It was now midsummer, and Francis Gordon was well, though thin and looking rather delicate. Kirsty and he had walked together to the top of the Horn, and there sat, in the heart of old memories. The sun was clouded above; the boggy basin lay dark below, with its rim of heathery hills not yet in bloom, and its bottom of peaty marsh, green and black, with here and there a shining spot; the growing crops of the far-off farms on the other side but little affected the general impression the view gave of a waste world; yet the wide expanse of heaven and earth lifted the heart of Kirsty with an indescribable sense of presence, purpose, promise. For was it not the country on which, fresh from God, she first opened the eyes of this life, the visible region in which all her efforts had gone forth, in which all the food of her growth had been gathered, in which all her joys had come to her, in which all her loves had had their scope, the place whence by and by she would go away to find her brother with the bonny man!

Francis saw without heeding. His heart was not uplifted. His earthly future, a future of his own imagining, drew him.

"This winna du ony langer, Kirsty!" he said at 244 length. " The accusin angel 'ill be upo' me again or I ken! I maunna be idle 'cause I'm happy ance mair — thanks to you, Kirsty! Little did I think ever to raise my held again! But noo I maun be at my wark! I'm fit eneuch!"

"I'm richt glaid to hear 't!" answered Kirsty. "I was jist thinkin lang for a word o' the sort frae ye, Francie. I didna want to be the first to speyk o' 't!"

"I was jist thinkin lang to hear ye speyk o' 't!" returned Francis. "I wantit to du 't as the thing ye wad hae o' me!"

"Even than, Francie, ye wudna, it seems, hae been duin 't to please me, and that pleases me weel! I wud be nane pleast to think ye duin 't for me! It wud gie me a sair hert, Francie!"

"What for that, Kirsty?"

"Cause it wud shaw ye no a man yet! A man's a man 'at dis what's richt, what's pleasin to the verra hert o' richt. Ye'll please me best by no wantin to please me; and ye'll please God best by duin what He's putten intil yer hert as the richt thing, and the bonny thing, and the true thing, though ye suld dee i' the duin o' 't — Tell me what ye're thinkin o' duin."

"What but gaein efter this new commission they hae promised me? There's aye a guid chance o' fechtin upo' the borders — the frontiers, as they ca' them!"

Kirsty sat silent. She had been thinking much of what Francis ought to do, and had changed her mind on the point since the time when she talked about him with Sir Haco.


"Isna that what ye wud hae me du, Kirsty?" he said, when he found she continued silent. "A body's no a fule for wantin guid advice!"

"Na, that's true eneuch! — What for wad ye want to gang fechtin?"

"To shaw the wad' I'm nane o' what my mither ca'd me."

"And shawn that, hoo muckle the better man wud ye be for't? Min' ye it's ae thing to be, and anither to shaw. Be ye maun ; shaw ye needna."

"I dinna ken; I micht be growin better a' the time!"

"And ye micht be growin waur. — What the better wud ony neebor be for ye gane fechtin? Wudna it be a' for yersel? Is there naething gien intil yer han' to du — naething nearer hame nor that? Surely o' twa things, ane near and ane far, the near comes first!"

"I dinna ken. I thoucht ye wantit me to gang!"

"Ay, raither nor bide at hame duin naething; but michtna there be something better to du?"

"I dinna ken. I thoucht to please ye, Kirsty, but it seems naething wull!"

"Ay; that's waur the mischief lies: ye thoucht to please me!"

"I did think to please you, Kirsty! I thoucht, ance dune weel afore the warl as my father did, I micht hae the face to come hame to you, and say — 'Kirsty, wull ye hae me?'"

"Aye the same auld Francie " said Kirsty, with a deep sigh.


"I tell ye, Francie, i' the Name o' God, I'll never 246 hae ye on nae sic terms! — Suppose I was to merry somebody whan ye was awa pruvin to yersel, and a' the lave 'at never misdoobted ye, 'at ye was a brave man — what wud ye du whan ye cam hame?"

"Naething o' mortal guid! Tak to the drink, maybe."

"Ye tell me that! and ye think, wi' my een open to ken 'at ye say true, I wud merry ye? — a man like you! Eh, Francie, Francie! Ye're no worth my takin, and ye're no like to be worth the takin o' ony honest wuman! — Can ye possibly imegine a wuman merryin a man 'at she kenned wud drive her to coontless petitions to be hauden ohn despisit him? Ye mak my hert unco sair, Francie! I hae dune my best wi' ye, and the en' o' 't is, 'at ye're no worth naething."

"For the life o' me, Kirsty, I dinna ken what ye're drivin at, or what ye wud hae o' me! I canna but think ye're usin me as ye wudna like to be used yersel!"

" 'Deed I wud not like it gien I was o' your breed, Francie! Man, did ye never ance i' yer life think what ye hed to du — what was gien ye to du — what it was yer duty to du?"

"'No sae aften, doobtless, as I oucht. But I'm ready to hear ye tell me my duty; I'm no past reasonin wim."

"Did ye never hear 'at ye're to lo'e yer neebor as yersel?"

"I'm duin that wi' a' my hert, Kirsty — and that ye ken as weel as I du mysel!"

"Ye mean me, Francie! And ye ca' that lo'in me, to wull me merry a man 'at's no a man ava! But it's nae me 'at's yer neebor, Francie!"


"Wha is my neebor, Kirsty?"

"The queston's been speirt afore — and answert."

"And whafs the answer til't?"

"'At yer neebor 's jist whaever lies neist ye i' need o' yer help. Gien ye read the tale o' the guid Sameritan wi' ony sort o' gumption, that's what ye'll read intil't and noucht else. The man or wuman ye can help, ye hae to be neebor til."

"I want to help you."

"Ye canna help me. I'm in no need o' yer help. The queston's no whaur's the man I micht help, but whaur's the man I maun help. I wantit to be your neebor, but I cudna win at ye for the thieves; ye wad stick to them, and they wudna lat me du naething."

"What thieves, i' the name o' common sense, Kirsty?"

"Love o' yer ain gait, and love o' makin a show, and want o' care for what's richt. Aih, Francie, I doobt something a heap waur 'll hae to come upo' ye! A' my labor's lost, and I dearly grudge it — no the labor, but the loss o' 't! I grudge that sair."

"Kirsty, i' the Name o' God, wha is my neebor?"

"Yer ain mither."

"My ain mither! — her oot o' a' the warl'? — I never cam upo' spark o' rizzon intil her!"

"Michtna she be that ane oot a' the warl', ye never shawed spark o' rizzon til?"

"There's nae place in her for reason to gang til!"

"Ye never tried her wi' 't! Ye wud arguy wi' her mair nor plenty, but did ye ever shaw her rizzon i' yer behavior?"

"Weel ye are turnin agen me — you 'at's saved my 248 life frae her! Didna I tell you hoo, whan I wan hame at last and gaed til her, for she was aye guid to me whan I wasna weel, she fell oot upo' me like a verra deevil, ragin and ca'in me ill names, 'at I jist ran frae the hoose — and ye ken whaur ye faun' me! Gien it hadna been for you, I wud hae been deid: I was waur nor deid a'ready! What w'y can I be neebor to her! It wud be naething but cat and dog atween's frae mornin lo nicht!"

"Ae body canna be cat and dog baith! And the dog's as ill's the cat — whiles waur!"

"Ony dog wud yowl gien ye threw a kettle o' bilin watter ower him!"

"Did she that til ye?"

"She mintit at it. I ran frae her. She hed the toddy-kettle in her han', and she splasht it in her ain face tryin to fling't at me."

"Maybe she didna ken ye!"

"She kenned me weel eneuch. She ca'd me by my ain as weel's ither names."

"Yere jist croonin my arguyment, Francie! Yer mither's just perishin o' drink! She drinks and drinks, and, by what I hear, cares for noucht else. A' 's upo' the ro'd to ruin in her and aboot her. She hasna the brains noo, gien ever she hed them, to guide hersel. Is Satan to grip her 'cause ye winna be neebor til her and baud him aff o' her? I ken ye're a guid son sae far as lat her du as she likes and tak 'maist a' the siller, but that's what greases the exle o' the cairt the deevil's gotten her intil! I ken weel she hesna been muckle o' a mither til ye, but ye're her son whan a' 's said. There can be naething ye're callt upon to du, sae lang as she's 249 i' the grup o' the enemy, but rugg her oot o' 't. Gien ye dinna that, ye'll never be oot o' 's grup yersel. Ye come oot thegither, or ye bide thegither."

Gordon sat speechless.

"It's possible!" he said at length.

"Francie," rejoined Kirsty, very quietly and solemnly, "ye're yer mother's keeper; ye're her neist neebor: are ye gaein to du yer duty by her, or are ye not?"

"I canna; I daurna; I'm a cooard afore her."

"Gien ye lat her gang on to disgrace yer father, no to say yersel — and that by means o' what's yours and no hers, I'll say mysel 'at ye're a cooard."

''Come hame wi' me and tak my pairt, and I'll promise ye to du my best."

"Ye maun tak yer ain pairt; and ye maun tak her pairt tu against hersel."

"It's no to be thoucht o', Kirsty!"

"Ye winna?"

"I canna my lane. I winna try't. It wud be waur nor useless."

Kirsty rose, turning her face homeward. Gordon sprang to his feet. She was already three yards from him.

"Kirsty! Kirsty!" he cried, going after her.

She went straight for home, never showing by turn of head, by hesitation of step, or by change of carriage, that she heard his voice or his feet behind her.

When they had thus gone two or three hundred yards, he quickened his pace, and laid his hand on her arm.

She stopped and faced him. He dropped his hand, grew yet whiter, and said not a word. She 250 walked on again. Like one in a dream he followed, his head hanging, his eyes on the heather. She went on faster. He was falling behind her, but did not know it. Down and down the hill he followed, and only at the earth-house lifted his head: she was nearly over the opposite brae! He had let her go! He might yet have overtaken her, but he knew that he had lost her.

He had no home, no refuge! Then first, not when alone in the beleaguered city, he knew desolation. He had never knocked at the door of heaven, and earth had closed hers! An angel who needed no flaming sword to make her awful, held the gate of his lost paradise against him. None but she could open to him, and he knew that, like God himself, Kirsty was inexorable. Left alone with that last terrible look from the eyes of the one being he loved, he threw himself in despair on the ground. True love is an awful thing, not to the untrue only, but sometimes to the growing-true, for to everything that can be burned it is a consuming fire. Never more, it seemed, would those eyes look in at his soul's window without that sad, indignant repudiation in them! He rose, and crept into the earth-house.

Kirsty lost herself in prayer as she went. "Lord, I hae dune a' I can!" she said. "Until Thou hast dune something by Thysel, I can du naething mair. He's i' thy han's still, I praise Thee, though he's oot o' mine! Lord, gien I hae dune him ony ill, forgie me; a puir human body canna ken aye the best! Dinna lat him suffer for my ignorance, whether I be to blame for't or no. I will try to do whatever Thou makest plain to me. "


By the time she reached home she was calm. Her mother saw and respected her solemn mood, gave her a mother's look, and said nothing: she knew that Kirsty, lost in her own thoughts, was in good company.

What was passing in the soul of Francis Gordon, I can only indicate, I cannot show. The most mysterious of all vital movements, a generation, a transition, was there — how initiated, God only knows. Francis knew neither whence it came nor whither it went. He was being re-born from above. The change was in himself; the birth was that of his will. It was his own highest action, therefore all God's. He was passing from death into life, and knew it no more than the babe knows that he is being born. The change was into a new state of being, of the very existence of which most men are incredulous, for it is beyond preconception, capable only of being experienced. Thorough as is the change, the roan knows himself the same man, and yet would rather cease to be, than return to what he was. The unknown germ in him, the root of his being, yea, his very being itself, the holy thing which is his intrinsic substance, hitherto unknown to his consciousness, has begun to declare itself, and the worm is passing into the butterfly, the creeping thing into the Psyche. It is a change in which God is the potent Presence, but which the man must will, or remain the jailer who prisons in loathsomeness his own God-born self, and chokes the fountain of his own liberty.

Francis knew nothing of all this; he only felt, he must knock at the door behind which Kirsty lived. Kirsty could not open the door to him, but there 252 was one who could, and Francis could knock! "God help me!" he cried, as he lay on his face to live, where once he had lain on his face to die. For the rising again is the sepulchre. The world itself is one vast sepulchre for the heavenly resurrection. We are all busy within the walls of our tomb burying our dead, that the corruptible may perish, and the incorruptible go free. Francis Gordon came out of that earth-house a risen man: his will was born. He climbed again to the spot where Kirsty and he had sat together, and there, with the vast clear heaven over his head, threw himself once more on his face, and lifted up his heart to the heart whence he came.

VIEWNAME is workSection