Kirsty saw their shadows darken the wall, and turning from her work at the dresser, ran to the door to meet them.

"God be thankit!" cried David.

Marion gave her daughter one loving look, and entering cast a fearful, questioning glance around the kitchen.

"Whaur's Steenie?" she said.

"He's wi' Phemy, I'm thinkin," faltered Kirsty.

"Lassie, are ye dementit?" her mother almost screamed. "We're this minute come frae there!"

"He is wi' Phemy, mother. The Lord canna surely hae pairtit them, gangin in maist haudin han's!"

"Kirsty, I haud ye accoontable for my Steenie!" cried Marion, sinking on a chair, and covering her face with her hands.

"It's the wu o' God 'at's accoontable for him, wuman!" answered David, sitting down beside her, and laying hold of her arm.

She burst into terrible weeping.

"He maun be sair at hame wi the bonny man!" said Kirsty.


"Lassie," said David, " you and me and yer mither, we hae naething left but be better bairns,, and gang the fester to the Bonny Man! Whaur's what's left o' the laddie, Kirsty?"

"Lyin i' my hoose, as he ca'd it. Mine was i' the yerd, his i' the air, he said. He was awa afore I wan to the kitchen. He had jist killt himsel savin at Phemy, rinnin and fechtin on, upo' the barest chance o' savin her life; and sae whan he set aff to gang til her, no bidin for me, he was that forfouchten 'at he hed a bluid-brak in 's breist, and was jist able, and nae mair, to creep intil the weem oot o' the snaw. He didna like the place, and yet had a kin' o' a notion o' the Bonny Man bein there whiles. I'm thinkin Snootie maun hae won til him, and run hame for help, for I faund him maist deid upo' the doorstep."

David stooped and patted the dog.

"Na, that cudna be," he said, "or he wud never hae left him, I'm thinkin. Ye're a braw dog," he went on to the collie, "and I'm thankfu' ye're no lyin wi yer tongue oot! Guid comes to guid doggies!" he added, fondling the creature, who had risen, and feebly set his paws on his knees.

"Ye left him lyin there! Hoo hed ye the hert, Kirsty?" sobbed the mother reproachfully.

"Mother, he was better aff nor ony ither ane o' 's! I winna say, mother, 'at I lo'ed him sae weel as ye lo'ed him, for maybe that wudna be natur — I dinna ken; and I daurna say 'at I lo'e him as the bonny man lo'es his brithers and sisters a' ; but I hae yet to learn hoo to lo'e him better. Onygait, the bonny man wantit him, and he has him! And whan I left 204 him there, it was jist as gien I hield him oot i' my airms and said, 'Hae, Lord; tak him: he's Yer ain!"

"Ye're i' the richt, Kirsty, my bonny bairn!" said David. "Yer mither and me, we was never but pleased wi' onything 'at ever ye did. — Isna that true, Mar'on, my ain wuman?"

"True as His Word!" answered the mother, and rose, and went to her room.

David sought the yard, saw that all was right with the beasts, and fed them. Thence he made his way to his workshop over the cart-shed, where in five minutes he constructed, with two poles run through two sacks, a very good stretcher. Carrying it to the kitchen, where Kirsty sat motionless, looking into the fire.

"Kirsty," he said, "ye're 'maist as strong's a man, and I wudna wullinly ony but oor ain three sels laid finger upo' what's left o' Steenie: are ye up to takin the feet o' 'im to fess him hame? Here's what'll mak it 'maist easy!"

Kirsty rose at once.

"A drappy o' milk, and I'm ready," she answered. "Wull ye no tak a moofu' o' whuskey yersel, father?"

"Na, na; I want naething," replied David.

He had not yet learned what Kirsty went through the night before, when he asked her to help him carry the body of her brother home through the snow. Kirsty, however, knew no reason why she should not be as able as her father.

He took the stretcher, and they set out, saying nothing to the mother: she was still in her own room, and they hoped she might fall asleep.


"It min's me o' the women gauin til the sepulchre!" said David. "Eh, but it maun hae been a sair time til them! — a heap sairer nor this hert-brak here!"

"Ye see they didna ken 'at he wasna deid," assented Kirsty, "and we div ken 'at Steenie's no deid! He's maybe walkin aboot wi the bonny man — or maybe jist ristin himsel a wee efter the uprisin! Jist think o' his heid bein a' richt, and his een as clear as the bonny man's ain! Eh, but Steenie maun be in grit glee!"

Thus talking as they went, they reached and entered the earth-house. They found no angels on guard, for Steenie had not to get up again.

David wept the few tears of an old man over the son who had been of no use in the world but the best use — to love and be loved. Then, one at the head and the other at the feet, they brought the body out, and laid it on the bier.

Kirsty went in again, and took Steenie's shoes, tying them in her apron.

"His feet's no sic a weicht noo!" she said, as together they carried their burden home.

The mother met them at the door.

"Eh!" she cried," I thoucht the Lord had taen ye baith, and left me my lane 'cause I was sae hardhertit til him! But noo 'at he's broucht ye back — and Steenie, what there is o' him, puir bairn! — I s' never say anither word, but jist lat him du as he likes. — There, Lord, I hae dune! Pardon thoo me wha canst."

They carried the forsaken thing up the stair, and laid it on Kirsty's bed, looking so like and so unlike Steenie asleep. Marion was so exhausted, both 206 mind and body, that her husband insisted on her postponing all further ministration till the morning; but at night Kirsty unclothed the unattended, and put on it a long white nightgown. When the mother saw it lying thus, she smiled, and wept no more; she knew that the bonny man had taken home his idiot.

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