But when she came up my fears fled
away; not even the consciousness of what I had been privately
thinking disconcerted me the least; and I found I could talk with
her as easily and rationally as I might with Alan.
"O!" she cried, "you have been seeking your sixpence; did you get
I told her no; but now I had met with her my walk was not in vain.
"Though I have seen you to-day already," said I, and told her where
"I did not see you," she said. "My eyes are big, but there are
better than mine at seeing far. Only I heard singing in the
"That was Miss Grant," said I, "the eldest and the bonniest."
"They say they are all beautiful," said she.
"They think the same of you, Miss Drummond," I replied, "and were
all crowding to the window to observe you."
"It is a pity about my being so blind," said she, "or I might have
seen them too. And you were in the house? You must have been
having the fine time with the fine music and the pretty ladies."
"There is just where you are wrong," said I; "for I was as uncouth
as a sea-fish upon the brae of a mountain. The truth is that I am
better fitted to go about with rudas men than pretty ladies."
"Well, I would think so too, at all events!" said she, at which we
both of us laughed.
"It is a strange thing, now," said I. "I am not the least afraid
with you, yet I could have run from the Miss Grants. And I was
afraid of your cousin too."
"O, I think any man will be afraid of her," she cried. "My father
is afraid of her himself."
The name of her father brought me to a stop. I looked at her as
she walked by my side; I recalled the man, and the little I knew
and the much I guessed of him; and comparing the one with the
other, felt like a traitor to be silent.
"Speaking of which," said I, "I met your father no later than this
"Did you?" she cried, with a voice of joy that seemed to mock at
me. "You saw James More? You will have spoken with him then?"
"I did even that," said I.
Then I think things went the worst way for me that was humanly
possible. She gave me a look of mere gratitude. "Ah, thank you
for that!" says she.
"You thank me for very little," said I, and then stopped. But it
seemed when I was holding back so much, something at least had to
come out. "I spoke rather ill to him," said I; "I did no like him
very much; I spoke him rather ill, and he was angry."
"I think you had little to do then, and less to tell it to his
daughter!" she cried out. "But those that do not love and cherish
him I will not know."
"I will take the freedom of a word yet," said I, beginning to
tremble. "Perhaps neither your father nor I are in the best of
spirits at Prestongrange's. I daresay we both have anxious
business there, for it's a dangerous house. I was sorry for him
too, and spoke to him the first, if I could but have spoken the
wiser. And for one thing, in my opinion, you will soon find that
his affairs are mending."
"It will not be through your friendship, I am thinking," said she;
"and he is much made up to you for your sorrow."
"Miss Drummond," cried I, "I am alone in this world."
"And I am not wondering at that," said she.
"O, let me speak!" said I. "I will speak but the once, and then
leave you, if you will, for ever. I came this day in the hopes of
a kind word that I am sore in want of. I know that what I said
must hurt you, and I knew it then. It would have been easy to have
spoken smooth, easy to lie to you; can you not think how I was
tempted to the same? Cannot you see the truth of my heart shine
"I think here is a great deal of work, Mr. Balfour," said she. "I
think we will have met but the once, and will can part like gentle
"O, let me have one to believe in me!" I pleaded, "I cannae bear it
else. The whole world is clanned against me.