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me?" but was capable of a metaphorical interpretation as well.

"Hold your tongue, I say, woman! Who knows but some of the saints
may be at their prayers within hearing?"

"Na, na, mem, there's nae risk o' that; this is no ane o' yer
creepy caves whaur otters an wullcats hae their habitations; it's
a muckle open mou'd place, like them 'at prays intill 't - as toom
an' clear sidit as a tongueless bell. But what for ye wad hae 's
come here to oor cracks (conversation), I canna faddom. A body wad
think ye had an ill thoucht i' yer heid - eh, mem?"

The suggestion was followed by a low, almost sneering laugh. As she
spoke, the sounds of her voice and step had been advancing, with
cautious intermittent approach.

"I hae ye noo," she said, as she seated herself at length beside
the other. "The gowk, Geordie Bray!" she went on, " - to tak it
intill's oogly heid 'at the cratur wad be hurklin' here! It's no the
place for ane 'at has to hide 's heid for verra shame o' slippin'
aff the likes o' himsel' upo' sic a braw mither! Could he get nae
ither door to win in at, haith!"

"Woman, you 'll drive me mad!" said the other.

"Weel, hinney," returned the former, suddenly changing her tone, "I'm
mair an' mair convenced 'at yon's the verra laad for yer purpose.
For ae thing, ye see, naebody kens whaur he cam frae, as the
laird, bonny laad, wad say, an' naebody can contradick a word -
the auld man less than onybody, for I can tell him what he kens to
be trowth. Only I winna muv till I ken whaur he comes frae."

"Wouldn't you prefer not knowing for certain? You could swear with
the better grace."

"Deil a bit! It maitters na to me whilk side o' my teeth I chow wi'.
But I winna sweir till I ken the trowth - 'at I may haud off o'
't. He's the man, though, gien we can get a grip o' 'im! He luiks
the richt thing, ye see, mem. He has a glisk (slight look) o' the
markis tu - divna ye think, mem?"

"Insolent wretch!"

"Caw canny, mem - 'thing maun be considered. It wad but gar the
thing luik, the mair likly. Fowk gangs the len'th o' sayin' 'at
Humpy himsel' 's no the sin (son) o' the auld laird, honest man.

"It's a wicked lie," burst with indignation from the other.

"There may be waur things nor a bit lee. Ony gait, ae thing's easy
priven: ye lay verra dowie (poorly) for a month or sax ooks ance
upon a time at Lossie Hoose, an' that was a feow years, we needna
speir hoo mony, efter ye was lichtened o' the tither. Whan they
hear that at that time ye gae birth till a lad bairn, the whilk was
stown awa', an' never hard tell o' till noo - 'It may weel be,'
fowk'll say: 'them 'at has drunk wad drink again!' It wad affoord
rizzons, ye see, an' guid anes, for the bairn bein' putten oot a'
sicht, and wad mak the haul story mair nor likly i' the jeedgment
o' a' 'at hard it."

"You scandalous woman! That would be to confess to all the world
that he was not the son of my late husband!"

"They say that o' him 'at is, an' hoo muckle the waur are ye? Lat
them say 'at they like, sae lang 's we can shaw 'at he cam o' your
body, an' was born i' wedlock? Ye hae yer Ian's ance mair, for ye
hae a sin 'at can guide them - and ye can guide him. He's a bonny
lad - bonny eneuch to be yer leddyship's - and his lordship's:
an' sae, as I was remarkin', i' the jeedgment a' ill thouchtit
fowk, the mair likly to be heir to auld Stewart o' Kirkbyres!"

She laughed huskily.

"But I maun hae a scart a' yer pen, mem, afore I wag tongue aboot
it," she went on. "I ken brawly hoo to set it gauin'! I sanna be the
first to ring the bell. Na, na; I s' set Miss Horn's Jean jawin',
an' it 'll be a' ower the toon in a jiffy - at first in a kin o'
a sough 'at naebody 'ill unnerstan': but it 'll grow looder an'
plainer. At the lang last it 'll come to yer leddyship's hearin:
an' syne ye hae me taen up an' questoned afore a justice o' the
peace, that there may be no luik o' ony compack atween the twa o'
's. But, as I said afore, I'll no muv till I ken a' aboot the lad
first, an' syne get a scart o' yer pen, mem."

"You must be the devil himself!" said the other, in a tone that
was not of displeasure.

"I hae been tellt that afore, an' wi' less rizzon," was the reply
- given also in a tone that was not of displeasure.

"But what if we should be found out?"

"Ye can lay 't a' upo' me."

"And what will you do with it?"

"Tak it wi' me," was the answer, accompanied by another husky laugh.

"Where to?"

"Speir nae questons, an' ye'll be tellt nae lees. Ony gait, I
s' lea' nae track ahin' me. An' for that same sake, I maun hae my
pairt i' my han' the meenute the thing's been sworn till. Gien ye
fail me, ye'll sune see me get mair licht upo' the subjec', an'
confess till a great mistak. By the Michty, but I'll sweir the verra
contrar the neist time I'm hed up! Ay, an' ilka body 'ill believe
me. An' whaur'll ye be than, my leddy? For though I micht mistak,
ye cudna! Faith! they'll hae ye ta'en up for perjury."

"You're a dangerous accomplice," said the lady.

"I'm a tule ye maun tak by the han'le, or ye'll rue the edge,"
returned the other quietly.

"As soon then as I get a hold of that misbegotten elf - "

"Mean ye the yoong laird, or the yoong markis, mem?"

"You forget, Mrs Catanach, that you are speaking to a lady!"

"Ye maun hae been unco like ane ae nicht, ony gait, mem. But I'm
dune wi' my jokin'."

"As soon, I say, as I get my poor boy into proper hands, I shall
be ready to take the next step."

"What for sod ye pit it aff till than? He canna du muckle ae w'y
or ither."

"I will tell you. His uncle, Sir Joseph, prides himself on being
an honest man, and if some busybody were to tell him that poor
Stephen, as I am told people are saying, was no worse than harsh
treatment had made him - for you know his father could not bear
the sight of him till the day of his death - he would be the more
determined to assert his guardianship, and keep things out of my
hands. But if I once had the poor fellow in an asylum, or in my
own keeping - you see - "

"Weel, mem, gien I be potty, ye're panny!" exclaimed the midwife with
her gelatinous laugh. "Losh, mem!" she burst out after a moment's
pause, "sen you an' me was to fa' oot, there wad be a stramash!
He! he! he!"

They rose and left the cave together, talking as they went; and
Phemy, trembling all over, rejoined the laird.

She could understand little of what she had heard, and yet, enabled
by her affection, retained in her mind a good deal of it. After
events brought more of it to her recollection, and what I have
here given is an attempted restoration of the broken mosaic. She
rightly judged it better to repeat nothing of what she had overheard
to the laird, to whom it would only redouble terror; and when
he questioned her in his own way concerning it, she had little
difficulty, so entirely did he trust her, in satisfying him with a
very small amount of information. When they reached her home, she
told all she could to her father; whose opinion it was, that the
best, indeed the only-thing they could do, was to keep, if possible,
a yet more vigilant guard over the laird and his liberty.

Soon after they were gone, Malcolm returned, and little thinking
that there was no one left to guard, chose a sheltered spot in the
cave, carried thither a quantity of dry sand, and lay down to sleep,
covered with his tarpaulin coat. He found it something chilly,
however, and did not rest so well but that he woke with the first
break of day.

The morning, as it drew slowly on, was a strange contrast, in its
gray and saffron, to the gorgeous sunset of the night before.

The sea crept up on the land as if it were weary, and did not care
much to flow any more. Not a breath of wind was in motion, and yet
the air even on the shore seemed full of the presence of decaying
leaves and damp earth. He sat down in the mouth of the cave, and
looked out on the still, half waking world of ocean and sky before
him - a leaden ocean, and a dull misty sky; and as he gazed, a
sadness came stealing over him, and a sense of the endlessness of
labour - labour ever returning on itself and making no progress.
The mad laird was always lamenting his ignorance of his origin:
Malcolm thought he knew whence he came - and yet what was the
much good of life? Where was the end to it all? People so seldom
got what they desired! To be sure his life was a happy one, or had
been - but there was the poor laird! Why should he be happier than
the laird? Why should the laird have a hump and he have none? If
all the world were happy but one man, that one's misery would be
as a cairn on which the countless multitudes of the blessed must
heap the stones of endless questions and enduring perplexities.

It is one thing to know from whom we come, and another to know from
Whom we come.

Then his thoughts turned to Lady Florimel. All the splendours of
existence radiated from her, but to the glory he could never draw
nearer; the celestial fires of the rainbow fountain of her life
could never warm him; she cared about nothing he cared about; if
they had a common humanity they could not share it; to her he was
hardly human. If he were to unfold before her the deepest layers of
his thought, she would look at them curiously, as she might watch
the doings of an ant or a spider. Had he no right to look for more?
He did not know, and sat brooding with bowed head.

Unseen from where he sat, the sun drew nearer the horizon, the
light grew; the tide began to ripple up more diligently; a glimmer
of dawn touched even the brown rock in the farthest end of the

Where there was light there was work, and where there was work for
any one, there was at least justification of his existence. That
work must be done, if it should return and return in a never broken
circle. Its theory could wait. For indeed the only hope of finding
the theory of all theories, the divine idea, lay in the going on
of things.

In the meantime, while God took care of the sparrows by himself, he
allowed Malcolm a share in the protection of a human heart capable
of the keenest suffering - that of the mad laird.


One day towards the close of the fishing season, the marquis called
upon Duncan; and was received with a cordial unembarrassed welcome.

"I want you, Mr MacPhail," said his lordship, "to come and live
in that little cottage, on the banks of the burn, which one of the
under gamekeepers, they tell me, used to occupy.. I 'll have it
put in order for you, and you shall live rent free as my piper."

"I thank your lortship's crace," said Duncan, "and she would pe
proud of ta honour, put it 'll pe too far away from ta shore for
her poy's fishing."

"I have a design upon him too," returned the marquis. "They 're
building a little yacht for me - a pleasure boat, you understand
- at Aberdeen, and I want Malcolm to be skipper. But he is such a
useful fellow, and so thoroughly to be depended upon, that I should
prefer his having a room in the house. I should like to know he
was within call any moment I might want him."

Duncan did not clutch at the proposal. He was silent so long that
the marquis spoke again.

"You do not quite seem to like the plan, Mr MacPhail," he said.

"If aal wass here as it used to wass in ta Highlants, my lort,"
said Duncan, "when every clansman wass son or prother or father to
his chief tat would pe tifferent; put my poy must not co and eat
with serfants who haf nothing put teir waches to make tem love
and opey your lortship. If her poy serfs another man, it must pe
pecause he loves him, and looks upon him as his chief, who will
shake haands with him and take ta father's care of him; and her
poy must tie for him when ta time comes."

Even a feudal lord cannot be expected to have sympathized with
such grand patriarchal ideas; they were much too like those of the
kingdom of heaven; and feudalism itself had by this time crumbled
away - not indeed into monthly, but into half yearly wages. The
marquis, notwithstanding, was touched by the old man's words, matter
of fact as his reply must sound after them.

"I would make any arrangements you or he might wish," he said.
"He should take his meals with Mrs Courthope, have a bedroom to
himself and be required only to look after the yacht, and now and
then do some bit of business I could n't trust any one else with."

The highlander's pride was nearly satisfied.

"So," he said, "it 'll pe his own henchman my lort will pe making
of her poy?"

"Something like that. We 'll see how it goes. If he does n't like
it, he can drop it. It 's more that I want to have him about me
than anything else. I want to do something for him when I have a
chance. I like him."

"My lort will pe toing ta laad a creat honour," said Duncan. "Put,"
he added, with a sigh, "she 'll pe lonely, her nainsel!"

"He can come and see you twenty times a day - and stop all night
when you particularly want him. We 'll see about some respectable
woman to look after the house for you."

"She 'll haf no womans to look after her," said Duncan fiercely.

"Oh, very well! - of course not, if you don't wish it," returned
the marquis, laughing.

But Duncan did not even smile in return. He sat thoughtful and
silent for a moment, then said:

"And what 'll pecome of her lamps and her shop?"

"You shall have all the lamps and candlesticks in the house to
attend to and take charge of," said the marquis, who had heard of
the old man's whim from Lady Florimel; "and for the shop, you won't
want that when you're piper to the Marquis of Lossie."

He did not venture to allude to wages more definitely.

"Well, she'll pe talking to her poy apout it," said Duncan, and
the marquis saw that he had better press the matter no further for
the time.

To Malcolm the proposal was full of attraction. True, Lord Lossie
had once and again spoken so as to offend him, but the confidence
he had shown in him had gone far to atone for that. And to be near
Lady Florimel! - to have to wait on her in the yacht and sometimes
in the house! - to be allowed books from the library perhaps! -
to have a nice room, and those lovely grounds all about him! - It
was tempting!

The old man also, the more he reflected, liked the idea the more.
The only thing he murmured at was, being parted from his grandson
at night. In vain Malcolm reminded him that during the fishing
season he had to spend most nights alone; Duncan answered that
he had but to go to the door, and look out to sea, and there was
nothing between him and his boy; but now he could not tell how
many stone walls might be standing up to divide them. He was quite
willing to make the trial, however, and see if he could bear it.
So Malcolm went to speak to the marquis.

He did not altogether trust the marquis, but he had always taken
a delight in doing anything for anybody - a delight rooted in a
natural tendency to ministration, unusually strong, and specially
developed by the instructions of Alexander Graham conjoined with the
necessities of his blind grandfather; while there was an alluring
something, it must be confessed, in the marquis's high position
- which let no one set down to Malcolm's discredit: whether the
subordination of class shall go to the development of reverence or
of servility, depends mainly on the individual nature subordinated.
Calvinism itself has produced as loving children as abject slaves,
with a good many between partaking of the character of both kinds.
Still, as he pondered over the matter on his way, he shrunk a
good deal from placing himself at the beck and call of another; it
threatened to interfere with that sense of personal freedom which
is yet dearer perhaps to the poor than to the rich. But he argued
with himself that he had found no infringement of it under Blue
Peter; and that, if the marquis were really as friendly as he
professed to be, it was not likely to turn out otherwise with him.

Lady Florimel anticipated pleasure in Malcolm's probable consent
to her father's plan; but certainly he would not have been greatly
uplifted by a knowledge of the sort of pleasure she expected. For
some time the girl had been suffering from too much liberty. Perhaps
there is no life more filled with a sense of oppression and lack
of freedom than that of those under no external control, in whom
Duty has not yet gathered sufficient strength to assume the reins
of government and subject them to the highest law. Their condition
is like that of a creature under an exhausted receiver - oppressed
from within outwards for want of the counteracting external weight.
It was amusement she hoped for from Malcolm's becoming in a sense
one of the family at the House - to which she believed her knowledge of
the extremely bare outlines of his history would largely contribute.

He was shown at once into the presence of his lordship, whom he
found at breakfast with his daughter.

"Well, MacPhail," said the marquis, "have you made up your mind to
be my skipper?"

"Willin'ly, my lord," answered Malcolm.

"Do you know how to manage a sailboat?"

"I wad need, my lord."

"Shall you want any help?"

"That depen's upo' saiveral things - her am size, the wull o' the
win', an' whether or no yer lordship or my leddy can tak the tiller."

"We can't settle about that then till she comes. I hear she 'll soon
be on her way now. But I cannot have you dressed like a farmer!"
said his lordship, looking sharply at the Sunday clothes which
Malcolm had donned for the visit.

"What was I to du, my lord?" returned Malcolm apologetically. "The
only ither claes I hae, are verra fishy, an' neither yersel' nor
my leddy cud bide them i' the room aside ye."

"Certainly not," responded the marquis, as in a leisurely manner
he devoured his omelette: "I was thinking of your future position
as skipper of my boat. What would you say to a kilt now?"

"Na, na, my lord," rejoined Malcolm; "a kilt's no seafarin' claes.
A kilt wadna du ava', my lord."

"You cannot surely object to the dress of your own people," said
the marquis.

"The kilt 's weel eneuch upon a hillside," said Malcolm, "I dinna
doobt; but faith! seafarin', my lord, ye wad want the trews as

"Well, go to the best tailor in the town, and order a naval suit
- white ducks and a blue jacket - two suits you 'll want."

"We s' gar ae shuit sair s' (satisfy us) to begin wi', my lord.
I 'll jist gang to Jamie Sangster, wha maks a' my claes - no 'at
their mony! - an' get him to mizzur me. He'll mak them weel eneuch
for me. You 're aye sure o' the worth o' yer siller frae him."

"I tell you to go to the best tailor in the town, and order two

"Na, na, my lord; there 's nae need. I canna affoord it forbye. We
're no a' made o' siller like yer lordship."

"You booby! do you suppose I would tell you to order clothes I did
not mean to pay for?"

Lady Florimel found her expectation of amusement not likely to be

"Hoots, my lord!" returned Malcolm, "that wad never du. I maun pey
for my ain claes. I wad be in a constant terror o blaudin' (spoiling)
o' them gien I didna, an' that wad be eneuch to mak a body meeserable.
It wad be a' the same, forbye, not an' oot, as weirin' a leevry!"

"Well, well! please your pride, and be damned to you!" said the

"Yes, let him please his pride, and be damned to him!" assented
Lady Florimel with perfect gravity.

Malcolm started and stared. Lady Florimel kept an absolute composure.
The marquis burst into a loud laugh. Malcolm stood bewildered for
a moment.

"I'm thinkin' I 'm gaein' daft (delirious)!" he said at length,
putting his hand to his head. "It's time I gaed. Guid mornin', my

He turned and left the room, followed by a fresh peal from his
lordship, mingling with which his ear plainly detected the silvery
veins of Lady Florimel's equally merry laughter.

When he came to himself and was able to reflect, he saw there must
have been some joke involved: the behaviour of both indicated as
much; and with this conclusion he heartened his dismay.

The next morning Duncan called on Mrs Partan, and begged her
acceptance of his stock in trade, as, having been his lordship's
piper for some time, he was now at length about to occupy his proper
quarters within the policies. Mrs Findlay acquiesced, with an air
better suited to the granting of slow leave to laboursome petition,
than the accepting of such a generous gift; but she made some amends
by graciously expressing a hope that Duncan would not forget his
old friends now that he was going amongst lords and ladies, to which
Duncan returned as courteous answer as if he had been addressing
Lady Florimel herself.

Before the end of the week, his few household goods were borne in
a cart through the sea gate dragonised by Bykes, to whom Malcolm
dropped a humorous "Weel Johnny!" as he passed, receiving a
nondescript kind of grin in return. The rest of the forenoon was
spent in getting the place in order, and in the afternoon, arrayed
in his new garments, Malcolm reported himself at the House. Admitted
to his lordship's presence, he had a question to ask and a request
to prefer.

"Hae ye dune onything my lord," he said, "aboot Mistress Catanach?"

"What do you mean?"

"Anent yon cat prowl aboot the hoose, my lord."

"No. You have n't discovered anything more - have you?"

"Na, my lord; I haena had a chance. But ye may be sure she had nae
guid design in 't."

"I don't suspect her of any."

"Weel, my lord, hae ye ony objection to lat me sleep up yonner?"

"None at all - only you'd better see what Mrs Courthope has to
say to it. Perhaps you won't be so ready after you hear her story."

"But I hae yer lordship's leave to tak ony room I like?"

"Certainly. Go to Mrs Courthope, and tell her I wish you to choose
your own quarters."

Having straightway delivered his lordship's message, Mrs Courthope,
wondering a little thereat, proceeded to show him those portions
of the house set apart for the servants. He followed her from floor
to floor - last to the upper regions, and through all the confused
rambling roofs of the old pile, now descending a sudden steep
yawning stair, now ascending another where none could have been
supposed to exist - oppressed all the time with a sense of the
multitudinous and intricate, such as he had never before experienced, and
such as perhaps only the works of man can produce, the intricacy
and variety of those of nature being ever veiled in the grand
simplicity which springs from primal unity of purpose.

I find no part of an ancient house so full of interest as the
garret region. It has all the mystery of the dungeon cellars with
a far more striking variety of form, and a bewildering curiosity
of adaptation, the peculiarities of roof shapes and the consequent
complexities of their relations and junctures being so much greater
than those of foundation plans. Then the sense of lofty loneliness
in the deeps of air, and at the same time of proximity to things
aerial - doves and martins, vanes and gilded balls and lightning
conductors, the waves of the sea of wind, breaking on the chimneys
for rocks, and the crashing roll of the thunder - is in harmony
with the highest spiritual instincts; while the clouds and the stars
look, if not nearer, yet more germane, and the moon gazes down on
the lonely dweller in uplifted places, as if she had secrets with
such. The cellars are the metaphysics, the garrets the poetry of
the house.

Mrs Courthope was more than kind, for she was greatly pleased
at having Malcolm for an inmate. She led him from room to room,
suggesting now and then a choice, and listening amusedly to his
remarks of liking or disliking, and his marvel at strangeness or
extent. At last he found himself following her along the passage
in which was the mysterious door, but she never stayed her step,
or seemed to intend showing one of the many rooms opening upon it.

"Sic a bee's byke o' rooms!" said Malcolm, making a halt "Wha sleeps

"Nobody has slept in one of these rooms for I dare not say how many
years," replied Mrs Courthope, without stopping; and as she spoke
she passed the fearful door.

"I wad like to see intil this room," said Malcolm.

"That door is never opened," answered Mrs Courthope, who had now
reached the end of the passage, and turned, lingering as in act
while she spoke to move on.

"And what for that?" asked Malcolm, continuing to stand before it.

"I would rather not answer you just here. Come along. This is not
a part of the house where you would like to be, I am sure."

"Hoo ken ye that, mem? An' hoo can I say mysel' afore ye hae shawn

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