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out loud, so as Lexie and Annie could hear me; “its no doubt a grand thing to be come of a good family--but there's Robbie at the Butterbraes is a different looking man from Peter Braird." .
“Rechie !” cried my sister ; and the start she gave me with that fierce voice made me lose, I am sure, as much as a quarter of a yard of Mrs. Cranstoun's beautiful rich silk. But that was not the worst ; lifting up my eyes I was shaking a little with the thought of having angered Lexie—what should I see but a blush on the face of Annie Orme, as red as blush could be. I never had a greater start in my life to think that she, a young creature choosing for herself, should have that thought for Peter Braird!
shopin Lasswade--just as we were the principal mantua-makers. He might be about five-andtwenty at that time, and had served his time in Edinburgh, and was a well-educated lad. He was very particular in his dress, when he got off the white apron, and came from behind the counter ; and, as he was a well-looking young man, and had, as I say, been brought up in Edinburgh, he was much thought of in our little place ;-so that I think it was a very natural thing of me to be pleased when I saw him seeking after Annie Orme.
Nicol, his brother, was at the sea--a fine lad, too, though a thought coarse, like most seafaring folk—but a very cheerful, happyspirited young man he was, and all the bairns in the town were out of their wits about Nicol Mouter ;-but, for all that, I felt at once that Nicol was not half so suitable as Thomas for Annie Orme.
Now, there was not much choice in Lasswade, as I think I have before said, even if all the lads in the town had been seeking Annie, which, indeed, they were not, nor anything like it;--so that I was in every way proud in secret—the like of me to be proud !-at having made up my mind for young Mr. Mouter, and not being content, as Lexie was, with a redheaded lad like Peter Braird.
The next night, which was Saturday, Peter went past in the afternoon, and, after his manner, stopped to say a word at the door. On common days, it was just “ Good-day," and the lad went on; but this time Lexie behoved to have him in, and began a discourse, calling him “ Mr. Peter” at every word. Poor lad, he was very bashful, and did not know what to do with his long legs, and the great red hands, which he commonly carries in his pockets. I am sure he was very glad to get away, and so was I when he went.
Just as he left the door, the milk-cart from Butterbraes drove past, going home from Edinburgh. The man that was driving it was a very uncommon looking young man, who had been in service with Mr. Lait all the summer. On the Sabbath days, when he was at the kirk, we were constantly taking him for some strange gentleman, and often have I thought and said, that that lad was something above the common; but he just went about his work at the Butterbraes farm, and drove in the cart every Saturday to Edinburgh, like any other man. Well, as I say, Robbie drove past in his cart, just as Peter Braird went away from our door, and I could not help but let my eye fall, first on the one and then on the other. “Well," said I, and I was not aware I was speaking it
CHAPTER III. On the Monday morning, a quiet Sabbathday having come between, I was a little surprised to see Peter Braird rapping at the door. We were just at our breakfast ourselves; and, seeing I did not know what business he had at our house so soon again, I never moved to open the door.
“Let Mr. Peter in, Annie Orme,” said Lexie. “Poor lad, he never likes to pass the house."
And Annie started up in a moment, in a way that it made me angry to see; but, however, our little maid, Beenie, was beforehand with her, and in a minute we heard a heavy foot in the passage, and Peter Braird put in his shoulder at the door, and gave a shy glance over it, like an awkward colt of a lad as he was.
“ Come in, Mr. Peter,” said Lexie. “ Are they all well at Windlestrae this morning ? You should call oftener, for its aye a pleasure to see you. Come in, and take a seat and a rest; its a long walk to Edinburgh.”
So he came in, and sat down on the edge of the wooden chair-there is only one wooden chair in the parlour. He had a fine rose in his hand, in a pot—a monthly rose, but a very fine one of its kind.
“ Are you going to carry it all the way to Edinburgh ? How fresh it is, and bonnie,” said Annie Orme.
“Na, its for you," said Peter; and he looked at me-not at Annie Orme.
“You've brought it in a present to Annie? Well, now, that is very considerate," said my sister; “ for she has little in her power, Mr. Peter, seeing she will work to help us ; though I am sure she need not unless she liked."
Now, this was very true; for my sister Lexie had that great a pride in Annie Orme, that
she would rather have worked double herself, had to wipe her eyes, and laugh at herselt to keep Annie like a lady.
again for laughing. But, along with this, “I was not meaning Miss Annie,” said | there was a bit little blush going and coming, Peter, scraping about the floor with his foot, as if the same idea might have entered her own and holding the pot firm in his hand. “Miss head before. No doubt it had; for these young Rechie, it's for you."
creatures, you soe, are so rash, and never conAnd saying that, he shoved it down upon sider what they are undertaking with, until the table beside me, with a very red face, and the thing is past remeid, and, ill or well, they made me that I spilled my tea upon the clean must go on. table-cloth with the shake he gave my arm. “ Your Aunt Lexie says you're to have a
I thanked him the best way I could, and house of your own-the which has never hapthought it was very kind; but all the time I pened to either her or me," said I; "and, more was watching Annie Orme, to see if she looked than that, Annie, my dear, she has her eye on disappointed—which she did not, so far as I the lad, too." could perceive.
When Annie could speak for laughing, which And away went Peter with his red head. was not for a while, she came and put her arms He was a good-natured callant, and I am sure about my neck, and begged me to tell her who it was very mindful of him; but, for all that, it was. Now, I'll not deny it was a great he need not have left the mark of the pot and temptation ; but I was honourable to Lexiehis own big thumb upon my clean table-cloth. I would not tell her—for my heart smote me · Next day, Mrs. Cranstoun, of Mavis-wood, when I looked at the little rose-tree, and I called about another gown. When we saw could not speak an ill word of Peter Braird, the little carriage she drives stop at the door, though he had a red head. my first thought was to make the room right, “But I'll tell you a most sensible young lad, and get some of the clippings out of the way; that would make a good man to you, Annie Orme, but Lexie aye has such a pride.
or else I'm much mistaken," said I. “He's in “ Annie Orme," said my sister, " take your good business, and has plenty to maintain you seam up the stair till this lady's away.”
in a creditable way; and he's a very wise-like "I think you should let me stay, aunt,” said young man. I see you have but to look kindly Annie; for, now that I am a woman, I should at him, and he'll do whatever you like." work for you, and not you for me."
“Who is that, Aunt Rechie!" said Annie; " Do what I bid you," said Lexie, in a pe- | and what surprised me was, that her lips remptory manner; "it is not my purpose you opened a little, by reason of the breath coming should be a mantua-maker all your days, like fast and short, and that she looked up for the Rechie and me. Go up the stair-I have other moment without laughing, as if this was more views for you, Annie Orme."
earnest than joke. So, Annie having gone up stairs, Mrs. Crans " I've had my eye upon him this while," said toun came in, and we got our business with I, "and a fine lad he is, I can answer for him, her done. Afterwards, Lexie went out to Miss though your Aunt Lexie thinks he's far below Trotter's, to see if she could get some trim your degree, and will not hear of him ; but, mings; though I always said she would have for all that, he's a likely lad, Annie Orme." to go in to Edinburgh for them.
Annie did not look up at me this time: she "Aunt, what views has my Aunt Lexie for looked down close at her work, and her needle me?” said Annie Orme, when she came down. flew through her fingers like lightning, and “What am I to be, if I'm no to be a mantua- | her face turned so red, that I saw the cheeks maker ? Surely--surely, she does not want must just be throbbing and beating with heat. me to be a lady's maid, Aunt Rechie ?”
“Hold up your head, Annie, my dear," said "Na, Annie Orme, no such thing," said I. I; “ you'll get yourself a head-ache, if you “Lexie would never stoop to that; she says stoop down that way ;-and you need not you're to have a house of your own."
think any shame, for young Mr. Mouter is a Annie looked at me for a moment, in an lad anybody might be pleased with ; so there's uncertain way, and asked, “ What do you say, | no need for thinking shame." auntie?” But before I could get time to an But, before I had done speaking, Annie was swer, she put up her hands to her face, and standing on the floor, laughing like to bring threw down her seam, and burst into a laugh. | down the house. I thought it was may be I cannot just tell how long this laugh lasted; only her agitation, poor thing; for I have seen but that whole forenoon, till Lexie came home, folk cover a thing that moved them by laughit returned about every ten minutes, till she | ing at it. But. however that might be, she
langhed even on, I cannot tell how long, so little troubles. Na, Annie Orme, I'm thankful that I could hardly stop her ; till, as I was to say, has uncommon health. She's a good standing at the window, I saw Lexie coming lassie : I'm sure if any mortal ever deserved it, up the road, which had some effect upon the | its my niece Annie." mirthfulness of Annie Orme. Just at that " Aye, I would think that,” said Mr. Mouter. time, too, the milk-cart from Butterbraes drove " She's a sensible, well-conducted young away up on the road to Edinburgh, and woman." Robbie, whom I have before mentioned, being Well-conducted! That anybody should in it, and seeing me at the window, took off his speak so of my niece, Annie Orme! But it was hat with an air that bewildered me, and gave just the young man's manner of speech ; and, me a bow. I never saw a man in Lasswade besides, he was busy putting up some sugar make such a grand bow, except the minister. for little Katie Hislop, a very small bairn, who
* Preserve, me, Annie," said I; “I wonder could not get up to the counter. who that Robbie is-he surely must have come “ If Annie Orme's delicate, you should see of better folk, and got a better up-bringing and take her to a safe house, Tammas," said than the hinds here away; for, some way, I | Phemie ; “ you that have so much interest in aye feel myself treating him as if he was a her." gentleman, and him only a farm servant. It It happened just at that moment that I was is very strange to me.”
lifting up little Katie Hislop to put down her To this which I said, Annie answered not a coppers on the counter, and to get the sugar; word, but sat down to her seam in a moment, but whenever I set the bairn down again, I and worked as busy at it as if it was for her said life.
"If there was any need of a safer house, my sister Lexie and me would fit in a moment ;
for, though we've been twenty year and more CHAPTER IV.
where we are, I would rather leave the finest That night I went out myself to Robert house that ever was than risk scathe to Annie White, the baker's, and in passing looked in Orme.” at Mr. Mouter's shop, just to see what he was “Annie Orme's weel off,” said Phemie. “The saying to it. He was in the shop himself, wives say she would make a guid wife, and the serving, and Phemie--I am sorry to think she lads say she's bonnie, and at hame she's petted is rather glaikit, having no mother over her, like as she was a princess : its a grand thing poor thing—was standing at the door of the to be Annie Orme." parlour, behind the shop, swinging it back and “Hold your peace, Phemie," said Mr. Mouforward in her hand, and laughing loud at ter; " be thankful you have not to work for something a young man had said that was your bread ; and see to the house, and dinna standing at the counter. Mr. Mouter himself | speak so much. Yes, I've no doubt Miss Annie looked very pleased to see me, and the first would make a grand manager in a house, after thing that Phemie said, when I crossed the | all your good training, Miss Rechie; but a door, was, “Eh, Miss Rechie! how's Annie plentiful house, you see, with men in it, is difOrme?"
ferent from a scrimpit, genteel family, that has “Step in, Miss Rechie; the night's cold for only women---though, to be sure, a good printhe season, and there's a fire on in the parlour," ciple is the thing. And, you see, to be a said Mr. Mouter. "I think we're to have a country place, Lasswade is a very dear place : hard winter this year. Mony haws, mony its all with the strangers, Miss Rechie." snaws,' the proverb says; and when I was up “But you have a very good shop, Mr. the other day at the Hewan, the bushes were Mouter," said I; “if the like of you complain just scarlet with them. You'll feel the east about things being dear, what should the poor wind in yon house of yours, Miss Rechie ?” folk do ?”
* Yes, Mr. Mouter," said I, “it is exposed, “Well, the business is not to complain of," no doubt; but then there's such a pleasant said the young man; "but, you see, its not view, that we put up with the wind."
like a secure, settled income, and it takes thrift “ Then I hope there's no weak chests among and management. I'm a careful man myself, you, Miss Rechie ; Miss Annie Orme looks de Miss Rechie. I aye think the chief quality of licate a little," said the young man.
a good wife is thrift; but step in bye, and “No such thing, Mr. Mouter,” said I; “she's take a rest." just been particular stout and well all her life, So, as Phemie had gone in to the parlour, and the spirit that's in her keeps away all the and was waving on me with her hand, I went in at last, and by-and-bye Mr. Mouter came days, or consorting with common folk. I am himself, leaving only the little boy in the shop, sure the very thought that I would not have and we had a crack. · Phemie is a fine girl, her white gown to iron for her in summer, nor I believe, but she is ill-mannered; and all her bits of collars and things to keep in order the time I was in, she was teazing Thomas all the year round, was grievous to me. No about Annie in a way that made me think doubt it was Lexie's doing this present proshame. Besides this, Phemie speaks too much ject, and not mine ; but still I'll not deny my about the lads-far too much.
own weakness. In spite of all the grief we "If I was the lads,” said Phemie, “ I'll tell would have missing her, I yet felt that I would you who I would be jealous of. Oh, I would like to see her in her own house, and to call be jealous of him, Miss Rechie, if I was them! her, my niece, Mrs. Mouter. When folk begin There's no one like him in all Lasswade." to look at their own minds, it is remarkable
“Phemie, I wish you would learn some how they constantly find a contradiction-and sense,” said Mr. Mouter.
so there was with me. My heart sank at the “And who is this bonnie lad, my dear ?” | thought of her going, and yet I was both proud said I.
and pleased to think that she would go, and "Its Robbie, at the Butterbraes. They say be head over a house of her own. the folk remark him in Edinburgh-to see the like of him driving a cart; but its no that he's bonnie, Miss Rechie—its,I canna tell what it
CHAPTER V. is—ask Annie Orme."
A week or two passed after that, and we " Annie Orme !" said I, “what should Annie went on just in our ordinary way. Young know about a lad that's only a servant-man to Mr. Mouter sometimes came up, and sat half Mr. Lait?”
an hour, at night; but his discourse was mostly "Oh, may-be she doesna ken, Miss Rechie; to me, for Lexie was always prim and grave but she looks up when he goes by, as well as when he came in, and he seldom addressed other folk," said Phemie Mouter; “and its himself to Annie Orme. Neither was Annie, no that he's bonnie--I've seen folk bonnier as I could perceive, the least caring about his but he just has a look like no other person. company, but just treated him as she did old Eh, what would a' body think if Robbie turned Mr. Wood, the secession elder, who was our out a lord, or some grand gentleman in dis landlord, or any other neighbour not being a guise !"
young man; for, to tell the truth, Thomas “ Dear me," said I; “if there is any chance Mouter is not like most young men-there is a of that, somebody should speak to Mr. Lait sedateness and steadiness about the lad, that it should not be allowed.”
might have done much good to Annie ; but, no “Nonsense — nonsense-stuff; would you doubt, things are best as they are appointed. believe what the like of her takes into her Peter Braird, too, called every now and head,” said Mr. Mouter, looking angrier than then; but, indeed, I never could see that the he had any occasion to be. “For my part--" lad heeded about Annie at all, but rather, if
But what Mr. Mouter thought, for his part, he had a notion of anybody, it was me, my own I never heard, seeing somebody came into the self, seeing I had been kind to him, as he shop, and he had to go away.
thought, in various little ways. He was just So I gave him an invitation to call up and about one-and-twenty, and had never once see us, and went upon my way likewise. On thought of being married, I believe; while all the road, I turned it over in my own mind the time Lexie made out that he was just unwith much consideration. This lad, Mr. Mouter, commonly taken up about Annie Orme. was may-be fully as prudent as it was pleasant So, two or three weeks went past, and it came to see a young man; and was seeking a wife to to the end of October. The weather was rather take care of himself and his goods and his cold, but as beautiful and clear as it could be; gear, in a most calculating way, which I did and the harvest was all well in, and the folk not very well like. Then I fell into a thought busy in the potato-fields. I like myself to see about Annie Orme, why we should wish to the gathering of the potatoes—no to say that set her away out of our house, and her the they are the staff of life to many a one, and desire of our eyes. We would miss her every that a good year of them is a good year for the hour, not to say every day, and Lexie just as poor-there is something cheery, besides, in much as me; we would miss the very fash and seeing the women about the fields, and the galtrouble she sometimes gave us, when she would lant horses ploughing them up, and the lads not be careful about changing her feet on wet whistling behind. Then, I like the fragrance
of the earth itself, and to see the shaw lying So Lexie and I looked each other in the face, half buried in the furrow, with a cluster at the without saying a word, and Lexie gripped the root of it like a cluster of grapes--and much linen she had in her hand in a fierce manner, more useful to man and blessed, well I wot. as if she thought it was young Mr. Mouter's But, not to waste time telling what I like, and hair, and was giving him an awful shake. what I do not like it was about this season. For I had no doubt it was young Mr. Mouter, The nights were chilling into the winter, and Annie having no other joes. Lexie and me were fain to sit near the fire, “Dear me, Beenie," said I, “where did you being older than we once were.
get such a like story-I'll go with you and see; She was sitting in her own chair, doing but my niece Annie Orme kens better than to white seam-a thing not common with Lexie; wander about at night with a strange man." for with so much work as we had, it was little “Sit still where you are, Rechie Sinclair," profit to us to labour at the plain things, that cried Lexie to me, in a great passion ; "and anybody could do. This, however, was a garment you, Beenie, you born haverel, how dare you for Annie Orme, which Lexie was making just tell me such a thing? My niece Annie Orme! out of her own head, in a new pattern—and the Do ye think I'm to believe that she's keeping neatest thing I ever saw. She was sitting, as trystes on the water-side, like ony common I say, in her ordinary position, with her back person's bairn?” to the window, and her feet on the footstool. “If ye please, Miss Lexie, its no my blame; My sister Lexie is tall and thin, and has been I couldna help seeing them," said Beenie, behard-favoured all her days, like me; but you ginning to cry. have just to look at her to see she is not a “Annie Orme! Oh, Annie Orme! that I common person; only she wears high caps, of should hear such a story of you !” said my not a pleasant fashion, and they give a peaked, sister ; "but Mrs. Braird, at Windlestrae, was sharp look to all her face, especially as I saw it not just very stout when I was up this afterin the shadow, now and then giving a bit nod noon. It may-be was my niece Annie's cousin, upon the wall.
Mr. Peter Braird, that was with her, Beenie, I was sitting, myself, on the other side of and there would be no ill in that." the fire, putting down in my little book some “Na— they've a' such red heads," said things I had been buying. A low chair suffices Beenie, quickly; “I could not have missed me, and I need no footstool ; for, as I have be kenning wha it was, if I had looked through fore said, I am a little person by nature, and the bushes at Mr. Peter.” was a slender, too, till I began to turn stout, Lexie got up the linen in her hand, as if she about fifteen years ago—so that I am not to could have thrown it at Beenie, in her anger ; call in ill-condition now. The candle was but, instead of that, she rose, took her shawl standing between us two, and there was a good from the wooden chair, and her bonnet out of fire in the grate. Lexie's thread and her scissors the millinery-box, and put them on, looking were on the table, and over the back of the with a fierce eye all the time upon me. wooden chair was her shawl, and she had put “I'll go myself, and see who is with this her bonnet in the big millinery-box; for Lexie unfortunate lassie,” said Lexie. “If its any had been up at Windlestrae, seeing the family, friend of yours that you've given encouragethat afternoon. It was not quite tea-time, but ment to, out of my knowledge, Rechie, and very near it, and I was wondering to myself sacrificed the poor thing, like her mother!what could keep Annie Orme, who had gone But I'll no permit it-nothing shall make me out with a message in the gloaming, and how permit it. She shall be delivered, whatover I it was that I did not hear Beenie setting the have to do. Bcenie, follow me. I must be at cups in the kitchen, when suddenly the door the bottom of this before another hour.” was thrown back to the very wall, with a thud Feared out of her very senses, Beenie went which made Lexic (being nervous) jump, and creeping after my sister, and Lexie turned Beenie came fleeing in, crying out to me, round as she went out, with a kind of defiance “ Miss Rechie! Oh, Miss Rechie ! here's Miss to me, and bade me “ keep the house till she Annie walking down by the water-side with a came home." grand gentleman!”
For awhile I sat still, and tried to add up You may think how my heart started, and my book--but I was all shaking with having began to beat! But when Beenie saw my sister, angered Lexie, and with thoughts of what she I thought she would have fainted; for Beenie would say to the poor bairn, and to the decent was rather feared for my sister, and had come in lad also, whom no doubt it was true I had ento tell me this, thinking I was sitting my lane. | couraged-in a way. I have no very great