"Sit doon, Ma'colm," she said gruffly.
"Hae ye h'ard onything, mem?" asked Malcolm, standing.
"Ower muckle," answered Miss Horn, with all but a scowl. "Ye been
ower to Gersefell, I reckon."
"Forbid it!" answered Malcolm. "Never till this hoor - or at maist
it's nae twa sin' I h'ard the first cheep o' 't, an' that was frae
Meg Partan. To nae human sowl hae I made mention o' 't yet 'cep'
Maister Graham: to him I gaed direck."
"Ye cudna hae dune better," said the grim woman, with relaxing
"An' here I am the noo, straucht frae him, to beg o' you, Miss
Horn, to tell me the trowth o' the maitter."
"What ken I aboot it?" she returned angrily. "What sud I ken?"
"Ye micht ken whether the wuman's been sayin' 't or no."
"Wha has ony doobt aboot that?"
"Mistress Stewart has been sayin' she's my mither, than?"
"Ay - what for no?" returned Miss Horn, with a piercing glower at
"Guid forfen'!" exclaimed Malcolm.
"Say ye that, laddie?" cried Miss Horn, and, starting up, she
grasped his arm and stood gazing in his face.
"What ither sud I say?" rejoined Malcolm, surprised.
"God be laudit!" exclaimed Miss Horn. "The limmer may say 'at she
"Ye dinna believe 't than, mem?" cried Malcolm. "Tell me ye dinna,
an' haud me ohn curst like a cadger."
"I dinna believe ae word o' 't, laddie," answered Miss Horn eagerly.
"Wha cud believe sic a fine laad come o' sic a fause mither?"
"She micht be ony body's mither, an' fause tu," said Malcolm
"That's true laddie; and the mair mither the fauser! There's a warl'
o' witness i' your face 'at gien she be yer mither, the markis, an
no puir honest hen peckit John Stewart, was the father o' ye. -
The Lord forgie' me! what am I sayin'!" adjected Miss Horn, with
a cry of self accusation, when she saw the pallor that overspread
the countenance of the youth, and his head drop upon his bosom: the
last arrow had sunk to the feather. "It's a' havers, ony gait," she
quickly resumed. "I div not believe ye hae ae drap o' her bluid i'
the body o' ye, man. But," she hurried on, as if eager to obliterate
the scoring impression of her late words - "that she's been sayin'
't, there can be no mainner o' doot. I saw her mysel' rinnin' aboot
the toon, frae ane till anither, wi' her lang hair doon the lang
back o' her, an' fleein' i' the win', like a body dementit. The
only question is, whether or no she believes 't hersel'."
"What cud gar her say 't gien she didna believe 't?"
"Fowk says she expecs that w'y to get a grip o' things oot o' the
han's o' the puir laird's trustees: ye wad be a son o' her ain,
cawpable o' mainagin' them. But ye dinna tell me she's never been
at yersel' aboot it?"
"Never a blink o' the ee has passed atween's sin' that day I gaed
till Gersefell, as I tellt ye, wi' a letter frae the markis. I
thoucht I was ower mony for her than: I wonner she daur be at me
"She 's daurt her God er' noo, an' may weel daur you. - But what
says yer gran'father till 't, no?"
"He hasna hard a chuckie's cheep o' 't."
"What are we haverin' at than! Canna he sattle the maitter aff
Miss Horn eyed him keenly as she spoke.
"He kens nae mair aboot whaur I come frae, mem, nor your Jean, wha
's hearkenin' at the keyhole this verra meenute."
The quick ear of Malcolm had caught a slight sound of the handle,
whose proximity to the keyhole was no doubt often troublesome to
Miss Horn seemed to reach the door with one spring. Jean was ascending
the last step of the stair with a message on her lips concerning
butter and eggs. Miss Horn received it, and went back to Malcolm.
"Na; Jean wadna du that," she said quietly.
But she was wrong, for, hearing Malcolm's words, Jean had retreated
one step down the stair, and turned.
"But what's this ye tell me aboot yer gran'father, honest man."
Miss Horn continued.
"Duncan MacPhail's nae bluid o' mine - the mair's the pity!" said
Malcolm sadly - and told her all he knew.
Miss Horn's visage went through wonderful changes as he spoke.
"Weel, it is a mercy I hae nae feelin's!" she said when he had
"Ony wuman can lay a claim till me 'at likes, ye see," said Malcolm.
"She may lay 'at she likes, but it's no ilka egg laid has a chuckie
intill 't," answered Miss Horn sententiously. "Jist ye gang hame
to auld Duncan, an' tell him to turn the thing ower in 's min' till
he's able to sweir to the verra nicht he fan' the bairn in 's lap.
But no ae word maun he say to leevin' sowl aboot it afore it's
requiret o' 'im."
"I wad be the son o' the puirest fisher wife i' the Seaton raither
nor hers," said Malcolm gloomily.
"An' it shaws ye better bred," said Miss Horn. "But she'll be at
ye or lang - an' tak ye tent what ye say. Dinna flee in her face;
lat her jaw awa', an' mark her words. She may lat a streak o' licht
oot o' her dirk lantren oonawaurs."
Malcolm returned to Mr Graham. They agreed there was nothing for
it but to wait. He went next to his grandfather and gave him Miss
Horn's message. The old man fell a thinking, but could not be
certain even of the year in which he had left his home. The clouds
hung very black around Malcolm's horizon.
Since the adventure in the Baillies' Barn, Lady Florimel had been
on a visit in Morayshire: she heard nothing of the report until
"So you're a gentleman after all, Malcolm!" she said, the next time
she saw him.
The expression in her eyes appeared to him different from any
he had encountered there before. The blood rushed to his face; he
dropped his head, and saying merely, "It maun be a' as it maun,"
pursued the occupation of the moment.
But her words sent a new wind blowing into the fog. A gentleman
she had said! Gentlemen married ladies! Could it be that a glory
it was madness to dream of, was yet a possibility? One moment,
and his honest heart recoiled from the thought: not even for Lady
Florimel could he consent to be the son of that woman! Yet the
thought, especially in Lady Florimel's presence, would return,
would linger, would whisper, would tempt.
In Florimel's mind also, a small demon of romance was at work.
Uncorrupted as yet by social influences, it would not have seemed
to her absurd that an heiress of rank should marry a poor country
gentleman; but the thought of marriage never entered her head: she
only felt that the discovery justified a nearer approach from both
sides. She had nothing, not even a flirtation in view. Flirt she
might, likely enough, but she did not foremean it.
Had Malcolm been a schemer, he would have tried to make something
of his position. But even the growth of his love for his young
mistress was held in check by the fear of what that love tempted
him to desire.
Lady Florimel had by this time got so used to his tone and dialect,
hearing it on all sides of her, that its quaintness had ceased to
affect her, and its coarseness had begun to influence her repulsively.
There were still to be found in Scotland old fashioned gentlefolk
speaking the language of the country with purity and refinement;
but Florimel had never met any of them, or she might possibly have
been a little less repelled by Malcolm's speech.
Within a day or two of her return, Mrs Stewart called at Lossie
House, and had a long talk with her, in the course of which she
found no difficulty in gaining her to promise her influence with
Malcolm. From his behaviour on the occasion of their sole interview,
she stood in a vague awe of him, and indeed could not recall it
without a feeling of rebuke - a feeling which must either turn her
aside from her purpose or render her the more anxious to secure his
favour. Hence it came that she had not yet sought him: she would
have the certainty first that he was kindly disposed towards her
claim - a thing she would never have doubted but for the glimpse
she had had of him.
One Saturday afternoon, about this time, Mr Stewart put his head
in at the door of the schoolroom, as he had done so often already,
and seeing the master seated alone at his desk, walked in, saying
once more, with a polite bow, "I dinna ken whaur I cam frae: I want
to come to the school."
Mr Graham assured him of welcome as cordially as if it had been
the first time he came with the request, and yet again offered him
a chair; but the laird as usual declined it, and walked down the
room to find a seat with his companion scholars. He stopped midway,
however, and returned to the desk, where, standing on tiptoe, he
whispered in the master's ear: "I canna come upo' the door." Then
turning away again, he crept dejectedly to a seat where some of
the girls had made room for him. There he took a slate, and began
drawing what might seem an attempt at a door; but ever as he drew
he blotted out, and nothing that could be called a door was the
result. Meantime, Mr Graham was pondering at intervals what he had
School being over, the laird was modestly leaving with the rest,
when the master gently called him, and requested the favour of a
moment more of his company. As soon as they were alone, he took a
Bible from his desk, and read the words:
"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and
shall go in and out, and find pasture."
Without comment, he closed the book, and put it away. Mr Stewart
stood staring up at him for a moment, then turned, and gently
murmuring, "I canna win at the door," walked from the schoolhouse.
It was refuge the poor fellow sought - whether from temporal
or spiritual foes will matter little to him who believes that the
only shelter from the one is the only shelter from the other also.
CHAPTER XLVIII: THE BAILLIES' BARN AGAIN
It began to be whispered about Portlossie, that the marquis had
been present at one of the fishermen's meetings - a report which
variously affected the minds of those in the habit of composing
them. Some regarded it as an act of espial, and much foolish talk
arose about the covenanters and persecution and martyrdom. Others,
especially the less worthy of those capable of public utterance,
who were by this time, in virtue of that sole gift, gaining an
influence of which they were altogether unworthy, attributed it to
the spreading renown of the preaching and praying members of the
community, and each longed for an opportunity of exercising his
individual gift upon the conscience of the marquis. The soberer portion
took it for an act of mere curiosity, unlikely to be repeated.
Malcolm saw that the only way of setting things right was that the
marquis should go again - openly, but it was with much difficulty
that he persuaded him to present himself in the assembly. Again
accompanied by his daughter and Malcolm, he did, however, once
more cross the links to the Baillies' Barn. Being early they had a
choice of seats, and Florimel placed herself beside a pretty young
woman of gentle and troubled countenance, who sat leaning against
the side of the cavern.
The preacher on this occasion was the sickly young student - more
pale and haggard than ever, and halfway nearer the grave since his
first sermon. He still set himself to frighten the sheep into the
fold by wolfish cries; but it must be allowed that, in this sermon
at least, his representations of the miseries of the lost were not
by any means so gross as those usually favoured by preachers of
his kind. His imagination was sensitive enough to be roused by the
words of Scripture themselves, and was not dependent for stimulus
upon those of Virgil, Dante, or Milton. Having taken for his text
the fourteenth verse of the fifty-ninth psalm, "And at evening let
them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round
about the city," he dwelt first upon the condition and character
of the eastern dog as contrasted with those of our dogs; pointing
out to his hearers, that so far from being valued for use or beauty
or rarity, they were, except swine, of all animals the most despised
by the Jews - the vile outcasts of the border land separating
animals domestic and ferine - filthy, dangerous, and hated; then
associating with his text that passage in the Revelation, "Blessed
are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the
tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city;
for without are dogs," he propounded, or rather asserted, that it
described one variety of the many punishments of the wicked, showing
at least a portion of them condemned to rush howling for ever about
the walls of the New Jerusalem, haunting the gates they durst not
"See them through the fog steaming up from the shores of their
Phlegethon!" he cried, warming into eloquence; "see the horrid
troop, afar from the crystal walls! - if indeed ye stand on those
heights of glory, and course not around them with the dogs! - hear
them howl and bark as they scour along! Gaze at them more earnestly
as they draw nigher; see upon the dog heads of them the signs and
symbols of rank and authority which they wore when they walked
erect, men - ay, women too, among men and women! see the crown
jewels flash over the hanging ears, the tiara tower thrice circled
over the hungry eyes! see the plumes and the coronets, the hoods
and the veils!"
Here, unhappily for his eloquence, he slid off into the catalogue
of women's finery given by the prophet Isaiah, at the close of
which he naturally found the oratorical impulse gone, and had to sit
down in the mud of an anticlimax. Presently, however, he recovered
himself, and, spreading his wings, once more swung himself aloft
into the empyrean of an eloquence, which, whatever else it might
or might not be, was at least genuine.
"Could they but surmount those walls, whose inherent radiance is
the artillery of their defence, those walls high uplifted, whose
lowest foundations are such stones as make the glory of earthly
crowns; could they overleap those gates of pearl, and enter the
golden streets, what think ye they would do there? Think ye they
would rage hither and thither at will, making horrid havoc amongst
the white robed inhabitants of the sinless capital? Nay, verily;
for, in the gold transparent as glass, they would see their own
vile forms in truth telling reflex, and, turning in agony, would
rush yelling back, out again into the darkness - the outer darkness
- to go round and round the city again and for evermore, tenfold
tortured henceforth with the memory of their visioned selves."
Here the girl beside Lady Florimel gave a loud cry, and fell backwards
from her seat. On all sides arose noises, loud or suppressed,
mingled with murmurs of expostulation. Even Lady Florimel, invaded
by shrieks, had to bite her lips hard to keep herself from responding
with like outcry; for scream will call forth scream, as vibrant
string from its neighbour will draw the answering tone.
"Deep calleth unto deep! The wind is blowing on the slain! The
Spirit is breathing on the dry bones!" shouted the preacher in an
ecstacy. But one who rose from behind Lizzy Findlay, had arrived
at another theory regarding the origin of the commotion - and
doubtless had a right to her theory, in as much as she was a woman
of experience, being no other than Mrs Catanach.
At the sound of her voice seeking to soothe the girl, Malcolm shuddered;
but the next moment, from one of those freaks of suggestion which
defy analysis, he burst into laughter: he had a glimpse of a she
dog, in Mrs Catanach's Sunday bonnet, bringing up the rear of the
preacher's canine company, and his horror of the woman found relief
in an involuntary outbreak that did not spring altogether from
It attracted no attention. The cries increased; for the preacher
continued to play on the harp nerves of his hearers, in the firm
belief that the Spirit was being poured out upon them. The marquis,
looking very pale, for he could never endure the cry of a woman
even in a play, rose, and taking Florimel by the arm, turned to
leave the place. Malcolm hurried to the front to make way for them.
But the preacher caught sight of the movement, and, filled with a
fury which seemed to him sacred, rushed to the rescue of souls.
"Stop!" he shouted. "Go not hence, I charge you. On your lives I
charge you! Turn ye, turn ye: why will ye die? There is no fleeing
from Satan. You must resist the devil. He that flies is lost. If
you turn your backs upon Apollyon, he will never slacken pace until
he has driven you into the troop of his dogs, to go howling about
the walls of the city. Stop them, friends of the cross, ere they
step beyond the sound of mercy; for, alas! the voice of him who is
sent cannot reach beyond the particle of time wherein he speaks:
now, this one solitary moment, gleaming out of the eternity before
us only to be lost in the eternity behind us - this now is the
accepted time; this Now and no other is the moment of salvation!"
Most of the men recognized the marquis; some near the entrance saw
only Malcolm clearing the way: marquis or fisher, it was all the
same when souls were at stake: they crowded with one consent to
oppose their exit: yet another chance they must have, whether they
would or not These men were in the mood to give - not their own
- but those other men's bodies to be burnt on the poorest chance
of saving their souls from the everlasting burnings.
Malcolm would have been ready enough for a fight, had he and the
marquis been alone, but the presence of Lady Florimel put it out
of the question. Looking round, he sought the eye of his master.
Had Lord Lossie been wise, he would at once have yielded, and sat
down to endure to the end. But he jumped on the form next him, and
appealed to the common sense of the assembly.
"Don't you see the man is mad?" he said, pointing to the preacher.
"He is foaming at the mouth. For God's sake look after your women:
he will have them all in hysterics in another five minutes. I wonder
any man of sense would countenance such things!"
As to hysterics, the fisher folk had never heard of them; and
though the words of the preacher were not those of soberness, they
yet believed them the words of truth, and himself a far saner man
than the marquis.
"Gien a body comes to oor meetin'," cried one of them, a fine
specimen of the argle bargling Scotchman - a creature known and
detested over the habitable globe - "he maun just du as we du,
an' sit it oot. It's for yer sowl's guid."
The preacher, checked in full career, was standing with open mouth,
ready to burst forth in a fresh flood of oratory so soon as the
open channels of hearing ears should be again granted him; but all
were now intent on the duel between the marquis and Jamie Ladle.
"If, the next time you came, you found the entrance barricaded,"
said the marquis, "what would you say to that?"
"Ow, we wad jist tak doon the sticks," answered Ladle.
"You would call it persecution, wouldn't you?"
"Ay; it wad be that."
"And what do you call it now, when you prevent a man from going
his own way, after he has had enough of your foolery?"
"Ow, we ca' 't dissiplene!" answered the fellow.
The marquis got down, annoyed, but laughing at his own discomfiture.
"I've stopped the screaming, anyhow," he said.
Ere the preacher, the tap of whose eloquence presently began to
yield again, but at first ran very slow, had gathered way enough
to carry his audience with him, a woman rushed up to the mouth of
the cave, the borders of her cap flapping, and her grey hair flying
like an old Maenad's. Brandishing in her hand a spunk with which
she had been making the porridge for supper, she cried in a voice
that reached every ear:
"What's this I hear o' 't! Come oot o' that, Lizzy, ye limmer! Ir
ye gauin' frae ill to waur, i' the deevil's name!"
It was Meg Partan. She sent the congregation right and left from
her, as a ship before the wind sends a wave from each side of her
bows. Men and women gave place to her, and she went surging into
the midst of the assembly.
"Whaur's that lass o' mine?" she cried, looking about her in
aggravated wrath at failing to pounce right upon her.
"She's no verra weel, Mrs Findlay," cried Mrs Catanach, in a loud
whisper, laden with an insinuating tone of intercession. "She'll be
better in a meenute. The minister's jist ower pooerfu' the nicht."
Mrs Findlay made a long reach, caught Lizzy by the arm, and dragged
her forth, looking scared and white, with a red spot upon one cheek.
No one dared to bar Meg's exit with her prize; and the marquis,
with Lady Florimel and Malcolm, took advantage of the opening she
made, and following in her wake soon reached the open air.
Mrs Findlay was one of the few of the fisher women who did not
approve of conventicles, being a great stickler for every authority
in the country except that of husbands, in which she declared she
did not believe: a report had reached her that Lizzy was one of the
lawless that evening, and in hot haste she had left the porridge
on the fire to drag her home.
"This is the second predicament you have got us into, MacPhail,"
said his lordship, as they walked along the Boar's Tail - the name
by which some designated the dune, taking the name of the rock at
the end of it to be the Boar's Craig, and the last word to mean,
as it often does, not Crag, but Neck, like the German kragen, and
perhaps the English scrag.
"I'm sorry for't, my lord," said Malcolm; "but I'm sure yer lordship
had the worth o' 't in fun."
"I can't deny that," returned the marquis.
"And I can't get that horrid shriek out of my ears," said Lady
"Which of them?" said her father. "There was no end to the shrieking.
It nearly drove me wild."
"I mean the poor girl's who sat beside us, papa. Such a pretty nice
looking creature to! And that horrid woman close behind us all the
time! I hope you won't go again papa. They'll convert you if you
do, and never ask your leave. You wouldn't like that, I know."
"What do you say to shutting up the place altogether?"
"Do, papa. It's shocking. Vulgar and horrid!"
"I wad think twise, my lord, afore I wad sair (serve) them as ill
as they saired me."
"Did I ask your advice?" said the marquis sternly.
"It's nane the waur 'at it 's gien oonsoucht," said Malcolm. "It's
the richt thing ony gait."
"You presume on this foolish report about you, I suppose, MacPhail,"
said his lordship; "but that won't do."
"God forgie ye, my lord, for I hae ill duin' 't!" (find it difficult)
He left them and walked down to the foamy lip of the tide, which
was just waking up from its faint recession. A cold glimmer, which
seemed to come from nothing but its wetness, was all the sea had
to say for itself.
But the marquis smiled, and turned his face towards the wind which
was blowing from the south.
In a few moments Malcolm came back, but to follow behind them, and
say nothing more that night.
The marquis did not interfere with the fishermen. Having heard of
their rudeness, Mr Cairns called again, and pressed him to end the
whole thing; but he said they would only be after something worse,
The turn things had taken that night determined their after course.
Cryings out and faintings grew common, and fits began to appear.
A few laid claim to visions, - bearing, it must be remarked, a
strong resemblance to the similitudes, metaphors, and more extended
poetic figures, employed by the young preacher, becoming at length
a little more original and a good deal more grotesque. They took
to dancing at last, not by any means the least healthful mode of
working off their excitement. It was, however, hardly more than a
dull beating of time to the monotonous chanting of a few religious
phrases, rendered painfully commonplace by senseless repetition.
I would not be supposed to deny the genuineness of the emotion, or
even of the religion, in many who thus gave show to their feelings.
But neither those who were good before nor those who were excited
now were much the better for this and like modes of playing
off the mental electricity generated by the revolving cylinder of
intercourse. Naturally, such men as Joseph Mair now grew shy of the
assemblies they had helped to originate, and withdrew - at least
into the background; the reins slipped from the hands of the first
leaders, and such windbags as Ladle got up to drive the chariot
of the gospel - with the results that could not fail to follow.
At the same time it must be granted that the improvement of their
habits, in so far as strong drink was concerned, continued: it
became almost a test of faith with them, whether or not a man was
a total abstainer. Hence their moral manners, so to say, improved