When David came in to supper, he said nothing, expecting Kirsty every moment to appear. Marion was the first to ask what had become of her. David answered she had left him in the workshop.

"Bless the bairn! What can she be aboot this time o' nicht?" said her mother.

"I kenna," returned David.

When they had sat eating their supper for ten minutes, vainly expecting her, David went out to look for her. Returning unsuccessfully, he found that Marion had sought her all over the house with like result. Then they became uneasy.

Before going to look for her, however, David had begun to suspect her absence in one way or another connected with the subject of their conversation in the workshop, to which he had not for the moment meant to allude. When now he told his wife what had passed, he was a little surprised to find that immediately she grew calm.

"Ow, than, she'll be wi' Steenie!" she said.

Nor did her patience fail, but revived that of her husband. They could not, however, go to bed, but sat by the fire, saying a word or two now and then. The slow minutes passed, and neither of them moved save David once to put on peats.


The house-door flew open suddenly, and they heard Kirsty cry, "Mother, mother!" but when they hastened to the door, no one was there. They heard the door of her room close, however, and Marion went up the stair. By the time she reached it, Kirsty was in a thick petticoat and buttoned-up cloth-jacket, had a pair of shoes on her bare feet, and was glowing a "celestial rosy-red." David stood where he was, and in half a minute Kirsty came in three leaps down the stair to him, to say that Francie was lying in the weem. In less than a minute the old soldier was out with the stable-lantern harnessing one of the horses, the oldest in the stable, good at standing, and not a bad walker. He called for no help, yet was round at the door so speedily as to astonish even Kirsty, who stood with her mother in the entrance by a pile of bedding. They put a mattress in the bottom of the cart, and plenty of blankets. Kirsty got in, lay down and covered herself up, to make the rough ambulance warm, and David drove off. They soon reached the weem and entered it.

The moment Kirsty had lighted the candle,

"Lassie," cried David, "There's been a wuman here?"

"It luiks like it," answered Kirsty: "I was here mysel, father!"

"Ay, ay! of coorse but here's claes — wuman's claes! Whaur cam they frae? Wha's claes can they be?"

"Wha's but mine " returned Kirsty, as she stooped to remove from his face the garment that covered his head.


"The Lord preserve us! — to the verra stockins upo' the han's o' 'm!"

"I had no dreid, father, o' the Lord seein me as He made me!"

"Lassie," cried David, with heartfelt admiration. " Ye sud hae been dother til a field-mershall."

"I wudna be dother til a king!" returned Kirsty. "Gien I hed to be born again, I wudna be born 'cep it was to Dauvid Barclay."

"My ain lassie!" murmured her father. "But, eh," he added, interrupting his own thoughts, "We maun haud oor tongues till we've dune the thing we're sent to du!"

They bent at once to their task.

David was a strong man still, and Kirsty was as good at a lift as most men. They had no difficulty in raising Gordon between them, David taking his head and Kirsty his feet, but it was not without difficulty they got him through the passage. In the cart they covered him so that, had he been a new-born baby, he could have taken no harm except it were by suffocation;and then, Kirsty sitting with his head in her lap, they drove home as fast as the old horse could step out.

In the mean time Marion had got her best room ready, and warm. When they reached it, Francie was certainly still alive, and they made haste to lay him in the hot feather-bed. In about an hour they thought he swallowed a little milk. Neither Kirsty nor her parents went to bed that night, and by one or other of them the patient was constantly attended.

Kirsty took the first watch, and was satisfied that 227 his breathing grew more regular, and by and by stronger. After a while it became like that of one in a troubled sleep. He moved his head a little, and murmured like one dreaming painfully. She called her father, and told him he was saying words she could not understand. He took her place, and sat near him. When presently his soldier-ears still sharp, heard indications of a hot siege. Once he started up on his elbow, and put his hand to the side of his head. For a moment he looked wildly awake, then sank back and went to sleep again.

As Marion was by him in the morning, all at once he spoke again, and more plainly.

"Go away, mother!" he said. "I am not mad. I am only troubled in my mind. I will tell my father you killed me."

Marion tried to rouse him, telling him his mother should not come near him. He did not seem to understand, but apparently her words soothed him, for he went to sleep once more.

He was gaunt and ghastly to look at. The scar on his face, which Kirsty had taken for the mark of her whip, but which was left by the splinter that woke him, remained red and disfiguring. But the worst of his look was in his eyes, whose glances wandered about uneasy and searching. It was clear all was not right with his brain. I doubt if any other of his tenants would have recognized him.

For a good many days he was like one awake yet dreaming, always dreading something, invariably starting when the door opened, and when quietest would lie gazing at the one by his bedside as if puzzled. He took in general what food they brought 228 him, but at times refused it quite. They never left him alone for more than a moment.

So far were they from giving him up to his mother, that the mere idea of letting her know he was with them never entered the mind of one of them. To the doctor, whom at once they had called in, there was no need to explain the right by which they constituted themselves his guardians: any one would have judged it better for him to be with them than with her. David said to himself that when Francie wanted to leave them he should go; but he had sought refuge with them, and he should have it: nothing should make him give him up except legal compulsion.

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