There was no difference of feeling betwixt the father and mother in regard to this devotion of Kirsty's very being to her Steenie; but the mother in especial was content with it, for while Kirsty was the apple of her eye, Steenie was her one loved anxiety.

David Barclay, a humble unit in the widespread and distinguished family of the Barclays or Berkeleys, was born, like his father and grandfather and many more of his ancestors, on the same farm he now occupied. While his father was yet alive, with an elder son to succeed him, David listed — mainly from a strong desire to be near a school-friend, then an ensign in the service of the East India Company. Throughout their following military career they were in the same regiment, the one rising to be colonel, the other sergeant-major. All the time the schoolboy attachment went on deepening in the men; and all the time was never man more respectfully obedient to orders than David Barclay to those of the superior officer with whom in private he was on terms of intimacy. As often as they could without attracting notice, the comrades threw aside all distinction of rank, and were again the Archie Gordon and Davie Barclay of old school days — as real to them still as 34 those of the hardest battles they had fought together. In more primitive Scotland, such relations are, or were more possible than in countries where more divergent habits of life occasion wider social separations. Then these were sober-minded men, who neither made much of the shows of the world, nor were greedy after distinction, which is the mere coffin wherein Duty-done lies buried.

When they returned to their country, both somewhat disabled, the one retired to his inherited estate, the other to the family farm upon that estate, where his brother had died shortly before; so that Archie was now Davie's landlord. No new relation would ever destroy the friendship which school had made close, and war had welded. Almost every week the friends met and spent the evening together — much oftener, by and by, at Corbyknowe than at Castle Weelset. For both married soon after their return, and their wives were of different natures.

"My colonel has the glory," Barclay said once, and but once, to his sister, "but, puir fallow, I hae the wife!" And truly the wife at the farm had in her material enough, both moral and intellectual, for ten ladies better than the wife at the castle.

David's wife brought him a son the first year of their marriage, and the next year came a son to the colonel and a daughter to the sergeant. One night, as the two fathers sat together at the farm, some twelve hours after the birth of David's girl, they mutually promised that the survivor would do his best for the child of the other. Before he died the colonel would gladly have taken his boy from his wife and given him to his old comrade.


As to Steenie the elder of David's children, he was yet unborn when his father, partly in consequence of a wound from which he never quite recovered, met with rather a serious accident through a young horse in the harvest-field, and the report reached his wife that he was killed. To the shock she thus received was generally attributed the peculiarity of the child, prematurely born within a month after. He had long passed the age at which children usually begin to walk, before he would even attempt to stand, but he had grown capable of a speed on all-fours that was astonishing. When at last he did walk, it was for more than two years with the air of one who had learned a trick; and throughout his childhood and a great part of his boyhood, he was always more ready to go on all-fours than on his feet.

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