an' lay the blame upo' naebody, whatever cam o' 't."
"You young hypocrite! Why did n't you tell me you meant to set up
for a saint before I took you into my service?"
"'Cause I had nae sic intention, my lord. Surely a body micht ken
himsel' nae sant, an' yet like to haud his han's clean!"
"What did Mrs Stewart tell you she wanted of you?" asked the marquis
almost fiercely, after a moment's silence.
"She wantit me to get the puir laird to gang back till her; but
I sair misdoobt, for a' her fine words, it 's a closed door, gien
it bena a lid, she wad hae upon him; an' I wad suner be hangt nor
hae a thoom i' that haggis."
"Why should you doubt what a lady tells you?"
"I wadna be ower ready, but I hae hard things, ye see, an' bude to
be upo' my gaird."
"Well, I suppose, as you are a personal friend of the idiot - "
His lordship had thought to sting him, and paused for a moment;
but Malcolm's manner revealed nothing except waiting watchfulness.
" - I must employ some one else to get a hold of the fellow for
her," he concluded.
"Ye winna du that, my lord," cried Malcolm, in a tone of entreaty;
but his master chose to misunderstand him.
"Who's to prevent me, I should like to know?" he said.
Malcolm accepted the misinterpretation involved, and answered -
"Me, my lord. I wull. At ony rate, I s' du my best."
"Upon my word!" exclaimed Lord Lossie, "you presume sufficiently
on my good nature, young man!"
"Hear me ae moment, my lord," returned Malcolm. "I've been turnin'
't ower i' my min', an' I see, plain as the daylicht, that I'm
bun', bein' yer lordship's servan' an' trustit by yer lordship, to
say that to yersel' the whilk I was nowise bun' to say to Mistress
Stewart. Sae, at the risk o' angerin' ye, I maun tell yer lordship,
wi' a' respec', 'at gien I can help it, there sall no han', gentle
or semple, be laid upo' the laird against his ain wull."
The marquis was getting tired of the contest. He was angry too,
and none the less that he felt Malcolm was in the right.
"Go to the devil you booby!" he said - even more in impatience
than in wrath.
"I'm thinkin' I needna budge," retorted Malcolm, angry also.
"What do you mean by that insolence?"
"I mean, my lord, that to gang will be to gang frae him. He canna
be far frae yer lordship's lug this meenute."
All the marquis's gathered annoyance broke out at last in rage. He
started from his chair, made three strides to Malcolm, and struck
him in the face. Malcolm staggered back till he was brought up by
"Hoot, my lord!" he exclaimed, as he sought his blue cotton
handkerchief, "ye sudna hae dune that: ye'll blaud the carpet!"
"You precious idiot!" cried his lordship, already repenting the
deed; "why did n't you defend yourself?"
"The quarrel was my ain, an' I cud du as I likit, my lord."
"And why should you like to take a blow? Not to lift a hand, even
to defend yourself!" said the marquis, vexed both with Malcolm and
"Because I saw I was i' the wrang, my. lord. The quarrel was o'
my ain makin': I hed no richt to lowse my temper an' be impident.
Sae I didna daur defen' mysel'. An' I beg yer lordship's pardon.
But dinna ye du me the wrang to imaigine, my lord, 'cause I took a
flewet (blow) in guid pairt whan I kent mysel' i' the wrang, 'at
that's hoo I wad cairry mysel' gien 'twas for the puir laird. Faith!
I s' gar ony man ken a differ there!"
"Go along with you - and do n't show yourself till you 're fit to
be seen. I hope it 'll be a lesson to you."
"It wull, my lord," said Malcolm. "But," he added, "there was nae
occasion to gie me sic a dirdum: a word wad hae pitten me mair i'
So saying, he left the room, with his handkerchief to his face.
The marquis was really sorry for the blow, chiefly because Malcolm,
without a shadow of pusillanimity, had taken it so quietly. Malcolm
would, however, have had very much more the worse of it had he
defended himself, for his master had been a bruiser in his youth,
and neither his left hand nor his right arm had yet forgot their
cunning so far as to leave him less than a heavy overmatch for one
unskilled, whatever his strength or agility.
For some time after he was gone, the marquis paced up and down the
room, feeling strangely and unaccountably uncomfortable.
"The great lout!" he kept saying to himself; "why did he let me
Malcolm went to his grandfather's cottage. In passing the window,
he peeped in. The old man was sitting with his bagpipes on his
knees, looking troubled. When he entered, he held out his arms to
"Tere 'll pe something cone wrong with you, Malcolm, my son!" he
cried. "You'll pe hafing a hurt! She knows it. She has it within
her, though she couldn't chust see it. Where is it?"
As he spoke he proceeded to feel his head and face. "God pless her
sowl! you are plooding, Malcolm!" he cried the same moment.
"It's naething to greit aboot, daddy. It's hardly mair nor the
flype o' a sawmon's tail."
"Put who 'll pe tone it?" asked Duncan angrily.
"Ow, the maister gae me a bit flewet!" answered Malcolm with
"Where is he?" cried the piper, rising in wrath. "Take her to him,
Malcolm. She will stap him. She will pe killing him. She will trife
her turk into his wicked pody."
"Na, na, daddy," said Malcolm; "we hae hed eneuch o' durks a'ready!"
"Tat you haf tone it yourself, ten, Malcolm? My prave poy!"
"No, daddy; I took my licks like a man, for I deserved them."
"Deserfed to pe peaten, Malcolm - to pe peaten like a tog? Ton't
tell her tat! Ton't preak her heart, my poy."
"It wasna that muckle, daddy. I only telled him auld Horny was at
"And she'll make no toubt it was true," cried Duncan, emerging
sudden from his despondency.
"Ay, sae he was, only I had nae richt to say 't."
"Put you striked him pack, Malcolm? Ton't say you tidn't gif him
pack his plow. Ton't tell it to her, Malcolm!"
"Hoo cud I hit my maister, an' mysel' i' the wrang, daddy?"
"Then she 'll must to it herself," said Duncan quietly, and, with
the lips compressed of calm decision, turned towards the door, to
get his dirk from the next room.
"Bide ye still, daddy," said Malcolm, laying hold of his arm, "an'
sit ye doon till ye hear a' aboot it first."
Duncan yielded, for the sake of better instruction in the circumstances;
over the whole of which Malcolm now went. But before he came to a
close, he had skilfully introduced and enlarged upon the sorrows
and sufferings and dangers of the laird, so as to lead the old
man away from the quarrel, dwelling especially on the necessity of
protecting Mr Stewart from the machinations of his mother. Duncan
listened to all he said with marked sympathy.
"An' gien the markis daur to cross me in 't," said Malcolm at last,
as he ended, "lat him leuk till himsel', for it's no at a buffet
or twa I wad stick, gien the puir laird was intill 't."
This assurance, indicative of a full courageous intent on the part
of his grandson, for whose manliness he was jealous, greatly served
to quiet Duncan; and he consented at last to postpone all quittance,
in the hope of Malcolm's having the opportunity of a righteous
quarrel for proving himself no coward. His wrath gradually died
away, until at last he begged his boy to take his pipes, that he
might give him a lesson. Malcolm made the attempt, but found it
impossible to fill the bag with his swollen and cut lips, and had
to beg his grandfather to play to him instead. He gladly consented,
and played until bedtime; when, having tucked him up, Malcolm
went quietly to his own room, avoiding supper and the eyes of Mrs
Courthope together. He fell asleep in a moment, and spent a night
of perfect oblivion, dreamless of wizard lord or witch lady.
CHAPTER XXXVII: THE CUTTER
Some days passed during which Malcolm contrived that no one should
see him: he stole down to his grandfather's early in the morning,
and returned to his own room at night. Duncan told the people
about that he was not very well, but would be all better in a day
or two. It was a time of jubilation to the bard, and he cheered his
grandson's retirement with music, and with wild stories of highland
lochs and moors, chanted or told.
Malcolm's face was now much better, though the signs of the blow
were still plain enough upon it, when a messenger came one afternoon
to summon him to the marquis's presence.
"Where have you been sulking all this time?" was his master's
"I havena been sulkin', my lord," answered Malcolm. "Yer lordship
tauld me to haud oot o' the gait till I was fit to be seen, an' no
a sowl has set an ee upo' me till this verra moment 'at yer lordship
has me in yer ain."
"Where have you been then?"
"I' my ain room at nicht, and doon at my gran'father's as lang's
fowk was aboot - wi' a bit dauner (stroll) up the burn i' the
"You couldn't encounter the shame of being seen with such a face
"It micht ha' been thoucht a disgrace to the tane or the tither o'
's, my lord - maybe to baith."
"If you don't learn to curb that tongue of yours, it will bring
you to worse."
"My lord, I confessed my faut, and I pat up wi' the blow. But if
it hadna been that I was i' the wrang - weel, things micht hae
"Hold your tongue, I tell you. You're an honest, good fellow, and
I'm sorry I struck you. There!"
"I thank yer lordship."
"I sent for you because I've just heard from Aberdeen that the
boat is on her way round. You must be ready to take charge of her
the moment she arrives."
"I wull be that, my lord. It doesna shuit me at a' to be sae lang
upo' the solid: I'm like a cowt upon a toll ro'd."
The next morning he got a telescope, and taking with him his dinner
of bread and cheese, and a book in his pocket, went up to the Temple
of the Winds, to look out for the boat. Every few minutes he swept
the offing, but morning and afternoon passed, and she did not
appear. The day's monotony was broken only by a call from Demon.
Malcolm looked landwards, and spied his mistress below amongst the
trees, but she never looked in his direction.
He had just become aware of the first dusky breath of the twilight,
when a tiny sloop appeared, rounding the Deid Heid, as they called
the promontory which closed in the bay on the east. The sun was
setting, red and large, on the other side of the Scaurnose, and
filled her white sails with a rosy dye, as she came stealing round
in a fair soft wind. The moon hung over her, thin, and pale, and
ghostly, with hardly shine enough to show that it was indeed she,
and not the forgotten scrap of a torn up cloud. As she passed the
point and turned towards the harbour, the warm amethystine hue
suddenly vanished from her sails, and she looked white and cold, as
if the sight of the Death's Head had scared the blood out of her.
"It 's hersel'!" cried Malcolm in delight. "Aboot the size a muckle
herrin' boat, but nae mair like ane than Lady Florimel 's like
Meg Partan! It 'll be jist gran' to hae a cratur sae near leevin'
to guide an' tak yer wull o'! I had nae idea she was gaein' to be
onything like sae bonny. I'll no be fit to manage her in a squall
though. I maun hae anither han'. An' I winna hae a laddie aither.
It maun be a grown man, or I winna tak in han' to baud her abune
the watter. I wull no. I s' hae Blue Peter himsel' gien I can get
him. Eh! jist luik at her - wi' her bit gaff tappie set, and her
jib an a', booin' an' booin', an' comin' on ye as gran' 's ony born
He shut up his telescope, ran down the hill, unlocked the private
door at its foot, and in three or four minutes was waiting her on
the harbour wall.
She was a little cutter - and a lovely show to eyes capable of the
harmonies of shape and motion. She came walking in, as the Partan,
whom Malcolm found on the pierhead, remarked, "like a leddy closin'
her parasol as she cam." Malcolm jumped on board, and the two men
who had brought her round, gave up their charge.
She was full decked, with a dainty little cabin. Her planks were
almost white - there was not a board in her off which one might
not, as the Partan expanded the common phrase, "ait his parritch,
an' never fin' a mote in 's mou'." Her cordage was all so clean,
her standing rigging so taut, everything so shipshape, that Malcolm
was in raptures. If the burn had only been navigable so that he
might have towed the graceful creature home and laid her up under
the very walls of the House! It would have perfected the place in
his eyes. He made her snug for the night, and went to report her
Great was Lady Florimel's jubilation. She would have set out on
a "coasting voyage," as she called it, the very next day, but her
father listened to Malcolm.
"Ye see, my lord," said Malcolm, "I maun ken a' aboot her afore
I daur tak ye oot in her. An' I canna unnertak' to manage her my
lane. Ye maun jist gie me anither man wi' me."
"Get one," said the marquis.
Early in the morning, therefore, Malcolm went to Scaurnose, and
found Blue Peter amongst his nets. He could spare a day or two,
and would join him. They returned together, got the cutter into
the offing, and, with a westerly breeze, tried her every way. She
answered her helm with readiness, rose as light as a bird, made a
good board, and seemed every way a safe boat.
"She's the bonniest craft ever lainched!" said Malcolm, ending a
description of her behaviour and qualities rather too circumstantial
for his master to follow.
They were to make their first trip the next morning - eastward,
if the wind should hold, landing at a certain ancient ruin on the
coast, two or three miles from Portlossie.
CHAPTER XXXVIII: THE TWO DOGS
Lady Florimel's fancy was so full of the expected pleasure, that she
woke soon after dawn. She rose and anxiously drew aside a curtain
of her window. The day was one of God's odes written for men.
Would that the days of our human autumn were as calmly grand, as
gorgeously hopeful as the days that lead the aging year down to the
grave of winter! If our white hairs were sunlit from behind like
those radiance bordered clouds; if our air were as pure as this
when it must be as cold; if the falling at last of longest cherished
hopes did but, like that of the forest leaves, let in more of the
sky, more of the infinite possibilities of the region of truth
which is the matrix of fact; we should go marching down the hill
of life like a battered but still bannered army on its way home.
But alas! how often we rot, instead of march, towards the grave!
"If he be not rotten before he die," said Hamlet's absolute grave
digger. - If the year was dying around Lady Florimel, as she looked,
like a deathless sun from a window of the skies, it was dying at
least with dignity.
The sun was still revelling in the gift of himself. A thin blue mist
went up to greet him, like the first of the smoke from the altars
of the morning. The fields lay yellow below; the rich colours of
decay hung heavy on the woods, and seemed to clothe them as with
the trappings of a majestic sorrow; but the spider webs sparkled
with dew, and the gossamer films floated thick in the level sunbeams.
It was a great time for the spiders, those visible Deaths of the
The sun, like a householder leaving his house for a time, was burning
up a thousand outworn things before he went; hence the smoke of
the dying hearth of summer was going up to the heavens; but there
was a heart of hope left, for, when farthest away, the sun is never
gone, and the snow is the earth's blanket against the frost. But,
alas, it was not Lady Florimel who thought these things! Looking
over her shoulder, and seeing both what she can and what she cannot
see, I am having a think to myself.
"Which it is an offence to utter in the temple of Art!" cry the
Not against Art, I think: but if it be an offence to the worshipper
of Art, let him keep silence before his goddess; for me, I am a
sweeper of the floors in the temple of Life, and his goddess is my
mare, and shall go in the dust cart; if I find a jewel as I sweep,
I will fasten it on the curtains of the doors, nor heed if it should
break the fall of a fold of the drapery.
Below Lady Florimel's oriel window, under the tall bridge, the burn
lay dark in a deep pool, with a slow revolving eddy, in which one
leaf, attended by a streak of white froth, was performing solemn
gyrations; away to the north the great sea was merry with waves
and spotted with their broken crests; heaped against the horizon,
it looked like a blue hill dotted all over with feeding sheep; but,
today, she never thought why the waters were so busy - to what
end they foamed and ran, flashing their laughter in the face of the
sun: the mood of nature was in harmony with her own, and she felt
no need to discover any higher import in its merriment. How could
she, when she sought no higher import in her own - had not as
yet once suspected that every human gladness - even to the most
transient flicker of delight - is the reflex - from a potsherd
it may be - but of an eternal sun of joy? - Stay, let me pick up
the gem: every faintest glimmer, all that is not utter darkness,
is from the shining face of the Father of Lights. - Not a breath
stirred the ivy leaves about her window; but out there, on the
wide blue, the breezes were frolicking; and in the harbour the new
boat must be tugging to get free! She dressed in haste, called her
staghound, and set out the nearest way, that is by the town gate,
for the harbour. She must make acquaintance with her new plaything.
Mrs Catanach in her nightcap looked from her upper window as she
passed, like a great spider from the heart of its web, and nodded
significantly after her, with a look and a smile such as might mean,
that for all her good looks she might have the heartache some day.
But she was to have the first herself, for that moment her ugly
dog, now and always with the look of being fresh from an ash pit,
rushed from somewhere, and laid hold of Lady Florimel's dress,
frightening her so, that she gave a cry. Instantly her own dog,
which had been loitering behind, came tearing up, five lengths at
a bound, and descended like an angel of vengeance upon the offensive
animal, which would have fled, but found it too late. Opening his
huge jaws, Demon took him across the flanks, much larger than his
own, as if he had been a rabbit. His howls of agony brought Mrs
Catanach out in her petticoats. She flew at the hound, which Lady
Florimel was in vain attempting to drag from the cur, and seized
him by the throat.
"Take care; he is dangerous!" cried the girl.
Finding she had no power upon him, Mrs Catanach forsook him, and,
in despairing fury, rushed at his mistress. Demon saw it with one
flaming eye, left the cur - which, howling hideously, dragged his
hind quarters after him into the house - and sprang at the woman.
Then indeed was Lady Florimel terrified, for she knew the savage
nature of the animal when roused. Truly, with his eyes on fire as
now, his long fangs bared, the bristles on his back erect, and his
moustache sticking straight out, he might well be believed, much
as civilization might have done for him, a wolf after all! His
mistress threw herself between them, and flung her arms tight round
"Run, woman! Run for your life!" she shrieked. "I can't hold him
Mrs Catanach fled, cowed by terror. Her huge legs bore her huge
body, a tragicomic spectacle, across the street to her open door.
She had hardly vanished, flinging it to behind her, when Demon
broke from his mistress, and going at the door as if launched from
a catapult, burst it open and disappeared also.
Lady Florimel gave a shriek of horror, and darted after him.
The same moment the sound of Duncan's pipes as he issued from
the town gate, at which he always commenced instead of ending his
reveille now, reached her, and bethinking herself of her inability
to control the hound, she darted again from the cottage, and flew
to meet him, crying aloud, - "Mr MacPhail! Duncan! Duncan! stop
your pipes and come here directly."
"And who may pe calling me?" asked Duncan, who had not thoroughly
distinguished the voice through the near clamour of his instrument.
She laid her hand trembling with apprehension on his arm, and began
pulling him along.
"It's me, - Lady Florimel," she said. "Come here directly. Demon
has got into a house and is worrying a woman."
"Cod haf mercy!" cried Duncan. "Take her pipes, my laty, for fear
anything paad should happen to tem."
She led him hurriedly to the door. But ere he had quite crossed
the threshold he shivered and drew back.
"Tis is an efil house," he said. "She 'll not can co in." A great
floundering racket was going on above, mingled with growls and
shrieks, but there was no howling.
"Call the dog then. He will mind you, perhaps," she cried - knowing
what a slow business an argument with Duncan was - and flew to
"Temon! Temon!" cried Duncan, with agitated voice. Whether the dog
thought his friend was in trouble next, I cannot tell, but down he
came that instant, with a single bound from the top of the stair,
right over his mistress's head as she was running up, and leaping
out to Duncan, laid a paw upon each of his shoulders, panting with
out lolled tongue. But the piper staggered back, pushing the dog
from him. "It is plood!" he cried; "ta efil woman's plood!"
"Keep him out, Duncan dear," said Lady Florimel. "I will go and
see. There! he'll be up again if you don't mind!"
Very reluctant, yet obedient, the bard laid hold of the growling
animal by the collar; and Lady Florimel was just turning to finish
her ascent of the stair and see what dread thing had come to pass,
when, to her great joy, she heard Malcolm's voice, calling from
the farther end of the street - "Hey, daddy! What's happened 'at
I dinna hear the pipes?"
She rushed out, the pipes dangling from her hand, so that the drone
trailed on the ground behind her.
"Malcolm! Malcolm!" she cried; and he was by her side in scarcely
more time than Demon would have taken.
Hurriedly and rather incoherently, she told him what had taken
place. He sprang up the stair, and she followed.
In the front garret - with a dormer window looking down into the
street - stood Mrs Catanach facing the door, with such a malignant
rage in her countenance that it looked demoniacal. Her dog lay at
her feet with his throat torn out.
As soon as she saw Malcolm, she broke into a fury of vulgar
imprecation - most of it quite outside the pale of artistic record.
"Hoots! for shame, Mistress Catanach!" he cried, "Here's my leddy
ahin' me, hearin' ilka word!"
"Deil stap her lugs wi' brunstane! What but a curse wad she hae
frae me? I sweir by God i s' gar her pey for this, or my name's no
- " She stopped suddenly.
"I thocht as muckle," said Malcolm with a keen look.
"Ye'll think twise, ye deil's buckie, or ye think richt! Wha are
ye to think? What sud my name be but Bawby Catanach? Ye're unco
upsettin' sin' ye turned my leddy's flunky! Sorrow taik ye baith!
My dawtit Beauty! - worriet by that hell tyke o' hers!"
"Gien ye gang on like that, the markis 'll hae ye drummed oot o'
the toon or twa days be ower," said Malcolm.
"Wull he than?" she returned with a confident sneer, showing all the
teeth she had left. "Ye'll be far hen wi' the markis, nae doobt!
An' yon donnert auld deevil ye ca' yer gran'father 'ill be fain
eneuch to be drummer, I'll sweir. Care 's my case!"
"My leddy, she's ower ill tongued for you to hearken till,"
said Malcolm, turning to Florimel who stood in the door white and
trembling. "Jist gang doon, an' tell my gran'father to sen' the
dog up. There's surely some gait o' garrin' her haud her tongue!"
Mrs Catanach threw a terrified glance towards Lady Florimel.
"Indeed I shall do nothing of the kind!" replied Florimel. "For
"Hoots, my leddy!" returned Malcolm; "I only said it to try the
effec' o' 't. It seems no that ill."
"Ye son o' a deevil's soo!" cried the woman; "I s' hae amen's o'
ye for this, gien I sud ro'st my ain hert to get it."
"'Deed, but ye re duin that fine a'ready! That foul brute o' yours
has gotten his arles (earnest) tu. I wonner what he thinks o sawmon
troot noo! - Eh, mem?"
"Have done, Malcolm," said Florimel. "I am ashamed of you. If the
woman is not hurt, we have no business in her house."
"Hear till her!" cried Mrs Catanach contemptuously. "The woman!"
But Lady Florimel took no heed. She had already turned and was going
down the stair. Malcolm followed in silence; nor did another word