my auld watch, an' may weel be oot a five minutes or twa whiles.
Sae, in future, seem' it's o' sic sma' consequence to yer lordship,
I s' jist let her aff whan it's convenient. A feow minutes winna
maitter muckle to the bailie bodies."
There was something in Malcolm's address that pleased Lord Lossie
- the mingling of respect and humour, probably - the frankness
and composure, perhaps. He was not self conscious enough to be shy,
and was so free from design of any sort that he doubted the good
will of no one.
"What's your name?" asked the marquis abruptly.
"Malcolm MacPhail, my lord."
"MacPhail? I heard the name this very day! Let me see."
"My gran'father's the blin' piper, my lord."
"Yes, yes. Tell him I shall want him at the House. I left my own
piper at Ceanglas."
"I'll fess him wi' me the morn, gien ye like, my lord, for I'll
be ower wi' some fine troot or ither, gien I haena the waur luck,
the morn's mornin': Mistress Courthope says she'll be aye ready for
ane to fry to yer lordship's brakfast. But I'm thinkin' that'll be
ower ear' for ye to see him."
"I'll send for him when I want him. Go on with your brazen serpent
there, only mind you don't give her too much supper."
"Jist look at her ribs, my lord! she winna rive!" was the youth's
response; and the marquis was moving off with a smile, when Malcolm
called after him.
"Gien yer lordship likes to see yer ain ferlies, I ken whaur some
o' them lie," he said.
"What do you mean by ferlies?" asked the marquis.
"Ow! keeriosities, ye ken. For enstance, there's some queer
caves alang the cost - twa or three o' them afore ye come to the
Scaurnose. They say the water bude till ha' howkit them ance upon
a time, an' they maun hae been fu' o' partans, an' lobsters, an'
their frien's an' neebours; but they're heigh an' dreigh noo, as the
fule said o' his minister, an' naething intill them but foumarts,
an' otters, an' sic like."
"Well, well, my lad, we'll see," said his lordship kindly and
turning once more, he resumed his walk.
"At yer lordship's will," answered Malcolm in a low voice as he
lifted his bonnet and again bent to the swivel.
The next morning, he was rowing slowly along in the bay, when he
was startled by the sound of his grandfather's pipes, wafted clear
and shrill on a breath of southern wind, from the top of the town.
He looked at his watch: it was not yet five o'clock. The expectation
of a summons to play at Lossie House, had so excited the old man's
brain that he had waked long before his usual time, and Portlossie
must wake also. The worst of it was, that he had already, as Malcolm
knew from the direction of the sound, almost reached the end of
his beat, and must even now be expecting the report of the swivel,
until he heard which he would not cease playing, so long as there
was a breath in his body. Pulling, therefore, with all his might,
Malcolm soon ran his boat ashore, and in another instant the sharp
yell of the swivel rang among the rocks of the promontory. He was
still standing, lapped in a light reverie as he watched the smoke
flying seaward, when a voice, already well known to him said,
close at his side:
"What are you about with that horrid cannon?"
"Ye garred me loup, my leddy!" he returned with a smile and an
"You told me," the girl went on emphatically, and as she spoke she
disengaged her watch from her girdle, "that you fired it at six
o'clock. It is not nearly six."
"Didna ye hear the pipes, my leddy?" he rejoined.
"Yes, well enough; but a whole regiment of pipes can't make it six
o'clock when my watch says ten minutes past five."
"Eh, sic a braw watch!" exclaimed Malcolm. "What's a' thae bonny
white k-nots about the face o' 't?"
"Pearls," she answered, in a tone that implied pity of his ignorance.
"Jist look at it aside mine!" he exclaimed in admiration, pulling
out his great old turnip.
"There!" cried the girl; "your own watch says only a quarter past
"Ow, ay! my leddy; I set it by the toon clock 'at hings i' the window
o' the Lossie Airms last nicht. But I maun awa' an' luik efter my
lines, or atween the deil an' the dogfish my lord'll fare ill."
"You haven't told me why you fired the gun," she persisted.
Thus compelled, Malcolm had to explain that the motive lay in his
anxiety lest his grandfather should over exert himself, seeing he
was subject to severe attacks of asthma.
"He could stop when he was tired," she objected.
"Ay, gien his pride wad lat him," answered Malcolm, and turned away
again, eager to draw his line.
"Have you a boat of your own?" asked the lady.
"Ay; yon's her, doon on the shore yonner. Wad ye like a row? She's
fine an' quaiet."
"Who? The boat?"
"The sea, my leddy."
"Is your boat clean?"
"O' a' thing but fish. But na, it's no fit for sic a bonny goon as
that. I winna lat ye gang the day, my leddy; but gien ye like to
be here the morn's mornin', I s' be here at this same hoor, an'
hae my boat as clean's a Sunday sark."
"You think more of my gown than of myself," she returned.
"There's no fear o' yersel', my leddy. Ye're ower weel made to bland
(spoil). But wae's me for the goon or (before) it had been an hoor
i' the boat the day! - no to mention the fish comin' walopin' ower
the gunnel ane efter the ither. But 'deed I maun say good mornin',
"By all means. I don't want to keep you a moment from your precious
Feeling rebuked, without well knowing why, Malcolm accepted the
dismissal, and ran to his boat. By the time he had taken his oars,
the girl had vanished.
His line was a short one; but twice the number of fish he wanted
were already hanging from the hooks. It was still very early when
he reached the harbour. At home he found his grandfather waiting
for him, and his breakfast ready.
It was hard to convince Duncan that he had waked the royal burgh
a whole hour too soon. He insisted that, as he had never made such
a blunder before, he could not have made it now.
"It's ta watch 'at 'll pe telling ta lies, Malcolm, my poy," he said
thoughtfully. "She was once pefore."
"But the sun says the same 's the watch, daddy," persisted Malcolm.
Duncan understood the position of the sun and what it signified,
as well as the clearest eyed man in Port Lossie, but he could not
afford to yield.
"It was peing some conspeeracy of ta cursit Cawmills, to make her
loss her poor pension," he said. "Put never you mind, Malcolm;
I'll pe making up for ta plunder ta morrow mornin'. Ta coot peoples
shall haf teir sleeps a whole hour after tey ought to be at teir
CHAPTER IX: THE SALMON TROUT
Malcolm walked up through the town with his fish, hoping to part
with some of the less desirable of them, and so lighten his basket,
before entering the grounds of Lossie House. But he had met with
little success, and was now approaching the town gate, as they called
it, which closed a short street at right angles to the principal
one, when he came upon Mrs Catanach - on her knees, cleaning her
"Weel, Malcolm, what fish hae ye?" she said, without looking up.
"Hoo kent ye it was me, Mistress Catanach?" asked the lad.
"Kent it was you!" she repeated. "Gien there be but twa feet at
ance in ony street o' Portlossie, I'll tell ye whase heid's abune
them, an' my een steekit (closed)."
"Hoot! ye're a witch, Mistress Catanach!" said Malcolm merrily.
"That's as may be," she returned, rising, and nodding mysteriously;
"I hae tauld ye nae mair nor the trowth. But what garred ye whup's
a' oot o' oor nakit beds by five o'clock i' the mornin', this
mornin', man! That's no what ye're paid for."
"Deed, mem, it was jist a mistak' o' my puir daddy's. He had been
feart o' sleepin' ower lang, ye see, an' sae had waukit ower sune.
I was oot efter the fish mysel."
"But ye fired the gun 'gen the chap (before the stroke) o' five."
"Ow, ay! I fired the gun. The puir man wod hae bursten himsel' gien
"Deil gien he had bursten himsel' - the auld heelan' sholt!"
exclaimed Mrs Catanach spitefully.
"Ye sanna even sic words to my gran'father, Mrs Catanach," said
Malcolm with rebuke.
She laughed a strange laugh.
"Sanna!" she repeated contemptuously. "An' wha's your gran'father,
that I sud tak tent (heed) hoo I wag my tongue ower his richtousness?"
Then, with a sudden change of her tone to one of would be friendliness
- "But what'll ye be seekin' for that bit sawmon trooty, man?"
As she spoke she approached his basket, and would have taken the
fish in her hands, but Malcolm involuntarily drew back.
"It's gauin' to the Hoose to my lord's brakfast," he said.
"Hoots! ye'll jist lea' the troot wi' me. - Ye'll be seekin' a
saxpence for 't, I reckon," she persisted, again approaching the
"I tell ye, Mistress Catanach," said Malcolm, drawing back now
in the fear that if she once had it she would not yield it again,
"it's gauin' up to the Hoose!"
"Hoots! there's naebody there seen 't yet. It's new oot o' the
"But Mistress Courthope was doon last nicht, an' wantit the best
I cud heuk."
"Mistress Courthope! Wha cares for her? A mim, cantin' auld body!
Gie me the trootie, Ma'colm. Ye're a bonny laad, an 'it s' be the
better for ye."
"Deed I cudna du 't, Mistress Catanach - though I'm sorry to
disobleege ye. It's bespoken, ye see. But there's a fine haddie,
an' a bonny sma' coddie, an' a goukmey (gray gurnard)."
"Gae 'wa' wi' yer haddies, an' yer goukmeys! Ye sanna gowk me wi'
"Weel, I wadna wonner," said Malcolm, "gien Mrs Courthope wad like
the haddie tu, an' maybe the lave o' them as weel. Hers is a muckle
faimily to haud eatin.' I'll jist gang to the Hoose first afore I
mak ony mair offers frae my creel."
"Ye'll lea' the troot wi' me," said Mrs Catanach imperiously.
"Na; I canna du that. Ye maun see yersel' 'at I canna."
The woman's face grew dark with anger. "It s' be the waur for ye,"
"I'm no gauin' to be fleyt (frightened) at ye. Ye're no sic a witch
as that comes till, though ye div ken a body's fit upo' the flags!
My blin' luckie deddy can du mair nor that!" said Malcolm, irritated
by her persistency, threats and evil looks.
"Daur ye me?"' she returned, her pasty cheeks now red as fire, and
her wicked eyes flashing as she shook her clenched fist at him.
"What for no?" he answered coolly, turning his head back over his
shoulder, for he was already on his way to the gate.
"Ye s' ken that, ye misbegotten funlin'!" shrieked the woman, and
waddled hastily into the house.
"What ails her?" said Malcolm to himself. "She micht ha' seen 'at
I bude to gie Mrs Courthope the first offer."
By a winding carriage drive, through trees whose growth was stunted
by the sea winds, which had cut off their tops as with a keen razor,
Malcolm made a slow descent, yet was soon shadowed by timber of
a more prosperous growth, rising as from a lake of the loveliest
green, spangled with starry daisies. The air was full of sweet
odours uplifted with the ascending dew, and trembled with a hundred
songs at once, for here was a very paradise for birds. At length
he came in sight of a long low wing of the house, and went to the
door that led to the kitchen. There a maid informed him that Mrs
Courthope was in the hall, and he had better take his basket there,
for she wanted to see him. He obeyed, and sought the main entrance.
The house was an ancient pile, mainly of two sides at right angles,
but with many gables, mostly having corbel steps - a genuine old
Scottish dwelling, small windowed and gray, with steep slated roofs,
and many turrets, each with a conical top. Some of these turrets
rose from the ground, encasing spiral stone stairs; others were
but bartizans, their interiors forming recesses in rooms. They gave
the house something of the air of a French chateau, only it looked
stronger and far grimmer. Carved around some of the windows,
in ancient characters, were Scripture texts and antique proverbs.
Two time worn specimens of heraldic zoology, in a state of fearful
and everlasting excitement, stood rampant and gaping, one on each
side of the hall door, contrasting strangely with the repose of
the ancient house, which looked very like what the oldest part of
it was said to have been - a monastery. It had at the same time,
however, a somewhat warlike expression, wherein consisting it would
have been difficult to say; nor could it ever have been capable of
much defence, although its position in that regard was splendid. In
front was a great gravel space, in the centre of which lay a huge
block of serpentine, from a quarry on the estate, filling the office
of goal, being the pivot, as it were, around which all carriages
On one side of the house was a great stone bridge, of lofty span,
stretching across a little glen, in which ran a brown stream spotted
with foam - the same that entered the frith beside the Seaton; not
muddy, however, for though dark it was clear - its brown being a
rich transparent hue, almost red, gathered from the peat bogs of
the great moorland hill behind. Only a very narrow terrace walk,
with battlemented parapet, lay between the back of the house, and
a precipitous descent of a hundred feet to this rivulet. Up its
banks, lovely with flowers and rich with shrubs and trees below,
you might ascend until by slow gradations you left the woods and
all culture behind, and found yourself, though still within the
precincts of Lossie House, on the lonely side of the waste hill,
a thousand feet above the sea.
The hall door stood open, and just within hovered Mrs Courthope,
dusting certain precious things not to be handled by a housemaid.
This portion of the building was so narrow that the hall occupied
its entire width, and on the opposite side of it another door,
standing also open, gave a glimpse of the glen.
"Good morning, Malcolm," said Mrs Courthope, when she turned and
saw whose shadow fell on the marble floor. "What have you brought
"A fine salmon troot, mem. But gien ye had hard boo Mistress
Catanach flytit (scolded) at me 'cause I wadna gie't to her! You
wad hae thocht, mem, she was something no canny - the w'y 'at she
first beggit, an' syne fleecht (flattered), an syne a' but banned
"She's a peculiar person, that, Malcolm. Those are nice whitings.
I don't care about the trout. Just take it to her as you go back."
"I doobt gien she'll take it, mem. She's an awfu' vengefu' cratur,
"You remind me, Malcolm," returned Mrs Courthope, "that I'm not at
ease about your grandfather. He is not in a Christian frame of mind
at all - and he is an old man too. If we don't forgive our enemies,
you know, the Bible plainly tells us we shall not be forgiven
"I'm thinkin' it was a greater nor the Bible said that, mem,"
returned Malcolm, who was an apt pupil of Mr Graham. "But ye'll be
meanin' Cawmill o' Glenlyon," he went on with a smile. "It canna
maitter muckle to him whether my gran'father forgie him or no,
seein' he's been deid this hunner year."
"It's not Campbell of Glenlyon, it's your grandfather I am anxious
about," said Mrs Courthope. "Nor is it only Campbell of Glenlyon
he's so fierce against, but all his posterity as well."
"They dinna exist, mem. There's no sic a bein' o' the face o' the
yearth, as a descendant o' that Glenlyon."
"It makes little difference, I fear," said Mrs Courthope, who was
no bad logician. "The question isn't whether or not there's anybody
to forgive, but whether Duncan MacPhail is willing to forgive."
"That I do believe he is, mem; though he wad be as sair astonished
to hear 't as ye are yersel'."
"I don't know what you mean by that, Malcolm."
"I mean, mem, 'at a blin' man, like my gran'father, canna ken himsel'
richt, seein' he canna ken ither fowk richt. It's by kennin' ither
fowk 'at ye come to ken yersel, mem - isna't noo?"
"Blindness surely doesn't prevent a man from knowing other people.
He hears them, and he feels them, and indeed has generally more
kindness from them because of his affliction."
"Frae some o' them, mem; but it's little kin'ness my gran'father
has expairienced frae Cawmill o' Glenlyon, mem."
"And just as little injury, I should suppose," said Mrs Courthope.
"Ye're wrang there, mem: a murdered mither maun be an unco skaith
to oye's oye (grandson's grandson). But supposin' ye to be richt,
what I say's to the pint for a' that I maun jist explain a wee. -
When I was a laddie at the schule, I was ance tell't that ane o'
the loons was i' the wye o' mockin' my gran'father. Whan I hard it,
I thocht I cud jist rive the hert o' 'im, an' set my teeth in't,
as the Dutch sodger did to the Spainiard. But whan I got a grip o'
'im, an' the rascal turned up a frichtit kin' o' a dog-like face
to me, I jist could not drive my steikit neive (clenched fist)
intil't. Mem, a face is an awfu' thing! There's aye something luikin'
oot o' 't 'at ye canna do as ye like wi'. But my gran'father never
saw a face in's life - lat alane Glenlyon's 'at's been dirt for
sae mony a year. Gien he war luikin' intil the face o' that Glenlyon
even, I do believe he wad no more drive his durk intill him."
"Drive his dirk into him!" echoed Mrs Courthope, in horror at the
"No, I'm sure he wad not," persisted Malcolm, innocently. "He micht
not tak him oot o' a pot (hole in a riverbed), but he wad neither
durk him nor fling him in. I'm no that sure he wadna even ran
(reach) him a han'. Ae thing I am certain o', - that by the time
he meets Glenlyon in haven, he'll be no that far frae lattin'
byganes be byganes."
"Meets Glenlyon in heaven!" again echoed Mrs Courthope, who knew
enough of the story to be startled at the taken for granted way
in which Malcolm spoke. "Is it probable that a wretch such as your
legends describe him should ever get there?"
"Ye dinna think God's forgien him, than, mem?"
"I have no right to judge Glenlyon, or any other man; but, as you
ask me, I must say I see no likelihood of it."
"Hoo can ye compleen o' my puir blin' grandfather for no forgiein'
him, than? - I hae ye there, mem!"
"He may have repented, you know," said Mrs Courthope feebly, finding
herself in less room than was comfortable.
"In sic case," returned Malcolm, "the auld man 'ill hear a' aboot
it the meenit he wins there; an' I mak nae doobt he'll du his best
to perswaud himsel'."
"But what if he shouldn't get there?" persisted Mrs Courthope, in
"Hoot toot, mem! I wonner to hear ye! A Cawmill latten in, and my
gran'father hauden oot! That wad be jist yallow faced Willie ower
again!* - Na, na; things gang anither gait up there. My gran'father's
a rale guid man, for a' 'at he has a wye o' luikin' at things 'at's
mair efter the law nor the gospel."
*[Lord Stair, the prime mover in the Massacre of Glenco.]
Apparently Mrs Courthope had come at length to the conclusion that
Malcolm was as much of a heathen as his grandfather, for in silence
she chose her fish, in silence paid him his price, and then with
only a sad Good day, turned and left him.
He would have gone back by the river side to the sea gate, but
Mrs Courthope having waived her right to the fish in favour of Mrs
Catanach, he felt bound to give her another chance, and so returned
the way he had come.
"Here's yer troot, Mistress Cat'nach," he called aloud at her door,
which generally stood a little ajar. "Ye s' hae't for the saxpence
- an' a guid bargain tu, for ane o' sic dimensions!"
As he spoke, he held the fish in at the door, but his eyes were
turned to the main street, whence the factor's gig was at the moment
rounding the corner into that in which he stood; when suddenly the
salmon trout was snatched from his hand, and flung so violently in
his face, that he staggered back into the road: the factor had to
pull sharply up to avoid driving over him. His rout rather than
retreat was followed by a burst of insulting laughter, and at the
same moment, out of the house rushed a large vile looking mongrel,
with hair like an ill used doormat and an abbreviated nose, fresh
from the ashpit, caught up the trout, and rushed with it towards
"That's richt, my bairn!" shouted Mrs Catanach to the brute as he
ran: "tak it to Mrs Courthope. Tak it back wi' my compliments."
Amidst a burst of malign laughter she slammed her door, and from
a window sideways watched the young fisherman.
As he stood looking after the dog in wrath and bewilderment, the
factor, having recovered from the fit of merriment into which the
sudden explosion of events had cast him, and succeeded in quieting
his scared horse, said, slackening his reins to move on,
"You sell your fish too cheap, Malcolm."
"The deil's i' the tyke," rejoined Malcolm, and, seized at last
by a sense of the ludicrousness of the whole affair, burst
out laughing, and turned for the High Street. .
"Na, na, laddie; the deil's no awa' in sic a hurry: he bed (remained),"
said a voice behind him.
Malcolm turned again and lifted his bonnet. It was Miss Horn, who
had come up from the Seaton.
"Did ye see yon, mem?" he asked.
"Ay, weel that, as I cam up the brae. Dinna stan' there, laddie.
The jaud 'll be watchin' ye like a cat watchin' a mouse. I ken her!
She's a cat wuman, an' I canna bide her. She's no mowse (safe to
touch). She's in secrets mair nor guid, I s' wad (wager). Come awa'
wi' me; I want a bit fish. I can ill eat an' her lyin' deid I' the
hoose - it winna gang ower; but I maun get some strength pitten
intil me afore the berial. It's a God's mercy I wasna made wi'
feelin's, or what wad hae come o' me! Whaur's the gude o' greetin?
It's no worth the saut i' the watter o' 't, Ma'colm. It's an ill
wardle, an micht be a bonny ane - gien't warna for ill men."
"'Deed, mem! I'm thinkin' mair aboot ill women, at this prasent,"
said Malcolm. "Maybe there's no sic a thing, but yon's unco like ane.
As bonny a sawmon troot 's ever ye saw, mem! It's a' I'm cawpable
o' to haud ohn cursed that foul tyke o' hers."
"Hoot, laddie! haud yer tongue."
"Ay will I. I'm na gaun to du 't, ye ken. But sic a fine troot 's
that - the verra ane ye wad hae likit, mem!"
"Never ye min' the troot. There's mair whaur that cam frae. What
anger't her at ye?"
"Naething mair nor that I bude to gie Mistress Courthope the first
wale (choice) o' my fish."
"The wuman's no worth yer notice, 'cep to haud oot o' her gait,
laddie; an' that ye had better luik till, for she's no canny. Dinna
ye anger her again gien ye can help it. She has an ill luik, an' I
canna bide her. - Hae, there's yer siller. Jean, tak in this fish."
During the latter part of the conversation they had been standing
at the door, while Miss Horn ferreted the needful pence from a
pocket under her gown. She now entered, but as Malcolm waited for
Jean to take the fish, she turned on the threshold, and said:
"Wad ye no like to see her, Ma'colm? - A guid frien' she was to
you, sae lang's she was here," she added after a short pause.
The youth hesitated.
"I never saw a corp i' my life, mem, an' I'm jist some feared," he
said, after another brief silence.
"Hoot, laddie!" returned Miss Horn, in a somewhat offended tone.
- "That'll be what comes o' haein' feelin's. A bonny corp 's the
bonniest thing in creation, - an' that quaiet! - Eh! sic a heap
o' them as there has been sin' Awbel," she went on - "an ilk ane
them luikin, as gien there never had been anither but itsel'! Ye
oucht to see a corp, Ma'colm. Ye'll hae't to du afore ye're ane
yersel', an' ye'll never see a bonnier nor my Grizel."
"Be 't to yer wull, mem," said Malcolm resignedly.
At once she led the way, and he followed her in silence up the
stair and into the dead chamber.
There on the white bed lay the long, black, misshapen thing she had
called "the bit boxie:" and with a strange sinking at the heart,
Malcolm approached it.
Miss Horn's hand came from behind him, and withdrew a covering;
there lay a vision lovely indeed to behold! - a fixed evanescence
- a listening stillness, - awful, yet with a look of entreaty,
at once resigned and unyielding, that strangely drew the heart
of Malcolm. He saw a low white forehead, large eyeballs upheaving
closed lids, finely modelled features of which the tightened skin
showed all the delicacy, and a mouth of suffering whereon the
vanishing Psyche had left the shadow of the smile with which she
awoke. The tears gathered in his eyes, and Miss Horn saw them.
"Ye maun lay yer han' upo' her, Ma'colm," she said. "Ye ma' aye
touch the deid, to hand ye ohn dreamed aboot them."