smairt for 't"
"Haud a quaiet sough, an' gang hame for yer warrant," said Malcolm.
"It's lyin' there, doobtless, or ye wadna hae daured to shaw yer
face on sic an eeran'."
Duncan, who was dozing in his chair, awoke at the sound of high
words. His jealous affection perceived at once that Malcolm was
being insulted. He sprang to his feet, stepped swiftly to the wall,
caught down his broadsword, and rushed to the door, making the huge
weapon quiver and whir about his head as if it had been a slip of
"Where is ta rascal?" he shouted. "She'll cut him town! Show her ta
lowlan' thief! She'll cut him town! Who'll be insulting her Malcolm?"
But Bykes, at first sight of the weapon, had vanished in dismay.
"Hoot toot, daddy," said Malcolm, taking him by the arm; "there's
naebody here. The puir cratur couldna bide the sough o' the
claymore. He fled like the autumn wind over the stubble. There's
"Ta Lord pe praised!" cried Duncan. "She'll be confounded her foes.
But what would ta rascal pe wanting, my son?"
Leading him back to his chair, Malcolm told him as much as he knew
of the matter.
"Ton't you co for a warrant," said Duncan. "If my lort marquis
will pe senting for you as one chentleman sends for another, then
Within an hour Bykes reappeared, accompanied by one of the gamekeepers
- an Englishman. The moment he heard the door open, Duncan caught
again at his broadsword.
"We want you, my young man," said the gamekeeper, standing on the
threshold, with Bykes peeping over his shoulder, in an attitude
indicating one foot already lifted to run.
"That's as may appear."
"Whaur's yer warrant?"
"Lay 't doon o' the table, an' gang back to the door, till I get
a sklent at it," said Malcolm. "Ye're an honest man, Wull - but I
wadna lippen a snuff mull 'at had mair nor ae pinch intill 't wi'
yon cooard cratur ahin' ye."
He was afraid of the possible consequences of his grandfather's
The gamekeeper did at once as he was requested, evidently both amused
with the bearing of the two men and admiring it. Having glanced at
the paper, Malcolm put it in his pocket, and whispering a word to
his grandfather, walked away with his captors.
As they went to the House, Bykes was full of threats of which he
sought to enhance the awfulness by the indefiniteness; but Will
told Malcolm as much as he knew of the matter - namely, that the
head gamekeeper, having lost some dozen of his sitting pheasants,
had enjoined a strict watch; and that Bykes having caught sight
of Malcolm in the very act of getting over the wall, had gone and
given information against him.
No one about the premises except Bykes would have been capable of
harbouring suspicion of Malcolm; and the head gamekeeper had not
the slightest; but, knowing that his lordship found little enough
to amuse him, and anticipating some laughter from the confronting
of two such opposite characters, he had gone to the marquis with
Byke's report, - and this was the result. His lordship was not a
magistrate, and the so called warrant was merely a somewhat sternly
worded expression of his desire that Malcolm should appear and
answer to the charge.
The accused was led into a vaulted chamber opening from the hall
- a genuine portion, to judge from its deep low arched recesses,
the emergence of truncated portions of two or three groins, and
the thickness of its walls, of the old monastery. Close by the door
ascended a right angled modern staircase.
Lord Lossie entered, and took his seat in a great chair in one of
"So, you young jackanapes!" he said, half angry, and half amused,
"you decline to come, when I send for you, without a magistrate's
warrant, forsooth! It looks bad to begin with, I must say!"
"Yer lordship wad never hae had me come at sic a summons as that
cankert ted (toad) Johnny Bykes broucht me. Gien ye had but hard
him! He spak as gien he had been sent to fess me to yer lordship
by the scruff o' the neck, an' I didna believe yer lordship wad
do sic a thing. Ony gait, I wasna gauin' to stan' that. Ye wad hae
thocht him a cornel at the sma'est, an' me a wheen heerin' guts.
But it wad hae garred ye lauch, my lord, to see hoo the body ran
whan my blin' gran'father - he canna bide onybody interferin' wi'
me - made at him wi' his braid swoord!"
"Ye leein' rascal!" cried Bykes; " - me feared at an auld spidder,
'at hasna breath eneuch to fill the bag o' 's pipes!"
"Caw canny, Johnny Bykes. Gien ye say an ill word o' my gran'father,
I s' gie your neck a thraw - an' that the meenute we 're oot o'
's lordship's presence."
"Threits! my lord," said the gatekeeper, appealing.
"And well merited," returned his lordship. " - Well, then," he went
on, again addressing Malcolm, "What have you to say for yourself
in regard of stealing my brood pheasants?"
"Maister MacPherson," said Malcolm, with an inclination of his head
towards the gamekeeper, "micht ha' fun' a fitter neuk to fling that
dirt intill. 'Deed, my lord, it's sae ridic'lous, it hardly angers
me. A man 'at can hae a' the fish i' the haill ocean for the takin'
o' them, to be sic a sneck drawin' contemptible wratch as tak yer
lordship's bonny hen craturs frae their chuckies - no to mention
the sin o't! - it's past an honest man's denyin', my lord. An'
Maister MacPherson kens better, for luik at him lauchin' in 's ain
"Well, we've no proof of it," said the marquis; "but what do you
say to the charge of trespass?"
"The policies hae aye been open to honest fowk, my lord."
"Then where was the necessity for getting in over the wall!"
"I beg yer pardon, my lord: ye hae nae proof agen me o' that aither."
"Daur ye tell me," cried Bykes, recovering himself, "'at I didna
see ye wi' my twa een, loup the dyke aneth the temple - ay, an
something flutterin' unco like bird wings i' yer han'?"
"Oot or in, Johnny Bykes?"
"I did loup the dyke my lord; but it was oot, no in."
"How did you get in then?" asked the marquis.
"I gat in, my lord," began Malcolm, and ceased.
"How did you get in?" repeated the marquis.
"Ow! there's mony w'ys o' winnin' in, my lord. The last time I cam
in but ane, it was 'maist ower the carcass o' Johnny there, wha wad
fain hae hauden me oot, only he hadna my blin' daddy ahint him to
ile 's jints."
"An' dinna ye ca' that brakin' in?" said Bykes.
"Na; there was naething to brak, 'cep it had been your banes, Johnny;
an' that wad hae been a peety - they're sae guid for rinnin wi'."
"You had no right to enter against the will of my gatekeeper," said
his lordship. "What is a gatekeeper for?"
"I had a richt, my lord, sae lang 's I was upo' my leddy's business."
"And what was my lady's business, pray?" questioned the marquis.
"I faun' a buik upo' the links, my lord, which was like to be
hers, wi' the twa beasts 'at stans at yer lordship's door inside
the brod (board) o' 't. An' sae it turned oot to be whan I took it
up to the Hoose. There's the half croon she gae me."
Little did Malcolm think where the daintiest of pearly ears
were listening, and the brightest of blue eyes looking down, half
in merriment, a quarter in anxiety, and the remaining quarter in
interest! On a landing half way up the stair, stood Lady Florimel,
peeping over the balusters, afraid to fix her eyes upon him lest
she should make him look up.
"Yes, yes, I daresay!" acquiesced the marquis; "but," he persisted,
"what I want to know is, how you got in that time. You seem to have
some reluctance to answer the question."
"Weel, I hey, my lord."
"Then I must insist on your doing so."
"Weel, I jist winna, my lord. It was a' straucht foret an' fair;
an' gien yer lordship war i' my place, ye wadna say mair yersel'."
"He's been after one of the girls about the place," whispered the
marquis to the gamekeeper.
"Speir at him, my lord, gien 't please yer lordship, what it was
he hed in 's han' whan he lap the park wa'," said Bykes.
"Gien 't be a' ane till 's lordship," said Malcolm, without looking
at Bykes, "it wad be better no to speir, for it gangs sair agen me
to refeese him."
"I should like to know," said the marquis.
"Ye maun trust me, my lord, that I was efter no ill. I gie ye my
word for that, my lord."
"But how am I to know what your word is worth?" returned Lord
Lossie, well pleased with the dignity of the youth's behaviour.
"To ken what a body's word 's worth ye maun trust him first, my lord.
It's no muckle trust I want o' ye: it comes but to this - that I
hae rizzons, guid to me, an' no ill to you gien ye kent them, for
not answerin' yer lordship's questions. I'm no denyin' a word 'at
Johnny Bykes says. I never hard the cratur ca'd a leear. He's but
a cantankerous argle barglous body - no fit to be a gatekeeper
'cep it was up upo' the Binn side, whaur 'maist naebody gangs oot
or in. He wad maybe be safter hertit till a fellow cratur syne."
"Would you have him let in all the tramps in the country?" said
"De'il ane o' them, my Lord; but I wad hae him no trouble the likes
o' me 'at fesses the fish to your lordship's brakwast: sic 's no
like to be efter mischeef."
"There is some glimmer of sense in what you say," returned his
lordship. "But you know it won't do to let anybody that pleases
get over the park walls. Why didn't you go out at the gate?"
"The burn was atween me an' hit, an' it's a lang road roon'."
"Well, I must lay some penalty upon you, to deter others," said
"Verra well, my lord. Sae lang 's it's fair, I s' bide it ohn
grutten (without weeping)."
"It shan't be too hard. It's just this - to give John Bykes the
thrashing he deserves, as soon as you're out of sight of the House."
"Na, na, my lord; I canna do that," said Malcolm.
"So you're afraid of him, after all!"
"Feared at Johnnie Bykes, my lord! Ha! ha!"
"You threatened him a minute ago, and now, when I give you leave
to thrash him, you decline the honour!"
"The disgrace, my lord. He's an aulder man, an' no abune half the
size. But fegs! gien he says anither word agen my gran'father, I
will gin 's neck a bit thaw"
"Well, well, be off with you both," said the marquis rising.
No one heard the rustle of Lady Florimel's dress as she sped up the
stair, thinking with herself how very odd it was to have a secret
with a fisherman; for a secret it was, seeing the reticence of
Malcolm had been a relief to her; when she shrunk from what seemed
the imminent mention of her name in the affair before the servants.
She had even felt a touch of mingled admiration and gratitude when
she found what a faithful squire he was - capable of an absolute
obstinacy indeed, where she was concerned. For her own sake as well
as his she was glad that he had got off so well, for otherwise she
would have felt bound to tell her father the whole story, and she
was not at all so sure as Malcolm that he would have been satisfied
with his reasons, and would not have been indignant with the fellow
for presuming even to be silent concerning his daughter. Indeed
Lady Florimel herself felt somewhat irritated with him, as having
brought her into the awkward situation of sharing a secret with a
youth of his position.
CHAPTER XVIII: THE QUARREL
For a few days the weather was dull and unsettled, with cold flaws,
and an occasional sprinkle of rain. But after came a still gray
morning, warm and hopeful, and ere noon the sun broke out, the
mists vanished, and the day was glorious in blue and gold. Malcolm
had been to Scaurnose, to see his friend Joseph Mair, and was
descending the steep path down the side of the promontory, on his
way home, when his keen eye caught sight of a form on the slope of
the dune which could hardly be other than that of Lady Florimel.
She did not lift her eyes until he came quite near, and then only
to drop them again with no more recognition than if he had been
any other of the fishermen. Already more than half inclined to pick
a quarrel with him, she fancied that, presuming upon their very
commonplace adventure and its resulting secret, he approached her
with an assurance he had never manifested before, and her head was
bent motionless over her book when he stood and addressed her.
"My leddy," he began, with his bonnet by his knee.
"Well?" she returned, without even lifting her eyes, for, with
the inherited privilege of her rank, she could be insolent with
coolness, and call it to mind without remorse.
"I houp the bit buikie wasna muckle the waur, my leddy," he said.
"'Tis of no consequence," she replied.
"Gien it war mine, I wadna think sae," he returned, eyeing her
anxiously. " - Here's yer leddyship's pocket nepkin," he went on.
"I hae keepit it ready rowed up, ever sin' my daddy washed it oot.
It's no ill dune for a blin' man, as ye'll see, an' I ironed it
mysel' as weel's I cud."
As he spoke he unfolded a piece of brown paper, disclosing a little
parcel in a cover of immaculate post, which he humbly offered her.
Taking it slowly from his hand, she laid it on the ground beside
her with a stiff "thank you," and a second dropping of her eyes
that seemed meant to close the interview.
"I doobt my company's no welcome the day, my leddy," said Malcolm
with trembling voice; "but there's ae thing I maun refar till. Whan
I took hame yer leddyship's buik the ither day, ye sent me half a
croon by the han' o' yer servan' lass. Afore her I wasna gaein' to
disalloo onything ye pleased wi' regaird to me; an' I thocht wi'
mysel' it was maybe necessar' for yer leddyship's dignity an' the
luik o' things - "
"How dare you hint at any understanding between you and me?"
exclaimed the girl in cold anger.
"Lord, mem! what hey I said to fess sic a fire flaucht oot o' yer
bonny een? I thocht ye only did it 'cause ye wad' na like to luik
shabby afore the lass - no giein' onything to the lad 'at brocht
ye yer ain - an' lippened to me to unnerstan' 'at ye did it but
for the luik o' the thing, as I say."
He had taken the coin from his pocket, and had been busy while he
spoke rubbing it in a handful of sand, so that it was bright as
new when he now offered it.
"You are quite mistaken," she rejoined, ungraciously. "You insult
me by supposing I meant you to return it."
"Div ye think I cud bide to be paid for a turn till a neebor, lat
alane the liftin' o' a buik till a leddy?" said Malcolm with keen
mortification. "That wad be to despise mysel' frae keel to truck.
I like to be paid for my wark, an' I like to be paid weel: but no
a plack by siclike (beyond such) sall stick to my loof (palm). It
can be no offence to gie ye back yer half croon, my leddy."
And again he offered the coin.
"I don't in the least see why, on your own principles, you shouldn't
take the money," said the girl, with more than the coldness of an
uninterested umpire. "You worked for it, I'm sure - first accompanying
me home in such a storm, and then finding the book and bringing it
back all the way to the house!"
"'Deed, my leddy, sic a doctrine wad tak a' grace oot o' the earth!
What wad this life be worth gien a' was to be peyed for? I wad cut
my throat afore I wad bide in sic a warl'. - Tak yer half croon,
my leddy," he concluded, in a tone of entreaty.
But the energetic outburst was sufficing, in such her mood, only
to the disgust of Lady Florimel.
"Do anything with the money you please; only go away, and don't
plague me about it," she said freezingly.
"What can I du wi' what I wadna pass throu' my fingers?" said
Malcolm with the patience of deep disappointment.
"Give it to some poor creature: you know some one who would be glad
of it, I daresay."
"I ken mony ane, my leddy, wham it wad weel become yer am bonny han'
to gie 't till; but I'm no gaein' to tak' credit fer a leeberality
that wad ill become me."
"You can tell how you earned it."
"And profess mysel' disgraced by takin' a reward frae a born leddy
for what I wad hae dune for ony beggar wife i' the lan'. Na, na,
"Your services are certainly flattering, when you put me on a level
with any beggar in the country!"
"In regaird o' sic service, my leddy: ye ken weel eneuch what I
mean. Obleege me by takin' back yer siller."
"How dare you ask me to take back what I once gave?"
"Ye cudna hae kent what ye was doin' whan ye gae 't, my leddy. Tak
it back, an tak a hunnerweicht aff o' my hert."
He actually mentioned his heart! - was it to be borne by a girl
in Lady Florimel's mood?
"I beg you will not annoy me," she said, muffling her anger in
folds of distance, and again sought her book.
Malcolm looked at her for a moment, then turned his face towards
the sea, and for another moment stood silent. Lady Florimel glanced
up, but Malcolm was unaware of her movement. He lifted his hand,
and looked at the half crown gleaming on his palm; then, with a
sudden poise of his body, and a sudden fierce action of his arm,
he sent the coin, swift with his heart's repudiation, across the
sands into the tide. Ere it struck the water he had turned, and,
with long stride but low bent head, walked away. A pang shot to
Lady Florimel's heart. "Malcolm!" she cried.
He turned instantly, came slowly back, and stood erect and silent
She must say something. Her eye fell on the little parcel beside
her, and she spoke the first thought that came.
"Will you take this?" she said, and offered him the handkerchief.
In a dazed way he put out his hand and took it, staring at it as
if he did not know what it was.
"It's some sair!" he said at length, with a motion of his hands as
if to grasp his head between them. "Ye winna tak even the washin'
o' a pocket nepkin frae me, an' ye wad gar me tak a haill half
croon frae yersel'! Mem, ye're a gran' leddy an' a bonny; an ye
hae turns aboot ye, gien 'twar but the set o' yer heid, 'at micht
gar an angel lat fa' what he was carryin', but afore I wad affront
ane that wantit naething o' me but gude will, I wad - I wad -
raither be the fisher lad that I am."
A weak kneed peroration, truly; but Malcolm was over burdened at
last. He laid the little parcel on the sand at her feet, almost
reverentially, and again turned. But Lady Florimel spoke again.
"It is you who are affronting me now," she said gently. "When a lady
gives her handkerchief to a gentleman, it is commonly received as
a very great favour indeed."
"Gien I hae made a mistak, my leddy, I micht weel mak it, no bein' a
gentleman, and no bein' used to the traitment o' ane. But I doobt
gien a gentleman wad ha' surmised what ye was efter wi' yer nepkin',
gien ye had offert him half a croon first."
"Oh, yes, he would - perfectly!" said Florimel with an air of
"Then, my leddy, for the first time i' my life, I wish I had been
born a gentleman."
"Then I certainly wouldn't have given it you," said Florimel with
"What for no, my leddy? I dinna unnerstan' ye again. There maun be
an unco differ atween 's!"
"Because a gentleman would have presumed on such a favour."
"I'm glaidder nor ever 'at I wasna born ane," said Malcolm, and,
slowly stooping, he lifted the handkerchief; "an' I was aye glaid
o' that, my leddy, 'cause gien I had been, I wad hae been luikin'
doon upo' workin' men like mysel' as gien they warna freely o' the
same flesh an' blude. But I beg yer leddyship's pardon for takin'
ye up amiss. An' sae lang's I live, I'll regaird this as ane o'
her fedders 'at the angel moutit as she sat by the bored craig.
An' whan I'm deid, I'll hae 't laid upo' my face, an' syne, maybe,
I may get a sicht o' ye as I pass. Guid day my leddy."
"Good day," she returned kindly. "I wish my father would let me
have a row in your boat."
"It's at yer service whan ye please, my leddy," said Malcolm.
One who had caught a glimpse of the shining yet solemn eyes of the
youth, as he walked home, would wonder no longer that he should talk
as he did - so sedately, yet so poetically - so long windedly,
if you like, yet so sensibly - even wisely.
Lady Florimel lay on the sand, and sought again to read the "Faerie
Queene." But for the last day or two she had been getting tired of
it, and now the forms that entered by her eyes dropped half their
substance and all their sense in the porch, and thronged her brain
with the mere phantoms of things, with words that came and went
and were nothing. Abandoning the harvest of chaff, her eyes rose
and looked out upon the sea. Never, even from tropical shore, was
richer hued ocean beheld. Gorgeous in purple and green, in shadowy
blue and flashing gold, it seemed to Malcolm, as if at any moment
the ever newborn Anadyomene might lift her shining head from the
wandering floor, and float away in her pearly lustre to gladden the
regions where the glaciers glide seawards in irresistible silence,
there to give birth to the icebergs in tumult and thunderous uproar.
But Lady Florimel felt merely the loneliness. One deserted boat
lay on the long sand, like the bereft and useless half of a double
shell. Without show of life the moveless cliffs lengthened far
into a sea where neither white sail deepened the purple and gold,
nor red one enriched it with a colour it could not itself produce.
Neither hope nor aspiration awoke in her heart at the sight. Was
she beginning to be tired of her companionless liberty? Had the
long stanzas, bound by so many interwoven links of rhyme, ending in
long Alexandrines, the long cantos, the lingering sweetness long
drawn out through so many unended books, begun to weary her at
last? Had even a quarrel with a fisher lad been a little pastime
to her? and did she now wish she had detained him a little longer?
Could she take any interest in him beyond such as she took in Demon,
her father's dog, or Brazenose, his favourite horse?
Whatever might be her thoughts or feelings at this moment, it
remained a fact, that Florimel Colonsay, the daughter of a marquis,
and Malcolm, the grandson of a blind piper, were woman and man -
and the man the finer of the two this time.
As Malcolm passed on his way one of the three or four solitary rocks
which rose from the sand, the skeleton remnants of larger masses
worn down by wind, wave, and weather, he heard his own name uttered
by an unpleasant voice, and followed by a more unpleasant laugh.
He knew both the voice and the laugh, and, turning, saw Mrs
Catanach, seated, apparently busy with her knitting, in the shade
of the rock.
"Weel?" he said curtly.
"Weel! - Set ye up! - Wha's yon ye was play actin' wi' oot yonner?"
"Wha telled ye to speir, Mistress Catanach?"
"Ay, ay, laad! Ye'll be abune speykin' till an auld wife efter
colloguin' wi' a yoong ane, an' sic a ane! Isna she bonny, Malkie?
Isna hers a winsome shape an' a lauchin' ee? Didna she draw ye on,
an' luik i' the hawk's een o' ye, an' lay herself oot afore ye,
"She did naething o' the sort, ye ill tongued wuman!" said Malcolm
"Ho! ho!" trumpeted Mrs Catanach. "Ill tongued, am I? An' what
"Ill deedit," returned Malcolm, " - whan ye flang my bonny salmon
troot till yer oogly deevil o' a dog."
"Ho! ho! ho! Ill deedit, am I? I s' no forget thae bonny names!
Maybe yer lordship wad alloo me the leeberty o' speirin' anither
question at ye, Ma'colm MacPhail."
"Ye may speir 'at ye like, sae lang 's ye canna gar me stan' to
hearken. Guid day to ye, Mistress Catanach. Yer company was nane
o' my seekin': I may lea' 't whan I like."
"Dinna ye be ower sure o' that," she called after him venomously.
But Malcolm turned his head no more.
As soon as he was out of sight, Mrs Catanach rose, ascended the
dune, and propelled her rotundity along the yielding top of it.
When she arrived within speaking distance of Lady Florimel, who
lay lost in her dreary regard of sand and sea, she paused for a
moment, as if contemplating her.
Suddenly, almost by Lady Florimel's side, as if he had risen from
the sand, stood the form of the mad laird.
"I dinna ken whaur I come frae," he said.
Lady Florimel started, half rose, and seeing the dwarf so near,
and on the other side of her a repulsive looking woman staring at
her, sprung to her feet and fled. The same instant the mad laird,
catching sight of Mrs Catanach, gave a cry of misery, thrust his
fingers in his ears, darted down the other side of the dune and
sped along the shore. Mrs. Catanach shook with laughter.
"I hae skailled (dispersed) the bonny doos!" she said. Then she
called aloud after the flying girl, - "My leddy! My bonny leddy!"
Florimel paid no heed, but ran straight for the door of the
tunnel, and vanished. Thence leisurely climbing to the temple of