- 
tonments, it was thoroughly understood that, at a 
certain hour of the night, without call of bugle or 
beat of drum, every one should be ready to march. 
Ten minutes after that hour the garrison was in 
motion. With difficulty, yet with sufficing silence, 
14 



2IO HEATHER AND SNOW 

the gates were passed, and the abandonment ef- 
fected. 

The first shot of the enemy's morning salutation, 
earlier than usual, went tearing through a bungalow 
within whose shattered walls lay Francis Gordon. 
In a dining-room, whose balcony and window-frame 
had been smashed the day before, he still slumbered 
wearily, when close past his head rushed the eighteen- 
pounder with its infernal scream. He started up, to 
find the blood flowing from a splinter wound on his 
temple and cheek-bone. A second shot struck the 
foot of his long chair. He sprang from it, and 
hurried into his coat and waistcoat. 

But how was all so still inside ? Not one gun an- 
swered! Firing at such an hour, he thought, the 
rebels must have got wind of their intended evacua- 
tion. It was too late for that, but why did not the 
garrison reply ? Between the shots he seemed to hear 
the universal silence. Heavens! were their guns al- 
ready spiked? If so, all was lost! — But it was day- 
light ! He had overslept himself ! He ought to have 
been with his men — how long ago he could not tell, 
for the first shot had taken his watch. A third came 
and broke his sword, carrying the hilt of it through 
the wall on which it hung. Not a sound, not a mur- 
mur reached him from the fortifications. Could the 
garrison be gone? Was the hour past? Had no 
one missed him ? Certainly no one had called him ! 
He rushed into the compound. Not a creature was 
there! He was alone — one English officer amid a 
revolted army of hating Indians! 

But they did not yet know that their prey had slid 
from their grasp, for they were going on with their 



FROM SNOW TO FIRE 211 

usual gun-reveill6, instead of rushing on flank and 
rear of the retreating column! He might yet elude 
them and overtalce the garrison! Half-dazed, he 
hurried for the gate by which they were to leave 
the city. Not a live thing save two starved dogs 
did he meet on his way. One of them ran from him ; 
the other would have followed him, but a ball struck 
the ground beween them, raising a cloud of dust, and 
he saw no more of the dog. 

He found the gate open, and not one of the enemy 
in sight. Tokens of the retreat were plentiful, mak- 
ing the track he had to follow plain enough. 

But now an enemy he had never encountered be- 
fore — a sense of loneliness and desertion and help- 
lessness, rising to utter desolation, all at once assailed 
him. He had never in his life congratulated himself 
on being alone — not that he loved his neighbor, but 
that he loved his neighbor's company, making him 
less aware of an uneasy self. And now first he real- 
ized that he had seen his sword-hilt go off with a 
round shot, and had not caught up his revolver — that 
he was, in fact, absolutely unarmed. 

He quickened his pace to overtake his comrades. 
On and on he trudged through nothing but rice- 
fields, the day growing hotter and hotter, and his 
sense of desolation increasing. Two or three natives 
passed him, who looked at him, he thought, with 
sinister eyes. He had eaten no breakfast, and was 
not likely to have any lunch. He grew sick and 
faint, but there was no refuge: he must walk, walk 
until he fell and could walk no more! With the heat 
and his exertion, his hardly healed wound began to 
assert itself; and by and by he felt so ill, that he 



212 HEATHER AND SNOW 

turned off the road, and lay down. While he lay, 
the eyes of his mind began to open to the fact that 
the courage he had hitherto been so eager to show, 
could hardly have been of the right sort, seeing it 
was gone — evaporated clean. 

He rose and resumed his walk, but at every smallest 
sound started in fear of a lurking foe. With vainest 
regret he remembered the long-bladed dagger-knife 
he had when a boy carried always in his pocket. It 
was exhaustion and illness, true, that destroyed his 
courage, but not the less was he a man of fear, not 
the less he felt himself a coward. Again he got into 
a damp brake and lay down, in a minute or two again 
got up and went on, his fear growing until, mainly 
through consciousness of itself, it ripened into ab- 
ject terror. Loneliness seemed to have taken the 
shape of a watching omnipresent enemy, out of whose 
diffusion death might at any moment break in some 
hideous form. 

It was getting toward night when at length he saw 
dustahead of him, and soon after, he descried the 
straggling rear of the retreating English. Before he 
reached it a portion had halted for a little rest, and 
he was glad to lie down in a rough cart. Long be- 
fore the morning the cart was on its way again, Gor- 
don in it, raving with fever, and unable to tell who 
he was. He was soon in friendly shelter, however, 
under skilful treatment, and tenderly nursed. 

When at length he seemed to have almost re- 
covered his health, it was clear that he had in great 
measure lost his reason. 



CHAPTER XXXI 
KIRSTY SHOWS RESENTMENT 

Things were going from bad to worse at Castle 
Weelset. Whether Mrs. Gordon had disgusted her 
friends or got tired of them, I do not know, but she 
remained at home, seldom had a visitor, and never a 
guest. Rumor, busy in country as in town, said she 
was more and more manifesting herself a slave to 
strong drink. She was so tired of herself, that, to 
escape her double, she made it increasingly a bore 
to her. She never read a book, never had a news- 
paper sent her, never inquired how things were going 
on about the place or in any part of the world, did 
nothing for herself or others, only ate, drank, slept, 
and raged at those around her. 

One morning David Barclay, having occasion to 
see the factor, went to the castle, and finding he was 
at home ill, thought he would make an attempt to 
see Mrs. Gordon, and offer what service he could 
render: she might not have forgotten that in old 
days he had been a good deal about the estate. She 
received him at once, but behaved in such extraor- 
dinary fashion that he could not have. any doubt she 
was at least half-drunk : there was no sense, David 
said, either to be got out of her, or put into her. 

At Corbyknowe they heard nothing of the young 

laird. The papers said a good deal about the state 

213 



214 HEATHER AND SNOW 

of things in India, but Francis Gordon was not men- 
tioned. 

In the autumn of the year 1858, when the days were 
growing short, and the nights cold in the high region 
about the Horn, the son of a neighboring farmer, 
who had long desired to know Kirsty better, called 
at Corbyknowe with his sister, ostensibly on business 
with David. They were shown into the parlor, and 
all were sitting together in the early gloamin, the 
young woman bent on persuading Kirsty to pay them 
a visit and see the improvements they had made in 
house and garden, and the two farmers lamenting 
the affairs of the property on which they were tenants. 

" But I hear there's new grief like to come to the 
auld lairdship;" said William Lammie, as he sat 
with an elbow on the tea-table whence Kirsty was 
removing the crumbs. 

" And what may the wisdom o* the country-side be 
puttin furth the noo?" asked David, in a tone of 
good-humored irony. 

"Weel, as I hear, Mistress Comrie's been to 
Embro' for a week or twa, and's come hame wi* a 
gey queer story concernin the young laird — awa oot 
there whaur there's been sic a rumpus wi* the h'athen 
so'diers. There's word come, she says, 'at he'sfa'en 
intil the verra glaur o' disgrace, funkin at something 
they set him til: na, he wudna! And they hed him 
afore a coort-mairtial as they ca* 't, and broucht it 
in, she says, bare cooardice, and jist broke him. 
He'll hae ill shawin the face o' 'm again i' 's ain 
calf-country!" 

"It's a lee," said Kirsty. "I s' tak my aith o' 
that, whaever took the tellin o* 't. There never was 



> 



KIRSTY SHOWS RESENTMENT 215 

mark o* cooard upo Francie Gordon. He hed his 
fauts, but no ane o' them luikit that gait. He was 
a kin* o* saft-like whiles, and unco easy come ower, 
but, haein little fear mysel, I ken a cooard whan I 
see him. Something may hae set up his pride — he 
has eneuch o* that for twa deevils — but Francie was 
never nae cooard ! " 

" Dinna lay the lee at my door, I beg o* ye, Miss 
Barclay. I was but tellin ye what fowk was saying. " 

"Fowk's aye sayin, and seldom sayin true. The 
warst o* 't is *at honest fowk*s aye ready to believe 
leears! They dinna lee themsel's and sae it's no easy 
to them to think anither wad. Thereby the fause 
word has free coorse and is glorifeed! They're no 
a' leears 'at spreads the lee; but for them 'at maks 
the lee, the Lord silence them ! " 

"Hoots, Kirsty," said her mother, "it disna be- 
come ye to curse naebody! It's no richt o' ye." 

"It's a guid Bible-curse, mother! It's but a w'y 
o* sayin *His wull be dune! ' " 

"Ye needna be sae fell aboot the laird, Miss 
Barclay! He was nae partic'Iar frien o' yours gien 
a* tales be true!" remarked her admirer. 

" I'm tellin ye tales is maistly lees. I hae kenned 
the laird sin' he was a wee laddie — and afore that; 
and I*m no gaein to hear him leed upo' and haud 
my tongue! A lee's a lee whether the leear be a 
leear or no! — I hae dune." 

She did not speak another word to him save to bid 
him good- night. 

In the beginning of the year, a rumor went about 
the country that the laird had been seen at the castle, 
but it died away. 



2l6 HEATHER AND SNOW 

David pondered, but asked no questions, and Mrs. 
Bremner volunteered no information. 

Kirsty of course heard the rumor, but she never 
took much interest in the goings on at the castle. 
Mrs. Gordon's doings were not such as the angels 
desire to look into ; and Kirsty, not distantly related 
to them, and inheriting a good many of their pecu- 
liarities, minded her own business. 



CHAPTER XXXII 
IN THE WORKSHOP 

One night in the month of January, when the snow 
was falling thick, but the air, because of the cloud- 
blankets overhead, was not piercing, Kirsty went out 
to the workshop to tell her father that supper was 
ready. David was a Jack-of-all-trades — therein re- 
sembling a sailor rather than a soldier, and by the 
light of a single dip was busy with some bit of car- 
penter's work. 

He did not raise his head when she entered, and 
heard her as if he did not hear. She wondered a little 
and waited. After a few moments of silence, he 
said quietly, without looking up — 

"Are ye awaur o' onything by ord'nar, Kirsty?" 

"Na, naething, father," answered Kirsty, wonder- 
ing still. 

" It's been beirin 'tsel in upo' me at my bench 
here, 'at Steenie's aboot the place the nicht. I canna 
help imaiginin he*s been upo this verra flure ower 
and ower again sin' I cam oot, as gien he wad fain 
say something, but cudna, and gaed awa again. " 

" Think ye he's here at this moment, father? " 

"Na, he's no." 

" He used to think whiles the bonny man was 
aboot! " said Kirsty reflectively. 

*' My mother was a hielan wuman, and hed the 

217 



2l8 HEATHER AND SNOW 

second sicht ; there was no mainner o* doobt aboot 
it ! " remarked David, also thoughtfully. 

" And what wad ye draw frae that, father ? " asked 
Kirsty. 

**0w, naething verra important, maybe, but just 
'at possibly it micht be i* the faimily ! " 

" I wud like to ken yer verra thoucht, father! " 

" Weel, it's jist this: I'm thinkin 'at some may be 
nearer the deid nor ithers." 

"And, maybe," supplemented Kirsty, "some o' 
the deid may win nearer the livin nor ithers! " 

"Ay, that's it! that's the haill o' 't!" answered 
David. 

Kirsty turned her face toward the farthest corner. 
The place was rather large, and everywhere dark ex- 
cept within the narrow circle of the candle-light. 
In a quiet voice, with a little quaver in it, she said 
aloud : 

" Gien ye be here, Steenie, and hae the pooer, lat's 
ken gien there be onything lyin til oor han' 'at ye 
wuss dune. I'm sure, gien there be, it's for oor 
sakes and no for yer ain, glaid as we wud a' be to 
du onything for ye : the bonny man lats ye want for 
naething; we're sure o' that!" 

"Ay are we, Steenie," assented his father. 

No voice came from the darkness. They stood 
silent for a while. Then David said — 

"Gang in, lassie; yer mother 'ill be won'erin 
what's come o' ye. I'll be in in a meenit. I hae 
jist the last stroke to gie this bit jobby." 



-^ 



CHAPTER XXXIII 
A RACE WITH DEATH 

Without a word, but with disappointment in her 
heart that Steenie had not answered them, Kirsty 
obeyed. But she went round through the rick-yard 
that she might have a moment's thought with her- 
self. Not a hand was laid upon her out of the dark- 
ness, no faintest sound came to her ears through the 
silently falling snow. But as she took her way be- 
tween two ricks, where was just room for her to pass, 
she felt — felt, however, without the slightest sense 
of materta/ opposition^ that she could not go through. 
Endeavoring afterward to describe what rather she 
was aware of than felt, she said the nearest she could 
come to it, but it was not right, was to say that she 
seemed to encounter the ghost of solidity. Certainly 
nothing seemed to touch her. She made no attempt 
to overcome the resistance, and the moment she 
tuhied, knew herself free to move in any other direc- 
tion. But as the house was still her goal, she tried 
another space between two of the ricks. There again 
she found she could not pass. Making a third essay 
in yet another interval, she was once more stopped 
in like fashion. With that came the conviction that 
she was wanted elsewhere, and with it the thought 
of the Horn. She turned her face from the house 
and made straight for the hill, only that she took, 

219 



230 HEATHER AND SNOW 

as she had generally done with Steenie, the easier and 
rather longer way. 

The notion of the presence of Steenie, which had 
been with her all the time, naturally suggested his 
house as the spot where she was wanted, and thither 
she sped. But the moment she reached, almost before 
she entered it, she felt as if it were utterly empty — 
as if it had not in it even air enough to give her 
breath. 

When a place seems to repel us, when we feel as if 
we could not live there, what if the cause be that 
there are no souls in it making it comfortable to the 
spiritual sense ? That the knowledge of such presence 
would make most people uneasy is no argument 
against the fancy: truth itself, its intrinsic, essen- 
tial, necessary trueness unrecognized, must be re- 
pellent. 

Kirsty did not remain a moment in Steenie's house, 
but set her face to go home by the shorter and 
rougher path leading over the earth-house and across 
the little burn. 

The night continued dark, with an occasional thin- 
ning of the obscurity when some high current blew the 
clouds aside from a little nest of stars. Just as Kirsty 
reached the descent to the burn, the snow ceased, 
the clouds parted, and a faint worn moon appeared. 
She looked just like a little old lady too thin and too 
tired to go on living more than a night longer. But 
her waning life was yet potent over Kirsty, and her 
strange, wasted beauty, dying to rise again, made 
her glad as she went down the hill through the snow- 
crowned heather. The oppression which came on 
her in Steenie's house was gone entirely, and in the 



A RACE WITH DEATH 221 

face of the pale ancient moon her heart grew so 
light that she broke into a silly song which, while 
they were yet children, she made for Steenie, who was 
never tired of listening to it: — 

Willy, wally, woo! 

Hame comes the coo— 

Hummle, buxnmle, moo! — 

Widin ower the Bogie, 

Hame to fill the cogie! 

Bonny hummle coo, 

Wi* her baggy fu 

O' butter and o' milk. 

And cream as saft as silk, 

A' gethered frae the gerse 

Intil her tassly purse, ^ 

To be oors, no hers, 

Gudewillie, hummie coo! 

Willy, wally, woo! 

Moo. Hummlie, moo! 

Singing this childish rhyme, dear to the slow-wak- 
ing soul of Steenie, she had come almost to the bottom 
of the hill, was just stepping over the top of the weem, 
when something like a groan startled her. She 
stopped and sent a keen-searching glance around. 
It came again, muffled and dull. It must be from 
the earth-house ! Somebody was there ! It could not 
be Steenie, for why should Steenie groan ? But he 
might be calling her, and the weem changing the 
character of the sound! Anyhow she must be 
wanted 1 She dived in. 

She could scarcely light the candle for the trem- 
bling of her hand and the beating of her heart. Slowly 
the flame grew, and the glimmer began to spread. 
She stood speechless, and stared. Out of the dark- 



222 HEATHER AND SNOW 

ness at her feet grew the form, as it seemed, of 
Steenie, lying on his face, just as when she found 
him there a year before. She dropped on her knees 
beside him. 

He was alive at least, for he moved ! " Of course," 
thought Kirsty, "he's alive: he never was anything 
else! " His face was turned from her, and his arm 
was under it. The arm next her lay out on the 
stones, and she took the ice-cold hand in hers: it 
was not Steenie's! She took the candle, and leaned 
across to see the face. God in heaven ! there was 
the mark of her whip : it was Francie Gordon ! She 
tried to rouse him. She could not ; he was cold as 
ice, and seemed all but dead. But for the groan she 
had heard she would have been sure he was dead. 
She blew out the light, and, swift as her hands could 
move, took garment after garment off, and laid it, 
warm from her live heart, over and under him — all 
save one which she thought too thin to do him any 
good. Last of all, she drew her stockings over his 
hands and arms, and, leaving her shoes where 
Steenie's had lain, darted out of the cave. At the 
mouth of it she rose erect like one escaped from 
the tomb, and sped in dim-gleaming whiteness over 
the snow, scarce to have been seen against it. The 
moon was but a shred — a withered autumn leaf low 
fallen toward the dim plain of the west. As she ran 
she would have seemed to one of Steenie's angels, 
out that night on the hill, a newly disembodied ghost 
fleeing home. Swift and shadowless as the thought 
of her own brave heart, she ran. Her sense of power 
and speed was glorious. She felt — not thought — 
herself a human goddess, the daughter of the Eternal. 



A RACE WITH DEATH 223 

Up height and down hollow she flew, running her 
race with death, not an open eye, save the eyes of 
her father and mother, within miles of her in a world 
of sleep and snow and night. Nor did she slacken 
her pace as she drew near the house, she only ran 
more softly. At last she threw the door to the wall, 
and shot up the steep stair to her room, calling her 
mother as she went. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 
BACK FROM THE GRAVE • 

When David came in to supper, he said nothing, 
expecting Kirsty every moment to appear. Marion 
was the first to ask what had become of her. David 
answered she had left him in the workshop. 

'^ Bless the bairn ! what can she be aboot this time 
o* nicht ? '* said her mother. 

"I kenna/' returned David. 

When they had sat eating their supper for ten 
minutes, vainly expecting her, David went out to 
look for her. Returning unsuccessful, he found that 
Marion had sought her all over the house with like 
result. Then they became uneasy. 

Before going to look for her, however, David had 
begun to suspect her absence in one way or another 
connected with the subject of their conversation in 
the workshop, to which he had not for the moment 
meant to allude. When now he told his wife what 
had passed, he was a little surprised to find that im- 
mediately she grew calm. 

"Ow, than, she'll be wi* Steenie!" she said. 

Nor did her patience fail, but revived that of her 

husband. They could not, however, go to bed, but 

sat by the fire, saying a word or two now and then. 

The slow minutes passed, and neither of them moved 

save David once to put on peats. 

224 



BACK FROM THE GRAVE 225 

The house-door flew open suddenly, and they 
heard Kirsty cry, " Mother, mother ! " but when they 
hastened tothe door, no one was there- They heard 
the door of her room close, however, and Marion 
went up the stair. By the time she reached it, Kirsty 
was in a thick petticoat and bultoned-up cloth- 
jacket, had a pair of shoes on her bare feet, and was 
glowing a "celestial rosy- red." David stood where 
he was, and in half a minute Kirsty came in three 
leaps down the stair to him, to say that Francie was 
lying in the weem. In less than a minute the old 
soldier was out with the stable-lantern harnessing 
one of the horses, the oldest in the stable, good at 
standing, and not a bad walker. He called for no 
help, yet was round at the door so speedily as to as- 
tonish even Kirsty, who stood with her mother in 
the entrance by a pile of bedding. They put a 
mattress in the bottom of the cart, and plenty of 
blankets. Kirsty got in, lay down and covered her- 
self up, to make the rough ambulance warm, and 
David drove off. They soon reached the weem and 
entered it. 

The moment Kirsty had lighted the candle, 

"Lassie,** cried David, "there's been a wuman 
here ? " 

"Itluikslike it,** answered Kirsty: "I was here 
mysel, father! " 

"Ay, ay? of coorse but here's claes — wuman's 
claes ! Whaur cam they f rae ? Wha's claes can they 
be?" 

" Wha's but mine ? ' returned Kirsty, as she stooped 
to remove from his face the garment that covered his 
head. 

15 



r 



226 HEATHER AND SNOW 

" The Lord preserve *s! — to the vcrra stockins upo* 
thehan'so' 'm!" 
'* I had no dreid, father, o' the Lord seein me as 

he made me! " 

"Lassie," cried David, with heartfelt admiration, 
" ye sud hae been dother til a field-mershall. " 

" I wudna be dother til a king! " returned Kirsty. 
" Gien I hed to be born again, I wudna be born 'cep 
it was to Dauvid Barclay.** 

" My ain lassie ! " murmured her father. " But, 
eh," he added, interrupting his own thoughts, "we 
maun haud oor tongues till we've dune the thing 
we're sent to du!" 

They bent at once to their task. 

David was a strong man still, and Kirsty was as 
good at a lift as most men. They had no difficulty 
in raising Gordon between them, David taking his 
head and Kirsty his feet, but it was not without diffi- 
culty they got him through the passage. In the cart 
they covered him so that, had he been a new-born 
baby, he could have taken no harm except it were by 
suffocation, and then, Kirsty sitting with his head in 
her lap, they drove home as fast as the old horse 
could step out. 

In the mean time Marion had got her best room 
ready, and warm. When they reached it, Francie 
was certainly still alive, and they made haste to lay 
him in the hot feather-bed. In about an hour they 
thought he swallowed a little milk. Neither Kirsty 
nor her parents went to bed that night, and by 
one or other of them the patient was constantly 
attended. 

Kirsty took the first watch, and was satisfied that 



BACK FROM THE GRAVE 227 

his breathing grew more regular, and by and by 
stronger. After a while it became like that of one in 
a troubled sleep. He moved his head a little, and 
murmured like one dreaming painfully. She called 
her father, and told him he was saying words she 
could not understand. He took her place, and sat 
near him^ when presently his soldier-ears still sharp, 
heard indications of a hot siege. Once he started 
up on his elbow, and put his hand to the side of his 
head. For a moment he looked wildly awake, then 
sank back and went to sleep again. 

As Marion was by him in the morning, all at once 
he spoke again, and more plainly. 

"Go away, mother! " he said. "I am not mad. 
I am only troubled in my mind. I will tell my 
father you killed me." 

Marion tried to rouse him, telling him his mother 
should not come near him. He did not seem to un- 
derstand, but apparently her words soothed him, for 
he went to sleep once more. 

He was gaunt and ghastly to look at. The scar 
on his face, which Kirsty had taken for the mark of 
her whip, but which was left by the splinter that woke 
him, remained red and disfiguring. But the worst of 
his look was in his eyes, whose glances wandered 
about uneasy and searching. It was clear all was 
not right with his brain. I doubt if any other of his 
tenants would have recognized him. 

For a good many days he was like one awake yet 
dreaming, always dreading something, invariably 
starting when the door opened, and when quietest 
would lie gazing at the one by his bedside as if puz- 
zled. He took in general what food they brought 



228 HEATHER AND SNOW 

him, but at times refused it quite. They never left 
him alone for more than a moment. . 

So far were they from giving him up to his mother, 
that the mere idea of letting her know he was with 
them never entered the mind of one of them. To 
the doctor, whom at once they had called in, there 
was no need to explain the right by which they con- 
stituted themselves his guardians : any one would have 
judged it better for him to be with them than with 
her. David said to himself that when Francie wanted 
to leave them he should go ; but he had sought refuge 
with them, and he should have it : nothing should 
make him give him up except legal compulsion. 



CHAPTER XXXV 
FRANCIS COMES TO HIMSELF 

One morning, Kirsty sitting beside him, Francis 
started to his elbow as if to get up, then seeing her, 
lay down again with his eyes fixed upon her. She 
glanced at him now and then, but would not seem to 
notice him much. He gazed for two or three 
minutes, and then said, in a low, doubtful, almost 
timid voice, 

" Kirsty ? " 

"Ay; what is't, Francie?" returned Kirsty. 

" Is't yersel, Kirsty ? " he said. 

" Ay, wha ither, Francie ! " 

** Are ye angry at me, Kirsty ? " 

" No a grain. What gars ye speir sic a queston ? " 

" Eh, but ye gae me sic a ane wi* yer whup — jist 
here upo the haffit! Luik." 

He turned the side of his head toward her, and 

stroked the place, like a small, self-pitying child. 

Kirsty went to him, and kissed it like a mother. 

She had plainly perceived that such a scar could not 

be from her blow, but it added grievously to her pain 

at the remembrance of it that the poor head which 

she had struck, had in the very same place been torn 

by a splinter — for so the doctor said. If her whip 

left any mark, the splinter had obliterated it. 

" And syne, " he resumed, " ye ca'd me a cooacd ! " 

229 



230 HEATHER AND SNOW 

" Did I du that, ill wuman 'at I was! •* she returned, 
with tenderest maternal soothing. 

He laid his arms round her neck, drew her feebly 
toward him, hid his head on her bosom, and wept. 

Kirsty put her arm round him, held him closer, and 
stroked his head with her other hand, murmuring 
words of much meaning though little sense. He 
drew back his head, looked at her beseechingly, and 
said, 

" Div ye think me a cooard, Kirsty ? " 

"No wi* men," Answered the truthful girl, who 
would not lie even in ministration to a mind diseased. 

" Maybe ye think I oucht to hae strucken ye back 
whan ye strack me ? I wtdl be a cooard than, lat 
ye say what ye like. I never did, and I never will 
hit a lassie, lat her kill me! " 

" It wasna that, Francie. Gien I ca'd ye a cooard,, 
it was 'at ye behaved sae ill to Phemy." 

" Eh, the bonny little Phemy ! I had 'maist for- 
gotten her! Hoo is she, Kirsty?" 

" She's weel — and verra weel," answered Kirsty; 
"she's deid." 

"Deid!" echoed Gordon with a cry, again raising 
himself on his elbow. " Surely it wasna — it wasna 
'at the puir wee thing cudna forget me ! The thing's 
no possible ! I wasna worth it ! " 

"Na, na; it wasna ae grain that! Her deein 
had naething to du wi that — nor wi you in ony w'y. 
I dinna believe she was a hair waur for ony nonsense 
ye said til her — shame o' ye as it was! She dee'd 

upo* the Horn, ae awfu* tempest o' a nicht. She 

< 

cudna hae suffert lang, puir thing! She hadna the 
stren'th to suffer muckle. Sae awa she gaed! — and 



FRANCIS COMES TO HIMSELF 33 1 

Stecnie efter her! " added Kirsty in a lower tone, but 
Francis did not seem to hear, and said no more for 
a while. 

"But I maun tell ye the trowth, Kirsty," he re- 
sumed: " forby yersel, there's them 'at says I'm a 
cooard!" 

"I h'ard ae man say't, only ane, and him only 
ance. " 

" And ye said til 'im,* Ay, I hae lang kenned that ! ' " 

" I tellt him whaever said it was a leear ! " 

" But ye believt it yersel, Kirsty ! " 

" Wad ye hae me leear and hypocrite forby, to ca* 
fowk ill names for sayin what I believt mysel ! " 

" But I am 2i cooard, Kirsty ! " 

" Ye are w/, Francie. I wunna believe't though 
yersel say 't! It's naething but a dist o' styte and 
nonsense 'at's won in throu the cracks ye got i' yer 
heid, fechtin. Ye was aye a daft kin' o' a cratur, 
Francie ! Gien onybody ever said it, mak ye speed 
and get yer health again, and syne ye can shaw him 
plain 'at he's a leear." 

" But I tell ye, Kirsty, I ran awa ! " 

" I fancy ye wud hae been naething but a muckle 
idiot gien ye hadna! — ^Yc didna ley onybody in 
trouble ! — did ye noo ? " 

" No a sowl 'at I ken o'. Na, I didna do that. 
The fac was — but nae blame to them — they a' gaed 
awa and left me my lane, sleepin. I maun hae been 
terrible tired ! " 

" I telled ye sae ! " cried Kirsty. " Jist gang ower 
the story to me, Francie, and I s' tell ye whether 
ye're a cooard or no. . I dinna believe a stime o' 
't! Ye never was, and never was likely to be a 



33^ HEATHER AND SNOW 

cooard. I s* be at the boddom o' 't wi' whaever 
daur threpe me sic a lee! " 

But Francis showed such signs of excitement as 
well as exhaustion, that Kirsty saw she must not let 
him talk longer. 

"Or I'll tell ye what!" she added; "— ye'lltell 
father and mother and me the haill tale, this verra 
nicht, or maybe the morn's mornin. Ye maun hae 
an egg noo, and a drappy o' milk — creamy milk, 
Francie ! Ye aye likit that ! " 

She went and prepared the little meal, and after 
taking it he went to sleep. 

In the evening with the help of their questioning, 
he told them everything he could recall from the mo- 
ment he woke to find the place abandoned, not omit- 
ting his terrors on the way, until he overtook the 
rear of the garrison. 

"I dinna won'er ye war fleyt, Francie," said 
Kirsty. "I wud hae been fleyt mysel, wantin my 
swoord, and kennin nae God to trust til ! Ye maun 
learn to ken Aim, Francie, and syne ye'll be feart at 
naething!" 

After that, his memory was only of utterly con- 
fused shapes, many of which must have been fancies. 
The only things he could report were the conviction 
pervading them all that he had disgraced himself, 
and the consciousness that every one treated him as 
a deserter, and gave him the cold shoulder. 

His next recollection was of coming home to, or 
rather finding himself with his mother, who, the mo- 
ment she saw him, flew into a rage, struck him in the 
face, and called him coward. She must have taken 
him^ he thought, to some place where there were 



FRANCIS COMES TO HIMSELF 2$$ 

people about him who would not let him alone, but 
he could remember nothing more until he found him- 
self creeping into a hole which he seemed to know, 
thinking he was a fox with the hounds after him. 

** What '*s my claes like, Kirsty ? " he asked at this 
point. 

"They war no that gran*," answered Kirsty, her 
eyes smarting with the coming tears; "but ye'll 
ne'er see a stick {stitch) o' them again: I pat them 
awa." 

"What w'y 'ill I win up, wantin' them?" he re- 
joined, with a tremor of anxiety in his voice. 

"We'll see aboot that, time eneuch," answered 
Kirsty. 

" But my mither may be ef ter me ! I wud fain be 
up! There's no sayin what she michtna be up til ! 
She canna bide me ! " 

" Dreid ye naething, Francie. Ye're no a match 
for my leddy, but I s' be atween ye and her. She's 
no sae fearsome as she thinks! Onygait, she disna 
fleg Vie, " 

" I left some guid eneuch claes there whan I gaed 
awa, and I daur say they're i' my room yet — gien I 
only kenned hoo to win at them ! " 

" I s' gang and get them til ye — the verra day ye're 
fit to rise. But ye mauna speyk a word mair the 
nicht" 



A 



CHAPTER XXXVI 
KIRSTY BESTIRS HERSELF 

They held a long consultation that night as to 
what they must do. Plainly the first and most im- 
portant thing was to rid Francis of the delusion 
that he had disgraced himself in the eyes of his fel- 
low-officers. This would at once wake him as from 
a bad dream to the reality of his condition : con- 
vinced of the unreality of the idea that possessed 
him, he would at once, they believed, resume his 
place in the march of his generation through life. 
To find means, then, for the attainment of this end, 
they set their wits to work : and it was almost at once 
clear to David that the readiest way would be to 
enter into communication with any they could reach 
of the officers under whom he had served. His regi- 
ment having by this time, however, with the rest of 
the Company's soldiers, passed into the service of the 
Queen, a change doubtless involving many other 
changes concerning which Francis, even were he fit 
to be questioned, could give no information : David 
resolved to apply to sir Haco Macintosh, who had 
succeeded Archibald Gordon in the command, for 
assistance in finding those who could bear the testi- 
mony he desired to possess. 

" Divna ye think, father,** said Kirsty, "it wud be 

234 



KIRSTY BESTIRS HERSELF 335 

the surest and speediest w'y for me to gang mysel to 
sir Haco ? " 

" 'Deed it wud be that, Kirsty! " answered David. 
"There's naething like the bodily presence o* the 
leevin sowl to gar things gang! " 

To this Marion, although at first not a little ap- 
palled at the thought of Kirsty alone in such a huge 
city as Edinburgh, could not help assenting, and the 
next morning Kirsty started, bearing a letter from 
her father to his old officer, in which he begged for 
her the favor of a few minutes' conference on busi- 
ness concerning her father and the son of the late 
colonel Gordon. 

Sir Haco had retired from the service some years 
before the mutiny, and was living in one of the se- 
renely gloomy squares of the Scots capital. Kirsty 
left her letter at the door, and calling the next day, 
was shown into the library, where lady Macintosh 
as well as sir Haco awaited, with curious and kindly 
interest, the daughter of the man they had known so 
well, and respected so much. 

When Kirsty entered the room, dressed very simply 
in a gown of dark cloth and a plain straw bonnet, 
the impression she at once made was more than 
favorable, and they received her with a kindness and 
courtesy that made her feel herself welcome. They 
were indeed of her own kind. 

Sir Haco was one of the few men who, regarding 
constantly the reality, not the show of things, keep 
throughout their life, however long, great part of 
their youth, and all their childhood. Deeper far in 
his heart than any of the honors he had received, all 
unsought but none undeserved, lay the memory of a 



236 HEATHER AND SNOW 

happy and reverential boyhood. Sprung from a 
peasant stock, his father was a man of *' high-erected 
thought seated in a heart of courtesy." 

He was well matched with his wife, who, though 
born to a far higher social position in which sim- 
plicity is rarer was, like him, true and humble and 
strong. They had one daughter, who grew up only 
to die: the moment they saw Kirsty, their hearts 
went out to her. 

For there was in Kirsty that unassumed, uncon- 
scious dignity, that simple propriety, that naturalness 
of a carriage neither trammelled nor warped by 
thought of self, which at once awakes confidence 
and regard; while her sweet, unaffected "book 
English" in which appeared no attempt at speaking 
like a fine lady, no disastrous endeavor to avoid her 
country's utterance, revealed at once her genuine 
cultivation. Sir Haco said afterward that when she 
spoke Scotch it was good and thorough, and when 
she spoke English it was Wordsworthian. 

Listening to her first words, and reminded of the 
solemn sententious way in which sergeant Barclay 
used to express himself, his face rose clear in his 
mind's eye, he saw it as it were reflected in his 
daughter's, and broke out with — 

" Eh, lassie, but ye're like yer father! " 

"Ye min' upon him, sir?" rejoined Kirsty, with 
her perfect smile. 

" Min' upon him! Naebody worth his min'in upo' 
could ever forget him! Sit ye doon, and tell 's a' 
about him!" 

Kirsty did as she was told. She began at the be- 
ginning, and explained first, what doubtless sir Haco 



KIRSTY BESTIRS HERSELF 237 

knew at least something of before, the relation be- 
tween her father and colonel Gordon, whence his 
family as well as himelf had always felt it their busi- 
ness to look after the young laird. Then she told 
. how, after a long interval, during which they could 
do nothing, a sad opportunity had at length been 
given them of at least attempting to serve him ; and 
it was for aid in this attempt that she now sought 
sir Haco, who could direct her toward the procuring 
of certain information. 

- "And what sort of information do you think I 
can give or get for you, Miss Barclay ? *' asked sir 
Haco. 

**ril explain the thing to ye, sir, ia as feow 
words as I can," answered Kirsty, dropping her 
English. " The young laird has taen't intil his heid 
that he didna carry himsel like a man i' the siege, 
and it's grown to be in him what they ca' a iixt idea. 
He was left, ye see, sir, a' himlane i' the beleaguert 
toon, and I fancy the suddent waukin and the dis- 
covery that he was there his lee lane, jist pat him 
beside himsel." 

Here she told the whole story, as they had gathered 
it from Francis, mingling it with some elucidatory 
suggestions of her own, and having ended her nar- 
ration, went on thus: — 

" Ye see, sir, and my leddy, he was little better nor 
a laddie, and fowk 'at sair needs company, like 
Francie, misses company ower sair. Men*s no able 
— some men, my leddy — to tak coonsel wi' their ain 
herts, as women whiles leaips to du. And sae, whan 
he cam oot o' the fricht, he was ower sair upon himsel 
for bein i' the fricht. For it seems to me there's no 



238 HEATHER AND SNOW 

shame in bein frichtit, sae lang as ye dinna serve 
and obey the fricht, but trust in him 'at sees, and 
du what ye hae to du. Naebody 'at kenned Francie 
as I did, cud ever believe he faun' mair fear in's 
hert nor was lawfu' and rizzonable — sae lang, that 
is, as he was in his richt min'; ayont that nanebut 
his makar can jeedge him. I dinna mean Francie 
was a pettem, but, sir, he was no cooard — and that 
I ken, for I'm no cooard mysel, please God to keep 
me as he's made me. But the laddie — the man, I 
suld say — he's no to be persuaudit oot o' the fancy 
o' his ain cooardice; and I dinna believe he'll ever 
win oot o' 't wantin the testimony o' his fellow- 
officers, wha o' them may be left to grant the same. 
And I canna but think, gien ye'll excuse me, sir, 
that, for his father's sake, it wud be a gracious ac' 
to tak him intil the queen's service, and lat him 
baud on fechtin for's country, whaurever it may 
please her mejesty to want him. — Oot whaur he was 
afore, micht be best for him — I dinna ken. It wad 
be to put his country's seal upo' their word." 

" Surely, Miss Barclay, you wouldn't set the poor 
lad in the forefront of danger again ! " said lady 
Macintosh. 

'*I wud that, my lady! I canna but think the 
airmy, savin for this misadventur — gien there be ony 
sic thing as misadventur — hed a fair chance o' makin 
a man o' Francie; and whiles I canna help doobtin 
gien onything less 'ill ever restore him til himsel but 
restorin him til's former position. It wud onygait 
gie him the best chance o' shawin til himsel 'at there 
wasna a hair o' the cooard upon him." 

"But," said sir Haco, "would her majesty be 



KIRSTY BESTIRS HERSELF 239 

justified in taking the risk involved ? Would it not 
be to peril many for a doubtful good to one ?" 

Kirsty was silent for one moment, with downcast 
eyes. 

"I'm answert, sir — as to that p'int," she said, 
looking up. 

" For my part," said lady Macintosh, " I can't help 
thinking that the love of a good woman like yourself 
must do more for the poor fellow than the approval 
of all the soldiers in the world. — Pardon me, Haco." 

"Indeed, my lady, you're perfectly right!" re- 
turned her husband with a smile. 

But lady Macintosh hardly heard him, so startled, 
almost so frightened was she at the indignation in- 
stantly on Kirsty's countenance. 

"Putna things intil ony heid, my leddy, 'at the 
hert wud never put there. It wad be an ill fulfillin 
o' my father's duty til his auld colonel, no to say 
his auld frien, to coontenance sic a notion ! " 

" I beg your pardon, Miss Barclay ; I was wrong 
to venture the remark. But may I say in excuse, 
that it is not unnatural to imagine a young woman, 
doing so much for a young man, just a little bit in 
love with him ? " 

" I wud fain hae yer leddyship un'erstan', " re- 
turned Kirsty, " that my father, my mother, and my- 
sel, we're jist ane and nae mair. No ane o' 's hes 
a wuss that disna belang to a' three. The langest 
'( I can min', it's been my ae ambition to help my 
father and mother to du what they wantit. I never 
desirit merriage, my leddy, and glen I did, it wudna 
be wi sic as Francie Gordon, weel as I lo'e him, for 
we war bairnies, and laddie and lassie thegither : I 



240 HEATHER AND SNOW 

wudna hae a man ' it was for me to fin* f aut wi' ! 
'Deed, mem, what fowk ca's love, hes neither airt 
nor pairt i* this metter! " 

Not to believe the honest glow in Kirsty's face, 
and the clear confident assertion of her eyes, would 
have shown a poor creature in whom the faculty of 
belief was undeveloped. 

Sir Haco and lady Macintosh insisted on Kirsty's 
taking up her abode with them while she was in 
Edinburgh ; and Kirsty, partly in the hope of ex- 
pediting the object of her mission thereby, and partly 
because her heart was drawn to her new friends, 
gladly consented. Before a week was over, like un- 
derstanding like, her hostess felt as if she were a 
daughter until now long waiting for her somewhere 
in the infinite. 

The self-same morning, sir Haco sat down to his 
study-table, and began writing to every officer alive 
who had served with Francis Gordon, requesting to 
know his feeling, and that of the regiment about him. 
Within three days he received the first of the answers 
which kept dropping in for the next six months. 
They all described Gordon as rather a scatterbrain, 
as not the less a favorite with officers and men, and 
as always showing the courage of a man, or rather 
of a boy, seeing he not unfrequently acted with a 
reprehensible recklessness that smacked a little of 
display. 

" That's Francie himsel!" cried Kirsty, with the 
tears in her eyes, when her host read, to this effect, 
the first result of his inquiry. 

Within a fortnight he received also, from one high 
in office, the assurance that, if Mr. Gordon, on his 



KIRSTY BESTIRS HERSELF 24 1 

recovery, wished to enter her majesty's service, he 
should have his commission. 

While her husband was thus kindly occupied, lady 
Macintosh was showing Kirsty every loving attention 
she could think of, and, in taking her about Edin- 
burgh and its neighborhood, found that the country 
girl knew far more of the history of Scotland than 
she did herself. 

She would gladly have made her acquainted with 
some of her friends, but Kirsty shrank from the pro- 
posal : she could never forget how her hostess had 
herself misinterpreted the interest she took in Francie 
Gordon. As soon as she felt that she could do so 
without seeming ungrateful, she bade her new friends 
farewell, and hastened home, carrying with her copies 
of the answers which sir Haco had up to that time 
received. 

When she arrived it was with such a glad heart 
that, at sight of Francis in her father's Sunday 
clothes, she laughed so merrily that her mother said 
*'The lassie maun be fey! " Haggard as he looked, 
the old twinkle awoke in his eye responsive to her 
joyous amusement ; and David, coming in the next 
moment from putting up the gray mare with which 
he had met the coach to bring Kirsty home, saw 
them all three laughing in such an abandonment of 
mirth as, though unaware of the immediate motive, 
he could not help joining. 

The same evening Kirsty went to the castle, and 

Mrs. Bremner needed no persuasion to find the suit 

which the young laird had left in his room, and give 

it to her to carry to its owner; so that, when he 

woke the next morning, Francis saw the gray gar- 
16 



242 HEATHER AND SNOW 

ments lying by his bed-side in place of David's 
black, and felt the better for the sight. 

The letters Kirsty had brought, working along 
with returning health, and the surrounding love and 
sympathy most potent of all, speedily dispelled his 
yet lingering delusion. It had occasionally returned 
in force while Kirsty was away, but now it left him 
altogether. 



■^--1 



CHAPTER X?:XVII 
A GREAT GULF 

It was now midsummer, and Francis Gordon was 
well, though thin and looking rather delicate. Kirsty 
and he had walked together to the top of the Horn, 
and there sat, in the heart of old memories. The 
sun was clouded above ; the boggy basin lay dark 
below, with its rim of heathery hills not yet in bloom, 
and its bottom of peaty marsh, green and black, 
with here and there a shining spot; the growing 
crops of the far-off farms on the other side but little 
affected the general impression the view gave of a 
waste world ; yet the wide expanse of heaven and 
earth lifted the heart of Kirsty with an indescribable 
sense of presence, purpose, promise. For was it not 
the country on which, fresh from God, she first 
opened the eyes of this life, the visible region in 
which all her efiforts had gone forth, in which all the 
food of her growth had been gathered, in which all 
her joys had come to her, in which all her loves had 
had their scope, the place whence by and by she 
would go away to find her brother with the bonny 
man! 

Francis saw without heeding. His heart was not 
uplifted. His earthly future, a future of his own 
imagining, drew him. 

" This winna du ony langer, Kirsty ! " he said at 

343 



244 HEATHER AND SNOW 

length. " The accusin angel 'ill be upo' me again or 
I ken! I maunna be idle 'cause I'm happy ance 
mair — thanks to you, Kirsty! Little did I think 
ever to raise my held again ! But noo I maun be at 
my wark ! I'm fit eneuch ! " 

"I'm richt glaid to hear 't!" answered Kirsty. 
" I was jist thinkin lang for a word o' the sort frae 
ye, Francie. I didna want to be the first to speyk 
o' 't!" 

" And I was jist thinkin lang to hear ye speyk o' 
't!" returned Francis. **I wantit to du 't as the 
thing ye wad hae o' me ! " 

" Even than, Francie, ye wudna, it seems, hae 
been duin 't to please me, and that pleases me weel! 
I wud be nane pleast to think ye duin 't for me! It 
wud gie me a sair hert, Francie! " 
What for that, Kirsty ? " 

Cause it wud shaw ye no a man yet! A man's 
a man 'at dis what's richt, what's pleasin to the 
verra hert o' richt. Ye'll please me best by no 
wantin to please me; and ye'll please God best by 
duin what he*s putten intil yer hert as the richt thing, 
and the bonny thing, and the true thing, though ye 
suld dee i' the duin o' 't — Tell me what ye're thinkin 
o' duin." 

** What but gaein ef ter this new commission they 
hae promised me? There's aye a guid chance o' 
fechtin upo* the borders — the frontiers, as they ca' 
them!" 

Kirsty sat silent. She had been thinking much of 
what Francis ought to do, and had changed her mind 
on the point since the time when she talked about 
him with sir Haco. 



ii 



A GREAT GULF 245 

" Isna that what ye wud hae me du, Kirsty ? " he 
said, when he found she continued silent. " A body's 
no a f ule for wantin guid advice ! " 

"Na, that's true eneuch! — What for wad ye 
want to gang fechtin ? " 

"To shaw the wad' I'm nane o' what my mither 
ca'd me." 

"And shawn that, hoo muckle the better man 
wud ye be for't? Min' ye it's ae thing to be, and 
anither to shaw. Be ye maun ; shaw ye needna. " 

"I dinna ken; I micht be growin better a' the 
time!" 

" And ye micht be growin waur. — What the better 
wud ony neebor be for ye gane fechtin? Wudna 
it be a' for yersel ? Is there naething gien intil yer 
han' to du — naething nearer hame nor that ? Surely 
o' twa things, ane near and ane far, the near comes 
first!" 

" I dinna ken. I thoucht ye wantit me to gang! " 

"Ay, raither nor bide at hame duin naething; but 
michtna there be something better to du ? " 

" I dinna ken. I thoucht to please ye, Kirsty, but 
it seems naething wull ! " 

"Ay; that's waur the mischief lies: ye thoucht to 
please me ! " 

"I did think to please you, Kirsty! I thoucht, 
ance dune weel afore the warl* as my father did, I 
micht hae the face to come hame to you, and say — 
* Kirsty, wull ye hae me? ' " 

" Aye the same auld Francie ! " said Kirsty, with 
a deep sigh. 
. "Weel?" 

" I tell ye, Francie, L' the name o* God, I'll never 



246 HEATHER AND SNOW 

hae ye on nae sic terms! — Suppose I was to merry 
somebody whan ye was awa pruvin to yersel, and a' 
the lave 'at never misdoobted ye, 'at ye was a brave 
man — what wud ye du whan ye cam hame ? " 

"Naething o' mortal guid! Tak to the drink, 

maybe." 

"Ye tell me that! and ye think, wi' my een open 
to ken 'at ye say true, I wud merry ye ? — a man like 
you! Eh, Francie, Francie! ye're no worth my 
takin, and ye're no like to be worth the takin o' ony 
honest wuman ! — Can ye possibly imegine a wuman 
merryin a man 'at she kenned wud drive her to 
coontless petitions to be hauden ohn despisit him ? 
Ye mak my hert unco sair, Francie! I hae dune my 
best wi* ye, and the en' o* 't is, 'at ye're no worth 
naething." 

** For the life o' me, Kirsty, I dinna ken what ye're 
drivin at, or what ye wud hae o* me ! I canna but 
think ye're usin me-as ye wudna like to be used yersel !" 

" 'Deed I wud not like it gien I was o* your breed, 
Francie! Man, did ye never ance i* yer life think 
what ye hed to du — what was gien ye to du — what 
it was yer duty to du ? " 

"'No sae aften, doobtless, as I oucht. But I'm 
ready to hear ye tell me my duty; I'm no past 
reasonin wiM " 

" Did ye never hear 'at ye're to lo'e yer neebor 
as yersel?" 

" I'm duin that wi' a' my hert, Kirsty — and that 
ye ken as weel as I du mysel ! " 

" Ye mean me, Francie! And ye ca' that lo'in me, 
to wull me merry a man 'at's no a man ava! But 
it's nae me 'at's yer neebor, Francie! " 



it 
tt 



A GREAT GULF 247 

" Wha is my neebor, Kirsty ? " 

"The qucston's been speirt afore — and answeft." 

"And whafs the answer til't?" 

"'At yer neebor 's jist whaever lies neist ye i' 
need o' yer help. Gien ye read the tale o' the guid 
Sameritan wi' ony sort o' gumption, that's what ye'll 
read intil't and noucht else. The man or wuman ye 
can help, ye hae to be neebor til." 
I want to help you. " 

Ye canna help me. I*m in no need o' yer help. 
And the queston's no whaur*s the man I micAt help, 
but whaur's the man I maun help. I wantit to be~ 
your neebor but I cudna win at ye for the thieves; 
ye wad stick to them, and they wudna lat me du 
naething. " 

"What thieves, i* the name o' common sense, 
Kirsty ? " 

" Love o' yer ain gait, and love o' makin a show, 
and want o' care for what's richt. Aih, Francie, I 
doobt something a heap waur '11 hae to come upo' 
ye! A' my labor's lost, and I dearly grudge it — no 
the labor, but the loss o* 't! I grudge that sair." 

" Kirsty, i' the name o' God, wha is my neebor ? " 

"Yer ain mither." 

"My ain mither! — ker oot o' a' the warl' ? — I 
never cam upo' spark o' rizzon intil her! " 

"Michtna she be that ane oot a' the warl', ye 
never shawed spark o' rizzon til ? " 

." There's nae place in her for reason to gang til! " 

" Ye never tried her wi' 't ! Ye wud arguy wi' her 
mair nor plenty, but did ye ever shaw her rizzon i' 
yer behavior?" 

" Weel ye are turnin agen me — you 'at's saved my 



248 UEATHBR AND SNOW 

life £rae her! Didna I tell you hoo, whan I wan 
hame at last and gaed til her, for she was aye guid 
to me whan I wasna weel, she fell oot upo' me like 
a verra deevil, ragin and ca'in me ill names, 'at I 
jist ran frae the hoose — and ye ken whaur ye faun* 
me! Gien it hadna been for you, I wud hae been 
deid: I was waur nor deid a'ready ! What w'y can I 
be neebor to ^r/ It wud be naething but cat and 
dog atween's frae mornin lo nicht! " 

" Ae body canna be cat and dog baith! And the 
dog's as ill's the cat — whiles waur! " 

" Ony dog wud yowl gien ye threw a kettle o' bilin 
watter ower him ! " 

" Did she that til ye ? " 

" She mintit at it. I ran frae her. She hed the 
toddy-kettle in herhan', and she splasht it in her ain 
face tryin to fling't at me." 

" Maybe she didna ken ye ! " 

" She kenned me weel eneuch. She ca'd me by my 
ain as weel's ither names." 

' " Yere jist croonin my arguyment, Francie! Yer 
mither's just perishin o' drink! She drinks and 
drinks, and, by what I hear, cares for noucht else. 
A* 's upo' the ro'd to ruin in her and aboot her. 
She hasna the brains noo, gien ever she hed them, 
to guide hersel. Is Satan to grip her 'cause ye 
winna be neebor til her and baud him aff o"* her ? I 
ken ye're a guid son sae far as lat her du as she likes 
and tak 'maist a' the siller, but that's what greases 
the exle o' the cairt the deevil's gotten her intil! I 
ken weel she hesna been muckle o' a mither til ye, 
but ye're her son whan a' 's said. And there can 
be naething ye're callt upon to du, sae lang as she's 



\ 



A GREAT GULF 249 

i' the grup o' the enemy, but rugg her cot o* 't. 
Gien ye dinna that, ye* 11 never be cot o* 's grup 
yersel. Ye come oot thegither, or ye bide thegither. " 

Gordon sat speechless. 

*' It's ^possible! *' he said at length. 

"Francie," rejoined Kirsty, very quietly and 
solemnly, " ye're yer mother's keeper ; ye're her neist 
neebor: are ye gaein to du yer duty by her, or are 
ye not?" 

"I canna; I daurna; I*m a cooard afore her." 

** Gien ye lat her gang on to disgrace yer father, 
no to say yersel — and that by means o' what's yours 
and no hers, I'll say mysel 'at ye're a cooard." 

''Come hame wi' me and tak my pairt, and I'll 
promise ye to du my best." 

" Ye maun tak yer ain pairt ; and ye maun tak her 
pairt tu against hersel." 

" It's no to be thoucht o', Kirsty! " 

" Ye winna ? " 

"I canna my lane. I winna try't. It wud be 
waur nor useless." 

Kirsty rose, turning her face homeward. Gordon 
sprang to his feet. She was already three yards 
from him. 

"Kirsty! Kirsty!" he cried, goiq^ after her. 

She went straight for home, never showing by turn 
of head, by hesitation of step, or by change of car- 
riage, that she heard his voice or his feet behind her. 

When they had thus gone two or three hundred 
yards, he quickened his pace, and laid his hand on 
her arm. 

She stopped and faced him. He dropped his 
hand, grew yet whiter, and said not a word. She 



250 HEATHER A^D SNOW 

walked on again. Like one in a dream he followed, 
his head hanging, his eyes on the heather. She 
went on faster. He was falling behind her, but did 
not know it. Down and down the hill he followed, 
and only at the earth-house lifted his head: she was 
nearly over the opposite brae! He had let her go! 
He might yet have overtaken her, but he knew that 
he had lost her. 

He had no home, no refuge ! Then first, not when 
alone in the beleaguered city, he knew desolation. 
He had never knocked at the door of heaven, and 
earth had closed hers! An angel who needed no 
flaming sword to make her awful, held the gate of 
his lost paradise against him. None but she could 
open to him, and he knew that, like God himself, 
Kirsty was inexorable. Left alone with that last 
terrible look from the eyes of the one being he loved, 
he threw himself in despair on the ground. True 
love is an awful thing, not to the untrue only, but 
sometimes to the growing-true, for to everything that 
can be burned it is a consuming fire. Never more, 
it seemed, would those eyes look in at his soul's 
window without that sad, indignant repudiation in 
them! He rose, and crept into the earth-house. 

Kirsty lost herself in prayer as she went. ** Lord, 
I hae dune a' I can!*' she said. "Until thou hast 
dune something by thysel, I can du naething mair. 
He's i* thy ban's still, I praise thee, though he's 
oot o' mine! Lord, gien I hae dune him ony ill, 
f orgie me ; a puir human body canna ken aye the 
best! Dinna lat him suffer for my ignorance, whether 
I be to blame for't or no. I will try to do whatever 
thou makest plain to me. " 



A GREAT GULF 25 1 

By the time she reached home she was calm. Her 
mother saw and respected her solemn mood, gave 
her a mother's look, and said nothing: she knew that 
Kirsty, lost in her own thoughts, was in good com- 
pany. 

What was passing in the soul of Francis Gordon, 
I can only indicate, I cannot show. The most mys- 
terious of all vital movements, a generation, a tran- 
sition, was there — how initiated, God only knows. 
Francis knew neither whence it came nor whither 
it went. He was being re-born from above. The 
change was in himself; the birth was that of his will. 
It was his own highest action, therefore all God*s. 
He was passing from death into life, and knew it no 
more than the babe knows that he is being born. 
The change was into a new state of being, of the 
very existence of which most men are incredulous, 
for it is beyond preconception, capable only of being 
experienced. Thorough as is the change, the roan 
knows himself the same man, and yet would rather 
cease to be, than return to what he was. The un- 
known germ in him, the root of his being, yea, his- 
very being itself, the holy thing which is his intrinsic 
substance, hitherto unknown to his consciousness, 
has begun to declare itself, and the worm is passing 
into the butterfly, the creeping thing into the Psyche. 
It is a change in which God is the potent presence, 
but which the man must will^ or remain the jailer 
who prisons in loathsomeness his own God-born self, 
and chokes the fountain of his own liberty. 

Francis knew nothing of all this; he only felt, he 
must knock at the door behind which Kirsty lived. 
Kirsty could not open the door to him, but there 



252 HEATHER AND SNOW 

was one who could, and Francis could knock ! " God 
help me!" he cried, as he lay on his face to live, 
where once he had lain on his face to die. For the 
rising again is the sepulchre. The world itself is 
one vast sepulchre for the heavenly resurrection. 
We are all busy within the walls of our tomb burying 
our dead, that the corruptible may perish, and the 
incorruptible go free. Francis Gordon came out of 
that earth-house a risen man : his will was born. He 
climbed again to the spot where Kirsty and he had 
sat together, and there, with the vast clear heaven 
over his head, threw himself once more on his face, 
and lifted up his heart to the heart whence he came. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 
THE NEIGHBORS 

He had eaten nothing since the morning^ and felt 
like one in a calm ethereal dream as he walked home 
to Weelset in the soft dusk of an evening that would 
never be night, but die into the day. No one saw 
him enter the house, no one met him on the ancient 
spiral stair, as, with apprehensive anticipation, he 
sought the drawing-room. 

He had just set his foot on the little landing by its 
door when a wild scream came from the room. He 
flung the door open and darted in. His mother 
rushed into his arms, enveloped from foot to head in 
a cone of fire. She was making, in wild flight, for 
the stair, to reach which would have been death to 
her. Francis held her fast, but she struggled so 
wildly that he had actually to throw her on the floor 
ere he could do anything to deliver her. Then he 
flung on her the rug, the table-cover, his coat, and 
one of the window-curtains, tearing it fiercely from 
the rings. Having got all these close around her, he 
rang the bell with an alarm-peal, but had to ring 
three times, for service in that house was deadened 
by frequent fury of summons. . Two of the maids — 
there was no man-servant in the house now — laid their 
mistress on a mattress and carried her to her room. 
Gordon's hands and arms were so severely burned 

253 



254 HEATHER AND SNOW 

that he could do nothing beyond directing: he 
thought he had never felt pain before. 

The doctor was sent for, and came speedily. Hav- 
ing examined them, he said Mrs. Gordon's injuries 
would have caused him no anxiety but for her 
habits: their consequences might be very serious, 
and every possible care must be taken of her. 

Disabled as he was, Francis sat by her till the 
morning; and the night's nursing did far more for 
himself than for his mother. For, as he saw how 
she suffered, and interpreted her moans by what he 
had felt and was still feeling in his own hands and 
arms, a great pity awoke in him. What a lost life 
his mother's had been! Was this to be the end of 
it ? The old kindness she had shown him in his child- 
hood and youth, especially when he was in any 
bodily trouble, came back upon him, and a new love, 
gathering up in it all the intermittent love of days long 
gone by, sprang to life in his heart, and he saw that 
the one thing given him to do was to deliver his 
mother. 

The task seemed, if not easy, yet far from irksome, 
so long as she continued incapable of resisting; an- 
noying, or deceiving him ; but the time speedily came 
when he perceived that the continuous battle rather 
than war of duty and inclination must be fought and 
in some measure won in himself ere he could hope 
to stir up any smallest skirmish of sacred warfare in 
the soul of his mother. What added to the acerbities 
of this preliminary war was, that the very nature of 
the contest required actions which showed not only 
unbecoming in a son, but mean and disgraceful in 
themselves. There was no pride, pomp, or circum- 



THE NEIGHBORS 255 

Stance of glorious war in this poor, domestic strife, 
this seemingly sordid and unheroic, miserably un- 
heroic, yet high, eternal contest ! But now that 
Francis was awake to his duty, the best of his nature 
' awoke to meet its calls, and he drew upon a growing 
. store of love for strength to thwart the desires of 
' her he loved. ** Entire affection hateth nicer hands, " 
and Francis learned not to mind looking penurious 
and tyrannical, selfish, heartless, and unsympathetic, 
in the endeavor to be truly loving and lovingly true. 
He had not Kirsty to support him, but he could now 
go higher than to Kirsty for the help he needed ; he 
went to the same fountain from which Kirsty her- 
self drew her strength. At the same time frequent 
thought of her filled him with glad assurance of her 
sympathy, which was in itself a wondrous aid. He 
neither saw nor sought to see her: he would not go 
near her before at least she already knew from other 
sources what would give her the hope that he was 
trying to do right. 

The gradually approaching strife between mother 
and son burst out the same moment in which the 
devilish thirst awoke to its cruel tyranny. It was a 
mercy to both of them that it re-asserted itself while 
yet the mother was helpless toward any indulgence 
of her passion. Francis was no longer afraid of her, 
but it was the easier because of her condition, although 
not the less painful for him to frustrate her desire. 
Neither did it make it the less painful that already 
her countenance, which the outward fire had not 
half so much disfigured as that which she herself had 
applied inwardly, had begun to remind him of the 
face he had long ago loved a little, but this only 



256 HEATHER AND SNOW 

made him if possible, yet more determined that not 
one shilling of his father's money should go to the 
degradation of his mother. That she lusted and de- 
sired to have, was the worst of reasons why she 
should obtain! A compelled temperance was of 
course in itself worthless, but that alone could give 
opportunity for the waking of what soul was left her. 
Puny as it was, that might then begin to grow; it 
might become aware of the bondage to which it had 
been subjected, and begin to long for liberty. 

In carrying out his resolution, Francis found it 
specially hard to fight, along with the bad in his 
mother, the good in himself: the lower forms of love 
rose against the higher, and had to be put down. 
To see the scintillation of his mother's eyes at the 
sound of any liquid, and know how easily he could 
give her an hour of false happiness, tore his heart, 
while her fierce abuse hardly passed the portals of 
his brain. Her condition was so pitiful that her 
words could not make him angry. She would de- 
clare it was he who set her clothes on fire, and as 
soon as she was up again she would publish to the 
world what a coward and sneak he showed himself 
from morning to night. Had Francis been what he 
once was, his mother and he must soon have come 
as near absolute hatred as is possible to the human; 
but he was now so different that the worst answer he 
ever gave her was, 

** Mother, you know you don't mean it! " 

" I mean it with all my heart and soul, Francis," 
she replied, glaring at him. 

He stooped to kiss her on the forehead. She 
struck him on the face so that the blood sprang. He 



THE NEIGHBORS 257 

went back a step, and stood looking at her sadly as 
he wiped it away. 

" Crying! " she said. " You always were a coward, 
Francis!" 

But the word had no more any sting for him. 

" I'm all right mother. My nose got in the way ! " 
he answered, restoring his handkerchief to his 
pocket. 

''It's the doctor puts him up to it!" said Mrs. 
Gordon to herself. *' But we shall soon be rid of 
him. now ! If there's any more of this nonsense then, 
I shall have. to shut Francis up again! That will 
teach him how to behave to his mother! " 

When at length Mrs. Gordon was able to go about 
the house again, it was at once to discover that 
things were not to be as they had been. Then 
deepened the combat, and at the same time assumed 
aspects and occasioned situations which in the eye of 
the world would have seemed even ludicrously un- 
becoming. The battle of the warrior is with con- 
fused noise and garments rolled in blood, but how 
much harder and worthier battles are fought, not in 
shining armor, but amid filth and squalor physical as 
well as moral, on a field of wretched and wearisome 
commonplace! 

It was essential to success that there should be no 
traitor among the servants, and Francis had made 
them understand what his measures were. Nor was 
there in this any betrayal of a mother's weakness, 
for Mrs. Gordon's had long been more than patent 
to all about her. When, therefore, he one day found 
her, for the first time, under the influence of strong 
drink, he summoned them, and told them that, sooner 
17 



258 HEATHER AND SNOW 

than fail of his end, he would part with the whole 
household, and should be driven to it if no one re- 
vealed how the thing had come to pass. Thereupon 
the youngest, a mere girl, burst into tears, and con- 
fessed that she had procured the whisky. Hardly 
thinking it possible his mother should have money in 
her possession, so careful was he to prevent it, he 
questioned, and found that she had herself provided 
the half-crown required, and that her mistress had 
given her in return a valuable brooch, an heirloom, 
which was hers only to wear, not to give. He took 
this from her, repaid her the half-crown, gave her 
her wages up to the next term, and sent Mrs. 
Bremner home with her immediately. Her father 
being one of his own tenants, he rode to his place 
the next morning, laid before him the whole matter, 
and advised him to keep the girl at home for a year 
or two. 

This one evil success gave such a stimulus to Mrs. 
Gordon's passion, that her rage which had been 
abating a little, blazed up at once as fierce as at 
first. But, miserable as the whole thing was, and 
trying as he found the necessary watchfulness, Gor- 
don held out bravely. At the end of six months, 
however, during which no fresh indulgence had been 
possible to her, he had not gained the least ground 
for hoping that any poorest growth of strength, or 
even any waking of desire toward betterment, had 
taken place in her. 

All this time he had not been once to Corbyknowe. 
He had nevertheless been seeing David Barclay three 
or four times a week. For Francis had told David 
how he stood with Kirsty, and how, while refusing 



THE NEIGHBORS 359 

hiib, she had shown him his duty to his mother. He 
told him also that he now saw things with other eyes, 
and was endeavoring to do what was right ; but he 
dared not speak to her on the subject, lest she should 
think, as she would, after what had passed between 
them, be well justified in thinking, that he was do- 
ing for her sake what ought to be done for its own. 
He said to him that, as he was no man of business, 
and must give his best attention to his mother, he 
found it impossible for the present to acquaint him- 
self with the state of the property, or indeed attend 
to it in any serviceable manner; and he begged him, 
as his father's friend and his own, to look into his 
affairs, and, so far as his other duties would permit, 
place things on at least a better footing. 

To this petition David had at once and gladly 
consented. 

He found everything connected with the property 
in a sad condition. The agent, although honest, 
was weak, and had so given way to Mrs. Gordon 
that much havoc had been made, and much money 
wasted. He was now in bad health, and had lost 
all heart for his work. But he had turned nothing 
to his own advantage, and was quite ready, under 
David's supervision, to do his best for the restoration 
of order, and the curtailing of expenses. 

All that David now saw in his intercourse with 
the young laird, went to convince him that he was 
at length a man of conscience, cherishing steady 
purposes. He reported at home what he saw, and 
said what he believed, and his wife and daughter 
perceived plainly that his heart was lighter than it 
had been for many a day. Kirsty listened, said little, 



36o HEATHER AND SNOW 

asked a question here and there, and thanked Gpd. 
For her father brought her not only the good news 
that Francis was doing his best for his mother, but 
that he had begun to open his eyes to the fact that 
he had his part in the wellbeing of all on his land ; 
that the property was not his for the filling of his 
pockets, or for the carrying out of schemes of his 
own, but for the general and individual comfort and 
progress. 

" I do believe," said David, " the yoong laird wud 
fain mak o' the lan's o' Weelset a spot whauron the 
e'en o' the bonny man micht rist as he gaed by ! " 

Mrs. Gordon's temper seemed for a time to have 
changed from fierce to sullen, but by degrees she be- 
gan to show herself not altogether indifferent to the 
continuous attentions of her inexorable son. It is 
true she received them as her right, but he yielded 
her a right immeasurably beyond that she would have 
claimed. He would play draughts or cribbage with 
her for hours at a time, and every day for months 
read to her as long as she would listen — read Scott 
and Dickens and Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade. 

One day, after much entreaty, she consented to go 
out for a drive with him, when round to the door 
came a beautiful new carriage, and such a pair of 
horses as she could not help expressing satisfaction 
with. Francis told her they were at her command, 
but if ever she took unfair advantage of them, he 
would send both carriage and horses away. 

She was furious at his daring to speak so to her^ 
and had almost returned to her room, but thought 
better of it and went with him. She did not, how- 
ever, speak a word to him the whole way. The next 



THE NEIGHBORS 261 

morning he let her go alone. After that, he some- 
times went with her, and sometimes not : the desire 
of his heart was to behold her a free woman. 

She was quite steady for a while, and her spirits 
began to return. The hopes of her son rose high ; 
he almost ceased to fear. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 
KIRSTY GIVES ADVICE 

It was again midsummer, and just a year since 
they parted on the Horn, when Francis appeared at 
Corbyknowe, and found Kirsty in the kitchen. She 
received him as if nothing had ever come between 
them, but at once noting he was in trouble, proposed 
they should go out together. It was a long way to 
be silent, but they had reached the spot, whence 
they started for the race recorded in my first chapter, 
ere either of them said a word. 

"Will ye no sit, Kirsty?" said Francis at length. 

For answer she dropped on the same stone where 
she was sitting when she challenged him to it, and 
Francis took his seat on its neighbor. 

" I hae had a some sair time o' 't sin' I shawed ye 
plain hoo little I was worth yer notice, Kirsty! " he 
began. 

"Ay," returned Kirsty, "but ilka hoor o* *t hes 
shawn what the rael Francie was! " 

" I kenna, Kirsty. A* I can say is — *at I dinna 
think nearhan sae muckle o' mysel as I did than." 

" And I think a heap mair o* ye," answered Kirsty. 
" I canna but think ye upo' the richt ro'd noo, 
Francie ! " 

" I houp I am, but I'm aye fin'in oot something *at 
'ill never du." 

"And ye'll keep fin'in oot that sae lang's there's 

onything left but what's like himsel." 

262 



KIRSTY GIVES ADVICE 263 

" I un'erstan ye, Kirsty. But I cam to ye the day, 
no to say onything aboot mysel, but jist 'cause I 
cudna du wantin yer help. I wudna hae presumed 
but that I thoucht, although I dinna deserve* t, for 
auld kin'ness ye wud say what ye wud advise." 

" I'll du that, Francie — no for auld kin'ness, but 
for kin'ness never auld. What's wrang wi' ye?" 
" Kirsty, wuman, she's brocken oot again! " 
" I dinna won'er. 1 hae h'ard o' sic things." 
" It's jist taen the pith oot o' me! What am I to 
du?" 

"Ye cannadu better nor weel; jist begin again." 
" I had coft her a bonny cairriage, wi as fine a pair 
as ever ye saw, Kirsty, as I daursay yer father has 
telled ye. And they warna lost upon her, for she 
had aye a gleg ee for a horse. Ye min' yon powny ? 
— And up til yesterday, a' gaed weel, till I was 
thinkin I cud trust her onygait. But i' the efternune, 
as she was oot for an airin, ane o' the horses cuist a 
shue, and thinkin naething o' the risk til a human 
sowl, but only o' the risk til the puir horse, the fule 
fallow stoppit at a smithy nae farrer nor the neist 
door frae a public, and tuik the horse intil the smithy, 
lea'in the smith's lad at the heid o' the ither horse. 
Sae what suld my leddy but oot upo' the side frae 
the smithy, and awa roon the back o' the cairriage 
to the public, and in ! Whether she took onything 
there I dinna ken, but she maun hae broucht a bottle 
hame wi her, for this mornin she was fou — fou as 
e'er ye saw man in market! " 

He broke down and wept like a child. 
" And what did ye du ? " asked Kirsty. 
" I said naething. I jist gaed to the coachman and 



264 HEATHER AND SNOW 

gart him put his horses tu, and tak his denner wi' 
him, and m*unt the box, and drive straucht awa til 
Aberdeen, and lea' the carriage whaur I boucht it, 
and du siclike wi the horses, and come hame by the 
co'ch." 

As he ended the sad tale, he glanced up at Kirsty, 
and saw her regarding him with a look such as he 
had never seen, imagined, or dreamed of before. 
It lasted biit a moment; her eyes dropped, and she 
went on with the knitting, which, as in the old days, 
she had brought with her. 

"Noo, Kirsty, what am I to du neist?" he said. 

" Hae ye naething i* yer ain min* ? " she asked. 

" Naething. " 

"Weel, we'll awa hame I" she returned, rising. 
" Maybe, as we gang, we'll get licht! " 

They walked in silence. Now and then Francis 
would look up in Kirsty 's face, to see if anything 
was coming, but saw only that she was sunk in 
thought: he would not hurry her, and said not a 
word. He knew she would speak the moment she 
had what she thought worth saying. 

Kirsty, recalling what her father had repeatedly 
said of Mrs. Gordon's management of a horse in her 
young days, had fallen a wondering how one who so 
well understood the equine nature, could be so in- 
capable of understanding the human; for certainly 
she had little known either Archibald Gordon or 
David Barclay, and quite as little her own son. Hav- 
ing come to the conclusion that the incapacity was 
caused by overpowering affection for the one human 
creature she ought not to love Kirsty found her 
thoughts return to the sole faculty her father yielded 



KIRSTY GIVES ADVICE 265 

Mi^. Gordon — that of riding a horse as he ought to 
be ridden. Thereupon came to her mind a conclusion 
she had lately read somewhere — namely, that a man 
ought to regard his neighbor as specially character- 
ized by the possession of this or that virtue or ca- 
pacity, whatever it might be, that distinguished him ; 
for that was as the door-plate indicating the proper 
entrance to his inner house. A moment more and 
Kirsty thought she saw a way in which Francis might 
gain a firmer hold on his mother, as well as provide 
her with a pleasure that might work toward her re- 
demption. 

" Francie," she said, " I hae thoucht o* something. 
My father has aye said, and ye ken he kens, *at yer 
mother was a by ord*nar guid rider in her young 
days, and this is what I wud hae ye du : gang strauch 
awa, whaurever ye think best, and buy for her the 
best luikin, best tempered, handiest, and easiest 
gaein leddy's-horse ye can lay yer han's upo. Ye 
hae a gey fair beast o' yer ain, my father says, and 
ye maun jist ride wi' her whaurever she gangs." 

" I'll du't, Kirsty. I canna gang straucht awa, I 
doobt, though; I fear she has whusky left, and 
there's ilb sayin what she micht du afore I wan back. 
I maun gang hame first." 

" I'm no clear upo' that. Ye canna weel gang and 
rype {search) a' the kists and aumries i' the hoose 
she ca's her ain! That wud anger her terrible. 
Nor can ye weel lay ban's upon her, and tak frae 
her by force. A wuman micht du that, but a man, 
and special a wuman's ain ae son, canna weel du't — 
that is, gien there's ony ither coorse 'at can be 
followt. It seems to me ye maun tak the risk o' her 



/ 



266 HEATHER AND SNOW 

bottle. And it may be no ill thing 'at she sud dis- 
grace hersel oot and oot. Onygait wi' bein awa, 
and comin back wi' the horse i* yer han* ye'll come 
afore her like bringin wi' ye a fresh beginnin, a new 
order o' things like, and that w'y av'ide words wi* 
her, and words maun aye be av'idit." 

Francis remained in thoughtful silence. 

"I hae little fear," pursued Kirsty, "but we'll get 
her frae the drink a'thegither, and the houp is we 
may get something better putten intil her. Bein 
fou whiles, isna the main difficulty. But I beg yer 
pardon, Francie! I maunna forgot 'at she's your 
mother!" 

"Gien ye wud but tak her and me thegither, 
Kirsty, it wud be a gran' thing for baith o' 's! Wi' 
yu to tak the half o* 't, I micht stan' up un'er the 
weicht o' my responsibility! " 

" I'm takin my share o' that, onygait, daurin 
to advise ye, Francie ! — Noo gang, laddie ; gang 
straucht awa and buy the horse." 

" I maun rin hame first to put siller i' my pooch ! 
I s' haud ooto' her gait." 

"Gang til my faither for't. I haena a penny, 
but he has aye plenty ! " 

" I maun hae my horse; there's nae co'ch till the 



morn's mornin." 



" Gangna near the place. My father 'ill gie ye the 
gray mear — no an ill ane ava! She'll tak ye there 
in four or five hoors, as>'^ ride. Only min* and gie 
her a pickle corn ance, and meal and watter twise 
upo' the ro'd. Gicn ye seena the animal ye're sure 
'ill please her, gang further, and comena hame 
wantin't." 



CHAPTER XL 
MRS. GORDON 

When Mrs. Gordon came to herself, she thought 
to behave as if nothing had happened, and rang the 
bell to order her carriage. The maid informed her 
that the coachman had driven away with it before 
lunch, and had not said where he was going. 

" Driven away with it! " cried her mistress, start- 
ing to her feet; ** I gave him no orders! " 

*' I saw the laird giein him directions, mem,'* re- 
joined the maid. 

Mrs. Gordon sat down again. She began to re- 
member what her son had said when first he gave 
her the carriage. 

" Where did he send him ? *' she asked. 

•* I dinna ken, mem." 

" Go and ask the laird to step this way." 

"Please, mem, he's no i' the hoose. I ken, for I 
saw him gang — hoors ago." 

" Did he go in the carriage ? " 

"No, mem; he gaed upo' 's ain fit." 

" Perhaps he's come home by this time! " 

"I'm sure he's no that, mem." 

Mrs. Gordon went to her room, all but finished 
the bottle of whisky, and threw herself on her bed. 

Toward morning she woke with aching head and 

miserable mind. Now dozing, now tossing about in 

267 



268 HEATHER AND SNOW 

wretchedness, she lay till the afternoon. No one 
came near her, and she wanted no one. 

At length, dizzy and despairing, her head in tort- 
ure, and her heart sick, she managed to get out of 
bed, and, unable to walk, literally crawled to the 
cupboard in which she had put away the precious 
bottle: — joy! there was yet a glass in it! With the 
mouth of it to her lips, she was tilting it up to drain 
the last drop, when the voice of her son came cheerily 
from the drive, on which her window looked down : 

" See what I've brought you, mother! " he called. 

Fear came upon her; she took the bottle from her 
mouth, put it again in the cupboard, and crept back 
to her bed, her brain like a hive buzzing with devils. 

When Francis entered the house, he was not sur- 
prised to learn that she had not left her room. He 
did not try to see her. 

The next morning she felt a little better, and had 
some tea. Still she did not care to get up. She 
shrank from meeting her son, and the abler she grew 
to think, the more unwilling she was to see him. 
He came to her room, but she heard him coming, 
turned her head the other way, and pretended to be 
asleep. Again and again, almost involuntarily, she 
half rose, remembering the last of the whisky, but 
as often lay down again, loathing the cause of her 
headache. 

Stronger and stronger grew her unwillingness to 
face her son : she had so thoroughly proved herself 
unfit to be trusted! She began to feel toward him 
as she had sometimes felt toward her mother when 
she had been naughty. She began to see that she 
could make her peace, with him or with herself, only 



MRS. GORDON 269 

by acknowledging her weakness. Aided by her 
misery, she had begun to perceive that she could not 
trust herself, and ought to submit to be treated as 
the poor creature she was. She had resented the 
idea that she could not keep herself from drink if 
she pleased, for she knew she could; but she had 
not pleased ! How could she ever ask him to trust 
her again ! 

What further passed in her, I cannot tell. It is 
an unfailing surprise when any one, more especially 
any one who has hitherto seemed without strength of 
character, turns round and changes. The only thing 
Mrs. Gordon then knew as helping her, was the 
strong hand of her son upon her, and the conscious- 
ness that, had her husband lived, she could never 
have given way as she had. But there was another 
help which is never wanting where it can find an en- 
trance ; and now first she began to pray, '* Lead me 
not into temptation. " 

There was one excuse which David alone knew 
to make for her — that her father was a hard drinker, 
and his father before him. 

Doubtless, during all the period of her excesses, 
the soul of the woman in her better moments, had 
been ashamed to know her the thing she was. It 
could not, when she was at her worst, comport with 
her idea. of a lady, poor as that idea was, to drink 
whisky till she did not know what she did next. 
And when the sleeping woman God made, wakes up 
to see in what a house she lives, she will soon grasp 
at besom and bucket, nor cease her cleansing while 
spot is left on wall or ceiling or floor. 

How the waking comes, who can' tell ! God knows 



270 HEATHER AND SNOW 

what he wants us to do, and what we can do, and 
how to help us. What I have to tell is that, the 
next morning, Mrs. Gordon came down to break- 
fast, and finding her son already seated at the table, 
came up behind him, without a word set the bottle 
with the last glass of whisky in it before him, went 
to her place at the table, gave him one sorrowful 
look, and sat down. 

His heart understood, and answered with a throb 
of joy so great that he knew it first as pain. 

Neither spoke until breakfast was almost over. 
Then Francis said, 

"You've grown so much younger, mother, it is 
quite time you took to riding again! I*ve been 
buying a horse for you. Remembering the sort of 
pony you bought for me, I thought I should like to 
try whether I could not please you with a horse of 
my buying." 

" Silly boy ! " she returned, with a rather pitiful 
laugh, "do you suppose at my age I'm going to 
make a fool of myself on horseback ? You forget 
I'm an old woman! " 

"Not a bit of it, mother! If ever you rode as 
David Barclay says you did, I don't see why you 
shouldn't ride still. He's a splendid creature! 
David told me you liked a big fellow. Just put on 
your habit, mammy, and we'll take a gallop across, 
and astonish the old man a bit. " 

"My dear boy, I have no nerve! I'm not the 
woman I was! It's my own fault, I know, and I'm 
both sorry and ashamed." 

"We are both going to try to be good, mother 
dear! " faltered Francis. 



MRS. GORDON 27 1 

The poor woman pressed her handkerchief with 
both hands to her face, and wept for a few moments 
in silence, then rose and left the room. In an hour 
she was ready, and out looking for Francis. Her 
habit was a little too tight for her, but wearable 
enough. The horses were sent for, and they mounted. 



CHAPTER XLI 
TWO HORSEWOMEN 

There was at Corbyknowe a young, well-bred 
horse which David had himself reared : Kirsty had 
been teaching him to carry a lady. For her hostess 
in Edinburgh, discovering that she was fond of riding 
and that she had no saddle, had made her a present 
of her own : she had not used it for many years, but 
it was in very good condition, and none the worse 
for being a little old-fashioned. That same morning 
Kirsty had put on a blue riding-habit, which also 
lady Macintosh had given her, and was out on the 
highest slope of the farm, hoping to catch a sight of 
the two on horseback together, and so learn that 
her scheme was a success. She had been on the out- 
look for about an hour, when she saw them coming 
along between the castle and Corbyknowe, and went 
straight for a certain point in the road so as to reach 
it simultaneously with them. For she had just spied 
a chance of giving Gordon the opportunity which her 
father had told her he was longing for, of saying 
something about her to his mother. 

" Who can that be ? " said Mrs. Gordon as they 
trotted gently along, when she spied the lady on 
horseback. '' She rides well ! But she seems to be 
alone! Is there really nobody with her?" 

As she spoke, the young horse came over a dry- 
stane-dyke in fine style. 

272 



TWO HORSEWOMEN 273 

" Why, she's an accomplished horsewoman ! " ex- 
claimed Mrs. Gordon. "She must be a stranger! 
There's not a lady within thirty miles of Weelset 
can ride like that!" 

" No such stranger as you think, mother ! " rejoined 
Francis. " That's Kirsty Barclay of Corbyknowe." 

" Never, Francis! The girl rides like a lady ! " 

Francis smiled, perhaps a little triumphantly. 
Something like what lay in the smile the mother read 
in it, for it roused at once both her jealousy and her 
pride. Her son to fall in love with a girl that was 
not even a lady ! A Gordon of Weelset to marry a 
tenant's daughter ! Impossible ! 

Kirsty was now in the road before them, riding 
slowly in the same direction. It was the progress 
however, not the horse that was slow: his frolics, 
especially when the other horses drew near, kept his 
rider sufficiently occupied. 

Mrs. Gordon quickened her pace, and passed 
without turning her head or looking at her, but so 
close, and with so sudden a rush that Kirsty 's horse 
half wheeled, and bounded over the dyke by the road- 
side. Her rudeness annoyed her son, and he jumped 
his horse into the field and joined Kirsty, letting 
his mother ride on, and contenting himself with keep- 
ing her in sight. After a few moments' talk, how- 
ever, he proposed that they should overtake her, 
and cutting off a great loop of the road, they passed 
her at speed, and turned and met her. She had by 
this time got a little over her temper, and was pre- 
pared to behave with propriety, which meant — the 
dignity becoming her. 

" What a lovely horse you have. Miss Barclay ! " 
18 



274 HEATHER AND SNOW 

she said, without other greeting. " How much do 
you want for him ? " 

"He is but half-broken," answered Kirsty, "or I 
would offer to change with you. I almost wonder 
you look at him from the back of your own ! " 

" He is a beauty — is he not ? This is my first trial 
of him. The laird gave me him only this morning. 
He is as quiet as a lamb." 

"There, Donal," said Kirsty to her horse, "tak 
example by yer betters! Jist luik hoo he stan's! — 
The laird has a true eye for a horse, ma'am," she 
went on, " but he always says you gave it him. " 

"Always! hm!" said Mrs. Gordon to herself, but 
she looked kindly at her son. 

" How did you learn to ride so well, Kirsty ? " she 
asked. 

" I suppose I got it from my father, ma'am! I be- 
gan with the cows." 

" Ah, how is old David ? " returned Mrs. Gordon. 
" I have seen him once or twice about the castle of 
late, but have not spoken to him." 

"He is very well, thank you. — Will you not come 
up to the Knowe and rest a moment ? My mother 
will be very glad to see you." 

" Not to-day, Kirsty. I haven't been on horse- 
back for years, and am already tired. We shall turn 
here. Good-morning! " 

" Good-morning, ma'am ! Good-by, Mr. Gordon ! " 
said Kirsty cheerfully, as she wheeled her horse to 
set him straight at a steep grassy brae. 



CHAPTER XLII 
THE LAIRD AND HIS MOTHER 

The laird and his mother sat and looked at Kirsty 
as her horse tore up the brae. 

"She can ride— can't she mother?" said Francis. 

"Well enough for a hoiden," answered Mrs. 
Gordon. 

" She rides to please her horse now, but she'll have 
him as quiet as yours before long," rejoined her son, 
both a little angry and a little amused at her being 
called a hoiden who was to him like an angel grown 
young with seonian life. 

" Yes," resumed his mother, as if she would b^ fair, 
" she does ride well ! If only she were a lady that I 
might ask her to ride with me! After all it's none 
of my business what she is — so long as you don't 
want to marry her! " she concluded with an attempt 
at a laugh. 

"But I do want to marry her, mother!" rejoined 
Francis. 

A short year before, his mother would have said 
what was in her heart, and it would not have been 
pleasant to hear; but now she was afraid of her son, 
and was silent. But it added to her torture that she 
must be silent. To be dethroned in castle Weelset 
by the daughter of one of her own tenants, for as 
such she thought of them, was indeed galling. " The 

375 



276 HEATHER AND SNOW 

impudent quean! " she said to herself, ''she's ridden 
on her horse into the heart of the laird ! " But for 
the wholesome consciousness of her own shame, 
which she felt that her son was always sparing, she 
would have raged like a fury. 

"You that might have had any lady in the land! " 
she said at length. 

" If I might, mother, it would be just as vain to 
look for her equal. " 

" You might at least have shown your mother the 
respect of choosing a lady to set in her place! You 
drive me from the house! " 

"Mother," said Francis, "I have twice asked 
Kirsty Barclay to be my wife, and she has twice re- 
fused me. " 

" You may try her again : she had her reasons! she 
never meant to let you slip! If you got disgusted 
with her afterward, she would always have her re- 
fusal of you to throw in your teeth." 

Francis laid his hand on his mother's, and stopped 
her horse. 

"Mother, you compel me!" he said. "When I 
came home ill, and, as I thought, dying, you called 
me bad names, and drove me from the house. 
Kirsty found me in a hole in the earth, actually dying 
then, and saved my life." 

"Good heavens, Francis! Are you mad still? 
How dare you tell such horrible falsehoods of your 
own mother? You never came near me! You went 
straight to Corbyknowe." 

" Ask Mrs. Bremner if I speak the truth. She ran 
out after me, but could not get up with me. You 
drove me out ; and if you do not know it now, you 



THE LAIRD AND HIS MOTHER 277 

do not need to be told how it is that you have for- 
gotten it." 

She knew what he meant and was silent. 

"Then Kirsty went to Edinburgh, to sir Haco 
Macintosh, and with his assistance brought me to my 
right mind. If it were not for Kirsty, I should be 
in my grave, or wandering the earth a maniac. 
Even alive and well as I am, I should not be with 
^ you now had she not shown me my duty. " 

" I thought as much. All this tyranny of yours, all 
your late insolence to your mother, comes from the 
power of that low-born woman over you ! I declare 
to you, Francis Gordon, if you marry her, I will 
leave the house." 

He made her no answer, and they rode the rest of 
the way in silence. But in that silence things grew 
clearer to him. Why should he take pains to per- 
suade his mother to a consent which .she had no right 
to withhold ? His desire was altogether reasonable : 
why should its fulfilment depend on the unreason of 
one who had not strength to order her own be- 
havior ? He had to save her not to please her, gladly 
as he would have done both ! 

When he had helped her from the saddle, he would 
have remounted and ridden at once to Corbyknowe, 
but feared leaving her. She shut herself in her room 
till she could bear her own company no longer, and 
then went to the drawing-room, where Francis read to 
her, and played several games of backgammon with 
her. Soon after dinner she retired saying the ride 
had wearied her ; and the moment Francis knew she 
was in bed, he got his horse, and galloped to the 
Knowe. 



CHAPTER XLIII 
THE CORONATION 

When he arrived, there was no light in the house: 
all had gone to rest. Unwilling to disturb the father 
and mother, he rode quietly, to the back of the house, 
where Kirsty's room looked on the garden. He called 
her softly. In a moment she peeped out, then opened 
her window. 

"Cud ye come doon a minute, Kirsty?" said 
Francis. 

"I'll be wi' ye in less time," she replied; and he 
had hardly more than dismounted, when she was by 
his side. 

He told her what had passed between him and his 
mother since she left them. 

" It's a rael bonny nicht ! " said Kirsty, " and we'll 
jist tak oor time to turn the thing ower — that is, gien 
ye bena tired, Francie. Come, we'll put the beastie 
up first." 

She led the horse into the dark stable, took his 
bridle off, put a halter on him, slackened his girths, 
and gave him a feed of corn — all in the dark ; which 
things done, she and her lover set out for the Horn. 

The whole night seemed thinking of the day that 
was gone. All doing seemed at an end, yea God 
himself to be resting and thinking. The peace of it 
sank into their bosoms, and filled them so, that they 

27S 



THE CORONATION 279 

walked a long way without speaking. There was no 
wind, and no light but the starlight. The air was 
like the clear dark inside some diamonds. The only 
sound that broke the stillness was the voice of Kirsty, 
sweet and low — and it was as if the dim starry vault 
thought, rather than she uttered, the words she 
quoted :— 

" Summer Night» come from God, 
On your beauty, I see, 
A still wave has flowed 
Of Eternity." 

At a certain spot on the ridge of the Horn, Francis 
stopped. 

''This is whaur ye left me this time last year, 
Kirsty," he said; " — left me wi* my Maker to mak a 
man o' me. It was 'maist makin me ower again! " 

There was a low stone just visible among the 
heather; Kirsty seated herself upon it. Francis 
threw himself among the heather, and lay looking up 
in her face. 

" That mother o* yours is 'maist ower muckle for 
ye, Francie ! " said Kirsty. 

" It's no aften, Kirsty, ye tell me what I ken as 
weel's yersel! " returned Francis. 

"Weel, Francie, ye maun tell me something the 
night! — Gien it wudna mismuve ye, I wad fain ken 
hoo ye wan throu that day we pairtit here." 

Without a moment's hesitation, Francis began the 
tale — ^giving her to know, however, that in what took 
place there was much he did not understand so as to 
tell it again. 

When he made an end, Kirsty rose and said, 

•Wad ye please to sit upo* that stane, Francie! " 



28o HEATHER AND SNOW 

In pure obedience he rose from the heather, and 
sat upon the stone. 

She went behind him, and clasped his head, round 
the temples, with her shapely, strong, faithful hands. 

" I ken ye noo for a man, Francis. Ye hae set 
yersel to du his wull, and no yer ain: ye're a king; 
and for want o* a better croon, I croon ye wi my twa 
han's." 

Little thought Kirsty how near she came, in word 
and deed, to the crowning of Dante by Virgil, as re- 
corded toward the close of the " Purgatorio. " 

Then she came round in front of him, he sitting 
bewildered and taking no part in the solemn ceremony 
save that of submission, and knelt slowly down be- 
fore him, laying her head on his knees, and saying, — 

** And here's yer kingdom, Francis — my heid and 
my hert! Du wi' me what ye wull." 

"Come hame wi' me, and help save my mother," 
he answered, in a voice choked with emotion. 

"I wull," she said, and would have risen; but he 
laid his hands on her head, and thus they remained 
for a time in silence. Then they rose, and ^nt. 

They had gone about half- way to the farm before 
either spoke. Then Kirsty said, — 

" Francie, there's ae thing I maun beg o' ye, and 
but ane — 'at ye winna desire me to tak the heid o' 
yer table. I canna but think it an ungracious thing 
'at a young wuman like me, the son's wife, suld put 
the man's ain mother, his father's wife, oot o' the 
place whaur his father set her. I'm layin doon no 
prenciple; I'm sayin only hoo it affecs me. I want 
to come hame as her dochter, no as mistress o' the 
hoose in her stead. And ye see, Francie, that'll gie 



THE CORONATION 28 1 

ye anither baud o' her, agea disgracin o' hersel! 
Promise me, Francie, and 1*11 sune tak the maist 
pairt o* the trouble o' her aff o* yer ban's." 

"Ye're aye richt, Kirsty!" answered Francis. 
"Asyewull." 



CHAPTER XLIV 

kirsty's tocher 

The next morning, Kirsty told her parents that she 
was going to marry Francie. 

" Ye du richt, my bairn," said her father. " He's 
come in sicht o' 's high callin, and it's no possible 
for ye langer to refuse him." 

"But, eh! what am I to du wantin ye, Kirsty?" 
moaned her mother. 

"Ye min*, mother," answered Kirsty, "hoo I wad 
be oot the lang day wi Steenie, and ye never thoucht 
ye hadna me ! " 

Na, never. I aye kenned I had the twa o* ye." 
Weel, it's no a God's-innocent but a deil's-gowk 
I'll hae to luik efter noo, and I maun come hame 
ilka possible chance to get hertenin frae you and my 
father, or I winna be able to bide it. Eh, mother, 
efter Steenie, it'll be awfu' to spen* the day wi ?ier! 
It's no 'at ever she'll be fou: I s' see to that! — it's 
'at she'll aye be toom! — aye ringin wi toomness! " 

Here Kirsty turned to her father, and said, — 

" WuU ye gie me a tocher, father ? " 

" Ay wull I, lassie, — what ye like, sae far as I hae*t 
to gie." 

"I want Donal — that's a*. Ye see I maun ride a 
heap wi the puir thing, and I wud fain hae something 

282 



(i 



kirsty's tocher 283 

aneth me 'at ye gae me! The cratur '11 aye hing to 
the Knowe, and, whan I gie his wull he'll fess me 
hame o' himsel. — I wud hae likit things to bide as 
they are, but she wud hae worn puir Francie to the 
verra deid ! " 



CHAPTER XLV 



kirsty's song 



Mrs. Gordon manages the house and her reward 
is to sit at the head of the table. But she pays 
Kirsty infinitely more for the privilege than any but 
Kirsty can know, in the form of leisure for things 
she likes far better than housekeeping — among the 
rest, for the discovery of such songs as this, the last 
of hers I have seen : — 

LOVE IS HOME. 

Love is the part, and love is the whole ; 

Love is the robe, and love is the pall ; 
Ruler of heart and brain and soul, 

Love is the lord and the slave of all ! 
I thank thee, Love, that thou lov'st me ; 
I thank thee more that I love thee. 

Love is the rain, and love is the air ; 

Love is the earth that holdeth fast ; 
Love is the root that is buried there. 

Love is the open flower at last ! 
I thank thee. Love all round about. 
That the eyes of my love are looking out. 

Love is the sun and love is the sea ; 

Love is the tide that comes and goes ; 
Flowing and flowing it comes to me ; 

Ebbing and ebbing to thee it flows ! 
Oh my sun, and my wind, and tide ! 
My sea, and my shore, and all beside ! 

284 



kirsty's song 285 

Light, oh light that art by showing ; 

Wind, oh wind that liv'st by motion ; 
Thought, oh thought that art by knowing ; 

Will, that art bom in self-devotion ! 
Love is you, though not all of you know it ; 
Ye are not love, yet ye always show it! 

Faithful creator, heart-longed-for father. 

Home of our heart-infolded brother, 
Home to thee all thy glories gather — 

All are thy love, and there is no other ! 
O Love-at-rest ; we loves that roam — 
Home unto thee, we are coming home ! 



THE END. 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS. 



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