Catriona

Page 60

But whan he spak, it

was mair in sorrow than in anger. 'Poor thing, poor thing!" says

he, and it was the lass he lookit at, "I hear you skirl and laugh,"

he says, "but the Lord has a deid shot prepared for you, and at

that surprising judgment ye shall skirl but the ae time!" Shortly

thereafter she was daundering on the craigs wi' twa-three sodgers,

and it was a blawy day. There cam a gowst of wind, claught her by

the coats, and awa' wi' her bag and baggage. And it was remarked

by the sodgers that she gied but the ae skirl.

Nae doubt this judgment had some weicht upon Tam Dale; but it

passed again and him none the better. Ae day he was flyting wi'

anither sodger-lad. "Deil hae me!" quo' Tam, for he was a profane

swearer. And there was Peden glowering at him, gash an' waefu';

Peden wi' his lang chafts an' luntin' een, the maud happed about

his kist, and the hand of him held out wi' the black nails upon the

finger-nebs--for he had nae care of the body. "Fy, fy, poor man!"

cries he, "the poor fool man! DEIL HAE ME, quo' he; an' I see the

deil at his oxter." The conviction of guilt and grace cam in on

Tam like the deep sea; he flang doun the pike that was in his

hands--"I will nae mair lift arms against the cause o' Christ!"

says he, and was as gude's word. There was a sair fyke in the

beginning, but the governor, seeing him resolved, gied him his

discharge, and he went and dwallt and merried in North Berwick, and

had aye a gude name with honest folk free that day on.

It was in the year seeventeen hunner and sax that the Bass cam in

the hands o' the Da'rymples, and there was twa men soucht the

chairge of it. Baith were weel qualified, for they had baith been

sodgers in the garrison, and kent the gate to handle solans, and

the seasons and values of them. Forby that they were baith--or

they baith seemed--earnest professors and men of comely

conversation. The first of them was just Tam Dale, my faither.

The second was ane Lapraik, whom the folk ca'd Tod Lapraik maistly,

but whether for his name or his nature I could never hear tell.

Weel, Tam gaed to see Lapraik upon this business, and took me, that

was a toddlin' laddie, by the hand. Tod had his dwallin' in the

lang loan benorth the kirkyaird. It's a dark uncanny loan, forby

that the kirk has aye had an ill name since the days o' James the

Saxt and the deevil's cantrips played therein when the Queen was on

the seas; and as for Tod's house, it was in the mirkest end, and

was little liked by some that kenned the best. The door was on the

sneck that day, and me and my faither gaed straucht in. Tod was a

wabster to his trade; his loom stood in the but. There he sat, a

muckle fat, white hash of a man like creish, wi' a kind of a holy

smile that gart me scunner. The hand of him aye cawed the shuttle,

but his een was steeked. We cried to him by his name, we skirted

in the deid lug of him, we shook him by the shou'ther. Nae mainner

o' service! There he sat on his dowp, an' cawed the shuttle and

smiled like creish.

"God be guid to us," says Tam Dale, "this is no canny?"

He had jimp said the word, when Tod Lapraik cam to himsel'.

"Is this you, Tam?" says he. "Haith, man! I'm blythe to see ye.

I whiles fa' into a bit dwam like this," he says; "its frae the

stamach."

Weel, they began to crack about the Bass and which of them twa was

to get the warding o't, and little by little cam to very ill words,

and twined in anger. I mind weel that as my faither and me gaed

hame again, he cam ower and ower the same expression, how little he

likit Tod Lapraik and his dwams.

"Dwam!" says he. "I think folk hae brunt for dwams like yon."

Aweel, my faither got the Bass and Tod had to go wantin'. It was

remembered sinsyne what way he had ta'en the thing. "Tam," says

he, "ye hae gotten the better o' me aince mair, and I hope," says

he, "ye'll find at least a' that ye expeckit at the Bass." Which

have since been thought remarkable expressions.

Catriona Page 61

Robert Louis Stevenson

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