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mother watched them from the tower, until ihey entirely disappeared.
I left my ladye's bower last night—
It was clad in wreaths of snaw,—
And sweet the roses blaw.
Incensed at what he deemed the coldness of his friends, in a cause which interested him so nearly, Hobbie had shaken himself free of their company, and was now on his solitary road homeward. "The fiend founder thee !*said he, as he spurred impatiently his over-fatigued and stumbling horse : "thou art like a' the rest o' them. Hae I not bred thee, and fed thee, and dressed thee wi' mine ain hand, and wouldst thou snapper now and break my neck at my utmost need 9 But thou'rt e'en like the lave—the farthest offo' them a' is my cousin ten times removed; and day or night I wad hae served them wi' my best blood; and now, I think they show mair regard to the common thief of Westburnflat than to their ain kinsman. But I should see the lights now in Houghfoot—Waes me!" he continued, recollecting himself, "there will neither coal nor candle-light shine in the Heugh-foot ony mair! An it werena for my mother and sisters, and poor Grace, I could find it in my heart to put spurs to the beast, and loup ower the scaur into the water to make an end o't a'."—In this disconsolate mood he turned his horse's bridle toward the cottage in which his family had found refuge.
As he approached the door, he heard whispering and tittering amongst his sisters. "The deevil's in the women," said poor Hobbie; "they would nicker, and laugh, and giggle, if their best friend was lying a corp—and yet I am glad they can keep up their hearts sae weel, poor silly things; but the dirdum fa's oh me, to be sure, and no on them."
8 vOL. I.
While he thus meditated, he was engaged in fastening up his horse in a shed. "Thou maun do without horsesheet and surcingle now, lad," he said, addressing the animal; "you and me hae had a downcome alike; we had better hae i'a'en in the deepest pool o' Tarras."
He was interrupted by the youngest of his sisters, who came running out, and, speaking in a constrained voice, as if to stifle some emotion, called out to him, "What are ye doing there, Hobbie, fiddling about the naig, and there's ane frae Cumberland been waiting here for ye this hour and mair 1 Haste ye in, man; I'll take off the saddle."
"Ane frae Cumberland!" exclaimed Elliot; and putting the bridle of his horse into the hatid of his sister, he rushed into the cottage. "Where is he? where is he?" he exclaimed, glancing eagerly around, and seeing only females; " Did he bring news of Grace?"
"He doughtna bide an instant langer," said the elder sister, still with a suppressed laugh.
"Hout fie, bairns!" said the old lady, with something of a good-humoured reproof, "ye shouldna vex your billy Hobbie that way. Look round, my bairn, and see if there isna ane here mair than ye left this morning."
Hobbie looked eagerly round. "There's you, and the three titties."
"There's four of us now, Hobbie, lad," said the youngest, who at this moment entered.
In an instant Hobbie had in his arms Grace Armstrong, who, with one of his sisters' plaids around her, had passed unnoticed at his first entrance. "How dared you do this V said Hobbie.
"It wasna my fault," said Grace, endeavouring to cover her face with her hands to hide at once her blushes and escape the storm of hearty kisses with which her bridegroom punished her simple stratagem,—" It wasna my fault, Hobbie; ye should kiss Jeanie and the rest o' them, for they hae the wyte o't."
"And so I will," said Hobbie, and embraced and kissed his sisters and grandmother a hundred times, while the whole party half-laughed, half-cried, in the extremity of their joy. "I am the happiest man," said Hobbie throwing himself down on a seat, almost exhausted,—" I am the happiest man in the world!"
"Then, O my dear bairn," said the good old dame, who lost no opportunity of teaching her lesson of religion at those moments when the heart was best open to receive it,—" Then, O my son, give praise to Him that brings smiles out o' tears and joy out o' grief, as he brought light out o' darkness and the world out o' naething. Was it not my word, that if ye could say His will be done, ye might hae cause to say His name be praised V
"It was—it was your word, grannie ; and I do praise Him for his mercy, and for leaving me a good parent when my ain were gane," said honest Hobbie, taking her hand, " that puts me in mind to think of Him, baith in happiness and distress."
There was a solemn pause of one or two minutes employed in the exercise of mental devotion, which expressed, in purity and sincerity, the gratitude of the affectionate family to that Providence who had unexpectedly restored to their embraces the friend whom they had lost.
Hobbie's first inquiries were concerning the adventures which Grace had undergone. They were told at length, but amounted in substance to this :—That she was awaked by the noise which the ruffians made in breaking into the house, and by the resistance made by one or two of the servants, which was soon overpowered ; that, dressing herself hastily, she ran down stairs, and having seen, in the scuffle, Westburnflat's vizard drop off, imprudently named him by his name, and besought him for mercy; that the ruffian instantly stopped her mouth, dragged her from the house, and placed her on horseback, behind one of his associates.
"I'll break the accursed neck of him," said Hobbie, "if there werena another Graeme in the land but himsell!"
She proceeded to say, that she was carried southward along with the party, and the spoil which they drove before them, until they had crossed the Border. Suddenly a person, known to her as a kinsman of Westburnflat, came riding very fast after the marauders, and told their leader, that his cousin had learnt from a sure hand that no luck would come of it, unless the lass was restored* to her friends. After some discussion, the chief of the party seemed to acquiesce. Grace was placed behind her new guardian, who pursued in silence, and with great speed, the least-frequented path to the Heugh-foot, and ere evening closed set down the fatigued and terrified damsel within a quarter of a mile of the dwelling of her friends. Many and sincere were the congratulations which passed on all sides.
As these emotions subsided, less pleasing considerations began to intrude themselves.
"This is a miserable place for ye a'," said Hobbie, looking around him; "I can sleep weel eneughmysell outby beside the naig, as I hae done mony a lang night on the hills; but how ye are to put yoursells up, I canna see! And, what's waur, I canna mend it; and what's waur than a', the morn may come, and the day after that, without your being a bit better off."
"It was a cowardly cruel thing," said one of the sisters, looking round, "to harry a puir family to the bare wa's this gate."
"And leave us neither stirk nor stot," said the youngest brother, who now entered, "nor sheep nor lamb, nor aught that eats grass and corn."
"If they had ony quarrel wi' us," said Harry, the second brother, "were we na ready to have fought it out 1 And that we should have been a' frae hame, too, —ane and a' upon the hill—Odd, an we had been at hame, Will Graeme's stamach shouldna hae wanted its morning ; but it's biding him, is it na, Hobbie V
"Our neighbours hae ta'en a day at the Castleton to gree wi' him at the sight o' men," said Hobbie mournfully; "they behoved to have it a' their ane gate, or there was nae help to be got at their hands."
"To gree wi' him!" exclaimed both his brothers at once, "after siccan an act of stouthrife as hasna been heard o' in the country since the auld riding days!"
"Very true, billies, and my blood was e'en boiling at
it; but the sight o' Grace Armstrong has settled it
"But the stocking, Hobbie V said John Elliot; "we're utterly ruined. Harry and I hae been to gather what was on the outby land, and there's scarce a cloot left. I kenna how we're to carry on—We maun a' gang to the wars, I think. Westburnflat hasna the means, e'en if he had the will, to make up our loss; there's nae mends to be got out o' him, but what ye take out o' his banes. He hasna a four-footed creature but the vicious blood thing he rides on, and that's sair trash'd wi' his night wark. We are ruined stoop and roop."
Hobbie cast a mournful glance on Grace Armstrong, who returned it with a downcast look and a gentle sigh.
"Dinna be cast down, bairns," said the grandmother, "we hae gude friends that winna forsake us in adversity. There's Sir Thomas Kittleloof is my third cousin by the mother's side, and he has come by a hantle siller, and been made a knight-baronet into the bargain, for being ane o' the Commissioners, at the Union."
"He wadna gie a bodle to save us frae famishing," said Hobbie; "and, if he did, the bread that I bought wi't would stick in my throat, when I thought it was part of the price of puir auld Scotland's crown and independence."
"There's the Laird o' Dunder, ane o' the auldest families in Tiviotdale."
"He's in the tolbooth, mother—he's in the heart of Mid-Lowden for a thousand merk he borrowed from Saunders Wyliecoat the writer." 8* vOL. 1.