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It may be very fine,” remarked Salemina judicially, “though I cannot understand more than half of it.”
“That would also be true of Browning,” I replied. “Don’t you love to see great ideas loom through a mist of words?”
“The words are misty enough in this case,” she said, “and I do wish you would not tell the world that I paddle in the burn, or ‘twine my bree wi’ tasseled broom.’ I’m too old to be made ridiculous.”
“Nobody will believe it,” said Francesca appearing in the doorway. “They will know it is only Penelope’s havering,” and with this undeserved scoff, she took her mashie and went golfing; not on the links, on this occasion, but in our microscopic sitting-room. It is twelve feet square, and holds a tiny piano, desk, centre-table, sofa, and chairs, but the spot between the fireplace and the table is Francesca’s favorite “putting green.” She wishes to become more deadly in the matter of approaches, and thinks her tee shots weak; so these two deficiencies she is trying to make good by home practice in inclement weather. She turns a tumbler on its side on the floor, and “puts” the ball into it, or at it, as the case may be, from the opposite side of the room. It is excellent discipline, and as the tumblers are inexpensive the breakage really does not matter. Whenever Miss Grieve hears the shivering of glass, she murmurs, not without reason, “It is not for the knowing what they will be doing next.”
“Penelope, has it ever occurred to you that Elizabeth Ardmore is seriously interested in Mr. Macdonald?”
Salemina propounded this question to me with the same innocence that a babe would display in placing a match beside a dynamite bomb.
Francesca naturally heard the remark,–although it was addressed to me,–pricked up her ears, and missed the tumbler by several feet.
It was a simple inquiry, but as I look back upon it from the safe ground of subsequent knowledge I perceive that it had a certain amount of influence upon Francesca’s history. The suggestion would have carried no weight with me for two reasons. In the first place, Salemina is far-sighted. If objects are located at some distance from her, she sees them clearly; but if they are under her very nose she overlooks them altogether, unless they are sufficiently fragrant or audible to address other senses. This physical peculiarity she carries over into her mental processes. Her impression of the Disruption movement, for example, would be lively and distinct, but her perception of a contemporary lovers’ quarrel (particularly if it were fought at her own apron-strings) would be singularly vague. If she suggested, therefore, that Elizabeth Ardmore was interested in Mr. Beresford, who is the rightful captive of my bow and spear, I should be perfectly calm.
My second reason for comfortable indifference is that, frequently in novels, and always in plays, the heroine is instigated to violent jealousy by insinuations of this sort, usually conveyed by the villain of the piece, male or female. I have seen this happen so often in the modern drama that it has long since ceased to be convincing; but though Francesca has witnessed scores of plays and read hundreds of novels, it did not apparently strike her as a theatrical or literary suggestion that Lady Ardmore’s daughter should be in love with Mr. Macdonald. The effect of the new point of view was most salutary, on the whole. She had come to think herself the only prominent figure in the Reverend Ronald’s landscape, and anything more impertinent than her tone with him (unless it is his with her) I certainly never heard. This criticism, however, relates only to their public performances, and I have long suspected that their private conversations are of a kindlier character. When it occurred to her that he might simply be sharpening his mental sword on her steel, but that his heart had at last wandered into a more genial climate than she had ever provided for it, she softened unconsciously; the Scotsman and the American receded into a truer perspective, and the man and the woman approached each other with dangerous nearness.
“What shall we do if Francesca and Mr. Macdonald really fall in love with each other?” asked Salemina, when Francesca had gone into the hall to try long drives. (There is a good deal of excitement in this, as Miss Grieve has to cross the passage on her way from the kitchen to the china-closet, and thus often serves as a reluctant “hazard” or “bunker.”)
“Do you mean what should we have done?” I queried.
“Nonsense, don’t be captious! It can’t be too late yet. They have known each other only a little over two months; when would you have had me interfere, pray?”
“It depends upon what you expect to accomplish. If you wish to stop the marriage, interfere in a fortnight or so; if you wish to prevent an engagement, speak–well, say to-morrow; if, however, you didn’t wish them to fall in love with each other, you should have kept one of them away from Lady Baird’s dinner.”
“I could have waited a trifle longer than that,” argued Salemina, “for you remember how badly they got on at first.”
“I remember you thought so,” I responded dryly; “but I believe Mr. Macdonald has been interested in Francesca from the outset, partly because her beauty and vivacity attracted him, partly because he could keep her in order only by putting his whole mind upon her. On his side, he has succeeded in piquing her into thinking of him continually, though solely, as she fancies, for the purpose of crossing swords with him. If they ever drop their weapons for an instant, and allow the din of warfare to subside so that they can listen to their own heart-beats, they will discover that they love each other to distraction.”
“Ye ken mair than’s in the catecheesm,” remarked Salemina, yawning a little as she put away her darning-ball. “It is pathetic to see you waste your time painting mediocre pictures, when as a lecturer upon love you could instruct your thousands.”
“The thousands would never satisfy me,” I retorted, “so long as you remained uninstructed, for in your single person you would so swell the sum of human ignorance on that subject that my teaching would be forever vain.”
“Very clever indeed! Well, what will Mr. Monroe say to me when I land in New York without his daughter, or with his son-in-law?”
“He has never denied Francesca anything in her life; why should he draw the line at a Scotsman? I am much more concerned about Mr. Macdonald’s congregation.”
“I am not anxious about that,” said Salemina loyally. “Francesca would be the life of an Inchcaldy parish.”
“I dare say,” I observed, “but she might be the death of the pastor.”
“I am ashamed of you, Penelope; or I should be if you meant what you say. She can make the people love her if she tries; when did she ever fail at that? But with Mr. Macdonald’s talent, to say nothing of his family connections, he is sure to get a church in Edinburgh in a few years, if he wishes. Undoubtedly, it would not be a great match in a money sense. I suppose he has a manse and three or four hundred pounds a year.”
“That sum would do nicely for cabs.”
“Penelope, you are flippant!”
“I don’t mean it, dear; it’s only for fun; and it would be so absurd if we should leave Francesca over here as the presiding genius of an Inchcaldy parsonage,–I mean a manse!”
“It isn’t as if she were penniless,” continued Salemina; “she has fortune enough to assure her own independence, and not enough to threaten his,–the ideal amount. I hardly think the good Lord’s first intention was to make her a minister’s wife, but he knows very well that Love is a master architect. Francesca is full of beautiful possibilities if Mr. Macdonald is the man to bring them out, and I am inclined to think he is.”
“He has brought out impishness so far,” I objected.
“The impishness is transitory,” she returned, “and I am speaking of permanent qualities. His is the stronger and more serious nature, Francesca’s the sweeter and more flexible. He will be the oak-tree, and she will be the sunshine playing in the branches.”
“Salemina, dear,” I said penitently, kissing her gray hair, “I apologize: you are not absolutely ignorant about Love, after all, when you call him the master architect; and that is very lovely and very true about the oak-tree and the sunshine.”
Chapter 23
“‘Love, I maun gang to Edinbrugh,
Love, I maun gang an’ leave thee!’
She sighed right sair, an’ said nae mair
But ‘O gin I were wi’ ye!'”
Andrew Lammie.

Jean Dalziel came to visit us a week ago, and has put new life into our little circle. I suppose it was playing “Sir Patrick Spens” that set us thinking about it, for one warm, idle day when we were all in the Glen we began a series of ballad-revels, in which each of us assumed a favorite character. The choice induced so much argument and disagreement that Mr. Beresford was at last appointed head of the clan; and having announced himself formally as the Mackintosh, he was placed on the summit of a hastily arranged pyramidal cairn. He was given an ash wand and a rowan-tree sword; and then, according to ancient custom, his pedigree and the exploits of his ancestors were recounted, and he was exhorted to emulate their example. Now it seems that a Highland chief of the olden time, being as absolute in his patriarchal authority as any prince, had a corresponding number of officers attached to his person. He had a bodyguard, who fought around him in battle, and independent of this he had a staff of officers who accompanied him wherever he went. These our chief proceeded to appoint as follows:–
Henchman, Ronald Macdonald; bard, Penelope Hamilton; spokesman or fool, Robin Anstruther; sword-bearer, Francesca Monroe; piper, Salemina; piper’s attendant, Elizabeth Ardmore; baggage gillie, Jean Dalziel; running footman, Ralph; bridle gillie, Jamie; ford gillie, Miss Grieve. The ford gillie carries the chief across fords only, and there are no fords in the vicinity; so Mr. Beresford, not liking to leave a member of our household out of office, thought this the best post for Calamity Jane.
With the Mackintosh on his pyramidal cairn matters went very much better, and at Jamie’s instigation we began to hold rehearsals for certain festivities at Rowardennan; for as Jamie’s birthday fell on the eve of the Queen’s Jubilee, there was to be a gay party at the castle.
All this occurred days ago, and yesterday evening the ballad-revels came off, and Rowardennan was a scene of great pageant and splendor. Lady Ardmore, dressed as the Lady of Inverleith, received the guests, and there were all manner of tableaux, and ballads in costume, and pantomimes, and a grand march by the clan, in which we appeared in our chosen roles.
Salemina was Lady Maisry,–she whom all the lords of the north countrie came wooing.

“But a’ that they could say to her,
Her answer still was ‘Na.'”
And again:–
“O haud your tongues, young men,’ she said,
‘And think nae mair on me!'”
Mr. Beresford was Lord Beichan, and I was Shusy Pye.
“Lord Beichan was a Christian born,
And such resolved to live and dee,
So he was ta’en by a savage Moor,
Who treated him right cruellie.
“The Moor he had an only daughter,
The damsel’s name was Shusy Pye;
And ilka day as she took the air
Lord Beichan’s prison she pass’d by.”

Elizabeth Ardmore was Leezie Lindsay, who kilted her coats o’ green satin to the knee and was aff to the Hielands so expeditiously when her lover declared himself to be “Lord Ronald Macdonald, a chieftain of high degree.”
Francesca was Mary Ambree.

“When captaines couragious, whom death cold not daunte,
Did march to the siege of the citty of Gaunt,
They mustred their souldiers by two and by three,
And the foremost in battle was Mary Ambree.
“When the brave sergeant-major was slaine in her sight
Who was her true lover, her joy and delight,
Because he was slaine most treacherouslie,
Then vow’d to avenge him Mary Ambree.”

Brenda Macrae from Pettybaw House was Fairly Fair; Jamie, Sir Patrick Spens; Ralph, King Alexander of Dunfermline; Mr. Anstruther, Bonnie Glenlogie, “the flower of them a’;” Mr. Macdonald and Miss Dalziel, Young Hynde Horn and the king’s daughter Jean respectively.

“‘Oh, it’s Hynde Horn fair, and it’s Hynde Horn free;
Oh, where were you born, and in what countrie?’
‘In a far distant countrie I was born;
But of home and friends I am quite forlorn.’
“Oh, it’s seven long years he served the king,
But wages from him he ne’er got a thing;
Oh, it’s seven long years he served, I ween,
And all for love of the king’s daughter Jean.”

It is not to be supposed that all this went off without any of the difficulties and heart-burnings that are incident to things dramatic. When Elizabeth Ardmore chose to be Leezie Lindsay, she asked me to sing the ballad behind the scenes. Mr. Beresford naturally thought that Mr. Macdonald would take the opposite part in the tableau, inasmuch as the hero bears his name; but he positively declined to play Lord Ronald Macdonald, and said it was altogether too personal.
Mr. Anstruther was rather disagreeable at the beginning, and upbraided Miss Dalziel for offering to be the king’s daughter Jean to Mr. Macdonald’s Hynde Horn, when she knew very well he wanted her for Ladye Jeanie in Glenlogie. (She had meantime confided to me that nothing could induce her to appear in Glenlogie; it was far too personal.)
Mr. Macdonald offended Francesca by sending her his cast-off gown and begging her to be Sir Patrick Spens; and she was still more gloomy (so I imagined) because he had not proffered his six feet of manly beauty for the part of the captain in Mary Ambree, when the only other person to take it was Jamie’s tutor. He is an Oxford man and a delightful person, but very bow-legged; added to that, by the time the rehearsals had ended she had been obliged to beg him to love some one more worthy than herself, and did not wish to appear in the same tableau with him, feeling that it was much too personal.
When the eventful hour came, yesterday, Willie and I were the only actors really willing to take lovers’ parts, save Jamie and Ralph, who were but too anxious to play all the characters, whatever their age, sex, color, or relations. But the guests knew nothing of these trivial disagreements, and at ten o’clock last night it would have been difficult to match Rowardennan Castle for a scene of beauty and revelry. Everything went merrily till we came to Hynde Horn, the concluding tableau, and the most effective and elaborate one on the programme. At the very last moment, when the opening scene was nearly ready, Jean Dalziel fell down a secret staircase that led from the tapestry chamber into Lady Ardmore’s boudoir, where the rest of us were dressing. It was a short flight of steps, but, as she held a candle and was carrying her costume, she fell awkwardly, spraining her wrist and ankle. Finding that she was not maimed for life, Lady Ardmore turned with comical and unsympathetic haste to Francesca, so completely do amateur theatricals dry the milk of kindness in the human breast.
“Put on these clothes at once,” she said imperiously, knowing nothing of the volcanoes beneath the surface. “Hynde Horn is already on the stage, and somebody must be Jean. Take care of Miss Dalziel, girls, and ring for more maids. Helene, help me dress Miss Monroe: put on her slippers while I lace her gown; run and fetch more jewels,–more still,–she can carry off any number; not any rouge, Helene,–she has too much color now; pull the frock more off the shoulders,–it’s a pity to cover an inch of them; pile her hair higher,–here, take my diamond tiara, child; hurry, Helene, fetch the silver cup and the cake–no, they are on the stage; take her train, Helene. Miss Hamilton, run and open the doors ahead of them, please. I won’t go down for this tableau. I’ll put Miss Dalziel right, and then I’ll slip into the drawing-room, to be ready for the guests when they come in.”
We hurried breathlessly through an interminable series of rooms and corridors. I gave the signal to Mr. Beresford, who was nervously waiting for it in the wings, and the curtain went up on Hynde Horn disguised as the auld beggar man at the king’s gate. Mr. Beresford was reading the ballad, and we took up the tableaux at the point where Hynde Horn has come from a far countrie to see why the diamonds in the ring given him by his own true love have grown pale and wan. He hears that the king’s daughter Jean has been married to a knight these nine days past.

“But unto him a wife the bride winna be,
For love of Hynde Horn, far over the sea.”

He therefore borrows the old beggar’s garments and hobbles to the king’s palace, where he petitions the porter for a cup of wine and a bit of cake to be handed him by the fair bride herself.

“‘Good porter, I pray, for Saints Peter and Paul,
And for sake of the Saviour who died for us all,
For one cup of wine, and one bit of bread,
To an auld man with travel and hunger bestead.
“‘And ask the fair bride, for the sake of Hynde Horn,
To hand them to me so sadly forlorn.’
Then the porter for pity the message convey’d,
And told the fair bride all the beggar man said.”

The curtain went up again. The porter, moved to pity, has gone to give the message to his lady. Hynde Horn is watching the staircase at the rear of the stage, his heart in his eyes. The tapestries that hide it are drawn, and there stands the king’s daughter, who tripped down the stair,

“And in her fair hands did lovingly bear
A cup of red wine, and a farle of cake,
To give the old man for loved Hynde Horn’s sake.”

The hero of the ballad, who had not seen his true love for seven long years, could not have been more amazed at the change in her than was Ronald Macdonald at the sight of the flushed, excited, almost tearful king’s daughter on the staircase; Lady Ardmore’s diamonds flashing from her crimson satin gown, Lady Ardmore’s rubies glowing on her white arms and throat; not Miss Dalziel, as had been arranged, but Francesca, rebellious, reluctant, embarrassed, angrily beautiful and beautifully angry!
In the next scene Hynde Horn has drained the cup and dropped the ring into it.

“‘Oh, found you that ring by sea or on land,
Or got you that ring off a dead man’s hand?’
‘Oh, I found not that ring by sea or on land,
But I got that ring from a fair lady’s hand.
“‘As a pledge of true love she gave it to me,
Full seven years ago as I sail’d o’er the sea;
But now that the diamonds are chang’d in their hue,
I know that my love has to me proved untrue.'”

I never saw a prettier picture of sweet, tremulous womanhood, a more enchanting breathing image of fidelity, than Francesca looked as Mr. Beresford read:–

“‘Oh, I will cast off my gay costly gown,
And follow thee on from town unto town,
And I will take the gold kaims from my hair
And follow my true love for ever mair.'”

Whereupon Hynde Horn lets his beggar weeds fall, and shines there the foremost and noblest of all the king’s companie as he says:–

“‘You need not cast off your gay costly gown,
To follow me on from town unto town;
You need not take the gold kaims from your hair,
For Hynde Horn has gold enough and to spare.’
“Then the bridegrooms were chang’d, and the lady re-wed
To Hynde Horn thus come back, like one from the dead.”

There is no doubt that this tableau gained the success of the evening, and the participants in it should have modestly and gratefully received the choruses of congratulation that were ready to be offered during the supper and dance that followed. Instead of that, what happened? Francesca drove home with Miss Dalziel before the quadrille d’honneur, and when Willie bade me good-night at the gate in the loaning he said, “I shall not be early to-morrow, dear. I am going to see Macdonald off.”
“Off!” I exclaimed. “Where is he going?”
“Only to Edinburgh and London, to stay till the last of next week.”
“But we may have left Pettybaw by that time.”
“Of course; that is probably what he has in mind. But let me tell you this, Penelope: Macdonald is fathoms deep in love with Francesca, and if she trifles with him she shall know what I think of her!”
“And let me tell you this, sir: Francesca is fathoms deep in love with Ronald Macdonald, little as you suspect it, and if he trifles with her he shall know what I think of him!”
Chapter 24
“He set her on a coal-black steed,
Himsel lap on behind her,
An’ he’s awa’ to the Hieland hills
Whare her frien’s they canna find her.”
Rob Roy.

The occupants of Bide-a-Wee Cottage awoke in anything but a Jubilee humor, next day. Willie had intended to come at nine, but of course did not appear. Francesca took her breakfast in bed, and came listlessly into the sitting-room at ten o’clock, looking like a ghost. Jean’s ankle was much better,–the sprain proved to be not even a strain,–but her wrist was painful. It was drizzling, too, and we had promised Miss Ardmore and Miss Macrae to aid with the last Jubilee decorations, the distribution of medals at the church, and the children’s games and tea on the links in the afternoon.
We had determined not to desert our beloved Pettybaw for the metropolis on this great day, but to celebrate it with the dear fowk o’ Fife who had grown to be a part of our lives.
Bide-a-Wee Cottage does not occupy an imposing position in the landscape, and the choice of art fabrics at the Pettybaw draper’s is small, but the moment it should stop raining we were intending to carry out a dazzling scheme of decoration that would proclaim our affectionate respect for nike air max the “little lady in black” on her Diamond Jubilee. But would it stop raining?–that was the question. The draper wasna certain that so licht a shoo’r could richtly be called rain. The village weans were yearning for the hour to arrive when they might sit on the wet golf-course and have tea; manifestly, therefore, it could not be a bad day for Scotland; but if it should grow worse, what would become of our mammoth subscription bonfire on Pettybaw Law,–the bonfire that Brenda Macrae was to light, as the lady of the manor?
There were no deputations to request the honor of Miss Macrae’s distinguished services on this occasion; that is not the way the self-respecting villager comports himself in Fifeshire. The chairman of the local committee, a respectable gardener, called upon Miss Macrae at Pettybaw House, and said, “I’m sent to tell ye ye’re to have the pleesure an’ the honor of lightin’ the bonfire the nicht! Ay, it’s a grand chance ye’re havin’, miss; ye’ll remember it as long as ye live, I’m thinkin’!”
When I complimented this rugged soul on his decoration of the triumphal arch under which the schoolchildren were to pass, I said, “I think if her Majesty could see it, she would be pleased with our village to-day cheap nike air max trainers , James.”
“Ay, ye’re richt, miss,” he replied complacently. “She’d see that Inchcawdy canna compeer wi’ us; we’ve patronized her weel in Pettybaw!”
Truly, as Stevenson says, “he who goes fishing among the Scots peasantry with condescension for a bait will have an empty basket by evening.”
At eleven o’clock a boy arrived at Bide-a-Wee with an interesting-looking package, which I promptly opened. That dear foolish lover of mine (whose foolishness is one of the most adorable things about him) makes me only two visits a day, and is therefore constrained to send me some reminder of himself in the intervening hours, or minutes,–a book, a flower, or a note. Uncovering the pretty box, I found a long, slender–something–of sparkling silver.
“What is it?” I exclaimed, holding it up. “It is too long and not wide enough for a paper-knife, although it would be famous for cutting magazines. Is it a _baton_? Where did Willie find it, and what can it be? There is something engraved on one side, something that looks like birds on a twig,–yes, three little birds; and s nike air max sale ee the lovely cairngorm set in the end! Oh, it has words cut in it: ‘_To Jean: From Hynde Horn_’–Goodness me! I’ve opened Miss Dalziel’s package!”
Francesca made a sudden swooping motion, and caught box, cover, and contents in her arms.
“It is mine! I know it is mine!” she cried. “You really ought not to claim everything that is sent to the house, Penelope,–as if nobody had any friends or presents but you!” and she rushed upstairs like a whirlwind.
I examined the nike air max 90 outside wrapper, lying on the floor, and found, to my chagrin, that it did bear Miss Monroe’s name, somewhat blotted by the rain; but if the box were addressed to her, why was the silver thing inscribed to Miss Dalziel? Well, Francesca would explain the mystery within the hour, unless she had become a changed being.
Fifteen minutes passed. Salemina was making Jubilee sandwiches at Pettybaw House, Miss Dalziel was asleep in her room, I was being devoured slowly by curiosity, when Francesca came down without a word, walked out of the front door, went up to the main street, and entered the village post-office without so much as a backward glance. She was a changed being, then! I might as well be living in a Gaboriau novel, I thought, and went up into my little painting and writing room to address a programme of the Pettybaw celebration to Lady Baird, watch for the first glimpse of Willie coming down the loaning, and see if I co nike air max 95 uld discover where Francesca went from the post-office.
Sitting down by my desk, I could find neither my wax nor my silver candlestick, my scissors nor my ball of twine. Plainly, Francesca had been on one of her borrowing tours; and she had left an additional trace of herself–if one were needed–in a book of old Scottish ballads, open at Hynde Horn. I glanced at it idly while I was waiting for her to return. I was not familiar with the opening verses, and these were the first lines that met my eye:–

“Oh, he gave to his love a silver wand,
Her sceptre of rule over fair Scotland;
With three singing laverocks set thereon
For to mind her of him when he was gone.
“And his love gave to him a gay gold ring
With three shining diamonds set therein;
Oh, his love gave to him this gay gold ring,
Of virtue and value above all thing.”
A light dawned upon me! The silver mystery, then, was intended for a wand,–and a very pretty way of making love to an American girl, too, to call it a “sceptre of rule over fair Scotland;” and the th cheap nike air max ree birds were three singing laverocks “to mind her of him when he was gone!”
But the real Hynde Horn in the dear old ballad had a true love who was not captious and capricious and cold like Francesca. His love gave him a gay gold ring,–

“Of virtue and value above all thing.”

Yet stay: behind the ballad book flung heedlessly on my desk was–what should it be but the little morocco case, empty now, in which our nike air max classic Francesca keeps her dead mother’s engagement ring,–the mother who died when she was a wee child. Truly a very pretty modern ballad to be sung in these unromantic, degenerate days!
Francesca came in at the door behind me, saw her secret reflected in my telltale face, saw the sympathetic moisture in my eyes, and, flinging herself into my willing arms, burst into tears.
“Oh, Pen, dear, dear Pen, I am so miserable and so happy; so afraid that he won’t come back, so frightened for fear that he will! I sent him away because there were so many lions in the path, and I didn’t know how to slay them. I thought of my f-father; I thought of my c-c-country. I didn’t want to live with him in Scotland, I knew that I couldn’t live without him in America, and there I was! I didn’t think I was s-suited to a minister, and I am not; but oh! t cheap nike air max his p-particular minister is so s-suited to me!” and she threw herself on the sofa and buried her head in the cushions.
She was so absurd even in her grief that I had hard work to keep from smiling.
“Let us talk about the lions,” I said soothingly. “But when did the trouble begin? When did he speak to you?”
“After the tableaux last night; but of course there had been other–other–times–and things.”
“Of course. Well?”
“He had told me a week before that he should go away for a while, that it made him too wretched to stay here just now; and I suppose that was when he got the silver wand ready for me. It was meant for the Jean of the poem, you know. Of course he would not put my own name on a gift like that.”
“You don’t think he had it made for Jean Dalziel in the first place?” I asked this, thinking she needed some sort of tonic in her relaxed condition.
“You know him bett nike air max 1 er than that, Penelope! I am ashamed of you! We had read Hynde Horn together ages before Jean Dalziel came; but I imagine, when we came to acting the lines, he thought it would be better to have some other king’s daughter; that is, that it would be less personal. And I never, never would have been in the tableau, if I had dared refuse Lady Ardmore, or could have explained; but I had no time to think. And then, naturally, he thought by my being there as the king’s daughter that–that–the lions were slain, you know; instead of which they were roaring so that I could hardly hear the orchestra.”
“Francesca, look me in the eye! Do–you–love him?”
“Love him? I adore him!” she exclaimed in good clear decisive English, as she rose impetuously and paced up and down in front of the sofa. “But in the first place there is the difference in nationality.”
“I have no patience with you nike air max 90 sale . One would think he was a Turk, an Esquimau, or a cannibal. He is white, he speaks English, and he believes in the Christian religion. The idea of calling such a man a foreigner!”
“Oh, it didn’t prevent me from loving him,” she confessed, “but I thought at first it would be unpatriotic to marry him.”
“Did you think Columbia could not spare you even as a rare specimen to be used for exhibition purposes?” I asked wickedly.
“You know I am not so conceited as that! No,” she continued ingenuously, “I feared that if I accepted him it would look, over here, as if the home supply of husbands were of inferior quality; and then we had such disagreeable discussions at the beginning, I simply could not bear to leave my nice new free country, and ally myself with his aeons of tiresome history. But it came to me in the night, a week ago, that after all I should hate a man who didn’t love his fatherland; and in the illumination of th cheap nike air max at new idea Ronald’s character assumed a different outline in my mind. How could he love America when he had never seen it? How could I convince him that American women are the most charming in the world in any better way than by letting him live under the same roof with a good example? How could I expect him to let me love my country best unless I permitted him to love his best?”
“You needn’t offer so many apologies for your infatuation, my dear,” I answered dryly.
“I am not apologizing for it!” she exclaimed impulsively. “Oh, if you could only keep it to yourself, I should like to tell you how I trust and admire and reverence Ronald Macdonald, but of course you will repeat everything to Willie Beresford within the hour! You think he has gone on and on loving me against his better judgment. You believe he has fought against it because of my unfitness, but that I, poor, weak, trivial thing, am not capable of deep feeling and that I shall never appreciate the sacrifices he makes in choosing me! Very well, then, I tel air max l you plainly that if I had to live in a damp manse the rest of my life, drink tea and eat scones for breakfast, and–and buy my hats of the Inchcaldy milliner, I should still glory in the possibility of being Ronald Macdonald’s wife,–a possibility hourly growing more uncertain, I am sorry to say!”
“And the extreme aversion with which you began,” I asked,–“what has become of that, and w nike air max hen did it begin to turn in the opposite direction?”
“Aversion!” she cried, with convincing and unblushing candor. “That aversion was a cover, clapped on to keep my self-respect warm. I abused him a good deal, it is true, because it was so delightful to hear you and Salemina take his part. Sometimes I trembled for fear you would agree with me, but you never did. The more I criticised him, the louder you sang his praises,–it was lovely! The fact is,–we might as well throw light upon the whole matter, and then never allude to it again; and if you do tell Willie Beresford, you shall never visit my manse, nor see me preside at my mothers’ meetings, nor hear me address the infant class in the Sunday-school,–the fact is I liked him from the beginning at Lady Baird’s dinner. I liked the bow he made when he offered me his arm (I wish it had been his hand); I liked the top of his head when it was bowed; I liked his arm when I took it; I liked the height of his shoulder when I stood beside it; I liked the way he put me in my chair (that showed chivalry), and unfolded his napkin (that was neat and businesslike), and pushed aside all his wineglasses but one (that was temperate); I liked the side view of his nose, the shape of his collar, the cleanness of his shave, the manliness of his tone,–oh, I liked him altogether, you must know how it is, Penelope,–the goodness and strength and simplicity that radiated from him. And when he said, within the first half-hour, that international alliances presented even more difficulties to the imagination than others, I felt, to my confusion, a distinct sense of disappointment. Even while I was quarreling with him, I said to myself, ‘You poor darling, you cannot have him even if you should want him, so don’t look at him much!’–But I did look at him; and what is worse, he looked at me; and what is worse yet, he curled himself so tightly round my heart that if he takes himself away, I shall be cold the rest of my life!”
“Then you are really sure of your love this time, and you have never advised him to wed somebody more worthy than yourself?” I asked.
“Not I!” she replied. “I wouldn’t put such an idea into his head for worlds! He might adopt it!”
Chapter 25
“Pale and wan was she when Glenlogie gaed ben,
But red rosy grew she whene’er he sat doun.”

Just here the front door banged, and a manly step sounded on the stair. Francesca sat up straight in a big chair, and dried her eyes hastily with her poor little wet ball of a handkerchief; for she knows that Willie is a privileged visitor in my studio. The door opened (it was ajar), and Ronald Macdonald strode into the room. I hope I may never have the same sense of nothingness again! To be young, pleasing, gifted, and to be regarded no more than a fly upon the wall, is death to one’s self-respect.
He dropped on one knee beside Francesca and took her two hands in his without removing his gaze from her speaking face. She burned, but did not flinch under the ordeal. The color leaped into her cheeks. Love swam in her tears, but was not drowned there; it was too strong.
“Did you mean it?” he asked.
She looked at him, trembling, as she said, “I meant every word, and far, far more. I meant all that a girl can say to a man when she loves him, and wants to be everything she is capable of being to him, to his work, to his people, and to his–country.”
Even this brief colloquy had been embarrassing, but I knew that worse was still to come and could not be delayed much longer, so I left the room hastily and with no attempt at apology; not that they minded my presence in the least, or observed my exit, though I was obliged to leap over Mr. Macdonald’s feet in passing.
I found Mr. Beresford sitting on the stairs, in the lower hall.
“Willie, you angel, you idol, where did you find him?” I exclaimed.
“When I went into the post-office, an hour ago,” he replied, “I met Francesca. She asked me for Macdonald’s Edinburgh address, saying she had something that belonged to him and wished to send it after him. I offered to address the package and see that it reached him as expeditiously as possible. ‘That is what I wish,’ she said, with elaborate formality. ‘This is something I have just discovered, something he needs very much, something he does not know he has left behind.’ I did not think it best to tell her at the moment that Macdonald had not yet deserted Inchcaldy.”
“Willie, you have the quickest intelligence and the most exquisite insight of any man I ever met!”
“But the fact was that I had been to see him off, and found him detained by the sudden illness of one of his elders. I rode over again to take him the little parcel. Of course I don’t know what it contained; by its size and shape I should judge it might be a thimble, or a collar-button, or a sixpence; but, at all events, he must have needed the thing, for he certainly did not let the grass grow under his feet after he received it! Let us go into the sitting-room until they come down,–as they will have to, poor wretches, sooner or later; I know that I am always being brought down against my will. Salemina wants your advice about the number of her Majesty’s portraits to be hung on the front of the cottage, and the number of candles to be placed in each window.”
It was a half-hour later when Mr. Macdonald came into the room, and walking directly up to Salemina kissed her hand respectfully.
“Miss Salemina,” he said, with evident emotion, “I want to borrow one of your national jewels for my Queen’s crown.”
“And what will our President say to lose a jewel from his crown?”
“Good republican rulers do not wear coronets, as a matter of principle,” he argued; “but in truth I fear I am not thinking of her Majesty–God bless her! This gem is not entirely for state occasions.

‘I would wear it in my bosom,
Lest my jewel I should tine.’

It is the crowning of my own life rather than that of the British Empire that engages my present thought. Will you intercede for me with Francesca’s father?”
“And this is the end of all your international bickering?” Salemina asked teasingly.
“Yes,” he answered; “we have buried the hatchet, signed articles of agreement, made treaties of international comity. Francesca stays over here as a kind of missionary to Scotland, so she says, or as a feminine diplomat; she wishes to be on hand to enforce the Monroe Doctrine properly, in case her government’s accredited ambassadors relax in the performance of their duty.”
“Salemina!” called a laughing voice outside the door. “I am won’erful lifted up. You will be a prood woman the day, for I am now Estaiblished!” and Francesca, clad in Miss Grieve’s Sunday bonnet, shawl, and black cotton gloves, entered and curtsied demurely to the floor. She held, as corroborative detail, a life of John Knox in her hand, and anything more incongruous than her sparkling eyes and mutinous mouth under the melancholy head-gear can hardly be imagined.
“I am now Estaiblished,” she repeated. “Div ye ken the new asseestant frae Inchcawdy pairish? I’m the mon” (a second deep curtsy here). “I trust, leddies, that ye’ll mak’ the maist o’ your releegious preevileges, an’ that ye’ll be constant at the kurruk.–Have you given papa’s consent, Salemina? And isn’t it dreadful that he is Scotch?”
“Isn’t it dreadful that she is not?” asked Mr. Macdonald. “Yet to my mind no woman in Scotland is half as lovable as she!”
“And no man in America begins to compare with him,” Francesca confessed sadly. “Isn’t it pitiful that out of the millions of our own countrypeople we couldn’t have found somebody that would do? What do you think now, Lord Ronald Macdonald, of those dangerous international alliances?”
“You never understood that speech of mine,” he replied, with prompt mendacity. “When I said that international marriages presented more difficulties to the imagination than others, I was thinking of your marriage and mine, and that, I knew from the first moment I saw you, would be extremely difficult to arrange!”
Chapter 26
“And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen;
Each after each they glanced to sight,
As stars arise upon the night.
They gleamed on many a dusky tarn,
Haunted by the lonely earn;
On many a cairn’s grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid.”
The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

The rain continued at intervals throughout the day, but as the afternoon wore on the skies looked a trifle more hopeful. It would be “saft,” no doubt, climbing the Law, but the bonfire must be lighted. Would Pettybaw be behind London? Would Pettybaw desert the Queen in her hour of need? Not though the rain were bursting the well-heads on Cawda; not though the swollen mountain burns drowned us to the knee! So off we started as the short midsummer night descended.
We were to climb the Law, wait for the signal from Cawda’s lonely height, and then fire Pettybaw’s torch of loyalty to the little lady in black; not a blaze flaming out war and rumors of war, as was the beacon-fire on the old gray battlements of Edinburgh Castle in the days of yore, but a message of peace and good will. Pausing at a hut on the side of the great green mountain, we looked north toward Helva, white-crested with a wreath of vapor. (You need not look on your map of Scotland for Cawda and Helva, for you will not find them any more than you will find Pettybaw and Inchcaldy.) One by one the tops of the distant hills began to clear, and with the glass we could discern the bonfire cairns upbuilt here and there for Scotland’s evening sacrifice of love and fealty. Cawda was still veiled, and Cawda was to give the signal for all the smaller fires. Pettybaw’s, I suppose, was counted as a flash in the pan, but not one of the hundred patriots climbing the mountain side would have acknowledged it; to us the good name of the kingdom of Fife and the glory of the British Empire depended on Pettybaw fire. Some of us had misgivings, too,–misgivings founded upon Miss Grieve’s dismal prophecies. She had agreed to put nine lighted candles in each of our cottage windows at ten o’clock, but had declined to go out of her kitchen to see a procession, hear a band, or look at a bonfire. She had had a sair sickenin’ day, an amount of work too wearifu’ for one person by her lane. She hoped that the bonfire wasna built o’ Mrs. Sinkler’s coals nor Mr. Macbrose’s kindlings, nor soaked with Mr. Cameron’s paraffine; and she finished with the customary but irrelative and exasperating allusion to the exceedingly nice family with whom she had lived in Glasgy.
And still we toiled upward, keeping our doubts to ourselves. Jean was limping bravely, supported by Robin Anstruther’s arm. Mr. Macdonald was ardently helping Francesca, who can climb like a chamois, but would doubtless rather be assisted. Her gypsy face shone radiant out of her black cloth hood, and Ronald’s was no less luminous. I have never seen two beings more love-daft. They comport themselves as if they had read the manuscript of the tender passion, and were moving in exalted superiority through a less favored world,–a world waiting impatiently for the first number of the story to come out.
Still we climbed, and as we approached the Grey Lady (a curious rock very near the summit) somebody proposed three cheers for the Queen.
How the children hurrahed,–for the infant heart is easily inflamed,–and how their shrill Jubilee slogan pierced the mystery of the night, and went rolling on from glen to glen to the Firth of Forth itself! Then there was a shout from the rocketmen far out on the open moor,–“Cawda’s clear! Cawda’s clear!” Back against a silver sky stood the signal pile, and signal rockets flashed upward, to be answered from all the surrounding hills.
Now to light our own fire. One of the village committee solemnly took off his hat and poured on oil. The great moment had come. Brenda Macrae approached the sacred pile, and, tremulous from the effect of much contradictory advice, applied the torch. Silence, thou Grieve and others, false prophets of disaster! Who now could say that Pettybaw bonfire had been badly built, or that its fifteen tons of coal and twenty cords of wood had been unphilosophically heaped together!
The flames rushed toward the sky with ruddy blaze, shining with weird effect against the black fir-trees and the blacker night. Three cheers more! God save the Queen! May she reign over us, happy and glorious! And we cheered lustily, too, you may be sure! It was more for the woman than the monarch; it was for the blameless life, not for the splendid monarchy; but there was everything hearty, and nothing alien in our tone, when we sang “God Save the Queen” with the rest of the Pettybaw villagers.
The land darkened; the wind blew chill. Willie, Mr. Macdonald, and Mr. Anstruther brought rugs, and found a sheltered nook for us where we might still watch the scene. There we sat, looking at the plains below, with all the village streets sparkling with light, with rockets shooting into the air and falling to earth in golden rain, with red lights flickering on the gray lakes, and with one beacon-fire after another gleaming from the hilltops, till we could count more than fifty answering one another from the wooded crests along the shore, some of them piercing the rifts of low-lying clouds till they seemed to be burning in mid-heaven.
Then, one by one, the distant fires faded, and as some of us still sat there silently, far, far away in the gray east there was a faint flush of carmine where the new dawn was kindling in secret. Underneath that violet bank of cloud the sun was forging his beams of light. The pole-star paled. The breath of the new morrow stole up out of the rosy gray. The wings of the morning stirred and trembled; and in the darkness and chill and mysterious awakening, eyes looked into other eyes, hand sought hand, and cheeks touched each other in mute caress.
Chapter 27
“Sun, gallop down the westlin skies,
Gang soon to bed, an’ quickly rise;
O lash your steeds, post time away,
And haste about our bridal day!”
The Gentle Shepherd.

Every noon, during this last week, as we have wended our way up the loaning to the Pettybaw inn for our luncheon, we have passed three magpies sitting together on the topmost rail of the fence. I am not prepared to state that they were always the same magpies; I only know there were always three of them. We have just discovered what they were about, and great is the excitement in our little circle. I am to be married to-morrow, and married in Pettybaw, and Miss Grieve says that in Scotland the number of magpies one sees is of infinite significance: that one means sorrow; two, mirth; three, a marriage; four, a birth, and we now recall as corroborative detail that we saw one magpie, our first, on the afternoon of her arrival.
Mr. Beresford has been cabled for, and must return to America at once on important business. He persuaded me that the Atlantic is an ower large body of water to roll between two lovers, and I agreed with all my heart.
A wedding was arranged, mostly by telegraph, in six hours. The Reverend Ronald and the Friar are to perform the ceremony; a dear old painter friend of mine, a London R. A., will come to give me away; Francesca will be my maid of honor; Elizabeth Ardmore and Jean Dalziel, my bridemaidens; Robin Anstruther, the best man; while Jamie and Ralph will be kilted pages-in-waiting, and Lady Ardmore will give the breakfast at the castle.
Never was there such generosity, such hospitality, such wealth of friendship! True, I have no wedding finery; but as I am perforce a Scottish bride, I can be married in the white gown with the silver thistles in which I went to Holyrood.
Mr. Anstruther took a night train to and from London, to choose the bouquets and bridal souvenirs. Lady Baird has sent the veil, and a wonderful diamond thistle to pin it on,–a jewel fit for a princess! With the dear Dominie’s note promising to be an usher came an antique silver casket filled with white heather. And as for the bride-cake, it is one of Salemina’s gifts, chosen as much in a spirit of fun as affection. It is surely appropriate for this American wedding transplanted to Scottish soil, and what should it be but a model, in fairy icing, of Sir Walter’s beautiful monument in Princes Street! Of course Francesca is full of nonsensical quips about it, and says that the Edinburgh jail would have been just as fine architecturally (it is, in truth, a building beautiful enough to tempt an aesthete to crime), and a much more fitting symbol for a wedding-cake,–unless, indeed, she adds, Salemina intends her gift to be a monument to my folly.
Pettybaw kirk is trimmed with yellow broom from these dear Scottish banks and braes; and waving their green fans and plumes up and down the aisle where I shall walk a bride, are tall ferns and bracken from Crummylowe Glen, where we played ballads.
As I look back upon it, the life here has been all a ballad from first to last. Like the elfin Tam Lin,

“The queen o’ fairies she caught me
In this green hill to dwell,”

and these hasty nuptials are a fittingly romantic ending to the summer’s poetry. I am in a mood, were it necessary, to be “ta’en by the milk-white hand,” lifted to a pillion on a coal-black charger, and spirited “o’er the border an’ awa'” by my dear Jock o’ Hazledean. Unhappily, all is quite regular and aboveboard; no “lord of Langley dale” contests the prize with the bridegroom, but the marriage is at least unique and unconventional; no one can rob me of that sweet consolation.
So “gallop down the westlin skies,” dear Sun, but, prythee, gallop back to-morrow! “Gang soon to bed,” an you will, but rise again betimes! Give me Queen’s weather, dear Sun, and shine a benison upon my wedding morn!
[_Exit Penelope into the ballad-land of maiden dreams._]


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