One night in the month of January, when the snow was falling thick, but the air, because of the cloudblankets overhead, was not piercing, Kirsty went out to the workshop to tell her father that supper was ready. David was a Jack-of-all-trades — therein resembling a sailor rather than a soldier, and by the light of a single dip was busy with some bit of carpenter's work.

He did not raise his head when she entered, and heard her as if he did not hear. She wondered a little and waited. After a few moments of silence, he said quietly, without looking up —

"Are ye awaur o' onything by ord'nar, Kirsty?"

"Na, naething, father," answered Kirsty, wondering still.

"It's been beirin 'tsel in upo' me at my bench here, 'at Steenie's aboot the place the nicht. I canna help imaiginin he's been upo this verra flure ower and ower again sin' I cam oot, as gien he wad fain say something, but cudna, and gaed awa again."

"Think ye he's here at this moment, father?"

"Na, he's no."

"He used to think whiles the bonny man was aboot!" said Kirsty reflectively.

"My mother was a hielan wuman, and hed the 218 second sicht; there was no mainner o' doobt aboot it!" remarked David, also thoughtfully.

"What wad ye draw frae that, father?" asked Kirsty.

"0w, naething verra important, maybe, but just 'at possibly it micht be i' the faimily!"

"I wud like to ken yer verra thoucht, father!"

"Weel, it's jist this: I'm thinkin 'at some may be nearer the deid nor ithers."

"Maybe," supplemented Kirsty, "some o' the deid may win nearer the livin nor ithers!"

"Ay, that's it! that's the haill o' 't!" answered David.

Kirsty turned her face toward the farthest corner. The place was rather large, and everywhere dark except within the narrow circle of the candle-light. In a quiet voice, with a little quaver in it, she said aloud:

"Gien ye be here, Steenie, and hae the pooer, lat's ken gien there be onything lyin til oor han' 'at ye wuss dune. I'm sure, gien there be, it's for oor sakes and no for yer ain, glaid as we wud a' be to du onything for ye: the bonny man lats ye want for naething; we're sure o' that!"

"Ay are we, Steenie," assented his father.

No voice came from the darkness. They stood silent for a while. Then David said —

"Gang in, lassie; yer mother 'ill be won'erin what's come o' ye. I'll be in in a meenit. I hae jist the last stroke to gie this bit jobby."


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