Зображення сторінки

grieved to my very heart. Neither, I think, or the vanities of youth ? Has any mortal ever was Lexie to call angry; but she could keep bidden you work except when you liked, or up an appearance of it better than me.

trysted you with any hardship ? You've had as At last I did hear her; I could not be mis good schooling as Lasswade could give you ; taken—there was not another foot in Lasswade you're as much thought of as any lady in the had music in it like Annie's, and she was place; and I'm sure there's no lady in the singing low, as she came, an old tune. The place whose garments have gotten so much poor thing! it was "Kind Robin lo'es me," as pains bestowed on them as yours; besides that, I discerned when she passed the window; and your Aunt Rechie there, like a foolish person thankful was I to think that Lexie, having no as she has been all her life, has made herself taste for music, would not notice what it was ; nothing better than a lady's maid to pleasure but, for myself, I know all the tunes in the you. I ask you, Annie Orme, what you ever country, I think, good or bad.

wanted that you did not get, or what thing Beenie, I suppose, had been watching at the ever was put upon you that you were not door, for Annie came in in a moment, and I pleased with ? Do you hear me, Annie Orme ?” never heard her rap. She had taken off her “ Yes, aunt,” said Annie; and now she put bonnet in the passage, and came in with it her hands behind her, and drooped down her swinging in her hand, and her face had a head, but she said not a word more. thought more colour than usual, and her eyes “Oh, Lexie !” said I, “ have compassion on were shining as I never saw them shine before. | her ; she's little Annie's bairn." Indeed, she was just looking happy and bright, My sister turned her head round to me with as it might be supposed she should look, coming a start, and gave me a glance which made me in from the clear fresh air of such a night, hide my face. “She's little Annie's bairn," and did not seem to have a shadow of fear said Lexie; "do you mind what Annie Sinabout her.

clair was, that ye dare to put me in mind of The first thing that seemed to strike her her now? The brightest spirit and the bonniest when she came into the room was the way we face in sight of the Pentlands. But what did were sitting, and the trouble upon our faces. | she do ? She went away, and married a manShe paused in her singing, and stood still a a man no more to be compared to herself than moment at the door. “Auntie Rechie, is there the Esk water is to the Firth ; and his evil anything wrong?" said Annie Orme.

ways and his mean manners broke her heart, "Oh! Annie Orme, my bonnie bairn !” said and she died. We were but girls ourselves, I, but I could not say another word.

Rechie Sinclair, and Annie was younger than “Put your question to me, Annie Orme us. But you put me in mind of her when I I'll answer you," said Lexie; and come here am here admonishing her daughter. You will before me, and lay away your bonnet: you need make me daft between you. Annie Sinclair not spoil the good ribbons, though ye've spoiltlost, and Annie Orme lost-and what's to bea better thing - for I have something to ask come of you and me?" of you."

I did not answer; I was crying to myself Annie came forward in a surprised way, and sore; and Lexie's voice was very shrill and laid down her bonnet on the top of the milli- high, as if but for pride she would fain have nery box. I was wringing my hands, and cried too. But, for all that, I glanced up at pleading with my sister; but Annie came Annie Orme; a single tear was stealing down quietly, and stood before her, crossing her her cheek, and her eyes were full; but she hands like a bairn waiting for its questions, was looking at Lexie steadfastly, and my and looking as innocent and peaceable as if | heart was comforted by her face. she were only going to say Effectual Calling; “ Aunt Lexie-" said Annie Orme. though I did observe-but it might be only " Whisht !” said my sister, "dinna let one the surprise, and Lexie's look at her--a blush evil bring another ;- do not say to me, Annie, spreading over all her face.

a word that is not true. Its no story I've “Annie Orme," said my sister, rising high heard- I saw it with my own een; and you in her seat, and looking so like a judge that have been keeping trystes with this man the my heart trembled for Annie; “ you've heard whole summer through, in spite of his place us speak of your mother, and how she threw and yours—in spite of kenning that this was herself away, and how she died. Since your what I could not bear-in spite of our trust in mother died, Annie Orme, have you ever felt you. It was time, I say, Annie Orme, high the want of her ? Has anybody grudged you a time, we had found out what kind of walks you single thing, if it were even play or pleasure, took on the water-side."

Annie put up her hand to her flushed face, in a light, Rechie, and admonish the reprobate; and the tears came down one after another, I'll say no more myself this night." till it was all I could do to keep my arms from I saw Lexie's heart was moved. After all, her. “Aunt Lexie, dinna be angry," said though she looks stern sometimes, Lexie is not poor Annie, and there always came the other hard-hearted, nor ever was. So I went quietly sob between; “I did not deceive you in my ben to my own room, where Annie had gone, own mind, auntie; and some day you'll no for Annie sleeps with me. As I went in at think so ill either of memor him.”

the door, I heard again the strange sound “Of him! Preserve me in patience! She which was not like a sob; and hurrying to see dares to name the Butterbraes' hind in such a its cause, what did I find but Annie Orme way to me!” cried Lexie. “Let me ever hear lying back in the big, old easy-chair, with her his name again, or that you've said a single hands covering her face, and her cheeks all word to such a person, and I'll leave this place. wet with tears, laughing as I never saw her Yes, Annie Orme, I vow to you I'll travel laugh before. To do her justice, I believe away; I'll give up the business, and fit the there might, may-be, be something of the house, and take ye away to the West High affection called hysterical (a thing I do not lands, or into England, over the Lammermuirs, much understand myself) in this of Annie ; or some other savage place. Ye shall never but it was a real laugh, and real mischief and marry the like of him-ye shall never more fun (at such a time!) were in the eye that speak to the like of him---ye shall never be a glimmered out wet to me, from under the hind's wife-or ye'll kill me, Annie Orme." shelter of her hand.

“No, auntie," said Annie; but I thought “Annie Orme !” said I; “I could not have her mind was away, and she did not know believed this of you." what she answered.

“Oh! I think shame of myself for laughing," “Lexie," said I, “dinna be angry; you have said Annie; “ but I cannot help it-indeed, I let Annie ken what your pleasure is, and she cannot help it; you would laugh yourself, if does not rebel. Lexie, let us be good friends you kent. It was that last thing my Aunt now. Annie, my dear, you need not greet. Lexie said." Oh, lassie! ye dinna ken how precious you are “Was that about the license ?” said I. to us both!”

“ Indeed, Annie, it vexes me that you can “Dinna speak that way, Auntie Rechie laugh at that; for a public-house would be a dinna," said Annie Orme, sobbing; "I cannot strange place for you. Is it not for a publicbear that."

house? What is it for ? Aye, Annie, now I Lexie was sitting still, with her eyes fixed, mind, young Mr. Mouter has a license for looking into the fire. “This lad spoke about simple tea and sugar. If it was that, it would a license,” she said, in a low voice, as if it were | not be so bad; but what tempted ye, woman, only to herself; “ of getting a license some when there are plenty lads round about, in time in the summer. This is what our niece your ain degree, to take up with Robbie at meditated, Rechie Sinclair ; this is what she the Butterbraes ? The like of him!” would leave our honourable house to do. You “Aunt!” said Annie Orme ; “but you must spoke about Thomas Mouter, Rechie, and I not be angry, Aunt Rechie; no, indeed, I scorned it; but still you encouraged him. cannot bear that; and I meant to tell you, Now you'll get your will, mair than you by-and-bye-or he meant himself —" wanted ;-and when ye see Annie Orme mis “Dear me, Annie," said I; “ you must give tress of a public, selling drams to every vaga him up—you must not speak to him more-or bond that passes by, you'll repent opposing me.” | it will kill Lexie.”

I heard at this moment a strange sound "Must I, aunt?” said Annie; “may-befrom Annie Orme, which did not seem like a but I am not sure about that.” sob, and immediately she hurried away.

" Annie Orme! you'll have to promise. “No that I'll over permit the like of that," Woman, think of young Mr. Mouter and his said my sister, raising her voice; “not that it fine business," said I. “Mind I am as much in ever shall be ; but he dared to propose this, earnest as Lexie; will you promise me, Annie, Rechie Sinclair, and she made no objection. If never to see him more? " I had listened longer, I might have heard “He's to go away to-morrow, aunt," said more ; but that was what I could not do. Is Annie ; " but I'll no promise — whisht, Auntie she away to her own room, Rechie? She de- | Rechie—you wouldna have me break his serves solitude and darkness as well as ever heart." one did ; but she's no so strong as some. Take “Men's hearts are no so easy broken, Annie," said I, “never you be feared ; and, besides, | Robbie is—” When Annie had said this, she he's only a servant man. Annie, Annie, think stopped, and laughed out; so that I was feared what you're doing.”

Lexie would hear her. Instead of answering me by reasonable ar “Robbie is better than his neighbours—no guments, she came away close to me, and put doubt you think so, Annie," said I; “but wait her arms round my neck; so that, before I was a little till he grows a coarse man, and you're aware, I found myself speaking as if I was married upon him. Mind, I'm only supposing quite pleased with Robbie, and ready to take a thing that's never to happen ; for neither him into the family in a minute. I am far too Lexie nor me would ever consent to it.” easy in my disposition-far too yielding-as Annie put her arms round my neck again, Lexie has told me many a time, but I am too and leaned her head upon my shoulder. old to mend now.

She did not speak a word except “ Bonnie auntie !" but what could I say to her after

that. She used to call me “bonnie auntie," CHAPTER VII.

when she was a little bairn, and wanted someIt was a very quiet night that, with us. thing; I aye yielded then, and I am feared I Annie sat silent at her seam, and never lifted never will learn to refuse anything to Annie her eyes; and except that Lexie now and then

Orme. gave a groan, and me sometimes a sigh, I Just as we were standing in this way, speakthink there was scarcely a sound in the room. ing about him, and me myself (being a fool, My sister was much softened to see Annie so and nothing else) praising Robbie, and saying quiet; but Annie, as I think, was occupied what a wise-like lad he was, we heard Lexie's with other cogitations besides grief for our foot in the passage. Both of us started and displeasure ;-it was natural, poor thing--and ran-me to begin to take off my net-cap, and it was not to be denied that this Robbie was a Annie to hide herself behind the curtains, for wise-like lad.

fear her aunt should see that she was not When I went into my own room, after having sleeping. had a conversation with Lexie, I found Annie “Rechie,” said my sister, very low, just Orme not in her bed, though she had left the looking in at the door-and, seeing she waved parlour about an hour before. When I came upon me with her hand, I went out to her; in, she had a little book in her hand, which she and what do you think Lexie had brought-I put away in a great hurry-no doubt it was said she was not hard-hearted--that I, knowsome keepsake ---so I asked no questions ing her so well, should say the like of that about it.

I ought to have told the real truth, that there “Now, Annie," said I, having just been scarcely ever was as kind a heart and as good speaking to Lexie about the whole matter, a head as Lexie's put together, in spite of all "you must have a stout heart for this, my she has had to vex her, poor woman, one time dear. You've done a very wrong thing in | and another, all her life through. taking up with this young man, and you must She was carrying in her hand the little pink be done with him, Annie Orme. Mind, I've china jug full of negus, which she had just seen your mother break her heart, because been making with her own hands in the she did not take good advice, and break off in kitchen. time. Its an awful undertaking, Annie, the “ Is Annie sleeping ?” said my sister. like of this. Many a thing else you may make “How do you think she could sleep, Lexie,” a mistake in, but everything else can be said I, " after what has happened this night." mended ; and, Annie, Annie, my dear, just “Poor thing!" said Lexie, “though she's you think what a desolate thing it must be to done anything but her duty to us, we must repent after its done, when nothing in this not fail, Rechie, of our duty to her. Make world can deliver you except death, which it her take this—it'll do her good; and if you is a sin to seek for yourself, let alone another." think she's feverish, give her some out of this

"But, auntie, there is no need for ever re bottle. She can expect nothing else, after her penting, either before or after," said Annie, behaviour ; but I would not have her ill either, looking a little angry.

if I could help it. Try and get her to sleep, “Annie,” said I, " when folk are not equal, Rechie ; I must speak to her the morn." they're never happy. A poor serving lad, with And with a sigh Lexie went away. no culture or breeding, and the like of you, When I went to Annie Orme, she had hidden Annie Orme-- I cannot think of it.”

her face in the pillow, and was crying bitterly; “But Robbie is not a common serving lad; | I had near cried myself; for though Lexie

have no objection; we'll see what Annie

[ocr errors]

looked hard sometimes, it was strange to see the tenderness and mindfulness of her, even when she had been greatly angered.

The next morning, I went out early to do some errands, and left my sister and Annie alone. I had a fear about it; but still, after all, I thought it best.

Just on the bridge, I met Robbie ; I scarcely knew him, for he had on his Sabbath dress, and looked in every way liker a laird than a hind. He was carrying a box with his things -honest man, it was not a very heavy oneand when he saw me, he stopped to speak to me, though he had never done it before.

“I am going away, Miss Rechie,” said Robbie ; "and though I am not going far, and its better for me, I am sorry to leave Lasswade."

“How far are you going?" said 1-but I could not call him Robbie, and I did not know his last name.

“Only to Edinburgh," he said; “I am waiting to put my box on the coach, but I'll walk myself. Good-bye, Miss Rechie; you'll may-be hear of me again."

He held out his hand, and I gave him mine --him a common serving lad! He lifted his hat to me when he went away-neither Thomas Mouter nor Peter Braird would have done more than nodded-and I stood still and looked after him. It did not look like his Sabbath dress; he was as easy in it as I am in my old green merino gown; and, indeed, I did not wonder at Annie, for he was just as little like a farm servant as Thomas Strang, the smith (I could see the red glow of the smiddy, and half a dozen boys round it, at the corner of the street—that is what put him into my mind), was like a minister.

I went up all the way home, thinking of what Phemie Mouter said. He might be a great gentleman, or even a lord in disguise ; but I soon saw that was not likely, for he had no motive; and though a great lord might pretend to be a landscape painter, as Annie was reading to me in a ballad the other day, I have great doubts whether it would be as good diversion to pretend to be a farmer's man.

I have passed over all the time between October and the end of the year, because there was nothing in it of moment to anybody. We were all going about in our ordinary way, and nothing had happened in the town but what happens every day—a bairn coming home here

and there, and an old person dropping off like | the last leaves. And touching Robbie nothing was now said, he having clean departed, and nobody in Lasswade, as it seemed, minding about him at all; so that Lexie was again keen about Peter Braird, and I, I confess, began to think that young Mr. Mouter had a chance after all. So I ironed Annie's best collar and her fine sewed cuffs, that she got in a present, and made her put on her new blue merino, with a ribbon round the waist; and, having made up my own good cap, we dressed ourselves, and went down to Mr. Mouter's to our tea. It was not very cold for the season, so that it was pleasant going down the road, seeing the lights shining through the windows, and hearing the bairns singing at the doors. Little Katie Hislop has a miracle of a voice for singing, and she is so very wee a thing, that you cannot believe when you hear it, that such a wonderful sound is coming from a creature that you could almost hold in your hand. There she was, poor little thing, with an old table-cloth tied round about her waist, half full of oat-cakes, and slices of bread, and bits of short-bread, standing at Mrs. Thomson's window, singing one of the longest Hogmenay rhymes-or, rather, it was two or three of them joined together, and sung at the very height of her voice. There were two or three more with her, and just as they ended

“But we are bairns come out to play,

Get up and gi’es our Hogmeday.' Mrs. Thomson opened the window, and gave them I cannot tell how many cakes and scones, and a great lump of fine, rich short-bread to Katie herself.

“Now, we'll go to Mr. Mouter's, and then we'll gang hame," said Tomima Hislop, Katie's big sister ; "we needna bide lang there—he'll no gie us ony short-bread. Katie, sing."

But they scarcely waited to sing--they just gathered about the door in a cluster, and cried,

“My feet's cauld, my shoon's thin,

Give me a piece, and let me rin," when they all ran away; but whether it was that Mr. Mouter had the cakes ready for them, or whether they were feared to face him (being so sedate a young man), I cannot tell.

CHAPTER VIII. “Miss Rechie,” said young Mr. Mouter, “ will you come in to your tea to-morrow night -you and Miss Annie Orme? It's the last night of the year, you know-Hogmenay, as the bairns call it--and there will be just one or two more-all neighbours, Miss Rechie.”

“Well, Mr. Mouter," said I, “ I am sure I

"You see, auntie, the bairns ken," said when I looked at her, I saw her eyes dancing, Annie Orme to me; "they would not have and such a crowd of smiles into every line of run that way from our door."

her face, that my heart was moved to see her "Nor from your door either, my dear,” said pleasure. The two Miss Thomsons were come I, “when you have a house of your own; but of very comfortable folk, and would both have how is a man to ken ?”

portions-so would Phemie Mouter ; but when The table in Mr. Mouter's parlour was set I looked at Annie Orme, I could not help seeout very fine, with beautiful china, and silver | ing the difference, though Annie would have teaspoons, marked all T. M., his own initials no portion, and was an orphan, poor thing, I thought to myself, if he got Annie, they would with only two single women, Lexie and me, have plenty of silver things to begin with ; for | all the friends she had in the world. I knew my sister would not let her go to her And as I thought upon my sister, the water own house without a good dozen of spoons came into my eyes. When did Lexie seek a and there was short-bread and a great rich pleasure to herself, or when did she spare herself bun, and biscuits and bread of every kind. For an hour's work that was to better one of us ? I company, there was Annie and me, and the have worked with her all my days—it may be two Miss Thomsons, and young William Wood thought I am taking a share of the honour, and his wife, besides Phemie and Nicol, and but anybody that knows me may know it is Mr. Mouter himself.

not so. Many a one has thought Lexie hard, "When are we to hear of a mistress to this even when she was toiling for them, and I fine house of yours, Mr. Mouter ?” said young question if any mortal but me, so much as Mrs. Wood. “Its a pity to see such a bonnie guesses what kind of heart she has, or, indeed, little room, and no a wife to put into it: we if she knows herself. have been looking for it these three months And there was Annie Orme-little wonder and more."

that we were both proud of her-little wonder "Its a serious business ; I am not a man that that we both would have had her well wedded, undertakes anything rashly; but there's no if we could ; but the lad she liked best herself saying, ladies—there's no saying," said Mr. -what if he did turn out some great man Mouter, briskly; and he looked straight round after all ? at Annie.

" Annie," said I, when we were on our road What did Annie do, think you? I was feared home, " is this lad, Robbie, a greater person she would have laughed: instead of that, she than he looks ? tell me, is he some rich gentleheld up her head, and asked Mr. Wood, as man guisarding in this fashion ? for, if he is, grave as if she had been Lexie, when he was I'll tell Lexie, and we must instantly leave last in Edinburgh.

this place, and never be within knowledge of “When I was last in Edinburgh,” said Mr. him more.” Wood, “ you'll no guess, Miss Annie, who I “No, auntie, he is not a great gentleman," saw. Do you mind the young man that used said Annie Orme, “no, he's may-be no quite to drive the Butterbraes' cart ? Robbie some what he looked like, but he's a true man ; and thing-but I never heard his last name. Well, by and bye he'll tell you everything himselfI met him in a little street near the college, but you're no to ask me." dressed in black, as well as anybody need be, I was confused and bewildered, I could not and walking with a gentleman. I never was tell what to think. more astonished; but I did not speak to him, When we got home we heard a sound of for I thought, if he had got any rise in the voices in the parlour, and there was Peter world, he would not like to be minded that he Braird sitting with my sister. He had been was once only a servant-man."

getting a glass of wine-Lexie never offers * It was very thoughtful of you, Mr. Wood," folks drams-and there was a plate of our newsaid I.

year's short-bread on the table. “ Eh, and was't Robbie ?" said Phemie “Dear me, Mr. Peter,” said I, “are you Mouter, “ what way did you no follow him, going up to Windlestrae at this time of night.” Mr. Wood? I would have gaen step for step, Peter gave a great laugh, and turned red in if it had been five miles—and there's nae say the face, “I want to be somebody's first-foot in ing what grand house he might have led you Lasswade here; I came out on purpose; but to in the end."

I'm not going home to night, Miss Rechie." “Dear me, will somebody have left him “ Well,” said I, “ you are paying somebody siller?” said Miss Christina Thomson.

a great compliment, coming out all the way or But Annie Orme never spoke a word, though | a cold night. Who is it, Mr. Peter ?”

« НазадПродовжити »