When he arrived, there was no light in the house: all had gone to rest. Unwilling to disturb the father and mother, he rode quietly, to the back of the house, where Kirsty's room looked on the garden. He called her softly. In a moment she peeped out, then opened her window.

"Cud ye come doon a minute, Kirsty?" said Francis.

"I'll be wi' ye in less time," she replied; and he had hardly more than dismounted, when she was by his side.

He told her what had passed between him and his mother since she left them.

"It's a rael bonny nicht!" said Kirsty, "and we'll jist tak oor time to turn the thing ower — that is, gien ye bena tired, Francie. Come, we'll put the beastie up first."

She led the horse into the dark stable, took his bridle off, put a halter on him, slackened his girths, and gave him a feed of corn — all in the dark; which things done, she and her lover set out for the Horn.

The whole night seemed thinking of the day that was gone. All doing seemed at an end, yea God Himself to be resting and thinking. The peace of it sank into their bosoms, and filled them so, that they 279 walked a long way without speaking. There was no wind, and no light but the starlight. The air was like the clear dark inside some diamonds. The only sound that broke the stillness was the voice of Kirsty, sweet and low — and it was as if the dim starry vault thought, rather than she uttered, the words she quoted:--

"Summer Night come from God,

On your beauty, I see,

A still wave has flowed

Of Eternity."

At a certain spot on the ridge of the Horn, Francis stopped.

''This is whaur ye left me this time last year, Kirsty," he said;" — left me wi' my Maker to mak a man o' me. It was 'maist makin me ower again!"

There was a low stone just visible among the heather; Kirsty seated herself upon it. Francis threw himself among the heather, and lay looking up in her face.

"That mother o' yours is 'maist ower muckle for ye, Francie!" said Kirsty.

"It's no aften, Kirsty, ye tell me what I ken as weel's yersel!" returned Francis.

"Weel, Francie, ye maun tell me something the night! — Gien it wudna mismuve ye, I wad fain ken hoo ye wan throu that day we pairtit here."

Without a moment's hesitation, Francis began the tale, giving her to know, however, that in what took place there was much he did not understand so as to tell it again.

When he made an end, Kirsty rose and said,

"Wad ye please to sit upon that stane, Francie!"


In pure obedience he rose from the heather, and sat upon the stone.

She went behind him, and clasped his head, round the temples, with her shapely, strong, faithful hands.

"I ken ye noo for a man, Francis. Ye hae set yersel to du His wull, and no yer ain: ye're a king; and for want o' a better croon, I croon ye wi my twa han's."

Little thought Kirsty how near she came, in word and deed, to the crowning of Dante by Virgil, as recorded toward the close of the "Purgatorio."

Then she came round in front of him, he sitting bewildered and taking no part in the solemn ceremony save that of submission, and knelt slowly down before him, laying her head on his knees, and saying,

"And here's yer kingdom, Francis — my heid and my hert! Du wi' me what ye wull."

"Come hame wi' me, and help save my mother," he answered, in a voice choked with emotion.

"I wull," she said, and would have risen; but he laid his hands on her head, and thus they remained for a time in silence. Then they rose, and went.

They had gone about half-way to the farm before either spoke. Then Kirsty said, —

"Francie, there's ae thing I maun beg o' ye, and but ane — 'at ye winna desire me to tak the heid o' yer table. I canna but think it an ungracious thing 'at a young wuman like me, the son's wife, suld put the man's ain mother, his father's wife, oot o' the place whaur his father set her. I'm layin doon no prenciple; I'm sayin only hoo it affecs me. I want to come hame as her dochter, no as mistress o' the hoose in her stead. Ye see, Francie, that'll gie 281 ye anither haud o' her, agea disgracin o' hersel! Promise me, Francie, and I'll sune tak the maist pairt o' the trouble o' her aff o' yer han's."

"Ye're aye richt, Kirsty!" answered Francis. "As ye wull."

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