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 About six o’clock Margaret sat up suddenly in bed, with the conviction that she had slept in. To her this was to ravel the day: a dire1 thing. The last time it happened Gavin, softened2 by her distress3, had condensed morning worship into a sentence that she might make up on the clock.  
Her part on waking was merely to ring her bell, and so rouse Jean, for Margaret had given Gavin a promise to breakfast in bed, and remain there till her fire was lit. Accustomed all her life, however, to early rising, her feet were usually on the floor before she remembered her vow5, and then it was but a step to the window to survey the morning. To Margaret, who seldom went out, the weather was not of great moment, while it mattered much to Gavin, yet she always thought of it the first thing, and he not at all until he had to decide whether his companion should be an umbrella or a staff.
On this morning Margaret only noticed that there had been rain since Gavin came in. Forgetting that the water obscuring the outlook was on the other side of the panes6, she tried to brush it away with her fist. It was of the soldiers she was thinking. They might have been awaiting her appearance at the window as their signal to depart, for hardly had she raised the blind when they began their march out of Thrums. From the manse she could not see them, but she heard them, and she saw some people at the Tenements7 run 80 to their houses at sound of the drum. Other persons, less timid, followed the enemy with execrations halfway8 to Tilliedrum. Margaret, the only person, as it happened, then awake in the manse, stood listening for some time. In the summer-seat of the garden, however, there was another listener protected from her sight by thin spars.
Despite the lateness of the hour Margaret was too soft-hearted to rouse Jean, who had lain down in her clothes, trembling for her father. She went instead into Gavin’s room to look admiringly at him as he slept. Often Gavin woke to find that his mother had slipped in to save him the enormous trouble of opening a drawer for a clean collar, or of pouring the water into the basin with his own hand. Sometimes he caught her in the act of putting thick socks in the place of thin ones, and it must be admitted that her passion for keeping his belongings9 in boxes, and the boxes in secret places, and the secret places at the back of drawers, occasionally led to their being lost when wanted. “They are safe, at any rate, for I put them away some gait,” was then Margaret’s comfort, but less soothing10 to Gavin. Yet if he upbraided11 her in his hurry, it was to repent12 bitterly his temper the next instant, and to feel its effects more than she, temper being a weapon that we hold by the blade. When he awoke and saw her in his room he would pretend, unless he felt called upon to rage at her for self-neglect, to be still asleep, and then be filled with tenderness for her. A great writer has spoken sadly of the shock it would be to a mother to know her boy as he really is, but I think she often knows him better than he is known to cynical14 friends. We should be slower to think that the man at his worst is the real man, and certain that the better we are ourselves the less likely is he to be at his worst in our company. Every time he talks away his own character before us he is signifying contempt for ours.
On this morning Margaret only opened Gavin’s door to stand and look, for she was fearful of awakening15 him after his heavy night. Even before she saw that he still slept she noticed with surprise that, for the first time since he came to Thrums, he had put on his shutters16. She concluded that he had done this lest the light should rouse him. He was not sleeping pleasantly, for now he put his open hand before his face, as if to guard himself, and again he frowned and seemed to draw back from something. He pointed17 his finger sternly to the north, ordering the weavers18, his mother thought, to return to their homes, and then he muttered to himself so that she heard the words, “And if thy right hand offend thee cut it off, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Then suddenly he bent19 forward, his eyes open and fixed20 on the window. Thus he sat, for the space of half a minute, like one listening with painful intentness. When he lay back Margaret slipped away. She knew he was living the night over again, but not of the divit his right hand had cast, nor of the woman in the garden.
Gavin was roused presently by the sound of voices from Margaret’s room, where Jean, who had now gathered much news, was giving it to her mistress. Jean’s cheerfulness would have told him that her father was safe had he not wakened to thoughts of the Egyptian. I suppose he was at the window in an instant, unsnibbing the shutters and looking out as cautiously as a burglar might have looked in. The Egyptian was gone from the summer-seat. He drew a great breath.
But his troubles were not over. He had just lifted his ewer21 of water when these words from the kitchen capsized it:—
“Ay, an Egyptian. That’s what the auld22 folk call a gypsy. Weel, Mrs. Dishart, she led police and sojers sic a dance through Thrums as would baffle description, 82 though I kent the fits and fors o’t as I dinna. Ay, but they gripped her in the end, and the queer thing is——”
Gavin listened to no more. He suddenly sat down. The queer thing, of course, was that she had been caught in his garden. Yes, and doubtless queerer things about this hussy and her “husband” were being bawled23 from door to door. To the girl’s probable sufferings he gave no heed24. What kind of man had he been a few hours ago to yield to the machinations of a woman who was so obviously the devil? Now he saw his folly25 in the face.
The tray in Jean’s hands clattered26 against the dresser, and Gavin sprang from his chair. He thought it was his elders at the front door.
In the parlour he found Margaret sorrowing for those whose mates had been torn from them, and Jean with a face flushed by talk. On ordinary occasions the majesty27 of the minister still cowed Jean, so that she could only gaze at him without shaking when in church, and then because she wore a veil. In the manse he was for taking a glance at sideways and then going away comforted, as a respectable woman may once or twice in a day look at her brooch in the pasteboard box as a means of helping28 her with her work. But with such a to-do in Thrums, and she the possessor of exclusive information, Jean’s reverence29 for Gavin only took her to-day as far as the door, where she lingered half in the parlour and half in the lobby, her eyes turned politely from the minister, but her ears his entirely30.
“I thought I heard Jean telling you about the capture of the—of an Egyptian woman,” Gavin said to his mother, nervously31.
“Did you cry to me?” Jean asked, turning round longingly32. “But maybe the mistress will tell you about the Egyptian hersel.”
“Has she been taken to Tilliedrum?” Gavin asked in a hollow voice.
“Sup up your porridge, Gavin,” Margaret said. “I’ll have no speaking about this terrible night till you’ve eaten something.”
“I have no appetite,” the minister replied, pushing his plate from him. “Jean, answer me.”
“’Deed, then,” said Jean willingly, “they hinna ta’en her to Tilliedrum.”
“For what reason?” asked Gavin, his dread33 increasing.
“For the reason that they couldna catch her,” Jean answered. “She spirited hersel awa’, the magerful crittur.”
“What! But I heard you say——”
“Ay, they had her aince, but they couldna keep her. It’s like a witch story. They had her safe in the town-house, and baith shirra and captain guarding her, and syne34 in a clink she wasna there. A’ nicht they looked for her, but she hadna left so muckle as a foot-print ahint her, and in the tail of the day they had to up wi’ their tap in their lap and march awa without her.”
Gavin’s appetite returned.
“Has she been seen since the soldiers went away?” he asked, laying down his spoon with a new fear. “Where is she now?”
“No human eye has seen her,” Jean answered impressively. “Whaur is she now? Whaur does the flies vanish to in winter? We ken13 they’re some gait, but whaur?”
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