Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Little Minister > Chapter Sixteen. CONTINUED MISBEHAVIOUR OF THE EGYPTIAN WOMAN.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 By the following Monday it was known at many looms1 that something sat heavily on the Auld2 Licht minister’s mind. On the previous day he had preached his second sermon of warning to susceptible3 young men, and his first mention of the word “woman” had blown even the sleepy heads upright. Now he had salt fish for breakfast, and on clearing the table Jean noticed that his knife and fork were uncrossed. He was observed walking into a gooseberry bush by Susy Linn, who possessed4 the pioneer spring-bed of Thrums, and always knew when her man jumped into it by suddenly finding herself shot to the ceiling. Lunan, the tinsmith, and two women, who had the luck to be in the street at the time, saw him stopping at Dr. McQueen’s door, as if about to knock, and then turning smartly away. His hat blew off in the school wynd, where a wind wanders ever, looking for hats, and he chased it so passionately5 that Lang Tammas went into Allardyce’s smiddy to say—  
“I dinna like it. Of course he couldna afford to lose his hat, but he should hae run after it mair reverently6.”
Gavin, indeed, was troubled. He had avoided speaking of the Egyptian to his mother. He had gone to McQueen’s house to ask the doctor to accompany him to the Kaims, but with the knocker in his hand he changed his mind, and now he was at the place of meeting alone. It was a day of thaw7, nothing to be heard from a distance but the swish of curling-stones through 144 water on Rashie-bog, where the match for the eldership was going on. Around him, Gavin saw only dejected firs with drops of water falling listlessly from them, clods of snow, and grass that rustled8 as if animals were crawling through it. All the roads were slack.
I suppose no young man to whom society has not become a cheap thing can be in Gavin’s position, awaiting the coming of an attractive girl, without giving thought to what he should say to her. When in the pulpit or visiting the sick, words came in a rush to the little minister, but he had to set his teeth to determine what to say to the Egyptian.
This was because he had not yet decided9 which of two women she was. Hardly had he started on one line of thought when she crossed his vision in a new light, and drew him after her.
Her “Need that make any difference?” sang in his ear like another divit, cast this time at religion itself, and now he spoke10 aloud, pointing his finger at a fir: “I said at the mud house that I believed you because I knew you. To my shame be it said that I spoke falsely. How dared you bewitch me? In your presence I flung away the precious hours in frivolity11; I even forgot the Sabbath. For this I have myself to blame. I am an unworthy preacher of the Word. I sinned far more than you who have been brought up godlessly from your cradle. Nevertheless, whoever you are, I call upon you, before we part never to meet again, to repent12 of your——”
And then it was no mocker of the Sabbath he was addressing, but a woman with a child’s face, and there were tears in her eyes. “Do you care?” she was saying, and again he answered, “Yes, I care.” This girl’s name was not Woman, but Babbie.
Now Gavin made an heroic attempt to look upon both these women at once. “Yes, I believe in you,” he said to them, “but henceforth you must send your money to 145 Nanny by another messenger. You are a gypsy and I am a minister; and that must part us. I refuse to see you again. I am not angry with you, but as a minister——”
It was not the disappearance13 of one of the women that clipped this argument short; it was Babbie singing—
“It fell on a day, on a bonny summer day,
When the corn grew green and yellow,
That there fell out a great dispute
Between Argyle and Airly.
“The Duke of Montrose has written to Argyle
To come in the morning early,
An’ lead in his men by the back o’ Dunkeld
To plunder14 the bonny house o’ Airly.”
“Where are you?” cried Gavin in bewilderment.
“I am watching you from my window so high,” answered the Egyptian; and then the minister, looking up, saw her peering at him from a fir.
“How did you get up there?” he asked in amazement15.
“On my broomstick,” Babbie replied, and sang on—
“The lady looked o’er her window sae high,
And oh! but she looked weary,
And there she espied16 the great Argyle
Come to plunder the bonny house o’ Airly.”
“What are you doing there?” Gavin said, wrathfully.
“This is my home,” she answered. “I told you I lived in a tree.”
“Come down at once,” ordered Gavin. To which the singer responded—
“‘Come down, come down, Lady Margaret,’ he says;
‘Come down and kiss me fairly
Or before the morning clear day light
I’ll no leave a standing18 stane in Airly.’”
“If you do not come down this instant,” Gavin said in a rage, “and give me what I was so foolish as to come for, I——”
The Egyptian broke in—
“‘I wouldna kiss thee, great Argyle,
I wouldna kiss thee fairly;
I wouldna kiss thee, great Argyle,
Gin you shouldna leave a standing stane in Airly.’”
“You have deceived Nanny,” Gavin cried, hotly, “and you have brought me here to deride19 me. I will have no more to do with you.”
He walked away quickly, but she called after him, “I am coming down. I have the money,” and next moment a snowball hit his hat.
“That is for being cross,” she explained, appearing so unexpectedly at his elbow that he was taken aback. “I had to come close up to you before I flung it, or it would have fallen over my shoulder. Why are you so nasty to-day? and, oh, do you know you were speaking to yourself?”
“You are mistaken,” said Gavin, severely20. “I was speaking to you.”
“You didn’t see me till I began to sing, did you?”
“Nevertheless I was speaking to you, or rather, I was saying to myself what——”
“What you had decided to say to me?” said the delighted gypsy. “Do you prepare your talk like sermons? I hope you have prepared something nice for me. If it is very nice I may give you this bunch of holly21.”
She was dressed as he had seen her previously22, but for a cluster of holly berries at her breast.
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