Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

print in the basin startled the quiet of the basin, and stood at the head of the the place. The few eyes in it were pier, regarding the yacht which lay at lurued upon her, and in a minute Les- the end of it. lie was at her side.

“ Isn't she a beauty ?” Leslie said. "Oh, Teddy,” she said, giving him “She's a trim little thing. A little her hand. She spoke as if she had for- heavily sparred, maybe - eh ? — but I gotten about him and his yacht; and like her lines.” she had forgotten.

Julia put her head on one side, and “Here on a Saturday, Julia ! What's with a connoisseur's toss of it, “ H'm, wrong at Tarpow ?"

yes,” she said ; and she mocked his She touched her basket :

voice and words and critical air to a "Famine."

nicety. Leslie was in a chronic excitement For the first time he thought of more at the thought of Julia - glorious than himself and her comeliness, and girl like this, whom to see, he had was amazed at her cleverness. Poor to sail his yacht across the Forth. young cub! She was only new to him. He was very much in love with the She wasn't clever. His own sisters, at yacht, and he was very much in love the moment golfing on the other side with himself. Julia — the mere fact of the Forth, had nimbler wits than of Julia — ministered to both feelings. she, by far. Besides, he was very young.

“ Bravo !” he cried. "Now she de“ Was it famine in the land, or serves her name !" drought ?” he asked.

“What d'ye call her ?There was a glowing anger in her. "The Julia." She was as little sensible as any coun- " Julia ?try girl ought to be of the talk of the “Yes, Julia. Bob Pratt's painting Deighbors ; but here They had it on her now.' evidently gossiped to Leslie of her “ Then Bob Pratt'll just paint it out father's frailty, as they might of the again," she said, leading the way down barrenness of Tarpow's land. Her the pier with a decision which Bob's father fought the barrenness with grin, as he looked up at her from bis failing spirit, it is true ; but he fought paint-pot, approved. The grin proit. He made no effort against the jected the popular opinion on the subother. The burden of that lay on ject. Julia's shoulders. Yet she had fought Leslie, following her in chagrio, it, as she would have fought nettles in could only say :the field corners, or dandelions in the “ You must christen her, then." bleaching green, - steadily and imper- She had no nimbleness of wits to sonally. For the first time, now that suggest a name on the instant, but she Leslie took to hinting at the work, she had nimbleness of manner. There was was asbanied of the need of it.

an old gin-bottle lying on the pier"I was coming up this afternoon,” head, and she stooped to it. Leslie Leslie went on, without awaiting an picked it up for her, and, as they rose answer, and her anger fled. There together, she saw something in his face was that .

voice, and his looks, that responded to " Oh ! very well," she cried, and

[ocr errors]

the new emotion of the morning.

smashed the bottle on the yacht's Why! My father's at market.” | bows: “I christen her the Julia.” There was not a touch of coquetry in It was the war of sense and sensi. ber manner of saying this, for she bility. Her good sense was derived laughed, as much as to confess, “ As if from the conditions of her life. Toit were he you were coming to see.” day, now that she was bursting into

And he said, “ I know he's away ; » womanhood, the conditions of her life and they laughed together.

bred sensibility. By this time they had walked round But she would not stay longer. In LIVING AGE.

VOL. VI. 266

no case should she have allowed him, held to her side, lit up Julia herself in to accompany her; she did not care the middle of the rough-and-lumble that he should see what was her errand crowd of poultry she was feeding. to Mrs. Prati's. To-day, — 10-day all Julia among her poultry discovered a things were altered, their relationship country girl with her rusticity rounded among the rest. That which she saw with a considerable elegance and kuowl. in Leslie's face may have been the edge, derived from her father in early image of her own feeling. For her, at days. It was her father's humor, vot any rate, it changed everything be- hers, that had named a flighty old hen tween them; and, had she known it, “ Atalanta," and a combative cock with the reserve and withdrawal it led her a very dissonant crow " Anacreon." to were the most potent steps slie could But the fight with his land bad so dehave taken to affect him.

moralized him now, that she had as She made her purchase, and soon little discernment of his better nature was out upon the Tarpow road again. as of his ill condition. The heat was more suffused, the sun- Julia cleaned her fingers, all sticky shine a shade more golden. The wind with the hens' meat, on the side of the from the sea crept up behind near basin, and washed them in the overthe ground. The road was empty. flow of the horse-trough. Next she Yonder, on either side of it, Tarpow visited the calves' house, and went to and Broomielaws lay slumbering under the straw-loft to gather the eggs which their red-liled nightcaps. There was the clucking hens announced. She a lull in her dissatisfaction - an inter- clambered up the straw massed in tlre lude of re-action, in which Tarpow and back of the barn, and stood among the even Broowielaws wore a homely air. rafters. From there she looked down This grew upon her as she entered the to some loose straw heaped on the floor house. Everything was as when she in a soft bed. The memory of earlier left. The doors stood open, the cattle days swam to her head. browsed under the trees, the wind rus

Man's life's a vapor, full of woes ; tled delicately about the porch, and

He cuts a caper, and off he goes, bore in upon her the fragrances of the earth. And to these things, which in she chanted, and clapped her hands, the morning had hemmed her in with and jumped down to the soft bed, the tight grip of their familiarity, she startling the sitting hens, which turned now with a sense of restful- clucked and beat their wings among

the rafters. She climbed and flopped, Her awakened womanliness, from and climbed and flopped again, until at which she was seeking escape, had length she sank, hot and breathless and touched into life in Leslie a new sen- laughing at the foot of the heap. sation. Bob Pratt dug about its roots And there Leslie found her. and watered it with his gossip of the Her thoughts when he darkened the life oli Tarpow led his daughter, and doorway were not of the wonder of his the marriage he sought for her. The being there. She forgot that in her new chivalry, love, call it what you concern to account for her flustered will, sprouted like a mushroom, and condition. Then she did what the old Leslie was half-way to Tarpow before Julia might have been expected to do he could word his purpose.

at once. She told him how delightful From the end of the Tarpow road it was to flop from the height of the he caught a glimpse of Julia in the straw, and showed him how it was yard. The wind wound her print dain- done, and bade him follow her. And tily about her lissom figure. She wore so, for a few minutes again, the barn no hat above the straight hair wisped was full of the sound of scared poultry, into a broad, flat coil. The sunlight and of the rhymes jerked from these swirling within the dish — red without, two breathless children, and of their yellow within — which her arched arm Ismothered ejaculations.


Then the whole thing was spoiled. I come Broomielaws — red, vast, middleAt any rate, that is how the old Julia aged, brutal. She had never thought would have thought of it ; she could of him so before, and she shut her never again be the old Julia. For over eyes, and her mind's eye, on the horrid him, like the cloud-shadows scudding sight, and opened them upon the future over the tields outside, swept the Teddy painted. She would await their thought that this was not what he had return, and Broomielaws' departure. come there for ; and the thought swept By eleven o'clock the house would be on and shadowed her. His words out- quiet; then she would steal down to um his purpose. Wheu he talked of the jetty at the caves. She would be

ve she did not recognize it, so little there, if she were coming at all, half an Huul she thought of it or dreamed of it. hour after midnight. All she knew was, that it was exactly It was the old story ; love is an inwhat she had been waiting for – so stinct as well as a passion ; and it was satisfying to her there iu bis arms, the instinct of love only that was workwith his kisses on her hot face. Why ing in these two. Leslie became wiser should she remain at Tarpow? Why, with every step he took from Tarpow. indeed ? Tarpow was a prison ; its He was not a very far-secing hobbleway3, its very scenes, gripped at her dehoy ; but there are some things come heart now. And Broomielaws ; her up very close to the eyes, and an elopefather would marry her to him — to it ment with Julia was one of them. rather. Oh, Teddy knew it all. All “ Here's a devil of a mess !” lie was. Torrie Town knew it, and perhaps St. saying to himself at the main road Brise as well, - kuew it from Tarpow's turn; and by the time he got to Torrie own lips, it seemed. At that thought pier the affair had become one of many she became couscious of herself, of her devils. He had no thoughts of drawphysical self, inch by inch, the body ing back, however, but got on board, which she robed and could touch, as and stood up for the bay at the caves well as of this iulaugible thing within very bravely, and lay there, tossed her that was quick to-day for the first about between his admiration for Julia time. This — all this was to be sold and wrath for himself. by her father. He talkeil of the sale. With Julia it was different. Her Was he worth her care more ? Was mood, such as it was, had come with a he worth the sacrifice of life ? of love ? | draught of spring which every atom For she saw them both now, or thought of her body absorbed till it became she saw them, - love and sacrifice. newly constituted. The appetite of

It was Teddie's plan. The yacht lay the woman, newly unchained by conat Torrie pier. They dared not sail sciousness now, would have upleapt from there ; but he could moor the had not pressing duties kept it under. yacht in the bay to the eastwards, at Julia had many things to attend 10. ihe caves, and row Julia out to her Leslie's leave-taking had been hastened froin the jetty ; and she should go with by the return of the ploughmen, which bim, for always. He had no one in was irregular in this off-season of the the world save her. There were his year. The bothy-boys were hungry, sisters, to be sure ; but they would and she had to make porridge to apWelcome her in the old house, on the pease them, and the cows had to be other side of the Firth, where she milked. The return of her father with might louk over to the smoke of Torrie Broomielaws found her finishing her Town, but never again beat her wings work calmly enough ; but when she against the bars, as at Tarpow. Julia lifted her busy hand from off her agitamight have known - at any other time tion, it fluttered within her. would have known - how idle it all Tarpow took the beatings of it for was. But to-day lier whole being the fulfilment of his instructions. The swam to the vision. She would await maid, he thought, had put off her perky her father's return. With him would I ways, and was clothed in assent. He

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


was scated as straight as an old man | house, she would have sent him to bed could be, close up to the table, brewing immediately, but he set himself on his toddy for himself and for Broomielaws, chair again. who lolled in the armichair with his “Sit down, Julia. Sit down, girl," long legs bent stiffly in frout of him — he said. like a locust's, or a spinning-jenny's, The formality, and what he would thought Julia, as she set a bit of sup- have called the “ Anglified ” turn of per. Tarpow watched her out of the his speech, registered the degrees of corner of his eyes. She had a large his insobriety graciousness always that wils

“ Julia," he said, “you're like your thing akin to grace ; but to-night her mother to-night." bountifulness had a sparkle in it. Her A pompous exposition of the affair womanliness was in the bud. Tarpow of Broomielaws and herself was exactly had angled for Broomielaws artfully the thing for a drunken man to take up and persistently with the artificial lure and enjoy. Besides, domestic sentiof Julia's domestic virtues, and had ment is suited to one stage of intoxicafound him a lumpish biter at best. lion. When he said, " You're like That night Julia was a natural bait at your mother, Julia,” this whiskey senwhich he came with a rush. That he timent was in his eyes and voice ; and was a very ill-conditioned, unseason- Julia's condition made her peculiarly able fish mattered little to Tarpow, sensitive to any sentiment, even of the chuckling over the sport. The quarry limelights. was not a son-in-law, but a son-in-law's “ Father,” she said, crossing to him land ; and Julia assenting was not a and sitting on the floor at bis feet, “ do «laughter angling for a husband, but a you really think I'm in love with daughter in conspiracy with himself for Broomielaws ?five hundred acres.

“You are well off having BroomieTarpow's sly grimaces and Broomie- Jaws in love with you," he caught her laws' ardor defeated their ends by up, with a laugh. " What is love ?spurring Julia in her resolve. On the How easy it would be to answer that other hand, her resolve was like to question ! thought Julia. defeat itself, for its verve drew on “I've buffeted the warl' this six-andBroomielaws until the man was breath- sixty years,” he went on, “and I'll tell less in his pursuit. When at length he you what love is. What's everything? rose to go, and her father went to the Just a yoke we yoke oursel's wi'. We door with him,- both unsteady in saddle oursel's wi' duty. We put the their gait, - she accompanied them. bit o' morality 'tween our own teeth. To both men the act seemed unusually Love ? — just a pair o'blinkers, Jooley. gracious ; they were not to know that Ah! we can keek round the corner, it was to see how the night fared that fine. We gang straight in front o's she went. Broomielaws' way lay across aince we've set our een in the proper the fields, – Tarpow's and his own, airt - and mak”-believe we see nothing and her father walked with him to the else. You've got your een set edge of the yard. From there they Broomielaws – I saw it the nicht, watched the girl in the doorway who sensible lass the nicht, Jooley, - like was looking out upon the night. The your mother. Noo, jist put on the spring air still lingered; but, above, blinkers, and say, “Broomielaws the the wind was high, and the moon drove inevitable ! Mari'ge made in heaven.' across the sky through clouds. She My inevitable son-in-law · Broomiefelt Broomielaws' eyes upon her. She laws !" burned a kiss upon her palm, and flung Her mood was such that her father's it towards the caves. She could not speech amused as much as it pained. know that she should have Aung the She saiil, balf to herself, “ I have got kiss to herself.

the blinkers on," and turned her eyes When her father re-entered the straight to the corner of the house that


nor a

faced the bay at the caves. That was hideous when he was in drink. She in the direction of Broonzielaws also, had started running again, when a and the old man grinned.

something in the heap caused her to “ There's more man there, return and look a little closer. The Jooley. There's fields, fat fields, but collar cutting the neck and cheeks was they maun be husbauded. I'll hus- redder than the cheeks and neck thenband them. And you, Jooley, you'll selves. Accustomed as she was to husband love - it maun be husbanded accidents and wounds, she saw in an too. Paul may plant, and Apollos instant that he had fallen into the water, but if ye dinna mavure. Broom- danger she had missed, and had struck ielaws! Mrs. Broomielaws! Young his head upon the coulter ; and at the Broomielawses ! - all inside the bliuk- same moment she had found the wound ers."

and was assuaging it. He hiccoughed, and wept, and stag- To her skilled eye the seriousness of gered to his feet; and the coming of Broomielaws' condition gaped like his her opportunity drove out the anger wound, and all her purpose of that that was in her.

night ran out of her. But it left in hier The clocks were on the stroke of a solicitude for the man in her arms, midnight ere Julia was clear of the which would have been impossible had house. She had said that she would she vot harbored the false sentiment be at the caves by half past twelve at that she threw off as soon as an appeal tlıe latest; that gave her balf an hour to her practical self set it iu its true only to cover the ground, and she took light. At the same time, it did not to the fields. She gave herself no time cause her to forget the stark facts of to consider that Leslie would wait on her condition. She could not leave lier, that he would be on the way to him thus to search for help ; yet, meet her. Leslie himself was less in whether she brought help or attracted her mind than the fact that she had au it, how could she account for her presarrangement to meet him, to be taken cnce there at that time of night? That away from Tarpow.

was made action easier, for the only alterBroomielaws' short cut home, across native was to return to Tarpow, - she Tarpow's fields and his own; only, a never gave going on to the caves a park's breadth from Broomielaws she thought now, – and keep silence conmust make a point or two to the south, cerning Broomielaws. If that course and descend upon the caves. The crossed her mind, it did not linger. moou was behind a cloud, and her only Keeping her handkerchief tight to the guide beyond her instinct for the way wound, she ransacked the mau's pockwas the light of the May. The going ets until she found matches. The was rough ; but she labored on, until a hidden moon favored her plan, and sharp jerk in a ditch-drain at the edge the lights, as she struck them, Aared of her own land brought her up against brightly against the darkness. It was a paling to draw a clear breath. As a random shot to all her shouls for she leaned on it for a moment, the help. On market pight some wandermoon shook itself free of the clouds. ing ploughmen might be bieing home Everything was still, except that the from Torrie Town across the fields. bum of the sea was louder here than Twice as the moon glinted through the Westwards at Tarpow. A plough lay at rack, she thought she saw a figure bethe corner of her field, almost at her lween her and the coast, the second feet, and on the instant of wondering time nearer her and close to the hedgehow she should have escaped tripping row that ran from her side. on it, her eye caught a heap beside it. By and by a singularly sweet piping It was not to be mistaken ; and the smote her ear. It came delicately bumorous thought, that took the edge through the night in the strains of a off ber disgust was that Broomielaws' Jacobite air, becoming loudler and tightly breeched legs were specially loutler, until a rustling down the hedge

Her way

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »