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putten in hands; but if you take my preparations for the removal, leaving advice, mem, ye'll see baith mistress her“ guid counsel" for Mrs Laurie's and maid afore ye let fremd folk consideration. Mrs Laurie found into Burnside. It's no ilka hand that little time to deliberate. She had can keep up a room like this ; for I few distant friends, and no great ken mysel the things were nae mair range of correspondents at any time, like what they are now, when I came and another perusal of Miss Annie first, than fir wood's like oak; and Laurie's epistle set her down to anwhat's the matter of twa or three swer it with a puzzled face. A little pounds, by the month, for rent, in amusement, a little impatience, a comparison with ruining a haill house little annoyance, drew together the of furniture ?--though, to be sure its incipient carve on Mrs Laurie's brow, nae business of mine ; and if folk and Jenny's advice got no such juswinna take guid counsel when it's tice at her hands as would have satisoffered, naebody can blame Jenny.” fied Jenny, and was summarily dis
So saying, Jenny went briskly to missed when its time of consideration her kitchen, to set on foot immediate came.
“ Johnnie Lithgow exists no longer." deal of each other of late, and Johnnie The words chased the colour from is a very good fellow, I assure youMenie Laurie's cheek, and drew a not without natural refinement, and pitying exclamation from her lips. very fresh, and hearty, and genial; Alas, for Johnnie Lithgow's mourn moreover, a rising man, as the coming mother! But Menie read on and mon slang goes, and one who has laughed, and was consoled. “There made a wonderful leap in a very short is no such person known about the time; so we must pardon him in his office of the great paper; but Mr first elation if he seems a little negliLythgoe, the rising critic, the leader gent of his friends." of popular judgments, and writer of A slight flush of colour ran waverpopular articles, is fast growing into ing over Menie's cheek as “ a little fame and notice. The days of the salutary humiliation may be necescompositor are over, and I fear the sary" she repeated under her breath, author must be a little troubled about and, starting at the sound of her own the plebeian family who once rejoiced voice, looked round guiltily, as if in the poor young printer's heart. Yet terror lest she had been overheard. the heart remains a very good heart, But there was no one to overhearmy dear Menie-vain, perhaps, and a no one but her own heart, which, sudlittle fickle and wavering, not quite denly startled out of its quiet, looks knowing its own mind, but a very round too with a timid, troubled simple kindly heart in the main, and glance, as if a ghost had crossed its sure to come back to all the natural line of vision, and hears these words duties and loves. I give you full war- echoing softly among all the trees. rant to comfort the mother. Johnnie Well, there is no harm in the words, has been somewhat fêted and lionised but Menie feels as if, in whispering of late, and is not, perhaps, at present them, she had betrayed some secret exactly what our sober unexcitable of her betrothed, and with an uneasy friends call steady. His head is turned step and clouded face she turns away. with the unusual attention he has Why ?-or what has Randall done been receiving, and perhaps a little to call this shadow up on Menie salutary humiliation may be neces- Laurie's way? But Menie Laurie sary to bring him down again; but I neither could or would tell, and only have no fear of him in the end. He feels a cloud of vague vexation and is very clever, writes extremely well, unexplainable displeasure rise slowly and is one of the most wise and sensi- up upon her heart. ble of men-in print. I almost wonder Yet it is no very long time till Mrs that I have not mentioned him to you Laurie hears the news, unshadowed sooner, for he and I have seen a good by any dissatisfaction, and very soon
after Menie is speeding along the "You never can think that Johnnie Kirklands road restored to all her Lithgow is as clever as Randall," said usual cloudlessness, though it happens Menie, indignantly. “That's not somehow, that, after a second bold what I mean either. Randall's not plonge at it in the stillness of her own clever, July. You need not look so room, which reddened Menie's cheek strange at me. Clever! Jenny's again with involuntary anger, she clever; I'm clever myself at some skips this objectionable paragraph in things; but Randall-I call Randall Randall's letter, and, asking herself a genius, July." half andibly, what Johnnie Lithgow And Menie raised loftily the face is to her, solaces herself out of her which was now glowing with a flush aneasiness by Randall's exultation of affectionate pride. With a little over her own last letter. For Ran- awe July assented; but July still in dall is most heartily and cordially her inmost heart asserted Randall to rejoiced to think of having his be- be clever, and rather avoided a distrotbed so near him-there can be cussion of this perplexing word genius, no doubt of that.
which July did not feel herself quite And here upon the hillside path, competent to define or understand. almost like one of those same delicate And now the road begins to slope beechen boughs which wave over its upwards, the hedgerow breaks and summit, July Home comes fluttering opens upon braes of close grass, markdown before the wind-her soft un- ed here and there by bars and streaks certain feet scarcely touching the of brown, like stationary shadows, ground, as you can think-her brown and rich with little nests of lowdress waving-her silky bair betray. growing heather and hillside flowers. ing itself as usual, astray upon her An amphitheatre of low hills opens shoulders. Down comes July, not now from the summit of this one, without a stumble now and then, which the road mounts. Bare unover boulder or bramble, but lookwooded slopes, falling away at their ing very much as if she floated on base into cultivated fields, and rising the sweet atmosphere which streams upward in stretches of close-cropped down fresh and full from the top of pasture land; soft luxurious grass, the hill, and the elastic spring air sweet with its thyme and heather, could bear her well enough upon its with small eyes of flowers piercing up sunny current for all the weight she from under its close-woven bladesbas. Very simple are the girlish salu- soft as summer couch need be, and tations exchanged when the friends elastic as ever repelled the foot of passmeet. “Eh, Medie, where are you ing herdsman; but looking somewhat going?" and “Is that you, July ? bare in its piebald livery, as it breaks you can come with me.”
upon the bright spring sky above. And now the road has two shadows . And the road dives down-down upon it instead of one, and a murmur into the hollows of the circle, where of low-toned voices running like a gleams a winding burn, and rises a hidden tinkle of water along the village, its roofs of tile and thatch hedgerow's side. “Johnnie Lithgow ! basking serenely in the sun. A little eh, I'm glad he's turned clever," said church, holding up a little open belfry little July; "he used to come up against the hillside, as if entreating the hill at nights when nobody ever to be lifted higher, stands at the enplayed with me; and I think, Menie- trance of the village ; and you can you'll no be angry?-he had more already see the little span - broad patience than Randall, for I mind bridges that cross the burn, and the him once carrying me, when I was signboards which hang above the doors just a little thing, all the way round of the cottage shops in the main street. the wood to the Resting Stane, to see Here, too, keeping the road almost the sunset, and minding what I said like an official of equal authority, the too, though I was so wee. I'm glad, smithy glows with its fiery eye upon Menie-I'm sure I'm very glad; but the kirk; for the kirk, you will perRandall, being clever himself, might ceive, is almost a new one, and has have told us abont Johnnie Lithgow little pretensions to the hereditary before."
reverence of its small dependency, standing there bare and alone, with- doleful than her daughter: a petticoat out a single grave to keep watch upon; of some dark woollen stuff, and a clean whereas the smiddy's antique roof is white shortgown, are scarcely enliheavy with lichens; and ploughs and vened by the check apron, bright blae harrows, resplendent in primitive red and white as it is, which girds in the and blue, obtrude themselves a little upper garment; but the close cap way beyond its door, with the satis- which marks her second widowhood faction of conscious wealth.
encloses a face fresh, though careAnd here is a cottage turning its worn, with lines of anxious thought back upon the burn, and modestly something too clearly defined about setting down its white doorstep upon the brow and cheeks. A little perthe rude causeway: the door is open, plexity adds just now to the care upon and some one sits at work by the fire the widow's face; for upon her counside within ; but in a corner stands a ter stands a square wooden box, sack of meal, and a little humble strongly corded and sealed, over counter interposes sideways between which, with much bewilderment, the the fire and the threshold. Some good woman ponders. Very true, it humble goods lie on the window- is directed to Mrs Lithgow, Kirklands, shelves, and the counter itself has & and Kirklands knows no Mrs Lithgow small miscellany-dim glasses, full of but herself; but with a knife in her " sweeties ;" dimmer still with balls hand to cut the cord, and a little of cotton, blue and white, with stiffly broken hammer beside her on the twisted sticks of sampler worsted, and counter, with which she proposes to red and yellow stalks of barley-sugar, “ prise" open the securely nailed lid, scarcely to be distinguished from the the widow still hangs marvelling over thread. Altogether the counter, with the address, and the broad red officeits dangling scales, the half-filled seal, and wonders once again who it shelves that break the light from the can be that sends this mystery to her. window, and the few drawers behind, “I've heard of folk getting what fit out the village shop where Mrs lookit like a grand present, and it Lithgow does a little daily business, turning out naething but a wisp of enough to keep herself, alone and wi- straw, or a weight of stanes," said the dowed, in daily bread.
perplexed Mrs Lithgow, as her young For Nelly Panton, sitting behind at visitors saluted her; " but this is the fire, is a mantua-maker, and main- neither to ca' very heavy nor very tains herself. By good fortune, this licht; and it's no directed in a hand maintenance is very cheaply accom- of write that ane might have kenned, plished; and Nelly's “ drap parritch" but in muckle printed letters like a and cup of tea are by much the small- book; and I'm sure I canna divine, est burden which her society entails if I was thinking on a'body I ever upon her mother. Decent lass as kent a' my days, wha could send such Nelly is, she has come through no a thing to me." small number of vicissitudes, and, " But if you open the box yon'll swayed between household service see," cried July Home. "Eh! I wish and this same disconsolate mantua. you would open it the time we're here; making of hers, like the discontented for I think I ken it's from Johnnie, pendulum- not to speak of two or and Menie Laurie has grand news of three occasions past, when Nelly has Johnnie in her letter. I was as glad been just on the eve of being married, as if it was me. He's turned clever, a consommation which even the de. Mrs Lithgow; he's growing to be a vout desire of Mrs Lithgow has not great man like our Randall. Eh ! yet succeeded in bringing peacefully Menie, what ails her?” to pass — for Nelly and her lovers, Something ailed her that July did as Mrs Lithgow laments pathetically, not know ;-a trembling thrill of ap" can never gree lang enough,” and prehensive joy, an intense realisation some kind fairy always interposes in for the moment of all her terrors and time to prevent any young man of sorrows, suddenly inspired, and floodKirklands from accomplishing to him- ed over with the light of a new hope. self such a fate.
The colour fled from Mrs Lithgow's Mrs Lithgow's dress is scarcely less very lips; the little broken hammer
fell with a heavy clang upon the floor out anger, the offered assistance of at her feet. Her eyes turned wistfully, Nelly, who now crossed her hands eagerly, upon Menie; the light swam demurely on her apron, and stood, in them, and yet they could read so virtuous and resigned, looking on. clearly the expression of this face. Little July, very eager and curious,
And Menie, conquering her blush could not restrain her restless fingers, and hesitation, took out her letter, but helped to loose the knots invoand read bravely so much of it as was luntarily with a zealous aid, which suitable for the mother's ear. The the widow did not refuse; and Menie, mother forgot all about the mysterious not quite sure that it was right to inbox, even though it seemed so likely trude upon the mother's joy, but very Dow to come from Johnnie. She sat certain that she would greatly like to down abruptly on the wooden chair see what Johnnie Lithgow sent home, behind the counter ; she lifted up her lingered, with shyer and less visible checked apron, and pressed it with curiosity, between the counter and the both hands into the corners of her door. eyes. "My puir laddie! my puir But Mrs Lithgow's hands, tremladdie!"-You could almost bave fan- bling with anxiety, and the excitecied it was some misfortune to John- ment of great joy, and the little thin nie which caused this swelling of his fingers of July, never very nervous mother's heart.
at any time, made but slow progress " And he's in among grand folk, in their work; and poor July even and tarning a muckle man himsel," achieved a scratch here and there said Mrs Lithgow softly, after a con- from refractory nails before it was siderable pause. " Was tbat what the concluded. When the lid had been letter said ?-was that what the folk fairly lifted off, a solemn pause entelled me?-and he's my son for a'that sued. No letter appeared; but a bril-Johnnie Lithgow, my ain little liant gown-piece of printed cotton lay young bairn."
uppermost, the cover and wrapper of "I think, mother, ye may just as various grandeurs below. Mrs Lithweel let me open the box," said Nelly, gow pulled out these hidden glories coming forward with her noiseless hurriedly, laying them aside with only step. " We'll ken by what's in't if a passing glance; a piece of silk, too he's keeping thought of us; though grand by far for anybody within a I'm sure it's no muckle like as if he mile of Kirklands; ribbons which even was, keeping folk anxious so lang, Menie Laurie beheld with a flutter of and him prospering. I'll just open admiration; and a host of other artithe box. I wouldna be ane to hang cles of feminine adornment, so indisat his tails if Johnnie thought shame putably put together by masculine of his poor friends ; but still a consi- hands that the more indifferent specderate lad would mind that there's tators were tempted to laughter at mony a little thing might be useful at last. But Mrs Lithgow had no leisure Kirklands. I'll open the box and to laugh-no time to admire the somesee."
what coarse shawl which she could The mother rose to thrust her away wear, nor the gay gowns which she angrily. "Is it what he sends I'm could not. Down to the very depths, heeding about, think ye?" she ex. and, conclusion of all, to the white claimed, with momentary passion. paper lying in the bottom of the box; * I'm his mother: I'm seeking nae. but not a scrap of written paper bade Ibing but bis ain welfare and well. his mother receive all these from doing. Was't gifts I wanted, or pro. Johnnie. The gift came unaccompuat by my son? But ane needna speak nied by a single word to identify the to you."
giver. Mrs Lithgow sat down again "Eh! but there's maybe a letter." in her chair, subdued and silent, and said July Home, with a little natural Menie had discernment enough to see artifice. “ Mrs Lithgow, I would
the bitter tears of disappointed hope open it and see.”
that gathered in the mother's eyes ; Mrs Lithgow, with this hope. but she said nothing, either of com
oras vigorously, though with ment or complaint, till the slow busia trem
bung hand-rejecting, not with ness-like examination with which
Nelly began to turn over these ano- my Johnnie; he was never like other nymous gifts, startled into sudden callants a' his days." provocation and anger the excitement But still Mrs Lithgow could not which, but for pride and jealous re- bear Nelly's slow matter-of-fact pergard that no one should have a word usal, and comment on her new treato say against her son, would fain sures. She put them up, one by one, have found another channel.
restored them to the box, and carried " Eh! Mrs Lithgow, isn't it bon- it away to her own room in her own nie ? " cried simple little July Home, arms, to be privately wept and reas she smoothed down with her hand joiced over there. the glistening folds of silk. Mrs Lith- “ Randall never sent home anygow had laid violent hands upon it, thing like yon," said July softly to to thrust it back into the box out of herself, as they returned to Burnside, Nelly's way; but as July spoke, her "and Randall was clever before Johnown womanish interest was roused, nie Lithgow. I wonder he never had and now, when the first shock had the thought." passed, the tears in the widow's eyes “ Randall knows better," said Megrew less salt and bitter; she looked nie. " When Randall sends things, at the beautiful fabric glistening in the he sends becoming things; it's only light-she looked at the little pile of you, July, that have not the thought : bright ribbons-at the warm comfort- if Johnnie Lithgow had been wise, he able shawl, and her heart returned to would not have sent such presents to its first flush of thankfulness and con- Kirklands." tent.
But just then a line of a certain " It's far owre grand for the like of favourite song crossed Menie's mind me," she said at last ; " it would be against her will — " Wisdom's sae mair becoming some of you young cauld;" and July looked down upon ladies : but a young lad's no to be her own printed frock, and thought a expected to ken about such things; silken gown, like Johnnie Lithgow's and he's bought it for the finest he present, might be a very becoming could get, and spent a lock of siller thing. At seventeen-even at twenty on't, to pleasure his mother. I'm no -one appreciates a piece of kindly surprised mysel-it's just like his kind folly fully better than an act of wisheart; but there's few folk fit to judge dom.
But Menie Laurie was by no means There was little time for speculation satisfied that even simple little July on the subject, yet many a mood of should make comparison so frequent Menie's was tinged by its passing between Randall, her own hero, and gleam, for Menie sometimes thought the altogether new and sudden eleva- her betrothed unappreciated, and was tion of Johnnie Lithgow. Johnnie lofty and scornful, and disposed in his Lithgow might be very clever, might behalf to defy all the world. Somebe a newspaper conductor, and a times impatient of the estimation, rising man; but Randall-Randall, which, great though it was, was not in spite of the little chillness of that great enough, Menie felt not without assumed superiority which could think a consoling self-satisfaction that she humiliation necessary to bring his alone did Randall perfect justice. youthful countryman down-in spite Johnnie Lithgow !-what though he of Menie's consciousness that there did write articles! Menie was very lacked something of the frank and glad to believe, condescendingly, that generous tone with which one high he might be clever, but he never could spirit should acknowledge the excel- be Randall Home. lence of another--Randall was still “You'll hae heard the news," said the ideal genius, the something so far Miss Janet, sitting very upright in above “ clever," that Menie felt him one of the Burnside easy-chairs, with insulted by praise so mean as this word her hands crossed on her knee ; " they implied.
say that you and our Randall, Miss