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in him, but gaining on him, in his resolution of that moment.

"Come, Flory," said the marquis, to whom it gave a distinct pleasure
to fly in the face of advice, "we'll go at once, and have it over."

So they set out together for the Seaton, followed by the bagpipes,
carried by the same servant as before, and were received by the
overjoyed Malcolm, and ushered into his grandfather's presence.

Whatever may have been the projected attitude of the marquis, the
moment he stood on the piper's floor, the generous, that is the
gentleman, in him, got the upper hand, and his behaviour to the
old man was not polite merely, but respectful. At no period in the
last twenty years had he been so nigh the kingdom of heaven as he
was now when making his peace with the blind piper.

When Duncan heard his voice, he rose with dignity and made a
stride or two towards the door, stretching forth his long arm to
its full length, and spreading wide his great hand with the brown
palm upwards:

"Her nainsel will pe proud to see my lord ta marquis under her
roof;" he said.

The visit itself had already sufficed to banish all resentment from
his soul.

The marquis took the proffered hand kindly:

"I have come to apologise," he said.

"Not one vord more, my lort, I peg," interrupted Duncan. "My lort
is come, out of his cootness, to pring her a creat kift; for he'll
pe hearing of ta sad accident which pefell her poor pipes one
efening lately. Tey was ferry old, my lort, and easily hurt."

"I am sorry - " said the marquis - but again Duncan interrupted

"I am clad, my lort," he said, "for it prings me ta creat choy.
If my lady and your lordship will honour her poor house py sitting
town, she will haf ta pleasure of pe offering tem a little music."

His hospitality would give them of the best he had; but ere the
entertainment was over, the marquis judged himself more than fairly
punished by the pipes for all the wrong he had done the piper.

They sat down, and, at a sign from his lordship, the servant placed
his charge in Duncan's hands, and retired. The piper received the
instrument with a proud gesture of gratification, felt it all over,
screwed at this and that for a moment, then filled the great bag
gloriously full. The next instant a scream invaded the astonished
air fit to rival the skirl produced by the towzie tyke of Kirk
Alloway; another instant, and the piper was on his legs, as full
of pleasure and pride as his bag of wind, strutting up and down
the narrow chamber like a turkey cock before his hens, and turning
ever, after precisely so many strides, with a grand gesture and
mighty sweep, as if he too had a glorious tail to mind, and was
bound to keep it ceaselessly quivering to the tremor of the reed
in the throat of his chanter.

Malcolm, erect behind their visitors, gazed with admiring eyes
at every motion of his grandfather. To one who had from earliest
infancy looked up to him with reverence, there was nothing
ridiculous in the display, in the strut, in all that to other eyes
too evidently revealed the vanity of the piper: Malcolm regarded
it all only as making up the orthodox mode of playing the pipes.
It was indeed well that he could not see the expression upon the
faces of those behind whose chairs he stood, while for moments that
must have seemed minutes, they succumbed to the wild uproar which
issued from those splendid pipes. On an opposite hillside, with a
valley between, it would have sounded poetic; in a charging regiment,
none could have wished for more inspiriting battle strains; even in
a great hall, inspiring and guiding the merry reel, it might have
been in place and welcome; but in a room of ten feet by twelve,
with a wooden ceiling, acting like a drumhead, at the height of
seven feet and a half! - It was little below torture to the marquis
and Lady Florimel. Simultaneously they rose to make their escape.

"My lord an' my leddy maun be gauin', daddy," cried Malcolm.

Absorbed in the sound which his lungs created and his fingers
modulated, the piper had forgotten all about his visitors; but the
moment his grandson's voice reached him, the tumult ceased; he took
the port vent from his lips, and with sightless eyes turned full
on Lord Lossie, said in a low earnest voice, -

"My lort, she 'll pe ta craandest staand o' pipes she efer blew,
and proud and thankful she'll pe to her lort marquis, and to ta Lort
of lorts, for ta kift. Ta pipes shall co town from cheneration to
cheneration to ta ent of time; yes, my lort, until ta loud cry of
tem pe trownt in ta roar of ta trump of ta creat archanchel, when
he'll pe setting one foot on ta laand and ta other foot upon ta
sea, and Clenlyon shall pe cast into ta lake of fire."

He ended with a low bow. They shook hands with him, thanked him for
his music, wished him goodnight, and, with a kind nod to Malcolm,
left the cottage.

Duncan resumed his playing the moment they were out of the house,
and Malcolm, satisfied of his well being for a couple of hours at
least - he had been music starved so long, went also out, in quest
of a little solitude.


He wandered along the shore on the land side of the mound, with a
favourite old book of Scottish ballads in his hand, every now and
then stooping to gather a sea anemone - a white flower something
like a wild geranium, with a faint sweet smell, or a small, short
stalked harebell, or a red daisy, as large as a small primrose; for
along the coast there, on cliff or in sand, on rock or in field,
the daisies are remarkable for size, and often not merely tipped,
but dyed throughout with a deep red.

He had gathered a bunch of the finest, and had thrown himself down
on the side of the dune, whence, as he lay, only the high road, the
park wall, the temple of the winds, and the blue sky were visible.
The vast sea, for all the eye could tell, was nowhere - not a
ripple of it was to be seen, but the ear was filled with the night
gush and flow of it. A sweet wind was blowing, hardly blowing,
rather gliding, like a slumbering river, from the west. The sun
had vanished, leaving a ruin of gold and rose behind him, gradually
fading into dull orange and lead and blue sky and stars. There was
light enough to read by, but he never opened his book. He was thinking
over something Mr Graham had said to him a few days before, namely,
that all impatience of monotony, all weariness of best things even,
are but signs of the eternity of our nature - the broken human
fashions of the divine everlastingness.

"I dinna ken whaur it comes frae," said a voice above him.

He looked up. On the ridge of the mound, the whole of his dwarfed
form relieved against the sky and looking large in the twilight,
stood the mad laird, reaching out his forehead towards the west
with his arms expanded as if to meet the ever coming wind.

"Naebody kens whaur the win' comes frae, or whaur it gangs till,"
said Malcolm. "Ye're no a hair waur aff nor ither fowk, there,

"Does't come frae a guid place, or frae an ill?" said the laird,

"It's saft an' kin'ly i' the fin' o' 't," returned Malcolm suggestively,
rising and joining the laird on the top of the dune, and like him
spreading himself out to the western air.

The twilight had deepened, merging into such night as the summer
in that region knows - a sweet pale memory of the past day. The
sky was full of sparkles of pale gold in a fathomless blue; there
was no moon; the darker sea lay quiet below, with only a murmur
about its lip, and fitfully reflected the stars. The soft wind kept
softly blowing. Behind them shone a light at the harbour's mouth,
and a twinkling was here and there visible in the town above; but
all was as still as if there were no life save in the wind and the
sea and the stars. The whole feeling was as if something had been
finished in heaven, and the outmost ripples of the following rest
had overflowed and were now pulsing faintly and dreamily across
the bosom of the labouring earth, with feeblest suggestion of the
mighty peace beyond. Alas, words can do so little! even such a
night is infinite.

"Ay," answered the laird; "but it maks me dowfart (melancholy)
like, i' the inside."

"Some o' the best things does that," said Malcolm. "I think a kiss
frae my mither wad gar me greet."

He knew the laird's peculiarities well; but in the thought of his
mother had forgotten the antipathy of his companion to the word.
Stewart gave a moaning cry, put his fingers in his ears, and glided
down the slope of the dune seawards.

Malcolm was greatly distressed. He had a regard for the laird far
beyond pity, and could not bear the thought of having inadvertently
caused him pain. But he dared not follow him, for that would be but
to heighten the anguish of the tortured mind and the suffering of
the sickly frame; for, when pursued, he would accomplish a short
distance at an incredible speed, then drop suddenly and lie like one
dead. Malcolm, therefore, threw off his heavy boots, and starting
at full speed along the other side of the dune, made for the bored
craig; his object being to outrun the laird without being seen by
him, and so, doubling the rock, return with leisurely steps, and
meet him. Sweetly the west wind whistled about his head as he ran.
In a few moments he had rounded the rock, towards which the laird
was still running, but now more slowly. The tide was high and came
near its foot, leaving but a few yards of passage between, in which
space they approached each other, Malcolm with sauntering step
as if strolling homewards. Lifting his bonnet, a token of respect
he never omitted when he met the mad laird, he stood aside in the
narrow way. Mr Stewart stopped abruptly, took his fingers from his
ears, and stared in perplexity.

"It's a richt bonny nicht, laird," said Malcolm.

The poor fellow looked hurriedly behind him, then stared again,
then made gestures backward, and next pointed at Malcolm with rapid
pokes of his forefinger. Bewilderment had brought on the impediment
in his speech, and all Malcolm could distinguish in the babbling
efforts at utterance which followed, were the words, - "Twa o'
them! Twa o' them! Twa o' them!" often and hurriedly repeated.

"It's a fine, saft sleekit win,' laird," said Malcolm, as if they
were meeting for the first time that night. "I think it maun come
frae the blue there, ayont the stars. There's a heap o' wonnerfu'
things there, they tell me; an' whiles a strokin win' an' whiles
a rosy smell, an' whiles a bricht licht, an' whiles, they say, an
auld yearnin' sang, 'ill brak oot, an' wanner awa doon, an' gang
flittin' an' fleein' amang the sair herts o' the men an' women fowk
'at canna get things putten richt."

"I think there are two fools of them!" said the marquis, referring
to the words of the laird.

He was seated with Lady Florimel on the town side of the rock,
hidden from them by one sharp corner. They had seen the mad laird
coming, and had recognised Malcolm's voice.

"I dinna ken whaur I come frae," burst from the laird, the word
whaur drawn out and emphasized almost to a howl; and as he spoke he
moved on again, but gently now, towards the rocks of the Scaurnose.
Anxious to get him thoroughly soothed before they parted, Malcolm
accompanied him. They walked a little way side by side in silence,
the laird every now and then heaving his head like a fretted horse
towards the sky, as if he sought to shake the heavy burden from his
back, straighten out his poor twisted spine, and stand erect like
his companion:

"Ay!" Malcolm began again, as if he had in the meantime been thinking
over the question, and was now assured upon it, " - the win' maun
come frae yont the stars; for dinna ye min', laird? Ye was at the
kirk last Sunday - wasna ye?"

The laird nodded an affirmative, and Malcolm went on.

"An' didna ye hear the minister read frae the buik 'at hoo ilka
guid an' ilka perfit gift was frae abune, an' cam frae the Father
o' lichts?"

"Father o' lichts!" repeated the laird, and looked up at the stars.
"I dinna ken whaur I cam frae. I hae nae father. I hae only a ...
I hae only a wuman."

The moment he had said the word, he began to move his head from
side to side like a scared animal seeking where to conceal itself.

"The Father o' lichts is your father an' mine - The Father o' a'
o' 's," said Malcolm.

"O' a' guid fowk, I daursay," said the laird, with a deep and
quivering sigh.

"Mr Graham says - o' a'body," returned Malcolm, "guid an' ill;
- o' the guid to haud them guid an' mak them better - o' the ill
to mak them guid."

"Eh! gien that war true!" said the laird.

They walked on in silence for a minute. All at once the laird threw
up his hands, and fell flat on his face on the sand, his poor hump
rising skywards above his head. Malcolm thought he had been seized
with one of the fits to which he was subject, and knelt down beside
him, to see if he could do anything for him. Then he found he was
praying: he heard him - he could but just hear him - murmuring over
and over, all but inaudibly, "Father o' lichts! Father o' lichts!
Father o' lichts!" It seemed as if no other word dared mingle itself
with that cry. Maniac or not - the mood of the man was supremely
sane, and altogether too sacred to disturb. Malcolm retreated
a little way, sat down in the sand and watched beside him. It was
a solemn time - the full tide lapping up on the long yellow sand
from the wide sea darkening out to the dim horizon: the gentle
wind blowing through the molten darkness; overhead, the great vault
without arch or keystone, of dim liquid blue, and sown with worlds
so far removed they could only shine; and, on the shore, the centre
of all the cosmic order, a misshapen heap of man, a tumulus in which
lay buried a live and lovely soul! The one pillar of its chapter
house had given way, and the downrushing ruin had so crushed
and distorted it, that thenceforth until some resurrection should
arrive, disorder and misshape must appear to it the law of the
universe, and loveliness but the passing dream of a brain glad to
deceive its own misery, and so to fancy it had received from above
what it had itself generated of its own poverty from below. To
the mind's eye of Malcolm, the little hump on the sand was heaved
to the stars, higher than ever Roman tomb or Egyptian pyramid,
in silent appeal to the sweet heavens, a dumb prayer for pity, a
visible groan for the resurrection of the body. For a few minutes
he sat as still as the prostrate laird.

But bethinking himself that his grandfather would not go to bed until
he went back, also that the laird was in no danger, as the tide
was now receding, he resolved to go and get the old man to bed,
and then return. For somehow he felt in his heart that he ought
not to leave him alone. He could not enter into his strife to aid
him, or come near him in any closer way than watching by his side
until his morning dawned, or at least the waters of his flood
assuaged, yet what he could he must: he would wake with him in his

He rose and ran for the bored craig, through which lay the straight
line to his abandoned boots.

As he approached the rock, he heard the voices of Lord Lossie
and Lady Florimel, who, although the one had not yet verified her
being, the other had almost ruined his, were nevertheless enjoying
the same thing, the sweetness of the night, together. Not hearing
Malcolm's approach, they went on talking, and as he was passing
swiftly through the bore, he heard these words from the marquis,
- "The world's an ill baked cake, Flory, and all that a woman, at
least, can do, is to cut as large a piece of it as possible, for
immediate use."

The remark being a general one, Malcolm cannot be much blamed if
he stood with one foot lifted to hear Florimel's reply.

"If it 's an ill baked one, papa," she returned, "I think it would
be better to cut as small a piece of it as will serve for immediate

Malcolm was delighted with her answer, never thinking whether it
came from her head or her heart, for the two were at one in himself.

As soon as he appeared on the other side of the rock, the marquis
challenged him: "Who goes there?" he said.

"Malcolm MacPhail, my lord."

"You rascal!" said his lordship, good humouredly; "you've been

"No muckle, my lord. I heard but a word apiece. An' I maun say my
leddy had the best o' the loagic."

"My lady generally has, I suspect," laughed the marquis. "How long
have you been in the rock there?"

"No ae meenute, my lord. I flang aff my butes to rin efter a
freen', an' that's hoo ye didna hear me come up. I'm gaein' efter
them noo, to gang hame i' them. Guid nicht, my lord. Guid nicht,
my leddy."

He turned and pursued his way; but Florimel's face, glimmering
through the night, went with him as he ran.

He told his grandfather how he had left the mad laird lying on his
face, on the sands between the bored craig and the rocks of the
promontory, and said he would like to go back to him.

"He'll be hafing a fit, poor man," said Duncan. "Yes, my son, you
must co to him and to your pest for him. After such an honour as
we 'fe had this day, we mustn't pe forgetting our poor neighpours.
Will you pe taking to him a trop of uisgebeatha?"

"He taks naething o' that kin'," said Malcolm.

He could not tell him that the madman, as men called him, lay
wrestling in prayer with the Father of lights. The old highlander
was not irreverent, but the thing would have been unintelligible
to him. He could readily have believed that the supposed lunatic
might be favoured beyond ordinary mortals; that at that very moment,
lost in his fit, he might be rapt in a vision of the future - a
wave of time, far off as yet from the souls of other men, even now
rolling over his; but that a soul should seek after vital content by
contact with its maker, was an idea belonging to a region which,
in the highlander's being, lay as yet an unwatered desert, an
undiscovered land, whence even no faintest odour had been wafted
across the still air of surprised contemplation.

About the time when Malcolm once more sped through the bored craig,
the marquis and Lady Florimel were walking through the tunnel on
their way home, chatting about a great ball they were going to give
the tenants.

He found the laird where he had left him, and thought at first he
must now surely be asleep; but once more bending over him, he could
hear him still murmuring at intervals, "Father o' lichts! Father
o' lichts!"

Not less compassionate, and more sympathetic than Eliphaz or Bildad
or Zophar, Malcolm again took his place near him, and sat watching
by him until the gray dawn began in the east. Then all at once the
laird rose to his feet, and without a look on either side walked
steadily away towards the promontory. Malcolm rose also, and gazed
after him until he vanished amongst the rocks, no motion of his
distorted frame witnessing other than calmness of spirit. So his
watcher returned in peace through the cool morning air to the side
of his slumbering grandfather.

No one in the Seaton of Portlossie ever dreamed of locking door or
window at night.


The home season of the herring fishery was to commence a few days
after the occurrences last recorded. The boats had all returned
from other stations, and the little harbour was one crowd of stumpy
masts, each with its halliard, the sole cordage visible, rove
through the top of it, for the hoisting of a lug sail, tanned to
a rich red brown. From this underwood towered aloft the masts of
a coasting schooner, discharging its load of coal at the little
quay. Other boats lay drawn up on the beach in front of the Seaton,
and beyond it on the other side of the burn. Men and women were
busy with the brown nets, laying them out on the short grass of
the shore, mending them with netting needles like small shuttles,
carrying huge burdens of them on their shoulders in the hot sunlight;
others were mending, calking, or tarring their boats, and looking
to their various fittings. All was preparation for the new venture
in their own waters, and everything went merrily and hopefully.
Wives who had not accompanied their husbands now had them home
again, and their anxieties would henceforth endure but for a night
- joy would come with the red sails in the morning, lovers were
once more together, the one great dread broken into a hundred
little questioning fears; mothers had their sons again, to watch
with loving eyes as they swung their slow limbs at their labour, or
in the evenings sauntered about, hands in pockets, pipe in mouth,
and blue bonnet cast carelessly on the head: it was almost a single
family, bound together by a network of intermarriages, so intricate
as to render it impossible for any one who did not belong to the
community to follow the threads or read the design of the social

And while the Seaton swarmed with "the goings on of life," the town
of Portlossie lay above it still as a country hamlet, with more
odours than people about: of people it was seldom indeed that three
were to be spied at once in the wide street, while of odours you
would always encounter a smell of leather from the saddler's shop,
and a mingled message of bacon and cheese from the very general
dealer's - in whose window hung what seemed three hams, and only
he who looked twice would discover that the middle object was
no ham, but a violin - while at every corner lurked a scent of
gillyflowers and southernwood. Idly supreme, Portlossie the upper
looked down in condescension, that is in half concealed contempt,
on the ant heap below it.

The evening arrived on which the greater part of the boats was to
put off for the first assay. Malcolm would have made one in the
little fleet, for he belonged to his friend Joseph Mair's crew,
had it not been found impossible to get the new boat ready before
the following evening; whence, for this one more, he was still his
own master, with one more chance of a pleasure for which he had
been on the watch ever since Lady Florimel had spoken of having a
row in his boat. True, it was not often she appeared on the shore
in the evening; nevertheless he kept watching the dune with his
keen eyes, for he had hinted to Mrs Courthope that perhaps her
young lady would like to see the boats go out.

Although it was the fiftieth time his eyes had swept the links in
vague hope, he could hardly believe their testimony when now at
length he spied a form, which could only be hers, looking seaward
from the slope, as still as a sphinx on Egyptian sands.

He sauntered slowly towards her by the landward side of the dune,
gathering on his way a handful of the reddest daisies he could
find; then, ascending the sandhill, approached her along the top.

"Saw ye ever sic gowans in yer life, my leddy?" he said, holding
out his posy.

"Is that what you call them?" she returned.

"Ow ay, my leddy - daisies ye ca' them. I dinna ken but yours is
the bonnier name o' the twa - gien it be what Mr Graham tells me
the auld poet Chaucer maks o' 't."

"What is that?"

"Ow, jist the een o' the day. - the day's eyes, ye ken. They're
sma' een for sic a great face, but syne there's a lot o' them to
mak up for that. They've begun to close a'ready, but the mair they
close the bonnier they luik, wi' their bits o' screwed up mooies
(little mouths). But saw ye ever sic reid anes, or ony sic a size,
my leddy?"

"I don't think I ever did. What is the reason they are so large
and red?"

"I dinna ken. There canna be muckle nourishment in sic a thin soil,
but there maun be something that agrees wi' them. It's the same a'
roon' aboot here."

Lady Florimel sat looking at the daisies, and Malcolm stood a few
yards off watching for the first of the red sails, which must soon
show themselves, creeping out on the ebb tide. Nor had he waited
long before a boat appeared, then another and another - six huge
oars, ponderous to toil withal, urging each from the shelter of
the harbour out into the wide weltering plain. The fishing boat of
that time was not decked as now, and each, with every lift of its
bows, revealed to their eyes a gaping hollow, ready, if a towering
billow should break above it, to be filled with sudden death.
One by one the whole fleet crept out, and ever as they gained the
breeze, up went the red sails, and filled: aside leaned every boat
from the wind, and went dancing away over the frolicking billows
towards the sunset, its sails, deep dyed in oak bark, shining redder
and redder in the growing redness of the sinking sun.

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