Kirsty woke suddenly out of a deep, dreamless sleep. A white face was bending over her — Steenie's — whiter than ever Kirsty had seen it. He was panting, and his eyes were huge. She started up.

"Come; come," was all he was able to say.

"What's the metter, Steenie?" she gasped.

For a quarter of a minute he stood panting, unable to speak.

"I'm no thinkin onything's gane wrang," he faltered at length with an effort, recovering breath and speech a little. "The Bonny Man --"

He burst into tears, and turned his head away. A vision of the white, lovely, motionless thing, whose hand had fallen from his like a lump of lead, lying alone at the top of the Horn, with the dog on her feet, had overwhelmed him suddenly.

Kirsty was sore distressed. She dreaded the worst when she saw him thus lose the self-restraint hitherto so remarkable in him. She leaned from her bed, threw her arms round him, and drew him to her. He kneeled, laid his head on her bosom, and wept as she had never known him weep.

"I'll tak care o' ye, Steenie, my man!" she murmured. "Fear ye naething." 180 It is amazing how much, in the strength of its own divinity, love will dare promise!

"Ay, Kirsty, I ken ye wull, but it's no me!" said Steenie.

Thereupon he gave a brief, lucid account of what had occurred in the night.

"And noo 'at I hae telt ye," he added, "it luiks a' sae strange 'at maybe I hae been but dreamin, efter a'! But it maun be true, for that maun hae been what the angels cam cryin upo' me for. I'm thinkin they wud hae broucht me straucht til her themsels — they maistly gang aboot in twas, as whan they gaed and waukent the Bonny Man— gien it hadna been 'at the guid collie was aiqual to that!"

Kirsty told him to go and rouse the kitchen fire, and she would be with him in a minute. She sprang out of bed, and dressed as fast as she could, thinking what she had best take with her. "The puir lassie," she said to herself, "may be growin warm, and sleepin deith awa; and by the time we win there she'll be needin something, like the lassie 'at the Lord liftit!" But in her heart she had little hope: it would be a sad day for the schoolmaster.

She went to her father and mother's room, found them awake, and told them Steenie's tale.

"It's time we war up, wuman!" said David.

"Ay," returned his wife, " but Kirsty canna bide for's. Ye maun be aff, lassie! Tak a wee whuskey wi' ye; but min' it's no that safe wi' frozen fowk. Het milk's the best thing. Tak a drappie o' that wi' ye, I s' be efter ye wi' main And dinna forget a piece to uphaud ye as ye gang; it'll be ill fechtin the win'. Dinna lat Steenie gang back wi' ye; he canna 181 be fit. Sen' him to me, and I'll persuaud him. -- David, man, ye'll hae to saiddle and ride: the doctor maun gang wi ye straucht to Steenie's hoose."

"Lat me up," said David, making a motion to free himself of the bedclothes.

Kirsty went, and got some milk to make it hot. But when she reached the kitchen, Steenie was not there, and the fire, which he had tried to wake up, was all but black. The house-door was open, and the snow drifting in. Steenie was gone into the storm again! She hurriedly poured the milk into a small bottle, and thrust it into her bosom to grow warm as she went. Then she lighted a lantern, chiefly that Steenie might catch sight of it, and set out.

She started running, certain, she thought, to overtake him. The wind was up again, but it was almost behind her, and the night was not absolutely dark for the moon was somewhere. She was far stronger than Steenie, and could walk faster, but, keen as was her outlook on all sides, for the snow was not falling too thick to let her see a little way through it, she was at length near the top of the Horn without having caught a glimpse of him. Had he dropped on the way? Had she in her haste left him after all in the house? She might have passed him: that was easy to do! One thing she was sure of — he could not have got to his house before her!

As she drew near the door she heard a short howl, and knew it for Snootie's. Perhaps Phemy had revived! But no! it was a desolate, forsaken cry! The next moment came a glad bark: was it the footstep of Kirsty it greeted, or the soul of Phemy? 182 With steady hand, and heart prepared, she opened the door and went in. The dog came bounding to her: either he counted himself relieved, or could bear it no longer. He cringed at her feet; he leaped upon her; he saw in her his savior from the terrible silence and cold and motionlessness. Then he stood still before her, looking up to her, and wagging his tail but his face said plainly: It is there!

Kirsty hesitated a moment; a weary sense of uselessness had overtaken her, and she shrank from encountering the unchanging and unchangeable; but she cast off the oppression, and followed the dog to the bedside. He jumped up, and lay down where his master had placed him, as if to say he had been lying there all the time, and had only got up the moment she came. It was the one warm spot in all the woollen pile; the feet beneath it were cold as the snow outside, and the lovely form lay motionless as a thing that would never move again. Kirsty lifted the blanket: there was Phemy's face, blind with the white death! It did not look at her, did not recognize her: Phemy was there and not there! Phemy was far away! Phemy could not move from where she lay!

Hopeless, Kirsty yet tried her best to wake her from her snow-sleep, shrinking from nothing, except for the despair of it. But long ere she gave up the useless task, she was thinking far more about Steenie than Phemy.

He did not come! "He must be safe with his mother!" she kept saying in her heart; but she could not reassure herself. The forsaken fire, the open door haunted her. She would succeed for a moment 183 or two in quieting her fears, calling them foolish; the next they would rush upon her like a cataract, and almost overwhelm her. While she was busy with the dead, he might be slowly sinking into the same sleep from which she could not wake Phemy!

She laid the snow-cold captive straight, and left her to sleep on. Then, calling the dog, she left the hut, in the hope of meeting her mother, and learning that Steenie was at home.

Now and then, while at her sad task, she had been reminded of the wind by its hollow roaring all about the hill, but not until she opened the door had she any notion how the snow was falling; neither until she left the hollow for the bare hill-side did she realize how the wind was raging. Then indeed the world looked dangerous! If Steenie was out, if her mother had started, they were lost! She would have gone back into the hut with the dead, but that she might get home in time to prevent her mother from setting out, or might meet her on the way. At the same time the tempest between her and her home looked but a little less terrible to her than a sea breaking on a rocky shore.

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