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"Na, but that wad be an affront, my lord!"

"How can you afford the time for nothing?"

"The time comes to little, compairt wi' what Mr Graham gies me i'
the lang forenichts - i' the winter time, ye ken, my lord, whan
the sea's whiles ower contumahcious to be meddlet muckle wi'."

"But you have to support your grandfather."

"My gran'father wad be ill pleased to hear ye say 't, my lord.
He's terrible independent; an' what wi' his pipes, an' his lamps,
an' his shop, he could keep's baith. It's no muckle the likes o'
us wants. He winna lat me gang far to the fishin', so that I hae
the mair time to read an' gang to Mr Graham."

As the youth spoke, the marquis eyed him with apparently growing

"But you haven't told me whether your boat is a proper one," said
the lady.

"Proper eneuch, mem, for what's required o' her. She taks guid

"But is it a proper boat for me to have a row in?"

"No wi' that goon on, mem, as I telled ye afore."

"The water won't get in, will it?"

"No more than's easy gotten oot again."

"Do you ever put up a sail?"

"Whiles - a wee bit o' a lug sail."

"Nonsense, Flow!" said the marquis. "I'll see about it."

Then turning to Malcolm, - "You may go," he said. "When I want
you I will send for you."

Malcolm thought with himself that he had sent for him this time
before he wanted him; but he made his bow, and departed - not
without disappointment, for he had expected the marquis to say
something about his grandfather going to the House with his pipes,
a request he would fain have carried to the old man to gladden his
heart withal.

Lord Lossie had been one of the boon companions of the Prince of
Wales - considerably higher in type, it is true, yet low enough
to accept usage for law, and measure his obligation by the custom
of his peers: duty merely amounted to what was expected of him, and
honour, the flitting shadow of the garment of truth, was his sole
divinity. Still he had a heart, and it would speak, - so long at
least, as the object affecting it was present. But, alas! it had no
memory. Like the unjust judge, he might redress a wrong that cried
to him, but out of sight and hearing it had for him no existence.
To a man he would not have told a deliberate lie - except, indeed,
a woman was in the case; but to women he had lied enough to sink the
whole ship of fools. Nevertheless, had the accusing angel himself
called him a liar, he would have instantly offered him his choice
of weapons.

There was in him by nature, however, a certain generosity which
all the vice he had shared in had not quenched. Overbearing, he
was not yet too overbearing to appreciate a manly carriage, and had
been pleased with what some would have considered the boorishness
of Malcolm's behaviour - such not perceiving that it had the
same source as the true aristocratic bearing - namely, a certain
unselfish confidence which is the mother of dignity.

He had, of course, been a spendthrift - and so much the better,
being otherwise what he was; for a cautious and frugal voluptuary
is about the lowest style of man. Hence he had never been out of
difficulties, and when, a year or so agone, he succeeded to his
brother's marquisate, he was, notwithstanding his enlarged income,
far too much involved to hope any immediate rescue from them. His
new property, however, would afford him a refuge from troublesome
creditors; there he might also avoid expenditure for a season, and
perhaps rally the forces of a dissolute life; the place was not
new to him, having, some twenty years before, spent nearly twelve
months there, of which time the recollections were not altogether
unpleasant: weighing all these things he had made up his mind, and
here he was at Lossie House.

The marquis was about fifty years of age, more worn than his years
would account for, yet younger than his years in expression, for
his conscience had never bitten him very deep. He was middle sized,
broad shouldered but rather thin, with fine features of the aquiline
Greek type, light blue hazy eyes, and fair hair, slightly curling
and streaked with gray. His manners were those of one polite for
his own sake. To his remote inferiors he was kind - would even
encourage them to liberties, but might in turn take greater with
them than they might find agreeable. He was fond of animals -
would sit for an hour stroking the head of Demon, his great Irish
deerhound; but at other times would tease him to a wrath which
touched the verge of dangerous. He was fond of practical jokes,
and would not hesitate to indulge himself even in such as were
incompatible with any genuine refinement: the sort had been in vogue
in his merrier days, and Lord Lossie had ever been one of the most
fertile in inventing, and loudest in enjoying them. For the rest,
if he was easily enraged, he was readily appeased; could drink a
great deal, but was no drunkard; and held as his creed that a God
had probably made the world and set it going, but that he did not
care a brass farthing, as he phrased it, how it went on, or what
such an insignificant being as a man did or left undone in it.
Perhaps he might amuse himself with it, he said, but he doubted
it. As to men, he believed every man loved himself supremely, and
therefore was in natural warfare with every other man. Concerning
women he professed himself unable to give a definite utterance of
any sort - and yet, he would add, he had had opportunities.

The mother of Florimel had died when she was a mere child, and from
that time she had been at school until her father brought her away
to share his fresh honours. She knew little, that little was not
correct, and had it been, would have yet been of small value. At
school she had been under many laws, and had felt their slavery:
she was now in the third heaven of delight with her liberty. But
the worst of foolish laws is, that when the insurgent spirit casts
them off, it is but too ready to cast away with them the genial
self-restraint which these fretting trammels have smothered beneath

Her father regarded her as a child, of whom it was enough to require
that she should keep out of mischief. He said to himself now and
then that he must find a governess for her; but as yet he had not
begun to look for one. Meantime he neither exercised the needful
authority over her, nor treated her as a companion. His was a
shallow nature, never very pleasantly conscious of itself except in
the whirl of excitement, and the glitter of crossing lights: with
a lovely daughter by his side, he neither sought to search into
her being, nor to aid its unfolding, but sat brooding over past
pleasures, or fancying others yet in store for him - lost in
the dull flow of life along the lazy reach to whose mire its once
tumultuous torrent had now descended. But, indeed, what could such
a man have done for the education of a young girl? How many of the
qualities he understood and enjoyed in women could he desire to
see developed in his daughter? There was yet enough of the father
in him to expect those qualities in her to which in other women he
had been an insidious foe; but had he not done what in him lay to
destroy his right of claiming such from her?

So Lady Florimel was running wild, and enjoying it. As long as she
made her appearance at meals, and looked happy, her father would
give himself no trouble about her. How he himself managed to live
in those first days without company - what he thought about or
speculated upon, it were hard to say. All he could be said to do
was to ride here and there over the estate with his steward, Mr
Crathie, knowing little and caring less about farming, or crops,
or cattle. He had by this time, however, invited a few friends to
visit him, and expected their arrival before long.

"How do you like this dull life, Flory?" he said, as they walked
up the garden to breakfast.

"Dull, papa!" she returned. "You never were at a girls' school, or
you wouldn't call this dull. It is the merriest life in the world.
To go where you like, and have miles of room! And such room! It's
the loveliest place in the world, papa!"

He smiled a small, satisfied smile, and stooping stroked his Demon.


Malcolm went down the riverside, not over pleased with the marquis;
for, although unconscious of it as such, he had a strong feeling
of personal dignity.

As he threaded the tortuous ways of the Seaton towards his own
door, he met sounds of mingled abuse and apology. Such were not
infrequent in that quarter, for one of the women who lived there
was a termagant, and the door of her cottage was generally open. She
was known as Meg Partan. Her husband's real name was of as little
consequence in life as it is in my history, for almost everybody
in the fishing villages of that coast was and is known by his
to-name, or nickname, a device for distinction rendered absolutely
necessary by the paucity of surnames occasioned by the persistent
intermarriage of the fisher folk. Partan is the Scotch for crab,
but the immediate recipient of the name was one of the gentlest
creatures in the place, and hence it had been surmised by some that,
the grey mare being the better horse, the man was thus designated
from the crabbedness of his wife; but the probability is he brought
the agnomen with him from school, where many such apparently
misfitting names are unaccountably generated.

In the present case, however, the apologies were not issuing as
usual from the mouth of Davy Partan, but from that of the blind
piper. Malcolm stood for a moment at the door to understand the
matter of contention, and prepare him to interfere judiciously.

"Gien ye suppose, piper, 'at ye're peyed to drive fowk oot o' their
beds at sic hoors as yon, it's time the toon cooncil was informed
o' yer mistak," said Meg Partan, with emphasis on the last syllable.

"Ta coot peoples up in ta town are not half so hart upon her as you,
Mistress Partan," insinuated poor Duncan, who, knowing himself in
fault, was humble; "and it's tere tat she's paid," he added, with
a bridling motion, "and not town here pelow."

"Dinna ye glorifee yersel' to suppose there's a fisher, lat alane
a fisher's wife, in a' the haill Seaton 'at wad lippen (trust) till
an auld haiveril like you to hae them up i' the mornin'! Haith! I
was oot o' my bed hoors or I hard the skirlin' o' your pipes. Troth
I ken weel hoo muckle ower ear' ye was! But what fowk taks in han',
fowk sud put oot o' han' in a proper mainner, and no misguggle 't
a'thegither like yon. An' for what they say i' the toon, there's
Mistress Catanach - "

"Mistress Catanach is a paad 'oman," said Duncan.

"I wad advise you, piper, to haud a quaiet sough about her. She's
no to be meddlet wi', Mistress Catanach, I can tell ye. Gien ye
anger her, it'll be the waur for ye. The neist time ye hae a lyin'
in, she'll be raxin' (reaching) ye a hairless pup, or, deed, maybe
a stan' o' bagpipes, as the produck."

"Her nain sel' will not pe requiring her sairvices, Mistress Partan;
she'll pe leafing tat to you, if you'll excuse me," said Duncan.

"Deed, ye're richt there! An auld speldin' (dried haddock) like
you! Ha! ha! ha!"

Malcolm judged it time to interfere, and stepped into the cottage.
Duncan was seated in the darkest corner of the room, with an apron
over his knees, occupied with a tin lamp. He had taken out the wick
and laid its flat tube on the hearth, had emptied the oil into a
saucer, and was now rubbing the lamp vigorously: cleanliness rather
than brightness must have been what he sought to produce.

Malcolm's instinct taught him to side so far with the dame concerning
Mrs Catanach, and thereby turn the torrent away from his grandfather.

"'Deed ye're richt there, Mistress Findlay!" he said. "She's no to
be meddlet wi'. She's no mowse (safe)."

Malcolm was a favourite with Meg, as with all the women of the
place; hence she did not even start in resentment at his sudden
appearance, but, turning to Duncan, exclaimed victoriously, -
"Hear till her ain oye! He's a laad o' sense!"

"Ay, hear to him!" rejoined the old man with pride. "My Malcolm
will always pe speaking tat which will pe worth ta hearing with
ta ears. Poth of you and me will be knowing ta Mistress Catanach
pretty well - eh, Malcolm, my son? We'll not be trusting her fery
too much - will we, my son?"

"No a hair, daddy," returned Malcolm.

"She's a dooms clever wife, though; an' ane 'at ye may lippen
till i' the w'y o' her ain callin'," said Meg Partan, whose temper
had improved a little under the influence of the handsome youth's
presence and cheery speech.

"She'll not pe toubting it," responded Duncan; "put, ach! ta voman
'll be hafing a crim feesage and a fearsome eye!"

Like all the blind, he spoke as if he saw perfectly.

"Weel, I hae hard fowk say 'at ye bude (behoved) to hae the second
sicht," said Mrs Findlay, laughing rudely; "but wow! it stan's ye
in sma' service gien that be a' it comes till. She's a guid natur'd,
sonsy luikin' wife as ye wad see; an' for her een, they're jist
sic likes mine ain. - Haena ye near dune wi' that lamp yet?"

"The week of it 'll pe shust a lettle out of orter," answered the
old man. "Ta pairns has been' pulling it up with a peen from ta
top, and not putting it in at ta hole for ta purpose. And she'll pe
thinking you'll be cleaning off ta purnt part with a peen yourself,
rna'am, and not with ta pair of scissors she tolt you of, Mistress

"Gae 'wa' wi' yer nonsense!" cried Meg. "Daur ye say 1 dinna ken
hoo to trim an uilyie lamp wi' the best blin' piper that ever cam
frae the bare leggit Heelans?"

"A choke's a choke, ma'am," said Duncan, rising with dignity; "put
for a laty to make a choke of a man's pare leks is not ta propriety!"

"Oot o' my hoose wi' ye!" screamed the she Partan. "Wad ye threep
(insist) upo' me onything I said was less nor proaper. 'At I sud
say what wadna stan' the licht as weels the bare houghs o' ony
heelan' rascal 'at ever lap a lawlan' dyke!"

"Hoot toot, Mistress Findlay," interposed Malcolm, as his grandfather
strode from the door; "ye maunna forget 'at he's auld an' blin';
an' a' heelan' fowk's some kittle (touchy) about their legs."

"Deil shochle them!" exclaimed the Partaness; "what care I for 's

Duncan had brought the germ of this ministry of light from his
native Highlands, where he had practised it in his own house, no
one but himself being permitted to clean, or fill, or, indeed, trim
the lamp. How first this came about, I do not believe the old man
himself knew. But he must have had some feeling of a call to the
work; for he had not been a month in Portlossie, before he had
installed himself in several families as the genius of their lamps,
and he gradually extended the relation until it comprehended almost
all the houses in the village.

It was strange and touching to see the sightless man thus busy about
light for others. A marvellous symbol of faith he was - not only
believing in sight, but in the mysterious, and to him altogether
unintelligible means by which others saw! In thus lending his aid
to a faculty in which he had no share, he himself followed the trail
of the garments of Light, stooping ever and anon to lift and bear
her skirts. He haunted the steps of the unknown Power, and flitted
about the walls of her temple as we mortals haunt the borders of
the immortal land, knowing nothing of what lies behind the unseen
veil, yet believing in an unrevealed grandeur. Or shall we say he
stood like the forsaken merman, who, having no soul to be saved,
yet lingered and listened outside the prayer echoing church? Only
old Duncan had got farther: though he saw not a glimmer of the
glory, he yet asserted his part and lot in it, by the aiding of his
fellows to that of which he lacked the very conception himself. He
was a doorkeeper in the house, yea, by faith the blind man became
even a priest in the temple of Light.

Even when his grandchild was the merest baby, he would never allow
the gloaming to deepen into night without kindling for his behoof
the brightest and cleanest of train oil lamps. The women who at
first looked in to offer their services, would marvel at the trio
of blind man, babe, and burning lamp, and some would expostulate
with him on the needless waste. But neither would he listen to
their words, nor accept their offered assistance in dressing or
undressing the child. The sole manner in which he would consent to
avail himself of their willingness to help him, was to leave the
baby in charge of this or that neighbour while he went his rounds
with the bagpipes: when he went lamp cleaning he always took him
along with him.

By this change of guardians Malcolm was a great gainer, for thus
he came to be surreptitiously nursed by a baker's dozen of mothers,
who had a fund of not very wicked amusement in the lamentations of
the old man over his baby's refusal of nourishment, and his fears
that he was pining away. But while they honestly declared that
a healthier child had never been seen in Portlossie, they were
compelled to conceal the too satisfactory reasons of the child's
fastidiousness; for they were persuaded that the truth would only
make Duncan terribly jealous, and set him on contriving how at once
to play his pipes and carry his baby.

He had certain days for visiting certain houses, and cleaning the
lamps in them. The housewives had at first granted him as a privilege
the indulgence of his whim, and as such alone had Duncan regarded
it; but by and by, when they found their lamps burn so much better
from being properly attended to, they began to make him some small
return; and at length it became the custom with every housewife
who accepted his services, to pay him a halfpenny a week during
the winter months for cleaning her lamp. He never asked for it;
if payment was omitted, never even hinted at it; received what was
given him thankfully; and was regarded with kindness, and, indeed,
respect, by all. Even Mrs Partan, as he alone called her, was his
true friend: no intensity of friendship could have kept her from
scolding. I believe if we could thoroughly dissect the natures
of scolding women, we should find them in general not at all so
unfriendly as they are unpleasant.

A small trade in oil arose from his connection with the lamps, and
was added to the list of his general dealings. The fisher folk made
their own oil, but sometimes it would run short, and then recourse
was had to Duncan's little store, prepared by himself of the best;
chiefly, now, from the livers of fish caught by his grandson. With
so many sources of income, no one wondered at his getting on. Indeed
no one would have been surprised to hear, long before Malcolm had
begun to earn anything, that the old man had already laid by a


Looking at Malcolm's life from the point of his own consciousness,
and not from that of the so called world, it was surely pleasant
enough. Innocence, devotion to another, health, pleasant labour
with an occasional shadow of danger to arouse the energies, leisure,
love of reading, a lofty minded friend, and, above all, a supreme
presence, visible to his heart in the meeting of vaulted sky and
outspread sea, and felt at moments in any waking wind that cooled
his glowing cheek and breathed into him anew of the breath of life,
- lapped in such conditions, bathed in such influences, the youth's
heart was swelling like a rosebud ready to burst into blossom.

But he had never yet felt the immediate presence of woman in any
of her closer relations. He had never known mother or sister; and,
although his voice always assumed a different tone and his manner
grew more gentle in the presence, of a woman, old or young, he
had found little individually attractive amongst the fisher girls.
There was not much in their circumstances to bring out the finer
influences of womankind in them: they had rough usage, hard work
at the curing and carrying of fish and the drying of nets, little
education, and but poor religious instruction. At the same time
any failure in what has come to be specially called virtue, was
all but unknown amongst them; and the profound faith in women, and
corresponding worship of everything essential to womanhood which
essentially belonged to a nature touched to fine issues, had as yet
met with no check. It had never come into Malcolm's thoughts that
there were live women capable of impurity. Mrs. Catanach was the
only woman he had ever looked upon with dislike - and that dislike
had generated no more than the vaguest suspicion. Let a woman's
faults be all that he had ever known in woman; he yet could look
on her with reverence - and the very heart of reverence is love,
whence it may be plainly seen that Malcolm's nature was at once
prepared for much delight, and exposed to much suffering. It followed
that all the women of his class loved and trusted him; and hence
in part it came that, absolutely free of arrogance, he was yet
confident in the presence of women. The tradesmen's daughters in
the upper town took pains to show him how high above him they were,
and women of better position spoke to him with a kind condescension
that made him feel the gulf that separated them; but to one and
all he spoke with the frankness of manly freedom.

But he had now arrived at that season when, in the order of things,
a man is compelled to have at least a glimmer of the life which
consists in sharing life with another. When once, through the thousand
unknown paths of creation, the human being is so far divided from
God that his individuality is secured, it has become yet more
needful that the crust gathered around him in the process should be
broken; and the love between man and woman arising from a difference
deep in the heart of God, and essential to the very being of each
- for by no words can I express my scorn of the evil fancy that
the distinction between them is solely or even primarily physical
- is one of his most powerful forces for blasting the wall of
separation, and first step towards the universal harmony of twain
making one. That love should be capable of ending in such vermiculate
results as too often appear, is no more against the loveliness of
the divine idea, than that the forms of man and woman, the spirit
gone from them, should degenerate to such things as may not be
looked upon. There is no plainer sign of the need of a God, than
the possible fate of love. The celestial Cupido may soar aloft on
seraph wings that assert his origin, or fall down on the belly of
a snake and creep to hell.

But Malcolm was not of the stuff of which coxcombs are made, and had
not begun to think even of the abyss that separated Lady Florimel
and himself - an abyss like that between star and star, across
which stretches no mediating air - a blank and blind space. He
felt her presence only as that of a being to be worshipped, to be
heard with rapture, and yet addressed without fear.

Though not greatly prejudiced in favour of books, Lady Florimel
had burrowed a little in the old library at Lossie House, and had
chanced on the Faerie Queene. She had often come upon the name of
the author in books of extracts, and now, turning over its leaves,
she found her own. Indeed, where else could her mother have found
the name Florimel? Her curiosity was roused, and she resolved -
no light undertaking - to read the poem through, and see who and
what the lady, Florimel, was. Notwithstanding the difficulty she met
with at first, she had persevered, and by this time it had become
easy enough. The copy she had found was in small volumes, of which
she now carried one about with her wherever she wandered; and
making her first acquaintance with the sea and the poem together,
she soon came to fancy that she could not fix her attention on the
book without the sound of the waves for an accompaniment to the
verse - although the gentler noise of an ever flowing stream would
have better suited the nature of Spenser's rhythm; for indeed,
he had composed the greater part of the poem with such a sound
in his ears, and there are indications in the poem itself that he
consciously took the river as his chosen analogue after which to
model the flow of his verse.

It was a sultry afternoon, and Florimel lay on the seaward side
of the dune, buried in her book. The sky was foggy with heat, and
the sea lay dull, as if oppressed by the superincumbent air, and
leaden in hue, as if its colour had been destroyed by the sun. The
tide was rising slowly, with a muffled and sleepy murmur on the
sand; for here were no pebbles to impart a hiss to the wave as it

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