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"That's richt. But what gars ye aye ca' me Mister Gray noo? Ye didna use to do that when ye were a wee lassie, and I used to bring ye sweeties and whiles gie ye a ride on my powny. Od, it sounds queer in my lugs, when naebody ever ca's me ought but Cairnieford or Robin Gray. I'm thinking, Jeanie, ye're getting unco fine in your ways."
And he smiled good-naturedly as he bade her good night, as if he were not altogether displeased to discover that she was different from other lasses, even in such a small matter as a form of address.
THE FARMER OF CAIRNIEFORD.
"There's auld Bob Morris that wons in yon glen,
But the respectful distance Jeanie preserved in speaking to him was not so much on account of any idea of the politeness due from a poor fisherman's daughter to a well-to-do farmer like him of Cairnieford, as on account of a certain shyness with which his own conduct had inspired her.
Robin Gray was not a man to hide any of the sentiments of his nature. If he liked a person he showed it, and if he disliked anybody he showed it quite as freely. For instance, he disliked the Laird of Clashgirn; and although McWhapple was the proprietor of the lands Robin farmed, he had shown his contempt for him in various disagreeable ways. But Robin was the best farmer in the country, he had a wellstocked steading, and his rent was always ready at twelve o'clock on the term day. So the Laird lifted his rent, and whatever he might have felt or thought he said nothing.
On the other hand, Robin was fond of Jeanie. He had watched her growing up from a healthy bairn to a bonnie thrifty woman, and he had said to himself one day she would I "Adam Lindsay tauld mo yo were to sail in the Colin."
"And so I am. I'm going on board now, as she sails tonight. What then?"
"I wantod to warn ye no to gang with Ivan Carrach," she said, drawing him close to her, and speaking in his car with a strango earnestness.
"And why not, for Gnid's sake?"
He was almost inclined to laugh at her singular conduct.
"Ye'll maybo think it's just an anld wife's clavers," she answered in tho same serious tone, " but tak' tent; ye want to como back an' marry Jeanie, an' ye'll never come back if yo gang in that boat."
"Toots, Girzio, why should I not go in tho Colin as well as any other?"
"Because the Colin's doomed!"
Falcon was not suro whethor to laugh outright or take alarm. Her words woro serious, her manner impressive, but ho could not throw up his duty for moro words, which might or might not bo spoken in jest.
"How do you happon to ken a' this?" ho asked.
Sho seemed to divine the incredulenco with which her warning had been received, and she flung his arm from her.
"I canna tell yo ony mair, an' I winna," she answered sharply, drawing her short cloak around her; if it hadna been for Jeanie's sake, I wouldna hae said as mucklo. But gang ye i' the Colin, an' ye'll never boguidman tae Joanio Lindsay."
"If any danger threatens tho brig, that's all the moro reason why I should be aboard, for if I can save hor it'll maybo repay some of the debt I owe Clashgirn."
Girzio uttered a low contemptuous laugh.
"Hae your way; I hae duno a' I can to save ye."
"Good-bye, Girzio; I'll come back to Jeanie, toll her, whatever befa' the Colin."
There was no answer. Girzie had moved away before ho had finished speaking, and in tho darkness had disappeared immediately.
There was a general bustle and flitting of lights on board when Falcon stepped on the deck. He was set to work at once, and the excitement soon drove Girzie's words out of his mind.
There was a stiff breeze in their favour, and the brig was soon out of port.
"Heave ahead," shouted Carrach hoarsely, "and tam ta Friday—we've cheated her this time."
So they had, for as the sails were filling to the breeze they heard faintly on the waters the bell of the Portlappoch steeple tolling midnight.
"The gloomy night is gathering fast,
Since early morning the clouds in dense grey masses had been shifting restlessly. Heavy showers had descended at intervals, sweeping the streets of the town, and drenching the crowds of farmers and their wives—the latter having skirts carefully tucked up—soaking the groups of grain merchants, farm servants, cattle-dealers, drovers, and the miscellaneous characters with barrowfuls of "sweeties" who usually assembled on the market day.
Business was dull as the day except at the inns, which were reeking with the fumes of toddy and the steam off the wet garments of the customers. Knots of men stood under the shelter of sheds and doorways chaffering, and the cattle stood dripping in the market-place. Men and cattle were " drookit" and uncomfortable. So the necessary business of the day was hurried over, and all who could manage it started early for home.
Fishermen's wives cast anxious glances toward the glistening sea, which, as if in sympathy with the clouds, rolled and tossed hungrily, heaving up white spiteful foam on the beach and against the stone walls of the quay.
Jeanie was one of those who looked, often and trouhlously toward the sea, for Adam had gone out before daybreak in spite of the threatening storm. Her mother too seemed to be unusually affected by the weather, for she had one of her " bad turns" in the morning, and she was very weak.
Frequently she had asked Jeanie if there were any signs of her father returning, and Jeanie had run round to the end of the house to peer across the broad turbulent water. But it was only to go back to her mother with the unsatisfactory tidings that although she saw several boats putting in for the shore, she could not distinguish her father's amongst them.
As the afternoon advanced, the clouds darkened, and a whito rainy mist lowered upon the water, so that she could see nothing beyond the beach. • Her mother's uneasiness disturbed her—filled her with strange fears. Her father had been out in many a storm, but she had never experienced such anxiety as on this day.
Somehow she seemed to have lost courage during the few weeks which had elapsed since James Falcon's departure. At any rate, she was more easily alarmed than formerly at the thought of storms and wrecks. The great rolling ocean seemed to her more callous, more resistless, and bigger than it had ever seemed previously. That new meaning which 6he had obtained from the ceaseless murmur of the waters while standing at the door with Falcon on the evening of his departure was broadening out into new thoughts, new hopes and fears.
"Nae sight o' him yet, Jeanie?" queried her mother again, when she saw her lighting the candle and placing it in the window to serve as a feeble beacon to the absent one.
"He'll be hame the noo, mither," was Jeanie's answer, in a tone that she tried to render cheerful; "that is, if he be na to bide ower at the Mull a' nicht."
"Aye, housed to dae that whiles langsyne when it was ower rough to cross," muttered Mrs. Lindsay in the tone of one who tries feebly to unseat a conviction which is obtaining a firm place in her mind.
The thunder of wind and waves rendered the voices of the women scarcely audible to each other, and a knock at the door had to be repeated two or three times before Jeanie observed it. Then her eyes opened wide, and she glanced nervously toward her mother to see if she had heard the summons.
She had heard it, and her sad shrunken face wore the expression of one who listens intently for the confirmation of some terror.
"There's somebody chappin," Jeanie said, with assumed indifference, as she proceeded to answer the knock.
A fierce gust of wind blew out the candle the moment she opened the door, so that she could not see who was standing without.
"Wha's that?" she asked; and her voice trembled with vague fears in spite of the assurance she had tried to force upon herself that this was some one who had missed the road in the darkness, and, seeing the light in the cottage, had stopped to inquire the way.
"It's me, Jeanie," was the response in a kindly tone. "I want to come ben, an' I'm trying to fasten the bridle o' the powny to the bush here."
She knew the voice, although there was a strange tone in it to-night—a tone which suddenly gave shape to all those vague fears she had been haunted by. She hastily closed the door of her mother's room, retreated to the kitchen, and lit the candle at the fire. When she turned round, the man was standing beside her.
He was a tall, broad-shouldered, muscular man, dressed in garments of rough home-spun tweed, and with an enormous grey plaid drawn tightly across his breast and shoulders. His clothes were soaked with the rain, and as he removed his broad-brimmed bonnet to shake the water from it, a massive head, with thick iron-grey hair and clear high brow, were revealed. His features were plain, but the light of his deep