The instant he was gone, Kirsty went a step or two nearer to her father, and, looking up in his face, said,

"I saw Francie Gordon the day, father."

"Weel, lassie, I reckon that wasna ony ferly (strange occurrence)! Whaur saw ye him?"

"He cam to me o' the Hornside, whaur I sat weyvin my stockin, ower the bog on's powny — a richt bonny thing, and clever — a new ane he's gotten frae's mither. And it's no the first time he's been owre there to see me sin' he cam hame!"

"Whatfor gied he there? My door's aye been open till's father's son!"

"He kenned whaur he was likest to see me: it was me he wantit."

"He wantit you, did he? An' he's been mair nor ance efterye? — Whatfor didna ye tell me afore, Kirsty?"

"We war bairns thegither, ye ken, father, and I never ance thoucht the thing worth fashin ye aboot till the day. We've aye been used to Francie comin and gaein! I never tellt my mither onything he said, and I tell her a'thing worth tellin, and mony a thing forby. I aye leuch at him as I would at a bairn till the day. He spak straucht oot the day, and I did 50 the same, and angert him; and syne he angert me.

"What for are ye tellin me noo?"

"Cause it cam intil my held that maybe it would be better — no that it makes ony differ I can see."

During this conversation Marion was washing the supper-things, putting them away, and making general preparation for bed. She heard every word and went about her work softly that she might hear, never opening her mouth to speak.

"There's something ye want to tell me and dinna like, lassie!" said David. "Gien ye be feart at yer father, gang til yer mither."

"Feart at my father! I would be, gien I had onything to be ashamet o'. Syne I micht gang to my mither, I daursay I dinna ken."

"Ye would that, lassie! Fathers maun sometimes be fearsome to lass-bairns!"

"Whan I'm feart at you, father, I'll be a gey bit on i' the ill gait!" returned Kirsty, with a solemn face, looking straight into her father's eyes.

"Than it'll never be, or I maun hae a heap to blame mysel for! I think whiles, gien bairns kenned the terrible wyte their fathers micht hae to dree for no doin better wi' them, they wud be mair particular to haud straucht. I hae been owre muckle taen up wi' my beasts and my craps — mair, God forgie me, than wi' my twa bairns; though, God kens, ye're mair to me, the twa, than oucht else save the mither o' ye!"

"The beasts and the craps cudna weel do wi' less: there was aye oor mither to see efter hiz!"

"That's true, lassie! I only houp it wasna greed 51 at the hert o' me! At the same time, wha wud I be greedy for but yersels? Weel, and what's it a' aboot? What garred ye come to me aboot Francie? I'm some feart for him whiles, noo 'at he's sae muckle oot o' oor sicht. The laddie's no by natur an ill laddie — far frae 't! but it's a sore pity he cudna hae been a' his father's, an nane o* him his mither's!"

"That wudna hae been sae weel contrived, I doobt!" remarked Kirsty. "There wudna hae been the variety, I'm thinking!"

"Ye'rericht there, lass I What's this aboot Francie?"

"Ow naething, father, worth mentionin! The daft loon would hae had me promise to merry him — that's a'!"

"The Lord preserve's!— Aff han'?"

"There's no tellin what micht hae been i' the heid o' 'im: he didna win sae far as to say that onygait!"

"God forbid!" exclaimed her father with solemnity, after a short pause.

"I'm thinkin God's forbidden langsyne!" rejoined Kirsty.

"What said ye til 'im, lassie?"

"First I leuch at him — as weel as I can min' the nonsense o' 't and ca'd him the gowk he was; and syne I sent him awa' wi' a flee in's lug: hadna he the impidence to fa' oot upo' me for carin mair aboot Steenie nor the likes o' him! As gien even he cud come 'ithin sicht o' Steenie!"

Her father looked very grave.

"Are ye no pleased, father? I did what I thoucht richt."

"Ye cudna hae dune better, Kirsty. But I'm 52 sorry for the callan, for eh but I loed his father! Lassie, for his father's sake I cud tak Francie intil the hoose, and work for him as for you and Steenie — though it's little guid Steenie ever gets o' me, puir sowl!"

"Dinna say that, father. It wud be an ill thing for Steenie to hae onybody but yersel to the father o' 'im! A muckle pairt o' the nicht he wins ower in loein at you and his mother."

"And yersel, Kirsty."

"I'm thinkin I hae my share i' the daytime."

"Hoo, think ye, gangs the lave o' the nicht wi' 'im?"

"The Bonny Man has the maist o' 't, I dinna doobt, and what better cud we desire for 'im! Father, gien Francie come back wi' the same tale — I dinna think he wull efter what I telled him, but he may; what wud ye hae me say til 'im?"

"Say what ye wull, lassie, sae lang as ye dinna lat him for a moment believe there's a grain o' possibility in the thing. Ye see, Kirsty, --"

"Ye dinna imaigine, father, I cud for ae minute think itherwise aboot it than ye du yersel! Div I no ken that his father gied him in chairge to you? Haena I therefore to luik efter him? Didna ye tell me a' aboot yer gran' frien, and hoo, and hoo lang ye had loed him? Didna that mak Francie my business as weel's yer ain? I'm verra sure his father would never appruv o' ony gaeins on atween him and a lassie sic like's mysel; and fearna ye, father, but I s' haud him weel ootby. No that it's ony tyauve (struggle) to me, though I aye likit Francie! Haena I my ain Steenie?"


"Glaidly wud I shaw Francie the ro'd to sic a wife as ye wud mak him, my bonny Kirsty! Ye see clearly the thing itsel's no to be thoucht upon. Eh, Kirsty, but it's gran' to an auld father's hert to hear ye tak yer pairt in his devours efter sic a wumanly fashion!"

"Am I no yer ain lass-bairn, father? Whaur wud I be wi' a father that didna keep his word? What less cud I du nor help ony man to keep his word? Gien breach o' the faimily-word cam throuw me, my life wud gang frae me. Wad ye hae me tell the laddie's mither? I wudna like to expose the folly o' him, but gien ye think it necessar, I'll gang the morn's morn in."

"I dinna think that wud be weel. It wad but raise a strife atween the twa, ohn dune an atom o' guid. She wud only rage at the laddie, and pit him in sic a reid heat as wad but wald thegither him and his wull sae 'at they wud maist never come in twa again. Though ye gaed and tauld her yer ain sel, my lady wad lay a' the wyte upo' you nane the less. There's no rizzon, tap nor tae, i' the puir body, and ye're naewise b'und to her farther nor to do richt by her."

"I'm glaid ye dinna want me to gang," answered Kirsty. "She carries hersel that gran' 'at ye're maist driven to the consideration hoo little she's worth; and that's no the richt speerit anent ony body God thoucht worth makin."

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