There was at Corbyknowe a young, well-bred horse which David had himself reared: Kirsty had been teaching him to carry a lady. For her hostess in Edinburgh, discovering that she was fond of riding and that she had no saddle, had made her a present of her own: she had not used it for many years, but it was in very good condition, and none the worse for being a little old-fashioned. That same morning Kirsty had put on a blue riding-habit, which also lady Macintosh had given her, and was out on the highest slope of the farm, hoping to catch a sight of the two on horseback together, and so learn that her scheme was a success. She had been on the outlook for about an hour, when she saw them coming along between the castle and Corbyknowe, and went straight for a certain point in the road so as to reach it simultaneously with them. For she had just spied a chance of giving Gordon the opportunity which her father had told her he was longing for, of saying something about her to his mother.

"Who can that be?" said Mrs. Gordon as they trotted gently along, when she spied the lady on horseback. ''She rides well! But she seems to be alone! Is there really nobody with her?"

As she spoke, the young horse came over a drystane-dyke in fine style.


"Why, she's an accomplished horsewoman!" exclaimed Mrs. Gordon. "She must be a stranger! There's not a lady within thirty miles of Weelset can ride like that!"

"No such stranger as you think, mother!" rejoined Francis. "That's Kirsty Barclay of Corbyknowe."

"Never, Francis! The girl rides like a lady!"

Francis smiled, perhaps a little triumphantly. Something like what lay in the smile the mother read in it, for it roused at once both her jealousy and her pride. Her son to fall in love with a girl that was not even a lady! A Gordon of Weelset to marry a tenant's daughter! Impossible!

Kirsty was now in the road before them, riding slowly in the same direction. It was the progress however, not the horse that was slow: his frolics, especially when the other horses drew near, kept his rider sufficiently occupied.

Mrs. Gordon quickened her pace, and passed without turning her head or looking at her, but so close, and with so sudden a rush that Kirsty 's horse half wheeled, and bounded over the dyke by the roadside. Her rudeness annoyed her son, and he jumped his horse into the field and joined Kirsty, letting his mother ride on, and contenting himself with keeping her in sight. After a few moments' talk, however, he proposed that they should overtake her, and cutting off a great loop of the road, they passed her at speed, and turned and met her. She had by this time got a little over her temper, and was prepared to behave with propriety, which meant — the dignity becoming her.

"What a lovely horse you have. Miss Barclay!" 274 she said, without other greeting. "How much do you want for him?"

"He is but half-broken," answered Kirsty, "or I would offer to change with you. I almost wonder you look at him from the back of your own!"

"He is a beauty — is he not? This is my first trial of him. The laird gave me him only this morning. He is as quiet as a lamb."

"There, Donal," said Kirsty to her horse, "tak example by yer betters! Jist luik hoo he stan's! — The laird has a true eye for a horse, ma'am," she went on, "but he always says you gave it him."

"Always! hm!" said Mrs. Gordon to herself, but she looked kindly at her son.

"How did you learn to ride so well, Kirsty?" she asked.

"I suppose I got it from my father, ma'am! I began with the cows."

"Ah, how is old David?" returned Mrs. Gordon. "I have seen him once or twice about the castle of late, but have not spoken to him."

"He is very well, thank you. — Will you not come up to the Knowe and rest a moment ? My mother will be very glad to see you."

"Not today, Kirsty. I haven't been on horseback for years, and am already tired. We shall turn here. Good-morning!"

"Good-morning, ma'am! Good-by, Mr. Gordon!" said Kirsty cheerfully, as she wheeled her horse to set him straight at a steep grassy brae.

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