Steenie seemed always to experience a strange sort of terror while waiting for any one to come out of the weem, into which he never entered, and it was his repugnance to the place that chiefly moved him to build a house of his own. He may have also calculated on being able, with such a refuge at hand, to be on the hill in all weathers. They still made use of their little hut as before, and Kirsty still kept her library in it, but it was at the root of the Horn, and Steenie loved the peak of it more than any other spot in his narrow world.

I have already said that when, on the occasion of its discovery, Steenie, for the first and the last time, came out of the weem, he fled to the Horn. There he roamed for hours, possessed with the feeling that he had all but lost Kirsty who had taken possession of a house into which he could never accompany her. For himself he would like a house on the very top of the Horn, not one inside it!

Near it was a little scoop out of the hill-side, sheltered on all sides except the south, which, the one time I saw it, reminded me strongly of Dante's grembo in the purgatorial hill, where the upward pilgrims had to rest outside the gate, because of the darkness during which no man could go higher. 98 Here, it is true, were no flowers to weave a pattern upon its carpet of green; true also here were no beautiful angels, in green wings and green garments, poised in the sweet night-air, watchful with their short, pointless, flaming swords against the creeping enemy; but it was, nevertheless, the loveliest carpet of grass and moss, and as to the angels, I And it impossible to imagine, even in the heavenly host, one heart more guardant than that of Kirsty, one truer, or more devoted to its charge. The two were together as the child of earth, his perplexities and terrors ever shot through with flashes of insight and hope, and the fearless, less imaginative, confident angel, appointed to watch and ward and see him safe through the loose-cragged mountain-pass to the sunny vales beyond.

On the northern slope of the hollow, full in the face of the sun, a little family of rocks had fallen together, odd in shapes and positions, but of long stable equilibrium, with narrow spaces between them. The sun was throwing his last red rays among these rocks when Steenie the same evening wandered into the little valley. The moment his eyes fell upon them, he said in his heart, "Yon's the place for a hoose: I'll get Kirsty to big ane, and mebbe she'll come and bide in't wi' me whiles! "

In his mind there were for some years two conflicting ideas of refuge, one embodied in the heathery hut with Kirsty, the other typified by the uplifted loneliness, the air and the space of the mountain upon which the bonny man sometimes descended: for the last three years or more the latter idea had had the upper hand: now it seemed possible to have the two 99 kinds of refuge together, where the more material would render the more spiritual easier of attainment! Such were not Steenie's words; indeed he used none concerning the matter; but such were his vague thoughts — feelings rather, not yet thoughts.

The spot had indeed many advantages. For one thing, the group of rocks was the ready skeleton of the house Steenie wanted. Again, if the snow sometimes lay deeper there than in other parts of the hill, there first it began to melt. A third advantage was that, while, as I have said, the valley was protected by higher ground everywhere but on the south, it there afforded a large outlook over the boggy basin and over the hills beyond its immediate rim, to a horizon in which stood some of the loftier peaks of the highland mountains.

When Steenie's soul was able for a season to banish the nameless forms that haunt the dim borders of insanity, he would sit in that valley for hours, regarding the wider-spread valley below him, in which he knew every height and hollow, and, with his exceptionally keen sight, he could descry signs of life where another would have beheld but an every-way dead level. Not a live thing, it seemed almost, could spread wing or wag tail, but Steenie would become thereby aware of its presence. Kirsty, boastful to her parents of the faculty of Steenie, said to her father one day,

"I dinna believe, father, wi Steenie on the bog, a reid worm cud stick up his heid oot o' 't ohn him seen't!"

"I'm thinkin that's no sayin ower muckle,wuman!" returned David. "I never jist set mysel to luik, but 100 I dinna think I ever did tak notice o' a worm settin up that heid o' his oot o' a bog. I dinna think it's a sile they care aboot. I kenna what they would get to please them there. It's the yerd they live upo'. Whaur craps winna grow, I doobt gien worms can live."

Kirsty laughed: she had made herself ridiculous, but the ridicule of some is sweeter than the praise of others.

Steenie set about his house-building at once, and when he had got as far as he could without her, called for help from Kirsty, who never interfered with, and never failed him. Divots he was able to cut, and of them he provided a good quantity, but when it came to moving stones, two pairs of hands were often wanted. Indeed, before the heavier work of "Steenie 's hoosie" was over, the two had to beg the help of more — of their father, and of men from the farm.

During its progress, Phemy Craig paid rather a lengthened visit to Corbyknowe, and often joined the two in their labor on the Horn. She was not very strong, but would carry a good deal in the course of the day; and through this association with Steenie, her dread of him gradually vanished, and they became comrades.

When Steenie's design was at length carried out, they had built up with stone and lime the open spaces between several of the rocks; had cased these curtain-walls outside and lined them inside with softer and warmer walls of fells or divots cut from the green sod of the hill; and had covered in the whole as they found it possible — very irregularly no doubt, 101 but smoothing up all the corners and hollows with turf and heather. This done, one of the men who was a good thatcher, fastened the whole roof down with strong lines, so that the wind should not get under and strip it off. The result was a sort of burrow, consisting of several irregular compartments with open communication — or rather, perhaps, of a single chamber composed of recesses. One small rock they included quite: Steenie would make it serve for a table, and some of its inequalities for shelves. In one of the compartments or recesses, they contrived a fireplace, and in another a tolerably well-concealed exit; for Steenie, like a trap-door-spider, could not endure the thought of only one way out: one way was enough for getting in, but two were needful for getting out, his best refuge being the open hill.

The night came at length when Steenie, in whose heart was a solemn, silent jubilation, would take formal possession of his house. It was soft and warm, in the middle of the month of July. The sun had been set about an hour when he got up to leave the parlor, where the others always sat in the summer, and where Steenie would now and then appear among them. As usual he said good-night to no one of them, but stole gently out.

Kirsty knew what was in his mind, but was careful not to show that she took any heed of his departure. As soon as her father and mother retired, however, when he had been gone about half an hour, she put aside her work, and hastened out. She felt a little anxious about him though she could not have said why. She had no dread of displeasing by rejoining 102 him; nothing but a sight of the bonny man could, she knew, give him more delight than having her to share his night-watch with him. This she had done several times, and they were the only occasions on which, so far as he could tell, he had slept any part of the night.

Folded in the twilight. Earth lay as still and peaceful as if she had never done any wrong, never seen anything wrong in one of her children. There was light everywhere, and darkness everywhere to make it strange. A pale-green gleam prevailed in the heavens, as if the world were a glow-worm that sent abroad its home-born radiance into space, and colored the sky. In the green light rested a few small solid clouds with sharp edges, and almost an assertion of repose. Throughout the night it would be no darker! The sun seemed already to have begun to rise, only he would be all night about it. From the door she saw the point of the Horn clear against the green sky: Steenie would be up there soon! he was hurrying thither! Sometimes he went very leisurely, stopping and gazing, or sitting down to meditate: he would not do so that night! A special solemnity in his countenance made her sure that he would go straight to his new house. But she could walk faster than he, and would not be long behind him!

The sky was full of pale stars, and Kirsty amused herself, as she went, with arranging them — not into their constellations, though she knew the shapes and names of most of them, but into mathematical figures. The only star Steenie knew by name was the pole star, which, however, he always called The bonny 103 man's lantern. Kirsty believed he had thoughts of his own about many another, and a name for it too.

She had climbed the hill, and was drawing near the house, when she was startled by a sound of something like singing, and stopped to listen. She had never heard Steenie attempt to sing, and the very thought of his doing so moved her greatly: she was always expecting something marvellous to show itself in him. She drew nearer. It was not singing, but it was something like it, or something trying to be like it — a succession of broken, harsh, imperfect sounds, with here and there a tone of brief sweetness. She thought she perceived in it an attempt at melody, but the many notes that refused to be made, prevented her from finding the melody intended, or the melody, rather, after which he was feeling. The broken music ceased suddenly, and a different kind of sound succeeded. She went yet nearer. He could not be reading: she had tried to teach him to read, but the genuine effort he put forth to learn made his head ache, and his eyes feel wild, he said, and she at once gave up the endeavor. When she reached the door, she could plainly hear him praying.

He had been accustomed to hear his father pray — always extempore. To the Scot's mind it is a perplexity how prayer and reading should ever seem one. Kirsty went a little deeper into the matter when she said:

"The things that I want, I ken; and I maun hae them! There's nae necessity ava to tell me what I want. The bulk may wauk a sense o' want, I daur say, I dinna ken, but it maistly pits intil me the 104 thoucht o' something a body micht weel want, without makin me awaur o' wantin't at that preceese moment."

Prayer, with Steenie, as well as with Kirsty, was the utterance, audible or silent, in the ever open ear, of what was moving in him at the time. This was what she now heard him say:

"Bonny man, I ken ye weel: there's naebody in h'aven or earth 'at's like ye! Ye ken yersel I wad jist dee for ye; or gien there be onything waur to bide nor deein, that's what I would du for ye — gien ye wantit it o' me, that is, for I'm houpin sair 'at ye winna want it, I'm that awfu cooardly! Oh bonny man, tak the fear oot o' my hert, and mak me ready jist to walk aff o' the face o' the warl, weichty feet and a', to du yer wull, ohn thoucht twise aboot it! And eh, bonny man, willna ye come doon sometime or lang, and walk the hill here, that I may luik upo' ye ance mair — as i' the days of old, whan the starlicht muntain shook wi' the micht o' the prayer ye heavit up til yer father in h'aven? Eh, gien ye war but ance to luik in at the door o' this my hoose that ye hae gie me, it wud henceforth be to me as the gate o' paradise! But, 'deed, it's that onygait, for it's nigh whaur ye tak yer walks abro'd. But gien ye war to luik in at the door, and cry Steenie! sune wud ye see whether I was in the hoose or no ! — I thank ye sair for this hoose: I'm gaein to hae a rich and a happy time upo' this hill o' Zion, whaur the feet o' the ae man gangs walkin ! — And eh, bonny man, gie a luik i' the face o' my father and mither i' their bed ower at the Knowe; and I pray ye see 'at Kirsty's gettin a fine sleep, for she has a heap o' tribble wi' 105 me. I'm no worth min'in', yet ye min' me: she is worth min'in'! — and that clever! — as ye ken wha made her! And luik upo' this bit hoosie, 'at I ca' my ain, and they a' helpit me to bigg, but as a lean-to til the hoose at hame, for I'm no awa frae it or them — jist as that hoose and this hoose and a' the hooses are a' jist but bairnies' hooses biggit by themsels aboot the big flure o' thy kitchie and i' the neuks o' the same — wi' yer ain truffs and stanes and divots sir."

Steenie's voice ceased, and Kirsty, thinking his prayer had come to an end, knocked at the door, lest her sudden appearance should startle him. From his knees, as she knew by the sound of his rising, Steenie sprang up, came darting to the door with the cry, "It's yersel'! It's yersel', bonny man!" and seemed to tear it open. Oh, how sorry was Kirsty to stand where the loved of the human was not! She had almost turned and fled.

"It's only me, Steenie!" she faltered, nearly crying.

Steenie stood and stared. Neither, for a moment or two, could speak.

"Eh, Steenie," said Kirsty at length, "I'm richt sorry I disapp'intit ye! I didna ken what I was duin. I oucht to hae turnt and gane hame again!"

"Ye cudna help it," answered Steenie. "Ye cudna be him, or ye wud! But ye're the neist best, and richt welcome. I'm as glaid as can be to see ye, Kirsty. Come awa ben the hoose."

Kirsty followed him in silence, and sat down dejected. The loving heart saw it.

"Maybe ye're him ef ter a'!" said Steenie. "He 106 can tak ony shape he likes. I wudna won'er gien ye was him! Ye're unco like him ony gait!"

"Na, na, Steenie! I'm far frae that! But I wud fain be what he wud hae me, jist as ye wud yersel. Sae ye maun tak me, what I am, for his sake, Steenie!"

This was the man's hour, not the dog's, yet Steenie threw himself at her feet.

"Gang oot a bit by yersel, Steenie," she said, caressing him with her hand. "That's what ye like best, I ken! Ye needna min' me! I only cam to see ye sattlet intil yer ain hoose. I'll bide a gey bit. Gang ye oot, and ken 'at I'm i' the hoose, and that ye can come back to me whan ye like. I hae my buik, and can sit and read fine."

"Ye're aye richt, Kirsty!" answered Steenie, rising. "Ye aye ken what I'm needin. I maun win oot, for I'm some chokin like. — But jist come here a minute first," he went on, leading the way to the door. There he pointed up into the wild of stars, and said, "Ye see yon star o' the tap o' that ither ane 'at's brichter nor itsel?"

"I see 't fine, and ken 't weel," answered Kirsty.

"Weel, whan that starnie comes richt ower the white tap o' yon stane i' the mids o' that side o' the howe, I s' be here at the door."

Kirsty looked at the stone, saw that the star would arrive at the point indicated in about an hour, and said, "Weel, I'll be expeckin ye, Steenie!" whereupon he departed, going farther up the hill to court the soothing of the silent heaven.

In conditions of consciousness known only to himself and incommunicable, the poor fellow sustained 107 an all but continuous hand-to-hand struggle with insanity, more or less agonized according to the nature and force of its varying assault; in which struggle, if not always victorious, he had yet never been defeated. Often tempted to escape misery by death, he had hitherto stood firm. Some part of every solitary night was spent, I imagine, in fighting that or other evil suggestion. Doubtless, what kept him lord of himself through all the truth-aping delusions that usurped his consciousness, was his unyielding faith in the bonny man.

The name by which he so constantly thought and spoke of the saviour of men was not of his own finding. The story was well known. of the idiot, who, having partaken of the Lord's supper, was heard, as he retired, murmuring to himself, "Eh, the bonny man! the bonny man!" and persons were not wanting, sound in mind as large of heart, who thought the idiot might well have seen him who came to deliver them that were bound. Steenie took up the tale with most believing mind. Never doubting the man had seen the Lord, he responded with the passionate desire himself to see the bonny man. It awoke in him while yet quite a boy, and never left him, but, increasing as he grew, became, as well it might, a fixed idea, a sober, waiting, unebbing passion, urging him to righteousness and loving-kindness.

Kirsty took from her pocket an old translation of Plato's "Phaedo," and sat absorbed in it until the star, unheeded of her, attained its goal, and there was Steenie by her side! She shut the book and rose.

"I'm a heap better, Kirsty," said Steenie. "The ill color's awa doon the stair, and the saft win' 's 108 made its w'y oot o' the lift, an' 's won at me. I 'maist think a han' cam and clappit my heid. Sae noo I'm jist as weel's there's ony need to be o' this side the mist. It helpit me a heap to ken 'at ye was sittin there: I cud aye rin til ye! — Noo gang awa to yer bed, ond tak a guid sleep. I'm some thinkin I'll be hame til my br'akfast."

"Weel, mother's gaein to the toon the mom, and I'll be wantit fell air; I may as weel gang!" answered Kirsty, and without a good-night, or farewell of any sort, for she knew how he felt in regard to leave-takings, Kirsty left him, and went slowly home. The moon was up and so bright that every now and then she would stop for a moment and read a little from her book, then walk on thinking about it.

From that night, even in the stormy dark of winter, Kirsty was not nearly so anxious about Steenie away from the house: on the Horn he had his place of refuge, and she knew he never ventured on the bog after sunset. He always sought her when he wanted to sleep in the daytime, but he was gradually growing quieter in his mind, and Kirsty had reason to think, slept a good deal more at night.

But the better he grew the more had he the look of one expecting something; and Kirsty often heard him saying to himself — "It's comin! it's comin!"

''And at last," she said, telling his story many years after, ''at last it cam; and ahint it, I doobtna, cam the face o' the bonny man!"

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