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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWarlock O' Glenwarlock: A Homely Romance - Chapter 6. Grannie's Cottage
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Warlock O' Glenwarlock: A Homely Romance - Chapter 6. Grannie's Cottage Post by :AdrianMansilla Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :2175

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Warlock O' Glenwarlock: A Homely Romance - Chapter 6. Grannie's Cottage

CHAPTER VI. GRANNIE'S COTTAGE

But she had not to pass many houses before she came to that of her grandfather's mother, an aged woman, I need not say, but in very tolerable health and strength nevertheless. She sat at her spinning wheel, with her door wide open. Suddenly, and, to her dulled sense, noiselessly, Aggie came staggering in with her burden. She dropped him on the old woman's bed, and herself on the floor, her heart and lungs going wildly.

"I' the name o' a'!" cried her great-grandmother, stopping her wheel, breaking her thread, and letting the end twist madly up amongst the revolving iron teeth, emerging from the mist of their own speed, in which a moment before they had looked ethereal as the vibration-film of an insect's wings.

She rose with a haste marvellous for her years, and approaching, looked down on the prostrate form of the girl.

"It can never be my ain Aggie," she faltered, "to rush intil my quaiet hoose that gait, fling a man upo' my bed, an' fa' her len'th upo' my flure!"

But Agnes was not yet able to reply. She could only sign with her hand to the bed, which she did with such energy that her great-grandmother--GRANNIE, she called her, as did the whole of the village--turned at once thitherward. She could not see well, and the box-bed was dark, so she did not at first recognize Cosmo, but the moment she suspected who it was, she too uttered a cry--the cry of old age, feeble and wailful.

"The michty be ower's! what's come to my bairn?" she said.

"The maister knockit him doon," gasped Agnes.

"Eh, lassie! rin for the doctor."

"No," came feebly from the bed. "I dinna want ony notice ta'en o' the business."

"Are ye sair hurtit, my bairn?" asked the old woman.

"My heid's some sair an' throughither-like; but I'll just lie still a wee, and syne I'll be able to gang hame. I'm some sick. I winna gang back to the school the day."

"Na, my bonnie man, that ye sanna!" cried Grannie, in a tone mingled of pity and indignation.

A moment more, and Agnes rose from the earth, for earth it was, quite fresh; and the two did all they could to make him comfortable. Aggie would have gone at once to let his father know; she was perfectly able, she said, and in truth seemed nothing the worse for her fierce exertion. But Cosmo said, "Bide a wee, Aggie, an' we'll gang hame thegither. I'll be better in twa or three minutes." But he did not get better so fast as he expected, and the only condition on which Grannie would consent not to send for the doctor, was, that Agnes should go and tell his father.

"But eh, Aggie!" said Cosmo, "dinna lat him think there's onything to be fleyt aboot. It's naething but a gey knap o' the heid; an' I'm sure the maister didna inten' duin me ony sarious hurt.--But my father's sure to gie him fair play!--he gies a' body fair play."

Agnes set out, and Cosmo fell asleep.

He slept a long time, and woke better. She hurried to Glenwarlock, and in the yard found the laird.

"Weel, lassie!" he said, "what brings ye here this time o' day? What for are ye no at the school? Ye'll hae little eneuch o' 't by an' by, whan the hairst 's come."

"It's the yoong laird!" said Aggie, and stopped.

"What's come till 'im?" asked the laird, in the sharpened tone of anxiety.

"It's no muckle, he says himsel'. But his heid's some sair yet."

"What maks his heid sair? He was weel eneuch whan he gaed this mornin'."

"The maister knockit 'im doon."

The laird started as if one had struck him in the face. The blood reddened his forehead, and his old eyes flashed like two stars. All the battle-fury of the old fighting race seemed to swell up from ancient fountains amongst the unnumbered roots of his being, and rush to his throbbing brain. He clenched his withered fist, drew himself up straight, and made his knees strong. For a moment he felt as in the prime of life and its pride. The next his fist relaxed, his hand fell by his side, and he bowed his head.

"The Lord hae mercy upo' me!" he murmured. "I was near takin' the affairs o' ane o' his into MY han's!"

He covered his face with his wrinkled hands, and the girl stood beside him in awe-filled silence. But she did not quite comprehend, and was troubled at seeing him stand thus motionless. In the trembling voice of one who would comfort her superior, she said,

"Dinna greit, laird. He'll be better, I'm thinkin', afore ye win till 'im. It was Grannie gart me come--no him."

Speechless the laird turned, and without even entering the house, walked away to go to the village. He had reached the valley-road before he discovered that Agnes was behind him.

"Dinna ye come, Aggie," he said; "ye may be wantit at hame."

"Ye dinna think I wad ley ye, laird!--'cep' ye was to think fit to sen' me frea ye. I'm maist as guid's a man to gang wi' ye--wi' the advantage o' bein' a wuman, as my mither tells me:"--She called her grandmother, MOTHER.--"ye see we can daur mair nor ony man--but, Guid forgie me!--no mair nor the yoong laird whan he flang his CAESAR straucht i' the maister's face this verra mornin'."

The laird stopped, turned sharply round, and looked at her.

"What did he that for?" he said.

"'Cause he ca'd yersel' a fule," answered the girl, with the utmost simplicity, and no less reverence.

The laird drew himself up once more, and looked twenty years younger. But it was not pride that inspired him, nor indignation, but the father's joy at finding in his son his champion.

"Mony ane's ca'd me that, I weel believe, lassie, though no to my ain face or that a' my bairn. But whether I deserve't or no, nane but ane kens. It's no by the word o' man I stan' or fa'; but it's hoo my maister luiks upo' my puir endeevour to gang by the thing he says. Min' this, lassie--lat fowk say as they like, but du ye as HE likes, an', or a' be dune, they'll be upo' their k-nees to ye. An' sae they'll be yet to my bairn--though I'm some tribbled he sud hae saired the maister--e'en as he deserved."

"What cud he du, sir? It was na for himsel' he strack! An' syne he never muved an inch, but stud there like a rock, an' liftit no a han' to defen' himsel', but jist loot the maister tak his wull o' 'im."

The pair tramped swiftly along the road, heeding nothing on either hand as they went, Aggie lithe and active, the laird stooping greatly in his forward anxiety to see his injured boy, but walking much faster "than his age afforded." Before they reached the village, the mid-day recess had come, and everybody knew what had happened. Loud were most in praise of the boy's behaviour, and many were the eyes that from window and door watched the laird, as he hurried down the street to "Grannie's," where all had learned the young laird was lying. But no one spoke, or showed that he was looking, and the laird walked straight on with his eyes to the ground, glancing neither to the right hand nor the left; and as did the laird, so did Aggie.

The door of the cottage stood open. There was a step down, but the laird knew it well. Turning to the left through a short passage, in the window of which stood a large hydrangea, over two wooden pails of water, he lifted the latch of the inner door, bowed his tall head, and entered the room where lay his darling. With a bow to Grannie, he went straight up to the bed, speedily discovered that Cosmo slept, and stood regarding him with a full heart. Who can tell but him who knows it, how much more it is to be understood by one's own, than by all the world beside! By one's own one learns to love all God's creatures, and from one's own one gets strength to meet the misprision of the world.

The room was dark though it was summer, and although it had two windows, one to the street, and one to the garden behind: both ceiling and floor were of a dark brown, for the beams and boards of the one were old and interpenetrated with smoke, and the other was of hard-beaten clay, into which also was wrought much smoke and an undefinable blackness, while the windows were occupied with different plants favoured of Grannie, so that little light could get in, and that little was half-swallowed by the general brownness. A tall eight-day clock stood in one corner, up to which, whoever would learn from it the time, had to advance confidentially, and consult its face on tip-toe, with peering eyes. Beside it was a beautifully polished chest of drawers; a nice tea-table stood in the centre, and some dark-shiny wooden chairs against the walls. A closet opened at the head of the bed, and at the foot of it was the door of the room and the passage, so that it stood in a recess, to which were wooden doors, seldom closed. A fire partly of peat, partly of tan, burned on the little hearth.

Cosmo opened his eyes, and saw those of his father looking down upon him. He stretched out his arms, and drew the aged head upon his bosom. His heart was too full to speak.

"How do you find yourself, my boy?" said the father, gently releasing himself. "I know all about it; you need not trouble yourself to tell me more than just how you are."

"Better, father, much better," answered Cosmo. "But there is one thing I must tell you. Just before it happened we were reading in the Bible-class about Samson--how the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and with the jaw-bone of an ass he slew ever so many of the Philistines; and when the master said that bad word about you, it seemed as if the spirit of the Lord came upon me; for I was not in a rage, but filled with what seemed a holy indignation; and as I had no ass's jaw-bone handy, I took my Caesar, and flung it as hard and as straight, as I could in the master's face. But I am not so sure about it now."

"Tak ye nae thoucht anent it, Cosmo, my bairn," said the old woman, taking up the word; "it's no a hair ayont what he deserved 'at daured put sic a word to the best man in a' the country. By the han' o' a babe, as he did Goliah o' Gath, heth the Lord rebuked the enemy.--The Lord himsel' 's upo' your side, laird, to gie ye siccan a brave son."

"I never kent him lift his han' afore," said the laird, as if he would fain mitigate judgment on youthful indiscretion,--"excep' it was to the Kirkmalloch bull, when he ran at him an' me as gien he wad hae pitcht 's ower the wa' o' the warl'."

"The mair like it WAS the speerit o' the Lord, as the bairn himsel' was jaloosin," remarked Grannie, in a tone of confidence to which the laird was ready enough to yield;--"an' whaur the speerit o' the Lord is, there's leeberty," she added, thinking less of the suitableness of the quotation, than of the aptness of words in it. Glenwarlock stooped and kissed the face of his son, and went to fetch the doctor. Before he returned, Cosmo was asleep again. The doctor would not have him waked. From his pulse and the character of his sleep he judged he was doing well. He had heard all about the affair before, but heard all now as for the first time, assured the laird there was no danger, said he would call again, and recommended him to go home. The boy must remain where he was for the night, he said, and if the least ground for uneasiness should show itself, he would ride over, and make his report.

"I don't know what to think," returned the laird: "it would be trouble and inconvenience to Grannie."

"'Deed, laird, ye sud be ashamt to say sic a thing: it'll be naething o' the kin'!" cried the old woman." Here he s' bide--wi' yer leave, sir, an' no muv frae whaur he lies! There's anither bed i' the cloaset there. But, troth, what wi' the rheumatics, an'--an'--the din o' the rottans, we s' ca' 't, mony's the nicht I gang to nae bed ava'; an' to hae the yoong laird sleepin' i' my bed, an' me keepin' watch ower 'im,'ill be jist like haein' an angel i' the hoose to luik efter. I'll be somebody again for ae nicht, I can tell ye! An' oh! it's a lang time, sir, sin' I was onybody i' this warl'! I houp sair they'll hae something for auldfowk to du i' the neist."

"Hoots, mistress Forsyth," returned the laird, "the' 'll be naebody auld there!"

"Hoo am I to win in than, sir? I'm auld, gien onybody ever was auld! An' hoo's yersel' to win in, sir--for ye maun be some auld yersel' by this time, thof I min' weel yer father a bit loonie in a tartan kilt."

"What wad ye say to be made yoong again, auld frien'?" suggested the laird, with a smile of wonderful sweetness.

"Eh, sir! there's naething to that effec' i' the word."

"Hoot!" rejoined the laird, "wad ye hae me plaguit to tell the laddie there a' thing I wad du for him, as gien he hadna a hert o' his ain to tell 'im a score o'things--ay, hun'ers o' things? Dinna ye ken 'at the speerit o' man's the can'le o' the Lord?"

"But sae mony for a' that follows but their ain fancies!--That ye maun alloo, laird; an' what comes o' yer can'le than?"

"That' sic as never luik whaur the licht fa's, but aye some ither gait, for they carena to walk by the same. But them 'at orders their wy's by what licht they hae, there's no fear o' them. Even sud they stummle, they sanna fa'."

"'Deed, laird, I'm thinkin' ye may be richt. I hae stummlet mony's the time, but I'm no doon yet; an' I hae a guid houp 'at maybe, puir dissiple as I am, the Maister may lat on 'at he kens me, whan that great and terrible day o' the Lord comes."

Cosmo began to stir. His father went to the bed-side, and saw at a glance that the boy was better. He told him what the doctor had decreed. Cosmo said he was quite able to get up and go home that minute. But his father would not hear of it.

"I can't bear to think of you walking back all that way alone, papa," objected Cosmo.

"Ye dinna think, Cosmo," interposed Aggie, "'at I'm gauin to lat the laird gang hame himlane, an' me here to be his body-gaird! I ken my duty better nor that."

But the laird did not go till they had all had tea together, and the doctor had again come and gone, and given his decided opinion that all Cosmo needed was a little rest, and that he would be quite well in a day or two. Then at length his father left him, and, comforted, set out with Aggie for Glenwarlock.

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