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Book of Scottish Story
The Miller of Doune: a Traveller's Tale


CHAPTER IV

An’ now the folk set aff for their ain hames, an’ the miller and his family crackit wi’ their neebours till they parted at the road that led to the mill; and then nane o’ them said onything, for they were a’ busy wi' their ain thoughts ; an’ when the miller gaed into the kitchen, the robin chirped and chirped, for he aye fed it, an’ it was glad to see him.

The miller gets some seed in his hand, an’ as he’s feeding the robin, his heart begins to swell, an’ his ee to fill, an` he says, "Bairns, wha wad hae thought it; I say," clearing his throat, "wha wad hae thought it, bairns, that sae muckle gude wad hae fa’en to oor lot, an’ a’ coming out o’ saving the life o’ a bit burdie ?"

"An’ wha kens, father,” said Jeanie, "but ye may be now rewarded for a’ the gude that grandfather Thomas did, an’ about which ye hae often tell’t us ? For ye ken there’s a promise to that effect in the Bible, an’ as the Bible canna lie, I ken wha’ll hae a gude chance too."

"Ye’re right, Jeanie," quoth the miller, "ye’re very right ; and gie me doun the Bible, and l’se read it to you.”

Just as it was dune, the door flees open, an’ in comes Geordie Wilson, clean out o' breath wi’ running.

"What’s the matter now, man?” says William.

"I’m sure it’s something gude," says James; "I ken by his ee.”

"Ou aye, ou aye," cries Geordie, "grand news! grand news!" an’ he gaspit for breath.

"Tak a wee thought tirne," says James; "and now tell us."

"Weel, ye ken," says Geordie, "that we lost four cows, and an auld horse and a young ane, by the fire, an’ a sair loss it was; an’ when I heard what the king said, I wonder’t, and I better wonder’t, what could he the meaning o’t. An’ Jeanie, she says to me, ‘If I was you, in place o’ standing wondering there, I wad be aff to the Hope;’ sae aff I rins; and when I gets up till’t, lo and behold! I sees sax fine cows, an’ twa as pretty naigs as e’er I set een on, a’ thrang puing awa at the grass; an' as I’m standing glowerin’ at them, an’ wondering whaur they cam frae, a man comes up to me, an’ he says, ‘Are ye Geordie Wilson?’ says he. ‘That’s me,’ says I.

"‘Weel then,' says he, ‘there’s a paper for ye’; an’ as he put it into my hand he began to move awa.

"‘But will ye no stap in, frien’, an’ tak something?’ says I.

"‘No, no,’ cries he, ‘I daurna bide;’ an’ aff he rins.

"Sae I opens the paper, an’ there I sees a letter from our landlord, telling me that as I was a man o’ gude character, an' very industrious, he had sent me the kye an’ the horse in a compliment to mak up my loss; an' saying that as he had a gude opinion o' me, he wad gie me a twa nineteen years’ lease o’ the Hope at the auld rent ; and sae we’ll be happy yet, Jeanie."

"What, sir!" cries the miller, "are ye thinking o’ my Jeanie, an' we sae honour’t as we hae been this day?"

"Gude Heaven!" exclaimed Geordie Wilson, grippin’ the back o’ a chair to keep himsel up;—an’ nae wonder at it, when the miller spak sae gravely, that Jeanie hersel gied a great start. But weel can a bairn read what’s in a parents ee, though anither canna ; an’ the next minute she’d the miller round the neck.-" An’ how daured ye, father, gie me sic a fright?"

"Is—is—is your father only joking, Jeanie?" stammered Geordie Wilson.

"Atweel was I, ” said the miller; "sae, tak her; an’ a’ that I hae to say is, that if I kent ony man that deserved her better, ye wadna hae gotten her. But dinna ye dawt her ower muckle, my man, or gie her a’ her ain way,—but mind ye what King James said the day.”

Geordie held up his hand, an’ lookit at Jeanie, as much as to say, "Do ye hear that, madam?”

But Jeanie, she half steekit her een, au’ made a mouth at him, just like, "An’ wha cares?”

"An' now, baims," continued the miller, "I’m gaun to my room, and mauna be disturbit.’

"He’s awa to pray to his Maker," says Jeanie, "for a’ that’s happened to us, an’ I think we should a’ do the same. At ony rate, I can read the Bible."

"Hout now, woman," says Geordie Wilson, "can ye no just let it stand a wee, an’ gang outby for a little?"

"I dinna think it," says Jeanie.

"But just a wee bit," says Geordie; "nae mair than ten staps, unless ye like,"

"Aweel,” says Jeanie, "but mind, I’ll gang nae farer than just the end o’ the lane."

"Jeanie," says William, "ye’d better put on the pat for the kail."

"Put on the pat!” exclaimed Jeanie, "an’ it no muckle past eleven o’clock! Is the man gane gyte?”

"There’s time eneugh, nae doubt," said William, "gif ye’re back in time.”

"Back in time!" echoed Jeanie, "an’ me only gaun to the end o’ the lane—gae awa wi’ your havers, man!"

"Weel, weel," said William, "we’ll see, we’ll see."

"Ou aye,” said Jeanie, "ye’re aye thinking yoursel wiser than ither folk."

"I really maist dinna ken what to do wi’ mysel the day," said William; "I can neither settle to work, nor yet sit still; ’od, by-the-by, I’ll gang an` ’oup my fishing rod, to be ready for the neist shower."

Sae he taks it doun an’ begins working at it, and presently he sees James rise and put on his bonnet.

"Whaur are ye gaun, James," says he.

"I was thinking,” says James, ‘‘O` gaun up to Wattie Simpson’s to see if they want ony potatoes."

"Just as if they didna get a bow o’ them last Tuesday!" said William.

“Weel, I can stap in an’ speir how they like them."

"Are ye sure, James, you’re gaun there?" asked William, a wee slily.

"Where’er l’m gaun, William, " said James, "I’m gaun for nae harm.”

"I’ve gane far eneugh wi’ Samson," thought William; "sae I’ll say nae mair.” An’ sae he keeps tying his fishing-rod; but no muckle minding what he’s doing, the string plays snap in twa.

"Toots! ” says William, a wee angered, "and me sae near dune!" Sae he begins ower again, wi’ mair care; but he sune forgets himsel again, an’ snap gangs the 'twine a second time.

"The deil tak the string and the whaun too!" cried he, "I’ll meddle nae mair wi’t the day." Sae he hangs it up, and then draws out his watch and examines it again. "It’s really a grand siller watch, an' a grand siller chain too, an mony a ane will be asking to look at it; —and I think Elie Allison wad like to see it ;—and now that I mind o’t, gif I didna promise to ca’ and tell her a’ the news, and me to forget it a' this time!”

Sae awa William fares to Elie’s, and there he sits crackin’ and laughin’ at an unco rate, and never thinking o’ the time o’ day. And Elie’s auntie, she says to him, "And now, William, are ye for takin’ a potato wi’ us, or are ye gaun hame?"

An’ his face turned a wee red, for he thought she wantit him awa; and he said he was gaun hame, to be sure.

"But dinna tak it amiss,” said the auntie, "for I thought ye wad be ower late for hame."

"Nae fear o’ that," said William, "for we dinna dine till twa o’clock.”

"I kent that," said she, "but it’s past it already.”

"The deuce it is!" cried William, jumping up; "then fareweel — I’ll maybe see ye the morn”

As he’s hurrying hame, he sees somebody coming frae the road to the Hope, and walking unco fast.

"’Od,” thought he, "can that be Jeanie? -’deed is’t, an’ I’ll lay my lugs she hasna been hame yet. But I maun get before her, and then see if I dinna gie her’t, for what she said to me the day.”

Sae awa he sets wi’ a’ his might, an’ as he gets near the mill. aff wi’ his coat, an’ up wi’ a spade, an’ begins delving ; an’ keeking ower his shouther, he sees Jeanie turning the corner o’ the plantin’, but he never lets on, nor looks round, till she’s just beside him, an’ speaks to him.

"Hech!" says he, "I’m glad he’s ready at last;—’od, I really thought we were to get nae dinner the day."

"Is my father in the house?" says Jeanie.

"Is your father in the house!" repeated William, "’odsake, lassie, hae ye no been hame yet?"

"I was taigled," answered Jeanie, looking a wee foolish.

"An’ the kail will no be on yet," cried he; "I was sure o’t now—quite sure o’t!”

"An' what for did ye no gang in and put them on yoursel, then, if ye was sae sure o’t?”

"An’ sae I wad, if you hadna threepit, and better threepit, that ye was gaun nae farer than the lane. But dinna put aff time here, for I’se warrant my father’s in a bonny kippidge already. "

"I’m no fear’t for that," says Jeanie but she wasna very easy for a’ that.

Sae when she comes in at the kitchen door, she sees the kail-pat standin’ on the floor, and her father gien a bit pick to the robin.

"Did ever mortal ken the like o’ this? " cried she: "naething to be dune, and my gude auld father sitting just as contentit there as if the dinner was ready to be put on the table ; but we’ll no be lang o’ makin’ something? An’ she up wi’ the stoup, and aff wi’ the lid o’ the pat, when the miller cries to her, " Tak care, jeanie, an’ no spoil the kail!”

"Weel, I declare," she exclaimed, "if that callant shouldna get his paiks, for gauring me believe that the kail wasna ready: but it was thoughtfu’ o’ him, after a’, to pit them on; and troth," says she, "they’re uncommon gude."

"An` what for no, Jeanie?" asked the miller. "Did ye think that your father had forgotten how to mak a patfu’ o’ kail?"

"Did ye mak them, father?"

"Troth did I; wha else was there to do it?"

"But couldna ye hae cried in William, father? I’m sure it wad hae been better for him to hae been in the house, than puttin’ himsel into sic a terrible heat wi’ delving this warm day."

"If William’s in a heat," quoth the miller, "it’s no wi` delving, for I haena seen him near the house the hale day, an’ I was out twa or three times."

"Then I’ll lay onything I ken whaur he’sbeen," said Jeanie; “and him to hae the impudence to speak to me yon gate —but I’se gie him’t;—an’ yet what right hae I to be angry wi’ him, me that’s forgotten mysel sae muckle?”

"Dinna vex yoursel about that, my bairn," quoth the miller; "what has happened the day’s enough to put us a’ out o’ sorts; but we’ll a’ come to oursels belyve. An’ now, Jeanie, gang ye out an look if ye can see James coming hame, an’ then we'll hae our dinner."

Sae awa she gangs, and when William see’s her coming, he pretends to be unco busy working.

"William," cries she, "ken ye whaur James is gane?"

"Me!" said William, "how should I ken whaur folk stravaig to? I might rather hae askit you gif ye had fa’en in wi’ him, I think.”

"Aye, aye, my man, but ye’re speaking rather crouse. And whaur hae ye been yoursel a' day, I wonder? No delvin’, I’m sure, gif ane may judge by ’the wee pickle yird that’s turned up.

"An’ do ye think," said William, "that after a’ my racing and rinnin’, I should hae been delving a’ day, and lighter wark to do about the farm? "

“An’ whaur was ye, then, that father couldua see you when he was out?"

“Did my father cry on me?” asked William. “ ’

"No," said Jeanie; "at least he didna say’t."

"Then that’s it,—just it; for he cries sae loud, that it wad hae wakened a man wi’ the hale haystack abune him, forbye lyin’ at the side o’t. ’

"An’ sae ye’ll hae me to believe," says Jeanie, "that ye was sleepin’; but I’m thinking ye was anither gate. I’se find it out yet."

"Women’s tongues, women’s tongues! " said William, beating a piece yird as if he wad mak pouther o’t; "they’re aye either fleechin’ or ilytin’."

"Did ye ever say that to Elie Allison? Ye’ve been there, I’ve a notion. But we’ll say nae mair about it enow, for yonder’s James ; sae pit ye on your coat, and bring in your spade; or if ye’ll wait, James will carry it for ye, for your arms maun be unco wearit ! "

When William saw James coming alang, as grave-like as frae a preaching, and thought on whaur he had been, he kent he wad laugh in his face downright if he met him, and that might anger Samson; sae he set aff by himsel an' put by his spade. An' when he saw him fairly in the house, an’ had his laugh out alane, he composed himsel, and walked into the kitchen as if naething had happened.


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