One day there was a market at a town some eight or nine miles off, and thither, for lack of anything else to do, Francis had gone to display himself and his pony, which he was riding with so tight a curb that the poor thing every now and then reared in protest against the agony he suffered.

On one of these occasions Don was on the point of falling backward, when a brown wrinkled hand laid hold of him by the head, half-pulling the reins from his rider's hand, and ere he had quite settled again on his forelegs, had unhooked the chain of his curb, and fastened it some three links looser. Francis was more than indignant, even when he saw that the hand was Mr. Barclay's: was he to be treated as one who did not know what he was about!

"Hoots, my man!" said David gently, "There's no occasion to put a water-chain upo' the bonny beastie: he has a mou like a leddy's! and to hae 't linkit up sae ticht is naething less nor tortur til 'im! — It's a won'er to me he hasna brocken your banes and his ain back thegither, puir thing!" he added, patting and stroking the spirited little creature that stood sweating and trembling.

"I thank you, Mr. Barclay," said Francis insolently, " but I am quite able to manage the brute myself. You seem to take me for a fool!"


"'Deed, he's no far aff ane 'at cud ca' a bonny cratur like that a brute!" returned David, nowise pleased to discover such hardness in one whom he would gladly treat like a child of his own. It was a great disappointment to him to see the lad getting farther away from the possibility of being helped by him. "What 'ud yer father say to see ye illuse ony helpless bein! Yer father was awfu guid til's horsefowk."

The last word was one of David's own: he was a great lover of animals.

"I'll do with my own as I please!" cried Francis, and spurred the pony to pass David. But one stalwart hand held the pony fast, while the other seized his rider by the ankle. The old man was now thoroughly angry with the graceless youth.

"God bless my sowl!" he cried, "hae ye the spurs on as weel? Stick ane o' them intil him again, and I'll cast ye frae the seddle. I' the thick o' a fecht, the lang blades playin aboot yer father's heid like lichts i' the north, he never stack spur intil's chairger needless!"

"I don't see," said Francis, who had begun to cool down a little, "how he could have enjoyed the fight much if he never forgot himself! I should forget everything in the joy of the battle!"

"Yer father, laddie, never forgot onything but himsel. Forgettin himsel left him free to min' a'thing forbye. Ye wud forget ilka thing but yer ain rage! Yer father was a great man as weel's a great soger, Francie, and a deevil to fecht, as his men said. I hae mysel seen by the set mou 'at the teeth war clinched i' the inside o' 't, whan a' the time on the 61 broo o' 'im sat never a runkle. Gien ever there was a man 'at cud think o' twa things at ance, your father cud think o' three; and thae three war God, his enemy, and the beast aneath him. Francie, Francie, i' the nam o' yer father I beg ye to regaird the richts o' the neebour ye sit upo'. Gien ye dinna that, ye'll come or lang to think little o' yer human neebour as weel, carin only for what ye get out o' 'im!"

A voice inside Francis took part with the old man, and made him yet angrier. Also his pride was the worse annoyed that David Barclay, his tenant, should, in the hearing of two or three loafers gathered behind him, of whose presence the old man was unaware, not only rebuke him, but address him by his name, and the diminutive of it. So when David, in the appeal that burst from his enthusiastic remembrance of his officer in the battle-field, let the pony's head go, Francis dug his spurs in his sides, and darted off like an arrow. The old man for a moment stared open-mouthed after him. The fools around laughed: he turned and walked away, his head sunk on his breast.

Francis had not ridden far before he was vexed with himself. He was not so much sorry, as annoyed that he had behaved in fashion undignified. The thought that his childish behavior would justify Kirsty in her opinion of him, added its sting. He tried to console himself with the reflection that the sort of thing ought to be put an end to at once: how far, otherwise, might not the old fellow's interference go! I am afraid he even said to himself that such was a consequence of familiarity with inferiors. 62 Yet angry as he was at his fault-finding, he would have been proud of any approval from the lips of the old soldier. He rode his pony mercilessly for a mile or so, then pulled up, and began to talk pettingly to him, which I doubt if the little creature found consoling, for love only makes petting worth anything, and the love here was not much to the front.

About half-way home, he had to ford a small stream, or go round two miles by a bridge. There had been much rain in the night, and the stream was considerably swollen. As he approached the ford, he met a knife-grinder, who warned him not to attempt it: he had nearly lost his wheel in it, he said. Francis always found it hard to accept advice. His mother had so often predicted from neglect of hers, evils which never followed, that he had come to think counsel the one thing not to be heeded.

"Thank you," he said; "I think we can manage it!" He rode on.

When he reached the ford, where of all places the pony's head ought to have been free, he foolishly bethought himself of the curb-chain, and dismounting took it up a couple of links.

When he remounted, whether from dread of the rush of the brown water, or resentment at the threat of renewed torture, the pony would not take the ford, and a battle royal arose between them, in which Francis was so far victorious that, after many attempts to run away, little Don, rendered desperate by the spur, dashed wildly into the stream. He went plunging along for two or three yards and fell, whereupon Francis found himself rolling in the water, swept along by the current.


A little way lower down, at a sharp turn of the stream under a high bank, was a deep pool, a place held much in dread by the country lads and lassies, being a haunt of the kelpie. Francis knew the spot well, and had good reason to fear that, carried into it, he must be drowned, for he could not swim. Struggling yet harder at the thought of it, he succeeded in recovering his footing, and managed to get out, but lay on the bank for a while exhausted. When at length he came to himself and rose, he found the water still between him and home, and nothing of his pony to be seen. If the youth's good sense had been equal to his courage, he would have been a fine fellow. He dashed straight into the ford, floundered through it, and lost his footing no more than had Don, treated properly. When he reached the high ground on the other side, he could still see nothing of him, and with sad heart concluded him carried into the Kelpie's Hole, and never more to be seen: what would his mother and Mr. Barclay say! Shivering and wretched, and with a growing compunction in regard to his behavior to Don, he crawled wearily home.

Don, however, had at no moment been much in danger. Rid of his master he could take very good care of himself. He got to the bank without difficulty, and took care it should be on the home-side of the stream. Not once looking behind him after his tyrant, he set off at a good round trot, much refreshed by his bath, and making for his loose box at Castle Weelset.

In a narrow part of the road, however, he overtook a cart of Mr. Barclay's; and attempting to pass 64 between it and the high bank, the man on the shaft caught at his bridle, made him prisoner, tied him to the cart behind, and took him to Corbyknowe. When David came home and saw him, he conjectured pretty nearly what had happened, and tired as he was set out for the castle. Had he not feared that Francis might have been injured, he would not have cared to go, much as he knew it must relieve him to learn that his pony was safe.

Mrs. Gordon declined to see David, but he ascertained from the servants that Francis had come home half-drowned, leaving Don in the Kelpie's Hole.

David hesitated a little whether or not to punish him for his behavior to the pony by allowing him to remain in ignorance of his safety, and so leaving him to the agen-bite of conscience; but concluding that such was not his part, he told them that the animal was safe at Corbyknowe, and went home again.

He wanted Francis to fetch the pony himself, therefore, did not send him, and in the mean time fed and groomed him with his own hands as if he had been his friend's charger. Francis having just enough of the grace of shame to make him shrink from going to Corbyknowe, his mother wrote to David, asking why he did not send home the animal. David, one of the most courteous of men, would take no order from any but his superior officer, and answered that he would gladly give him up to the young laird in person.

The next day Mrs. Gordon drove, in what state she could muster, to Corbyknowe. Arrived there, she declined to leave her carriage, requesting Mrs. 65 Barclay, who came to the door, to send her husband to her. Mrs. Barclay thought it better to comply.

David came in his shirt-sleeves, for he had been fetched from his work.

"If I understand your answer to my request, Mr. Barclay, you decline to send back Mr, Gordon's pony! Pray, on what grounds?"

"I wrote, ma'am, that I should be glad to give him over to Mr. Francis himself. "

"Mr. Gordon does not find it convenient to come all this way on foot. In fact he declines to do it, and requests that you will send the pony home this afternoon."

"Excuse me, mem, but it's surely enough done that a man make known the presence o' strays, and tak proper care o' them until they're claimt! I was fain forbye to gie the bonny thing a bit pleesur in life: Francie's ower hard upon him."

"You forget, David Barclay, that Mr. Gordon is your landlord!"

"His father, mem, was my landlord, and his father's father was my father's landlord; and the interests o' the landlord hae aye been oors. Ither nor Francie's herty frien' I can never be!"

"You presume on my late husband's kindness to you, Barclay!"

"Gien devotion be presumption, mem, I presume. Archibald Gordon was and is my frien', and will be for ever. We hae been throuw ower muckle thegither to change to ane anither. It was for his sake and the laddie's ain that I wantit him to come to me. I wantit a word wi' him aboot that powny o' his. He'll never be true man 'at taks no tent o' dumb animals! 66 You 'at's sae weel at hame i' the seddle yersel, mem, micht tak a kin'ly care o what's aneth his! "

"I will have no one interfere with my son. I am quite capable of teaching him his duty myself."

"His father requestit me to do what I could for him, mem!"

"His late father, if you please, Barclay!"

"He s'never be Francie's late father to Francie, gien I can help it, mem! He may be your late husband, mem, but he's my cornel yet, and I s' keep my word till him! It'll no be lang noo, i' the natur o things, till I gang til him; and sure am I his first word 'ill be aboot the laddie: I wud ill like to answer him, 'Archie, I ken naething aboot him but what I cud weel wuss itherwise!' Hoo wud ye like to gie sic an answer yersel, mem?"

"I'm surprised at a man of your sense, Barclay, thinking we shall know one another in heaven! We shall have to be content with God there!"

"I said naething about h'aven, mem! Fowk may ken ane anither and no be in ae place. I took note i the kirk last Sunday 'at Abraham kent the rich man, and the rich man him, and they warna i' the same place. Ye'll lat the yoong laird come and see me, mem?" concluded David, changing his tone and speaking as one who begged a favor; for the thought of meeting his old friend and having nothing to tell him about his boy, quenched his pride.

"Home, Thomas!" cried her late husband's wife to her coachman, and drove away.

"Dod! They'll hae to gie that wife a hell til hersel!" said David, turning to the door discomfited.

"Maybe she'll no like it whan she hes't!" 67 returned his wife, who had heard every word. "There's fowk 'at's no fit company for onybody; and I'm thinkin she's ane gien there bena anither!"

"I'll sen' Jemie hame wi' the powny the nicht," said David. " A body canna insist whaur fowk are no frien's. That would grow to enmity, and the en' o' a' guid. Na, we maun sen' hame the powny; and gien there be ony grace i' the bairn, he canna but come and say thank ye!"

Mrs. Gordon rejoiced in her victory; but David's yielding showed itself the true policy. Francis did call and thank him for taking care of Don. He even granted that perhaps he had been too hard on the pony.

"Ye cud richteously expeck naething o' a powny o' his size that that powny o' yours cudna du, Francie!" said David. "But, in God's name, dear laddie, be a richteous man. Gien ye requere no more than's fair frae man or beast, ye'll maistly aye get it. ut gien yer ootluik in life be to get a'thing and gie naething, ye maun come to grief ae w'y and a' w'ys. Success in an ill attemp is the warst failyie a man can mak."

But it was talking to the wind, for Francis thought, or tried to think David only bent, like his mother, on finding fault with him. He made haste to get away, and left his friend with a sad heart.

He rode on to the foot of the Horn, to the spot where Kirsty was usually at that season to be found; but she saw him coming, and went up the hill. Soon after, his mother contrived that he should pay a visit to some relatives in the south, and for a time neither the castle nor the Horn saw anything of him. Without 68 returning home, he went in the winter to Edinburgh, where he neither disgraced nor distinguished himself. David was glad to hear no ill of him. To be beyond his mother's immediate influence was perhaps to his advantage, but as nothing superior was substituted, it was at best but little gain. His companions were like himself, such as might turn to worse or better, no one could tell which.

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