Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Little Minister > Chapter Fifteen. THE MINISTER BEWITCHED—SECOND SERMON AGAINST WOMEN.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 To Nanny it was a dizzying experience to sit at the head of her own table, and, with assumed calmness, invite the minister not to spare the loaf-bread. Babbie’s prattle1, and even Gavin’s answers, were but an indistinct noise to her, to be as little regarded, in the excitement of watching whether Mr. Dishart noticed that there was a knife for the butter, as the music of the river by a man who is catching2 trout3. Every time Gavin’s cup went to his lips Nanny calculated (correctly) how much he had drunk, and yet, when the right moment arrived, she asked in the English voice that is fashionable at ceremonies, “if his cup was toom.”  
Perhaps it was well that Nanny had these matters to engross4 her, for though Gavin spoke5 freely, he was saying nothing of lasting6 value, and some of his remarks to the Egyptian, if preserved for the calmer contemplation of the morrow, might have seemed frivolous7 to himself. Usually his observations were scrambled8 for, like ha’pence at a wedding, but to-day they were only for one person. Infected by the Egyptian’s high spirits, Gavin had laid aside the minister with his hat, and what was left was only a young man. He who had stamped his feet at thought of a soldier’s cloak now wanted to be reminded of it. The little minister, who used to address himself in terms of scorn every time he wasted an hour, was at present dallying9 with a teaspoon10. He even laughed boisterously11, flinging back his head, and 136 little knew that behind Nanny’s smiling face was a terrible dread12, because his chair had once given way before.
Even though our thoughts are not with our company, the mention of our name is a bell to which we usually answer. Hearing hers Nanny started.
“You can tell me, Nanny,” the Egyptian had said, with an arch look at the minister. “Oh, Nanny, for shame! How can you expect to follow our conversation when you only listen to Mr. Dishart?”
“She is saying, Nanny,” Gavin broke in, almost gaily13 for a minister, “that she saw me recently wearing a cloak. You know I have no such thing.”
“Na,” Nanny answered artlessly, “you have just the thin brown coat wi’ the braid round it, forby the ane you have on the now.”
“You see,” Gavin said to Babbie, “I could not have a new neckcloth, not to speak of a cloak, without everybody in Thrums knowing about it. I dare say Nanny knows all about the braid, and even what it cost.”
“Three bawbees the yard at Kyowowy’s shop,” replied Nanny, promptly14, “and your mother sewed it on. Sam’l Fairweather has the marrows15 o’t on his top coat. No that it has the same look on him.”
“Nevertheless,” Babbie persisted, “I am sure the minister has a cloak; but perhaps he is ashamed of it. No doubt it is hidden away in the garret.”
“Na, we would hae kent o’t if it was there,” said Nanny.
“But it may be in a chest, and the chest may be locked,” the Egyptian suggested.
“Ay, but the kist in the garret isna locked,” Nanny answered.
“How do you get to know all these things, Nanny?” asked Gavin, sighing.
“Your congregation tells me. Naebody would lay by news about a minister.”
“But how do they know?”
“I dinna ken16. They just find out, because they’re so fond o’ you.”
“I hope they will never become so fond of me as that,” said Babbie. “Still, Nanny, the minister’s cloak is hidden somewhere.”
“Losh, what would make him hod it?” demanded the old woman. “Folk that has cloaks doesna bury them in boxes.”
At the word “bury” Gavin’s hand fell on the table, and he returned to Nanny apprehensively17.
“That would depend on how the cloak was got,” said the cruel Egyptian. “If it was not his own——”
“Lassie,” cried Nanny, “behave yoursel’.”
“Or if he found it in his possession against his will?” suggested Gavin, slyly. “He might have got it from some one who picked it up cheap.”
“From his wife, for instance,” said Babbie, whereupon Gavin suddenly became interested in the floor.
“Ay, ay, the minister was hitting at you there, Babbie,” Nanny explained, “for the way you made off wi’ the captain’s cloak. The Thrums folk wondered less at your taking it than at your no keeping it. It’s said to be michty grand.”
“It was rather like the one the minister’s wife gave him,” said Babbie.
“The minister has neither a wife nor a cloak,” retorted Nanny.
“He isn’t married?” asked Babbie, the picture of incredulity.
Nanny gathered from the minister’s face that he deputed to her the task of enlightening this ignorant girl, so she replied with emphasis, “Na, they hinna got him yet, and I’m cheated if it doesna tak them all their time.”
Thus do the best of women sell their sex for nothing.
“I did wonder,” said the Egyptian, gravely, “at any mere18 woman’s daring to marry such a minister.”
“Ay,” replied Nanny, spiritedly, “but there’s dauring limmers wherever there’s a single man.”
“So I have often suspected,” said Babbie, duly shocked. “But, Nanny, I was told the minister had a wife, by one who said he saw her.”
“He lied, then,” answered Nanny turning to Gavin for further instructions.
“But, see, the minister does not deny the horrid19 charge himself.”
“No, and for the reason he didna deny the cloak: because it’s no worth his while. I’ll tell you wha your friend had seen. It would be somebody that would like to be Mrs. Dishart. There’s a hantle o’ that kind. Ay, lassie, but wishing winna land a woman in a manse.”
“It was one of the soldiers,” Babbie said, “who told me about her. He said Mr. Dishart introduced her to him.”
“Sojers!” cried Nanny. “I could never thole the name o’ them. Sanders in his young days hankered after joining them, and so he would, if it hadna been for the fechting. Ay, and now they’ve ta’en him awa to the gaol20, and sworn lies about him. Dinna put any faith in sojers, lassie.”
“I was told,” Babbie went on, “that the minister’s wife was rather like me.”
“Heaven forbid!” ejaculated Nanny, so fervently21 that all three suddenly sat back from the table.
“I’m no meaning,” Nanny continued hurriedly, fearing to offend her benefactress, “but what you’re the bonniest tid I ever saw out o’ an almanack. But you would ken Mr. Dishart’s contempt for bonny faces if you had heard his sermon against them. I didna hear it mysel’, for I’m no Auld22 Licht, but it did the work o’ the town for an aucht days.”
If Nanny had not taken her eyes off Gavin for the moment she would have known that he was now anxious to change the topic. Babbie saw it, and became suspicious.
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved