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Book of Scottish Story
The Penny Wedding

By Alex. Campbell

Part 3

The house, or farmsteading of this worthy person was of the very best description of such establishments. The building itself was substantial, nay even handsome, while the excellent garden which was attached to it, and all the other accessories and appurtenances with which it was surrounded, indicated wealth and comfort. Its situation was on the summit of a gentle eminence that sloped down in front to a noisy little rivulet, that careered along through a narrow rugged glen overhanging with hazel, till it came nearly opposite the house, where it wound through an open plat of green sward, and shortly after again plunged into another little romantic ravine similar to the one it had left.

The approach to Mr Harrison’s house lay along this little rivulet, and was commanded, for a considerable distance, by the view from the former—a circumstance which enabled Jeanie Harrison to descry, one fine summer afternoon, two or three days after the occurrence of the events just related, the approach of the fiddler with whom she had danced at the wedding. On making this discovery, Jeanie ran to announce the joyful intelligence to all the other members of the family, and the prospect of a merry dancing afternoon opened on the delighted eyes of its younger branches.

When the fiddler—with whose identity the reader is now as well acquainted as we are—had reached the bottom of the ascent that led to the house, Jeanie, with excessive joy beaming in her bright and expressive eye, and her cheek glowing with the roseate hues of health, rushed down to meet him, and to welcome him to Todshaws.

" Thank ye, my bonny lassie—thank ye," replied the disguised baronet, expressing himself in character, and speaking the language of his assumed station.

" Are ye ready for anither dance ? ”

" Oh, a score o’ them—a thousand o’ them,” said the lively girl.

" But will your faither, think ye, hae nae objections to my comin? ” inquired the fiddler.

" Nane in the warld. My faither is nane o’ your sour caries that wad deny ither folk the pleasures they canna enjoy themsels. He likes to see a’body happy around him—every ane his ain way. ”

" An’ your mother ?”

" Jist the same. Ye’ll find her waur to fiddle doun than ony o’ us. She’ll dance as lang’s a string hauds o’t.”

" Then, I may be quite at my ease,” rejoined Sir John.

" Quite so," replied ]eanie—and she slipped half-a-crown into his hand—"and there’s your arles; but ye’ll be minded better ere ye leave us. "

" My word, no an ill beginnin," quoth the musician, looking with well affected delight at the coin, and afterwards putting it carefully into his pocket.

" But ye could hae gien me a far mair acceptable arles than half-a-crown,” he added, " and no been a penny the poorer either.”

" What’s that? ” said Jeanie, laughing and blushing at the same time, and more than half guessing from the looks of the pawky fiddler, what was meant.

" Why, my bonny leddie,” he replied, "jist a kiss o’ that pretty little mou o’ yours."

" Oh, ye gowk ! ” exclaimed Jeanie, with a roguish glance at her humble gallant ; for, disguised as he was, he was not able to conceal a very handsome person, nor the very agreeable expression of a set of remarkably fine features—qualities which did not escape the vigilance of the female eye that was now scanning their possessor. Nor would we say that these qualities were viewed with total indifference, or without producing their effect, even although they did belong to a fiddler.

" Oh, ye gowk ! ” said Jeanie ; " wha ever heard o’ a fiddler preferring a kiss to half-a-crown ? "

" But I do, though,” replied the disguised knight; "and I’ll gie ye yours back again for’t.”

" The mair fule you," exclaimed Jeanie, rushing away towards the house, and leaving the fiddler to make
out the remainder of the way by himself.

On reaching the house, the musician was ushered into the kitchen, where a plentiful repast was instantly set before him, by the kind and considerate hospitality of Jeanie, who, not contented with her guest’s making a hearty meal at the table, insisted on his pocketing certain pieces of cheese, cold meat, etc., which were left. These the fiddler steadily refused; but Jeanie would take no denial, and with her own hands crammed them into his capacious pockets, which, after the operation, stuck out like a well-filled pair of saddle-bags. But there was no need for any one who might be curious to know what they contained, to look into them for that purpose. Certain projecting bones of rnutton and beef, which it was found impossible to get altogether out of sight, sufficiently indicated their contents. Of this particular circumstance, however, —we mean the projection of the bones from the pockets—we must observe, the owner of the said pockets was not aware, otherwise, we daresay, he would have been a little more positive in rejecting the provender which Jeanie’s warmheartedness and benevolence had forced upon him.

Be this as it may, however, so soon as the musician had finished his repast, he took fiddle in hand, and opened the evening with a slow pathetic Scottish air, which he played so exquisitely that Jeanie’s eye filled with a tear, as she listened in raptures to the sweet but melancholy turns of the affecting tune.

Twice the musician played over the touching strain, delighted to perceive the effects of the music on the lovely girl who stood before him, and rightly conceiving it to be an unequivocal proof of a susceptible heart and of a generous nature.

A third time he began the beautiful air ; but he now accompanied it with a song, and in this accomplishment he was no less perfect than in the others which have been already attributed to him. His voice was at once manly and melodious, and he conducted it with a skill that did it every justice. Having played two or three bars of the tune, his rich and well-regulated voice chimed in with the following words :—

“Oh, I hae lived wi' high-bred dames,
Each state of life to prove,
But never till this hour hae met
The girl that I could love.

It’s no in fashion’s gilded ha’s
That she is to be seen ;
Beneath her father’s humble roof
Abides my bonny Jean.

Oh, wad she deign ae thought to wait,
Ae kindly thought on me,
Wi' pearls I wad deck her hair,
Though low be my degree.

Wi' pearls I wad deck her hair:
Wi’ gowd her wrists sae sma ;
An’ had I lands and houses, she'd
Be leddy ower them a'.

The sun abune's no what he seems,
Nor is the night’s fair queen ;
Then wha kens wha the minstrel is
That’s wooin bonny Jean”?

Jeanie could not help feeling a little strange as the minstrel proceeded with a song which seemed to have so close a reference to herself. She, of course, did not consider this circumstance otherwise than as merely accidental ; but she could not help, nevertheless, being somewhat embarrassed by it ; and this was made sufficiently evident by the blush that mantled on her cheek, and by the confusion of her manner under the fixed gaze of the singer, while repeating the verses just quoted.

When he had concluded, " Well, good folks all,” he said, " what think ye of my song?"' And without waiting for an answer, about which he seemed very indifferent, he added, "and how do you like it, Jeanie ? " directing the question exclusively to the party he named.

" Very weel," replied Jeanie, again blushing, but still more deeply than before; "the song is pretty, an’ the air delightfu’; but some o' the verses are riddles to me. I dinna thoroughly understand them."

"Don’t you?" replied Sir John, laughing; "then I’ll explain them to you by-and-by ; but, in the meantime, I
must screw my pegs anew, and work for my dinner, for I see the good folk about me here are all impatience to begin." A fact this which was instantly acknowledged by a dozen voices ; and straightway the whole party proceeded, in compliance with a suggestion of Mr Harrison, to the green in front of the house, where Sir John took up his position on the top of an inverted wheelbarrow, and immediately commenced his labours.

For several hours the dance went on with uninterrupted glee, old Mr Harrison and his wife appearing to enjoy the sport as much as the youngest of the party, and both being delighted with the masterly playing of the musician. But although, as on a former occasion, Sir John did not suffer anything to interfere with, or interrupt the charge of the duties expected of him, there was but a very small portion of his mind or thoughts engrossed by the employment in which he was engaged. All, or nearly all, were directed to the contemplation of the object on which his affections had now become irrevocably fixed.

Neither was his visit to Todshaws, on this occasion, by any means dictated solely by the frivolous object of affording its inmates entertainment by his musical talents. His purpose was a much more serious one. It was to ascertain, as far as such an opportunity would afford him the means, the dispositions and temper of his fair enslaver. Of these, his natural shrewdness had enabled him to make a pretty correct estimate on the night of the wedding; but he was desirous of seeing her in other circumstances, and he thought none more suitable for his purpose than those of a domestic nature.

It was, then, to see her in this position that he had now come; and the result of his observations was highly gratifying to him.

He found in Miss Harrison all that he, at any rate, desired in woman. He found her guileless, cheerful, gentle, kind-hearted, and good-tempered, beloved by all around her, and returning the affection bestowed on her with a sincere and ardent love.

Such were the discoveries which the disguised baronet made on this occasion; and never did hidden treasure half so much gladden the heart of the fortunate finder, as these did that of him who made them. It is true that Sir John could not be sure, nor was he, that his addresses would be received by Miss Harrison, even after he should have made himself known ; but he could not help entertaining a pretty strong confidence in his own powers of persuasion, nor being, consequently, tolerably sanguine of success. All this, however, was to be the work of another day. In the meantime, the dancers having had their hearts’ content of capering on the green sward, the fiddle was put up, and the fiddler once more invited into the house, where he was entertained with the same hospitality as before, and another half-crown slipped into his hand. This he also put carefully into his pocket ; and having partaken lightly of what was set before him, rose up to depart, alleging that he had a good way to go, and was desirous of availing himself of the little daylight that still remained. He was pressed to remain all night, but this he declined ; promising, however, in reply to the urgent entreaties with which he was assailed on all sides to stay, that he would very soon repeat his visit. Miss Harrison he took by the hand, and said, " I promised to explain to you the poetical riddle which I read, or rather attempted to sing, this evening. It is now too late to do this, for the explanation is a long one; but I will be here again, without fail, in a day or two, when I shall solve all, and, I trust, to your satisfaction. Till then, do not forget your poor fiddler."

" No, I winna forget ye,” said Jeanie. "‘ It wadna be easy to forget ane that has contributed so much to our happiness. Neither would it be more than gratefu’ to do so, I think."

"And you are too kind a creature to be ungrateful to any one, however humble may be their attempts to win your favour; of that I feel assured." Having said this, and perceiving that he was unobserved, he quickly raised the fair hand he held to his lips, kissed it, and hurried out of the door.

What Jane Harrison thought of this piece of gallantry from a fiddler, we really do not know, and therefore will say nothing about it. Whatever her thoughts were, she kept them to herself. Neither did she mention to any one the circumstance which gave rise to them. Nor did she say, but for what reason we are ignorant, how much she had been pleased with the general manners of the humble musician, with the melodious tones of his voice, and the line expression of his dark hazel eye. Oh, love, love! thou art a leveller, indeed, else how should it happen that the pretty daughter of a wealthy and respectable yeoman should think for a moment, with certain indescribable feelings, of a poor itinerant fiddler? Mark, good reader, however, we do not say that Miss Harrison was absolutely in love with the musician. By no means. That would certainly be saying too much. But it is as certainly true, that she had perceived something about him that left no disagreeable irnpression—nay, something which she wished she might meet with in her future husband, whoever he might be.
Leaving Jeanie Harrison to such reflections as these, we shall follow the footsteps of the disguised baraonet ……..


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