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Colin of the Ninth Concession
Chapter LIII - Auld Peggy spreads the Romantic Story


WHEN Colin returned to the house and joined the company, a glance told him that everything had been talked over in his absence. His lover’s instinct detected the shade of sadness in Katie’s face, and his first act was to walk to her side, bend fondly over her, stroke her hair, and kiss her, as he told her how fortunate he was to have her by his side in entering upon his new responsibilities.

I think this act upon Colin’s part pleased the widow. She had always been so proud of him, and it touched her to think that the young man’s first act, after receiving the news, was to honour her daughter and his own sweetheart. She beamed kindly on the young man, who went over to her side, took her hand in his, and gazing into her blue eyes, while the tears stood in his own, said, "Mother dear, won’t you give me your blessing?"

Mrs. McNabb stroked the young man’s head, and kissing his brow, she said, "Ah, Colin, my son, God will honour you in proportion to your faithfulness and usefulness in the high position to which you are now called."

The news of Colin’s inheritance soon became known throughout the settlement and the adjacent country-side. Undoubtedly the most industrious relater of the story was Auld Peggy, who declared that it was the "maist excitin’ piece o’ tidin’s since ‘th’ burnin’." Many a good cup of tea the old body secured at the homes of settlers whither she carried the news. It was glorious to listen to Auld Peggy as she unwound the story, embellishing it here and there, and supplying an amplitude of detail varied in its character to suit the peculiarities of each listener.

"Losh me," she would begin again, "an’ did ye hear th’ news, Mustress McPhairson? It’s aboot yoan lad wha Mustress McNabb brocht up. Weel, weel, it’s jist like this; Coalin’s mither wis th’ wife o’ an earl er a prince er some great maun high up in th’ gentry, an’ he ups an’ dees wi’oot leavin’ a chick nor a chiel, an’ Coalin’s mither, wha wis Watty’s sister, she dees too, an’ sae th’ entire estate gangs tae Coalin. Ah’m told, but Ah canna vouch f’r ‘t, thet Coalin may be heir tae th’ Brutish throne. It’s like eneuch; there’s na tellin’ wha’ may happen in these days o’ surprises."

Then Auld Peggy would drop into a reminiscent mood, and continue :

"Ah remember unco weel, Mustress McPhairson, th’ mornin’ o’ th’ burnin’, whan th’ little scrawny bairn wis rescued frae th’ awfu’ place. Ah didna think thar wis onything speecial aboot th’ lad, but he ay growed up till be a youth o’ great proamise an’ pairts, an’ whan he thrashed Simon, th’ skulemaister, Ah made up ma mind thet he wis destined tae be a great maun. Wall, whan he distinguished humsel’ in th’ Yankee war, Ah wis preparit f’r onything, sae thet, tae tall ‘e th’ truth, Mustress McPhairson, Ah’m no’ sae muckle surprised thet he hes won his way richt up intil th’ aristocracy o’ England. Ay! he’s a gae pushin’ lad, is Coalin, an’ can be coonted upon no’ till rest until he hes Queen Victoria’s place. I aye thocht, whan Preesident Lincoln wis shoat doon by yoan blackguard Wulkie Booth, thet th’ Yankees wad hae seiecktit Coalin f’r Lincoln’s post, an’ Ah’m still conveenced they wad hae dune it, only Jock, th’ drover, tails me they hae tae hae a maun wha’s born in their ain countree."

With the prospect of an extra cup of tea Auld Peggy would canter along :

"Aye, aye, Mustress McPhairson, an’ they tall me thet Katie’s gettin’ her waddin’ trowso made a’ready, an’ thet it’s tae be th’ finest in th’ lan’. They say thet it’ll coast mor’n sax poon sax, f’r silks an’ satins come gey high th’ noo, but Ah’m no creditin’ yoan statement. They also say thet Katie wull hae a keeridge an’ fower, an’ thet she’ll hae maids tae wait on her, han’ an’ fit. Weel, weel, it’s no’ her mither thet hed sicna time whan she wis a lassie. Why, Ah waitit on her masel’ whan ivery ain o’ her bairns wis born, an’ Ah pit th’ first shirt upo’ each o’ their backs, but Ah hae na doot they’ll a’ forgit puir Auld Peggy in thar new-loon walth an’ poseetion, although it wadna be like th’ wuddow hersel’ tae dae it. ‘Twould be liker th’ bairns, although Ah canna say thet they iver showed pride tae Auld Peggy, an’ whan Ah met Coalin on th’ toon-line th’ ither day, he aye stoppit me an’ made me promise Ah wad write till hum in his graun’ country-seat in Englan’. Ah’m no’ thinkin’, Mustress McPhairson, thet he meent a word o’t, but ‘twas rail kin’ o’ hum, onyway. He slippit twa shillin’ intil my han’ es he said guid-bye, an’ he proamised whan he cam’ intil his kingdom, those were his verra words, thet he’d remember Auld Peggy, an’ Ah believe he wull."

After delivering herself of the above, Auld Peggy threw Dugal, who wagged his stub tail expectantly, a crust, then lighting her pipe, she mused a long time. Presently she said, speaking to the dog, " Dae ye think, Dugal, es Coalin wull remember us whan he comes intil his kingdom?" Dugal wagged his tail, and his remaining watery, light-coloured eye blinked.

"Oh ye dae, dae ye? Weel, weel, p’r’aps he wull. An’ than, Dugal, it’ll be easier f’r us baith; f’r truth tae tall ‘e, Ah’m becomin’ weary o’ th’ rawd, an’ Ah’m thinkin’, puir Dugal, ye are weary es weel."

Colin did not forget his promise to Auld Peggy.


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