Obrazy na stronie

the joyful news was heard that the young stranger was really and in very deed- -a lassie.

All things continued to thrive with the worthy farmer, until the Milton became the very beau ideal of a Scottish homestead in the nineteenth century. His well-reared cattle browsed on the fruitful plains around; his numerous flocks of sheep fed on the rich haughs and meadows, or whitened with their fleecy brightness the neighbouring Sidlaw Hills; while his merry reapers among the golden harvest fields sung in the blithest strains the songs of contentment and peace.

A decade of years had now rapidly passed away since the birth of Arthur's daughter, and Jeanie Cargill's charms were gradually bursting into the full matured bloom of womanhood. She was a model type of the true Scotch beauty, with this exception-that, while she had in perfection the aquiline, delicately-cut features; the soft, blue, dreamy eyes; the ringlets of golden yellow, and the silvery voice of ringing sweetness, her cheeks had not the blushing richness of the rose, but the pale and subdued, though lovely hue of the lily. Hence, by general consent, she was endearingly known throughout Strathmore as the "Lily of the vale."

But she had other and higher charms than these. Her mind was richly endowed, not only with the more solid acquirements of a liberal education, but with all that was amiable in disposition, gentle in spirit, beautiful and true in heart. Her manners were as void of affectation as her actions were destitute of interested motives. Thoroughly unselfish in her nature, she wished all with whom she came into contact to share the common joys and mental pleasures she experienced herself. A halo of goodness and beauty encompassing her wherever she went, she was indeed the charm and delight of her rural home, the sunshine and joy of the lovely strath in which she dwelt.

Admirers of every station she had many. The bashful swain and the purse-proud squire, alike assiduously strove to win her regards, and bask in her smiles. To one only had

she given any encouragement. This was Percy Guthrie, son and heir to the rich and worthy farmer of Scroggerfield, and one in every respect worthy of such a maiden's love.

Percy and Jeanie had attended Kinnettles parish school together, and had, unconsciously, become warmly attached to each other from their youth upwards. Many a happy ramble they had had in the sylvan woods of Brigton, and along the rich haughs and meadows that fringe with emerald beauty the banks of the swift-running Kerbet. Hand-inhand would they joyously wander on; now stopping their march for a brief moment to listen to the merry songs of the happy birds, or to pull a primrose or gowan from the lovely greensward on which they trod; anon to watch the speckled trout and gambolling minnow, as they sported in their own wild joy in the shady pools of the beautiful river; or to pat with affectionate gentleness, the pretty heads of the new-born lambs, as they quietly lay in some flowery hollow, basking in safety their brief hours of happiness in the sultry rays of the summer's sun.

In going or returning by the bonny hedges of Brigton to Kinnettles" wee school," while his other schoolmates were roystering away in their joyous mirth, and roughly indulging in practical jokes at his expense, Percy was ever silently by the side of Jeanie Cargill; not that without his guardianship she would ever receive insult or come to harm, but feeling intuitively it was not only his duty, but his right to stand between her and all danger, imaginary or otherwise.

On one of these occasions, while returning from school, and when Percy had become a stout lad of fourteen, the practical joking had, in his estimation, taken such an offensive turn, that, purposely walking on with Jeanie before his schoolmates, at a quicker pace than was his wont, he abruptly bade her adieu as she entered Douglastown, and, returning the way he had come, bent on avenging the insult he imagined he had received, he met in proud defiance his roystering schoolmates, and challenging any one of them to

single combat to settle the quarrel, calmly awaited their decision.

Great was the consternation in the enemy's camp, and, a council of war having been held, it was wisely determined that the biggest boy in the group should be selected as their champion. Now, the biggest boy-Davie Gray-was a veritable big boy indeed, and, as far as size and strength were concerned, shewed a marked contrast to the slender stripling with whom he was to measure his martial prowess. Although Davie afterwards became an esteemed minister in a rural parish not far from his native Howe, his appearance at this time was far from being clerical or prepossessing. Stalwart and swarthy, big-boned, and long-legged; with a great black, bushy, burly head, surmounted by a very small Glengarry bonnet; a pair of piercing black eyes, and a Roman beak, as bent and sharp as that of a hawk; with hodden grey clothes by far too small for the growing body they encased, and great tackety, home-made brogues, as heavy as a ploughshare, the figure presented by the embryo minister was anything but savouring of the manse.

"Tak' aff your coat, Davie-tak' aff your coat," cried the excited urchins, eager for the fray; "ye canna feicht wi' your coat on, man," forming a wide living ring, at the same time, round the expected combatants, just in front of the gateway leading to the home farm of Brigton.

Percy's jacket was off in an instant, which act Davie perceiving with the tail of his eye, obliged him to follow suit, and to appear at least courageous, although, if the truth must be told, the little courage he had was now beginning, like that of another personage in similar circumstances, to ooze out rather quickly from his finger ends.

"Tak' your time, my lad," Davie growled at length; "I'll be at you in a jiffey." But, somehow or other, Davie's homespun coat would not be persuaded to come off even, with the zealous assistance of several boys, who, after many fruitless attempts at co-operation, gave it up in despair, not,

however, without quietly insinuating that "Davie was naething but a coo'rd."

"Davie's feart," cried the other boys in the ring. "Davie's feart, and winna feight."

"Fa says I'm feart?" wildly shouted Davie, now fairly put upon his mettle; and, casting his hitherto unyielding coat from him with the utmost ease, he again defiantly exclaimed, "Fa says I'm fear't?" at the same time somewhat retreating from, rather than advancing to meet the foe.

Something again had evidently gone wrong, and the more eager of the group of boys surrounded their champion in the utmost consternation. Still Davie showed no signs of immediate action, far less any intention of dying game.

"Come awa' hame," said a little fellow, more observant than the others. "Lat him pech, and pech awa'; he's feart I tell ye, and winna feight."

“Fa says I'm feart and winna feicht?" for the third time roared the valiant Davie, brandishing his brawny arms in the air, and rushing headlong into the ring, as if to annihilate at one fell swoop his brave, yet comparatively puny antagonist. Percy, to avoid the apparently coming blow, dexterously stepped aside to prevent the awful consequences thereof, when his ferocious antagonist, by the sheer force of the impetus he had given himself, went bounding like a Joveshot thunderbolt to the other side of the road, where, tripped by an unfriendly boulder, over and over again he rolled, until, amidst the jeers and laughter of all, he sprawled and floundered in the miry ditch!

While the preparations for the fight were going forward, and unknown to his schoolmates, a little spy in the camp had quietly slipped away to Kinnettles, and informed the worthy schoolmaster of the expected battle, exaggerating, doubtless, every little detail, and extending the affair into the largest dimensions he possibly could. Scarcely had the untoward event above referred to occurred, when "Daniel" was descried in the distance half-walking, half-running, to the

scene of action. When he reached the battle-field, the boys had just managed to drag the almost inert body of Davie to the middle of the road, when, mistaking the red clay with. which he was bespattered for veritable human blood, and interpreting his silence as the silence of death, the stricken schoolmaster piteously exclaimed

Killed poor

Wha's hand

"My laddies! Oh! what's this you've dune? Davie Gray! Wha's brain planned the plot? did the deed? Wae's me! that I should hae lived to see this day! Ane o' my ain laddies murdered-killed by ane o' my ane bairns!"

To the surprise and delight of the grey-haired, weeping schoolmaster, Davie slowly rose to his feet, and after Daniel had fully satisfied and convinced himself of the reality of his existence, Davie explained in a few words the beginning and the ending of the laughable fracas, right generously exonerating Percy Guthrie from all blame in his ludicrous discomfiture.

Grateful for the happy turn events had so unexpectedly taken, and overjoyed at the safety of his "laddies," Daniel made Percy and Davie join their willing hands in forgiving. brotherhood together; gave them all his parting benediction, and returned to his home in Kinnettles with a firmer step and a lighter heart than he had left it on his errand of justice and mercy.

The practical result of the evening's encounter was, that Percy Guthrie had never afterwards reason to complain of taunt or jeer while he continued the acknowledged and admitted guardian of Jeanie Cargill.

The time had now arrived when Jeanie had either to be sent to a boarding-school to finish her education, or learn the higher branches from a governess at home. Unwilling to deprive themselves of the society of their beloved daughter, Jeanie's father and mother wisely decided on the latter course, and the eldest daughter of a city clergyman was, after due inquiry, selected as the future instructress of the young maiden.

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