"We twa hae run aboot the
And pu'd the gowans fine,
But we've wandered many a weary mile
Sin auld lang syne."
ROB wrote he would be able
to spend a few days at home on his way up from Montreal, and Elspeth and
Phemie made elaborate preparations in his honor. All his boyish likes were
to be indulged. It is sometimes worth going away for, this finding out how
much our nearest of kin do remember us and our penchants.
Sandy went to Oliver's
Ferry for him—he came from Montreal to Bytown, thence up on the Beaver.
Only one man, whom Sandy did not know, got off at the Ferry. Sandy was
turning away, disappointed, when a manly voice called "Faither!"
"Rob, lad!" cried Sandy,
turning with outstretched hand; "I'll ne'er kenned 't was ye, 'n I was
weary t' think o' ganging back till yer mither 'n th' lass wi'out ye."
"Hoo 'r they a'?" asked
"Th' lass 'n yer mither's
weel," answered Sandy; "aiblins fer a mon till eat a' the wee bit cakes
they've wrought oot o' butter 'n sugar 'n floor 'd happen mak 'm wish he'd
ne'er set foot t' hame."
"Ne'er be feart fer me wi'
thae, faither," said Rob, laughing, "ye'll ken the shanty gies a mon na
fears o' dyspepsy."
He wanted to ask after the
other family, but someway the words stuck in his throat. Presently Sandy
"Jamie's lass 's awa till
Merrickville wi' Abel Ward's gudewife; puir bit body, she's nanet' blame
fer her mither's whimmies. That lad Maxwell suld hae ta'en her awa wi' 'im."
"He'll be gaun awa?" asked
"'Deed ay, near by the year
last Januar'. Did we no write ye?"
"Ye'll did no', in any
letter that reached me," said Rob, who was feeling his fingers clinch;—had
Maxwell stood between him and Jean, only to leave her when the fit took
him ? But he couldn't talk to his father of this, so put his troubles away
until alone, and interested himself in what Sandy was saying.
"Ye'll no ken th' lass
Phemie, ony mair 'n I did yersel'," said Sandy; "she's aye got sae
Englishy, yer mither 'n I hae wark to keep track o' 'r."
And it was so. Phemie,
always gentle and winning, had quickly assumed the dignity of years and
the graciousness of a "fine lady," which really was hers by hereditary
"I am very glad to see you
brother," she greeted Rob with offering her cheek for a kiss.
"Why Phemie, lass, whaur's
yer ain tongue gane?" asked Rob, as he kissed her with an energy that long
lost brothers feel privileged to.
"Yon's richt, lad! th's aye
times when I'm feart she'll be t' no' unnerstaun her mither 'n me," said
"You know better, father,"
said Phemie, smiling affectionately on Sandy; "but why should I try to be
different from everyone else? I love the auld tongue, so did you the auld
land—but you left it."
"Ay, lass," said Sandy, "ye're
maist sure t' be richt. I'll no fash ye gin ye talk Spaneesh."
Rob went one day to Perth,
and there surprised those who had known him a year and a half ago more
than he had surprised his father. He was not a shy, growing country lad,
making an infrequent visit to town, and not all sure of the board-walks ;
but a man who was confident both the walks and limbs would be equal to the
occasion ; a man master of the situation, whatever the situation might be.
He was really well received, and obliged to decline several invitations to
"call at the house," given by men of weight.
He had thought himself
stronger than he was: the town stifled him—Jean was with him the last trip
he made to Perth (except through on his way to Lanark the morning after
the logging-bee). He got away as soon as he could, and back home.
Had Phemie only told him
what she knew, that Jean had sent Philip Maxwell away. But this was Jean's
secret and Philip's secret, she felt she had no more right to disclose
what had thus come to her by intuition than if it had been confided to
her. Then not the faintest suspicion dawned on her that Rob cared, beyond
a brotherly liking for Jean, and had that sort of an interest in her
In Rob's disappointment—and
he was disappointed in spite of having spent months schooling himself to
manfully bear what he had felt sure since the night of the logging bee
would take place —he did not stop to consider the chances were not good
for Jean knowing of his expected return; he tormented himself thinking she
did know and had gone away to avoid giving him pain. For one thing Phemie
did tell him, speaking of mining operations, Philip Maxwell would return
again some time. Then, and notwithstanding the stern task-taking of the
past months, not till then, did he give up hope, and repeat to himself,
with emphasis, that he must give this up and begin forgetting, not Jean,
Yet Jean had stood on the
river-front gallery of the old Mirick house when the Beaver steamed past
and turned off to enter the locks; and Jean had told Philip Maxwell she
"had na hairt t' gie him." The links were needed "tae keep ither barks
In a day or two Rob said
good-bye; he could not tell how long he would be away, he would go to
Boston again in the spring.
Elspeth was "sair t' pairt
wi' 'm." "Ay," she said, "a lad bairn 'll whiles bring sorrow t' ye're
hairt gin they're like gauld tried in th' fire wi' gude-ness, e'en th' man
Jesus caused his mither tae greet; I'll whiles wunner 'll th' be oors in
th' laun ayont thae bit cloods, where th'se na pairtin', 'r will a' o' 's,
mithers 'n lads, juist be th' Laird's."
"We will surely know each
other, mither, when this body is raised ' an incorruptible body,' but I
think earthly affections will have no place, we will all be ' as the
angels'," said Phemie.
"I'll no thocht th' Laird
'd dae that wi' 's, gie's oor bairns juist lang eneuch tae twine roun' oor
hairts 'n then snatch them awa' for baith time and eternity," said
Elspeth, rather rebelliously.
"Don't you think, mither,
that'll be the way we bear the sins o' oor first parents; change came into
the world when death came and it fell on all alike, father, mother, son,
and daughter. Did you ever think how sair 't is for the care-free happy
bairn to assume the responsibilities of manhood and womanhood."
"I'll no can see hoo ye'll
think o' a' these things; is't at th' toun ye learn them?'' said Elspeth,
half grumbling, yet wholly proud of Phemie's acquirements.
"I have learned much from
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, and in the teachers' meetings," replied Phemie, " an'
now I must tell you the word from town— Mr. Wilson's called before the
Presbytery for his sermon of two weeks ago."
"I'll see naething in thae
sermon t' ca' 'm before th' Presbytery," said Elspeth in surprise, "happen
there'll be those whilk 'r wantin' tae get awa' frae th' kirk.
"No one here can charge Mr.
Wilson with being a stumbling block very long," said Phemie; "he's had a
call back to Scotland and he's for going hame."
"Ye'll miss them sair,
lass," said Elspeth, "an' I'll be fu' weary tae hae them gang awa' frae
ye, the've aye been like a brither 'n sister till ye."
"Yes, mither, I'll miss
them, and I'll miss the lessons, and the long talks; I seemed to have
lived half a lifetime in the short two years I have known Mr. and Mrs.
Wilson, but after all, mither, they are not Jean, nobody else is Jean."
"Phemie, lass, hae ye no'
got ower yon?" said Elspeth in anxious surprise; "I'll no' kenned ye'll
thocht so much on it."
But Phemie had slipped away
to hide the tears that would fall in spite of efforts to restrain them.
"It's vera strange th'
whimsies we'll hae, noo a' day: I hae been thinkin' o' Marget Cameron, 'n
I soomway forgi'e a' she'll said tae my wee lass, 'n I'd like weel tae
tell her soom things I ken o'," commented Elspeth when she found herself