"I thought ye had just been a cuif--you and your
saxpence, and your LUCKY DAY and your SAKE OF BALWHIDDER"--from
which I was gratified to learn that Catriona had not forgotten some
of our talk. "But all this is by the purpose," she resumed. "Am I
to understand that ye come here keeping company?"
"This is surely rather an early question," said I. "The maid is
young, so am I, worse fortune. I have but seen her the once. I'll
not deny," I added, making up my mind to try her with some
frankness, "I'll not deny but she has run in my head a good deal
since I met in with her. That is one thing; but it would be quite
another, and I think I would look very like a fool, to commit
"You can speak out of your mouth, I see," said the old lady.
"Praise God, and so can I! I was fool enough to take charge of
this rogue's daughter: a fine charge I have gotten; but it's mine,
and I'll carry it the way I want to. Do ye mean to tell me, Mr.
Balfour of Shaws, that you would marry James More's daughter, and
him hanged! Well, then, where there's no possible marriage there
shall be no manner of carryings on, and take that for said. Lasses
are bruckle things," she added, with a nod; "and though ye would
never think it by my wrunkled chafts, I was a lassie mysel', and a
"Lady Allardyce," said I, "for that I suppose to be your name, you
seem to do the two sides of the talking, which is a very poor
manner to come to an agreement. You give me rather a home thrust
when you ask if I would marry, at the gallow's foot, a young lady
whom I have seen but once. I have told you already I would never
be so untenty as to commit myself. And yet I'll go some way with
you. If I continue to like the lass as well as I have reason to
expect, it will be something more than her father, or the gallows
either, that keeps the two of us apart. As for my family, I found
it by the wayside like a lost bawbee! I owe less than nothing to
my uncle and if ever I marry, it will be to please one person:
"I have heard this kind of talk before ye were born," said Mrs.
Ogilvy, "which is perhaps the reason that I think of it so little.
There's much to be considered. This James More is a kinsman of
mine, to my shame be it spoken. But the better the family, the
mair men hanged or headed, that's always been poor Scotland's
story. And if it was just the hanging! For my part I think I
would be best pleased with James upon the gallows, which would be
at least an end to him. Catrine's a good lass enough, and a good-
hearted, and lets herself be deaved all day with a runt of an auld
wife like me. But, ye see, there's the weak bit. She's daft about
that long, false, fleeching beggar of a father of hers, and red-mad
about the Gregara, and proscribed names, and King James, and a
wheen blethers. And you might think ye could guide her, ye would
find yourself sore mista'en. Ye say ye've seen her but the once. .
"Spoke with her but the once, I should have said," I interrupted.
"I saw her again this morning from a window at Prestongrange's."
This I daresay I put in because it sounded well; but I was properly
paid for my ostentation on the return.
"What's this of it?" cries the old lady, with a sudden pucker of
her face. "I think it was at the Advocate's door-cheek that ye met
I told her that was so.
"H'm," she said; and then suddenly, upon rather a scolding tone, "I
have your bare word for it," she cries, "as to who and what you
are. By your way of it, you're Balfour of the Shaws; but for what
I ken you may be Balfour of the Deevil's oxter. It's possible ye
may come here for what ye say, and it's equally possible ye may
come here for deil care what! I'm good enough Whig to sit quiet,
and to have keepit all my men-folk's heads upon their shoulders.
But I'm not just a good enough Whig to be made a fool of neither.