" But Bauby, I couldna sleep last night, and I saw ye.
Where were ye taking Lady Janet 1 "
KATIE STEWART. 29
" The bairn's in a creel," said Bauby, starting. " Me
take Lady Janet ony gate ! It's no my place."
" Ay, but ye were, though," repeated Katie ; " and she
lookit sweard, sweard to gang."
" Weel, weel, she bid to gang ; ye'll hear the haill
story some time," said Bauby, lifting her apron to her
eyes. "That I should be the ane to do this ā me that
have eaten their bread this mony a day ā that it should
be my blame ! "
And Bauby, with many sighs, lifted away the un-
They went up stairs together to the west room, where
Bauby began to break up the " gathered " fire for Katie's
benefit, lamenting all the time, under her breath, " that
it should be me ! " At last she sat down on the carpet,
close to the hearth, and again wrung her great hands,
and wiped a tear from either eye.
" There's naething but trouble in this w T orld," sighed
Bauby ; " and what is to be, maun be ; and lamenting
does nae good."
" But, Bauby, where's Lady Janet 1 " asked little Katie.
Bauby did not immediately answer. She looked into
the glowing caverns of the newly -awakened fire, and
"Whisht, Miss Katie," said Bauby Rodger, "there's
naething but trouble every place, as I was saying. Be
thankfu' you're only a bairn."
But indeed the little curious palpitating heart could be
anything but thankful, and rather beat all the louder
with eagerness and impatience to enter these troubles for
That day was a day full of excitement to all in Kellio,
household and guests, and anything but a happy one.
Many tears in the morning, when they discovered their
30 KATIE STEWART.
loss ā a cloud and shadow upon the following ceremony,
which Katie, wonderingly, and with decided secret an-
tagonism, and a feeling of superiority, saw performed by
a surpliced Scottish bishop; and a dreary blank at night,
when, all the excitement over, those who were left felt
the painful void of the two vacant places. But the day
passed, and the next morning rose very drearily ; so
Katie, glad to escape from the dim atmosphere of Kellie,
put on the new gown which Lady Betty had given her,
with cambric ruffles at the sleeves, and drew her long
gloves over her arms, and put her little ruffled hooded
black silk mantle above all; and with shoes of blue
morocco, silver buckled, on her little feet, went away to
Kellie Mill to see her mother.
Down the long avenue, out through that coroneted
gate; and the road now is a very common-place country
road, leading you by-and-by through the village of Arn-
creoch. This village has very little to boast of. The
houses are all thatched, and of one storey, and stand in
long shabby parallel rows on each side of the little street.
No grass, no flowers, nor other component of pretty
cottages, adorns these habitations. Each has a kailyard
at the back, it is true ; but the aspect of that is very
little more delightful than this rough causeway with its
dubs in front. A very dingy little primitive shop, where
is sold everything, graces one side, and at the other is the
Kellie Arms. Children tumble about at every open door ;
and through many of the uncurtained windows you see a
loom ; for Arncreoch is a village of weavers, on which
the fishing towns on the coast, and the rural people about
it, look down with equal contempt. Little Katie, in her
cambric ruffles and silk mantle, rustles proudly through
the plebeian village ; and, as she daintily picks her step3
with those resplendent shoes of hers, remembers, with a
KATIE STEWART. 31
blush of shame, that it had been thought possible that
she should marry a weaver i
But no weaver is this young rural magnate who over-
takes her on the road. It is Philip Landale, a laird,
though his possessions are of no great size, and he himself
farms them. He is handsome, young, well-mannered,
and a universal favourite ; but little Katie's face flushes
angrily when he addresses her, for he speaks as if she
were a child.
And Katie feels that she is no child ; that already she
is the best dancer in the parish, and could command
partners innumerable ; not to speak of having begun to
taste, in a slight degree, the delights of flirtation. So
Katie scorns, with her whole heart, the good-humoured
condescension of young Kilbrachmont.
But he is going to Kellie Mill, and the young coquette
has to walk with dignity, and with a certain disdain,
which Landale does not notice, being little interested in
the same, by his side. Softly yonder rises Kellie Law,
softly, rounded by the white clouds which float just over
the head of the green gentle hill ; and there the long
range of his lower brethren steals off to the west, where
Balcarras Craig guards them with his bold front, and
clothes his breast with foliage, to save him from the
winds. There is nothing imposing in the scene; but it
is fine, and fresh, and fruitful ā vivid with the young
verdure of the spring.
But you look at your blue morocco shoes, little Katie,
with their silver buckles glancing in the sun, and settle
your mantle over the white arm which shines through its
black lace glove, and have no eyes for the country ; and
Philip Landale strikes down the thistles on the roadside,
with the heavy end of the whip he carries, and smiles
good-humouredly, and does not know what to say ; and
32 KATIE STEWART.
now on this rough, almost impassable road, worn into
deep ruts by the carts which constantly come and go,
bringing grain to the miller, they have come in sight of
Isabell Stewart is nineteen now, and one of the beauties
of Fife. Her eyes and her hair are darker than Katie's,
her graceful figure a little taller, her manner staid and
grave, as it used to be when she was a child ; and though
every one speaks kindly of Isabell, and she is honoured
with consideration and respect more than belong to her
years, she seems to lack the power, somehow, of grasping
and holding fast the affection of any. Isabell has no
young friends ā no wooers : thoughtful, gentle, serious,
she goes about alone, and still in her heart there is the
old sad consciousness, the old vague yearning for dearer
estimation than falls to her lot. She does not envy any
one, nor grudge her little sister Katie the universal love
which attends her ; but Isabell thinks she is incapable of
creating this longed-for affection, and sometimes in quiet
places, over this thought, sheds solitary tears.
Janet's looks, too, have improved ; still heavier, thicker,
and less graceful than her sisters, Janet, in her ruddy,
boisterous health, is a rural belle ā has already, now being
seventeen, troops of " joes," and rather triumphs over the
serious Isabell. The beauties of the Milton, the three are
called ; and they deserve the title.
KATIE STEWART. 33
The house door is open. Without any intervention of
hall or passage, this straightforward door introduces you
to the family apartment, which is no parlour, but a kitchen,
tolerably sized, extending the whole length of the house.
It is the afternoon, and everything looks well ordered and
"redd up," from the glittering plates and china which
you see through the open doors of the oak " aumrie " in
the corner, to the white apron and shining face of Merran,
the servant at the mill. The apartment has a window at
each end ā a small greenish window of thick glass, which
sadly distorts the world without when you look through.
But it is very seldom that any one looks through, for the
door is almost always open, admitting the pure daylight
and unshadowed sun.
At the further window Janet stands before a clean deal
table, making cakes ā oat-cakes, that is ; for all manufac-
tured of wheaten flour are scones or bannocks. Janet
has a special gift for this craft, and her gown is still tucked
up, and so are her sleeves, that the ruddy round arms
may be used with more freedom. The " girdle " is on the
bright fire, and Merran superintends the baking, moving
almost incessantly between the fireplace and the table.
Much talk, not in the lowest tone, is carried on between
Merran and Janet. They are decidedly more familiar
than Mrs Stewart approves.
At the other window the staid Isabell sits knitting
stockings. Now and then you hear her, in her quiet
voice, saying something to her mother, who bustles in
and out, and keeps up a floating stream of remark, reproof,
and criticism, on everything that is going on. But Isabell
takes little part in Janet's conversation : a slight cloud
shades her brow sometimes, indeed, as the long laugh
from the other end of the room comes harshly on her ear ;
for these two sisters are little like each other.
34 KATIE STEWART.
It is again a great woollen stocking which Isabell knits ;
and fastened to her waist is a little bunch of feathers,
which she calls her " sheath," and in which she secures
her wire. Her gown is made of dark striped linen, open
in front, with a petticoat of the same material appearing
below; and of the same material is the apron, neatly
secured about her round slender waist. Her soft brown
hair is bound with a ribbon just a little darker than
itself, and her eyes are cast down upon her work, so that
you cannot perceive how dark their blue has grown, until,
suddenly startled by a voice without, she lifts them to
throw a hurried glance towards the door, where even now
appears the little splendid Katie, with Philip Landale
and his riding-whip close behind.
Over Isabell's lip there escapes a half-audible sigh.
Little Katie, then, is first with Philip Landale too.
"And were ye at the marriage, bairn?" inquired Mrs
Stewart ; " and was't awfu' grand 1 ā and how did the
prelatic minister do? "
" And eh, Katie ! " exclaimed Janet, pressing forward
with her mealy hands, " what a' had Lady Betty on 1 "
" She had on a grand gown, a' trimmed wi' point-lace,
and a white satin petticoat, and the grandest spangles
and gum-flowers on her train ; but oh, mother," said little
Katie, " Lady Janet's run away ! "
" Eun away ! What are ye meaning, ye monkey 1 " said
" The night before last, when it was dark, and a' body
in their beds, I saw Lady Janet gang down through the
gallery, out of her ain room ; and she had on her riding-
skirt, and was looking awfu' white, like as if her heart
would break ; and no lang after the haill house was up,
and she was away."
" Keep me ! ā the night before her sister was married !
KATIE STEWART. 35
Was she in her right mind, think ye 1 " said Mrs
" Had she cast out wi' them? Where would she gang,
Katie?" said Isabel!
" Eh, wha did she rin away wi' 1 " asked the experienced
" It was wi' Sir Robert. She's married now, mother,
as well as Lady Betty," said Katie ; " but I dinna think
she was glad."
Janet laughed, but no one else ventured to join her.
" Glad ! it would ill set her, leaving her faither's house
in such a like manner. Gae way to your baking, Janet,
ye haverel," said Mrs Stewart. " My certy, Katie, lass,
but you're a grand lady, wi' your white ribbons and your
new gown. I'll no hae ye coming to my quiet house, to
set Isabell and Janet daft about the fashions."
" But Isabell has as braw a cloak as me, mother," said
Katie, complacently looking down upon her ruffled black
silk mantle as she took it off.
" And cambric ruffles, nae less ! ā dead-fine cambric !
Weel my woman, see ye guide them weel; for, except
ye hae a man o' your ain to work for ye, yell no get
mony cambric frills out o' Kellie Mill."
" The beauties o' the Milton have less need than most
folk of ruffles or braws," modestly said the young laird.
" Eh, Kilbrachmont, baud your peace, and dinna pit
havers in their heads. There's plenty pride in the nature
o' them, without helping't out wi' flattery. Beauties o*
the Milton, said he ! I mind twa lassies ance ā ay, just
mysel and Maisdry, my sister, if ye will hae't, Katie ā
that were as weel- favoured as ever stood in your shoon ;
and didna want folk tae tell us that, either, ony mair than
our neighbours ; but ne'er a body beautied us."
" No for want o' will," insinuated the young yeoman
36 KATIE STEWART.
" and if they ca'd ye not beauty, it might he because
they had a bonnier word."
" Weel, I'll no say," said the little comely house-
mother, with a slight elevation of her head. " Sit down
to the wheel, Katie, and gie it a ca' the time I'm in the
aumrie. What's to come o' this lassie, I ken not ; for
ne'er a decent-like thing is she learned to do. Na, Lady
Anne hersel is never held in such idleset ; and what will
ye do, ye monkey, if ye ever get a man and a house o'
your ain 1 "
" I'll gar him keep maids to me, and buy me bonnie
things," retorted little Katie, taking her seat at the
" Keep maids to ye 1 Set ye up ! If ye're e'en as
weel off as your mother was before ye, I'll say it's mair
than ye've ony right to expect ; for I'll wad ye a pair o'
new ruffles, I was worth half-a-dizzen hired women the
first day I steppit on my ain hearthstane, baith to my
man and mysel ; and ye'll ne'er be worthy o' the like o'
your faither, John Stewart, Katie, or else I'm sair mis-
Little Katie turned the wheel with petulant haste, and
pouted. John Stewart ! yonder he stands, honest man,
with his broad bonnet shading his ruddy face, newly re-
turned from the market ā spruce, and in his Sabbath dress.
But Katie thinks of the Honourable Andrew Colville,
and the grand English Sir Edward, who had been at
Lady Betty's marriage the day before ; and instinctively
the little beauty draws herself up, and thinks of Peggie
in the ' Gentle Shepherd,' and many a heroine more ;
for Katie now knows, quite as well as Lady Anne, that
the Erskines, though they are an earl's daughters, will
never look a twentieth part so well as the three sisters of
KATIE STEWAKT. 37
" I think some ane has sent Kilbrachmont here on an
errand, and the puir lad has lost mind o't on the road,"
said Janet, now coming forward with her dress smoothed
down, and her hands no longer covered with meal.
" Maister Philip Landale, let a-be that clue ; and Isabel!
there, she never sees that she's lost it out o' her lap."
Young Landale started from his reverie. " Troth, I
saw nae clue, Janet : ye've quicker een than me."
" There it is, and the guid yairn a' twisted in that lang
whip o' yours. What gars ye bring such things into the
house 1 Isabell, canna ye mind your ain wark, and no
hae folk aye needing to look after ye ? There, it's broken !
and ye'll need anither fastening in that heel."
" Weel, Janet, I'll fash naebody," said Isabell, quietly
gathering up into her lap the clue, with its long ravelled
" It ought to be me that got the trouble," said young
Landale, shyly, looking at the elder sister ; " for I hear
mair folk than Janet say my whip's aye in the gait ; but
it's just a custom, ye see."
" When ye dinna ken what to say," suggested the
" Weel, maybe ye're no far wrang," said young Kil-
brachmont, again casting a sidelong glance at Isabell,
whom he had not yet directly addressed. " I'm no that
ill at speaking in maist houses ; but for a' the minister
says, ye'll no convince me that the fairy glamour is clean
gane from this world, or ever will be ; for ane can speak
ready enough when ane doesna care twa straes what folk
think o't ; while in anither place we make fules o' oursels
beyond remeid, out o' pure anxiousness to look weel in
somebody's een. It just maun be, I would say, a witch-
craft somegate in the air."
Isabell had never looked up ; for this turning of the heel.
38 KATIE STEWART.
be it known to the ignorant, is a crisis in the history of a
stocking ; but her usually pale forehead was crimson to
the hair, and her eyelids drooped heavily as she bent over
her work, which was particularly complicated just now, as
several loops had dropt, and it was no easy job, with those
nervous fingers of hers, to gather them up again.
" I see the guidman, Kilbrachniont," said Mrs Stewart,
at last emerging from behind the carved door of the aum-
rie with a large square bottle in her hand. " It's weel
he's come in time to countenance ye wi' yer dram, amang
a' us women-folk ; and it's real Hollands ā grand stuff,
they tell me, though I'm nae judge niysel."
" No that ill ā no that ill, guidwife," said the miller,
as he entered. " I would take a guid stoup on your war-
ranty, though ye are naething but a woman. Guid e'en
to ye, Kilbrachmont ; but is this a' ye're to gie's to our
" I'm gaun to make some tea for the bairns and me ;
but ye'll no heed about that," said the house-mother.
" And man, John, do ye no see Katie in a' her craws'?"
" How's a' wi' ye, lassie ? " said the father, kindly.
" But I wouldna ken ye to be a bairn o' mine, if I didna
see the bit face. And, Katie, if onybody says ye're owre
braw to be the Miller o' Kellie's daughter, aye do you
tell them ye're owre bonnie to be onybody's else."
" Hear to his vanity ! As if onybody could see a fea-
ture o' him in the bairn's haill face ! " cried Mrs Stewart.
But little Katie sat in meditative silence, and turned
her wheel. The wheel was a light one, and handsomely
made ā a chef-d'oeuvre of the country wright, who, among
many more, was a candidate for the favour of Janet
Stewart. This pretty wheel was the musical instrument
of Kellie Mill. Enter the room when you would ā at
early morning, or when the maker of it and his rivals stole
KATIE STEWART. 39
in at night, to form a lingering group round the ruddy
centre of the kitchen, made bright by the light from the
fireplace ā you always heard the soft whirr of the wheel
brought to a climax now and then by the sharp slipping
of the band, or lengthened hum with which it rebounded
when all the yarn was spun. In silence now at the wheel
sits little Katie, passing the thread dreamily through her
fingers, and taking in all they say, only half-conscious that
she does so, into her mind the while.
" There's nae news, Janet ā nae news particular I hear
o' in Anster," said the miller, in answer to several in-
quiries ; " but I saw Beelye Oliphant doun-by ; he was
asking kindly for ye a', and special for Isabell."
There was no answer ; the flush fled in a moment from
IsabelTs cheeks, and other loops were dropt in her stock-
ing. Janet alone ventured to laugh, and again the long
cord of young Kilbrachmont's whip began to curl uneasily
about the floor.
" The like o' that man for sense is no to be found, I'll
take my aith o't, in the haill kingdom o' Fife," said John
Stewart with emphasis.
" Weel, miller, we el," said young Landale, hastily,
" naebody says onything against it. !N"o mony thanks to
him; he's as auld as Kellie Law, and what should ail him
to be sensible 1 It's the special quality folk look for in
"They dinna aye get it, though," said the miller.
" They're selling that tea-water, Isabell, for sixpence a
cup in Sillerdyke, and muckle the fisher lads yonder-awa'
think o't for a treat, ye may suppose ; but I dinna think
you would thole such wastry in this house."
" Mind you your mill, guidman ā I'll mind the house,"
said his wife, significantly, " and we'll see whilk ane o' us
has the maist maistry owre our dominions at the year's
40 KATIE STEWART.
end. I got the tea in a present, and Katie comesna
ilka day. Make your toddy, John Stewart, and hand your
" Aweel, aweel, nocht's to be won at woman's hand/'
said the miller. " Draw in your chair, Kilbrachniont, and
gie's your news. Hout, man, ye're in nae hurry 1 "
" Weel," said Landale, with very indifferently assumed
reluctance, " if ye will keep me, I can gie Katie a convoy
to Kellie gate."
Katie ! A cloud fell again, dimly, sadly, over the
face of Isabell. A moment before there had been a trem-
ulous happiness upon it, not usual to see there. Now
she cast a wistful affectionate look at the little pretty
sister musing over the wheel, and drawing the thread
slowly through her hand. There is no envy in the look,
and Katie, suddenly glancing up, meets it with wonder-
ing eyes ā sorrowful, inquiring ā Whence have you this
magic, little sister 1 How is it that they all love you ?
" I think he's courting our Isabell," said Katie softly to
herself as the young laird of Kilbrachmont left her at
Kellie gate. The night was frosty and the stars clear.
Faint light and faint shadow fell across that homeward
path of hers, for there was no moon to define the great
trees on either side of the way ; but a very little mysteri-
ous wind went whispering in and out among the boughs,
KATIE STEWART. 41
with, a faint echoing sigh, as though it said, " Poor me !"
Katie was used to those long, still, solitary roads ; but a
little thrill of natural timidity made her hurry through
the dark avenue, and long to see the light from the un-
curtained window of the west room ; and the same feeling
prompted her anxious endeavour to occupy her mind and
thoughts with something definite, and so keep away from
her memory the eerie stories which abounded then about
all rural places even more than they do now.
" He's courting our Isabell," repeated Katie under her
breath, labouring to fix upon this proposition those dis-
cursive thoughts which would bring back to her mind
the popular ghost of one of the little coast towns in the
neighbourhood. Only a month ago, David Steele, Bauby
Eodger's sister's husband, had seen the Red Slippers in
Pittenweein ; and Katie's heart leaped to her lips as some-
thing rustled on the ground a little way before her, and
she paused in terror lest these very Eed Slippers should
be taking their ghostly exercise by her side ; but it was
only a great, stiff, red oak leaf, which the new bud had
thrust forth from the branch to which all the winter it
had clung with the tenacious grasp of death ; and, quick-
ening her pace still a little, Katie hurried on.
But the fact that young Kilbrachmont had designs on
Isabell was not of sufficient interest to keep her mind
engaged, and Katie began to sing to herself softly as she
went, half running, over the solitary way. The song was
about Strephon and Chloe, after the fashion of the time ;
but the air was a sweet Lowland one, and there were
pretty lines in the verses, though they did come too dis-
tinctly from Arcadia. As she sang, her heart beat placidly,
and usual fancies returned again to her mind ā the grand
English Sir Edward, the Honourable Andrew ; but a
grander Sir Edward ā a more accomplished, handsomer,
42 KATIE STEWART.
blither, loftier gentleman ā was yet to come, attended by
all imaginary splendours, to make a lady of little Katie
There now is the light from the west room, cheering
the young wayfarer \ and now Bauby Eodger's very real
and unsentimental voice calls from a little side entrance
to Mally, one of the maids in the kitchen, suspected at
present to be keeping tryst behind the garden hedge with
a fisher lad, who has walked a dozen miles to-night for
sake of this same tryst, and has not the slightest inten-
tion of suffering it to be disturbed so soon. Within sight
and hearing of home, little Katie ventures to linger on
her way, and again she thinks of young Kilbrachmont
and Beelye Oliphant and Isabell.
Beelye or Bailie Oliphant is a dignitary of the little
town of Anstruther, on the coast ā a man of substance
and influence in his sphere ; and John Stewart has been
for some time coquetting with him about another Mill-
town, very near Anstruther, of which the bailie is land-
lord, and which the miller thinks would be a better
speculation than this mill at Kellie. Unfortunately,
in the course of these transactions about the mill, the
respectable bailie has seen Isabell Stewart, and the old
man thinks she would make a " douce " dignified wife,
worthy the lands and tenements with which he could
endow her. So also thinks the miller ; and Isabell has
heard so much on the subject, that her heart is near the
breaking sometimes, especially when Philip Landale steals
in, in the evening, and hears it all, and plays with his
whip, and speaks to no one.
But it is only for a few minutes that Katie can afford
to think of, or be sorry for, the pale face of her elder
sister ; and now she has emerged from the avenue, and
Bauby Bodger, springing out from the side-door and the
KATIE STEWART. 43
darkness, pounces upon the little wanderer like a great
lion upon a mouse.
"Is this you, Mally? Ye little cuttie ! to have lads