Citation
Sentimental Tommy

Material Information

Title:
Sentimental Tommy the story of his boyhood
Creator:
Barrie, J. M ( James Matthew ), 1860-1937
Hatherell, William ( Illustrator )
Charles Scribner's Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
478 p., [11] leaves of plates : ill. ; 20 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Youth -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Poor -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Imagination -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Authors -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Diligence -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Success -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre:
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by J.M. Barrie ; illustrated by William Hatherell.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
ALG2163 ( NOTIS )
233698014 ( OCLC )

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Full Text




SP RCE GON PO NE Ta eee





yy
Cy

a gee

el
Poe WB

ae

/] .
ap Tao

Jol Ara eD, bf ;

Co

(“424m

/ 9”

Cl

—

Loaf





“] WOULD GIVE A POUND NOTE TO KNOW WHAT YOU'LL BE TEN
YEARS FROM NOW”



SENTIMENTAL
TOMMY

THE STORY OF HIS BOYHOOD

BY

J. M. BARRIE

ILLUSTRATED BY WILLIAM HATHERELL

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
1896



COPYRIGHT. 1896, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

Gnriversity Jress :

Jouyn Witson anv Son, CamprincE, U.S.A



TO

MY WIFE



CHAPTER

II
IIT

IV

VI
Vil
VIII
IX

XI
XII
XII
XIV
XV
XVI
XVII

XVIII
XIX

XX

CONTENTS

Pags
Tommy CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT. . . 1
But THE OTHER GETSIN . ...... 15
SHOWING HOW TOMMY WAS SUDDENLY TRANS-
FORMED INTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN . . 26
Tue Enp or anIpynp. . ...... «40
Tue Girt with Two Moruers. ... . d4
Tur ENCHANTED STREET. . .... . 63
Comic OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY . . . . 75
Tue Boy with Two MorHers .... . 86
ATED PITAN GUOYANI mes einai saar gu an iene sae OT!
Tue FAVORITE OF THE LADIES . . . . . 112
AUS HON INGEN G9 6 Bo oo oo 5 OY
FAS CHILDS wLRAGHD Veep fee ese eres] 4)

SHows How Tommy Took Care or ELSPETH 158

THe Hanxy ScHooL ........ . 165

Tue MAN wHo Never CAME... . . 175
z \

Are EYAUEN TE Dw EVAN Vout cree rote oe rere gsr neae1IS 7)

In wuich Tommy Sotvrs THe Woman
PROBLEM; 60s erie te en er 96
ETS rera es MEUy KT ease ie ost cps eae ete 2 ())
Corr 1s Brovuaut to Here, — Grizev Ds-
IBUNNMN C= op ete og of a Oo Ig oo 0 G PAlY)
THe SHADOW of Str WALTER . . . . . 231



vi

CHAPTER

XXI
XXII
XXIII
XXIV

XXV
XXVI

XXVII
XXVIII
XXIX
XXX
XXXI
XXXII
XXXII

XXXIV

XXXV
XXXVI

XXXVII

CONTENTS

Tue Last JACOBITE Rising . . . .

THE SIEGE oF THRUMS

GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS . . .

A ROMANCE or Two OLtp Maips ann a
Stout BACHELOR

A Penny Pass: Boox

Tommy REPENTS, AND IS NONE THE WORSE
FOR IT

Tue LonGER CATECHISM . . . ..

Bur IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN Miss Kirty .

TomMMyY THE SCHOLAR

END OF THE JACOBITE RISING

ASLETTERETOsGODiay aa ctt = ines eee

AN PELOPEMENT. i] eo sh sae eerie peas

THERE Is Some ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL
ATEGAST: ee eee

Wao ToLtpD Tommy to SPEAK. . . . .

TuE BRANDING oF Tommy

Or Four MINISTERS WHO AFTERWARDS
BOASTED THAT THEY HAD KNOWN Tommy
SAND YSiea reat nea onk so een eens

Tue Enp or A BoyHoop .....

Pace
244
259

283
302

815
328
337
343
356
369
383

401
415 ©
429

446
466



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

“J WOULD GIVE A POUND NOTE TO KNOW WHAT YOULL BE
TEN YEARS FROM NOW” . . . . . . « « «Lrontispiece
BoB FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM ON THE spoT... . . 40

“Tn? HER ALANE. LET MY BATRN PRAY FOR Jean Myies” 74
“Sup’s DYING, MAN,” HE CRIED . ..... .. ~ 138

THY SAW THE WINDOW OPEN AND A FIGURE IN A WHITE

SITAWIDECRERPEOUDAOFS (Due i 4k ot ee ees 104
THEY WAYLAID GRIzEL WHEN SHE WAS ALONE... . 274
TomMMY CROoUCHED BEHIND Haceart’s Sroxr. . . . 316

OvER HER HEAD WAS A LITTLE MUSLIN WINDOW-BLIND,

REPRESENTING A BRIDE’S VEIL . . . . . . + « « 388

GrizeL stooD BY THE BODY, GUARDING IT... . . . 870
He RAN THEM DOWN WITHIN A MILE oF TiLnIEDRUM . . 404

A GIRL ROSE FROM THE BROOM. . .. . .. ..- « 476



SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

THE STORY OF HIS BOYHOOD

CHAPTER I
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT

Tux celebrated Tommy first comes into view on a
dirty London stair, and he was in sexless garments,
which were all he had, and he was five, and so though
we are looking at him, we must do it sideways, lest he
sit down hurriedly to hide them. ‘That inscrutable face,
which made the clubmen of his later days uneasy and
even puzzled the ladies while he was making love to
them, was already his, except when he smiled at one of
his pretty thoughts or stopped at an open door to sniff a
potful. On his way up and down the stair he often
paused to sniff, but he never asked for anything; his
mother had warned him against it, and he carried out
her injunction with almost unnecessary spirit, declining
offers before they were made, as when passing a room,
whence came the smell of fried fish, he might call in,
“I don’t not want none of your fish,’”’ or “My mother
says I don’t not want the littlest bit,” or wistfully, aT

1



2, SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ain’t hungry,” or more wistfully still, “ My mother says
I ain’t hungry.” His mother heard of this and was
angry, crying that he had let the neighbors know some-
thing she was anxious to conceal, but what he had re-
vealed to them Tommy could not make out, and when
he questioned her artlessly, she took him with sudden
passion to her flat breast, and often after that she looked
at him long and wofully and wrung her hands.

The only other pleasant smell known to Tommy was
when the water-carts passed the mouth of his little
street. His street, which ended in a dead wall, was near
the river, but on the doleful south side of it, opening off
a longer street where the cabs of Waterloo station some-
times found themselves when they took the wrong turn-
ing; his home was at the top of a house of four floors,
each with accommodation for at least two families, and
here he had lived with his mother since his father’s death
six months ago. ‘here was oil-cloth on the stair as far as
the second floor; there had been oil-cloth between the
second floor and the third — Tommy could point out
pieces of it still adhering to the wood like remnants of a
plaster.

This stair was nursery to all the children whose homes
opened on it, not so safe as nurseries in the part of Lon-
don that is chiefly inhabited by boys in sailor suits, but
preferable as a centre of adventure, and here on an after-
noon sat two. They were very busy boasting, but only
the smaller had imagination, and as he used it recklessly,



TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 3

their positions soon changed; sexless garments was now
prone on a step, breeches sitting on him.

Shovel, a man of seven, had said, “ None on your lip.
You were n’t never at Thrums yourself.”

Tommy’s reply was, “ Ain’t my mother a Thrums
woman ?”

Shovel, who had but one eye, and that bloodshot, fixed
it on him threateningly.

“The Thames is in London,” he said.

“Cos they wouldn’t not have it in Thrums,” replied
‘Pommy.

«
“The cemetery is in Thrums,” said Tommy.

“There ain’t no queens in Thrums, anyhow.”

“There’s the auld licht minister.”

‘‘ Well, then, if you jest seed Trafalgar Square !”

“If you jest seed the Thrums town-house !”

‘St. Paul’s ain’t in Thrums.”

“It would like to be.”

After reflecting, Shovel said in desperation, “« Well,
then, my father were once at a hanging.”

Tommy replied instantly, ‘1t were my father what
was hanged.”

There was no possible. answer to this save a knock-
down blow, but though Tommy was vanquished in body,
his spirit remained stanch ; he raised his head and gasped,
“You should see how they knock down in Thrums!” It
was then that Shovel sat on him.



4 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Such was their position when an odd figure in that
house, a gentleman, passed them without a word, so
desirous was he to make a breath taken at the foot of the
close stair last him to the top. Tommy merely gaped
after this fine sight, but Shovel had experience, and
“It’s a kid or a coffin,” he said sharply, knowing that
only birth or death brought a doctor here.

Watching the doctor’s ascent, the two boys strained
their necks over the rickety banisters, which had been
polished black by trousers of the past, and sometimes
they lost him, and then they saw his legs again.

“Hello, it’s your old woman!” cried Shovel. “Is
she a deader ?” he asked, brightening, for funerals made
a pleasant stir on the stair.

The question had no meaning for bewildered Tommy,
but he saw that if his mother was a deader, whatever
that might be, he had grown great in his companion’s
eye. So he hoped she was a deader.

“Tf it’s only a kid,” Shovel began, with such scorn
that Tommy at once screamed, “It ain’t!” and, cross-
examined, he swore eagerly that his mother was in bed
when he left her in the morning, that she was still in
bed at dinner-time, also that the sheet was over her face,
also that she was cold.

Then she was a deader and had attained distinction in
the only way possible in that street. Shovel did not
shake Tommy’s hand warmly, the forms of congratula-
tion varying in different parts of London, but he looked



TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 5

his admiration so plainly that Tommy’s head waggled
proudly. Evidently, whatever his mother had done
redounded to his glory as well as to hers, and somehow
he had become a boy of mark. He said from his eleva-
tion that he hoped Shovel would believe his tales about
Thrums now, and Shovel, who had often cuffed Tommy
for sticking to him so closely, cringed in the most snob-
bish manner, craving permission to be seen in his com-
pany for the next three days. Tommy, the upstart, did
not see his way to grant this favor for nothing, and
Shovel offered a knife, but did not have it with him; it
was his sister Ameliar’s knife, and he would take it from
her, help his davy. Tommy would wait there till Shovel
fetched it. Shovel, baffled, wanted to know what Tommy
was putting on hairs for. Tommy siniled, and asked
whose mother was a deader. Then Shovel collapsed, and
his wind passed into Tommy.

The reign of Thomas Sandys, nevertheless, was among
the shortest, for with this question was he overthrown :
“ How did yer know she were cold ? ”

“ Because,” replied Tommy, triumphantly, “she tell
me herself.”

Shovel only looked at him, but one eye can be so
much more terrible than two, that plop, plop, plop came
the balloon softly down the steps of the throne and at
the foot shrank pitifully, as if with Ameliar’s knife
in it.

“Tt’s only a kid arter all!’’ screamed Shovel, furi-



6 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ously. Disappointment gave him eloquence, and Tommy
cowered under his sneers, not understanding them, but
they seemed to amount to this, that in having a baby
he had disgraced the house.

“But I think,” he said, with diffidence, “I think I
were once one.”

Then all Shovel could say was that he had better keep
it dark on that stair.

Tommy squeezed his fist into one eye, and the tears
came out at the other. A good-natured impulse was
about to make Shovel say that though kids are un-
doubtedly humiliations, mothers and boys get used to
them in time, and go on as brazenly as before, but it was
checked by Tommy’s unfortunate question, ‘“ Shovel,
when will it come?”

Shovel, speaking from local experience, replied truth-
fully that they usually came very soon after the doctor,
and at times before him.

“T¢ ain’t come before him,” Tommy said, confidently.

“How do yer know ?”

“Cos it weren’t there at dinner-time, and I been
here since dinner-time.”

The words meant that Tommy thought it could only
enter by way of the stair, and Shovel quivered with
delight. “H’st!” he cried, dramatically, and to his
joy Tommy looked anxiously down the stair, instead of
up it.

“Did you hear it ?” Tommy whispered.



TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 7

Before he could control himself Shovel blurted out:
“Do you think as they come on their feet ?”

“How then?” demanded Tommy; but Shovel had
exhausted his knowledge of the subject. Tommy, who
had begun to descend to hold the door, turned and
climbed upwards, and his tears were now but the drop
left in a cup too hurriedly dried. Where was he off to?
Shovel called after him; and he answered, in a deter-
mined whisper: “To shove of it out if it tries to come
in at the winder.”

This was enough for the more knowing urchin, now
so full of good things that with another added he must
spill, and: away he ran for an audience, which could
also help him to bait Tommy, that being a game most
sportive when there are several to fling at once. At
the door he knocked over, and was done with, a laugh-
ing little girl who had strayed from a more fashionable
street. She rose solemnly, and kissing her muff, to
reassure it if it had gota fright, toddled in at the first
open door to be out of the way of unmannerly boys.

Tommy, climbing courageously, heard the door slam,
and looking down he saw —a strange child. He climbed
no higher. It had come.

‘After a long time he was one flight of stairs nearer
it. It was making itself at home on the bottom step;
resting, doubtless, before it came hopping up. Another
dozen steps, and —It was beautifully dressed in one
piece of yellow and brown that reached almost to its



8 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

teet, with a bit left at the top to form a hood, out of
which its pert face peeped impudently; oho, so they
came in their Sunday clothes. He drew so near that
he could hear it cooing: thought itself as good as
upstairs, did it!

He bounced upon her sharply, thinking to carry all
with a high hand. “Out you go!” he cried, with the
action of one heaving coals.

She whisked round, and, “Oo boy or oo girl?” she
inquired, puzzled by his dress.

“None of your cheek!” roared insulted manhood.

“Oo boy,” she said, decisively.

With the effrontery of them when they are young,
she made room for him on her step, but he declined the
invitation, knowing that her design was to skip up the
stair the moment he was off his guard.

“You don’t need n’t think as we ’ll have you,” he an-
nounced, firmly. “You had best go away to— go to—”
His imagination failed him. “You had best go back,”
he said.

She did not budge, however, and his next attempt
was craftier. “My mother,” he assured her, “ain't
living here now;” but mother was a new word to the
girl, and she asked gleefully, “Oo have mother ?”
expecting him to produce it from his pocket. To coax
him to give her a sight of it she said, plaintively, “Me
no have mother.”

“You won’t not get mine,” replied Tommy doggedly.



TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 9

She pretended not to understand what was troubling
him, and it passed through his head that she had to
wait there till the doctor came down for her. He
might come at any moment.

A boy does not put his hand into his pocket until
every other means of gaining his end has failed, but to
that extremity had Tommy now come. For months his
only splendid possession had been a penny despised by
trade because of a large round hole in it, as if (to quote
Shovel) some previous owner had cut a farthing out of
it. To tell the escapades of this penny (there are no
adventurers like coin of the realm) would be one way
of exhibiting Tommy to the curious, but it would bea
hard-hearted way. At present the penny was doubly
dear to him, having been long lost and lately found.
In a noble moment he had dropped it into a charity
box hanging forlorn against the wall of a shop, where
it lay very lonely by itself, so that when Tommy was
that way he could hear it respond if he shook the box,
as acquaintances give each other the time of day in
passing. Thus at comparatively small outlay did he
spread his benevolence over weeks and feel a glow
therefrom, until the glow went, when he and Shovel
recaptured the penny with a thread and a bent pin.

This treasure he sadly presented to the girl, and she
accepted it with glee, putting it on her finger, as if it
were a ring, but instead of saying that she would go

now she asked him, coolly,



10 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Oo know tories ?”

“Stories!” he exclaimed, “I’11—I’ll tell you about
Thrums,” and was about to do it for love, but stopped
intime. “This ain’t a good stair for stories,” he said,
cunningly. “I can’t not tell stories on this stair, but
I—I know a good stair for stories.”

The ninny of a girl was completely hoodwinked; and
see, there they go, each with a hand in the muff, the
one leering, oh, so triumphantly; the other trusting
and gleeful. There was an exuberance of vitality about
her as if she lived too quickly in her gladness, which
you may remember in some child who visited the earth
for but a little while.

How superbly Tommy had done it! It had been
another keen brain pitted against his, and at first he
was not winning. Then up came Thrums, and— But
the thing has happened before; in a word, Blicher.
Nevertheless, Tommy just managed it, for he got the
girl out of the street and on to another stair no more
than in time to escape a ragged rabble, headed by
Shovel, who, finding their quarry gone, turned on their
leader viciously, and had gloomy views of life till his
cap was kicked down a sewer, which made the world
bright again.

Of the tales told by Tommy that day in words Scotch
and cockney, of Thrums, home of heroes and the arts,
where the lamps are lit by a magician called Leerie-
leerie-licht-the-lamps (but he is also friendly, and you



TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 11

can fling stones at him), and the merest children are
allowed to set the spinning-wheels a-whirling, and
dagont is the swear, and the stairs are so fine that the
houses wear them outside for show, and you drop a pail
at the end of a rope down a hole, and sometimes it
comes up full of water, and sometimes full of fairies —
of these and other wonders, if you would know, ask not
a dull historian, nor even go to Thrums, but to those
rather who have been boys and girls there and now are
exiles. Such a one Tommy knows, an unhappy woman,
foolish, not very lovable, flung like a stone out of the
red quarry upon a land where it cannot grip, and tear-
ing her heart for a sight of the home she shall see no
more. From her Tommy had his pictures, and he
colored them rarely.

Never before had he sucha listener. “Oh, dagont,
dagont!” he would cry in ecstasy over these fair
scenes, and she, awed or gurgling with mirth according
to the nature of the last, demanded “’ Nother, nother!”
whereat he remembered who and what she was, and
showing her a morsel of the new one, drew her to more
distant parts, until they were so far from his street
that he thought she would never be able to find the way
back. :

His intention had been, on reaching such a spot, to
desert her promptly, but she gave him her hand in the
muff so confidingly that against his judgment he fell
a-pitying the trustful mite who was wandering the



12 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

world in search of a mother, and so easily diddled on
the whole that the chances were against her finding one
before morning. Almost unconsciously he began to
look about him for a suitable one.

They were now in a street much nearer to his own
home than the spurts from spot to spot had led him to
suppose. It was new to him, but he recognized it as
the acme of fashion by those two sure signs; railings
with most of their spikes in place, and cards scored
with the word “Apartments.” He had discovered such
streets as this before when in Shovel’s company, and
they had watched the toffs go out and in, and it was a
lordly sight, for first the toff waggled a rail that was
loose at the top and then a girl, called the servant,
peeped at him from below, and then he pulled the rail
again, and then the door opened from the inside, and
you had a glimpse of wonder-land with a place for hang-
ing hats on. He had not contemplated doing anything
so handsome for the girl as this, but why should he not
establish her here ? There were many possible mothers
in view, and thrilling with a sense of his generosity he
had almost fixed on one but mistrusted the glint in her
eye, and on another when she saved herself by tripping
and showing an undarned heel.

He was still of an open mind when the girl of a
sudden cried, gleefully, “Ma-ma, ma-ma!” and pointed,
with her muff, across the street. The word was as
meaningless to Tommy as mother had been to her, but



TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 13

he saw that she was drawing his attention to a woman
some thirty yards away.

“Man —man!” he echoed, chiding her ignorance;
“no, no, you blether, that ain’t a man, that’s a woman;
that’s woman — woman.”

“Qoman —ooman,” the girl repeated, docilely, but
when she looked again, “ Ma-ma, ma-ma,” she insisted,
and this was ‘Tommy’s first lesson that however young
you catch them they will never listen to reason.

She seemed of a mind to trip off to this woman, and
as long as his own mother was safe, it did not greatly
matter to Tommy whom she chose, but if it was this
one, she was going the wrong way about it. You can-
not snap them up in the street.

The proper course was to track her to her house,
which he proceeded to do, and his quarry, who was
looking about her anxiously, as if she had lost some-
thing, gave him but a short chase. In the next street
to the one in which they had first seen her, a street so
like it that Tommy might have admired her for know-
ing the difference, she opened the door with a key and
entered, shutting the door behind her. Odd to tell, the
child had pointed to this door as the one she would stop
at, which surprised Tommy very much.

On the steps he gave her his final instructions, and
she dimpled and gurgled, obviously full of admiration
for him, which was a thing he approved of, but he
would have liked to see her a little more serious.



14 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“That is the door. Well, then, I’ll waggle the rail
as. makes the bell ring, and then I7]] run.”

That was all, and he wished she had not giggled most
of the time. She was sniggering, as if she thought
him a very funny boy, even when he rang the bell and
bolted.

From a safe place he watched the opening of the
door, and saw the frivolous thing lose a valuable
second in waving the muff to him. “In you go!” he
screamed beneath his breath. Then she entered and
the door closed. He waited an hour, or two minutes,
or thereabout, and she had not been ejected. Triumph!

With a drum beating inside him Tommy strutted
home, where, alas, a boy was waiting to put his foot
through it.



CHAPTER II

BUT THE OTHER GETS IN

To Tommy, a swaggerer, came Shovel sour-visaged;
having now no cap of his own, he exchanged with
Tommy, would also have bled the blooming mouth of
him, but knew of a revenge that saves the knuckles:
announced, with jeers and offensive finger exercise, that
“it” had come.

Shovel was a liar. If he only knowed what Tommy
knowed !

If Tommy only heard what Shovel had hearn !

Tommy was of opinion that Shovel had n’t not heard
anything.

Shovel believed as Tommy didn’t know nuthin.

Tommy would n’t listen to what Shovel had heard.

Neither would Shovel listen to what Tommy knew.

If Shovel would tell what he had heard, Tomy,
would tell what he knew.

Well, then, Shovel had listened at the door, and
heard it mewling.

Tommy knowed it well, and it never mewled.

How could Tommy know it ?



16 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

’Cos he had been with it a long time.

Gosh! Why, it had only comed a minute ago.

This made Tommy uneasy, and he asked a leading
question cunningly. A boy, wasn’t it? >

No, Shovel’s old woman had been up helping to hold
it, and she said it were a girl.

Shutting his mouth tightly, which was never natural
to him, the startled Tommy mounted the stair, listened
and was convinced. He did not enter his dishonored
home. He had no intention of ever entering it again.
With one salt tear he renounced — a child, a mother.

On his way downstairs he was received by Shovel and
party, who planted their arrows neatly. Kids cried
steadily, he was told, for the first year. A boy one was
bad enough, but a girl one was oh lawks. He must
never again expect to get playing with blokes like what
they was. Already she had got round his old gal who
would care for him no more. What would they say
about this in Thrums ?

Shovel even insisted on returning him his cap, and
for some queer reason, this cut deepest. Tommy about
to charge, with his head down, now walked away so
quietly that Shovel, who could not help liking the
funny little cuss, felt a twinge of remorse, and nearly
followed him with a magnanimous offer: to treat him
as if he were still respectable.

Tommy lay down on a distant stair, one of the very
stairs where she had sat with him. Ladies, don’t you



BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 17

dare to pity him now, for he won't stand it. Rage was
what he felt, and a man in a rage (as you may know if
you are married) is only to be soothed by the sight of
all womankind in terror of him. But you may look
upon your handiwork, and gloat, an you will, on the
wreck you have made. A young gentleman trusted one
of you; behold the result. O! O! O! O! now do you
understand why we men cannot abide you ?

If she had told him flat that his mother, and his
alone, she would have, and so there was an end of it.
Ah, catch them taking a straight road. But to put on
those airs of helplessness, to wave him that gay good-
by, and then the moment his back was turned, to be off
through the air on — perhaps on her muff, to the home
he had thought to lure her from. In a word, to be
diddled by a girl when one flatters himself he is did-
dling! S’death, a dashing fellow finds it hard to bear.
Nevertheless, he has to bear it, for oh, Tommy, Tommy,
’tis the common lot of man.

His hand sought his pocket for the penny that had
brought him comfort in dark hours before now; but,
alack, she had deprived him even of it. Never again -
should his pinkie finger go through that warm hole, and
at the thought a sense of his forlornness choked him.
and he cried. You may pity him a little now.

Darkness came and hid him even from himself. He
is not found again until a time of the night that is not
marked on ornamental clocks, but has an hour to itself

2



18 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

on the watch which a hundred thousand or so of London
women carry in their breasts; the hour when men steal
homewards trickling at the mouth and drawing back
from their own shadows to the wives they once went
a-maying with, or the mothers who had such travail at
the bearing of them, as if for great ends. Out of this,
the drunkard’s hour, rose the wan face of Tommy, who
had waked up somewhere clammy cold and quaking,
and he was a very little boy, so he ran to his mother.

Such a shabby dark room it was, but it was home,
such a weary worn woman in the bed, but he was her
son, and she had been wringing her hands because he
was so long in coming, and do you think he hurt her
when he pressed his head on her poor breast, and do
you think she grudged the heat his cold hands drew
from her warm face? He squeezed her with a violence
that put more heat into her blood than he took out
of it.

And he was very considerate, too: not a word of
reproach in him, though he knew very well what that
bundle in the back of the bed was.

She guessed that he had heard the news and stayed
away through jealousy of his sister, and by and by she
said, with a faint smile, “I have a present for you,
laddie.” In the great world without, she used few
Thrums words now; you would have known she was
Scotch by her accent only, but when she and Tommy
were together in that room, with the door shut, she



BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 19

always spoke as if her window still looked out on the
bonny Marywellbrae. It is not really bonny, it is gey
an’ mean an’ bleak, and you must not come to see it.
It is just a steep wind-swept street, old and wrinkled,
like your mother’s face.

She had a present for him, she said, and Tommy
replied, ‘“‘I knows,” with averted face.

“Such a bonny thing.”

“Bonny enough,” he said bitterly.

“Look at her, laddie.”

But he shrank from the ordeal, crying, “No, no,
keep her covered up!”

The little traitor seemed to be asleep, and so he
ventured to say, eagerly, “It wouldn’t not take long to
carry all our things to another house, would it ? Me
and Shovel could near do it ourselves.”

“And that’s God’s truth,” ‘the woman said, with a
look round the room. “But what for should we do
that ?”

“Do you no see, mother?” he whispered excitedly.
“Then you and me could slip away, and —and leave
her — in the press.”

The feeble smile with which his mother received this
he interpreted thus, “Wherever we go’d to she would
be there before us.”

“The little besom!” he cried helplessly.

His mother saw that mischievous boys had been

mounting him on his horse, which needed only one slap



20 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

to make it goa mile; but she was a spiritless woman,
and replied indifferently, “You ’re a funny litlin.”

Presently a dry sob broke from her, and thinking the
child was the cause, soft-hearted Tommy said, “Tt
can’t not be helped, mother; don’t cry, mother, I’m
fond on yer yet, mother; I—I took her away. I found
another woman — but she would come.”

“She ’s God’s gift, man,” his mother said, but she
added, in a different tone, “Ay, but he hasna sent her
keep.”

“God’s gift!” Tommy shuddered, but he said sourly ,
“J wish he would take her back. Do you wish that,
too, mother ?”

The weary woman almost said she did, but her arms
—they gripped the baby as if frightened that he had
sent for it. Jealous Tommy, suddenly deprived of his
mother’s hand, cried, “It’s true what Shovel says, you
don’t not love me never again; you jest loves that little
limmer!”

“Na, na,” the mother answered, passionate at last,
‘she can never be to me what you hae been, my laddie,
for you came to me when my hame was in hell, and we
tholed it thegither, you and me.”

This bewildered though it comforted him. He
thought his mother might be speaking about the room
in which they had lived until six months ago, when his
father was put into the black box, but when he asked
her if this were so, she told him to sleep, for she was



BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 21

dog-tired. She always evaded him in this way when
he questioned her about his past, but at times his mind
would wander backwards unbidden to those distant
days, and then he saw flitting dimly through ‘them the
elusive form of a child. He knew it was himself, and
for moments he could see it clearly, but when he moved
a step nearer it was not there. So does the child we
once were play hide and seek with us among the mists
of infancy, until one day he trips and falls into the
daylight. Then we seize him, and with that touch we
two are one. It is the birth of self-consciousness.

Hitherto he had slept at the back of his mother’s
bed, but to-night she could not have him there, the
place being occupied, and rather sulkily he consented
to lie crosswise at her feet, undressing by the feeble
fire and taking care, as he got into bed, not to look at
the usurper. His mother watched him furtively, and
was relieved to read in his face that he had no recollec-
tion of ever having slept at the foot of a bed before.
But soon after he fell asleep he awoke, and was afraid
to move lest his father should kick him. He opened
his eyes stealthily, and this was neither the room nor
the bed he had expected to see.

The floor was bare save for a sheepskin beside the
bed. Tommy always stood on the sheepskin while he
was dressing because it was warm to the feet, though
risky, as your toes sometimes caught in knots in it.
There was a deal table in the middle of the floor with



22, SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

some dirty crockery on it and a kettle that would leave
a mark, but they had been left there by Shovel’s old
girl, for Mrs. Sandys usually kept her house clean.
The chairs were of the commonest, and the press door
would not remain shut unless you stuck a knife between
its halves; but there was a gay blue wardrobe, spotted
white where Tommy’s mother had scraped off the mud
that had once bespattered it during a lengthy sojourn
at the door of a shop; and on the mantelpiece was a
clock in a little brown and yellow house, and on the
clock a Bible that had been in Thrums. But what
_ Tommy was proudest of was his mother’s kist, to which
the chests of Londoners are not to be compared, though
like it in appearance. On the inside of the lid of this
kist was pasted, after a Thrums custom, something that
his mother called her marriage lines, which she forced
Shovel’s mother to come up and look at one day, when
that lady had made an innuendo Tommy did not under-
stund, and Shovel’s mother had looked, and though she
could not read, was convinced, knowing them by the
shape.

Tommy lay at the foot of the bed looking at this
room, which was his home now, and trying to think of
the other one, and by and by the fire helped him by
falling to ashes, when darkness came in, and packing
the furniture in grotesque cloths, removed it piece by
piece, all but the clock. Then the room took a new
shape. The fireplace was over there instead of here,



BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 23

the torn yellow blind gave way to one made of spars of
green wood, that were bunched up at one side, like a
lady out for a walk. On a round table there was a
beautiful blue cloth, with very few gravy marks, and
here a man ate beef when a woman anda boy ate bread,
and near the fire was the man’s big soft chair, out of
which you could pull hairs, just as if it were Shovel’s
sister.

Of this man who was his father he could get no hold.
He could feel his presence, but never see him. Yet he
hada face. It sometimes pressed Tommy’s face against
it in order to hurt him, which it could do, being all
short needles at the chin.

Once in those days Tommy and his mother ran away
and hid from some one. He did not know from whom
nor for how long, though it was but for a week, and it
left only two impressions on his mind, the one that he
often asked, “Is this starving now, mother ?” the other
that before turning a corner she always peered round it
fearfully. Then they went back again to the man and
he laughed when he saw them, but did not take his feet
off the mantelpiece. There came a time when the man
was always in bed, but still Tommy could not see his
face. What he did see was the man’s clothes lying on
the large chair just as he had placed them there when
he undressed for the last time. The black coat and
worsted waistcoat which he could take off together were
on the seat, and the light trousers hung over the side,



24 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

the legs on the hearthrug, with the red socks still stick-
ing in them: a man without a body.

But the boy had one vivid recollection, of how his
mother received the news of his father’s death. An
old man with a white beard and gentle ways, who often
came to give the invalid physic, was standing at the
bedside, and Tommy and his mother were sitting on
the fender. ‘The old man came to her and said, “It is
all over,” and put her softly into the big chair. She
covered her face with her hands, and he must have
thought she was crying, for he tried to comfort her.
But as soon as he was gone she rose, with such a queer
face, and went on tiptoe to the bed, and looked intently
at. her husband, and then she clapped her hands joyously
three times.

At last Tommy fell asleep with his mouth open,
which is the most important thing that has been told of
him as yet, and while he slept day came and restored
the furniture that night had stolen. But when the boy
woke he did not even notice the change; his brain
traversed the hours it had lost since he lay down as
quickly as you may put on a stopped clock, and with
his first tick he was thinking of nothing but the
deceiver in the back of the bed. He raised his head,
but could only see that she had crawled under the
coverlet to escape his wrath. His mother was asleep.
Tommy sat up and peeped over the edge of the bed,
then he let his eyes wander round the room; he was



BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 25

looking for the girl’s clothes, but they were nowhere to
be seen. It is distressing to have to tell that what was
in his mind was merely the recovery of his penny.
Perhaps as they were Sunday clothes she had hung
them up in the wardrobe? He slipped on to the floor
and crossed to the wardrobe, but not even the muff
could he find. Had she been tired, and gone to bed in
them? Very softly he crawled over his mother, and
pulling the coverlet off the child’s face, got the great
shock of his childhood.
It was another one!



CHAPTER III

SHOWING HOW TOMMY WAS SUDDENLY TRANSFORMED
INTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN

Ir would have fared ill with Mrs. Sandys now, had
her standotfishness to her neighbors been repaid in the
same coin, but they were full of sympathy, especially
Shovel’s old girl, from whom she had often drawn back
offensively on the stair, but who nevertheless waddled
up several times a day with savory messes, explaining,
when Mrs. Sandys sniffed, that it was not the tapiocar
but merely the cup that smelt of gin. When Tommy
returned the cups she noticed not only that they were
suspiciously clean, but that minute particles of the
mess were adhering to his nose and chin (perched there
like shipwrecked mariners on a rock, just out of reach
of the devouring element), and after this discovery she
brought two cupfuls at a time. She was an Irish-
woman who could have led the House of Commons, and
in walking she seldom raised her carpet shoes from the
ground, perhaps because of her weight, for she had an
expansive figure that bulged in all directions, and there
were always bits of her here and there that she had
forgotten to lace. Round the corner was a delightful



TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 27

eating-house, through whose window you were allowed
to gaze at the great sweating dumplings, and Tommy
thought Shovel’s mother was rather like a dumpling
that had not been a complete success. If he ever knew
her name he forgot it. Shovel, who probably had
another name also, called her his old girl or his old
woman or his old lady, and it was a sight to see her
chasing him across the street when she was in liquor,”
and boastful was Shovel of the way she could lay on,
and he was partial to her too, and once when she was
giving it to him pretty strong with the tongs, his father
(who followed many professions, among them that
of finding lost dogs), had struck her and told her to
drop it, and then Shovel sauced his father for interfer-
ing, saying she should lick him as long as she blooming
well liked, which made his father go for him with a
dog-collar; and that was how Shovel lost his eye.

For reasons less unselfish than his old girl’s Shovel
also was willing to make up to Tommy at this humili-
ating time. It might be said of these two boys that
Shovel knew everything but Tommy knew other things.
and as the other things are best worth hearing of
Shovel liked to listen to them, even when they were
about Thrums, as they usually were. The very first
time Tommy told him of the wondrous spot, Shovel had
drawn a great breath, and said, thoughtfully:

“TJ allers knowed as there were sich a beauty place,
but I didn’t jest know its name.”



28 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“How could yer know?” Tommy asked jealously.

“T ain’t sure,” said Shovel, “p’raps I dreamed on
it.”

“That’s it,” Tommy cried. “I tell yer, everybody
dreams on it!” and Tommy was right; everybody
dreams of it, though not all call it Thrums.

On the whole, then, the coming of the kid, who
turned out to be called Elspeth, did not ostracize
Tommy, but he wished that he had let the other girl in,
for he never doubted that her admittance would have
kept this one out. He told neither his mother nor his
triend of the other girl, fearing that his mother would
be angry with him when she learned what she had
missed, and that Shovel would crow over his blunder-
ing, but occasionally he took a side glance at the victo-
rious infant, and a poorer affair, he thought, he had
never set eyes on. Sometimes it was she who looked
at him, and then her chuckle of triumph was hard to
bear. As long as his mother was there, however, he
endured in silence, but the first day she went out ina
vain search for work (it is about as difficult to get
washing as to get into the Cabinet), he gave the infant
a piece of his mind, poking up her head with a stick so
that she was bound to listen.

“You thinks as it was clever on you, does yer? Oh,
if I had been on the stair !

“You need n’t not try to get round me. I likes the
other one five times better; yes, three times better.



TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 29

“ Thievey, thievey, thief, that’s her place you is lying
in. What?

“Tf you puts out your tongue at me again —! What
do yer say ?

“She was twice bigger than you. You ain’t got no
hair, nor yet no teeth. You’re the littlest I ever seed.
Eh? Don’t not speak then, sulks !”

Prudence had kept him away from the other girl, but
he was feeling a great want: someone to applaud him.
When we grow older we call it sympathy. How Reddy
(as he called her because she had beautiful red-brown
hair) had appreciated him! She had a way he liked of
“opening her eyes very wide when she looked at him. Oh,
what a difference from that thing in the back of the bed!

Not the mere selfish desire to see her again, how-
ever, would take him in quest of Reddy. He was one
of those superior characters, was Tommy, who got his
pleasure in giving it, and therefore gave it. Now, Reddy
was a worthy girl. In suspecting her of overreaching
him he had maligned her: she had taken what he offered,
and been thankful. It was fitting that he should give
her a treat: let her see him again.

His mother was at last re-engaged by her old employers,
her supplanter having proved unsatisfactory, and as the
work lay in a distant street, she usually took. the kid
with her, thus leaving no one to spy on Tommy’s move-
ments. Reddy’s reward for not playing him false, how-
ever, did not reach her as soon as doubtless she would



30 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

have liked, because the first two or three times he saw
her she was walking with the lady of his choice, and of
course he was not such a fool as to show himself. But
he walked behind them and noted with satisfaction that
the lady seemed to be reconciled to her lot and inclined
to let bygones be bygones; when at length Reddy and
her patron met, Tommy thought this a good sign too,
that Ma-ma (as she would call the lady) had told her
not to go farther away than the lamp-post, lest she should
get lost again. So evidently she had got lost once
already, and the lady had been sorry. He asked Reddy
many shrewd questions about how Ma-ma treated her,
and if she got the top of the Sunday egg and had the
licking of the pan and wore flannel underneath and slept
at the back; and the more he inquired, the more clearly
he saw that he had got her one of the right kind.
Tommy arranged with her that she should always be
on the outlook for him at the window, and he would
come sometimes, and after that they met frequently, and
she proved a credit to him, gurgling with mirth at his
tales of Thrums, and pinching him when he had finished,
to make sure that he was really made just like common
human beings. He was a thin, pale boy, while she
looked like a baby rose full blown in a night because
her time was short; and his movements were sluggish,
but if she was not walking she must be dancing, and
sometimes when there were few people in the street, the
little armful of delight that she was jumped up and



“TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 31

down like a ball, while Tommy kept the time, singing
«“Thrummy, Thrummy, Thrum Thrum Thrummy.”
They must have seemed a quaint pair to the lady as
she sat at her window watching them and beckoning
to Tommy to come in.

One day he went in, but only-because she had come
up behind and taken his hand before he could run.
Then did Tommy quake, for he knew from Reddy how
the day after the mother-making episode, Ma-ma and she
had sought in vain for his door, and he saw that the
object had been to call down curses on his head. So
that head was hanging limply now.

You think that Tommy is to be worsted at last, but
don’t be too sure; you just wait and see. Ma-ma and
Reddy (who was clucking rather heartlessly) first took
him into a room prettier even than the one he had lived
in long ago (but there was no bed in it), and then, because
someone they were in search of was not there, into another
room without a bed (where on earth did they sleep ?)
whose walls were lined with books. Never having seen
rows of books before except on sale in the streets, Tommy
at once looked about him for the barrow. The table was
strewn with sheets of paper of the size that they roll a
quarter of butter in, and it was an amazing thick table,
a solid square of wood, save for a narrow lane down the
centre for the man to put his legs in—if he had legs,
which unfortunately there was reason to doubt. He was

a formidable man, whose beard licked the table while he



32 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

wrote, and he wore something like a brown blanket, with
a rope tied round it at the middle. Even more uncanny
than himself were three busts on a shelf, which Tommy
took to be deaders, and he feared the blanket might blow
open and show that the man also ended at the waist. But
he did not, for presently he turned round to see who had
come in (the seat of his chair turning with him in the
most startling way) and then Tommy was relieved to
notice two big feet far away at the end of him.

“This is the boy, dear,” the lady said. “TI had to
bring him in by force.”

Tommy raised his arm instinctively to protect his face,
this being the kind of man who could hit hard. But
presently he was confused, and also, alas, leering a
little. You may remember that Reddy had told him
she must not go beyond the lamp-post, lest she should be
lost again. She had given him no details of the adven-
ture, but he learned now from Ma-ma and Papa (the
man’s name was Papa) that she had strayed when Ma-ma
was ina shop and that some good kind boy had found
her and brought her home; and what do you say to this,
they thonght Tommy was that boy! In his amazement
he very nearly blurted out that he was the other boy,
but just then the lady asked Papa if he hada shilling,
and this abruptly closed Tommy’s mouth. Ever after-
wards he remembered Papa as the man that was not
sure whether he had a shilling until he felt his pockets

—a new kind of mortal to Tommy, who grabbed the



TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 33

shilling when it was offered to him, and then looked at
Reddy imploringly, he was so afraid she would tell.
But she behaved splendidly, and never even shook her
head at him. After this, as hardly need be told, kis one
desire was to get out of the house with his shilling
before they discovered their mistake, and it was well
that they were unsuspicious people, for he was making
strange hissing sounds in his throat, the result of trying
hard to keep his sniggers under control. ;

There were many ways in which Tommy could have
disposed of his shilling. He might have been a good
boy and returned it next day to Papa. He might have
given Reddy half of it for not telling. It could have
carried him over the winter. He might have stalked
with it into the shop where the greasy puddings were
and come rolling out hours afterwards. Some of these
schemes did cross his little mind, but he decided to
spend the whole shilling on a present to his mother,
and it was to be something useful. He devoted much
thought to what she was most in need of, and at last he
bought her a colored picture of Lord Byron swimming
the Hellespont.

He told her that he got his shilling from two totfs for
playing with a little girl, and the explanation satisfied
her; but she could have cried at the waste of the money,
which would have been such a God-send to her. He
eried altogether, however, at sight of her face, having
expected it to look so pleased, and then she told him,

3



34 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

with caresses, that the picture was the one thing she had
been longing for ever since she came to London. How
had he known this, she asked, and he clapped his hands
gleefully, and said he just knowed when he saw it in
the shop window.

“Tt was noble of you,” she said, “to spend all your
siller on me.”

“Was n’t it, mother?” he crowed. “I’m thinking
there ain’t many as noble as I is!”

He did not say why he had been so good to her, but
it was because she had written no letters to Thrums
since the intrusion of Elspeth; a strange reason for a
boy whose greatest glory at one time had been to sit
on the fender and exultingly watch his mother write
down words that would be read aloud in the wonderful
place. She was a long time in writing a letter, but that
only made the whole evening romantic, and he found
an arduous employment in keeping his tongue wet in
preparation for the licking of the stamp.

But she could not write to the Thrums folk now
without telling them of Elspeth, who was at present
sleeping the sleep of the shameless in the hollow of
the bed, and so for his sake, Tommy thought, she
meant to write no more. For his sake, mark you, not
for her own. She had often told him that some day
he should go to Thrums, but not with her; she would
be far away from him then in a dark place she was
awid to be lying in. Thus it seemed to Tommy that



TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 35

she denied herself the pleasure of writing to Thrums
lest the sorry news of Elspeth’s advent should spoil his
reception when he went north.

So grateful Tommy gave her the picture, hoping that
it would fill the void. But it did not. She put it on
the mantelpiece so that she might just sit and look at
it, she said, and he grinned at it from every part of the
room, but when he returned to her, he saw that she was
neither looking at it nor thinking of it. She was look-
ing straight before her, and sometimes her lips twitched,
and then she drew them into her mouth to keep them
still. Itis a kind of dry weeping that sometimes comes
to miserable ones when their minds stray into the happy
past, and Tommy sat and watched her silently for a
long time, never doubting that the cause of all her woe
was that she could not write to Thrums.

He had seldom seen tears on his mother’s face, but
he saw one now. They had been reluctant to come for
many a day, and this one formed itself beneath her eye
and sat there like a blob of blood.

His own began to come more freely. But she need n’t
not expect him to tell her to write nor to say that he
didn’t care what Thrums thought of him so long as she
was happy.

The tear rolled down his mother’s thin cheek and fell
on the grey shawl that had come from Thrums.

She did not hear her boy as he dragged a chair to
the press and standing on it got something down from



386 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

the top shelf. She had forgotten him, and she started
when presently the pen was slipped into her hand and
Tommy said, “You can do it, mother, I wants yer to
do it, mother, I won’t not greet, mother!”

When she saw what he wanted her to do she patted
his face approvingly, but without realizing the extent
of his sacrifice. She knew that he had some maggot in
his head that made him regard Elspeth as a sore on the
family honor, but ascribing his views to jealousy she
had never tried seriously to change them. Her main
reason for sending no news to Thrums of late had been
but the cost of the stamp, though she was also a little
conscience-stricken at the kind of letters she wrote, and
the sight of the materials lying ready for her proved
sufficient to draw her to the table.

“Ts it to your grandmother you is writting the
letter?” Tommy asked, for her grandmother had
brought Mrs. Sandys up and was her only surviving
relative. This was all Tommy knew of his mother’s
life in Thrums, though she had told him much about
other Thrums folk, and not till long afterwards did he
see that there must be something queer about herself,
which she was hiding from him.

This letter was not for her granny, however, and
Tommy asked next, “Is it to Aaron Latta?” which so
startled her that she dropped the pen.

«“Whaur heard you that name?” she said sharply.

“I never spoke it to you.”



TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 37

“I’ve heard you saying it when you was sleeping,
mother.”

“Did I say onything but the name? Quick, tell me.”

“You said, ‘Oh, Aaron Latta, oh, Aaron, little did we
think, Aaron,’ and things like that. Are you angry with
me, mother?”

“No,” she said, relieved, but it was some time before
the desire to write came back to her. Then she told
him “The letter is to a woman that was gey cruel to me,”
adding, with a complacent pursing of her lips, the curi-
ous remark, “That ’s the kind I like to write to best.”

The pen went scrape, scrape, but Tommy did not
weary, though he often sighed, because his mother
would never read aloud to him what she wrote. The
Thrums people never answered her letters, for the
reason, she said, that those she wrote to could not
write, which seemed to simple Tommy to be a suffi-
cient explanation. So he had never heard the inside of
a letter talking, though a postman lived in the house,
and even Shovel’s old girl got letters; once when her
uncle died she got a telegram, which Shovel proudly
wheeled up and down the street ina barrow, other
blokes keeping guard at the side. To give a letter to
a woman who had been cruel to you struck Tommy as
the height of nobility.

“She ’ll be uplifted when she gets it!” he cried.

“Shell be mad when she gets it,” answered his

mother, without looking up.



388 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

This was the letter : —

«My pear Esruer, —I send you these few scrapes to let
you see I have not forgot you, though my way is now grand by
yours. A spleet new black silk, Esther, being the second in a
twelvemonth, as I’m a living woman. The other is no none
tashed yet, but my gudeman fair insisted on buying a new one,
for says he ‘Rich folk like us can afford to be mislaird, and
nothing ’s ower braw for my bonny Jean. Tell Aaron Latta
that. When I’m sailing in my silks, Esther, I sometimes pic-
ture you turning your wincey again, for I’se uphaud that’s all
the new frock you’ve ha’en the year. I dinna want to give you
a scunner of your man, Esther, more by token they said if your
mither had not took him in hand you would never have kent
the color of his nightcap, but when you are wraxing ower your
kail-pot in a plot of heat, jast picture me ringing the bell for
my servant, and saying, with a wave of my hand, ‘Servant,
lay the dinner.’ And ony bonny afternoon when your man is
cleaning out stables and you’re at the tub in a short gown,
picture my man taking me and the children out a ride in a
carriage, and I sair doubt your bairns was never in nothing
more genteel than a coai cart. For bairns is yours, Esther, and
children is mine, and that’s a burn without a brig till ’t.

“ Deary me, Esther, what with one thing and another, namely
buying a sofa, thirty shillings as I’m a sinner, I have forgot to
tell you about my second, and it’s a girl this time, my man say-
ing he would like a change. We have christened her Elspeth
after my grandmaimma, and if my auld granny ’s aye living, you
can tell her that’s her. My man is terrible windy of his two
beautiful children, but he says he would have been the happiest
gentleman in London though he had just had me, and really
his fondness for me, it cows, Esther, sitting aside me on the
bed, two pounds without the blankets, about the time Elspeth



TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 89

was born, and feeding me with the fat of the land, namely,
tapiocas and sherry wine. Tell Aaron Latta that.

“JT pity you from the bottom of my heart, Esther, for having
to bide in Thrums, but you have never seen no better, your man
having neither the siller nor the desire to take you jaunts, and
I’m thinking that is just as well, for if you saw how the like
of me lives it might disgust you with your own bit house. |
often laugh, Esther, to think that 1 was once like you, and
looked upon Thrums as a bonny place. How is the old hole ?
My son makes grand sport of the oifortunate bairns as has to
bide in Thrums, and I see him doing it the now to his favorite
companion, which is a young gentleman of ladylike manners,
as bides in our terrace. So no more at present, for my man is
sitting ganting for my society, and I daresay yours is crying to
you to darn his old socks. Mind and tell Aaron Latta.”

This letter was posted next day by Tommy, with the
assistance of Shovel, who seems to have been the young
gentleman of ladylike manners referred to in the text.



CHAPTER IV

THE END OF AN IDYLL

Tommy never saw Reddy again owing to a fright he
got about this time, for which she was really to blame,
though a woman who lived in his house was the
instrument.

It is, perhaps, idle to attempt a summary of those
who lived in that house, as one at least will be off,
and another in his place, while we are giving them a
line apiece. They were usually this kind who lived
through the wall from Mrs. Sandys, but beneath her
were the two rooms of Hankey, the postman, and his
lodger, the dreariest of middle-aged clerks except when
telling wistfully of his ambition, which was to get out
of the tea department into the coffee department, where
there is an easier way of counting up the figures.
Shovel and family were also on this floor, and in the
rooms under them was a newly married couple. When
the husband was away at his work, his wife would
make some change in the furniture, taking the picture
from this wall, for instance, and hanging it on that
wall, or wheeling the funny chair she had lain in before



THE END OF AN IDYLL 41

she could walk without a crutch, to the other side of
the fireplace, or putting a skirt of yellow paper round
the flower pot, and when he returned he always jumped
back in wonder and exclaimed: “What an immense
improvement!” These two were so fond of one another
that Tommy asked them the reason, and they gave it by
pointing to the chair with the wheels, which seemed to
him to be no reason at all. What was this young hus-
band’s trade Tommy never knew, but he was the only
prettily dressed man in the house, and he could be
heard roaring in his sleep, “And the next article?”
The meanest looking man lived next door to him.
Every morning this man put on a clean white shirt,
which sounds like a splendid beginning, but his other
clothes were of the seediest, and he caine and went
shivering, raising his shoulders to his ears and spread-
ing his hands over his chest as if anxious to hide his
shirt rather than to display it. He and the happy hus-
band were nicknamed Before and After, they were so
like the pictorial advertisement of Man before and after
he has tried Someone’s lozenges. But it is rash to
judge by outsides; Tommy and Shovel one day tracked
Before to his place of business, and it proved to bea
palatial eating-house, long, narrow, padded with red
cushions; through the door they saw the once despised,
now in beautiful black clothes, the waistcoat a mere
nothing, as if to give his shirt a chance at last, a
towel over his arm, and to and fro he darted, saying



42 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Yessirquitesosir” to the toffs on the seats, shouting
“Twovegonebeef — onebeeronetartinahurry ” to some-
one invisible, and pocketing twopences all day long,
just like a lord. On the same floor as Before and After
lived the large family of little Pikes, who quarrelled at
night for the middle place in the bed, and then chips of
ceiling fell into the room below, tenant Jim Ricketts
and parents, lodger the young woman we have been
trying all these doors for. Her the police snapped up on
a charge that made Tommy want to hide himself —
child-desertion. ;

Shovel was the person best worth listening to on the
subject (observe him, the centre of half a dozen boys),
and at first he was for the defence, being a great
stickler for the rights of mothers. But when the case
against the girl leaked out, she need not look to him
for help. The police had found the child in a basket
down an area, and being knowing ones they pinched it
to make it cry, and then they pretended to go away.
Soon the mother, who was watching hard by to see if
it fell into kind hands, stole to her baby to comfort it,
“and just as she were a kissing on it and blubbering,
the perlice copped her.”

“The slut!” said disgusted Shovel, “what did she
hang about for?” and in answer to a trembling ques-
tion from Tommy he replied, decisively, “Six months
hard.”

“Next case” was probably called immediately, but



—————eoor—

THE END OF AN IDYLL 43

Tommy vanished, as if he had been sentenced and
removed to the cells.

Never again, unless he wanted six months hard, must
he go near Reddy’s home, and so he now frequently
accompanied his mother to the place where she worked.
The little room had a funny fireplace called a stove, on
which his mother made tea and the girls roasted chest-
nuts, and it had no other ordinary furniture except a
long form. But the walls were mysterious. Three of
them were covered with long white cloths, which went
to the side when you tugged them, and then you could
see on rails dozens of garments that looked like night-
gowns. Beneath the form were scores of little shoes,
most of them white or brown. In this house Tommy’s
mother spent eight hours daily, but not all of them in
this room. When she arrived the first thing she did
was to put Elspeth on the floor, because you cannot fall
off a floor; then she went upstairs with a bucket and a
broom to a large bare room, where she stayed so long
that Tommy nearly forgot what she was like.

While his mother was upstairs Tommy would give
Elspeth two or three shoes to eat to keep her quiet, and
then he played with the others, pretending to be able
to count them, arranging them in designs, shooting
them, swimming among them, saying “bow-wow ” at
them and then turning sharply to see who had said it.
Soon Elspeth dropped her shoes and gazed in admira-
tion at him, but more often than not she laughed in the



44 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

wrong place, and then he said ironically: “Oh, in
course I can’t do nothin’; jest let’s see you doing of it,
then, cocky!”

By the time the girls began to arrive, singly or in
twos and threes, his mother was back in the little room,
making tea for herself or sewing bits of them that had
been torn as they stepped out of a cab, or helping them
to put on the nightgowns, or pretending to listen
pleasantly to their chatter and hating them all the
time. There was every kind of them, gorgeous ones
and shabby ones, old tired ones and dashing young
ones, but whether they were the Honorable Mrs. Some-
thing or only Jane Anything, they all came to that
room for the same purpose: to get a little gown anda
pair of shoes. Then they went upstairs and danced to
a stout little lady, called the Sylph, who bobbed about
like a ball at the end of a piece of elastic. What
Tommy never forgot was that while they danced the
Sylph kept saying, “One, two, three, four; one, two,

three, four,”

which they did not seem to mind, but
when she said “One, two, three, four, picture/” they
all stopped and stood motionless, though it might be
with one foot as high as their head and their arms
stretched out toward the floor, as if they had suddenly
seen a halfpenny there.

In the waiting-room, how they joked and pirouetted
and gossiped, and hugged and scorned each other, and

what slang they spoke and how pretty they often looked



THE END OF AN IDYLL 45

next moment, and how they denounced the one that had
just gone out as a cat with whom you could not get in a
word edgeways, and oh, how prompt they were to give
a slice of their earnings to any “cat” who was hard up!
But still, they said, she had talent, but no genius.
How they pitied people without genius.

Have you ever tasted an encore or 4 reception ?
‘Tommy never had his teeth in one, but he heard much
about them in that room, and concluded that they were
some sort of cake. It was not the girls who danced in
groups, but those who danced alone, that spoke of their
encores and receptions, and sometimes they had got
them last night, sometimes years ago. Two girls met
in the room, one of whom had stolen the other’s recep-
tion, and — but it was too dreadful to write abcut.
Most of them carried newspaper cuttings in their purses
and read them aloud to the others, who would not
listen. ‘Fommy listened, however, and as it was all
about how one house had risen at the girls and they had
brought another down, he thought they led the most
adventurous lives.

Occasionally they sent him out to buy newspapers or
chestnuts, and then he had to keep a sharp eye on the
police lest they knew about Reddy. It was a point of
honor with all the boys he knew to pretend that the
policeman was after them. To gull the policeman into
thinking all was well they blackened their faces and
wore their jackets inside out; their occupation was a



46 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

constant state of readiness to fly from him, and when
he tramped out of sight, unconscious of their existence,
they emerged from dark places and spoke in exultant
whispers. Tommy had been proud to join them, but
he now resented their going on in this way; he felt
that he alone had the right to fly from the law. And
once at least while he was flying something happened
to him that he was to remember better, far better, than
his mother’s face.

What set him running on this occasion (he had been
sent out to get one of the girls’ shoes soled) was the
grandest sight to be seen in London —an endless row
of policemen walking in single file, all with the right
leg in the air at the same time, then the left leg. See-
ing at once that they were after him, Tommy ran, ran,
ran until in turning a corner he found himself wedged
between two legs. He was of just sufficient size to fill
the aperture, but after a momentary lock he: squeezed
through, and they proved to be the gate into an
enchanted land.

The magic began at once. “Dagont, you sacket!”
cried some wizard.

A policeman’s hand on his shoulder could not have
taken the wind out of Tommy more quickly. In the
act of starting a-running again he brought down his
hind foot with a thud and stood stock still. Can any
one wonder? It was the Thrums tongue, and this the
first time he had heard it except from his mother.



THE END OF AN IDYLL 47

It was a dull day, and all the walls were dripping wet,
this being the part of London where the fogs are kept.
Many men and women were passing to and fro, and
Tommy, with a wild exultation in his breast, peered up
at the face of this one and that; but no, they were only
ordinary people, and he played rub-a-dub with his feet
on the pavement, so furious was he with them for
moving on as if nothing had happened. Draw up, ye
carters; pedestrians, ‘stand still; London, silence for a
moment, and let Tommy Sandys listen!

Being but a frail plant in the way of a flood, Tommy
was rooted up and borne onward, but he did not feel
the buffeting. Ina passion of grief he dug his fists in
his eyes, for the glory had been his for but a moment.
It can be compared to nothing save the parcel (attached
to a concealed string) which Shovel and he once
placed on the stair for Billy Hankey to find, and then
whipped away from him just as he had got it under
his arm. But so near the crying, Tommy did not cry,
for even while the tears were rushing to his aid he
tripped on the step of a shop, and immediately, as if
that had rung the magic bell again, a voice, a woman’s
voice this time, said shrilly, “Threepence ha’penny,
and them jimply as big as a bantam’s! Na, na, but
I’ll gi’e you five bawhbees.”

Tommy sat down flop on the step, feeling queer in
the head. Was it— was it —was it Thrums? He knew

he had been running a long time.



48 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

The woman, or fairy, or whatever you choose to call
her, came out of the shop and had to push Tommy aside
to get past. Oh, what a sweet foot to be kicked by.
At the time, he thought she was dressed not unlike the
women of his own stair, but this defect in his vision
he mended afterward, as you may hear. Of course, he
rose and trotted by her side like a dog, looking up at
her as if she were a cathedral; but she mistook his awe
for impudence and sent him sprawling, with the words,
“Tak? that, you glowering partan!”

Do you think Tommy resented this? On the con-
trary, he screamed from where he lay, “Say it again!
say it again!”

She was gone, however, but only, as it were, to let a
window open, from which came the cry, “Davit, have
you seen my man ?”

A male fairy roared back from some invisible place,
“He has gone yont to Petey’s wi’ the dambrod.”

“T7ll dambrod him!” said the female fairy, and the
window shut.

Tommy was now staggering like one intoxicated, but
he had still some sense left him, and he walked up and
down in front of this house, as if to take care of it. In
the middle of the street some boys were very busy at a
game, carts and lorries passing over them occasionally.
They came to the pavement to play marbles, and then
Tommy noticed that one of them wore what was prob-
ably a glengarry bonnet. Could he be a Thrums boy ?



THE END OF AN IDYLL 49

At first he played in the stupid London way, but by
and by he had to make a new ring, and he did it by
whirling round on one foot. Tommy knew from his
mother that it is only done in this way in Thrums.
Oho! Oho!

By this time he was prancing round his discovery,
saying, “I’m one, too—so am I — dagont, does yer
hear? dagont!” which so alarmed the boy that he
picked up his marble and fled, Tommy, of course, after
him. Alas! he must have been some mischievous
sprite, for he lured his pursuer back into London and
then vanished, and Tommy, searching in vain for the
enchanted street, found his own door instead.

His mother pooh-poohed his tale, though he described
the street exactly as it struck him on reflection, and it
bore a curious resemblance to the palace of Aladdin
that Reddy had told him about, leaving his imagination
to fill in the details, which it promptly did, with a
square, a town-house, some outside stairs, and an auld
licht kirk. There was no such street, however, his
mother assured him; he had been dreaming. But if
this were so, why was she so anxious to make him
promise never to look for the place again ?

He did go in search of it again, daily for a time,
always keeping a look-out for bow-legs, and the moment
he saw them, he dived recklessly between, hoping to
come out into fairyland on the other side. For though
he had lost the street, he knew that this was the way in.

4



50 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Shovel had never heard of the street, nor had Bob.
But Bob gave him something that almost made him
forget it fora time. Bob was his favorite among the
dancing girls, and she — or should it be he? The odd
thing about these girls was that a number of them were
really boys — or at least were boys at Christmas-time,
which seemed to Tommy to be even stranger than if
they had been boys all the year round. A friend of
Bob’s remarked to her one day, “You are to be a girl
next winter, ain’t you, Bob?” and Bob shook her head
scornfully.

“Do you see any green in my eye, my dear?” she
inquired. .

Her friend did not look, but Tommy looked, and
there was none. He assured her of this so earnestly
that Bob fell in love with him on the spot, and chucked
him under the chin, first with her thumb and then with
her toe, which feat was duly reported to Shovel, who
could do it by the end of the week.

Did Tommy, Bcb wanted to know, still think her a
mere woman ?

No, he withdrew the charge, but— but— She was
wearing her outdoor garments, and he pointed to them. _
“Why does yer wear them, then?” he demanded.

“For the matter of that,” she replied, pointing at his
frock, “why do you wear them ?” Whereupon Tommy
began to cry.

“T ain’t not got no right ones,” he blubbered. Harum-





BOB FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM ON THE SPOT



THE END OF AN IDYLL 61

scarum Bob, who was a trump, had him in her
motherly arms immediately, and the upshot of it was
that a blue suit she had worn when she was Sam Some-
thing changed owners. Mrs. Sandys “made it up,”
and that is how Tommy got into trousers.

Many contingencies were considered in the making,
but the suit would fit Tommy by and by if he grew, or
it shrunk, and they did not pass each other in the
night. When proud Tommy first put on his suit the
most unexpected shyness overcame him, and having set
off vaingloriously he stuck on the stair and wanted to
hide. Shovel, who had been having an argument with
his old girl, came, all boastful bumps, to him, and
Tommy just stood still with a self-conscious simper on
his face. And Shovel, who could have damped him
considerably, behaved in the most honorable manner,
initiating him gravely into the higher life, much as you
show the new member round your club.

It was very risky to go back to Reddy, whom he had.
not seen for many weeks; but in trousers! He could
not help it. He only meant to walk up and down her
-street, so that she might see him from the window, and
know that this splendid thing was he; but though he
went several times into the street, Reddy never came
to the window.

The reason he had to wait in vain at Reddy’s door
was that she was dead; she had been dead for quite a
long time when Tommy came back to look for her. You



52 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

mothers who have lost your babies, I should be a sorry
knave were I to ask you to cry now over the death of
another womau’s child. Reddy: had been lent to two
people for a very little while, just as your babies were,
and when the time was up she blew a kiss to them and
ran gleefully back to God, just as your babies did.
The gates of heaven are so easily found when we are
little, and they are always standing open to let children
" wander in.

But though Reddy was gone away forever, mamma
still lived in that house, and on a day she opened the
door to come out. Tommy was standing there — she
saw him there waiting for Reddy. Dry-eyed this
sorrowful woman had heard the sentence pronounced,
dry-eyed she had followed the little coffin to its grave;
tears had not come even when waking from illusive
dreams she put out her hand in bed to a child who was
not there; but when she saw Tommy waiting at the
door for Reddy, who had been dead for a month, her
bosom moved and she could cry again.

Those tears were sweet to her husband, and it was he
who took Tommy on his knee in the room where the.
books were, and told him that there was no Reddy now.
When Tommy knew that Reddy was a deader he cried
bitterly, and the man said, very gently, “I am glad you
were so fond of her.”

“?T ain’t that,” Tommy answered with a knuckle in
his eye, “’tain’t that as makes me cry.” He looked



error eee


THE END OF AN IDYLL 53

down at his trousers and in a fresh outburst of childish
grief he wailed, “It’s them!”

Papa did not understand, but the boy explained.
“She can’t not never see them now,” he sobbed, “and
I wants her to see them, and they has pockets!”

It had come to the man unexpectedly. He put
Tommy down almost roughly, and raised his hand to
his head as if he felt a sudden pain there.

But Tommy, you know, was only a little boy.



CHAPTER V

THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS

EspetH at last did something to win Tommy’s
respect; she fell ill of an ailment called in Thrums the
eroop. When Tommy first heard his mother call it
croop, he thought she was merely humoring Elspeth,
and that it was nothing more distinguished than London
whooping-cough, but on learning that it was genuine
croop, he began to survey the ambitious little creature
with a new interest.

This was well for Elspeth, as she had now to spend
most of the day at home with him, their mother, whose
health was failing through frequent attacks of bronchitis,
being no longer able to carry her through the streets.
Of course Elspeth took to repaying his attentions by
loving him, and he soon suspected it, and then gloomily
admitted it to himself, but never to Shovel. Being but
an Englishman, Shovel saw no reason why relatives
should conceal their affection for each other, but he
played on this Scottish weakness of Tommy’s with
cruel enjoyment.

“She’s fond on yer!” he would say severely.

“You’s a liar.”



THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS 55

“Gar long! I believe as you’re fond on her ! ”

“You jest take care, Shovel.”

“ Ain’t yer ?”

“Na-o!”

“Will yer swear ?”

“So I will swear.”

“Let ’s hear yer.”

“ Dagont!”

So for a time the truth was kept hidden, and Shovel
retired, casting aspersions, and offering to eat all the
hair on Elspeth’s head for a penny.

This hair was white at present, which made Tommy
uneasy about her future, but on the whole he thought
he might make something of her if she was only longer.
Sometimes he stretched her on the floor, pulling her
legs out straight, for she had a silly way of doubling
them up, and then he measured her carefully with his
mother’s old boots. Her growth proved to be distress-
ingly irregular, as one day she seemed to have grown
an inch since last night, and then next day she had
shrunk two inches.

After her day’s work Mrs. Sandys was now so list-
less that, had not Tommy interfered, Elspeth would
have been a backward child. Reddy had been able to:
walk from the first day, and so ‘of course had he, but
this little slow-coach’s legs wobbled at the joints, like
the blade of a knife without a spring. The question of
questions was How to keep her on end ?



56 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Tommy sat on the fender revolving this problem,
his head resting on his hand: that favorite position of
mighty intellects when about to be photographed.
Elspeth lay on her stomach on the floor, gazing earnestly
at him, as if she knew she was in his thoughts’for some
stupendous purpose. Thus the apple may have looked
at Newton before it fell.

Hankey, the postman, compelled the flowers in his
window to stand erect by tying them'to sticks, so
Tommy took two sticks from a bundle of firewood, and
splicing Elspeth’s legs to them, held her upright
against the door with one hand. All he asked of her
to-day was to remain in this position after he said
“One, two, three, four, picture/” and withdrew his
hand, but down she flopped every time, and he said,
with scorn,

“You ain’t got no genius: you has just talent.”

But he had her in bed with the scratches nicely
covered up before his mother came home.

He tried another plan with more success. Lost dogs,
it may be remembered, had a habit of following Shovel’s
father, and he not only took the wanderers in, but
taught them how to beg and shake hands and walk on
two legs. ‘Tommy had sometimes been present at these
agreeable exercises, and being an inventive boy he —
But as Elspeth was a nice girl, let it suffice to pause
here and add shyly, that in time she could walk.

He also taught her to speak, and if you need to be



THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS 57

told with what luscious word he enticed her into
language you are sentenced to re-read the first pages of
his life.

“Thrums,”

he would say persuasively, “Thrums,
Thrums. You opens your mouth like this, and shuts it
like this, and that’s it.” Yet when he had coaxed her
thus for many days, what does she do but break her
long silence with the word “Tommy!” The recoil
knocked her over.

Soon afterward she brought down a bigger bird. No
Londoner can say “Auld licht,” and Tommy had often
crowed over Shovel’s “O] likt.” When the testing of
Elspeth could be deferred no longer, he eyed her with
the look a hen gives the green egg on which she has
been sitting twenty days, but Elspeth triumphed, say-
ing the words modestly even, as if nothing inside her
told her she had that day done something which would
have baffled Shakespeare, not to speak of most of the
gentlemen who sit for Scotch constituencies.

“Reddy couldn’t say it!” Tommy cried exultantly,
and from that great hour he had no more fears for
Elspeth.

Next the alphabet knocked for admission; and entered
first Mand P, which had prominence in the only poster
visible from the window. Mrs. Sandys had taught
Tommy his letters, but he had got into words by study-
ing posters.

Elspeth being able now to make the perilous descent



58 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of the stairs, Tommy guided her through the streets
(letting go hurriedly if Shovel hove in sight), and here
she bagged new letters daily. With Catlings some-
thing, which is the best, she got into capital Cs; ys are
found easily when you know where to look for them
(they hang on behind); As are never found singly,
but often three at a time; @ is so aristocratic that even
Tommy had only heard of it, doubtless it was there,
but indistinguishable among the masses like a celebrity
in a crowd; on the other hand, big A and little e were
so dirt cheap, that these two scholars passed them with
something very like a sneer.

The printing-press is either the greatest blessing or
the greatest curse of modern times, one sometimes for-
gets which. Elspeth’s faith in it was absolute, and as
it only spoke to her from placards, here was her
religion, at the age of four:

“PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.
HApPpy ARE THEY WHO NEEDING KNOW THE
Paintess Porous PLAstER.”

Of religion, Tommy had said many fine things to her,
embellishments on the simple doctrine taught him by
his mother before the miseries of this world made her
indifferent to the next. But the meaning of “Pray
without ceasing,” Elspeth, who was God’s child always,
seemed to find out for herself, and it cured all her
troubles. She prayed promptly for every one she saw



THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS 59

doing wrong, including Shovel, who occasionally had
words with Tommy on the subject, and she not only
prayed for her mother, but proposed to Tommy that
they should buy her a porous plaster. Mrs. Sandys
had been down with bronchitis again.

Tommy raised the monetary difficulty.

Elspeth knew where there was some money, and it
was her very own.

Tommy knew where there was money, and it was his.
very own.

Elspeth would not tell how much she had, and it was
twopence halfpenny.

Neither would Tommy tell, and it was twopence.

Tommy would get a surprise on his birthday.

So would Elspeth get a surprise on her birthday.

Elspeth would not tell what the surprise was to be,
and. it was to be a gun.

Tommy also must remain mute, and it was to be a’
box of dominoes.

Elspeth did not want dominoes.

Tommy knew that, but he wanted them.

Elspeth discovered that guns cost fourpence, and
dominoes threepence halfpenny; it seemed to her,
therefore, that Tommy was defrauding her of a half-
penny.

Tommy liked her cheek. You got the dominoes for
threepence halfpenny, but the price on the box is five-’
pence, so that Elspeth would really owe him a penny.



60 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

This led to an agonizing scene in which Elspeth wept
while Tommy told her sternly about Reddy. It had
become his custom to tell the tale of Reddy when
Elspeth was obstreperous.

Then followed a scene in which Tommy called him-
self a scoundrel for frightening his dear Elspeth, and
swore that he loved none but her. Result: reconcilia-
tion, and agreed, that instead of a gun and dominoes,
they should buy a porous plaster. You know the shops
where the plasters are to be obtained by great colored
bottles in their windows, and, as it was advisable to
find the very best shop, Tommy and Elspeth in their
wanderings came under the influence of the bottles, red,
yellow, green, and blue, and color entered into their
lives, giving them many delicious thrills. These bottles
are the first poem known to the London child, and you
chemists who are beginning to do without them in your
windows should be told that it is a shame.

In the glamour, then, of the romantic bottles walked
Tommy and Elspeth hand in hand, meeting so many
novelties that they might have spared a tear for the
unfortunate children who sit in nurseries surrounded
by all they ask for, and if the adventures of these two
frequently ended in the middle, they had probably
begun another while the sailor-suit boy was still hold-
ing up his leg to let the nurse put on his little sock.
While they wandered, they drew near unwittingly to
the enchanted street, to which the bottles are a colored



THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS . 61

way, and at last they were in it, but Tommy recognized
it not; he did not even feel that he was near it, for
there were no outside stairs, no fairies strolling about,
it was a short street as shabby as his own.

But someone had shouted “Dinna haver, lassie;
you’re blethering!”

Tommy whispered to Elspeth, “Be still; don’t
speak,” and he gripped her hand tighter and stared at
the speaker. He was a boy of ten, dressed like a
Londoner, and his companion had disappeared. ‘Tommy
never doubting but that he was the sprite of long ago,
gripped him by the sleeve. All the savings of Elspeth
and himself were in his pocket, and yielding to impulse,
as was his way, he thrust the fivepence halfpenny into
James Gloag’s hand. The new millionaire gaped, but
not at his patron, for the why and wherefore of this
gift were trifles to James beside the tremendous fact
that he had fivepence halfpenny. ‘“Almichty me!” he
cried and bolted. Presently he returned, having
deposited his money in a safe place, and his first
remark was perhaps the meanest on record. He held
out his hand and said greedily, “Have you ony
maiz ?”

This, you feel certain, must have been the most
important event of that evening, but strange to say, it
was not. Before Tommy could answer James’s ques-
tion, a woman in a shawl had pounced upon him and
hurried him and Elspeth out of the street. She had



62 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

been standing at a corner looking wistfully at the
‘window blinds behind which folk from Thrums’passed
to and fro, hiding her face from people in the street,
_but gazing eagerly after them. It was Tommy’s
mother, whose first free act on coming to London had
been to find out that street, and many a time since then
she had skulked through it or watched it from dark
places, never daring to disclose herself, but sometimes
recognizing familiar faces, sometimes hearing a few
words in the old tongue that is harsh and ungracious to
you, but was so sweet to her, and bearing them away
with her beneath her shawl as if they were something
warm to lay over her cold heart.

For a time she upbraided Tommy passionately for
not keeping away from this street, but soon her hunger
for news of Thrums overcame her prudence, and she
consented to let him go back if he promised never to
tell that his mother came from Thrums. “And if ony-
bedy wants to ken your name, say it’s Tommy, but
dinna let on that it’s Tommy Sandys.”

“Elspeth,” Tommy whispered that night, “I’m near
sure there’s something queer about my mother and me
and you.” But he did not trouble himself with won-
dering what the something queer might be, so engrossed
was he in the new and exciting life that had suddenly
opened to him.



CHAPTER VI

THE ENCHANTED STREET

In Thrums Street, as it ought to have been called,
herded at least one-half of the Thrums folk in London,
and they formed a colony, of which the grocer at the
corner sometimes said wrathfully that not a member
would give sixpence for anything except Bibles or
whiskey. In the streets one could only tell they were
not Londoners by their walk, the flagstones having no
grip for their feet, or, if they had come south late in
life, by their backs, which they carried at the angle on
which webs are most easily supported. When mixing
with the world they talked the English tongue, which
came out of them as broad as if it had been squeezed
through a mangle, but when the day’s work was done,
it was only a few of the giddier striplings that remainéd
Londoners. For the majority there was no raking the
streets after diversion, they spent the hour or two
before bed-time in reproducing the life of Thrums.
Few of them knew much of London except the nearest
way between this street and their work, and their most
interesting visitor was a Presbyterian minister, most of



64 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

whose congregation lived in much more fashionable
parts, but they were almost exclusively servant girls,
and when descending area-steps to visit them he had
been challenged often and jocularly by policemen,
which perhaps was what gave him a subdued and
furtive appearance.

The rooms were furnished mainly with articles bought
in London, but these became as like Thrums dressers
and seats as their owners could make them, old Petey,
for instance, cutting the back off a chair because he
felt most at home on stools. Drawers were used as
baking-boards, pails turned into salt-buckets, floors
were sanded and hearthstones ca’med, and the popular
supper consisted of porter, hot water, and soaked bread,
after every spoonful of which they groaned pleasantly,
and stretched their legs. Sometimes they played at
the dambrod, but more often they pulled down the
blinds on London and talked of Thrums in their mother
tongue. Nevertheless few of them wanted to return to
it, and their favorite joke was the case of James
Gloag’s father, who being home-sick flung up his situa-
tion and took train for Thrums, but he was back in
London in three weeks.

Tommy soon had the entry to these homes, and his
first news of the inmates was unexpected. It was that
they were always sleeping. In broad daylight he had
seen Thrums men asleep on beds, and he was somewhat
ashamed of them until he heard the excuse. A number



THE ENCHANTED STREET 65

of the men from Thrums were bakers, the first emigrant
of this trade having drawn others after him, and they
slept great part of the day to be able to work all night
in a cellar, making nice rolls for rich people. Baker
Lumsden, who became a friend of Tommy, had got his
place in the cellar when his brother died, and the
brother had succeeded Matthew Croall when he died.

They die very soon, Tommy learned from Lumsden,
generally when they are eight and thirty. Lumsden
was thirty-six, and when he died his nephew was to get
the place. The wages are good.

Then there were several masons, one of whom, like
the first baker, had found work for all the others, and
there were men who had drifted into trades strange to
their birthplace, and there was usually one at least who
had come to London to “better himself” and had not
done it as yet. The family Tommy liked best was the
Whamonds, and especially he liked old Petey and young
Petey Whamond. They were a large family of women
and men, all of whom earned their living in other streets,
except the old man, who kept house and was a famous
knitter of stockings, as probably his father had been
before him. He was a great one, too, at telling what
they would be doing at that moment in Thrums, every
corner of which was as familiar to him as the ins and
outs of the family hose. Young Petey got fourteen
shillings a week from a hatter, and one of his duties
was to carry as many as twenty band-boxes at a time

5



66 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

through fashionable streets; it is a matter for elation
that dukes and statesmen had often to take the curb-
stone, because young Petey was coming. Nevertheless
young Petey was not satisfied, and never would be
(such is the Thrums nature) until he became a salesman
in the shop to which he acted at present as fetch and
carry, and he used to tell Tommy that this position
would be his as soon as he could sneer sufficiently at
the old hats. When gentlemen come into the shop and
buy a new hat, he explained, they put it on, meaning
to tell you to send the old one to their address, and the
art of being a fashionable hatter lies in this: you must
be able to curl your lips so contemptuously at the old
hat that they tell you guiltily to keep it, as they have
no further use for it. Then they retire ashamed of
their want of moral courage and you have made an
extra half-guinea.

“But I aye snort,” young Petey admitted, “and it
should be done without a sound.” When he graduated,
he was to marry Martha Spens, who was waiting for
him at Tillyloss. There was a London seamstress
whom he preferred, and she was willing, but it is safest
to stick to Thrums.

When Tommy was among his new friends a Scotch
word or phrase often escaped his lips, but old Petey
and the others thought he had picked it up from them,
and would have been content to accept him as a London
waif who lived somewhere round the corner. To trick



THE ENCHANTED STREET 67

people so simply, however, is not agreeable to an artist,
and he told them his name was Tommy Shovel, and
that his old girl walloped him, and his father found
dogs, all which inventions Thrums Street accepted as
true. What is much more noteworthy is that, as he
gave them birth, Tommy half believed them also, being
already the best kind of actor.

Not all the talking was done by Tommy when he.
came home with news, for he seldom mentioned a
Thrums name, of which his mother could not tell him
something more. But sometimes she did not choose
to tell,as when he announced that a certain Elspeth
Lindsay, of the Marywellbrae, was dead. After this
she ceased to listen, for old Elspeth had been her ~
grandmother, and she had now no kin in Thrums.

“Tell me about the Painted Lady,” Tommy said to
her. “Is it true she’s a witch?” But Mrs. Sandys
had never heard of any woman so called: the Painted
Lady must have gone to Thrums after her time.

“There ain’t no witches now,” said Elspeth tremu-
lously; Shovel’s mother had told her so.

“Not in London,” replied Tommy, with contempt;
and this is all that was said of the Painted Lady then.
It is the first mention of her in these pages.

The people Mrs. Sandys wanted to hear of chiefly
were Aaron Latta and Jean Myles, and soon Tommy
brought news of them, but at the same time he had
heard of the Den, and he said first:



68 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Oh, mother, I thought as you had told me about
all the beauty places in Thrums, and you ain’t never
told me about the Den.” :

His mother heaved a quick breath. “It’s the only
place I hinna telled you o’,” she said.

“Had you forget it, mother ?”

Forget the Den! Ah, no, Tommy, your mother had
not forgotten the Den. :

“And, listen, Elspeth, in the Den there’s a bonny
spring of water called the Cuttle Well. Had you for-
got the Cuttle Well, mother ?”

No, no; when Jean Myles forgot the names of her
children she would still remember the Cuttle Well.
Regardless now of the whispering between Tommy and
Elspeth, she sat long over the fire, and it is not difficult
to fathom her thoughts. They were of the Den and the
Cuttle Well.

Into the life of every man, and no woman, there
comes a moment when he learns suddenly that he is
held eligible for marriage. A girl gives him the jag,
and it brings out the perspiration. Of the issue else-
where of this stab with a bodkin let others speak; in
Thrums its commonest effect is to make the callant’s
body take a right angle to his legs, for he has been
touched in the fifth button, and he backs away broken-
winded. By and by, however, he is at his work —
among the turnip-shoots, say — guffawing and clapping
his corduroys, with pauses for uneasy meditation, and



THE ENCHANTED STREET 69

there he ripens with the swedes, so that by the back-
end of the year he has discovered, and exults to know,
that the reward of manhood is neither more nor less
than this sensation at the ribs. Soon thereafter, or at
worst, sooner or later (for by holding out he only puts
the women’s dander up), he is led captive to the Cuttle
Well. This well has the reputation of being the place
where it is most easily said.

The wooded ravine called the Den is in Thrums
rather than on its western edge, but is so craftily
hidden away that when within a stone’s throw you may
give up the search for it; it is also so deep that larks
tise from the bottom and carol overhead, thinking -
themselves high in the heavens before they are on a
level with Nether Drumley’s farmland. In shape it is
almost a semicircle, but its size depends on you and
the maid. If she be with you, the Den is so large that
you must rest here and there; if you are after her
boldly, you can dash to the Cuttle Well, which was the
trysting-place, in the time a stout man takes to lace his
boots; if you are of those self-conscious ones who look
behind to see whether jeering blades are following, you
may crouch and wriggle your way onward and not be
with her in half an hour.

Old Petey had told Tommy that, on the whole, the
greatest pleasure in life on a Saturday evening is to
put your back against a stile that leads into the Den
and rally the sweethearts as they go by. The lads,



70 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

when they see you, want to go round by the other stile,
but the lasses like it, and often the sport ends spiritedly
with their giving you a clout on the head.

Through the Den runs a tiny burn, and by its side is
a pink path, dyed this pretty color, perhaps, by the
blushes the ladies leave behind them. The burn as it
passes the Cuttle Well, which stands higher and just
out of sight, leaps in vain to see who is making that
cooing noise, and the well, taking the spray for kisses,
laughs all day at Romeo, who cannot get up. Well is
a name it must have given itself, for it is only a spring
in the bottom of a basinful of water, where it makes
about as much stir in the world as a minnow jumping
ata fly. hey say that if a boy, by making a bowl of
-his hands, should suddenly carry off all the water, a
quick girl could thread her needle at the spring. But
it is a spring that will not wait a moment.

Men who have been lads in Thrums sometimes go
back to it from London or from across the seas, to look
again at some battered little house and feel the blasts
of their bairnhood playing through the old wynds, and
they may take with them a foreign wife. They show
her everything, except the Cuttle Well; they often go
there alone. ‘The well is sacred to the memory of first
love. You may walk from the well to the round ceme-
tery in ten minutes. It is a common walk for those
who go back.

First love is but a boy and girl playing at the Cuttle



od

THE ENCHANTED STREET T1

Well with a bird’s egg. They blow it on one summer
evening in the long grass, and on the next it is borne
away on a coarse laugh, or it breaks beneath the burden
ofatear. And yet — I once saw an aged woman, a
widow of many years, cry softly at mention of the
Cuttle Well. “John was a good man to you,” I said,
for John had been her husband. “He was a leal man
to me,” she answered with wistful eyes, “ay, he was a
leal man to me — but it wasna John I was thinking o’.
You dinna ken what makes me greet so sair,” she
added, presently, and though I thought I knew now I
was wrong. ‘‘It’s because I canna mind his name,”
she said.

So the Cuttle Well has its sad memories and its
bright ones, and many of the bright memories have
become sad with age, as so often happens to beautiful
things, but the most mournful of all is the story of
Aaron Latta and Jean Myles. Beside the well there
stood for long a great pink stone, called the Shoaging
Stone, because it could be rocked like a cradle, and on
it lovers used to cut their names. Often Aaron Latta
and Jean Myles sat together on the Shoaging Stone,
and then there came a time when it bore these words,

cut by Aaron Latta:

HERE tres tue MAnnoop or AARON Latta,
A Fonp Son, a Farrurun FRIEND AND a TRUE: LOVER,
Wuo VIonATED THE FEELINGS OF SEX ON
THIS Spot, AND Is NOW THE SCUNNER OF Gop AND May.



72 ; SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Tommy’s mother now heard these words for the first
time, Aaron having cut them on the stone after she left
Thrums, and her head sank at each line, as if someone
had struck four blows at her.

The stone was no longer at the Cuttle Well. As the
easiest way of obliterating the words, the minister had
ordered it to be broken, and of the pieces another
mason had made stands for watches, one of which was
now in Thrums Street.

“Aaron Latta ain’t a mason now,” Tommy rattled
on: “he is a warper, because he can warp in his own
house without looking on mankind or speaking to
mankind. Auld Petey said he minded the day when
Aaron Latta was a merry loon, and then Andrew
MeVittie said, ‘ God behears, to think that Aaron Latta
was ever a merry man!’ and Baker Lumsden said,
‘Curse her!’”

His mother shrank in her chair, but said nothing,
and Tommy explained: “It was Jean Myles he was
cursing; did you ken her, mother? she ruined Aaron
Latta’s life.”

“ Ay, and wha ruined Jean Myles’s life ?” his mother
cried passionately.

Tommy did not know, but he thought that young
Petey might know, for young Petey had said: “If I
had been. Jean Myles I would have spat in Aaron’s face
rather than marry him.” ‘

Mrs. Sandys seemed pleased to hear this.



THE ENCHANTED STREET 73

“They wouldna tell me what it were she did,”
Tommy went on; “they said it was ower ugly a story,
but she were a bad one, for they stoned her out of
Thrums. I dinna know where she is now, but she were
stoned out of Thrums!”

“No alane ?”

“There was a man with her, and his name was — it
was ——” ;

His mother clasped her hands nervously while Tommy
tried to remember the name. “His name was Magerful
Tam,” he said at length.

“Ay,” said his mother, knitting her teeth, “that was
his name.”

“T dinna mind any more,” Tommy concluded. “« Yes,
I mind they aye called Aaron Latta ‘Poor Aaron
Latta.’ ”

“Did they ? I warrant, though, there wasna one as
said ‘ Poor Jean Myles’ ?”

She began the question in a hard voice, but as she
said “Poor Jean Myles” something caught in her
throat, and she sobbed, painful dry sobs.

“How could they pity her when she were such a bad
one ?” Tommy answered briskly. :

“Ts there none to pity bad ones ?” said his sorrowful
mother.

Elspeth plucked her by the skirt. “There’s God,
ain’t there?” she said, inquiringly, and getting no
answer she flopped upon her knees, to say a babyish



74 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

prayer that would sound comic to anybody except to
Him to whom it was addressed.

“You ain’t praying for a woman as was a disgrace to
Thrums!” Tommy cried, jealously, and he was about
to raise her by force, when his mother stayed his hand.

“Let her alane,” she said, with a twitching mouth
and filmy eyes. “Let her alane. Let my bairn pray
for Jean Myles.”





“LET HER ALANE, LET MY BAIRN PRAY FOR JEAN MYLES”’



CHAPTER VII

COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY

“JgAN Myues bides in London” was the next remarke
able news brought by Tommy from Thrums Street.
“And that ain’t all, Magerful Tam is her man; and that
ain’t all, she has a laddic called Tommy : and that ain’t
all, Petey and the rest has never seen her in London, but
she writes letters to Thrums folks and they writes to
Petey and tells him what she said. That ain’t all neithez,
they canna find ow vhat street she bides in, but it’s on
the bonny side of London, and it’s grand, and she wears
silk clothes, and her Tommy has velvet trousers, and
they have a servant as calls him ‘sir.’ Oh, I would just
like to kick him! They often looks for her in the grand
streets, but they’re angry at her getting on so well, and
Martha Scrymgeour said it were enough to make good
women like her stop going reg’lar to the kirk.”

“Martha said that!” exclaimed his mother, highly
pleased. “Heard you anything of a woman called
Esther Auld? Her man does the orra work at the
Lappit Hen public in Thrums.”

“He’s head man at the Tappit Hen public now,” an-
swered Tommy; “and she wishes she could find out



76 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

where Jean Myles bides, so as she could write and tell
her that she is grand too, and has six hair-bottomed
chairs.”

“She ’ll never get the satisfaction,” said his mother
triumphantly. “Tell me more about her.”

“She has a laddie called Francie, and he has yellow
curl., and she nearly greets because she canna tell Jean
Myles that he goes toa school for the children of gentle-
men only. She is so mad when she gets a letter from
Jean Myles that she takes to her bed.”

“Yea, yea!” said Mrs. Sandys cheerily.

“But they think Jean Myles has been brought low at
last,’”? continued Tommy, ‘ because she hasna wrote for
a. long time to Thrums, and Esther Auld said that if she
knowed for certain as Jean Myles had been brought low,
she would put a threepenn;, bit in the kirk plate.”

“T’m glad you’ve telled me that, laddie,” said Mrs.
Sandys, and next day, unknown to her children, she
wrote another letter She knew she ran a risk of dis-
covery, yet it was probable that Tommy would only hear
her referred to in Thrums Street by her maiden name,
which he had never heard from her, and as for her hus-
band he had been Magerful Tam to everyone. The risk
was great, but the pleasure —— .

Unsuspicious Tommy soon had news of another letter
from Jean Myles, which had sent Esther Auld to bed
again.

“Instead of being brought low,” he announced, “Jean



COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY TT

Myles is grander than ever. Her Tommy has a gov-
erness.”

“That would be a doush of water in Esther’s face ?”
his mother said, smiling.

“She wrote to Martha Scrymgeour,” said Tommy,
“that it ain’t no pleasure to her now to boast as her
laddie is at a school for gentlemen’s children only. But
what made her maddest was a bit in Jean Myles’s letter
about chairs. Jean Myles has give all her hair-bot-
tomed chairs to a poor woman and buyed a new kind,
because hair-bottomed ones ain’t fashionable now. So
Esther Auld can’t not bear the sight of her chairs now,
though she were windy of them till the letter went to
Thrums.”

“Poor Esther!” said Mrs. Sandys gaily.

“Oh, and I forgot this, mother. Jean Myles’s reason
for not telling where she bides in London is that she’s
so grand that she thinks if auld Petey and the rest
knowed where the place was they would visit her and
boast as they was her friends. Auld Petey stamped wi’
rage when he heard that, and Martha Scrymgeour said,
‘Oh, the pridefw’ limmer!’ ”

“Ay, Martha,” muttered Mrs. Sandys, “you and Jean
Myles is evens now.”

But the passage that had made them all wince the
most was one giving Jean’s reasons for making no calls
in Thrums Street. ‘You can break it to Martha Scrym-
geour’s father and mither,” the letter said, “and to



78 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Petey Whamond’s sisters and the rest as has friends in
London, that I have seen no Thrums faces here, the low
part where they bide not being for the like of me to file
my feet in. Forby that, I could not let my son mix with
their bairns for fear they should teach him the vulgar
Thrums words and clarty his blue-velvet suit. I’m
thinking you have to dress your laddie in corduroy,
Esther, but you see that would not do for mine. So no
more at present, and we all join in compliments, and my
little velvets says he wishes I would send some of his
toys to your little corduroys. And so maybe I will,
Esther, if you’ll tell Aaron Latta how rich and happy I
am, and if you’re feared to say it to his face, tell it to the
roaring farmer of Double Dykes, and he’ll pass it on.”

“Did you ever hear of such a woman?” Tommy said
indignantly, when he had repeated as much of this insult
to Thrums as he could remember.

But it was information his mother wanted.

“ What said they to that bit?” she asked.

At first, it appears, they limited their comments to
“Tosh, losh,” “keeps a’,” “it cows,” “my certie,” “ay,
ay,” “sal, tal,” “dagont” (the meaning of which is
obvious). But by and by they recovered their breath,
and then Baker Lumsden said, wonderingly :

«“ Wha that was at her marriage could have thought it
would turn out so weel? It was an eerie marriage that,
Petey !”

“ Ay, man, you may say so,” old Petey answered. “1



COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 79

was there; I was one o’ them as went in ahint Aaron
Latta, and I’m no’ likely to forget it.”

“JT wasna there,” said the baker, “but I was standing
at the door, and I saw the hearse drive up.”

“What did they mean, mother?” Tommy asked, but
she shuddered and replied, evasively, “Did Martha
Scrymgeour say anything ?”

“She said such a lot,” he had to confess, “that I dinna
mind none on it. But I mind what her father in Thrums
wrote to her; he wrote to her that if she saw a carriage
go by, she was to keep her eyes on the ground, for likely
as not Jean Myles would be in it, and she thought as
they was all dirt beneath her feet. But Kirsty Ross —
who is she?”

“She ’s Martha’s mother. What about her?”

“She wrote at the end of the letter that Martha was
to hang on ahint the carriage and find out where Jean
Myles bides.”

“Laddie, that was like Kirsty! Heard you what the
roaring farmer o’ Double Dykes said ?”

No, Tommy had not heard him mentioned. And in-
deed the roaring farmer of Double Dykes had said
nothing. He was already lying very quiet on the south
side of the cemetery.

Tommy’s mother’s next question cost her a painful
effort. ‘Did you hear,” she asked, “ whether they telled
Aaron Latta about the letter ?”

“Yes, they telled him,” Tommy replied, “and he said



80 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

a queer thing; he said, ‘Jean Myles is dead, I was at
her coffining’ That’s what he aye says when they tell
him there’s another letter. I wonder what he means,
mother ?” ;

“JT wonder!” she echoed, faintly. The only pleasure
left her was to raise the envy of those who had hooted
her from Thrums, but she paid a price for it. Many a
stab she had got from the unwitting Tommy as he re-
peated the gossip of his new friends, and she only won
their envy at the cost of their increased ill-will. They
thought she was lording it in London, and so they were
merciless ;- had they known how poor she was and how
ill, they would have forgotten everything save that she
was a Thrummy like themselves, and there were few but
would have shared their all with her. But she did not
believe this, and therefore you may pity her, for the
hour was drawing near, and she knew it, when she must
appeal to some one for her children’s sake, not for her
own.

No, not for her own. When Tommy was wandering
the pretty parts of London with James Gloag and other
boys from Thrums Street in search of Jean Myles, whom
they were to know by her carriage and her silk dress and
her son in blue velvet, his mother was in bed with bron-
chitis in the wretched room we know of, or creeping to
the dancing school, coughing all the way.

Some of the fits of coughing were very near being her
last, but-she wrestled with her trouble, seeming at times



COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 81

to stifle it, and then for weeks she managed to go to her

-work, which was still hers, because Shovel’s old girl did
it for her when the bronchitis would not be defied.
Shovel’s old slattern gave this service unasked and with-
out payment; if she was thanked it was ungraciously, but
she continued to do all she could when there was need;
she smelled of gin, but she continued to do all she
could.

The wardrobe had been put upon its back on the floor,
and so converted into a bed for Tommy and Elspeth, who
were sometimes wakened in the night by a loud noise,
which alarmed them until they learned that it was only
the man in the next room knocking angrily on the wall
because their mother’s cough kept him from sleeping.

Tommy knew what death was now, and Elspeth knew
its name, and both were vaguely aware that it was look-
ing for their mother; but if she could only hold out till
Hogmanay, Tommy said, they would fleg it out of the
house. Hogmanay is the mighty winter festival of
Thrums, and when it came round these two were to give
their mother a present that would make her strong. It
was not to be a porous plaster. Tommy knew now of
something better than that.

“And I knows too!” Elspeth gurgled, “and I has
threepence a’ready, I has.”

“Whisht!” said Tommy, in an agony of dread, “she
hears you, and she ’ll guess. We ain’t speaking of noth-
ing to give to you at Hogmanay,” he said to his mother

6



82 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

with great cunning. Then he winked at Elspeth and
said, with his hand over his mouth, “I hinna twopence! ”
and Elspeth, about to cry in fright, “Have you spended
it?” saw the joke and crowed instead, “Nor yet has I
threepence !”

They smirked together, until Tommy saw a change
come over Elspeth’s face, which made him run her out-
side the door.

“ You was a-going to pray!” he said, severely.

“?’Cos it was a lie, Tommy. I does have threepence.”

“Well, you ain’t a-going to get praying about it. She
would hear yer.”

“T would do it low, Tommy.”

“ She would see yer.”

“Oh, Tommy, let me. God is angry with me.”
Tommy looked down the stair, and no one was in
sight. “TI’ll let yer pray here,” he whispered, “and you
can say I have twopence. But be quick, and do it
standing.”

Perhaps Mrs. Sandys had been thinking that when
Hogmanay came her children might have no mother to
bring presents to, for on their return to the room her
eyes followed them wofully, and a shudder of apprehen-
sion shook her torn frame. Tommy gave Elspeth a look
that meant “I’m sure there’s something queer about
her.”

There was also something queer about himself, which
at this time had the strangest gallop. It began one day



COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 83

with a series of morning calls from Shovel, who suddenly
popped his head over the top of the door (he was stand-
ing on the handle), roared “ Roastbeef! ” in the manner
of a railway porter announcing the name of a station,
and then at once withdrew.

He returned presently to say that vain must be all
attempts to wheedle his secret from him, and yet again
to ask irritably why Tommy was not coming out to hear
all about it. Then did Tommy desert Elspeth, and on
the stair Shovel showed him a yellow card with this
printed on it: “8. R. J.C. — Supper Ticket;” and writ-
ten beneath, in a lady’s hand: “Admit Joseph Salt.”
The letters, Shovel explained, meant Society for the
somethink of Juvenile Criminals, and the toffs what ran
it got hold of you when you came out of quod. Then if
you was willing to repent they wrote down your name
and the place what you lived at in a book, and one of
them came to see yer and give yer a ticket for the blow-
out night. This was blow-out night, and that were
Shovel’s ticket. He had bought it from Hump Salt for
fourpence. What you get at the blow-out was roast-
beef, plum-duff, and an orange; but when Hump saw
the fourpence he could not wait.

A favor was asked of Tommy. Shovel had been told
by Hump that it was the custom of the toffs to sit beside
you and question you about your crimes, and lacking the
imagination that made Tommy such an ornament to the
house, the chances were thet he would flounder in his



84 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

answers and be ejected. Hump had pointed this out
to him after pocketing the fourpence. Would Tommy,
therefore, make up things for him to say; reward, the
orange.

This was a proud moment for Tommy, as Shovel’s
knowledge of crime was much more extensive than his
own, though they had both studied it in the pictures of a
lively newspaper subscribed to by Shovel, senior. He
became patronizing at once and rejected the orange as
insufficient.

Then suppose, after he got into the hall, Shovel dropped
his ticket out at the window; Tommy could pick it up,
and then it would admit him also.

Tommy liked this, but foresaw a danger: the ticket
might be taken from Shovel at the door, just as they
took them from you at that singing thing in the church
he had attended with young Petey.

So help Shovel’s davy, there was no fear of this.
They were superior toffs, what trusted to your honor.

Would Shovel swear to this ?

He would.

But would he swear dagont ?

He swore dagont; and then Tommy had him. As he
was so sure of it, he could not object to Tommy’s being
the one who dropped the ticket out at the window ?

Shovel did object for a time, but after a wrangle he
gave up the ticket, intending to take it from Tommy
when primed with the necessary tale. So they parted



COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 85

until evening, and Tommy returned to Elspeth, secretive
but elated. For the rest of the day he was in thought,
now waggling his head smugly over some dark, unutter-
able design and again looking a little scared. In grow-
ing alarm she watched his face, and at last she slipped
upon her knees, but he had her up at once and said,
reproachfully :

“Tt were me as teached yer to pray, and now yer prays
forme! That’s fine treatment!”

Nevertheless, after his mother’s return, just before
he stole out to join Shovel, he took Elspeth aside and
whispered to her, nervously :

“You can pray for me if you like, for, oh, Elspeth,
I’m thinking as I’ll need it sore!” And sore he needed
it before the night was out.



CHAPTER VIII

THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS

“T ove my dear father and my dear mother and all
the dear little kids at ’ome. You are a kind laidy or
gentleman. I love yer. I will never do it again, so
help me bob. Amen.”

This was what Shovel muttered to himself again and
again as the two boys made their way across the lamp-
lit Hungerford Bridge, and Tommy asked him what it
meant. :

. “My old gal learned me that; she’s deep,” Shovel
said, wiping the words off his mouth with his sleeve.

“But you got no kids at ’?ome!” remonstrated Tommy.
(Ameliar was now in service.)

Shovel turned on him with the fury of a mother pro-
tecting her young. “Don’t you try for to knock none
on it out,” he cried, and again fell a-mumbling.

Said Tommy, scornfully: “If you says it all out at
one bang you’ll be done at the start.”

Shovel sighed.

“And you should blubber when yer says it,” added
Tommy, who could laugh or cry merely because other
people were laughing or crying, or even with less reason,



THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 87

and so naturally ‘that he found it more difficult to stop
than to begin. Shovel was the taller by half a head,
and irresistible with his fists, but to-night Tommy was
master.

“You jest stick to me, Shovel,” he said airily. “Keep
a grip on my hand, same as if yer was Elspeth.”

“But what was we copped for, Tommy ?” entreated
humble Shovel.

Tommy asked him if he knew what a butler was, and
Shovel remembered, confusedly, that there had been a
portrait of a butler in his father’s news-sheet.

“Well, then,” said Tommy, inspired by this same
source, “there ’s a room a butler has, and it is a pantry,
so you and me we crawled through the winder and we
opened the door to the gang. You and me was copped.
They catched you below the table and me stabbing the
butler.”

“Tt was me what stabbed the butler,” Shovel inter-
posed, jealously.

‘How could you do it, Shovel ?”

“ With a knife, I tell yer!”

“Why, you didn’t have no knife,” said Tommy,
impatiently.

This crushed Shovel, but he growled sulkily:

“ Well, I bit him in the leg.”

“ Not you,” said selfish Tommy. “You forgets about
repenting, and if I let yer bite him, you would brag
about it. It’s safer without, Shovel.”



88 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Perhaps it was. “How long did I get in quod, then,
Tommy ?”

‘‘ Fourteen days.”

“ So did you ?” Shovel said, with quick anxiety.

“T gota month,” replied Tommy, firmly.

Shovel roared a word that would never have admitted
him to the hall. Then, “I’m as game as you, and
gamer,” he whined.

“But I’m better at repenting. I tell yer, I’ll cry
when I’m repenting.” Tommy’s face lit up, and Shovel
could not help saying, with a curious look at it:

“You — you ain’t like any other cove I knows,” to
which Tommy replied, also in an awestruck voice:

“T’m so queer, Shovel, that when I thinks ’bout
myself I’m—I’m sometimes near feared.”

«‘ What makes your face for to shine like that? Is it
thinking about the blow-out ?”

No, it was hardly that, but Tommy could not tell
what it was. He and the saying about art for art’s sake
were in the streets that night, looking for each other.

The splendor of the brightly lighted hall, which was
situated in one of the meanest streets of perhaps the
most densely populated quarter in London, broke upon
the two boys suddenly and hit each in his vital part,
tapping an invitation on Tommy’s brain-pan and taking
Shovel coquettishly in the stomach. Now was the
moment when Shovel meant to strip Tommy of the ticket,
but the spectacle in front dazed him, and he stopped to



Full Text



SP RCE GON PO NE Ta eee


yy
Cy

a gee

el
Poe WB

ae

/] .
ap Tao

Jol Ara eD, bf ;

Co

(“424m

/ 9”

Cl

—

Loaf


“] WOULD GIVE A POUND NOTE TO KNOW WHAT YOU'LL BE TEN
YEARS FROM NOW”
SENTIMENTAL
TOMMY

THE STORY OF HIS BOYHOOD

BY

J. M. BARRIE

ILLUSTRATED BY WILLIAM HATHERELL

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
1896
COPYRIGHT. 1896, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

Gnriversity Jress :

Jouyn Witson anv Son, CamprincE, U.S.A
TO

MY WIFE
CHAPTER

II
IIT

IV

VI
Vil
VIII
IX

XI
XII
XII
XIV
XV
XVI
XVII

XVIII
XIX

XX

CONTENTS

Pags
Tommy CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT. . . 1
But THE OTHER GETSIN . ...... 15
SHOWING HOW TOMMY WAS SUDDENLY TRANS-
FORMED INTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN . . 26
Tue Enp or anIpynp. . ...... «40
Tue Girt with Two Moruers. ... . d4
Tur ENCHANTED STREET. . .... . 63
Comic OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY . . . . 75
Tue Boy with Two MorHers .... . 86
ATED PITAN GUOYANI mes einai saar gu an iene sae OT!
Tue FAVORITE OF THE LADIES . . . . . 112
AUS HON INGEN G9 6 Bo oo oo 5 OY
FAS CHILDS wLRAGHD Veep fee ese eres] 4)

SHows How Tommy Took Care or ELSPETH 158

THe Hanxy ScHooL ........ . 165

Tue MAN wHo Never CAME... . . 175
z \

Are EYAUEN TE Dw EVAN Vout cree rote oe rere gsr neae1IS 7)

In wuich Tommy Sotvrs THe Woman
PROBLEM; 60s erie te en er 96
ETS rera es MEUy KT ease ie ost cps eae ete 2 ())
Corr 1s Brovuaut to Here, — Grizev Ds-
IBUNNMN C= op ete og of a Oo Ig oo 0 G PAlY)
THe SHADOW of Str WALTER . . . . . 231
vi

CHAPTER

XXI
XXII
XXIII
XXIV

XXV
XXVI

XXVII
XXVIII
XXIX
XXX
XXXI
XXXII
XXXII

XXXIV

XXXV
XXXVI

XXXVII

CONTENTS

Tue Last JACOBITE Rising . . . .

THE SIEGE oF THRUMS

GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS . . .

A ROMANCE or Two OLtp Maips ann a
Stout BACHELOR

A Penny Pass: Boox

Tommy REPENTS, AND IS NONE THE WORSE
FOR IT

Tue LonGER CATECHISM . . . ..

Bur IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN Miss Kirty .

TomMMyY THE SCHOLAR

END OF THE JACOBITE RISING

ASLETTERETOsGODiay aa ctt = ines eee

AN PELOPEMENT. i] eo sh sae eerie peas

THERE Is Some ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL
ATEGAST: ee eee

Wao ToLtpD Tommy to SPEAK. . . . .

TuE BRANDING oF Tommy

Or Four MINISTERS WHO AFTERWARDS
BOASTED THAT THEY HAD KNOWN Tommy
SAND YSiea reat nea onk so een eens

Tue Enp or A BoyHoop .....

Pace
244
259

283
302

815
328
337
343
356
369
383

401
415 ©
429

446
466
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

“J WOULD GIVE A POUND NOTE TO KNOW WHAT YOULL BE
TEN YEARS FROM NOW” . . . . . . « « «Lrontispiece
BoB FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM ON THE spoT... . . 40

“Tn? HER ALANE. LET MY BATRN PRAY FOR Jean Myies” 74
“Sup’s DYING, MAN,” HE CRIED . ..... .. ~ 138

THY SAW THE WINDOW OPEN AND A FIGURE IN A WHITE

SITAWIDECRERPEOUDAOFS (Due i 4k ot ee ees 104
THEY WAYLAID GRIzEL WHEN SHE WAS ALONE... . 274
TomMMY CROoUCHED BEHIND Haceart’s Sroxr. . . . 316

OvER HER HEAD WAS A LITTLE MUSLIN WINDOW-BLIND,

REPRESENTING A BRIDE’S VEIL . . . . . . + « « 388

GrizeL stooD BY THE BODY, GUARDING IT... . . . 870
He RAN THEM DOWN WITHIN A MILE oF TiLnIEDRUM . . 404

A GIRL ROSE FROM THE BROOM. . .. . .. ..- « 476
SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

THE STORY OF HIS BOYHOOD

CHAPTER I
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT

Tux celebrated Tommy first comes into view on a
dirty London stair, and he was in sexless garments,
which were all he had, and he was five, and so though
we are looking at him, we must do it sideways, lest he
sit down hurriedly to hide them. ‘That inscrutable face,
which made the clubmen of his later days uneasy and
even puzzled the ladies while he was making love to
them, was already his, except when he smiled at one of
his pretty thoughts or stopped at an open door to sniff a
potful. On his way up and down the stair he often
paused to sniff, but he never asked for anything; his
mother had warned him against it, and he carried out
her injunction with almost unnecessary spirit, declining
offers before they were made, as when passing a room,
whence came the smell of fried fish, he might call in,
“I don’t not want none of your fish,’”’ or “My mother
says I don’t not want the littlest bit,” or wistfully, aT

1
2, SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ain’t hungry,” or more wistfully still, “ My mother says
I ain’t hungry.” His mother heard of this and was
angry, crying that he had let the neighbors know some-
thing she was anxious to conceal, but what he had re-
vealed to them Tommy could not make out, and when
he questioned her artlessly, she took him with sudden
passion to her flat breast, and often after that she looked
at him long and wofully and wrung her hands.

The only other pleasant smell known to Tommy was
when the water-carts passed the mouth of his little
street. His street, which ended in a dead wall, was near
the river, but on the doleful south side of it, opening off
a longer street where the cabs of Waterloo station some-
times found themselves when they took the wrong turn-
ing; his home was at the top of a house of four floors,
each with accommodation for at least two families, and
here he had lived with his mother since his father’s death
six months ago. ‘here was oil-cloth on the stair as far as
the second floor; there had been oil-cloth between the
second floor and the third — Tommy could point out
pieces of it still adhering to the wood like remnants of a
plaster.

This stair was nursery to all the children whose homes
opened on it, not so safe as nurseries in the part of Lon-
don that is chiefly inhabited by boys in sailor suits, but
preferable as a centre of adventure, and here on an after-
noon sat two. They were very busy boasting, but only
the smaller had imagination, and as he used it recklessly,
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 3

their positions soon changed; sexless garments was now
prone on a step, breeches sitting on him.

Shovel, a man of seven, had said, “ None on your lip.
You were n’t never at Thrums yourself.”

Tommy’s reply was, “ Ain’t my mother a Thrums
woman ?”

Shovel, who had but one eye, and that bloodshot, fixed
it on him threateningly.

“The Thames is in London,” he said.

“Cos they wouldn’t not have it in Thrums,” replied
‘Pommy.

«
“The cemetery is in Thrums,” said Tommy.

“There ain’t no queens in Thrums, anyhow.”

“There’s the auld licht minister.”

‘‘ Well, then, if you jest seed Trafalgar Square !”

“If you jest seed the Thrums town-house !”

‘St. Paul’s ain’t in Thrums.”

“It would like to be.”

After reflecting, Shovel said in desperation, “« Well,
then, my father were once at a hanging.”

Tommy replied instantly, ‘1t were my father what
was hanged.”

There was no possible. answer to this save a knock-
down blow, but though Tommy was vanquished in body,
his spirit remained stanch ; he raised his head and gasped,
“You should see how they knock down in Thrums!” It
was then that Shovel sat on him.
4 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Such was their position when an odd figure in that
house, a gentleman, passed them without a word, so
desirous was he to make a breath taken at the foot of the
close stair last him to the top. Tommy merely gaped
after this fine sight, but Shovel had experience, and
“It’s a kid or a coffin,” he said sharply, knowing that
only birth or death brought a doctor here.

Watching the doctor’s ascent, the two boys strained
their necks over the rickety banisters, which had been
polished black by trousers of the past, and sometimes
they lost him, and then they saw his legs again.

“Hello, it’s your old woman!” cried Shovel. “Is
she a deader ?” he asked, brightening, for funerals made
a pleasant stir on the stair.

The question had no meaning for bewildered Tommy,
but he saw that if his mother was a deader, whatever
that might be, he had grown great in his companion’s
eye. So he hoped she was a deader.

“Tf it’s only a kid,” Shovel began, with such scorn
that Tommy at once screamed, “It ain’t!” and, cross-
examined, he swore eagerly that his mother was in bed
when he left her in the morning, that she was still in
bed at dinner-time, also that the sheet was over her face,
also that she was cold.

Then she was a deader and had attained distinction in
the only way possible in that street. Shovel did not
shake Tommy’s hand warmly, the forms of congratula-
tion varying in different parts of London, but he looked
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 5

his admiration so plainly that Tommy’s head waggled
proudly. Evidently, whatever his mother had done
redounded to his glory as well as to hers, and somehow
he had become a boy of mark. He said from his eleva-
tion that he hoped Shovel would believe his tales about
Thrums now, and Shovel, who had often cuffed Tommy
for sticking to him so closely, cringed in the most snob-
bish manner, craving permission to be seen in his com-
pany for the next three days. Tommy, the upstart, did
not see his way to grant this favor for nothing, and
Shovel offered a knife, but did not have it with him; it
was his sister Ameliar’s knife, and he would take it from
her, help his davy. Tommy would wait there till Shovel
fetched it. Shovel, baffled, wanted to know what Tommy
was putting on hairs for. Tommy siniled, and asked
whose mother was a deader. Then Shovel collapsed, and
his wind passed into Tommy.

The reign of Thomas Sandys, nevertheless, was among
the shortest, for with this question was he overthrown :
“ How did yer know she were cold ? ”

“ Because,” replied Tommy, triumphantly, “she tell
me herself.”

Shovel only looked at him, but one eye can be so
much more terrible than two, that plop, plop, plop came
the balloon softly down the steps of the throne and at
the foot shrank pitifully, as if with Ameliar’s knife
in it.

“Tt’s only a kid arter all!’’ screamed Shovel, furi-
6 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ously. Disappointment gave him eloquence, and Tommy
cowered under his sneers, not understanding them, but
they seemed to amount to this, that in having a baby
he had disgraced the house.

“But I think,” he said, with diffidence, “I think I
were once one.”

Then all Shovel could say was that he had better keep
it dark on that stair.

Tommy squeezed his fist into one eye, and the tears
came out at the other. A good-natured impulse was
about to make Shovel say that though kids are un-
doubtedly humiliations, mothers and boys get used to
them in time, and go on as brazenly as before, but it was
checked by Tommy’s unfortunate question, ‘“ Shovel,
when will it come?”

Shovel, speaking from local experience, replied truth-
fully that they usually came very soon after the doctor,
and at times before him.

“T¢ ain’t come before him,” Tommy said, confidently.

“How do yer know ?”

“Cos it weren’t there at dinner-time, and I been
here since dinner-time.”

The words meant that Tommy thought it could only
enter by way of the stair, and Shovel quivered with
delight. “H’st!” he cried, dramatically, and to his
joy Tommy looked anxiously down the stair, instead of
up it.

“Did you hear it ?” Tommy whispered.
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 7

Before he could control himself Shovel blurted out:
“Do you think as they come on their feet ?”

“How then?” demanded Tommy; but Shovel had
exhausted his knowledge of the subject. Tommy, who
had begun to descend to hold the door, turned and
climbed upwards, and his tears were now but the drop
left in a cup too hurriedly dried. Where was he off to?
Shovel called after him; and he answered, in a deter-
mined whisper: “To shove of it out if it tries to come
in at the winder.”

This was enough for the more knowing urchin, now
so full of good things that with another added he must
spill, and: away he ran for an audience, which could
also help him to bait Tommy, that being a game most
sportive when there are several to fling at once. At
the door he knocked over, and was done with, a laugh-
ing little girl who had strayed from a more fashionable
street. She rose solemnly, and kissing her muff, to
reassure it if it had gota fright, toddled in at the first
open door to be out of the way of unmannerly boys.

Tommy, climbing courageously, heard the door slam,
and looking down he saw —a strange child. He climbed
no higher. It had come.

‘After a long time he was one flight of stairs nearer
it. It was making itself at home on the bottom step;
resting, doubtless, before it came hopping up. Another
dozen steps, and —It was beautifully dressed in one
piece of yellow and brown that reached almost to its
8 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

teet, with a bit left at the top to form a hood, out of
which its pert face peeped impudently; oho, so they
came in their Sunday clothes. He drew so near that
he could hear it cooing: thought itself as good as
upstairs, did it!

He bounced upon her sharply, thinking to carry all
with a high hand. “Out you go!” he cried, with the
action of one heaving coals.

She whisked round, and, “Oo boy or oo girl?” she
inquired, puzzled by his dress.

“None of your cheek!” roared insulted manhood.

“Oo boy,” she said, decisively.

With the effrontery of them when they are young,
she made room for him on her step, but he declined the
invitation, knowing that her design was to skip up the
stair the moment he was off his guard.

“You don’t need n’t think as we ’ll have you,” he an-
nounced, firmly. “You had best go away to— go to—”
His imagination failed him. “You had best go back,”
he said.

She did not budge, however, and his next attempt
was craftier. “My mother,” he assured her, “ain't
living here now;” but mother was a new word to the
girl, and she asked gleefully, “Oo have mother ?”
expecting him to produce it from his pocket. To coax
him to give her a sight of it she said, plaintively, “Me
no have mother.”

“You won’t not get mine,” replied Tommy doggedly.
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 9

She pretended not to understand what was troubling
him, and it passed through his head that she had to
wait there till the doctor came down for her. He
might come at any moment.

A boy does not put his hand into his pocket until
every other means of gaining his end has failed, but to
that extremity had Tommy now come. For months his
only splendid possession had been a penny despised by
trade because of a large round hole in it, as if (to quote
Shovel) some previous owner had cut a farthing out of
it. To tell the escapades of this penny (there are no
adventurers like coin of the realm) would be one way
of exhibiting Tommy to the curious, but it would bea
hard-hearted way. At present the penny was doubly
dear to him, having been long lost and lately found.
In a noble moment he had dropped it into a charity
box hanging forlorn against the wall of a shop, where
it lay very lonely by itself, so that when Tommy was
that way he could hear it respond if he shook the box,
as acquaintances give each other the time of day in
passing. Thus at comparatively small outlay did he
spread his benevolence over weeks and feel a glow
therefrom, until the glow went, when he and Shovel
recaptured the penny with a thread and a bent pin.

This treasure he sadly presented to the girl, and she
accepted it with glee, putting it on her finger, as if it
were a ring, but instead of saying that she would go

now she asked him, coolly,
10 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Oo know tories ?”

“Stories!” he exclaimed, “I’11—I’ll tell you about
Thrums,” and was about to do it for love, but stopped
intime. “This ain’t a good stair for stories,” he said,
cunningly. “I can’t not tell stories on this stair, but
I—I know a good stair for stories.”

The ninny of a girl was completely hoodwinked; and
see, there they go, each with a hand in the muff, the
one leering, oh, so triumphantly; the other trusting
and gleeful. There was an exuberance of vitality about
her as if she lived too quickly in her gladness, which
you may remember in some child who visited the earth
for but a little while.

How superbly Tommy had done it! It had been
another keen brain pitted against his, and at first he
was not winning. Then up came Thrums, and— But
the thing has happened before; in a word, Blicher.
Nevertheless, Tommy just managed it, for he got the
girl out of the street and on to another stair no more
than in time to escape a ragged rabble, headed by
Shovel, who, finding their quarry gone, turned on their
leader viciously, and had gloomy views of life till his
cap was kicked down a sewer, which made the world
bright again.

Of the tales told by Tommy that day in words Scotch
and cockney, of Thrums, home of heroes and the arts,
where the lamps are lit by a magician called Leerie-
leerie-licht-the-lamps (but he is also friendly, and you
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 11

can fling stones at him), and the merest children are
allowed to set the spinning-wheels a-whirling, and
dagont is the swear, and the stairs are so fine that the
houses wear them outside for show, and you drop a pail
at the end of a rope down a hole, and sometimes it
comes up full of water, and sometimes full of fairies —
of these and other wonders, if you would know, ask not
a dull historian, nor even go to Thrums, but to those
rather who have been boys and girls there and now are
exiles. Such a one Tommy knows, an unhappy woman,
foolish, not very lovable, flung like a stone out of the
red quarry upon a land where it cannot grip, and tear-
ing her heart for a sight of the home she shall see no
more. From her Tommy had his pictures, and he
colored them rarely.

Never before had he sucha listener. “Oh, dagont,
dagont!” he would cry in ecstasy over these fair
scenes, and she, awed or gurgling with mirth according
to the nature of the last, demanded “’ Nother, nother!”
whereat he remembered who and what she was, and
showing her a morsel of the new one, drew her to more
distant parts, until they were so far from his street
that he thought she would never be able to find the way
back. :

His intention had been, on reaching such a spot, to
desert her promptly, but she gave him her hand in the
muff so confidingly that against his judgment he fell
a-pitying the trustful mite who was wandering the
12 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

world in search of a mother, and so easily diddled on
the whole that the chances were against her finding one
before morning. Almost unconsciously he began to
look about him for a suitable one.

They were now in a street much nearer to his own
home than the spurts from spot to spot had led him to
suppose. It was new to him, but he recognized it as
the acme of fashion by those two sure signs; railings
with most of their spikes in place, and cards scored
with the word “Apartments.” He had discovered such
streets as this before when in Shovel’s company, and
they had watched the toffs go out and in, and it was a
lordly sight, for first the toff waggled a rail that was
loose at the top and then a girl, called the servant,
peeped at him from below, and then he pulled the rail
again, and then the door opened from the inside, and
you had a glimpse of wonder-land with a place for hang-
ing hats on. He had not contemplated doing anything
so handsome for the girl as this, but why should he not
establish her here ? There were many possible mothers
in view, and thrilling with a sense of his generosity he
had almost fixed on one but mistrusted the glint in her
eye, and on another when she saved herself by tripping
and showing an undarned heel.

He was still of an open mind when the girl of a
sudden cried, gleefully, “Ma-ma, ma-ma!” and pointed,
with her muff, across the street. The word was as
meaningless to Tommy as mother had been to her, but
TOMMY CONTRIVES TO KEEP ONE OUT 13

he saw that she was drawing his attention to a woman
some thirty yards away.

“Man —man!” he echoed, chiding her ignorance;
“no, no, you blether, that ain’t a man, that’s a woman;
that’s woman — woman.”

“Qoman —ooman,” the girl repeated, docilely, but
when she looked again, “ Ma-ma, ma-ma,” she insisted,
and this was ‘Tommy’s first lesson that however young
you catch them they will never listen to reason.

She seemed of a mind to trip off to this woman, and
as long as his own mother was safe, it did not greatly
matter to Tommy whom she chose, but if it was this
one, she was going the wrong way about it. You can-
not snap them up in the street.

The proper course was to track her to her house,
which he proceeded to do, and his quarry, who was
looking about her anxiously, as if she had lost some-
thing, gave him but a short chase. In the next street
to the one in which they had first seen her, a street so
like it that Tommy might have admired her for know-
ing the difference, she opened the door with a key and
entered, shutting the door behind her. Odd to tell, the
child had pointed to this door as the one she would stop
at, which surprised Tommy very much.

On the steps he gave her his final instructions, and
she dimpled and gurgled, obviously full of admiration
for him, which was a thing he approved of, but he
would have liked to see her a little more serious.
14 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“That is the door. Well, then, I’ll waggle the rail
as. makes the bell ring, and then I7]] run.”

That was all, and he wished she had not giggled most
of the time. She was sniggering, as if she thought
him a very funny boy, even when he rang the bell and
bolted.

From a safe place he watched the opening of the
door, and saw the frivolous thing lose a valuable
second in waving the muff to him. “In you go!” he
screamed beneath his breath. Then she entered and
the door closed. He waited an hour, or two minutes,
or thereabout, and she had not been ejected. Triumph!

With a drum beating inside him Tommy strutted
home, where, alas, a boy was waiting to put his foot
through it.
CHAPTER II

BUT THE OTHER GETS IN

To Tommy, a swaggerer, came Shovel sour-visaged;
having now no cap of his own, he exchanged with
Tommy, would also have bled the blooming mouth of
him, but knew of a revenge that saves the knuckles:
announced, with jeers and offensive finger exercise, that
“it” had come.

Shovel was a liar. If he only knowed what Tommy
knowed !

If Tommy only heard what Shovel had hearn !

Tommy was of opinion that Shovel had n’t not heard
anything.

Shovel believed as Tommy didn’t know nuthin.

Tommy would n’t listen to what Shovel had heard.

Neither would Shovel listen to what Tommy knew.

If Shovel would tell what he had heard, Tomy,
would tell what he knew.

Well, then, Shovel had listened at the door, and
heard it mewling.

Tommy knowed it well, and it never mewled.

How could Tommy know it ?
16 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

’Cos he had been with it a long time.

Gosh! Why, it had only comed a minute ago.

This made Tommy uneasy, and he asked a leading
question cunningly. A boy, wasn’t it? >

No, Shovel’s old woman had been up helping to hold
it, and she said it were a girl.

Shutting his mouth tightly, which was never natural
to him, the startled Tommy mounted the stair, listened
and was convinced. He did not enter his dishonored
home. He had no intention of ever entering it again.
With one salt tear he renounced — a child, a mother.

On his way downstairs he was received by Shovel and
party, who planted their arrows neatly. Kids cried
steadily, he was told, for the first year. A boy one was
bad enough, but a girl one was oh lawks. He must
never again expect to get playing with blokes like what
they was. Already she had got round his old gal who
would care for him no more. What would they say
about this in Thrums ?

Shovel even insisted on returning him his cap, and
for some queer reason, this cut deepest. Tommy about
to charge, with his head down, now walked away so
quietly that Shovel, who could not help liking the
funny little cuss, felt a twinge of remorse, and nearly
followed him with a magnanimous offer: to treat him
as if he were still respectable.

Tommy lay down on a distant stair, one of the very
stairs where she had sat with him. Ladies, don’t you
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 17

dare to pity him now, for he won't stand it. Rage was
what he felt, and a man in a rage (as you may know if
you are married) is only to be soothed by the sight of
all womankind in terror of him. But you may look
upon your handiwork, and gloat, an you will, on the
wreck you have made. A young gentleman trusted one
of you; behold the result. O! O! O! O! now do you
understand why we men cannot abide you ?

If she had told him flat that his mother, and his
alone, she would have, and so there was an end of it.
Ah, catch them taking a straight road. But to put on
those airs of helplessness, to wave him that gay good-
by, and then the moment his back was turned, to be off
through the air on — perhaps on her muff, to the home
he had thought to lure her from. In a word, to be
diddled by a girl when one flatters himself he is did-
dling! S’death, a dashing fellow finds it hard to bear.
Nevertheless, he has to bear it, for oh, Tommy, Tommy,
’tis the common lot of man.

His hand sought his pocket for the penny that had
brought him comfort in dark hours before now; but,
alack, she had deprived him even of it. Never again -
should his pinkie finger go through that warm hole, and
at the thought a sense of his forlornness choked him.
and he cried. You may pity him a little now.

Darkness came and hid him even from himself. He
is not found again until a time of the night that is not
marked on ornamental clocks, but has an hour to itself

2
18 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

on the watch which a hundred thousand or so of London
women carry in their breasts; the hour when men steal
homewards trickling at the mouth and drawing back
from their own shadows to the wives they once went
a-maying with, or the mothers who had such travail at
the bearing of them, as if for great ends. Out of this,
the drunkard’s hour, rose the wan face of Tommy, who
had waked up somewhere clammy cold and quaking,
and he was a very little boy, so he ran to his mother.

Such a shabby dark room it was, but it was home,
such a weary worn woman in the bed, but he was her
son, and she had been wringing her hands because he
was so long in coming, and do you think he hurt her
when he pressed his head on her poor breast, and do
you think she grudged the heat his cold hands drew
from her warm face? He squeezed her with a violence
that put more heat into her blood than he took out
of it.

And he was very considerate, too: not a word of
reproach in him, though he knew very well what that
bundle in the back of the bed was.

She guessed that he had heard the news and stayed
away through jealousy of his sister, and by and by she
said, with a faint smile, “I have a present for you,
laddie.” In the great world without, she used few
Thrums words now; you would have known she was
Scotch by her accent only, but when she and Tommy
were together in that room, with the door shut, she
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 19

always spoke as if her window still looked out on the
bonny Marywellbrae. It is not really bonny, it is gey
an’ mean an’ bleak, and you must not come to see it.
It is just a steep wind-swept street, old and wrinkled,
like your mother’s face.

She had a present for him, she said, and Tommy
replied, ‘“‘I knows,” with averted face.

“Such a bonny thing.”

“Bonny enough,” he said bitterly.

“Look at her, laddie.”

But he shrank from the ordeal, crying, “No, no,
keep her covered up!”

The little traitor seemed to be asleep, and so he
ventured to say, eagerly, “It wouldn’t not take long to
carry all our things to another house, would it ? Me
and Shovel could near do it ourselves.”

“And that’s God’s truth,” ‘the woman said, with a
look round the room. “But what for should we do
that ?”

“Do you no see, mother?” he whispered excitedly.
“Then you and me could slip away, and —and leave
her — in the press.”

The feeble smile with which his mother received this
he interpreted thus, “Wherever we go’d to she would
be there before us.”

“The little besom!” he cried helplessly.

His mother saw that mischievous boys had been

mounting him on his horse, which needed only one slap
20 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

to make it goa mile; but she was a spiritless woman,
and replied indifferently, “You ’re a funny litlin.”

Presently a dry sob broke from her, and thinking the
child was the cause, soft-hearted Tommy said, “Tt
can’t not be helped, mother; don’t cry, mother, I’m
fond on yer yet, mother; I—I took her away. I found
another woman — but she would come.”

“She ’s God’s gift, man,” his mother said, but she
added, in a different tone, “Ay, but he hasna sent her
keep.”

“God’s gift!” Tommy shuddered, but he said sourly ,
“J wish he would take her back. Do you wish that,
too, mother ?”

The weary woman almost said she did, but her arms
—they gripped the baby as if frightened that he had
sent for it. Jealous Tommy, suddenly deprived of his
mother’s hand, cried, “It’s true what Shovel says, you
don’t not love me never again; you jest loves that little
limmer!”

“Na, na,” the mother answered, passionate at last,
‘she can never be to me what you hae been, my laddie,
for you came to me when my hame was in hell, and we
tholed it thegither, you and me.”

This bewildered though it comforted him. He
thought his mother might be speaking about the room
in which they had lived until six months ago, when his
father was put into the black box, but when he asked
her if this were so, she told him to sleep, for she was
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 21

dog-tired. She always evaded him in this way when
he questioned her about his past, but at times his mind
would wander backwards unbidden to those distant
days, and then he saw flitting dimly through ‘them the
elusive form of a child. He knew it was himself, and
for moments he could see it clearly, but when he moved
a step nearer it was not there. So does the child we
once were play hide and seek with us among the mists
of infancy, until one day he trips and falls into the
daylight. Then we seize him, and with that touch we
two are one. It is the birth of self-consciousness.

Hitherto he had slept at the back of his mother’s
bed, but to-night she could not have him there, the
place being occupied, and rather sulkily he consented
to lie crosswise at her feet, undressing by the feeble
fire and taking care, as he got into bed, not to look at
the usurper. His mother watched him furtively, and
was relieved to read in his face that he had no recollec-
tion of ever having slept at the foot of a bed before.
But soon after he fell asleep he awoke, and was afraid
to move lest his father should kick him. He opened
his eyes stealthily, and this was neither the room nor
the bed he had expected to see.

The floor was bare save for a sheepskin beside the
bed. Tommy always stood on the sheepskin while he
was dressing because it was warm to the feet, though
risky, as your toes sometimes caught in knots in it.
There was a deal table in the middle of the floor with
22, SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

some dirty crockery on it and a kettle that would leave
a mark, but they had been left there by Shovel’s old
girl, for Mrs. Sandys usually kept her house clean.
The chairs were of the commonest, and the press door
would not remain shut unless you stuck a knife between
its halves; but there was a gay blue wardrobe, spotted
white where Tommy’s mother had scraped off the mud
that had once bespattered it during a lengthy sojourn
at the door of a shop; and on the mantelpiece was a
clock in a little brown and yellow house, and on the
clock a Bible that had been in Thrums. But what
_ Tommy was proudest of was his mother’s kist, to which
the chests of Londoners are not to be compared, though
like it in appearance. On the inside of the lid of this
kist was pasted, after a Thrums custom, something that
his mother called her marriage lines, which she forced
Shovel’s mother to come up and look at one day, when
that lady had made an innuendo Tommy did not under-
stund, and Shovel’s mother had looked, and though she
could not read, was convinced, knowing them by the
shape.

Tommy lay at the foot of the bed looking at this
room, which was his home now, and trying to think of
the other one, and by and by the fire helped him by
falling to ashes, when darkness came in, and packing
the furniture in grotesque cloths, removed it piece by
piece, all but the clock. Then the room took a new
shape. The fireplace was over there instead of here,
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 23

the torn yellow blind gave way to one made of spars of
green wood, that were bunched up at one side, like a
lady out for a walk. On a round table there was a
beautiful blue cloth, with very few gravy marks, and
here a man ate beef when a woman anda boy ate bread,
and near the fire was the man’s big soft chair, out of
which you could pull hairs, just as if it were Shovel’s
sister.

Of this man who was his father he could get no hold.
He could feel his presence, but never see him. Yet he
hada face. It sometimes pressed Tommy’s face against
it in order to hurt him, which it could do, being all
short needles at the chin.

Once in those days Tommy and his mother ran away
and hid from some one. He did not know from whom
nor for how long, though it was but for a week, and it
left only two impressions on his mind, the one that he
often asked, “Is this starving now, mother ?” the other
that before turning a corner she always peered round it
fearfully. Then they went back again to the man and
he laughed when he saw them, but did not take his feet
off the mantelpiece. There came a time when the man
was always in bed, but still Tommy could not see his
face. What he did see was the man’s clothes lying on
the large chair just as he had placed them there when
he undressed for the last time. The black coat and
worsted waistcoat which he could take off together were
on the seat, and the light trousers hung over the side,
24 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

the legs on the hearthrug, with the red socks still stick-
ing in them: a man without a body.

But the boy had one vivid recollection, of how his
mother received the news of his father’s death. An
old man with a white beard and gentle ways, who often
came to give the invalid physic, was standing at the
bedside, and Tommy and his mother were sitting on
the fender. ‘The old man came to her and said, “It is
all over,” and put her softly into the big chair. She
covered her face with her hands, and he must have
thought she was crying, for he tried to comfort her.
But as soon as he was gone she rose, with such a queer
face, and went on tiptoe to the bed, and looked intently
at. her husband, and then she clapped her hands joyously
three times.

At last Tommy fell asleep with his mouth open,
which is the most important thing that has been told of
him as yet, and while he slept day came and restored
the furniture that night had stolen. But when the boy
woke he did not even notice the change; his brain
traversed the hours it had lost since he lay down as
quickly as you may put on a stopped clock, and with
his first tick he was thinking of nothing but the
deceiver in the back of the bed. He raised his head,
but could only see that she had crawled under the
coverlet to escape his wrath. His mother was asleep.
Tommy sat up and peeped over the edge of the bed,
then he let his eyes wander round the room; he was
BUT THE OTHER GETS IN 25

looking for the girl’s clothes, but they were nowhere to
be seen. It is distressing to have to tell that what was
in his mind was merely the recovery of his penny.
Perhaps as they were Sunday clothes she had hung
them up in the wardrobe? He slipped on to the floor
and crossed to the wardrobe, but not even the muff
could he find. Had she been tired, and gone to bed in
them? Very softly he crawled over his mother, and
pulling the coverlet off the child’s face, got the great
shock of his childhood.
It was another one!
CHAPTER III

SHOWING HOW TOMMY WAS SUDDENLY TRANSFORMED
INTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN

Ir would have fared ill with Mrs. Sandys now, had
her standotfishness to her neighbors been repaid in the
same coin, but they were full of sympathy, especially
Shovel’s old girl, from whom she had often drawn back
offensively on the stair, but who nevertheless waddled
up several times a day with savory messes, explaining,
when Mrs. Sandys sniffed, that it was not the tapiocar
but merely the cup that smelt of gin. When Tommy
returned the cups she noticed not only that they were
suspiciously clean, but that minute particles of the
mess were adhering to his nose and chin (perched there
like shipwrecked mariners on a rock, just out of reach
of the devouring element), and after this discovery she
brought two cupfuls at a time. She was an Irish-
woman who could have led the House of Commons, and
in walking she seldom raised her carpet shoes from the
ground, perhaps because of her weight, for she had an
expansive figure that bulged in all directions, and there
were always bits of her here and there that she had
forgotten to lace. Round the corner was a delightful
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 27

eating-house, through whose window you were allowed
to gaze at the great sweating dumplings, and Tommy
thought Shovel’s mother was rather like a dumpling
that had not been a complete success. If he ever knew
her name he forgot it. Shovel, who probably had
another name also, called her his old girl or his old
woman or his old lady, and it was a sight to see her
chasing him across the street when she was in liquor,”
and boastful was Shovel of the way she could lay on,
and he was partial to her too, and once when she was
giving it to him pretty strong with the tongs, his father
(who followed many professions, among them that
of finding lost dogs), had struck her and told her to
drop it, and then Shovel sauced his father for interfer-
ing, saying she should lick him as long as she blooming
well liked, which made his father go for him with a
dog-collar; and that was how Shovel lost his eye.

For reasons less unselfish than his old girl’s Shovel
also was willing to make up to Tommy at this humili-
ating time. It might be said of these two boys that
Shovel knew everything but Tommy knew other things.
and as the other things are best worth hearing of
Shovel liked to listen to them, even when they were
about Thrums, as they usually were. The very first
time Tommy told him of the wondrous spot, Shovel had
drawn a great breath, and said, thoughtfully:

“TJ allers knowed as there were sich a beauty place,
but I didn’t jest know its name.”
28 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“How could yer know?” Tommy asked jealously.

“T ain’t sure,” said Shovel, “p’raps I dreamed on
it.”

“That’s it,” Tommy cried. “I tell yer, everybody
dreams on it!” and Tommy was right; everybody
dreams of it, though not all call it Thrums.

On the whole, then, the coming of the kid, who
turned out to be called Elspeth, did not ostracize
Tommy, but he wished that he had let the other girl in,
for he never doubted that her admittance would have
kept this one out. He told neither his mother nor his
triend of the other girl, fearing that his mother would
be angry with him when she learned what she had
missed, and that Shovel would crow over his blunder-
ing, but occasionally he took a side glance at the victo-
rious infant, and a poorer affair, he thought, he had
never set eyes on. Sometimes it was she who looked
at him, and then her chuckle of triumph was hard to
bear. As long as his mother was there, however, he
endured in silence, but the first day she went out ina
vain search for work (it is about as difficult to get
washing as to get into the Cabinet), he gave the infant
a piece of his mind, poking up her head with a stick so
that she was bound to listen.

“You thinks as it was clever on you, does yer? Oh,
if I had been on the stair !

“You need n’t not try to get round me. I likes the
other one five times better; yes, three times better.
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 29

“ Thievey, thievey, thief, that’s her place you is lying
in. What?

“Tf you puts out your tongue at me again —! What
do yer say ?

“She was twice bigger than you. You ain’t got no
hair, nor yet no teeth. You’re the littlest I ever seed.
Eh? Don’t not speak then, sulks !”

Prudence had kept him away from the other girl, but
he was feeling a great want: someone to applaud him.
When we grow older we call it sympathy. How Reddy
(as he called her because she had beautiful red-brown
hair) had appreciated him! She had a way he liked of
“opening her eyes very wide when she looked at him. Oh,
what a difference from that thing in the back of the bed!

Not the mere selfish desire to see her again, how-
ever, would take him in quest of Reddy. He was one
of those superior characters, was Tommy, who got his
pleasure in giving it, and therefore gave it. Now, Reddy
was a worthy girl. In suspecting her of overreaching
him he had maligned her: she had taken what he offered,
and been thankful. It was fitting that he should give
her a treat: let her see him again.

His mother was at last re-engaged by her old employers,
her supplanter having proved unsatisfactory, and as the
work lay in a distant street, she usually took. the kid
with her, thus leaving no one to spy on Tommy’s move-
ments. Reddy’s reward for not playing him false, how-
ever, did not reach her as soon as doubtless she would
30 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

have liked, because the first two or three times he saw
her she was walking with the lady of his choice, and of
course he was not such a fool as to show himself. But
he walked behind them and noted with satisfaction that
the lady seemed to be reconciled to her lot and inclined
to let bygones be bygones; when at length Reddy and
her patron met, Tommy thought this a good sign too,
that Ma-ma (as she would call the lady) had told her
not to go farther away than the lamp-post, lest she should
get lost again. So evidently she had got lost once
already, and the lady had been sorry. He asked Reddy
many shrewd questions about how Ma-ma treated her,
and if she got the top of the Sunday egg and had the
licking of the pan and wore flannel underneath and slept
at the back; and the more he inquired, the more clearly
he saw that he had got her one of the right kind.
Tommy arranged with her that she should always be
on the outlook for him at the window, and he would
come sometimes, and after that they met frequently, and
she proved a credit to him, gurgling with mirth at his
tales of Thrums, and pinching him when he had finished,
to make sure that he was really made just like common
human beings. He was a thin, pale boy, while she
looked like a baby rose full blown in a night because
her time was short; and his movements were sluggish,
but if she was not walking she must be dancing, and
sometimes when there were few people in the street, the
little armful of delight that she was jumped up and
“TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 31

down like a ball, while Tommy kept the time, singing
«“Thrummy, Thrummy, Thrum Thrum Thrummy.”
They must have seemed a quaint pair to the lady as
she sat at her window watching them and beckoning
to Tommy to come in.

One day he went in, but only-because she had come
up behind and taken his hand before he could run.
Then did Tommy quake, for he knew from Reddy how
the day after the mother-making episode, Ma-ma and she
had sought in vain for his door, and he saw that the
object had been to call down curses on his head. So
that head was hanging limply now.

You think that Tommy is to be worsted at last, but
don’t be too sure; you just wait and see. Ma-ma and
Reddy (who was clucking rather heartlessly) first took
him into a room prettier even than the one he had lived
in long ago (but there was no bed in it), and then, because
someone they were in search of was not there, into another
room without a bed (where on earth did they sleep ?)
whose walls were lined with books. Never having seen
rows of books before except on sale in the streets, Tommy
at once looked about him for the barrow. The table was
strewn with sheets of paper of the size that they roll a
quarter of butter in, and it was an amazing thick table,
a solid square of wood, save for a narrow lane down the
centre for the man to put his legs in—if he had legs,
which unfortunately there was reason to doubt. He was

a formidable man, whose beard licked the table while he
32 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

wrote, and he wore something like a brown blanket, with
a rope tied round it at the middle. Even more uncanny
than himself were three busts on a shelf, which Tommy
took to be deaders, and he feared the blanket might blow
open and show that the man also ended at the waist. But
he did not, for presently he turned round to see who had
come in (the seat of his chair turning with him in the
most startling way) and then Tommy was relieved to
notice two big feet far away at the end of him.

“This is the boy, dear,” the lady said. “TI had to
bring him in by force.”

Tommy raised his arm instinctively to protect his face,
this being the kind of man who could hit hard. But
presently he was confused, and also, alas, leering a
little. You may remember that Reddy had told him
she must not go beyond the lamp-post, lest she should be
lost again. She had given him no details of the adven-
ture, but he learned now from Ma-ma and Papa (the
man’s name was Papa) that she had strayed when Ma-ma
was ina shop and that some good kind boy had found
her and brought her home; and what do you say to this,
they thonght Tommy was that boy! In his amazement
he very nearly blurted out that he was the other boy,
but just then the lady asked Papa if he hada shilling,
and this abruptly closed Tommy’s mouth. Ever after-
wards he remembered Papa as the man that was not
sure whether he had a shilling until he felt his pockets

—a new kind of mortal to Tommy, who grabbed the
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 33

shilling when it was offered to him, and then looked at
Reddy imploringly, he was so afraid she would tell.
But she behaved splendidly, and never even shook her
head at him. After this, as hardly need be told, kis one
desire was to get out of the house with his shilling
before they discovered their mistake, and it was well
that they were unsuspicious people, for he was making
strange hissing sounds in his throat, the result of trying
hard to keep his sniggers under control. ;

There were many ways in which Tommy could have
disposed of his shilling. He might have been a good
boy and returned it next day to Papa. He might have
given Reddy half of it for not telling. It could have
carried him over the winter. He might have stalked
with it into the shop where the greasy puddings were
and come rolling out hours afterwards. Some of these
schemes did cross his little mind, but he decided to
spend the whole shilling on a present to his mother,
and it was to be something useful. He devoted much
thought to what she was most in need of, and at last he
bought her a colored picture of Lord Byron swimming
the Hellespont.

He told her that he got his shilling from two totfs for
playing with a little girl, and the explanation satisfied
her; but she could have cried at the waste of the money,
which would have been such a God-send to her. He
eried altogether, however, at sight of her face, having
expected it to look so pleased, and then she told him,

3
34 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

with caresses, that the picture was the one thing she had
been longing for ever since she came to London. How
had he known this, she asked, and he clapped his hands
gleefully, and said he just knowed when he saw it in
the shop window.

“Tt was noble of you,” she said, “to spend all your
siller on me.”

“Was n’t it, mother?” he crowed. “I’m thinking
there ain’t many as noble as I is!”

He did not say why he had been so good to her, but
it was because she had written no letters to Thrums
since the intrusion of Elspeth; a strange reason for a
boy whose greatest glory at one time had been to sit
on the fender and exultingly watch his mother write
down words that would be read aloud in the wonderful
place. She was a long time in writing a letter, but that
only made the whole evening romantic, and he found
an arduous employment in keeping his tongue wet in
preparation for the licking of the stamp.

But she could not write to the Thrums folk now
without telling them of Elspeth, who was at present
sleeping the sleep of the shameless in the hollow of
the bed, and so for his sake, Tommy thought, she
meant to write no more. For his sake, mark you, not
for her own. She had often told him that some day
he should go to Thrums, but not with her; she would
be far away from him then in a dark place she was
awid to be lying in. Thus it seemed to Tommy that
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 35

she denied herself the pleasure of writing to Thrums
lest the sorry news of Elspeth’s advent should spoil his
reception when he went north.

So grateful Tommy gave her the picture, hoping that
it would fill the void. But it did not. She put it on
the mantelpiece so that she might just sit and look at
it, she said, and he grinned at it from every part of the
room, but when he returned to her, he saw that she was
neither looking at it nor thinking of it. She was look-
ing straight before her, and sometimes her lips twitched,
and then she drew them into her mouth to keep them
still. Itis a kind of dry weeping that sometimes comes
to miserable ones when their minds stray into the happy
past, and Tommy sat and watched her silently for a
long time, never doubting that the cause of all her woe
was that she could not write to Thrums.

He had seldom seen tears on his mother’s face, but
he saw one now. They had been reluctant to come for
many a day, and this one formed itself beneath her eye
and sat there like a blob of blood.

His own began to come more freely. But she need n’t
not expect him to tell her to write nor to say that he
didn’t care what Thrums thought of him so long as she
was happy.

The tear rolled down his mother’s thin cheek and fell
on the grey shawl that had come from Thrums.

She did not hear her boy as he dragged a chair to
the press and standing on it got something down from
386 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

the top shelf. She had forgotten him, and she started
when presently the pen was slipped into her hand and
Tommy said, “You can do it, mother, I wants yer to
do it, mother, I won’t not greet, mother!”

When she saw what he wanted her to do she patted
his face approvingly, but without realizing the extent
of his sacrifice. She knew that he had some maggot in
his head that made him regard Elspeth as a sore on the
family honor, but ascribing his views to jealousy she
had never tried seriously to change them. Her main
reason for sending no news to Thrums of late had been
but the cost of the stamp, though she was also a little
conscience-stricken at the kind of letters she wrote, and
the sight of the materials lying ready for her proved
sufficient to draw her to the table.

“Ts it to your grandmother you is writting the
letter?” Tommy asked, for her grandmother had
brought Mrs. Sandys up and was her only surviving
relative. This was all Tommy knew of his mother’s
life in Thrums, though she had told him much about
other Thrums folk, and not till long afterwards did he
see that there must be something queer about herself,
which she was hiding from him.

This letter was not for her granny, however, and
Tommy asked next, “Is it to Aaron Latta?” which so
startled her that she dropped the pen.

«“Whaur heard you that name?” she said sharply.

“I never spoke it to you.”
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 37

“I’ve heard you saying it when you was sleeping,
mother.”

“Did I say onything but the name? Quick, tell me.”

“You said, ‘Oh, Aaron Latta, oh, Aaron, little did we
think, Aaron,’ and things like that. Are you angry with
me, mother?”

“No,” she said, relieved, but it was some time before
the desire to write came back to her. Then she told
him “The letter is to a woman that was gey cruel to me,”
adding, with a complacent pursing of her lips, the curi-
ous remark, “That ’s the kind I like to write to best.”

The pen went scrape, scrape, but Tommy did not
weary, though he often sighed, because his mother
would never read aloud to him what she wrote. The
Thrums people never answered her letters, for the
reason, she said, that those she wrote to could not
write, which seemed to simple Tommy to be a suffi-
cient explanation. So he had never heard the inside of
a letter talking, though a postman lived in the house,
and even Shovel’s old girl got letters; once when her
uncle died she got a telegram, which Shovel proudly
wheeled up and down the street ina barrow, other
blokes keeping guard at the side. To give a letter to
a woman who had been cruel to you struck Tommy as
the height of nobility.

“She ’ll be uplifted when she gets it!” he cried.

“Shell be mad when she gets it,” answered his

mother, without looking up.
388 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

This was the letter : —

«My pear Esruer, —I send you these few scrapes to let
you see I have not forgot you, though my way is now grand by
yours. A spleet new black silk, Esther, being the second in a
twelvemonth, as I’m a living woman. The other is no none
tashed yet, but my gudeman fair insisted on buying a new one,
for says he ‘Rich folk like us can afford to be mislaird, and
nothing ’s ower braw for my bonny Jean. Tell Aaron Latta
that. When I’m sailing in my silks, Esther, I sometimes pic-
ture you turning your wincey again, for I’se uphaud that’s all
the new frock you’ve ha’en the year. I dinna want to give you
a scunner of your man, Esther, more by token they said if your
mither had not took him in hand you would never have kent
the color of his nightcap, but when you are wraxing ower your
kail-pot in a plot of heat, jast picture me ringing the bell for
my servant, and saying, with a wave of my hand, ‘Servant,
lay the dinner.’ And ony bonny afternoon when your man is
cleaning out stables and you’re at the tub in a short gown,
picture my man taking me and the children out a ride in a
carriage, and I sair doubt your bairns was never in nothing
more genteel than a coai cart. For bairns is yours, Esther, and
children is mine, and that’s a burn without a brig till ’t.

“ Deary me, Esther, what with one thing and another, namely
buying a sofa, thirty shillings as I’m a sinner, I have forgot to
tell you about my second, and it’s a girl this time, my man say-
ing he would like a change. We have christened her Elspeth
after my grandmaimma, and if my auld granny ’s aye living, you
can tell her that’s her. My man is terrible windy of his two
beautiful children, but he says he would have been the happiest
gentleman in London though he had just had me, and really
his fondness for me, it cows, Esther, sitting aside me on the
bed, two pounds without the blankets, about the time Elspeth
TOMMY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN 89

was born, and feeding me with the fat of the land, namely,
tapiocas and sherry wine. Tell Aaron Latta that.

“JT pity you from the bottom of my heart, Esther, for having
to bide in Thrums, but you have never seen no better, your man
having neither the siller nor the desire to take you jaunts, and
I’m thinking that is just as well, for if you saw how the like
of me lives it might disgust you with your own bit house. |
often laugh, Esther, to think that 1 was once like you, and
looked upon Thrums as a bonny place. How is the old hole ?
My son makes grand sport of the oifortunate bairns as has to
bide in Thrums, and I see him doing it the now to his favorite
companion, which is a young gentleman of ladylike manners,
as bides in our terrace. So no more at present, for my man is
sitting ganting for my society, and I daresay yours is crying to
you to darn his old socks. Mind and tell Aaron Latta.”

This letter was posted next day by Tommy, with the
assistance of Shovel, who seems to have been the young
gentleman of ladylike manners referred to in the text.
CHAPTER IV

THE END OF AN IDYLL

Tommy never saw Reddy again owing to a fright he
got about this time, for which she was really to blame,
though a woman who lived in his house was the
instrument.

It is, perhaps, idle to attempt a summary of those
who lived in that house, as one at least will be off,
and another in his place, while we are giving them a
line apiece. They were usually this kind who lived
through the wall from Mrs. Sandys, but beneath her
were the two rooms of Hankey, the postman, and his
lodger, the dreariest of middle-aged clerks except when
telling wistfully of his ambition, which was to get out
of the tea department into the coffee department, where
there is an easier way of counting up the figures.
Shovel and family were also on this floor, and in the
rooms under them was a newly married couple. When
the husband was away at his work, his wife would
make some change in the furniture, taking the picture
from this wall, for instance, and hanging it on that
wall, or wheeling the funny chair she had lain in before
THE END OF AN IDYLL 41

she could walk without a crutch, to the other side of
the fireplace, or putting a skirt of yellow paper round
the flower pot, and when he returned he always jumped
back in wonder and exclaimed: “What an immense
improvement!” These two were so fond of one another
that Tommy asked them the reason, and they gave it by
pointing to the chair with the wheels, which seemed to
him to be no reason at all. What was this young hus-
band’s trade Tommy never knew, but he was the only
prettily dressed man in the house, and he could be
heard roaring in his sleep, “And the next article?”
The meanest looking man lived next door to him.
Every morning this man put on a clean white shirt,
which sounds like a splendid beginning, but his other
clothes were of the seediest, and he caine and went
shivering, raising his shoulders to his ears and spread-
ing his hands over his chest as if anxious to hide his
shirt rather than to display it. He and the happy hus-
band were nicknamed Before and After, they were so
like the pictorial advertisement of Man before and after
he has tried Someone’s lozenges. But it is rash to
judge by outsides; Tommy and Shovel one day tracked
Before to his place of business, and it proved to bea
palatial eating-house, long, narrow, padded with red
cushions; through the door they saw the once despised,
now in beautiful black clothes, the waistcoat a mere
nothing, as if to give his shirt a chance at last, a
towel over his arm, and to and fro he darted, saying
42 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Yessirquitesosir” to the toffs on the seats, shouting
“Twovegonebeef — onebeeronetartinahurry ” to some-
one invisible, and pocketing twopences all day long,
just like a lord. On the same floor as Before and After
lived the large family of little Pikes, who quarrelled at
night for the middle place in the bed, and then chips of
ceiling fell into the room below, tenant Jim Ricketts
and parents, lodger the young woman we have been
trying all these doors for. Her the police snapped up on
a charge that made Tommy want to hide himself —
child-desertion. ;

Shovel was the person best worth listening to on the
subject (observe him, the centre of half a dozen boys),
and at first he was for the defence, being a great
stickler for the rights of mothers. But when the case
against the girl leaked out, she need not look to him
for help. The police had found the child in a basket
down an area, and being knowing ones they pinched it
to make it cry, and then they pretended to go away.
Soon the mother, who was watching hard by to see if
it fell into kind hands, stole to her baby to comfort it,
“and just as she were a kissing on it and blubbering,
the perlice copped her.”

“The slut!” said disgusted Shovel, “what did she
hang about for?” and in answer to a trembling ques-
tion from Tommy he replied, decisively, “Six months
hard.”

“Next case” was probably called immediately, but
—————eoor—

THE END OF AN IDYLL 43

Tommy vanished, as if he had been sentenced and
removed to the cells.

Never again, unless he wanted six months hard, must
he go near Reddy’s home, and so he now frequently
accompanied his mother to the place where she worked.
The little room had a funny fireplace called a stove, on
which his mother made tea and the girls roasted chest-
nuts, and it had no other ordinary furniture except a
long form. But the walls were mysterious. Three of
them were covered with long white cloths, which went
to the side when you tugged them, and then you could
see on rails dozens of garments that looked like night-
gowns. Beneath the form were scores of little shoes,
most of them white or brown. In this house Tommy’s
mother spent eight hours daily, but not all of them in
this room. When she arrived the first thing she did
was to put Elspeth on the floor, because you cannot fall
off a floor; then she went upstairs with a bucket and a
broom to a large bare room, where she stayed so long
that Tommy nearly forgot what she was like.

While his mother was upstairs Tommy would give
Elspeth two or three shoes to eat to keep her quiet, and
then he played with the others, pretending to be able
to count them, arranging them in designs, shooting
them, swimming among them, saying “bow-wow ” at
them and then turning sharply to see who had said it.
Soon Elspeth dropped her shoes and gazed in admira-
tion at him, but more often than not she laughed in the
44 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

wrong place, and then he said ironically: “Oh, in
course I can’t do nothin’; jest let’s see you doing of it,
then, cocky!”

By the time the girls began to arrive, singly or in
twos and threes, his mother was back in the little room,
making tea for herself or sewing bits of them that had
been torn as they stepped out of a cab, or helping them
to put on the nightgowns, or pretending to listen
pleasantly to their chatter and hating them all the
time. There was every kind of them, gorgeous ones
and shabby ones, old tired ones and dashing young
ones, but whether they were the Honorable Mrs. Some-
thing or only Jane Anything, they all came to that
room for the same purpose: to get a little gown anda
pair of shoes. Then they went upstairs and danced to
a stout little lady, called the Sylph, who bobbed about
like a ball at the end of a piece of elastic. What
Tommy never forgot was that while they danced the
Sylph kept saying, “One, two, three, four; one, two,

three, four,”

which they did not seem to mind, but
when she said “One, two, three, four, picture/” they
all stopped and stood motionless, though it might be
with one foot as high as their head and their arms
stretched out toward the floor, as if they had suddenly
seen a halfpenny there.

In the waiting-room, how they joked and pirouetted
and gossiped, and hugged and scorned each other, and

what slang they spoke and how pretty they often looked
THE END OF AN IDYLL 45

next moment, and how they denounced the one that had
just gone out as a cat with whom you could not get in a
word edgeways, and oh, how prompt they were to give
a slice of their earnings to any “cat” who was hard up!
But still, they said, she had talent, but no genius.
How they pitied people without genius.

Have you ever tasted an encore or 4 reception ?
‘Tommy never had his teeth in one, but he heard much
about them in that room, and concluded that they were
some sort of cake. It was not the girls who danced in
groups, but those who danced alone, that spoke of their
encores and receptions, and sometimes they had got
them last night, sometimes years ago. Two girls met
in the room, one of whom had stolen the other’s recep-
tion, and — but it was too dreadful to write abcut.
Most of them carried newspaper cuttings in their purses
and read them aloud to the others, who would not
listen. ‘Fommy listened, however, and as it was all
about how one house had risen at the girls and they had
brought another down, he thought they led the most
adventurous lives.

Occasionally they sent him out to buy newspapers or
chestnuts, and then he had to keep a sharp eye on the
police lest they knew about Reddy. It was a point of
honor with all the boys he knew to pretend that the
policeman was after them. To gull the policeman into
thinking all was well they blackened their faces and
wore their jackets inside out; their occupation was a
46 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

constant state of readiness to fly from him, and when
he tramped out of sight, unconscious of their existence,
they emerged from dark places and spoke in exultant
whispers. Tommy had been proud to join them, but
he now resented their going on in this way; he felt
that he alone had the right to fly from the law. And
once at least while he was flying something happened
to him that he was to remember better, far better, than
his mother’s face.

What set him running on this occasion (he had been
sent out to get one of the girls’ shoes soled) was the
grandest sight to be seen in London —an endless row
of policemen walking in single file, all with the right
leg in the air at the same time, then the left leg. See-
ing at once that they were after him, Tommy ran, ran,
ran until in turning a corner he found himself wedged
between two legs. He was of just sufficient size to fill
the aperture, but after a momentary lock he: squeezed
through, and they proved to be the gate into an
enchanted land.

The magic began at once. “Dagont, you sacket!”
cried some wizard.

A policeman’s hand on his shoulder could not have
taken the wind out of Tommy more quickly. In the
act of starting a-running again he brought down his
hind foot with a thud and stood stock still. Can any
one wonder? It was the Thrums tongue, and this the
first time he had heard it except from his mother.
THE END OF AN IDYLL 47

It was a dull day, and all the walls were dripping wet,
this being the part of London where the fogs are kept.
Many men and women were passing to and fro, and
Tommy, with a wild exultation in his breast, peered up
at the face of this one and that; but no, they were only
ordinary people, and he played rub-a-dub with his feet
on the pavement, so furious was he with them for
moving on as if nothing had happened. Draw up, ye
carters; pedestrians, ‘stand still; London, silence for a
moment, and let Tommy Sandys listen!

Being but a frail plant in the way of a flood, Tommy
was rooted up and borne onward, but he did not feel
the buffeting. Ina passion of grief he dug his fists in
his eyes, for the glory had been his for but a moment.
It can be compared to nothing save the parcel (attached
to a concealed string) which Shovel and he once
placed on the stair for Billy Hankey to find, and then
whipped away from him just as he had got it under
his arm. But so near the crying, Tommy did not cry,
for even while the tears were rushing to his aid he
tripped on the step of a shop, and immediately, as if
that had rung the magic bell again, a voice, a woman’s
voice this time, said shrilly, “Threepence ha’penny,
and them jimply as big as a bantam’s! Na, na, but
I’ll gi’e you five bawhbees.”

Tommy sat down flop on the step, feeling queer in
the head. Was it— was it —was it Thrums? He knew

he had been running a long time.
48 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

The woman, or fairy, or whatever you choose to call
her, came out of the shop and had to push Tommy aside
to get past. Oh, what a sweet foot to be kicked by.
At the time, he thought she was dressed not unlike the
women of his own stair, but this defect in his vision
he mended afterward, as you may hear. Of course, he
rose and trotted by her side like a dog, looking up at
her as if she were a cathedral; but she mistook his awe
for impudence and sent him sprawling, with the words,
“Tak? that, you glowering partan!”

Do you think Tommy resented this? On the con-
trary, he screamed from where he lay, “Say it again!
say it again!”

She was gone, however, but only, as it were, to let a
window open, from which came the cry, “Davit, have
you seen my man ?”

A male fairy roared back from some invisible place,
“He has gone yont to Petey’s wi’ the dambrod.”

“T7ll dambrod him!” said the female fairy, and the
window shut.

Tommy was now staggering like one intoxicated, but
he had still some sense left him, and he walked up and
down in front of this house, as if to take care of it. In
the middle of the street some boys were very busy at a
game, carts and lorries passing over them occasionally.
They came to the pavement to play marbles, and then
Tommy noticed that one of them wore what was prob-
ably a glengarry bonnet. Could he be a Thrums boy ?
THE END OF AN IDYLL 49

At first he played in the stupid London way, but by
and by he had to make a new ring, and he did it by
whirling round on one foot. Tommy knew from his
mother that it is only done in this way in Thrums.
Oho! Oho!

By this time he was prancing round his discovery,
saying, “I’m one, too—so am I — dagont, does yer
hear? dagont!” which so alarmed the boy that he
picked up his marble and fled, Tommy, of course, after
him. Alas! he must have been some mischievous
sprite, for he lured his pursuer back into London and
then vanished, and Tommy, searching in vain for the
enchanted street, found his own door instead.

His mother pooh-poohed his tale, though he described
the street exactly as it struck him on reflection, and it
bore a curious resemblance to the palace of Aladdin
that Reddy had told him about, leaving his imagination
to fill in the details, which it promptly did, with a
square, a town-house, some outside stairs, and an auld
licht kirk. There was no such street, however, his
mother assured him; he had been dreaming. But if
this were so, why was she so anxious to make him
promise never to look for the place again ?

He did go in search of it again, daily for a time,
always keeping a look-out for bow-legs, and the moment
he saw them, he dived recklessly between, hoping to
come out into fairyland on the other side. For though
he had lost the street, he knew that this was the way in.

4
50 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Shovel had never heard of the street, nor had Bob.
But Bob gave him something that almost made him
forget it fora time. Bob was his favorite among the
dancing girls, and she — or should it be he? The odd
thing about these girls was that a number of them were
really boys — or at least were boys at Christmas-time,
which seemed to Tommy to be even stranger than if
they had been boys all the year round. A friend of
Bob’s remarked to her one day, “You are to be a girl
next winter, ain’t you, Bob?” and Bob shook her head
scornfully.

“Do you see any green in my eye, my dear?” she
inquired. .

Her friend did not look, but Tommy looked, and
there was none. He assured her of this so earnestly
that Bob fell in love with him on the spot, and chucked
him under the chin, first with her thumb and then with
her toe, which feat was duly reported to Shovel, who
could do it by the end of the week.

Did Tommy, Bcb wanted to know, still think her a
mere woman ?

No, he withdrew the charge, but— but— She was
wearing her outdoor garments, and he pointed to them. _
“Why does yer wear them, then?” he demanded.

“For the matter of that,” she replied, pointing at his
frock, “why do you wear them ?” Whereupon Tommy
began to cry.

“T ain’t not got no right ones,” he blubbered. Harum-


BOB FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM ON THE SPOT
THE END OF AN IDYLL 61

scarum Bob, who was a trump, had him in her
motherly arms immediately, and the upshot of it was
that a blue suit she had worn when she was Sam Some-
thing changed owners. Mrs. Sandys “made it up,”
and that is how Tommy got into trousers.

Many contingencies were considered in the making,
but the suit would fit Tommy by and by if he grew, or
it shrunk, and they did not pass each other in the
night. When proud Tommy first put on his suit the
most unexpected shyness overcame him, and having set
off vaingloriously he stuck on the stair and wanted to
hide. Shovel, who had been having an argument with
his old girl, came, all boastful bumps, to him, and
Tommy just stood still with a self-conscious simper on
his face. And Shovel, who could have damped him
considerably, behaved in the most honorable manner,
initiating him gravely into the higher life, much as you
show the new member round your club.

It was very risky to go back to Reddy, whom he had.
not seen for many weeks; but in trousers! He could
not help it. He only meant to walk up and down her
-street, so that she might see him from the window, and
know that this splendid thing was he; but though he
went several times into the street, Reddy never came
to the window.

The reason he had to wait in vain at Reddy’s door
was that she was dead; she had been dead for quite a
long time when Tommy came back to look for her. You
52 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

mothers who have lost your babies, I should be a sorry
knave were I to ask you to cry now over the death of
another womau’s child. Reddy: had been lent to two
people for a very little while, just as your babies were,
and when the time was up she blew a kiss to them and
ran gleefully back to God, just as your babies did.
The gates of heaven are so easily found when we are
little, and they are always standing open to let children
" wander in.

But though Reddy was gone away forever, mamma
still lived in that house, and on a day she opened the
door to come out. Tommy was standing there — she
saw him there waiting for Reddy. Dry-eyed this
sorrowful woman had heard the sentence pronounced,
dry-eyed she had followed the little coffin to its grave;
tears had not come even when waking from illusive
dreams she put out her hand in bed to a child who was
not there; but when she saw Tommy waiting at the
door for Reddy, who had been dead for a month, her
bosom moved and she could cry again.

Those tears were sweet to her husband, and it was he
who took Tommy on his knee in the room where the.
books were, and told him that there was no Reddy now.
When Tommy knew that Reddy was a deader he cried
bitterly, and the man said, very gently, “I am glad you
were so fond of her.”

“?T ain’t that,” Tommy answered with a knuckle in
his eye, “’tain’t that as makes me cry.” He looked
error eee


THE END OF AN IDYLL 53

down at his trousers and in a fresh outburst of childish
grief he wailed, “It’s them!”

Papa did not understand, but the boy explained.
“She can’t not never see them now,” he sobbed, “and
I wants her to see them, and they has pockets!”

It had come to the man unexpectedly. He put
Tommy down almost roughly, and raised his hand to
his head as if he felt a sudden pain there.

But Tommy, you know, was only a little boy.
CHAPTER V

THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS

EspetH at last did something to win Tommy’s
respect; she fell ill of an ailment called in Thrums the
eroop. When Tommy first heard his mother call it
croop, he thought she was merely humoring Elspeth,
and that it was nothing more distinguished than London
whooping-cough, but on learning that it was genuine
croop, he began to survey the ambitious little creature
with a new interest.

This was well for Elspeth, as she had now to spend
most of the day at home with him, their mother, whose
health was failing through frequent attacks of bronchitis,
being no longer able to carry her through the streets.
Of course Elspeth took to repaying his attentions by
loving him, and he soon suspected it, and then gloomily
admitted it to himself, but never to Shovel. Being but
an Englishman, Shovel saw no reason why relatives
should conceal their affection for each other, but he
played on this Scottish weakness of Tommy’s with
cruel enjoyment.

“She’s fond on yer!” he would say severely.

“You’s a liar.”
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS 55

“Gar long! I believe as you’re fond on her ! ”

“You jest take care, Shovel.”

“ Ain’t yer ?”

“Na-o!”

“Will yer swear ?”

“So I will swear.”

“Let ’s hear yer.”

“ Dagont!”

So for a time the truth was kept hidden, and Shovel
retired, casting aspersions, and offering to eat all the
hair on Elspeth’s head for a penny.

This hair was white at present, which made Tommy
uneasy about her future, but on the whole he thought
he might make something of her if she was only longer.
Sometimes he stretched her on the floor, pulling her
legs out straight, for she had a silly way of doubling
them up, and then he measured her carefully with his
mother’s old boots. Her growth proved to be distress-
ingly irregular, as one day she seemed to have grown
an inch since last night, and then next day she had
shrunk two inches.

After her day’s work Mrs. Sandys was now so list-
less that, had not Tommy interfered, Elspeth would
have been a backward child. Reddy had been able to:
walk from the first day, and so ‘of course had he, but
this little slow-coach’s legs wobbled at the joints, like
the blade of a knife without a spring. The question of
questions was How to keep her on end ?
56 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Tommy sat on the fender revolving this problem,
his head resting on his hand: that favorite position of
mighty intellects when about to be photographed.
Elspeth lay on her stomach on the floor, gazing earnestly
at him, as if she knew she was in his thoughts’for some
stupendous purpose. Thus the apple may have looked
at Newton before it fell.

Hankey, the postman, compelled the flowers in his
window to stand erect by tying them'to sticks, so
Tommy took two sticks from a bundle of firewood, and
splicing Elspeth’s legs to them, held her upright
against the door with one hand. All he asked of her
to-day was to remain in this position after he said
“One, two, three, four, picture/” and withdrew his
hand, but down she flopped every time, and he said,
with scorn,

“You ain’t got no genius: you has just talent.”

But he had her in bed with the scratches nicely
covered up before his mother came home.

He tried another plan with more success. Lost dogs,
it may be remembered, had a habit of following Shovel’s
father, and he not only took the wanderers in, but
taught them how to beg and shake hands and walk on
two legs. ‘Tommy had sometimes been present at these
agreeable exercises, and being an inventive boy he —
But as Elspeth was a nice girl, let it suffice to pause
here and add shyly, that in time she could walk.

He also taught her to speak, and if you need to be
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS 57

told with what luscious word he enticed her into
language you are sentenced to re-read the first pages of
his life.

“Thrums,”

he would say persuasively, “Thrums,
Thrums. You opens your mouth like this, and shuts it
like this, and that’s it.” Yet when he had coaxed her
thus for many days, what does she do but break her
long silence with the word “Tommy!” The recoil
knocked her over.

Soon afterward she brought down a bigger bird. No
Londoner can say “Auld licht,” and Tommy had often
crowed over Shovel’s “O] likt.” When the testing of
Elspeth could be deferred no longer, he eyed her with
the look a hen gives the green egg on which she has
been sitting twenty days, but Elspeth triumphed, say-
ing the words modestly even, as if nothing inside her
told her she had that day done something which would
have baffled Shakespeare, not to speak of most of the
gentlemen who sit for Scotch constituencies.

“Reddy couldn’t say it!” Tommy cried exultantly,
and from that great hour he had no more fears for
Elspeth.

Next the alphabet knocked for admission; and entered
first Mand P, which had prominence in the only poster
visible from the window. Mrs. Sandys had taught
Tommy his letters, but he had got into words by study-
ing posters.

Elspeth being able now to make the perilous descent
58 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of the stairs, Tommy guided her through the streets
(letting go hurriedly if Shovel hove in sight), and here
she bagged new letters daily. With Catlings some-
thing, which is the best, she got into capital Cs; ys are
found easily when you know where to look for them
(they hang on behind); As are never found singly,
but often three at a time; @ is so aristocratic that even
Tommy had only heard of it, doubtless it was there,
but indistinguishable among the masses like a celebrity
in a crowd; on the other hand, big A and little e were
so dirt cheap, that these two scholars passed them with
something very like a sneer.

The printing-press is either the greatest blessing or
the greatest curse of modern times, one sometimes for-
gets which. Elspeth’s faith in it was absolute, and as
it only spoke to her from placards, here was her
religion, at the age of four:

“PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.
HApPpy ARE THEY WHO NEEDING KNOW THE
Paintess Porous PLAstER.”

Of religion, Tommy had said many fine things to her,
embellishments on the simple doctrine taught him by
his mother before the miseries of this world made her
indifferent to the next. But the meaning of “Pray
without ceasing,” Elspeth, who was God’s child always,
seemed to find out for herself, and it cured all her
troubles. She prayed promptly for every one she saw
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS 59

doing wrong, including Shovel, who occasionally had
words with Tommy on the subject, and she not only
prayed for her mother, but proposed to Tommy that
they should buy her a porous plaster. Mrs. Sandys
had been down with bronchitis again.

Tommy raised the monetary difficulty.

Elspeth knew where there was some money, and it
was her very own.

Tommy knew where there was money, and it was his.
very own.

Elspeth would not tell how much she had, and it was
twopence halfpenny.

Neither would Tommy tell, and it was twopence.

Tommy would get a surprise on his birthday.

So would Elspeth get a surprise on her birthday.

Elspeth would not tell what the surprise was to be,
and. it was to be a gun.

Tommy also must remain mute, and it was to be a’
box of dominoes.

Elspeth did not want dominoes.

Tommy knew that, but he wanted them.

Elspeth discovered that guns cost fourpence, and
dominoes threepence halfpenny; it seemed to her,
therefore, that Tommy was defrauding her of a half-
penny.

Tommy liked her cheek. You got the dominoes for
threepence halfpenny, but the price on the box is five-’
pence, so that Elspeth would really owe him a penny.
60 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

This led to an agonizing scene in which Elspeth wept
while Tommy told her sternly about Reddy. It had
become his custom to tell the tale of Reddy when
Elspeth was obstreperous.

Then followed a scene in which Tommy called him-
self a scoundrel for frightening his dear Elspeth, and
swore that he loved none but her. Result: reconcilia-
tion, and agreed, that instead of a gun and dominoes,
they should buy a porous plaster. You know the shops
where the plasters are to be obtained by great colored
bottles in their windows, and, as it was advisable to
find the very best shop, Tommy and Elspeth in their
wanderings came under the influence of the bottles, red,
yellow, green, and blue, and color entered into their
lives, giving them many delicious thrills. These bottles
are the first poem known to the London child, and you
chemists who are beginning to do without them in your
windows should be told that it is a shame.

In the glamour, then, of the romantic bottles walked
Tommy and Elspeth hand in hand, meeting so many
novelties that they might have spared a tear for the
unfortunate children who sit in nurseries surrounded
by all they ask for, and if the adventures of these two
frequently ended in the middle, they had probably
begun another while the sailor-suit boy was still hold-
ing up his leg to let the nurse put on his little sock.
While they wandered, they drew near unwittingly to
the enchanted street, to which the bottles are a colored
THE GIRL WITH TWO MOTHERS . 61

way, and at last they were in it, but Tommy recognized
it not; he did not even feel that he was near it, for
there were no outside stairs, no fairies strolling about,
it was a short street as shabby as his own.

But someone had shouted “Dinna haver, lassie;
you’re blethering!”

Tommy whispered to Elspeth, “Be still; don’t
speak,” and he gripped her hand tighter and stared at
the speaker. He was a boy of ten, dressed like a
Londoner, and his companion had disappeared. ‘Tommy
never doubting but that he was the sprite of long ago,
gripped him by the sleeve. All the savings of Elspeth
and himself were in his pocket, and yielding to impulse,
as was his way, he thrust the fivepence halfpenny into
James Gloag’s hand. The new millionaire gaped, but
not at his patron, for the why and wherefore of this
gift were trifles to James beside the tremendous fact
that he had fivepence halfpenny. ‘“Almichty me!” he
cried and bolted. Presently he returned, having
deposited his money in a safe place, and his first
remark was perhaps the meanest on record. He held
out his hand and said greedily, “Have you ony
maiz ?”

This, you feel certain, must have been the most
important event of that evening, but strange to say, it
was not. Before Tommy could answer James’s ques-
tion, a woman in a shawl had pounced upon him and
hurried him and Elspeth out of the street. She had
62 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

been standing at a corner looking wistfully at the
‘window blinds behind which folk from Thrums’passed
to and fro, hiding her face from people in the street,
_but gazing eagerly after them. It was Tommy’s
mother, whose first free act on coming to London had
been to find out that street, and many a time since then
she had skulked through it or watched it from dark
places, never daring to disclose herself, but sometimes
recognizing familiar faces, sometimes hearing a few
words in the old tongue that is harsh and ungracious to
you, but was so sweet to her, and bearing them away
with her beneath her shawl as if they were something
warm to lay over her cold heart.

For a time she upbraided Tommy passionately for
not keeping away from this street, but soon her hunger
for news of Thrums overcame her prudence, and she
consented to let him go back if he promised never to
tell that his mother came from Thrums. “And if ony-
bedy wants to ken your name, say it’s Tommy, but
dinna let on that it’s Tommy Sandys.”

“Elspeth,” Tommy whispered that night, “I’m near
sure there’s something queer about my mother and me
and you.” But he did not trouble himself with won-
dering what the something queer might be, so engrossed
was he in the new and exciting life that had suddenly
opened to him.
CHAPTER VI

THE ENCHANTED STREET

In Thrums Street, as it ought to have been called,
herded at least one-half of the Thrums folk in London,
and they formed a colony, of which the grocer at the
corner sometimes said wrathfully that not a member
would give sixpence for anything except Bibles or
whiskey. In the streets one could only tell they were
not Londoners by their walk, the flagstones having no
grip for their feet, or, if they had come south late in
life, by their backs, which they carried at the angle on
which webs are most easily supported. When mixing
with the world they talked the English tongue, which
came out of them as broad as if it had been squeezed
through a mangle, but when the day’s work was done,
it was only a few of the giddier striplings that remainéd
Londoners. For the majority there was no raking the
streets after diversion, they spent the hour or two
before bed-time in reproducing the life of Thrums.
Few of them knew much of London except the nearest
way between this street and their work, and their most
interesting visitor was a Presbyterian minister, most of
64 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

whose congregation lived in much more fashionable
parts, but they were almost exclusively servant girls,
and when descending area-steps to visit them he had
been challenged often and jocularly by policemen,
which perhaps was what gave him a subdued and
furtive appearance.

The rooms were furnished mainly with articles bought
in London, but these became as like Thrums dressers
and seats as their owners could make them, old Petey,
for instance, cutting the back off a chair because he
felt most at home on stools. Drawers were used as
baking-boards, pails turned into salt-buckets, floors
were sanded and hearthstones ca’med, and the popular
supper consisted of porter, hot water, and soaked bread,
after every spoonful of which they groaned pleasantly,
and stretched their legs. Sometimes they played at
the dambrod, but more often they pulled down the
blinds on London and talked of Thrums in their mother
tongue. Nevertheless few of them wanted to return to
it, and their favorite joke was the case of James
Gloag’s father, who being home-sick flung up his situa-
tion and took train for Thrums, but he was back in
London in three weeks.

Tommy soon had the entry to these homes, and his
first news of the inmates was unexpected. It was that
they were always sleeping. In broad daylight he had
seen Thrums men asleep on beds, and he was somewhat
ashamed of them until he heard the excuse. A number
THE ENCHANTED STREET 65

of the men from Thrums were bakers, the first emigrant
of this trade having drawn others after him, and they
slept great part of the day to be able to work all night
in a cellar, making nice rolls for rich people. Baker
Lumsden, who became a friend of Tommy, had got his
place in the cellar when his brother died, and the
brother had succeeded Matthew Croall when he died.

They die very soon, Tommy learned from Lumsden,
generally when they are eight and thirty. Lumsden
was thirty-six, and when he died his nephew was to get
the place. The wages are good.

Then there were several masons, one of whom, like
the first baker, had found work for all the others, and
there were men who had drifted into trades strange to
their birthplace, and there was usually one at least who
had come to London to “better himself” and had not
done it as yet. The family Tommy liked best was the
Whamonds, and especially he liked old Petey and young
Petey Whamond. They were a large family of women
and men, all of whom earned their living in other streets,
except the old man, who kept house and was a famous
knitter of stockings, as probably his father had been
before him. He was a great one, too, at telling what
they would be doing at that moment in Thrums, every
corner of which was as familiar to him as the ins and
outs of the family hose. Young Petey got fourteen
shillings a week from a hatter, and one of his duties
was to carry as many as twenty band-boxes at a time

5
66 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

through fashionable streets; it is a matter for elation
that dukes and statesmen had often to take the curb-
stone, because young Petey was coming. Nevertheless
young Petey was not satisfied, and never would be
(such is the Thrums nature) until he became a salesman
in the shop to which he acted at present as fetch and
carry, and he used to tell Tommy that this position
would be his as soon as he could sneer sufficiently at
the old hats. When gentlemen come into the shop and
buy a new hat, he explained, they put it on, meaning
to tell you to send the old one to their address, and the
art of being a fashionable hatter lies in this: you must
be able to curl your lips so contemptuously at the old
hat that they tell you guiltily to keep it, as they have
no further use for it. Then they retire ashamed of
their want of moral courage and you have made an
extra half-guinea.

“But I aye snort,” young Petey admitted, “and it
should be done without a sound.” When he graduated,
he was to marry Martha Spens, who was waiting for
him at Tillyloss. There was a London seamstress
whom he preferred, and she was willing, but it is safest
to stick to Thrums.

When Tommy was among his new friends a Scotch
word or phrase often escaped his lips, but old Petey
and the others thought he had picked it up from them,
and would have been content to accept him as a London
waif who lived somewhere round the corner. To trick
THE ENCHANTED STREET 67

people so simply, however, is not agreeable to an artist,
and he told them his name was Tommy Shovel, and
that his old girl walloped him, and his father found
dogs, all which inventions Thrums Street accepted as
true. What is much more noteworthy is that, as he
gave them birth, Tommy half believed them also, being
already the best kind of actor.

Not all the talking was done by Tommy when he.
came home with news, for he seldom mentioned a
Thrums name, of which his mother could not tell him
something more. But sometimes she did not choose
to tell,as when he announced that a certain Elspeth
Lindsay, of the Marywellbrae, was dead. After this
she ceased to listen, for old Elspeth had been her ~
grandmother, and she had now no kin in Thrums.

“Tell me about the Painted Lady,” Tommy said to
her. “Is it true she’s a witch?” But Mrs. Sandys
had never heard of any woman so called: the Painted
Lady must have gone to Thrums after her time.

“There ain’t no witches now,” said Elspeth tremu-
lously; Shovel’s mother had told her so.

“Not in London,” replied Tommy, with contempt;
and this is all that was said of the Painted Lady then.
It is the first mention of her in these pages.

The people Mrs. Sandys wanted to hear of chiefly
were Aaron Latta and Jean Myles, and soon Tommy
brought news of them, but at the same time he had
heard of the Den, and he said first:
68 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Oh, mother, I thought as you had told me about
all the beauty places in Thrums, and you ain’t never
told me about the Den.” :

His mother heaved a quick breath. “It’s the only
place I hinna telled you o’,” she said.

“Had you forget it, mother ?”

Forget the Den! Ah, no, Tommy, your mother had
not forgotten the Den. :

“And, listen, Elspeth, in the Den there’s a bonny
spring of water called the Cuttle Well. Had you for-
got the Cuttle Well, mother ?”

No, no; when Jean Myles forgot the names of her
children she would still remember the Cuttle Well.
Regardless now of the whispering between Tommy and
Elspeth, she sat long over the fire, and it is not difficult
to fathom her thoughts. They were of the Den and the
Cuttle Well.

Into the life of every man, and no woman, there
comes a moment when he learns suddenly that he is
held eligible for marriage. A girl gives him the jag,
and it brings out the perspiration. Of the issue else-
where of this stab with a bodkin let others speak; in
Thrums its commonest effect is to make the callant’s
body take a right angle to his legs, for he has been
touched in the fifth button, and he backs away broken-
winded. By and by, however, he is at his work —
among the turnip-shoots, say — guffawing and clapping
his corduroys, with pauses for uneasy meditation, and
THE ENCHANTED STREET 69

there he ripens with the swedes, so that by the back-
end of the year he has discovered, and exults to know,
that the reward of manhood is neither more nor less
than this sensation at the ribs. Soon thereafter, or at
worst, sooner or later (for by holding out he only puts
the women’s dander up), he is led captive to the Cuttle
Well. This well has the reputation of being the place
where it is most easily said.

The wooded ravine called the Den is in Thrums
rather than on its western edge, but is so craftily
hidden away that when within a stone’s throw you may
give up the search for it; it is also so deep that larks
tise from the bottom and carol overhead, thinking -
themselves high in the heavens before they are on a
level with Nether Drumley’s farmland. In shape it is
almost a semicircle, but its size depends on you and
the maid. If she be with you, the Den is so large that
you must rest here and there; if you are after her
boldly, you can dash to the Cuttle Well, which was the
trysting-place, in the time a stout man takes to lace his
boots; if you are of those self-conscious ones who look
behind to see whether jeering blades are following, you
may crouch and wriggle your way onward and not be
with her in half an hour.

Old Petey had told Tommy that, on the whole, the
greatest pleasure in life on a Saturday evening is to
put your back against a stile that leads into the Den
and rally the sweethearts as they go by. The lads,
70 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

when they see you, want to go round by the other stile,
but the lasses like it, and often the sport ends spiritedly
with their giving you a clout on the head.

Through the Den runs a tiny burn, and by its side is
a pink path, dyed this pretty color, perhaps, by the
blushes the ladies leave behind them. The burn as it
passes the Cuttle Well, which stands higher and just
out of sight, leaps in vain to see who is making that
cooing noise, and the well, taking the spray for kisses,
laughs all day at Romeo, who cannot get up. Well is
a name it must have given itself, for it is only a spring
in the bottom of a basinful of water, where it makes
about as much stir in the world as a minnow jumping
ata fly. hey say that if a boy, by making a bowl of
-his hands, should suddenly carry off all the water, a
quick girl could thread her needle at the spring. But
it is a spring that will not wait a moment.

Men who have been lads in Thrums sometimes go
back to it from London or from across the seas, to look
again at some battered little house and feel the blasts
of their bairnhood playing through the old wynds, and
they may take with them a foreign wife. They show
her everything, except the Cuttle Well; they often go
there alone. ‘The well is sacred to the memory of first
love. You may walk from the well to the round ceme-
tery in ten minutes. It is a common walk for those
who go back.

First love is but a boy and girl playing at the Cuttle
od

THE ENCHANTED STREET T1

Well with a bird’s egg. They blow it on one summer
evening in the long grass, and on the next it is borne
away on a coarse laugh, or it breaks beneath the burden
ofatear. And yet — I once saw an aged woman, a
widow of many years, cry softly at mention of the
Cuttle Well. “John was a good man to you,” I said,
for John had been her husband. “He was a leal man
to me,” she answered with wistful eyes, “ay, he was a
leal man to me — but it wasna John I was thinking o’.
You dinna ken what makes me greet so sair,” she
added, presently, and though I thought I knew now I
was wrong. ‘‘It’s because I canna mind his name,”
she said.

So the Cuttle Well has its sad memories and its
bright ones, and many of the bright memories have
become sad with age, as so often happens to beautiful
things, but the most mournful of all is the story of
Aaron Latta and Jean Myles. Beside the well there
stood for long a great pink stone, called the Shoaging
Stone, because it could be rocked like a cradle, and on
it lovers used to cut their names. Often Aaron Latta
and Jean Myles sat together on the Shoaging Stone,
and then there came a time when it bore these words,

cut by Aaron Latta:

HERE tres tue MAnnoop or AARON Latta,
A Fonp Son, a Farrurun FRIEND AND a TRUE: LOVER,
Wuo VIonATED THE FEELINGS OF SEX ON
THIS Spot, AND Is NOW THE SCUNNER OF Gop AND May.
72 ; SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Tommy’s mother now heard these words for the first
time, Aaron having cut them on the stone after she left
Thrums, and her head sank at each line, as if someone
had struck four blows at her.

The stone was no longer at the Cuttle Well. As the
easiest way of obliterating the words, the minister had
ordered it to be broken, and of the pieces another
mason had made stands for watches, one of which was
now in Thrums Street.

“Aaron Latta ain’t a mason now,” Tommy rattled
on: “he is a warper, because he can warp in his own
house without looking on mankind or speaking to
mankind. Auld Petey said he minded the day when
Aaron Latta was a merry loon, and then Andrew
MeVittie said, ‘ God behears, to think that Aaron Latta
was ever a merry man!’ and Baker Lumsden said,
‘Curse her!’”

His mother shrank in her chair, but said nothing,
and Tommy explained: “It was Jean Myles he was
cursing; did you ken her, mother? she ruined Aaron
Latta’s life.”

“ Ay, and wha ruined Jean Myles’s life ?” his mother
cried passionately.

Tommy did not know, but he thought that young
Petey might know, for young Petey had said: “If I
had been. Jean Myles I would have spat in Aaron’s face
rather than marry him.” ‘

Mrs. Sandys seemed pleased to hear this.
THE ENCHANTED STREET 73

“They wouldna tell me what it were she did,”
Tommy went on; “they said it was ower ugly a story,
but she were a bad one, for they stoned her out of
Thrums. I dinna know where she is now, but she were
stoned out of Thrums!”

“No alane ?”

“There was a man with her, and his name was — it
was ——” ;

His mother clasped her hands nervously while Tommy
tried to remember the name. “His name was Magerful
Tam,” he said at length.

“Ay,” said his mother, knitting her teeth, “that was
his name.”

“T dinna mind any more,” Tommy concluded. “« Yes,
I mind they aye called Aaron Latta ‘Poor Aaron
Latta.’ ”

“Did they ? I warrant, though, there wasna one as
said ‘ Poor Jean Myles’ ?”

She began the question in a hard voice, but as she
said “Poor Jean Myles” something caught in her
throat, and she sobbed, painful dry sobs.

“How could they pity her when she were such a bad
one ?” Tommy answered briskly. :

“Ts there none to pity bad ones ?” said his sorrowful
mother.

Elspeth plucked her by the skirt. “There’s God,
ain’t there?” she said, inquiringly, and getting no
answer she flopped upon her knees, to say a babyish
74 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

prayer that would sound comic to anybody except to
Him to whom it was addressed.

“You ain’t praying for a woman as was a disgrace to
Thrums!” Tommy cried, jealously, and he was about
to raise her by force, when his mother stayed his hand.

“Let her alane,” she said, with a twitching mouth
and filmy eyes. “Let her alane. Let my bairn pray
for Jean Myles.”


“LET HER ALANE, LET MY BAIRN PRAY FOR JEAN MYLES”’
CHAPTER VII

COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY

“JgAN Myues bides in London” was the next remarke
able news brought by Tommy from Thrums Street.
“And that ain’t all, Magerful Tam is her man; and that
ain’t all, she has a laddic called Tommy : and that ain’t
all, Petey and the rest has never seen her in London, but
she writes letters to Thrums folks and they writes to
Petey and tells him what she said. That ain’t all neithez,
they canna find ow vhat street she bides in, but it’s on
the bonny side of London, and it’s grand, and she wears
silk clothes, and her Tommy has velvet trousers, and
they have a servant as calls him ‘sir.’ Oh, I would just
like to kick him! They often looks for her in the grand
streets, but they’re angry at her getting on so well, and
Martha Scrymgeour said it were enough to make good
women like her stop going reg’lar to the kirk.”

“Martha said that!” exclaimed his mother, highly
pleased. “Heard you anything of a woman called
Esther Auld? Her man does the orra work at the
Lappit Hen public in Thrums.”

“He’s head man at the Tappit Hen public now,” an-
swered Tommy; “and she wishes she could find out
76 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

where Jean Myles bides, so as she could write and tell
her that she is grand too, and has six hair-bottomed
chairs.”

“She ’ll never get the satisfaction,” said his mother
triumphantly. “Tell me more about her.”

“She has a laddie called Francie, and he has yellow
curl., and she nearly greets because she canna tell Jean
Myles that he goes toa school for the children of gentle-
men only. She is so mad when she gets a letter from
Jean Myles that she takes to her bed.”

“Yea, yea!” said Mrs. Sandys cheerily.

“But they think Jean Myles has been brought low at
last,’”? continued Tommy, ‘ because she hasna wrote for
a. long time to Thrums, and Esther Auld said that if she
knowed for certain as Jean Myles had been brought low,
she would put a threepenn;, bit in the kirk plate.”

“T’m glad you’ve telled me that, laddie,” said Mrs.
Sandys, and next day, unknown to her children, she
wrote another letter She knew she ran a risk of dis-
covery, yet it was probable that Tommy would only hear
her referred to in Thrums Street by her maiden name,
which he had never heard from her, and as for her hus-
band he had been Magerful Tam to everyone. The risk
was great, but the pleasure —— .

Unsuspicious Tommy soon had news of another letter
from Jean Myles, which had sent Esther Auld to bed
again.

“Instead of being brought low,” he announced, “Jean
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY TT

Myles is grander than ever. Her Tommy has a gov-
erness.”

“That would be a doush of water in Esther’s face ?”
his mother said, smiling.

“She wrote to Martha Scrymgeour,” said Tommy,
“that it ain’t no pleasure to her now to boast as her
laddie is at a school for gentlemen’s children only. But
what made her maddest was a bit in Jean Myles’s letter
about chairs. Jean Myles has give all her hair-bot-
tomed chairs to a poor woman and buyed a new kind,
because hair-bottomed ones ain’t fashionable now. So
Esther Auld can’t not bear the sight of her chairs now,
though she were windy of them till the letter went to
Thrums.”

“Poor Esther!” said Mrs. Sandys gaily.

“Oh, and I forgot this, mother. Jean Myles’s reason
for not telling where she bides in London is that she’s
so grand that she thinks if auld Petey and the rest
knowed where the place was they would visit her and
boast as they was her friends. Auld Petey stamped wi’
rage when he heard that, and Martha Scrymgeour said,
‘Oh, the pridefw’ limmer!’ ”

“Ay, Martha,” muttered Mrs. Sandys, “you and Jean
Myles is evens now.”

But the passage that had made them all wince the
most was one giving Jean’s reasons for making no calls
in Thrums Street. ‘You can break it to Martha Scrym-
geour’s father and mither,” the letter said, “and to
78 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Petey Whamond’s sisters and the rest as has friends in
London, that I have seen no Thrums faces here, the low
part where they bide not being for the like of me to file
my feet in. Forby that, I could not let my son mix with
their bairns for fear they should teach him the vulgar
Thrums words and clarty his blue-velvet suit. I’m
thinking you have to dress your laddie in corduroy,
Esther, but you see that would not do for mine. So no
more at present, and we all join in compliments, and my
little velvets says he wishes I would send some of his
toys to your little corduroys. And so maybe I will,
Esther, if you’ll tell Aaron Latta how rich and happy I
am, and if you’re feared to say it to his face, tell it to the
roaring farmer of Double Dykes, and he’ll pass it on.”

“Did you ever hear of such a woman?” Tommy said
indignantly, when he had repeated as much of this insult
to Thrums as he could remember.

But it was information his mother wanted.

“ What said they to that bit?” she asked.

At first, it appears, they limited their comments to
“Tosh, losh,” “keeps a’,” “it cows,” “my certie,” “ay,
ay,” “sal, tal,” “dagont” (the meaning of which is
obvious). But by and by they recovered their breath,
and then Baker Lumsden said, wonderingly :

«“ Wha that was at her marriage could have thought it
would turn out so weel? It was an eerie marriage that,
Petey !”

“ Ay, man, you may say so,” old Petey answered. “1
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 79

was there; I was one o’ them as went in ahint Aaron
Latta, and I’m no’ likely to forget it.”

“JT wasna there,” said the baker, “but I was standing
at the door, and I saw the hearse drive up.”

“What did they mean, mother?” Tommy asked, but
she shuddered and replied, evasively, “Did Martha
Scrymgeour say anything ?”

“She said such a lot,” he had to confess, “that I dinna
mind none on it. But I mind what her father in Thrums
wrote to her; he wrote to her that if she saw a carriage
go by, she was to keep her eyes on the ground, for likely
as not Jean Myles would be in it, and she thought as
they was all dirt beneath her feet. But Kirsty Ross —
who is she?”

“She ’s Martha’s mother. What about her?”

“She wrote at the end of the letter that Martha was
to hang on ahint the carriage and find out where Jean
Myles bides.”

“Laddie, that was like Kirsty! Heard you what the
roaring farmer o’ Double Dykes said ?”

No, Tommy had not heard him mentioned. And in-
deed the roaring farmer of Double Dykes had said
nothing. He was already lying very quiet on the south
side of the cemetery.

Tommy’s mother’s next question cost her a painful
effort. ‘Did you hear,” she asked, “ whether they telled
Aaron Latta about the letter ?”

“Yes, they telled him,” Tommy replied, “and he said
80 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

a queer thing; he said, ‘Jean Myles is dead, I was at
her coffining’ That’s what he aye says when they tell
him there’s another letter. I wonder what he means,
mother ?” ;

“JT wonder!” she echoed, faintly. The only pleasure
left her was to raise the envy of those who had hooted
her from Thrums, but she paid a price for it. Many a
stab she had got from the unwitting Tommy as he re-
peated the gossip of his new friends, and she only won
their envy at the cost of their increased ill-will. They
thought she was lording it in London, and so they were
merciless ;- had they known how poor she was and how
ill, they would have forgotten everything save that she
was a Thrummy like themselves, and there were few but
would have shared their all with her. But she did not
believe this, and therefore you may pity her, for the
hour was drawing near, and she knew it, when she must
appeal to some one for her children’s sake, not for her
own.

No, not for her own. When Tommy was wandering
the pretty parts of London with James Gloag and other
boys from Thrums Street in search of Jean Myles, whom
they were to know by her carriage and her silk dress and
her son in blue velvet, his mother was in bed with bron-
chitis in the wretched room we know of, or creeping to
the dancing school, coughing all the way.

Some of the fits of coughing were very near being her
last, but-she wrestled with her trouble, seeming at times
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 81

to stifle it, and then for weeks she managed to go to her

-work, which was still hers, because Shovel’s old girl did
it for her when the bronchitis would not be defied.
Shovel’s old slattern gave this service unasked and with-
out payment; if she was thanked it was ungraciously, but
she continued to do all she could when there was need;
she smelled of gin, but she continued to do all she
could.

The wardrobe had been put upon its back on the floor,
and so converted into a bed for Tommy and Elspeth, who
were sometimes wakened in the night by a loud noise,
which alarmed them until they learned that it was only
the man in the next room knocking angrily on the wall
because their mother’s cough kept him from sleeping.

Tommy knew what death was now, and Elspeth knew
its name, and both were vaguely aware that it was look-
ing for their mother; but if she could only hold out till
Hogmanay, Tommy said, they would fleg it out of the
house. Hogmanay is the mighty winter festival of
Thrums, and when it came round these two were to give
their mother a present that would make her strong. It
was not to be a porous plaster. Tommy knew now of
something better than that.

“And I knows too!” Elspeth gurgled, “and I has
threepence a’ready, I has.”

“Whisht!” said Tommy, in an agony of dread, “she
hears you, and she ’ll guess. We ain’t speaking of noth-
ing to give to you at Hogmanay,” he said to his mother

6
82 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

with great cunning. Then he winked at Elspeth and
said, with his hand over his mouth, “I hinna twopence! ”
and Elspeth, about to cry in fright, “Have you spended
it?” saw the joke and crowed instead, “Nor yet has I
threepence !”

They smirked together, until Tommy saw a change
come over Elspeth’s face, which made him run her out-
side the door.

“ You was a-going to pray!” he said, severely.

“?’Cos it was a lie, Tommy. I does have threepence.”

“Well, you ain’t a-going to get praying about it. She
would hear yer.”

“T would do it low, Tommy.”

“ She would see yer.”

“Oh, Tommy, let me. God is angry with me.”
Tommy looked down the stair, and no one was in
sight. “TI’ll let yer pray here,” he whispered, “and you
can say I have twopence. But be quick, and do it
standing.”

Perhaps Mrs. Sandys had been thinking that when
Hogmanay came her children might have no mother to
bring presents to, for on their return to the room her
eyes followed them wofully, and a shudder of apprehen-
sion shook her torn frame. Tommy gave Elspeth a look
that meant “I’m sure there’s something queer about
her.”

There was also something queer about himself, which
at this time had the strangest gallop. It began one day
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 83

with a series of morning calls from Shovel, who suddenly
popped his head over the top of the door (he was stand-
ing on the handle), roared “ Roastbeef! ” in the manner
of a railway porter announcing the name of a station,
and then at once withdrew.

He returned presently to say that vain must be all
attempts to wheedle his secret from him, and yet again
to ask irritably why Tommy was not coming out to hear
all about it. Then did Tommy desert Elspeth, and on
the stair Shovel showed him a yellow card with this
printed on it: “8. R. J.C. — Supper Ticket;” and writ-
ten beneath, in a lady’s hand: “Admit Joseph Salt.”
The letters, Shovel explained, meant Society for the
somethink of Juvenile Criminals, and the toffs what ran
it got hold of you when you came out of quod. Then if
you was willing to repent they wrote down your name
and the place what you lived at in a book, and one of
them came to see yer and give yer a ticket for the blow-
out night. This was blow-out night, and that were
Shovel’s ticket. He had bought it from Hump Salt for
fourpence. What you get at the blow-out was roast-
beef, plum-duff, and an orange; but when Hump saw
the fourpence he could not wait.

A favor was asked of Tommy. Shovel had been told
by Hump that it was the custom of the toffs to sit beside
you and question you about your crimes, and lacking the
imagination that made Tommy such an ornament to the
house, the chances were thet he would flounder in his
84 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

answers and be ejected. Hump had pointed this out
to him after pocketing the fourpence. Would Tommy,
therefore, make up things for him to say; reward, the
orange.

This was a proud moment for Tommy, as Shovel’s
knowledge of crime was much more extensive than his
own, though they had both studied it in the pictures of a
lively newspaper subscribed to by Shovel, senior. He
became patronizing at once and rejected the orange as
insufficient.

Then suppose, after he got into the hall, Shovel dropped
his ticket out at the window; Tommy could pick it up,
and then it would admit him also.

Tommy liked this, but foresaw a danger: the ticket
might be taken from Shovel at the door, just as they
took them from you at that singing thing in the church
he had attended with young Petey.

So help Shovel’s davy, there was no fear of this.
They were superior toffs, what trusted to your honor.

Would Shovel swear to this ?

He would.

But would he swear dagont ?

He swore dagont; and then Tommy had him. As he
was so sure of it, he could not object to Tommy’s being
the one who dropped the ticket out at the window ?

Shovel did object for a time, but after a wrangle he
gave up the ticket, intending to take it from Tommy
when primed with the necessary tale. So they parted
COMIC OVERTURE TO A TRAGEDY 85

until evening, and Tommy returned to Elspeth, secretive
but elated. For the rest of the day he was in thought,
now waggling his head smugly over some dark, unutter-
able design and again looking a little scared. In grow-
ing alarm she watched his face, and at last she slipped
upon her knees, but he had her up at once and said,
reproachfully :

“Tt were me as teached yer to pray, and now yer prays
forme! That’s fine treatment!”

Nevertheless, after his mother’s return, just before
he stole out to join Shovel, he took Elspeth aside and
whispered to her, nervously :

“You can pray for me if you like, for, oh, Elspeth,
I’m thinking as I’ll need it sore!” And sore he needed
it before the night was out.
CHAPTER VIII

THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS

“T ove my dear father and my dear mother and all
the dear little kids at ’ome. You are a kind laidy or
gentleman. I love yer. I will never do it again, so
help me bob. Amen.”

This was what Shovel muttered to himself again and
again as the two boys made their way across the lamp-
lit Hungerford Bridge, and Tommy asked him what it
meant. :

. “My old gal learned me that; she’s deep,” Shovel
said, wiping the words off his mouth with his sleeve.

“But you got no kids at ’?ome!” remonstrated Tommy.
(Ameliar was now in service.)

Shovel turned on him with the fury of a mother pro-
tecting her young. “Don’t you try for to knock none
on it out,” he cried, and again fell a-mumbling.

Said Tommy, scornfully: “If you says it all out at
one bang you’ll be done at the start.”

Shovel sighed.

“And you should blubber when yer says it,” added
Tommy, who could laugh or cry merely because other
people were laughing or crying, or even with less reason,
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 87

and so naturally ‘that he found it more difficult to stop
than to begin. Shovel was the taller by half a head,
and irresistible with his fists, but to-night Tommy was
master.

“You jest stick to me, Shovel,” he said airily. “Keep
a grip on my hand, same as if yer was Elspeth.”

“But what was we copped for, Tommy ?” entreated
humble Shovel.

Tommy asked him if he knew what a butler was, and
Shovel remembered, confusedly, that there had been a
portrait of a butler in his father’s news-sheet.

“Well, then,” said Tommy, inspired by this same
source, “there ’s a room a butler has, and it is a pantry,
so you and me we crawled through the winder and we
opened the door to the gang. You and me was copped.
They catched you below the table and me stabbing the
butler.”

“Tt was me what stabbed the butler,” Shovel inter-
posed, jealously.

‘How could you do it, Shovel ?”

“ With a knife, I tell yer!”

“Why, you didn’t have no knife,” said Tommy,
impatiently.

This crushed Shovel, but he growled sulkily:

“ Well, I bit him in the leg.”

“ Not you,” said selfish Tommy. “You forgets about
repenting, and if I let yer bite him, you would brag
about it. It’s safer without, Shovel.”
88 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Perhaps it was. “How long did I get in quod, then,
Tommy ?”

‘‘ Fourteen days.”

“ So did you ?” Shovel said, with quick anxiety.

“T gota month,” replied Tommy, firmly.

Shovel roared a word that would never have admitted
him to the hall. Then, “I’m as game as you, and
gamer,” he whined.

“But I’m better at repenting. I tell yer, I’ll cry
when I’m repenting.” Tommy’s face lit up, and Shovel
could not help saying, with a curious look at it:

“You — you ain’t like any other cove I knows,” to
which Tommy replied, also in an awestruck voice:

“T’m so queer, Shovel, that when I thinks ’bout
myself I’m—I’m sometimes near feared.”

«‘ What makes your face for to shine like that? Is it
thinking about the blow-out ?”

No, it was hardly that, but Tommy could not tell
what it was. He and the saying about art for art’s sake
were in the streets that night, looking for each other.

The splendor of the brightly lighted hall, which was
situated in one of the meanest streets of perhaps the
most densely populated quarter in London, broke upon
the two boys suddenly and hit each in his vital part,
tapping an invitation on Tommy’s brain-pan and taking
Shovel coquettishly in the stomach. Now was the
moment when Shovel meant to strip Tommy of the ticket,
but the spectacle in front dazed him, and he stopped to
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 89

tell a vegetable barrow how he loved his dear father and
his dear mother, and all the dear kids at home. Then
Tommy darted forward and was immediately lost in the
crowd surging round the steps of the hall.

Several gentlemen in evening dress stood framed in
the lighted doorway, shouting: “Have your tickets in
your hands and give them up as you pass in.” They
were fine fellows, helping in a splendid work, and their
society did much good, though it was not so well organ-
ized as others that have followed in its steps ; but Shovel,
you may believe, was in no mood to attend to them. He
had but one thought: that the traitor Tommy was doubt-
less at that moment boring his way toward them, under-
ground, as it were, and “holding his ticket in his hand.”
Shovel dived into the rabble and was flung back upside
down. Falling with his arms round a full-grown man,
he immediately ran up him as if he had been a lamp-
post, and was aloft just sufficiently long to see Tommy
give up the ticket and saunter into the hall.

The crowd tried at intervals to rush the door. It was
mainly composed of ragged boys, but here and there were
men, women, and girls, who came into view for a moment
under the lights as the mob heaved and went round and
round like a boiling potful. Two policemen joined the
ticket-collectors, and though it was a good-humored
gathering, the air was thick with such cries as these:

“T lorst my ticket, ain’t I telling yer? Gar on, guv’-
nor, lemme in!”
90 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Oh, crumpets, look at Jimmy! Jimmy never done
nothink, your honor; he’s a himposter.”

“I’m the boy what kicked the peeler. Hie, you toff
with the choker, ain’t I to step up?”

“Tell yer, 1’m a genooine criminal, I am. If yer
don’t lemme in I’ll have the lawr on you.”

“Let a poor cove inas his father drownded hisself
for his country.”

«What air yer torking about ? Warn’t I in larst year,
and the cuss as runs the show, he says to me, ‘ Allers

welcome,’ he says. None on your sarse, Bobby. I
oP)



demands to see the cuss what runs

“Jest keeping on me out ’cos I ain’t done nothin’.
Ho, this is a encouragement to honesty, I don’t think.”

Mighty in tongue and knee and elbow was an un-
known knight, ever conspicuous; it might be but by a
leg waving for one brief moment in the air. He did not
want to go in, would not go in though they went on their
‘ blooming knees to him; he was after a viper of the name
of Tommy. Half an hour had not tired him, and he
was leading another assault, when a magnificent lady,
such as you see in wax-works, appeared in the vestibule
and made some remark to a policeman, who then
shouted:

“Tf so there be hany lad here called Shovel, he can
step forrard.”

A dozen lads stepped forward at once, but a flail drove
them right and left, and the unknown knight had mounted
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 91

the parapet amid a shower of execrations. “If you are
"the real Shovel,” the lady said to him, “you can tell me
how this proceeds, ‘I love my dear father and my dear
mother > Go on.”

Shovel obeyed, tremblingly. “And all the dear little
kids at ’ome. You are a kind laidy or gentleman. I



Jove yer. I will never do it again, so help me bob.
Amen.”

“Charming!” chirped the lady, and down pleasant-
smelling aisles she led him, pausing to drop an observa-
tion about Tommy to a clergyman: “So glad I came; I
have discovered the most delightful little monster called
Tommy.” The clergyman looked after her half in sad-
ness, half sarcastically; he was thinking that he had
discovered a monster also.

At present the body of the hall was empty, but its
sides were lively with gorging boys, among whom ladies
moved, carrying platefuls of good things. Most of them
were sweet women, fighting bravely for these boys, and
not at all like Shovel’s patroness, who had come for a
sensation. Tommy falling into her hands, she got it.

Tommy, who had a corner to himself, was lolling in
it like a little king, and he not only ordered roast-beef
for the awe-struck Shovel, but sent the lady back for
salt. Then he whispered, exultantly: “Quick, Shovel,
feel my pocket” (it bulged with two oranges), “now the
inside pocket ” (plum-duff), “now my waistcoat pocket”
(threepence) ; “look in my mouth” (chocolates).


92 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

When Shovel found speech he began excitedly: “I
love my dear father and my dear ——”

“ Gach!’? said Tommy, interrupting him contemptu-
ously. “Repenting ain’t no go, Shovel. Look at them
other coves; none Of them has got no money, nor full
pockets, and I tell you, it’s ’cos they has repented.”

“Gar on!” :

“Tt’s true, I tells you. ‘hat lady as is my one, she’s
called her ladyship, and she don’t care a cuss for boys as
has repented,” which of course was a libel, her ladyship
being celebrated wherever paragraphs penetrate for hav-
ing knitted a pair of stockings for the deserving poor.

“When I saw that,” Tommy continued, brazenly, “I
bragged ’stead of repenting, and the wuss 1 says I am,
she jest says, ‘ You little monster,’ and gives me another
orange.”

“Then I’m done for,” Shovel moaned, ‘for I rolled
off that ’bout loving my dear father and my dear mother,
blast ’em, soon as I seen her.”

He need not let that depress him. Tommy had told
her he would say it, but that it was all flam.

Shovel thought the ideal arrangement would be for
him to eat and leave the torking to Tommy. Tommy
nodded. “I’m full, at any rate,” he said, struggling
with his waistcoat. “Oh, Shovel, I am full!”

Her ladyship returned, and the boys held by their con-
tract, but of the dark character Tommy seems to have
been, let not these pages bear the record. Do you won-
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 93

der that her ladyship believed him? On this point we
must fight for our Tommy. You would have believed
him. Even Shovel, who knew, between the bites, that
it was all whoppers, listened as to his father reading
aloud. This was because another boy present half
believed it for the moment also. When he described
* eerie darkness of the’ butler’s pantry, he shivered
involuntarily, and he shut his eyes once — ugh! — that
was because he saw the blood spouting out of the butler.
He was turning up his trousers to show the mark of the
butler’s boot on his leg when the lady was called away,
and then Shovel shook him, saying: “Darn yer, does n’t
yer know as it’s all your eye?” which brought Tommy
to his senses with a jerk.

“Sure ’s death, Shovel,” he whispered, in awe, “I was
thinking I done it, every bit !”

Had her ladyship come back she would have found
him a different boy. He remembered now that Elspeth,
for whom he had filled his pockets, was praying for him;
he could see her on her knees, saying, “Oh, God, I’se
praying for Tommy,” and remorse took hold of him and
shook him on his seat. He broke into one hysterical
laugh and then immediately began to sob. This was the
moment when Shovel should have got him quietly out
of the hall.

Members of the society discussing him afterwards with
bated breath said that never till they died could they
forget her ladyship’s face while he did it. ‘But did
94 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

you notice the boy’s own face? It was positively an-
gelic.” “Angelic, indeed; the little horror was intoxi-
cated.” No, there was a doctor present, and according
to him it was the meal that had gone to the boy’s head ;
he looked half starved. As for the clergyman, he only
said: ““We shall lose her subscription ; I am glad of it.”

Yes, Tommy was intoxicated, but with a beverage not
recognized by the faculty. What happened was this:
Supper being finished, the time had come for what Shovel
called the jawing, and the boys were now mustered in
the body of the hall. The limited audience had gone
to the gallery, and unluckily all eyes except Shovel’s
were turned to the platform. Shovel was apprehensive
about Tommy, who was not exactly sobbing now; but
strange, uncontrollable sounds not unlike the winding
up of a clock proceeded from his throat; his face had
flushed; there was a purposeful look in his usually
unreadable eye; his fingers were fidgeting on the board
in front of him, and he seemed to keep his seat with
difficulty.

The personage who was to address the boys sat on the
platform with clergymen, members of committee, and
some ladies, one of them Tommy’s patroness. Her lady-
ship saw Tommy and smiled to him, but obtained no
response. She had taken a front seat, a choice that
she must have regretted presently.

The chairman rose and announced that the Rev. Mr.
— would open the proceedings with prayer. The Rev.
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 95



Mr. rose to pray in a loud voice for the waifs in the
body of the hall. At the same moment rose Tommy,
and began to pray in a squeaky voice for the people on
the platform.

He had many Biblical phrases, mostly picked up in
Thrums Street, and what he said was distinctly heard
in the stillness, the clergyman being suddenly bereft of
speech. “Oh,” he cried, “look down on them ones
there, for, oh, they are unworthy of Thy mercy, and, oh,
the worst sinner is her ladyship, her sitting there so
brazen in the black frock with yellow stripes, and the
worse I said I were the better pleased were she. Oh,
make her think shame for tempting of a poor boy, for
getting suffer little children, oh, why cumbereth she the
ground, oh ——”

He was in full swing before any one could act.
Shovel having failed to hold him in his seat, had
done what was perhaps the next best thing, got be-
neath it himself. The arm of the petrified clergyman
was still extended, as if blessing his brother’s remarks;
the chairman seemed to be trying to fling his right hand
at the culprit; but her ladyship, after the first stab,
never moved a muscle. Thus for nearly half a minute,
when the officials woke up, and squeezing past many
knees, seized Tommy by the neck and ran him out of the
building. All down the aisle he prayed hysterically,
and for some time afterwards, to Shovel, who had been
cast forth along with him.
96 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

At an hour of that night when their mother was
asleep, and it is to be hoped they were the only two
children awake in London, Tommy sat up softly in the
wardrobe to discover whether Elspeth was still praying
for him. He knew that she was on the floor in a night-
gown some twelve sizes too large for her, but the room was
as silent and black as the world he had just left by taking
his fingers from his ears and the blankets off his face.

“I see you,” he said mendaciously, and in a guarded
voice, so as not to waken his mother, from whom he had
kept his escapade. This had not the desired effect of
drawing a reply from Elspeth, and he tried bluster.

“You needna think as I’ll repent, you brat, so there!
What ?

“I wish I hadna told you about it!” Indeed, he had
endeavored not to do so, but pride in his achievement
had eventually conquered prudence.

“Reddy would have laughed, she would, and said as I
was a wonder. Reddy was the kind I like. What?

“You ate up the oranges quick, and the plum-duff
too, so you should pray for yoursel’ as well as for me.
It’s easy to say as you didna know how I got them till
after you eated them, but you should have found out.
What ?

“Do you think it was for my own self as I done it ?
I jest done it to get the oranges and plum-duff to you, |
I did, and the threepence too. Eh? Speak, you little
besom.
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 9T

“{ tell you as I did repent in the hall. I was greet-
ing, and I never knowed I put up that prayer till Shovel
told me on it. We was sitting in the street by that
time.”

This was true. On leaving the hall Tommy had soon
dropped to the cold ground and squatted there till he
came to, when he remembered nothing of what had led
to his expulsion. Like a stream that has run into a
pond and only finds itself again when it gets out, he
was but a continuation of the boy who when last con-
scious of himself was in the corner crying remorsefully
over his misdeed; and in this humility he would have
returned to Elspeth had no one told him of his prayer.
Shovel, however, was at hand, not only to tell him all
about it, but to applaud, and home strutted Tommy
chuckling.

“JT am sleeping,” he next said to Elspeth, “so you
may as well come to your bed.”

He imitated the breathing of a sleeper, but it was
the only sound to be heard in London, and he desisted
fearfully. “Come away, Elspeth,” he said, coaxingly,
for he was very fond of her and could not sleep while
she was cold and miserable.

Still getting no response he pulled his body inch by
inch out-of the bedelothes, and holding his breath,
found the floor with his feet stealthily, as if to cheat
the wardrobe into thinking that he was stillin it. But
his reason was to discover whether Elspeth had fallen

7
98 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

asleep on her knees without her learning that he cared
to know. Almost noiselessly he worked himself along
the floor, but when he stopped to bring his face nearer
hers, there was such a creaking of his joints that if
Elspeth did not hear it she —-she must be dead! His
knees played whack on the floor.

Elspeth only gasped once, but he heard, and remained
beside her for a minute, so that she might hug him if
such was her desire; and she put out her hand in the
darkness so that his should not have far to travel alone
if it chanced to be on the way to her. Thus they sat on
their knees, each aghast at the hard-heartedness of the
other.

Tommy put the blankets over the kneeling figure,
and presently announced from the wardrobe that if he
died of cold before repenting the blame of keeping him
out of heaven would be Elspeth’s. But the last word
was muffled, for the blankets were tucked about him
as he spoke, and two motherly little arms gave him
the embrace they wanted to withhold. Foiled again,
he kicked off the bedclothes and said: “I tell yer I
wants to die!”

This terrified both of them, and he added, quickly :

“Oh, God, if I was sure I were to die to-night I
would repent at once.” It is the commonest prayer
in all languages, but down on her knees slipped Elspeth
again, and Tommy, who felt that it had done him good,
said indignantly: “Surely that is religion. What?”
THE BOY WITH TWO MOTHERS 99

He lay on his face until he was frightened by a noise
louder than thunder in the daytime — the scraping of
his eyelashes on the pillow. Then he sat up in the
wardrobe and fired his three last shots.

“Elspeth Sandys, I’m done with yer forever, I am.
Ill take care on yer, but I’ll never kiss yer no more.

“When yer boasts as 1’m your brother I’ll say you
ain’t. I’ll tell my mother about Reddy the morn, and
syne she’ll put you to the door smart.

“When you are a grown woman I’ll buy a house
to yer, but you’ll have jest to bide in it by your
lonely self, and I’ll come once a year to speir how
you are, but I won’t come in, I won’t—I’ll jest cry
up the stair.”

The effect of this was even greater than he had ex-
pected, for now two were in tears instead of one, and
Tommy’s grief was the more heartrending, he was so much
better at everything than Elspeth. He jumped out of the
wardrobe and ran to her, calling her name, and he put
his arms round her cold body, and the dear mite, for-
getting how cruelly he had used her, cried, “Oh, tighter,
Tommy, tighter; you did n’t not mean it, did yer? Oh,
you is terrible fond on me, ain’t yer? And you won’t
not tell my mother ’bout Reddy, will yer, and you is no
done wi’ me forever, is yer? and you won’t not put me
in a house by myself, will yer? Oh, Tommy, is that the
tightest you can do?”

And Tommy made it tighter, vowing, “I never meant




100 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

it; I was a bad un to say it. If Reddy were to come
back wanting for to squeeze you out, I would send her
packing quick, I would. I tell yer what, I’l1 kiss you
with folk looking on, I will, and no be ashamed to do it,
and if Shovel is one of them what sees me, and he puts
his finger to his nose, I’ll blood the mouth of him, I
will, dagont!”

Then he prayed for forgiveness, and he could always
pray more beautifully than Elspeth. Even she was sat-
isfied with the way he did it, and so, alack, was he.

“But you forgot to tell,” she said fondly, when once
more they were in the wardrobe together — “you forgot
to tell as you filled your pockets wif things to me.”

“T didn’t forget,’ Tommy replied modestly. “TI
missed it out on purpose, I did, ’cos I was sure God
knows on it without my telling him, and I thought he
would be pleased if I didn’t let on as I knowed it was
good of me.”

“Oh, Tommy,” cried Elspeth, worshipping him, “T
couldn’t have doned that, I couldn’t!” She was
barely six, and easily taken in, but she would save
him from himself if she could.
CHAPTER IX

AULD LANG SYNE

Wuar to do with her ladyship’s threepence? Tommy
finally decided to drop it into the charity-box that had
once contained his penny. They held it over the slit
together, Elspeth almost in tears because it was such a
large sum to give away, but Tommy looking noble he
was so proud of himself; and when he said “Three!”
they let go.

There followed days of excitement centred round their
money-box. Shovel introduced Tommy to a boy what
said as after a bit you forget how much money was in
your box, and then when you opened it, oh, Lor’! there
is more than you thought, so he and Elspeth gave this
plan a week’s trial, affecting not to know how much they
had gathered, but when they unlocked it, the sum was
still only eightpence; so then Tommy told the lar to
come on, and they fought while the horrified Elspeth
prayed, and Tommy licked him, a result due to one of .
the famous Thrums left-handers then on exhibition in
that street for the first time, as taught the victor by
Petey Whamond the younger, late of Tillyloss.
102 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

The money did come in, once in spate (twopence from
Bob in twenty-four hours), but usually so slowly that
they saw it resting on the way, and then, when they
listened intently, they could hear the thud of Hog-
manay. The last halfpenny was a special aggravation,
strolling about, just out of reach, with all the swagger
of sixpence, but at last Elspeth had it, and after that,
the sooner Hogmanay came the better.

They concealed their excitement under too many
wrappings, but their mother suspected nothing. When
she was dressing on the morning of Hogmanay, her
stockings happened to be at the other side of the room,
and they were such a long way off that she rested on
the way to them. At the meagre breakfast she said
what a heavy teapot that was, and Tommy thought this
funny, but the salt had gone from the joke when he
remembered it afterwards. And when she was ready to
go off to her work she hesitated at the door, looking at
her bed and from it to her children as if in two minds,
and then went quietly downstairs.

The distance seems greater than ever to-day, poor
woman, and you stop longer at the corners, where rude
men jeer at you. Scareely can you push open the door
of the dancing-school or lift the pail; the fire has gone
out, you must again go on your knees before it, and
again the smoke makes you cough. Gaunt slattern,
fighting to bring up the phlegm, was it really you for
whom another woman gave her life, and thought it a
AULD LANG SYNE 108

rich reward to get dressing you once in your long
clothes, when she called you her beautiful, and smiled,
and smiling, died? Well, well; but take courage,
Jean Myles. The long road still lies straight up hill,
but your climbing is near an end. Shrink from the
rude men no more, they are soon to forget you, so soon!
Tt is a heavy door, but soon you will have pushed it
open for the last time. The girls will babble still, but
not to you, not of you. Cheer up, the work is nearly
done. Her beautiful! Come, beautiful, strength for a
few more days, and then you can leave the key of the
leaden door behind you, and on your way home you
may kiss your hand joyously to the weary streets, for
you are going to die.

Tommy and Elspeth had been to the foot of the stair
many times to look for her before their mother came
back that evening, yet when she re-entered her home,
behold, they were sitting calmly on the fender as if this
were a day like yesterday or to-morrow, as if Tommy
had not been on a business visit to Thrums Street, as if
the hump on the bed did not mean that a glorious some-
thing was hidden under the coverlet. True, Elspeth
would look at Tommy imploringly every few minutes,
meaning that she could not keep it in much longer, and
then Tommy would mutter the one word “Bell” to
remind her that it was against the rules to begin before
the Thrums eight-o’clock bell rang. They also wiled

away the time of waiting by inviting each other to


104 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

conferences at the window where these whispers
passed —

“She ain’t got a notion, Tommy.”

“Dinna look so often at the bed.”

“Tf I could jest get one more peep at it!”

“No, no; but you can put your hand on the top of it
as you go by.”

The artfulness of Tommy lured his unsuspecting
mother into telling how they would be holding Hog-
manay in Thrums to-night, how cartloads of kebbock
cheeses had been rolling into the town all the livelong
day (“Do you hear them, Elspeth?”), and in dark
closes the children were already gathering, with smeared
faces and in eccentric dress, to sally forth as guisers
at the clap of eight, when the ringing of a bell
lets Hogmanay loose. (“You see, Elspeth ?”) Inside
the houses men and women were preparing (though
not by fasting, which would have been such a good way
that it is surprising no one ever thought of it) for a
series of visits, at every one of which they would be
offered a dram and kebbock and bannock, and in the
grander houses “bridies,” which are a sublime kind of
pie.

Tommy had the audacity to ask what bridies were
like. And he could not dress up and be a guiser, could
he, mother, for the guisers sang a song, and he did not
know the words? What a pity they could not get
bridies to buy in London, and learn the song and sing
AULD LANG SYNE 105

it. But of course they could not! (“Elspeth, if you
tumble off the fender again, she ’1l guess.”)

Such is a sample of Tommy, but Elspeth was sly
also, if in a smaller way, and it was she who said:
“here ain’t nothin’ in the bed, is there, Tommy!”
This duplicity made her uneasy, and she added, behind
her teeth, “Maybe there is,” and then, ‘‘O God, 1]
knows as there is.”

But as the great moment drew near there were no
more questions; two children were staring at the cloek
and listening intently for the peal of a bell nearly five
hundred miles away.

“The clock struck. “Whisht! It’s time, Elspeth!
They ’ve begun! Come on!”

A few minutes afterwards Mrs. Sandys was roused by
a knock at the door, followed by the entrance of two
mysterious figures. The female wore a boy’s jacket
turned outside in, the male a woman’s bonnet and a
shawl, and to make his disguise the more impenetrable
he carried a poker in his right hand. ‘They stopped in
the middle of the floor and began to recite, rather
tremulously,

Get up, good wife, and binna sweir,
And deal your bread to them that’s here,

For the time will come when you'll be dead,
And then you'll need neither ale nor bread.

Mrs. Sandys had started, and then turned piteously
from them; bus when they were done she tried to
106 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

smile, and said, with forced gayety, that she saw they
were guisers, and it was a fine night, and would they
take a chair. The male stranger did so at once, but the
female said, rather anxiously: “You are sure as you
don’t know who we is?” Their hostess shook her
head, and then he of the poker offered her three
guesses, a daring thing to do, but all went well, for her
first guess was Shovel and his old girl; second guess,
Before and After; third guess, Napoleon Buonaparte
and the Auld Licht minister. At each guess the
smaller of the intruders clapped her hands gleefully,
but when, with the third, she was unmuzzled, she
putted with her head at Mrs. Sandys and hugged her,
screaming, “It ain’t none on them; it’s jest me,
mother, it’s Elspeth!” and even while their astounded
hostess was asking could it be true, the male conspirator
dropped his poker noisily (to draw attention to him-
self) and stood revealed as Thomas Sandys.

Was n’t it just like Thrums, was n’t it just the very,
very same? Ah, it was wonderful, their mother said,
but, alas, there was one thing wanting: she had no
Hogmanay to give the guisers.

Had she not? What a pity, Elspeth! Whata pity,
Tommy! What might that be in the bed, Elspeth ?
It couldn’t not be their Hogmanay, could it, Tommy ?
If Tommy was his mother he would look and see. If
Elspeth was her mother she would look and see.

Her curiosity thus cunningly aroused, Mrs. Sandys
AULD LANG SYNE 107

raised the coverlet of the bed and — there were three
bridies, an oatmeal cake, and a hunk of kebbock.
“And they comed from Thrums!” cried Elspeth, while
Tommy cried, “Petey and the others got a lot sent
from Thrums, and I bought the bridies from them,
and they gave me the bannock and the kebbock for
nuthin’!” Their mother did not utter the ery of
rapture which Tommy expected so confidently that he
could have done it for her; instead, she pulled her two
heildren toward her, and the great moment was like to
be a tearful rather than an ecstatic one, for Elspeth had
begun to whimper, and even Tommy — but by a supreme
effort he shouldered reality to the door.

“Ts this my Hogmanay, guidwife ?” he asked in the
nick of time, and the situation thus being saved, the
luscious feast was partaken of, the guisers listening
solemnly as each bite went down. ‘They also took care

“ouidwife” or “mistress,”

to address their hostess as
affecting not to have met her lately, and inquiring
genially after the health of herself and family. “How
many have you?” was Tommy’s masterpiece, and she
answered in the proper spirit, but all the time she was
hiding great part of her bridie beneath her apron,
Hogmanay having come too late for her.

Everything was to be done exactly as they were
doing it in Thrums Street, and so presently Tommy
made a speech; it was the speech of old Petey, who
had rehearsed it several times before him. “Here’sa
108 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

toast,” said Tommy, standing up and waving his arms,
“here ’s a toast that we’ll drink in silence, one that
maun have sad thoughts at the back 0’t to some of us,
but one, my friends, that keeps the hearts of Thrums
folk green and ties us all thegither, like as it were wi’
twine. It’s to all them, wherever they may be the
night, wha’ have sat as lads and lasses at the Cuttle
Well.”

To one of the listeners it was such an unexpected
ending that a faint cry broke from her, which startled
the children, and they sat in silence looking at her.
She had turned her face from them, but her arm was
extended as if entreating Tommy to stop.

“That was the end,” he said, at length, in a tone of
expostulation; “it’s auld Petey’s speech.”

“Are you sure,” his mother asked wistfully, “that
Petey was to say ali them as have sat at the Cuttle
Well? He made no exception, did he?”

Tommy did not know what exception was, but he
assured her that he had repeated the speech, word for
word. For the remainder of the evening she sat apart
by the fire, while her children gambled for crack-nuts,
young Petey having made a teetotum for Tommy and
taught him what the letters on it meant. Their mirth
rang faintly in her ear, and they scarcely heard her fits
of coughing; she was as much engrossed in her own
thoughts as they in theirs, but hers were sad and theirs
were jocund -— Hogmanay, like all festivals, being but
AULD LANG SYNE 109

a bank from which we can only draw what we put in.
So an hour or more passed, after which Tommy whis-
pered to Elspeth: “Now’s the time; they ’re at it
now,” and each took a hand of their mother, and she
woke from her reverie to find that they had pulled her
from her chair and were jumping up and down, shout-
ing, excitedly, ‘For Auld Lang Syne, my dear, for
Auld Lang Syne, Auld Lang Syne, my dear, Auld Lang
Syne.” She tried to sing the words with her children,
tried to dance round with them, tried to smile, but



It was Tommy who dropped her hand first. ‘ Mother,”
he cried, “your face is wet, you’re greeting sair, and
you said you had forgot the way.”

“T mind it now, man, I mind it now,” she said,
standing helplessly, in the middle of the room.

Elspeth nestled against her, crying, “My mother was
thinking about Thrums, was n’t she, Tommy ?”

“T was thinking about the part o’t I’m most awid
to be in,” the poor woman said, sinking back into her
chair.

“Tt ’s the Den,” Tommy told Elspeth.

“Tt ’s the Square,” Elspeth told Tommy.

“No, it’s Monypenny.”

“No, it’s the Commonty.”

But it was none of these places. “It’s the ceme-
tery,” the woman said, “it’s the hamely, quiet ceme-
tery on the hillside. Oh, there ’s mony a bonny place
in my nain bonny toon, but there ’s nain so hamely like
110 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

as the cemetery.” She sat shaking in the chair, and
they thought she was to say no more, but presently she
rose excitedly, and with a vehemence that made them
shrink from her she cried: “I winna lie in London!
tell Aaron Latta that; I winna lie in London !”

For a few more days she trudged to her work, and
after that she seldom left her bed. She had no longer
strength to coax up the phlegm, and a doctor brought
in by Shovel’s mother warned her that her days were

“near anend. Then she wrote her last letter to Thrums,
Tommy and Elspeth standing by to pick up the pen
when it fell from her feeble hand, and in the intervals
she told them that she was Jean Myles.

“And if I die and Aaron hasna come,” she said,
“you maun just gang to auld Petey and tell him wha
you are.”

“But how can you be Jean Myles ?” asked astounded

Tommy. “You ain’t a grand lady and zi



His mother looked at Elspeth. No’ afore her,” she
besought him; but before he set off to post the letter
she said: “Come canny into my bed the night, when
Elspeth ’s sleeping, and syne I’1l tell you all there is to
tell about Jean Myles.”

“Tell me now whether the letter is to Aaron Latta ?”

“It’s for him,” she said, “but it’s no’ to him. J’m
feared he might burn it without opening it if he saw
my write on the cover, so I’ve wrote it toa friend of
his wha will read it to him.”
AULD LANG SYNE 111

“And what’s inside, mother?” the boy begged,
inquisitively. “It must be queer things if they ’ll
bring Aaron Latta all the way from Thrums.”

“There ’s but little in it, man,” she said, pressing
her hand hard upon her chest. “It’s no muckle mair
than ‘ Auld Lang Syne, my dear, for Auld Lang
Syne.’ ”
CHAPTER X
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES

TuHat night the excited boy was wakened by a tap-
tap, as of someone knocking for admittance, and steal-
ing to his mother’s side, he cried, “Aaron Latta has
come; hearken to him chapping at the door!”

It was only the man through the wall, but Mrs.
Sandys took Tommy into bed with her, and while
Elspeth slept, told him the story of her life. She
coughed feebly now, but the panting of the dying is a
sound that io walls can cage, and the man continued to
remonstrate at intervals. Tommy never recalled his
mother’s story without seeming, through the darkness
in which it was told, to hear Elspeth’s peaceful breath-
ing and the angry tap-tap on the wall.

“T’m sweer to tell it to you,” she began, “but tell I
maun, for though it’s just a warning to you and Elspeth
no’ to be like them that brought you into the world,
it’s all I have to leave you. Ay, and there’s another
reason: you may soon be among folk wha ken but half
the story and put a waur face on it than I deserve.”

She had spoken calmly, but her next words were
passionate.
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 113

“They thought I was fond 0’ him,” she cried; “oh,
they were blind, blind! Frae the first I could never
thole the sight o’ him.

“Maybe that’s no’ true,” she had to add. “I aye
kent he was a black, but yet I couldna put him out
o’ my head; he took sudden grips o’ me like an evil
thought. I aye ran frae him, and yet I sair doubt that
I went looking for him too.”

“Was it Aaron Latta?” Tommy asked.

“No, .it was your father. The first I ever saw of
him was at Cullew, four lang miles frae Thrums.
There was a ball after the market, and Esther Auld and
me went to it. We went ina cart, and I was wearing
a pink print, wi’ a white bonnet, and blue ribbons that
tied aneath the chin. I had a shawl abune, no’ to file
them. There wasna a more innocent lassie in Thrums,
man, no, nora happier one; for Aaron Latta — Aaron
came half the way wi’ us, and he was hauding my hand
aneath the shaw]. He hadna speired me at that time,
but I just kent.

“Tt was an auld custom to choose a queen of beauty
at the ball, but that night the men couldna ’gree wha
should be judge, and in the tail-end they went out
thegither to look for one, determined to mak’ judge 0’
the first man they met, though they should have to tear
him off a horse and bring him in by force. You wouldna
believe to look at me now, man, that I could have had
any thait o’ being made queen, but I was fell bonny,

&
114 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

. and I was as keen as the rest. How simple we were,
all pretending to one another that we didna want to be
chosen! Esther Auld said she would hod ahint the
tent till a queen was picked, and atthe very time she
said it, she was in a palsy, through no being able to
decide whether she looked better in her shell necklace
or wanting it. She put it on in the end, and syne
when we heard the tramp o’ the men, her mind misgave
her, and she cried: ‘ For the love o’ mercy, keep them
out till I get it off again!’ So we were a’ laughing
when they came in.

“Laddie, it was your father and Elspeth’s that they
brought wi’ them, and he was a stranger to us, though
we kent something about him afore the night was out.
He was finely put on, wi’ a gold chain, and a free w’y
of looking at women, and if you mind o’ him ava, you
ken that he was fair and buirdly, wi? a full face, and
aye a laugh ahint it. I tell ye, man, that when our een
met, and I saw that triumphing laugh ahint his face, [
took a fear of him, as if I had guessed the end.

“Por years and years after that night I dreamed it
ower again, and aye I heard mysel’ crying to God to
keep that man awa’ frae me. But I doubt I put up no
sic prayer at the time; his masterful look fleid me, and
yet it drew me against my will; and I was trembling
wi’ pride as well as fear when he made me queen. We
danced thegither and fought thegither, a’ through the

ball, and my will was no match for his, and the worst
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 115

o’t was I had a kind o’ secret pleasure in being
mastered.

“Man, he kissed me. Lads had kissed me afore that
night, but never since first I went wi’ Aaron Latta to
the Cuttle Well. Aaron hadna done it, but I was
never to let none do it again except him. So when
your father did it I struck him, but ahint the redness
that came ower his face, I saw his triumphing laugh,
and he whispered that he liked me for the blow. He
said, ‘I prefer the. sweer anes, and the more you
struggle, my beauty, the better pleased Ill be.’
Almost his hinmost words to me was, ‘I’ve been
hearing of your Aaron, and that pleases me too!’ I,
fired up at that and telled him what I thought of him,
but he said, ‘If you canna abide me, what made you
dance wi’ me so often?’ and, oh, laddie, that’s a
question that has sung in my head since syne.

“T?ve telled you that we found out wha he was, and
’deed he made no secret of it. Up tothe time he was
twal year auld he had been a kent face in that part, for
his mither was a Cullew woman called Mag Sandys,
ay, and a single woman. She wasa hard ane too, for
when he was twelve year auld he flung out 0’ the house
saying he would ne’er come back, and she said he
shouldna run awa’ wi’ thae new boots on, so she took
the boots off him and let him go.

“Fe was a grown man when more was heard o’ him,
and syne stories came saying he was at Redlintie, play-
116 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ing queer games wi’ his father. His father was gauger
there, that’s exciseman, a Mr. Cray, wha got his wife
out o’ Thrums, and even when he was courting her (so
they say) had ‘the heart to be ower chief wi’ this other
woman. Weel, Magerful Tam, as he was called through
being so masterful, cast up at Redlintie frae none kent
where, gey desperate for siller, but wi’ a black coat on
his back, and he said that all he wanted was to be
owned as the gauger’s son. Mr. Cray said there was
no proof that he was his son, and syne the queér sport
began. Your father had noticed he was like Mr. Cray,
except in the beard, and so he had his beard clippit the
same, and he got haud o’ some weel-kent claethes 0”
the gauger’s that had been presented to a poor body,
and he learned up a’ the gauger’s tricks of speech and
walking, especially a droll w’y he had o’ taking snuff
and syne flinging back his head. They were as like as
buckies after that, and soon there was a town about it, for
one day ladies would tind that they had been bowing to
the son thinking he was the father, and the next they
wouldna speak to the father, mistaking him for the son;
and a report spread to the head office o’ the excise that the
gauger of Redlintie spent his evenings at a public house,
singing ‘The De’il’s awa’ wi’ the Exciseman” Tam
drank nows and nans, and it ga’e Mr. Cray a turn to see
him come rolling yont the street, just as if it was himsel’
in a looking-glass. He was a sedate-living man now, but
chiefly because his wife kept him in good control, and
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 117

this sight brought back auld times so vive to him, that
he a kind of mistook which ane he was, and took to drop-
ping, forgetful-like, into public-houses again. It was
high time Tam should be got out of the place, and they
did manage to bribe him into leaving, though no easily,
for it had been fine sport to him, and to make a sensa-
tion was what he valued above all things. We heard
that he went back to Redlintie a curran years after, but
both the gauger and his wife were dead, and I ken that
he didna trouble the twa daughtors. They were Miss
Ailie and Miss Kitty, and as they werena left as well
off as was expected they came to Thrums, which had
been their mother’s town, and started a school for the
gentry there. I dinna doubt but what it’s the school
that Esther Auld’s laddie is at.

“So after being long lost sight o’ he turned up at
Cullew, wi’ what looked to simple folk a fortune in his
pouches, and half a dozen untrue stories about how he
made it. He had come to make a show o’ himsel’ afore
his mither, and I dare say to give her some gold, for he
was aye ready to give when he had, Il] say that for
him; but she had flitted to some unkent place, and so
he bade on some weeks at the Cullew public. He
caredna whether the folk praised or blamed him so long
as they wondered at him, and queer stories about his
doings was aye on the road to Thrums. One was that
he gave wild suppers to whaever would come; another
that he went to the kirk just for the glory of flinging a

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118 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

sovereign into the plate wi’ a clatter; another that
when he lay sleeping on twa chairs, gold and silver
dribbled out 0’ his trouser pouches to the floor.

“There was an ugly story too, about a lassie, that led
to his leaving the place and coming to Thrums, after he
had near killed the Cullew sinith ina fight. ‘The first
I heard o’ his being in Thrums was when Aaron Latta
walked into my granny’s house and said there was a
strange man at the Tappit Hen public standing drink
to any that would tak’, and boasting that he had but to
waggle his finger to make me give Aaron up. I went
wi’ Aaron and looked in at the window, but I kent
wha it was afore I looked. If Aaron had just gone
in and struck him! All decent women, laddie, has a
horror of being fought about. I’m no sure but what
that’s just the difference atween guid ones and ill ones,
but this man had a power ower me; and if Aaron had
just struck him! Instead 0’ meddling he turned white,
and I couldna help contrasting them, and thinking how
masterful your father looked. Fine I kent he wasa
brute, and yet I couldna help admiring him for looking
so magerful.

“He bade on at the Tappit Hen, flinging his siller
about in the way that made him a king at Cullew,
but no molesting Miss Ailie and Miss Kitty, which
all but me thought was what he had come to Thrums
to do. Aaron and me was cried for the first time
the Sabbath after he came, and the next Sabbath for
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 119

the second time, but afore that he was aye getting in
my road and speaking to me, but I ran frae him and
hod frae him when I could, and he said the reason I did
that was because I kent his will was stronger than
mine. He was aye saying things that made me think
he saw down to the bottom o’ my soul; what I didna
understand was that in mastering other women he had
been learning to master me. Ay, but though I thought
ower muckle about him, never did I speak him fair. -I
loo’ed Aaron wi’ all my heart, and your fathor kent it;
and that, I doubt, was what made him so keen, for, oh,
but he was vain!

“And now we’ve come to the night I’m so sweer to
speak about. She was a good happy lassie that went

> Aaron’s arm

into the Den that moonlight night wi
round her, but it was another woman that came out.
We thought we had the Den to oursel’s, and as we sat
on the Shoaging Stane at the Cuttle Well, Aaron wrote
wi’ a stick on the ground ‘ Jean Latta,’ and prigged wi’
me to look at it, but I spread my hands ower my face,
and he didna ken that I was keeking at it through my
fingers all the time. We was so ta’en up with oursel’s
that we saw nobody coming, and all at once there was
your father by the side o’ us! ‘ You’ve written the
- wrong name, Aaron,’ he said, jeering and pointing with
his foot at the letters; ‘it should be Jean Sandys.’
“Aaron said not a word, but I had a presentiment
of ill, and I cried, ‘ Dinna let him change the name,
120 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Aaron!’ Your father had been to change it himsel’,
but at that he had a new thait, and he said, ‘No, Ill
no’ do it; your brave Aaron shall do it for me.’

“Taddie, it doesna do for a man to be a coward afore
a woman that’s fond o’ him. A woman will thole a
man’s being anything except like hersel’. When I was
sure Aaron was a coward I stood still as death, waiting
to ken wha’s I was to be.

“Aaron did it. He was loath, but your father
crushed him to the ground, and said do it he should,
and warned him too that if he did it he would lose me,
bantering him and cowing him and advising him no’ to
shame me, all ina breath. He kent so weel, you see,
what was in my mind, and aye there was that triumph-
ing laugh ahint his face. If Aaron had fought and
been beaten, even if he had just lain there and let the
man strike away, if he had done anything except what
he was bidden, he would have won, for it would have
broken your father’s power ower me. But to write the
word! It was like dishonoring me to save his ain skin,
and your father took good care he should ken it.
You ’ve heard me crying to Aaron in my sleep, but it
wasna for him I cried, it was for his fireside. All the
love I had for him, and it was muckle, was skailed
forever that night at the Cuttle Well. Without a look
ahint me away I went wi’ my master, and I had no more
will to resist him —and oh, man, man, when I came to
mysel’ next morning I wished I had never been born!
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 121

“The men folk saw that Aaron had shamed them, and
they werena quite so set agin me as the women, wha had
guessed the truth, though they couldna be sure o’t. Sair
I pitied mysel’, and sair I grat, but only when none was
looking. The mair they miscalled me the higher I held
my head, and I hung on your father’s arm as if I adored
him, and I boasted about his office and his clerk in Lon-
don till they believed what I didna believe a word 0’
myself.

‘But though I put sic a brave face on’t, I was near
demented in case he shouldna marry me, and he kent
that and jokit me about it. Dinna think I was fond 0’
him; T hated him now. And dinna think his masterful-
ness had any more power ower me; his power was
broken forever when I woke up that weary morning.
But that was ower late, and to wait on by mysel’ in
Thrums for what might happen, and me a single wo-
man —Idaredna! SoI flattered at him, and flattered at
him, till I got the fool side o’ him, and he married me.

“My granny let the marriage take place in her house,
and he sent in so muckle meat and drink that some folk
was willing to come. One came that wasna wanted. In
the middle o’ the marriage Aaron Latta, wha had refused
to speak to anybody since that night, walked in wearing
his blacks, wi’ crape on them, as if it was a funeral, and
all he said was that he had come to see Jean Myles
coffined. He went away quietly as soon as we was mar-
ried, but the crowd outside had fathomed his meaning,
a LL tT EEL IE TE





122 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

and abune the minister’s words I could hear them cry-
ing, ‘ Ay, it’s mair like a burial than a marriage !’

“My heart was near breaking wi’ woe, but, oh, I was
awid they shouldna ken it, and the bravest thing I ever did
was to sit through the supper that night, making muckle
o’ your father, looking fond-like at him, laughing at his
coarse jokes, and secretly hating him down to my very
marrow a’ the time. The crowd got word o’ the on-
goings, and they took a cruel revenge. A carriage had
been ordered for nine o’clock to take us to Tilliedrum,
where we should get the train to London, and when we
heard it, as we thought, drive up to the door, out we
went, me on your father’s arm laughing, but wi’ my
teeth set. But Aaron’s words had put an idea into their*
heads, though he didna intend it, and they had got out
the hearse. It was the hearse they had brought to the
door instead of a carriage.

“We got awa’ in a carriage in the tailend, and the
stanes hitting it was all the good luck flung after me.
It had just one horse, and I mind how I cried to Esther
Auld, wha had been the first to throw, that when I came
back it would be in a carriage and pair.

“ Ay, I had pride! Inthe carriage your father telled
me as a joke that he had got away without paying the
supper, and that about all the money he had now, forby
what was to pay our tickets to London, was the half-
sovereign on his watch-chain. But I was determined to
have Thrums think I had married grand, and as I had three
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 123

pound six on me, the savings o’ all my days, I gave two
pound of it to Malcolm Crabb, the driver, unbeknown to
your father, but pretending it was frae him, and telled
him to pay for the supper and the carriage with it. He
said it was far ower muckle, but I just laughed, and said
wealthy gentlemen like Mr. Sandys couldna be bothered
to take back change, so Malcolm could keep what was
ower. Malcolm was the man Esther Auld had just mar-
ried, and I counted on this maddening her and on Mal-
colm’s spreading the story through the town. Laddie,
I’ve kent since syne what it is to be without bite or sup,
but I’ve never grudged that siller.”

The poor woman had halted many times in her tale,
and she was glad to make an end. “ You’ve forgotten
what a life he led me in London,” she said, “and it
could do you no good to hear it, though it might be a
lesson to thae lassies at the dancing-school wha think so
much o’ masterful men. It was by betting at horse-
races that your father made a living, and whiles he was
large o’ siller, but that didna last, and I question whether
he would have stuck to me if I hadna got work. Well,
he’s gone, and the Thrums folk’ll soon ken the truth
about Jean Myles now.”

She paused, and then cried, with extraordinary vehe-
mence: “Oh, man, how I wish I could keep it frae them
for ever and ever !”

But presently she was calm again and she said:
“WhatI’ve been telling you, you can understand little
124 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

o’ the now, but some of it will come back to you when
you’re a grown man, and if you’re magerful and have
some lassie in your grip, maybe for the memory of her
that bore you, youll let the poor thing awa’.”

And she asked him to add this to his nightly prayer:
“© God, keep me from being a magerful man!” and to
teach this other prayer to Elspeth, “O God, whatever is
to be my fate, may I never be one of them that bow the
knee to magerful men, and if I was born like that and
canna help it, oh, take me up to heaven afore I’m fil’t.”

The wardrobe was invisible in the darkness, but they
could still hear Elspeth’s breathing as she slept, and the
exhausted woman listened long to it, as if she would fain
carry away with her to the other world the memory of
that sweet sound.

“Tf you gang to Thrums,” she said at last, “you may
hear my story frae some that winna spare me in the tell-
ing; but should Elspeth be wi’ you at sic times, dinna
answer back; just slip quietly away wi’ her. She’s so
young that she’ll soon forget all about her life in Lon-
don and all about me, and that’ll be best for her. I
would like her lassiehood to be bright and free frae
cares, as if there had never been sic a woman as me.
But laddie, oh, my laddie, dinna you forget me; you and
me had him to thole thegither, dinna you forget me!
Watch ower your little sister by day and hap her by
night, and when the time comes that a man wants her —
if he be magerful, tell her my story at once. But gin
THE FAVORITE OF THE LADIES 125

she loves one that is her ain true love, dinna rub off the
bloom, laddie, with a word about me. Let her and him
gang to the Cuttle Well, as Aaron and me went, kenning
no guile and thinking none, and with their arms round

one another’s waists. But when her wedding-day comes
oP



round

Her words broke in a sob and she cried: “I see them,
I see them standing up thegither afore the minister! Oh!
you lad, you lad that’s to be married on my Elspeth, turn
your face and let me see that you ’re no’ amagerful man! ”

But the lad did not turn his face, and when she spoke
next it was to Tommy.

“In the bottom o’ my kist there’s a little silver teapot.
It’s no’ real silver, but it’s fell bonny. I bought it for
Elspeth twa or three months back when I saw I couldna
last the winter. I bought it to her for a marriage pres-
ent. She’s no’ to see it till her wedding-day comes
round. Syne you’re to give it to her, man, and say it’s
with her mother’s love. Tell her all about me, for it
canna harm her then. Tell her of the fool lies I sent to
Thrums, but dinna forget what a bonny place I thought
it all the time, nor how I stood on many a driech night
at the corner of that street, looking so waeful at the
lighted windows, and hungering for the wring of a
Thrums hand or the sound of the Thrums word, and all
the time the shrewd blasts cutting through my thin
trails of claithes. Tell her, man, how you and me spent
this night, and how I fought to keep my hoast down so
:

126 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

as no’ to waken her. Mind that whatever I have been, I
was aye fond o’ my bairns, and slaved for them till I
dropped. She’ll have long forgotten what I was like,
and it’s just as well, but yes— Look at me, Tommy,
look long, long, so as you’ll be able to call up my face as
it was on the far-back night when I telled you my mourn-
ful story. Na, you canna see in the dark, but haud my
hand, haud it tight, so that, when you tell Elspeth, you ’ll
mind how hot it was, and the skin loose on it; and rut
your hand on my cheeks, man, and feel how wet they are
w? sorrowful tears, and lay it on my breast, so that you
can tell her how I was shrunk awa’. And if she greets
for her mother a whiley, let her greet.”

The sobbing boy hugged his mother. “Do you think
I’m an auld woman ?” she said to him.

“You’re gey auld, are you no’ ?” he answered.

“ Ay,” she said, “I’m gey auld; I’m nine and twenty. 1
was seventeen on the day when Aaron Latta went half-
road in the cart wi’ me to Cullew, hauding my hand aneath
my shawl. He hadna spiered me, but I just kent.”

Tommy remained in his mother’s bed for the rest of
the night, and so many things were buzzing in his brain
that not for an hour did he think it time to repeat his
new prayer. At last he said reverently: “O God, keep
me from being a magerful man!” ‘Then he opened his
eyes to let God see that his prayer was ended, and added
to himself: “But I think I would fell like it.”
CHAPTER XI
AARON LATTA

Tuer Airlie post had dropped the letters for outlying
farms at the Monypenny smithy and trudged on. The
smith having wiped his hand on his hair, made a row
of them, without looking at the addresses, on his
window-sill, where, happening to be seven in number,
they were almost a model of Monypenny, which is
within hail of Thrums, but round the corner from it,
and so has ways of its own. With the next clang on
the anvil the middle letter fell flat, and now the like-
ness to Monypenny was absolute.

Again all the sound in the land was the melancholy
sweet kink, kink, kink of the smith’s hammer.

Across the road sat Dite Deuchars, the mole-catcher,
a solitary figure, taking his pleasure on the dyke.
Behind him was the flour-miller’s field, and beyond it
’ the Den, of which only some tree-tops were visible. He
looked wearily east the road, but no one emerged from
Thrums; he looked wearily west the road, which
doubled out of sight at Aaron Latta’s cottage, little
more than a stone’s throw distant. On the inside of
Aaron’s window an endless procession seemed to be
128 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

passing, but it was only the warping mill going round.
It was an empty day, but Dite, the accursed, was used
to them; nothing ever happened where he was, but
many things as soon as he had gone.

He-yawned and looked at the houses opposite. They
were all of one story; the smith’s had a rusty plough
stowed away on its roof; under a window stood a pew
and bookboard, bought at the roup of an old church,
and thus transformed into a garden-seat. There were
many of them in Thrums that year. All the doors,
except that of the smithy, were shut, until one of them
blew ajar, when Dite knew at once, from the smell
which crossed the road, that Blinder was in the bunk
pulling the teeth of his potatoes. May Ann Irons, the
blind man’s niece, came out at this door to beat the
cistern with a bass, and she gave Dite a wag of her
head. He was to be married to her if she could get
nothing better.

By and by the Painted Lady came along the road.
She was a little woman, brightly dressed, so fragile
that a collie might have knocked her over with his tail,
and she had a beautiful white-and-pink face, the white
ending of a sudden in the middle of her neck, where i
met skin of a duller color. As she tripped along with
mincing gait, she was speaking confidentially to her-
self, but when she saw Dite grinning, she seemed, first,
afraid, and then sorry for herself, and then she tried to
carry it off with a giggle, cocking her head impudently
AARON LATTA 129

at him. Even then she looked childish, and a faded
guilelessness, with many pretty airs and graces, still
lingered about her, like innocent birds loath to be gone
from the spot. where their nest has been. When she
had passed monotony again reigned, and Dite crossed to
the smithy window, though none of the letters could
be for him. He could read the addresses on six of
them, but the seventh lay on its back, and every time
he rose on his tip-toes to squint down at it, the spout
pushed his bonnet over his eyes.

“Smith,” he cried in at the door, “to gang hame
afore I ken wha that letter ’s to is more than I can do.”

The smith good-naturedly brought the letter to him,
and then glancing at the address was dumfounded.
“God behears,” he exclaimed, with a sudden look az
the distant cemetery, ‘‘it’s to Double Dykes!”

Dite also shot a look at the cemetery. “He ‘ll never
get it,” he said, with mighty conviction.

The two men gazed at the cemetery for some time,
and at last Dite muttered, “Ay, ay, Double Dykes, you
was aye fond 0’ your joke! ”

“What has that to do wi’ ’t ?” rapped out the smith,
uncomfortably.

Dite shuddered. “Man,” he said, “does that letter
no bring Double Dykes back terrible vive again! If
we was to see him climbing the cemetery dyke the now,

and coming stepping down the fields in his moleskin
”



waistcoat wi’ the pearl buttons
8
1380 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Auchterlonie stopped him with a nervous gesture.

“But it couldna be the pearl buttons,” Dite added
thoughtfully, “for Betty Finlayson has been wearing
them to the kirk this four year. Ay, ay, Double
Dykes, that puts you farther awa’ again.”

The smith took the letter to a neighbor’s house to
ask the advice of old Irons, the blind tailor, who when
he lost his sight had given himself the name of Blinder
for bairns to play with.

“Make your mind easy, smith,” was Blinder’s counsel.
“The letter is meant for the Painted Lady.. What’s
Double Dykes? It’s but the name of a farm, and we
gave it to Sanders because he was the farmer. He’s
dead, and them that ’s in the house now become Double
Dykes in his place.”

But the Painted Lady only had the house, objected
Dite; Nether Drumgley was farming the land, and so
he was the real Double Dykes. True, she might have
pretended to her friends that she had the land also.

She had no friends, the smith said, and since she
came to Double Dykes from no one could find out
where, though they knew her furniture was bought in
Tilliedrum, she had never gota letter. Often, though,
as she passed his window she had keeked sideways at
the letters, as bairns might look at parlys. If he made
a tinkle with his hammer at such times off she went at
once, for she was as easily flichtered as a field of crows,
that take wing if you tap your pipe on the loof of your
AARON LATTA 131

hand. It was true she had spoken to him once; when
he suddenly saw her standing at his smiddy door, the
surprise near made him fall over his brot. She looked
so neat and ladylike that he gave his hair a respectful
pull before he remembered the kind of woman she was.

And what was it she said to him? Dite asked
eagerly.

She had pointed to the letters on the window-sill,
and said she, “Oh, the dear loves!” It was a queer
say, but she had a bonny English word. The English
word was no doubt prideful, but it melted in the mouth
like a lick of sirup. She offered him sixpence for a
letter, any letter he liked, but of course he refused it.
Then she prigged with him just to let her hold one in
her hands, for said she, bairnlike, “I used to get one
every day.” It so happened that one of the letters was
to Mysy Robbie; and Mysy was of so little importance
that he thought there would be no harm in letting the
Painted Lady hold her letter, so he gave it to her, and
you should have seen her dawting it with her hand and
holding it to her breast like a lassie with a pigeon.
“Tg n’t it sweet ?” she said, and before he could stop
her she kissed it. She forgot it was no letter of hers,
and made to open it, and then she fell a-trembling and
saying she durst not read it, for you never knew
whether the first words might not break your heart.
The envelope was red where her lips had touched it,
and yet she had an innocent look beneath the paint
1382 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

When he took the letter from her, though, she called
him a low, vulgar fellow for presuming to address a
lady. She worked herself into a fury, and said far
worse than that; a perfect guller of clarty language
came pouring out of her. He had heard women curse
many a time without turning a hair, but he felt wae
when she did it, for she just spoke it like a bairn that
had been in ill company.

The smith’s wife, Suphy, who had joined the com-
pany, thought that men were easily taken in, especially
smiths. She offered, however, to convey the letter to
Double Dykes. She was anxious to see the inside of
the Painted Lady’s house, and this would be a good
opportunity. She admitted that she had crawled to the
east window of it before now, but that dour bairn of the
Painted Lady’s had seen her head and whipped down
the blind.

Unfortunate Suphy! she could not try the window
this time, as it was broad daylight, and the Painted
Lady took the letter from her at the door. She returned
crestfallen, and for an hour nothing happened. The
mole-catcher went off to the square, saying, despond-
ently, that nothing would happen until he was round
the corner. No sooner had he rounded the corner than
something did happen.

A girl who had left Double Dykes with a letter was
walking quickly toward Monypenny. She wore a white
pinafore over a magenta frock, and no one could tell her
AARON LATTA 183

whether she was seven or eight, for she was only the
Painted Lady’s child. Some boys, her natural enemies,
were behind; they had just emerged from the Den, and
she heard them before they saw her, and at once her
little heart jumped and ran off with her. But the halloo
that told her she was discovered checked her running.
Her teeth went into her underlip; now her head was
erect. After her came the rabble with a rush, flinging
stones that had no mark and epithets that hit. Grizel
disdained to look over her shoulder. Jittle hunted
child, where was succor to come from if she could not
fight for herself ?

Though under the torture she would not cry out.
“What’s a father?” was their favorite jeer, because
she had once innocently asked this question of a false
friend. One tried to snatch the letter from her, but
she flashed him a look that sent him to the other side
of the dyke, where, he said, did she think he was afraid
of her? Another strutted by her side, mimicking her
in such diverting manner that presently the others had
to pick him out of the ditch. Thus Grizel moved
onward defiantly until she reached Monypenny, where
she tossed the letter in at the smithy door and imme-
diately returned home. It was the letter that had been
sent to her mother, now sent back, because it was
meant for the dead farmer after all.

The smith read Jean Myles’s last letter, with a face
of growing gravity. “Dear Double Dykes,” it said, “IT
184 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

send you these few scrapes to say I am dying, and you
and Aaron Latta was seldom sindry, so I charge you to
go to him and say to him ‘ Aaron Latta, it’s all lies
Jean Myles wrote to Thrums about her grandeur, and
her man died mony year back, and it was the only
kindness he ever did her, and if she doesna die quick,
her and her starving bairns will be flung out into the
streets.’ If that doesna move him, say, ‘ Aaron Latta,
do you mind yon day at Inverquharity and the cushie
doos ?’ likewise, ‘ Aaron Latta, do you mind yon day
at the Kaims of Airlie?’ likewise, ‘ Aaron Latta, do
you mind that Jean Myles was ower heavy for you to
lift? Oh, Aaron, you could lift me so pitiful easy
now.’ And syne says you solemnly three times, ‘ Aaron
Latta, Jean Myles is lying dying all alone in a foreign
land; Aaron Latta, Jean Myles is lying dying all alone
in a foreign land; Aaron Latta, Jean Myles is lying
dying all alone in a foreign land.’ And if he’s sweer
to come, just say, ‘Oh, Aaron, man, you micht; oh,
Aaron, oh, Aaron, are you coming ?’”

The smith had often denounced this woman, but he
never said a word against her again. He stood long
reflecting, and then took the letter to Blinder and read
it to him.

“She doesna say, ‘Oh, Aaron Latta, do you mind the
Cuttle Well ?’” was the blind man’s first comment.

“She was thinking about it,” said Auchterlonie.

“Ay, and he’s thinking about it,” said Blinder,
AARON LATTA 185

“night and day, night and day. What a town there ’1l
be about that letter, smith! ”

“There will. But 1’m to take it to Aaron afore the
news spreads. He’ll never gang to London though.”

“JT think he will, smith.”

“T ken him well.”

“Maybe I ken him better.”

“You canna see the ugly mark it left on his brow.”

‘6 T gan see the uglier marks it has left in his breast.”

“Well, I’ll take the letter; I can do no more.”

When the smith opened the door of Aaron’s house he
let out a draught of hot air that was glad to be gone
from the warper’s restless home. The usual hallan, or
passage, divided the but from the ben, and in the ben a
great revolving thing, the warping-mill, half filled the
room, Between it and a pile of webs that obscured the
light a little silent man was sitting on a box turning a
handle. His shoulders were almost as high as his ears,
as if he had been caught forever in a storm, and though
he was barely five and thirty, he had the tattered, dis-
honored beard of black and white that comes to none
till the glory of life has gone.

Suddenly the smith appeared round the webs.
“Aaron,” he said, awkwardly, “do you mind Jean
Myles ?”

The warper did not for a moment take his eyes off a
contrivance with pirns in it that was climbing up and

down the whirring mill.
5
ft
#
i
5
i
i







136 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“She’s dead,” he answered.

“She ’s dying,” said the smith.

A thread broke, and Aaron had to rise to mend it.

“Stop the mill and listen,” Auchterlonie begged him,
but the warper returned to his seat and the mill again
revolved.

“This is her dying words to you,” continued the
smith. “Did you speak ?”

“T didna, but I wish you would take your arm off
the haik.”

“She’s loath to die without seeing you. Do you
hear, man? You shall listen to me, I tell you.”

“T am listening, smith,” the warper replied, without
rancour. “It’s but right that you should come here to
take your pleasure on a shamed man.” His calmness
gave him a kind of dignity. i

“Did I ever say you was a shamed man, Aaron ?”

“Am I not?” the warper asked quietly; and
Auchterlonie hung his head.

_Aaron continued, still turning the handle, “You ’re
truthful, and you canna deny it. Nor will you deny
that I shamed you and every other mother’s son that
night. You try to hod it out o’ pity, smith, but even
as you look at me now, does the man in you no rise up
against me ?” 7

“Tf so,” the smith answered reluctantly, “if so, it’s
against my will.”

“Tt is so,” said Aaron, in the same measured voice,
AARON LATTA 137

“and it’s right that it should be so. A man may
thieve or debauch or murder, and yet no be so very
different frae his fellow-men, but there ’s one thing he
shall not do without their wanting to spit him out 0’
their mouths, and that is, violate the feelings of sex.”

The strange words in which the warper described his
fall had always an uncomfortable effect on those who
heard him use them, and Auchterlonie could only
answer in distress, “Maybe that’s what it is.”

“That ’s what itis. I have had twal lang years sitting
on this box to think it out. I blame none but mysel’.”

“Then you’ll have pity on Jean in her sair need,”
‘said the smith. He read slowly the first part of the
letter, but Aaron made no comment, and the mill had
not stopped for a moment.

“She says,” the smith proceeded, doggedly — “she
says to say to you, ‘ Aaron Latta, do you mind yon day
at Inverquharity and the cushie doos ?’”

Only the monotonous whirr of the mill replied.

“She says, ‘ Aaron Latta, do you mind that Jean
Myles was ower heavy for you to lift? Qh, Aaron, you
could lift me so pitiful easy now.’ ”

Another thread broke and the warper rose with
sudden fury.

“Now that you ’ve eased your conscience, smith,” he
said, fiercely, “make your feet your friend.”

“Tl do so,” Auchterlonie answered, laying the
letter on the webs, “but I leave this ahint me.”
138 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Wap it in the fire.”

“Tf that’s to be done, you do it yoursel’. Aaron, ©
she treated you ill, but ——”

“There ’s the door, smith.”

The smith walked away, and had only gone a few
steps when he heard the whirr of the mill again. He
went back to the door.

“She ’s dying, man!” he cried.

“Let her die!” answered Aaron.

In an hour the sensational news was through half of
Thrums, of which Monypenny may be regarded as a
broken piece, left behind, like the dot of quicksilver in the
tube, to show how high the town once rose. Some could
only rejoice at first in the down-come of Jean Myles,
but most blamed the smith (and himself among them)
for not taking note of her address, so that Thrums
Street could be informed of it and sent to her relief. For
Blinder alone believed that Aaron would be softened.

“It was twa threads the smith saw him break,” the
blind man said, “and Aaron ’s good at his work. He/’ll
go to London, I tell you.”

“You forget, Blinders, that he was warping afore I
was a dozen steps frae the door.”

“ Ay, and that just proves he hadna burned the letter,
for he hadna time. If he didna do it at the first
impulse, he ’ll no do it now.”

Every little while the boys were sent along the road
to look in at Aaron’s end window and report,


“SHE’S DYING, MAN,’’ HE CRIED
AARON LATTA 189

At seven in the evening Aaron had not left his box,
and the blind man’s reputation for seeing farther than
those with eyes was fallen low.

“It’s a good sign,” he insisted, nevertheless. “It
shows his mind’s troubled, for he usually louses at
Sik

By eight the news was that Aaron had left his mill
and was sitting staring at his kitchen fire.

“He’s thinking o’ Inverquharity and the cushie
doos,” said Blinder.

“More likely,” said Dite Deuchars, “he’s thinking
o’ the Cuttle Well.”

Corp Shiach clattered along the road about nine to
say that Aaron Latta was putting on his blacks as if
for a journey.

At once the blind man’s reputation rose on stilts,
It fell flat, however, before the ten-o’clock bell rang,
when three of the Auchterlonie children, each pulling
the others back that he might arrive first, announced
that Aaron had put on his corduroys again, and was
back at the mill.

“That settles it,” was everyone’s good-night to
Blinder, but he only answered thoughtfully, “There ’s
a fierce fight going on, my billies.”

Next morning when his niece was shaving the blind
man, the razor had to travel over a triumphant smirk
which would not explain itself to womankind, Blinder
being aman who could bide his time. The time came
140 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

when the smith looked in to say, “Should I gang yont
to Aaron’s and see if he ’ll give me the puir woman’s
address ?”

“No, I wouldna advise that,” answered Blinder,
cleverly concealing his elation, “for Aaron Latta ’s
awa’ to London.”

“What! How can you ken?”

“T heard him go by in the night.”

“Tt ’s no possible! ”

“T kent his foot.”

“You ’re sure it was Aaron ?”

Blinder did not consider the question worth. answer-
ing, his sharpness at recognizing friends by their tread
being proved. Sometimes he may have carried his
pretensions too far. Many granted that he could tell
when a doctor went by, when a lawyer, when a
thatcher, when a herd, and this is conceivable, for all
callings have their walk. But he was regarded as
uncanny when he claimed not only to know ministers in
this way, but to be able to distinguish between the
steps of the different denominations.

He had made no mistake about the warper, however.
Aaron was gone, and ten days elapsed before he was
again seen in Thrums.
CHAPTER XII

‘

A CHILD’S TRAGEDY

No one in Thrums ever got a word from Aaron Latta
about how he spent those ten days, and Tommy and
Elspeth, whom he brought back with him, also tried to
be reticent, but some of the women were too clever for
them. Jean and Aaron did not meet again. Her first
intimation that he had come she got from Shovel, who
said that a little high-shouldered man in black had
been inquiring if she was dead, and was now walking
up and down the street, like one waiting. She sent
her children out to him, but he would not come up.
He had answered Tommy roughly, but when Elspeth
slipped her hand into his, he let it stay there, and he
instructed her to tell Jean Myles that he would bury
her in the Thrums cemetery and bring up her bairns,
Jean managed once to go to the window and look down
at him, and by and by he looked up and saw her.
They looked long at each other, and then he turned
away his head and began to walk up and down again.

At Tilliedrum the coffin was put into a hearse and

thus conveyed to Monypenny, Aaron and the two
142 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

children sitting on the box-seat. Someone said, “Jean
Myles boasted that when she came back to Thrums it
would be in her carriage and pair, and she has kept her
word,” and the saying is still preserved in that Bible
for week-days of which all little places have their
unwritten copy, one of the wisest of books, but nearly
every text in it has cost a life.

About a score of men put on their blacks and followed
the hearse from the warper’s house to the grave.
Elspeth wanted to accompany Tommy, but Aaron held
her back, saying, quietly, “In this part, it’s only men
that go to burials, so you and me maun bide at hame,”
and then she cried, no one understood why, except
Tommy. It was because he would see Thrums first;
but he whispered to her, “I promise to keep my eyes
shut and no look once,” and so faithfully did he keep
his promise on the whole that the smith held him by
the hand most of the way, under the impression that he
was blind.

But he had opened his eyes at the grave, when a cord
was put into his hand, and then he wept passionately,
and on his way back to Monypenny, whether his eyes
were open or shut, what he saw was his mother being
shut up in a black hole and trying for ever and ever to
get out. He ran to Elspeth for comfort, but in the
meantime she had learned from Blinder’s niece that
graves are dark and cold, and so he found her sobbing
even like himself. Tommy could never bear to see
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 143

Elspeth crying, and he revealed his true self in his
way of drying her tears.

“Tt will be so cold in that hole,” she sobbed.

“No,” he said, “it’s warm.”

“Tt will be dark.”

“No, it’s clear.”

“She would like to get out.”

“No, she was terrible pleased to get in.”

It was characteristic of him that he soon had Elspeth
happy by arguments not one of which he believed him-
self; characteristic also that his own grief was soothed
by the sound of them. Aaron, who was in the garret
preparing their bed, had told the children that they
must remain indoors to-day out of respect to their
mother’s memory (to-morrow morning they could ex-
plore Thrums); but there were many things in that
kitchen for them to look at and exult over. It had
no commonplace ceiling, the couples, or rafters, being
covered with the loose flooring of a romantic garret,
and in the rafters were several great hooks, from one
of which hung a ham, and Tommy remembered, with
a thrill which he communicated to Elspeth, that it is
the right of Thrums children to snip off the ham as
much as they can remove with their finger-nails and
roast it on the ribs of the fire. The chief pieces of
furniture were a dresser, a corner cupboard with
diamond panes, two tables, one of which stood beneath
the other, but would have to come out if Aaron tried to
144 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

bake, and a bed with a door. These two did not know
it, but the room was full of memories of Jean Myles.
The corner cupboard had been bought by Aaron at a
roup because she said she would like to have one; it
was she who had chosen the six cups and saucers with
the blue spots on them. A razor-strop, now hard as
iron, hung on a nail on the wall; it had not been used
since the last time Aaron strutted through the Den
with his sweetheart. One day later he had opened the
door of the bird-cage, which still stood in the window,
and let the yellow yite go. Many things were where
no woman would have left them: clothes on the floor
with the nail they had torn from the wall; on a chair
atin basin, soapy water and a flannel rag in it; horn
spoons with whistles at the end of them were anywhere
—on the mantelpiece, beneath the bed; there were
drawers that could not be opened because their handles
were inside. Perhaps the windows were closed hope-
lessly also, but this must be left doubtful; no one had
ever tried to open them.

The garret where Tommy and Elspeth were to sleep
was reached by a ladder from the hallan; when you
were near the top of the ladder your head hit a trap-
door and pushed it open. At one end of the garret was
the bed, and at the other end were piled sticks for fire-
wood and curious dark-colored slabs whose smell the
children disliked until Tommy said, excitedly, “Peat!”
and then they sniffed reverently.
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 145

It was Tommy, too, who discovered the tree-tops of
the Den, and Elspeth seeing him gazing in a transport
out at the window cried, “What is it, Tommy ?
Quick!”

“Promise no to scream,” he replied, warningly.
“Well, then, Elspeth Sandys, that’s where the Den
is!”

Elspeth blinked with awe, and anon said, wistfully,
“Tommy, do you see that there? That’s where the
Den is!”

“Tt were me what told you,” cried Tommy, jealously.

“But let me tell you, Tommy!”

“Well, then, you can tell me.”

“That there is the Den, Tommy!”

“Dagont!”

Oh, that to-morrow were here! Oh, that Shovel
could see these two to-morrow!

Here is another splendid game, T. Sandys, inventor.
The girl goes into the bed, the boy shuts the door on
her, and imitates the sound of a train in motion. He
opens the door and cries, “Tickets, please.” The girl
says, “What is the name of this place?” The boy
replies, “It’s Thrums!” There is more to follow, but
the only two who have played the game always roared
so joyously at this point that they could get no farther.

“Oh, to-morrow, come quick, quick!”

“Oh, poor Shovel!”

To-morrow came, and with it two eager little figures

10
146 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

rose and gulped their porridge, and set off to see
Thrums. They were dressed in the black clothes Aaron
Latta had bought for them in London, and they had
agreed just to walk, but when they reached the door
and saw the tree-tops of the Den they —they ran.
Would you not like to hold them back? It isa child’s
tragedy.

They went first into the Den, and the rocks were
dripping wet, all the trees, save the firs, were bare,
and the mud round a tiny spring pulled off one of
Elspeth’s boots.

“Tommy,” she cried, quaking, “that narsty puddle
can’t not be the Cuttle Well, can it?”

“No, it ain’t,” said Tommy, quickly, but he feared
it was.

“It’s e-e-colder here than London,” Elspeth said,

shivering, and Tommy was shivering too, but he
answered, “I’m—I’m—I’m warm.”
. The Den was strangely small, and soon they were on
a shabby brae where women in short gowns came to
their doors and men in night-caps sat down on the
shafts of their barrows to look at Jean Myles’s bairns.

“What does yer think?” Elspeth whispered, very
doubtfully.

“They ’re beauties,” Tommy answered, determinedly.

Presently Elspeth cried, “Oh, Tommy, what a ugly
stair! Where is the beauty stairs as is wore outside
for show ?”
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 147

This was one of them and Tommy knew it. “ Wait
till you see the west town end,” he said bravely; “it’s
grand.” But when they were in the west town end,
and he had to admit it, “ Wait till you see the square,”
he said, and when they were in the square, “ Wait,” he
said, huskily, “till you see the town-house.” Alas,
this was the town-house facing them, and when they
knew it, he said hurriedly, “Wait till you see the
Auld Licht Kirk.”

‘They stood long in front of the Auld Licht Kirk,
which he had sworn was bigger and lovelier than St.
Paul’s, but — well, it is a different style of architecture,
and had Elspeth not been there with tears in waiting,
Tommy would have blubbered. “It’s —it’s littler
than I thought,” he said desperately, “but — the
minister, oh, what a wonderful big man he is!”

“ Are you sure ?” Elspeth squeaked.

“T swear he is.”

The church door opened and a gentleman came out,
a little man, boyish in the back, with the eager face of
those who live too quickly. But it was not at him that
Tommy pointed reassuringly; it was at the monster
church key, half of which protruded from his tail
pocket and waggled like the hilt of a sword.

Speaking like an old residenter, Tommy explained
that he had brought his sister to see the church.
“She’s ta’en aback,” he said, picking out Scotch words
carefully, “because it’s littler than the London kirks,
148 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

but I telled her —I telled her that the preaching is
better.”

-This seemed to please the stranger, for he patted
Tommy on the head while inquiring, “How do you
know that the preaching is better ?”

“Tell him, Elspeth,” replied Tommy modestly.

“There ain’t nuthin’ as Tommy don’t know,” El-
speth explained. “He knows what the minister is
like too.”

“He’s a noble sight,” said Tommy.

“He can get anything from God he likes,” said
Elspeth.

“He ’s a terrible big man,” said Tommy.

This seemed to please the little gentleman less.
“Big!” he exclaimed, irritably; ‘‘why should he be
big ?” 5

“He is big,” Elspeth almost screamed, for the
minister was her last hope.

“Nonsense!” said the little gentleman. “He is —
well, I am the minister.”

“You!” roared Tommy, wrathfully.

“Oh, oh, oh!” sobbed Elspeth.

For a moment the Rev. Mr. Dishart looked as if he
would like to knock two little heads together, but he
walked away without doing it.

“Never mind,” Tommy whispered hoarsely to Elspeth.
“Never mind, Elspeth, you have me yet.”

This consolation seldom failed to gladden her, but
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 149

her disappointment was so sharp to-day that she would
not even look up.

“Come away to the cemetery, it’s grand,” he said;
but still she would not be comforted.

“And I7ll let you hold my hand —as soon as we’re
past the houses,” he added.

“T?ll let you hold it now,” he said eventually; but
even then Elspeth cried dismally, and her sobs were
hurting him more than her.

He knew all the ways of getting round Elspeth, and
when next he spoke it was with a sorrowful dignity.
“JT didna think,” he said, “as yer wanted me never to
be able to speak again; no, I didna think it, Elspeth.”

She took her hands from her face and looked at him
inquiringly.

“One of the stories mamma telled me and Reddy,”
he said, “were about a man what saw such a beauty
thing that he was struck dumb with admiration. Struck
dumb is never to be able to speak again, and I wish I
had been struck dumb when you wanted it.”

“But I didn’t want it!” Elspeth cried.

“Tf Thrums had been one little bit beautier than it
is,” he went on solemnly, “it would have struck me
dumb. It would have hurt me sore, but what about
that, if it pleased you!”

Then did Elspeth see what a wicked girl she had
been, and when next the two were observed by the
curious (it was on the cemetery road), they were once
150 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

more looking cheerful. At the smallest provocation
they exchanged notes of admiration, such as, “Oh,
Tommy, what a bonny barrel!” or “Oh, Elspeth, I tell
yer that’s a dyke, and there’s just walls in London,”
but sometimes Elspeth would stoop hastily, pretending
that she wanted to tie her bootlace, but really to brush
away a tear, and there were moments when Tommy
hung very limp. Each was trying to deceive the other
for the other’s sake, and one of them was never good at
deception. ‘They saw through each other, yet kept up
the chilly game, because they could think of nothing
better, and perhaps the game was worth playing, for
love invented it.

They sat down on their mother’s grave. No stone
was ever erected to the memory of Jean Myles, but it
is enough for her that she lies at home. That comfort
will last her to the Judgment Day.

The man who had dug the grave sent them away, and
they wandered to the hill, and thence down the Roods,
where there were so many outside stairs not put there
for: show that it was well Elspeth remembered how
susceptible Tommy was to being struck dumb. For
her sake he said, “They ’re bonny,” and for his. sake
she replied, “I’m glad they ain’t bonnier.”

When within one turn of Monypenny they came sud-
denly upon some boys playing at capey-dykey, a game
with marbles that is only known in Thrums. There
are thirty-five ways of playing marbles, but this is the
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 151

best way, and Elspeth knew that Tommy was hunger-
ing to look on, but without her, lest he should be
accused of sweethearting. So she offered to remain in
the background.

Was she sure she should n’t mind ?

She said falteringly that of course she would mind a
little, but ——

Then Tommy was irritated, and said he knew she
would mind, but if she just pretended she did n’t mind,
he could leave her without feeling that he was mean.

So Elspeth affected not to mind, and then he deserted
her, conscience at rest, which was his nature. But he
should have remained with her. The players only gave
him the side of their eye, and a horrid fear grew on
him that they did not know he was a Thrums boy.
“Dagont!” he cried to put them right on that point,
but though they paused in their game, it was only to
laugh at him uproariously. Let the historian use an
oath for once; dagont, Tommy had said the swear in
the wrong place!

How fond he had been of that word! Many a time
he had fired it in the face of Londoners, and the flash
had often blinded them and always him. Now he had
brought it home, and Thrums would have none of it;
it was as if these boys were jeering at their own flag.
He tottered away from them until he came to a trance,
or passage, where he.put his face to the wall and forgot
even Elspeth.
152 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

He had not noticed a girl pass the mouth of the
trance, trying not very successfully to conceal a brandy-
bottle beneath her pinafore, but presently he heard
shouts, and looking out he saw Grizel, the Painted
Lady’s child, in the hands of her tormentors. She was
unknown to him, of course, but she hit back so cour-
ageously that he watched her with interest, until —
until suddenly he retreated farther into the trance. He
had seen Elspeth go on her knees, obviously to ask God
to stay the hands and tongues of these cruel boys.

Elspeth had disgraced him, he felt. He was done
with her forever. If they struck her, serve her right.

Struck her! Struck little Elspeth! His imagination
painted the picture with one sweep of its brush. Take
care, you boys, Tommy is seudding back.

They had not molested Elspeth as yet. When they
saw and heard her praying, they had bent forward,
agape, as if struck suddenly in the stomach. Then one
of them, Francie Crabb, the golden-haired son of Esther
Auld, recovered and began to knead Grizel’s back with
his fists, less in viciousness than to show that the
prayer was futile. Into this scene sprang Tommy, and
he thought that Elspeth was the kneaded one. Had he
taken time to reflect he would probably have used the
Thrums feint, and then in with a left-hander, which is
not very efficacious in its own country; but being ina
hurry he let out with Shovel’s favorite, and down went
Francie Crabb.
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 153

“Would you!” said Tommy, threatening, when
Francie attempted to rise.

He saw now that Elspeth was untouched, that he had
rescued an unknown girl, and it cannot be pretended of
him that he was the boy to squire all ladies in distress.
In ordinary circumstances he might have left Grizel to
her fate, but having struck for her, he felt that he
would like to go on striking. He had also the day’s
disappointments to avenge. It is startling to reflect
that the little minister’s height, for instance, put an
extra kick in him.

So he stood stridelegs over Francie, who whimpered,
“T wouldna have struck this one if that one hadna
prayed for me. It wasna likely I would stand that.”

“You shall stand it,” replied Tommy, and turning to
Elspeth, who had risen from her knees, he said: “ Pray
away, Elspeth.”

Elspeth refused, feeling that there would be some-
thing wrong in praying from triumph, and Tommy,
about to be very angry with her, had a glorious inspira-
tion. “Pray for yourself,” he said to Francie, “and do
it out loud.” ;

The other boys saw that a novelty promised, and now
Francie need expect no aid from them. At first he
refused to pray; but he succumbed when Tommy had
explained the consequences, and illustrated them.

Tommy dictated: “Oh, God, Iamasinner. Go on.”

Francie not only said it, but looked it.
154 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“And I pray to you to ‘repent me, though I ain’t
worthy,” continued Tommy.

“And I pray to you to repent me, though I ain’t
worthy,” growled Francie. (It was the arrival of ain’t
in Thrums.)

Tommy considered, and then: “I thank Thee, O
God,” he said, “for telling this girl — this lassie — to
pray for me.”

Two gentle taps helped to knock this out of Francie.

Being an artist, Tommy had kept his best for the
end (and made it wp first). “And lastly,” he said, “I
thank this boy for thrashing me—I mean this here
laddie. Oh, may he allus be near to thrash me when I
strike this other lassie again. Amen.”

When it was all over Tommy looked around trium-
phantly, and though he liked the expression on several
faces, Grizel’s pleased him best. “It ain’t no wonder
you would like to be me, lassie!” he said, in an
ecstasy.

“TJ don’t want to be you, you conceited boy,” retorted
the Painted Lady’s child hotly, and her heat was the
greater because the clever little wretch had read her
thoughts aright. But it was her sweet voice that
surprised him.

“You’re English!” he cried.

“So are you,” broke in a boy offensively, and then
Tommy said to Grizel loftily, “Run away; I’ll not let
none on them touch you.”
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 155

“Tam not afraid of them,” she rejoined, with scorn,
“and I shall not let you help me, and I won?t run.”
And run she did not; she walked off leisurely with her
head in the air, and her dignity was beautiful, except
once when she made the mistake of turning round to
put out her tongue.

But, alas! in the end someone ran. If only they had
not called him “English.” In vain he fired a volley of
Scotch; they pretended not to understand it. Then he
screamed that he and Shovel could fight the lot of
them. Who was Shovel? they asked derisively. He
replied that Shovel was a bloke who could lick any two
of them — and with one hand tied behind his back.

No sooner had he made this proud boast than he went
white, and soon two disgraceful tears rolled down his
cheeks. The boys saw that for some reason unknown
his courage was gone, and even Francie Crabb began to
turn up his sleeves and spit upon his hands.

Elspeth was as bewildered as the others, but she
slipped her hand into his and away they ran ingloriously,
the foe too much astounded to jeer. She sought to
comfort him by saying (and it brought her a step nearer
womanhood), “You wasn’t feared for yourself, you
wasn’t; you was just feared they would hurt me.”

But Tommy sobbed in reply, “That ain’t ite=
bounced so much about the Thrums folk to Shovel, and
now the first day I’m here I heard myself bouncing
about Shovel to Thrums folk, and it were that what
156 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY 3

made me ery. Oh, Elspeth, it’s —it’s not the same
what I thought it would be!”

Nor was it the same to Elspeth, so they sat down by
the roadside and cried with their arms round each
other, and any passer-by could look who had the heart.
But when night came, and they were in their garret
bed, Tommy was once more seeking to comfort Elspeth
with arguments he disbelieved, and again he succeeded.
As usual, too, the make-believe made him happy also.

“Have you forgot,” he whispered, “that my mother
said as she would come and see us every night in our
bed? If yer cries, she ’ll see as we’re terrible unhappy,
and that will make her unhappy too.” :

“Oh, Tommy, is she here now ?”

“Whisht! She’s here, but they don’t like living
ones to let on as they knows it.”

Elspeth kept closer to Tommy, and with their heads
beneath the blankets, so as to stifle the sound, he
explained to her how they could cheat their mother.
When she understood, he took the blankets off their

“faces and said in the darkness in a loud voice:

“Tt’s a grand place, Thrums! ”

Elspeth replied in a similar voice, “ Ain’t the town-
house just big!”

Said Tommy, almost chuckling “Oh, the bonny, bonny
Auld Licht Kirk!”

Said Elspeth, “ Oh, the beauty outside stairs!”

Said Tommy, “The minister is so long!”
A CHILD’S TRAGEDY 157

Said Elspeth, “The folk is so kind!”

Said Tommy, “ Especially the laddies! ”

“Oh, Tis so happy!” cried Elspeth.

* Me too!” cried Tommy.

“My mother would be so chirpy if she could jest see
as!” Elspeth said, quite archly.

“But she canna!” replied Tommy, slyly pinching
Elspeth in the rib.

Then they dived beneath the blankets, and the whis.
pering was resumed.

“Did she hear, does yer think ?” asked Elspeth.

“Every word,” Tommy replied. “Elspeth, we’ve
done her!”
CHAPTER XIII

SHOWS HOW TOMMY TOOK CARE OF ELSPETH

Tuus the first day passed, and others followed in
which women, who had known Jean Myles, did her chil-
dren kindnesses, but could not do all they would have
done, for Aaron forbade them to enter his home except
on business though it was begging for a housewife all
day. Had Elspeth at the age of six now settled down
to domestic duties she would not have been the youngest
housekeeper ever known in Thrums, but she was never
very good at doing things, only at loving and being
loved, and the observant neighbors thought her a back-
ward girl; they forgot, like most people, that service is
not necessarily a handicraft. Tommy discovered what
they were saying, and to shield Elspeth he took to house-
wifery with the blind down; but Aaron, entering the
kitchen unexpectedly, took the besom from him, saying:

“It’s an ill thing for men folk to ken ower muckle
about women’s work.”

“ You do it yoursel’,” Tommy argued.

“‘T said men folk,” replied Aaron, quietly.

The children knew that remarks of this sort had ref-
erence to their mother, of whom he never spoke more
HOW TOMMY TOOK CARE OF ELSPETH 159

directly ; indeed he seldom spoke to them at all, and
save when he was cooking or giving the kitchen a slovenly
cleaning they saw little of him. Monypenny had pre-
dicted that their presence must make a new man of him,
but he was still unsociable and morose and sat as long
as ever at the warping-mill, of which he seemed to have
become the silent wheel. Tommy and Elspeth always
dropped their voices when they spoke of him, and some-
times when his mill stopped he heard one of them say to
the other, “ Whisht, he’s coming!” Though he seldom
spoke sharply to them, his face did not lose its loneli-
ness at sight of them. Elspeth was his favorite (some-
what to the indignation of both); they found this out
without his telling them or even showing it markedly,
and when they wanted to ask anything of him she was
deputed to do it, but she did it quavering, and after
drawing farther away from him instead of going nearer.
A dreary life would have lain before them had they not
been sent to school.

There were at this time three schools in Thrums, the
chief of them ruled over by the terrible Cathro (called
Knuckly when you were a street away from him). It
was a famous school, from which a band of three or four
or even six marched every autumn to the universities as
determined after bursaries as ever were Highlandmen to
lift cattle, and for the same reason, that they could not
- do without.

A very different kind of dominie was Cursing Ballin.
160 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

gall, who had been dropped at Thrums by a travelling
circus, and first became familiar to the town as, carrying
two carpet shoes, two books, a pillow, and a saucepan,
which were all his belongings, he wandered from manse
to manse offering to write sermons for the ministers at
circus prices. That scheme failing, he was next seen
looking in at windows in search of a canny calling, and
eventually he cut one of his braces into a pair of tawse,
thus with a single stroke of the knife, making himself a
school-master and lop-sided for life. His fee was but a
penny a week, “ with a bit o’ the swine when your father
kills,” and sometimes there were so many pupils on a
form that they could only rise as one. During the first
half of the scholastic day Ballingall’s shouts and pounces
were for parents to listen to, but after his dinner of
crowdy, which is raw meal and hot water, served ina
cogie, or wooden bowl, languor overcame him and he
would sleep, having first given out a sum in arithmetic
and announced :

“The one ‘as finds out the answer first, I’ll give him
his licks.”

Last comes the Hanky School, which was for the gen-
teel and for the common who contemplated soaring.
You were not admitted to it in corduroys or barefooted,
nor did you pay weekly; no, your father called four
times a year with the money in an envelope. He was
shown into the blue-and-white room, and there, after
business had been transacted, very nervously on Miss
HOW TOMMY TOOK CARE OF ELSPETH 161

Ailie’s part, she offered him his choice between ginger
wine and what she falteringly called wh-wh-whiskey.
He partook in the polite national manner, which is thus:

“ You will take something, Mr. Cortachy ?”

“No, I thank you, ma’am.”

“A little ginger wine ?”

“Té agrees ill with me.”

“Then a little wh-wh-whiskey ? ”

“ You are ower kind.”

«Then may 1?”

“T am not heeding.”

“ Perhaps, though, you don’t take ? ”

“T can take it or want it.”

“Ts that enough ?”

“Tt will do perfectly.”

“Shall I fill it up ?”

“As you please, ma’am.”

Miss Ailie’s relationship to the magerful man may be
remembered ; she shuddered to think of it herself, for in
middle-age she retained the mind of a young girl, but
when duty seemed to: call, this school-mistress could be
brave, and she offered to give Elspeth her schooling free
of charge. Like the other two hers was a “mixed”
school, but she did not want ‘'ommy, because she had
seen him in the square one day, and there was a leer on
his face that reminded her of his father.

Another woman was less particular. This was Mrs.

Crabb, of the Tappit Hen, the Esther Auld whom Jean
il
162 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Myles’s letters had so frequently sent to bed. Her
Francie was still a pupil of Miss Ailie, and still he wore
the golden hair, which, despite all advice, she would not
crop. It was so beautiful that no common boys could
see it without wanting to give it a tug in passing, and
partly to prevent this, partly to show how high she had
risen in the social scale, Esther usually sent him to
school under the charge of her servant lass. She now
proposed to Aaron that this duty should devolve on
Tommy, and for the service she would pay his fees at
the Hanky School.

“We maun all lend a hand to poor Jean’s bairns,” she
said, with a gleam in hereye. “It mene have been
well for her, Aaron, if she had married you.”

“Ts that all you have to say ?” asked the warper, who
had let her enter no farther than the hallan.

“T would expect him to lift Francie ower the pools in
wet weather; and it might be as well if he called him
Master Francie.”

“Ts that all?”

“ Ay, I ask no more, for we maun all help Jean’s bairns.
If she could only look down, Aaron, and see her little
velvets, as she called him, lifting my little corduroys
ower the pools!”

Aaron flung open the door. “Munt!” he said, and he
looked so dangerous that she retired at once. He sent
Tommy to Ballingall’s, and accepted Miss Ailie’s offer
for Elspeth, but this was an impossible arrangement,
HOW TOMMY TOOK CARE OF ELSPETH 163

for it was known to the two persons primarily concerned
that Elspeth would die if she was not where Tommy
was. ‘The few boys he had already begun to know were
at Cathro’s or Ballingall’s, and as they called Miss Ailie’s
a lassie school he had no desire to attend it, but where
he was there also must Elspeth be. Daily he escaped
from Ballingall’s and hid near the Dovecot, as Miss
Ailie’s house was called, and every little while he gave
vent to Shovel’s whistle, so that Elspeth might know of
his proximity and be cheered. Thrice was he carried
back, kicking, to Ballingall’s by urchins sent in pursuit,
stern ministers of justice on the first two occasions; but
on the third they made him an offer: if he would hide
in Couthie’s hen-house they were willing to look for him
everywhere else for two hours.

Tommy’s behavior seemed beautiful to the impres-
sionable Miss Ailie, but it infuriated Aaron, and on the
fourth day he set off for the parish school, meaning to
put the truant in the hands of Cathro, from whom there
was no escape. Vainly had Elspeth implored him to .
let Tommy come to the Dovecot, and vainly apparently
was she trotting at his side now, looking up appealingly
in his face. But when they reached the gate of the
parish school-yard he walked past it because she was
tugging him, and always when he seemed about to
turn she took his hand again, and he seemed to have
lost the power to resist Jean Myles’s bairn. So they
came to the Dovecot, and Miss Ailie gained a pupil
164 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

who had been meant for Cathro. Tommy’s arms were
stronger than Elspeth’s, but they could not have done
as much for him that day.

Thus did the two children enter upon the genteel ca-
reer, to the indignation of the other boys and girls of
Monypenny, all of whom were commoners.
CHAPTER XIV

THE HANKY SCHOOL

Tur Dovecot was a prim little cottage standing
back from the steepest brae in Thrums and hidden by
high garden walls, to the top of which another boy’s
shoulders were, for apple-lovers, but one step up. Jar-
gonelle trees grew against the house, stretching their
arms round it as if to measure its girth, and it was also
remarkable for several “dumb” windows with the most
artful blinds painted on them. Miss Ailie’s fruit was
famous, but she loved her flowers best, and for long a
notice board in her garden said, appealingly: “Persons
who come to steal the fruit are requested not to walk
on the flower-beds.” It was that old bachelor, Dr. Mc-
Queen, who suggested this inscription to her, and she
could never understand why he chuckled every time
he read it.

There were seven rooms in the house, but only two
were of public note, the school-room, which was down-
stairs, and the blue-and-white room above. The school-
room was so long that it looked very low in the ceiling,
and it had a carpet, and on the walls were texts as well as
maps. Miss Ailie’s desk was in the middle of the room,
166 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

and there was another desk in the corner; a cloth had
been hung over it, as one covers a cage to send the bird
to sleep. Perhaps Miss Ailie thought that a bird had
once sung there, for this had been the desk of her sister,
Miss Kitty, who died years before Tommy came to
Thrums. Dainty Miss Kitty, Miss Kitty with the
roguish curls, it is strange to think that you are dead,
and that only Miss Ailie hears you singing now at your
desk in the corner! Miss Kitty never sang there, but
the playful ringlets were once the bright thing in the
room, and Miss Ailie sees them still, and they are a
song to her.

The pupils had to bring handkerchiefs to the Dovecot,
which led to its being called the Hanky School, and in
time these handkerchiefs may be said to have assumed a
religious character, though their purpose was merely to
protect Miss Ailie’s carpet. She opened each scholastic
day by reading fifteen verses from the Bible, and then
she said sternly, “Hankies!” whereupon her pupils
whipped out their handkerchiefs, spread them on the
floor and kneeled on them while Miss Ailie repeated
the Lord’s Prayer. School closed at four o’clock, again
with hankies.

Only on great occasions were the boys and girls
admitted to the blue-and-white room, when they were
given shortbread, but had to eat it with their heads
flung back so that no crumbs should fall. Nearly every-
thing in this room was blue or white, or both. There
THE HANKY SCHOOL 167

were white blinds and blue curtains, a blue table-cover
and a white crumb-cloth, a white sheepskin with a blue
footstool on it, blue chairs dotted with white buttons.
Only white flowers came into this room, where there
were blue vases for them, not a book was to be seen
without a blue alpaca cover. Here Miss Ailie i1eceived
visitors in her white with the blue braid, and enrolled
new pupils in blue ink with a white pen. Some laughed
at her, others remembered that she must have something
to love after Miss Kitty died.

Miss Ailie had her romance, as you may hear by and
by, but you would not have thought it as she came for-
ward to meet you in the blue-and-white room, trembling
lest your feet had brought in mud, but too much a lady
to ask you to stand on a newspaper, as she would have
liked dearly todo. She was somewhat beyond middle-
age, and stoutly, even squarely, built, which gave her
a masculine appearance; but she had grown so timid
since Miss Kitty’s death that when she spoke you felt
that either her figure or her manner must have been
intended for someone else. In conversation she had a
way of ending a sentence in the middle which gave her
a reputation of being “thro’ither,” though an artificial
tooth was the cause. It was slightly loose, and had she
not at times shut her mouth suddenly, and then done
something with her tongue, an accident might have
happened. This tooth fascinated Tommy, and once
when she was talking he cried, excitedly, “Quick, it’s
168 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

coming!” whereupon her mouth snapped close, and she
turned pink in the blue-and-white room.

Nevertheless Tommy became her favorite, and as he
had taught himself to read, after a fashion, in London,
where his lesson-books were chiefly placards and the
journal subscribed to by Shovel’s father, she often in-
vited him after school hours to the blue-and-white room,
where he sat on a kitchen chair (with his boots off) and
read aloud, very slowly, while Miss Ailie knitted. The
volume was from the Thrums Book Club, of which Miss
Ailie was one of the twelve members. Each member
contributed a book every year, and as their tastes -in
literature differed, all sorts of books came into the
club, and there was one member who invariably gave
a ro-ro-romance. He was double-chinned and forty, but
the school-mistress called him the dashing young banker,
and for months she avoided his dangerous contribution.
But always there came a black day when a desire to
read the novel seized her, and she hurried home with
it beneath her rokelay. This year the dashing bankev’s
choice was a lady’s novel called “I Love My Love with
an A,” and it was a frivolous tale, those being before the
days of the new fiction, with its grand discovery that
women have an equal right with men to grow beards.
The hero had such a way with him and was so young
(Miss Ailie could not stand them a day more than
twenty) that the school-mistress was enraptured and
scared at every page, but she fondly hoped that Tommy
THE HANKY SCHOOL 169

did not understand. However, he discovered one day
what something printed thus, “D—n,” meant, and he
immediately said the word with such unction that Miss
Ailie let fall her knitting. She would have ended the
readings then had not Agatha been at that point in the
arms of an officer who, Miss Ailie felt almost certain,
had a wife in India, and so how could she rest till she
knew for certain? To track the officer by herself was
not to be thought of, to read without knitting being such
shameless waste of time, and it was decided to resume
the readings on a revised plan: Tommy to say “stroke”
in place of the “ D—ns,” and “ word we have no concern
with ” instead of “Darling” and “ Little One.”

Miss Ailie was not the only person at the Dovecot
-who admired Tommy. Though in duty bound, as young
patriots, to jeer at him for having been born in the
wrong place, the pupils of his own age could not resist
the charm of his reminiscences; even Gav Dishart, a
son of the manse, listened attentively to him. His
great topic was his birthplace, and whatever happened
in Thrums, he instantly made contemptible by citing
something of the same kind, but on a larger scale, that
had happened in London; he turned up his nose almost
farther than was safe when they said Catlaw was a stiff
mountain to climb. (“Oh, Gav, if you just saw the Lon-
don mountains!”) Snow! why they did n’t know what
snow was in Thrums. If they could only see St. Paul’s
or Hyde Park or Shovel! he could n’t help laughing at
170 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY =

Thrums, he could n’t — Larfing, he said at first, but in a
short time his Scotch was better than theirs, though less
unconscious. His English was better also, of course,
and you had to speak in a kind of English when inside
the Hanky School; you got your revenge at “ minutes.”
On the whole, Tommy irritated his fellow-pupils a good
deal, but they found it difficult to keep away from him.
He also contrived to enrage the less genteel boys of
Monypenny. Their leader was Corp Shiach, three years
Tomimy’s senior, who had never been inside a school ex-
cept once, when he broke hopefully into Ballingall’s be-
cause of a stirring rumor (nothing in it) that the dominie
had hangit himself with his remaining brace; then in
order of merit came Birkie Fleemister; then, perhaps,
the smith’s family, called the Haggerty-Taggertys, they
were such slovens. When school was over Tommy fre-
quently stepped out of his boots and stockings, so that
he no longer looked offensively genteel, and then Mony-
penny was willing to let him join in spyo, smuggle bools,
kickbonnety, peeries, the preens, suckers pilly, or what-
ever game was in season, even to the baiting of the
Painted Lady, but they would not have Elspeth, who
should have been content to play dumps with the female
Haggerty-Taggertys, but could enjoy no game of which
Tommy was not the larger half. Many times he deserted
her for manlier joys, but though she was out of sight he
could not forget her longing face, and soon he sneaked
off to her; he upbraided her, but he stayed with her.
THE HANKY SCHOOL 171

They bore with him for a time, but when they discovered
that she had persuaded him (after prayer) to put back
the spug’s eggs which he had brought home in triumph,
then they drove him from their company, and for a long
time afterwards his deadly enemy was the hard-hitting
Corp Shiach.

Elspeth was not invited to attend the readings of “I
Love My Love with an A,” perhaps because there were
so many words in it that she had no concern with, but
she knew they ended as the eight-o’clock bell began to
ring, and it was her custom to meet Tommy a few yards
from Aaron’s door. Farther she durst not venture in
the gloaming through fear of the Painted Lady, for
Aaron’s house was not far from the fearsome lane that
led to Double Dykes, and even the big boys who made
faces at this woman by day ran from her in the dusk.
Creepy tales were told of what happened to those on
whom she cast a blighting eye before they could touch
cold iron, and Tommy was one of many who kept a bit
‘of cold iron from the smithy handy in his pocket. On
his way home from the readings he never had occa-
sion to use it, but at these times he sometimes met
Grizel, who liked to do her shopping in the evenings
when her persecutors were more easily eluded, and he
forced her to speak to him. Not her loneliness appealed
to him, but that look of admiration she had given him
when he was astride of Francie Crabb. For such a look
he could pardon many rebuffs; without it no praise
172 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

greatly pleased him; he was always on the outlook
for it.

“T warrant,” he said to her one evening, “ you want to
have some manbody to take care of you the way I take
care of Elspeth.”

“No, I don’t,” she replied, promptly.

« Would you no like somebody to love you ?”

“Do you mean kissing ? ” she asked.

“There’s better things in it than that,” he said
guardedly ; “ but if you want kissing, I —I— Elspeth ’ll
kiss you.”

“Will she want to do it?” inquired Grizel, a little
wistfully.

“Tl make her do it,” Tommy said.

“T don’t want her to do it,” cried Grizel, and he could
not draw another word from her. However he was sure
she thought him a wonder, and when next they met he
challenged her with it.

“Do you not now ?”

“T won’t tell you,” answered Grizel, who was never
known to lie.

“You think I’m a wonder,” Tommy persisted, “but
you dinna want me to know you think it.”

Grizel rocked her arms, a quaint way she had when
excited, and she blurted out, “ How do you know ? ”

The look he liked had come back to her face, but’ he
had no time to enjoy it, for just then Elspeth appeared,
and Elspeth’s jealousy was easily aroused.
THE HANKY SCHOOL 173

«J dinna ken you, lassie,” he said coolly to Grizel, and
left her stamping her foot at him. She decided never to
speak to Tommy again, but the next time they met he
took her into the Den and taught her how to fight.

It is painful to have to tell that Miss Ailie was the
person who provided him with the opportunity. In the
readings they arrived one evening at the scene in the
conservatory, which has not a single Stroke in it, but is
so full of Words We have no Concern with that Tommy
reeled home blinking, and next day so disgracefully did
he flounder in his lessons that the gentle schoolmistress
cast up her arms in despair.

“T don’t know what to say to you,” she exclaimed.

“ Fine I know what you want to say,” he retorted, and
unfortunately she asked, “ What ?”

“ Stroke!” he replied, leering horridly.

“JT Love My Love with an A” was returned to the
elub forthwith (whether he really did have a wife in
India Miss Ailie never knew) and “Judd on the Shorter
Catechism” took its place. But mark the result. The
readings ended at a quarter to eight now, at twenty to
eight, at half-past seven, and so Tommy could loiter on
the way home without arousing Elspeth’s spspicion.
One evening he saw Grizel cutting her way through the
Haggerty-Taggerty group, and he offered to come to her
aid if she would say “Help me.” But she refused.

When, however, the Haggerty-Taggertys were gone
she condescended to say, “I shall never, never ask you
174 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

to help me, but — if you like — you can show me how to
hit without biting my tongue.”

“T’ll learn you Shovel’s curly ones,” replied Tommy,
cordially, and he adjourned with her to the Den for that
purpose. He said he chose the Den so that Corp Shiach
and the others might not interrupt them, but it was
Elspeth he was thinking of.

“You are like Miss Ailie with her cane when she is
pandying,” he told Grizel. “You begin well, but you
slacken just when you are going to hit.”

“Tt is because my hand opens,” Grizel said.

“And then it ends in a shove,” said her mentor,

severely. “You should close your fists like this, with
the thumbs inside, and then play dab, this way, that way,
yon way. That’s what Shovel calls, ‘You want it, take
it, you ’ve got it.”
- Thus did the hunted girl get her first lesson in scien-
tific warfare in the Den, and neither she nor Tommy saw
the pathos of it. Other lessons followed, and during the
rests Grizel told Tommy all that she knew about herself.
He had won her confidence at last by — by swearing
dagont that he was English also.
CHAPTER XV

THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME

“Ts it true that your mother’s a bonny swearer ?”

Tommy wanted to find out all about the Painted
Lady, and the best way was to ask.

“She does not always swear,” Grizel said eagerly.
“She sometimes says sweet, sweet things.”

“ What kind of things ?”

“T won’t tell you.”

“Tell me one.”

“Well, then, ‘ Beloved.’”

“Word We have no Concern with,” murmured
Tommy. He was shocked, but still curious. “Does
she say ‘Beloved’ to you?” he inquired.

“No, she says it to him.”

“Him! Wha ishe?” Tommy thought he was at the
beginning of a discovery, but she auswered, uncom-
fortably,

“T don’t know.”

“But you ’ve seen him ?”

“No, he — he is not there.”

“Not there! How can she speak to him if he’s no
there ?”
176 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

‘She thinks he is there. He — he comes ona horse.”
“ What is the horse like ?”

“There is no horse.”

“But you said x



“She just thinks there is a horse. She hears it.”

“Do you ever hear it ?”

“ No.”

The girl was looking imploringly into Tommy’s face
as if begging it to say that these things need not terrify
her, but what he wanted was information.

“What does the Painted Lady do,” he asked, “when
she thinks she hears the horse ?”

“She blows kisses, and then —then she goes to the
Den.”

“What to do?”

“She walks up and down the Den, talking to the
man.”

“And him no there?” cried Tommy, scared.

“No, there is no one there.”

“And syne what do you do?”

“T won’t tell you.”

.Tommy reflected, and then he said, “She’s daft.”

“She is not always daft,” cried Grizel. “There are
whole weeks when she is just sweet.”

“Then what do you make of her being so queer in
the Den?”

“Tam not sure, but I think —I think there was once
a place like the Den at her own home in England,
THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME 177

where she used to meet the man long ago, and some-
times she forgets that it is not long ago now.”

“JT wonder wha the man was ?”

“TJ think he was my father.”

“J thought you didna ken what a father was ?”

“T know now. I think my father was a Scots-
man.”

.“ What makes you think that ?”

“T heard a Thrums woman say it would account for
my being called Grizel, and I think we came to Scotland
to look for him, but it is so long, long ago.”

“How long ?”

“J don’t know. We have lived here four years, but
we were looking for him before that. It was not in
this part of Scotland we looked for him. We gave up
looking for him before we came here.”

“\Vhat made the Painted Lady take a house here,
then ?”

“] think it was because the Den is so like the place
she used to meet him in long ago.”

“What was his name ?”

“T don’t know.”

. “Does the Painted Lady no tell you about yoursel’ ?”

“No, she is angry if I ask.”

“Her name is Mary, I’ve heard ?”

“Mary Gray is her name, but — but I don’t think it
is her real name.”

“How, does she no use her real name Faas
12
178 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Because she wants her own mamma to think she is
dead.”

“What makes‘her want that ?”

“T am not sure, but I think it is because there is me.
I think it was naughty of me to be born. Can you help
being born ?”

Tommy would have liked to tell her about Reddy,
but forbore, because he still believed that he had acted
criminally in that affair, and so for the time being the
inquisition ended. But though he had already discov-
ered all that Grizel knew about her mother and nearly
all that curious Thrums ever ferreted out, he returned
to the subject at the next meeting in the Den.

“Where does the Painted Lady get her money ?”

“Oh,” said Grizel, “that is easy. She just goes into
that house called the bank, and asks for some, and they
give her as much as she likes.”

“Ay, I’ve heard that, but y

The remainder of the question was never uttered.



Instead,

“Hod ahint a tree!” cried Tommy, hastily, and he
got behind one himself; but he was too late; Elspeth
was upon them; she had caught them together at last.

Temmy showed great cunning. “Pretend you have
eggs in your hand,” he whispered to Grizel, and then,
in a loud voice, he said: “Think shame of yoursel’,
lassie, for harrying birds’ nests. It’s a good thing I
saw you, and brought you here to force you to put
THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME 179

them back. Is that you, Elspeth? I catched this
limmer wi’ eggs in her hands (and the poor birds sic
bonny singers, too!), and so I was forcing her to —”

But it would not do. Grizel was ablaze with indig-
nation. “You are a horrid story-teller,” she said,
“and if I had known you were ashamed of being seen
with me, I should never have spoken to you. Take
him,” she cried, giving Tommy a push toward Elspeth,
“T don’t want the mean little story-teller.”

“He’s not mean!” retorted Elspeth.

“Nor yet little!” roared Tommy.

“Yes, he is,” insisted Grizel, “and I was not harrying
nests. He came with me here because he wanted to.”

“ Just for the once,” he said, hastily.

“This is the sixth time,” said Grizel, and then she
marched out of the Den. Tommy and Elspeth followed
slowly, and not a word did either say until they were
in front of Aaron’s house. Then by the light in the
window Tommy saw that Elspeth was crying softly,
and he felt miserable.

“J was just teaching her to fight,” he said humbly.

“You looked like it!” she replied, with the scorn
that comes occasionally to the sweetest lady.

He tried to comfort her in various tender ways, but
none of them sufficed this time. ‘“You’ll marry her as
soon as you’re a man,” she insisted, and she would not
let this tragic picture go. It was a case for his biggest
efforts, and he opened his mouth to threaten instant
180 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

self-destruction unless she became happy at once. But
he had threatened this too frequently of late, even
shown himself drawing the knife across his throat.

Ag usual the right idea came to him at the right
moment. “If you just kent how I did it for your
sake,” he said, with gentle dignity, “you wouldna
blame me; you would think me noble.”

She would not help him with a question, and after
waiting for it he proceeded. “If you just kent wha she
is! And I thought she was dead! What a start it
gave me when I found out it was her!”

“Wha is she?” cried Elspeth, with a sudden shiver.

“JT was trying to keep it frae you,” replied Tommy,
sadly.

She seized his arm. “Is it Reddy ?” she gasped, for
the story of Reddy had been a terror to her all her
days.

“She doesna ken I was the laddie that diddled her
in London,” he said, “and I promise you never to let
on, Elspeth. I—TI just went to the Den with her to
say things that would put her off the scent. If] hadna
done that she might have found out and ta’en your
place here and tried to pack you off to the Painted
Lady’s.”

Elspeth stared at him, the other grief already for-
gotten, and he thought he was getting on excellently,
when she cried with passion, ‘‘I don’t believe as it is
Reddy!” and ran into the house.
THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME 181

“Dinna believe it, then!” disappointed Tommy
shouted, and now he was in such a rage with himself
that his heart hardened against her. He sought the
company of old Blinder.

Unfortunately Elspeth had believed it, and her woe
was the more pitiful because she saw at once, what had
never struck Tommy, that it would be wicked to keep
Grizel out of her rights. “1’ll no win to Heaven
now,” she said, despairingly, to herself, for to offer to
change places with Grizel was beyond her courage, and
she tried some childish ways of getting round God, such
as going on her knees and saying, “I’m so little, and
I hinna no mother!” That was not a bad way.

Another way was to give Grizel everything she had,
except ommy. She collected all her treasures, the bot-
tle with the brass top that she had got from Shovel’s
old girl, the “housewife” that was a present from Miss
Ailie, the teetotum, the pretty buttons Tommy had
won for her at the game of buttony, the witchy marble,
the twopence she had already saved for the Muckley,
these and some other precious trifles she made a little
bundle of and set off for Double Dykes with them,
intending to leave them at the door. This was Elspeth,
who in ordinary circumstances would not have ventured
near that mysterious dwelling even in daylight and in
Tommy’s company. There was no room for vulgar
fear in her bursting little heart to-night.

Tommy went home anon, meaning to be whatever
182 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

kind of boy she seemed most in need of, but she was
not in the house, she was not in the garden; he called
her name, and it was only Birkie Fleemister, mimicking
her, who answered, “Oh, Tommy, come to me!” But
Birkie had news for him.

“Sure as death,” he said in some awe, “I saw
Elspeth ganging yont the double dykes, and I cried to
her that the Painted Lady would do her a mischief,
but she just ran on.”

Elspeth in the double dykes — alone — and at night!
Oh, how Tommy would have liked to strike bimself
now! She must have believed his wicked lie after all,
and being so religious she had gone to— He gave
himself no time to finish the thought. The vital thing
was that she was in peril, he seemed to hear her calling
to him, “Oh, Tommy, come quick! oh, Tommy, oh,
Tommy!” and in an agony of apprehension he ran after
her. But by the time he got to the beginning of the
double dykes he knew that she must be at the end of
them, and in the Painted Lady’s maw, unless their
repute by night had blown her back. He paused on
the Coffin Brig, which is one long narrow stone; and
along the funnel of the double dykes he sent the lonely
whisper, “Elspeth, are you there?” He tried to shout
it, but no boy could shout there after nightfall in the
Painted Lady’s time, and when the words had travelled
only a little way along the double dykes, they came
whining back to him, like a dog despatched on uncanny
THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME 183

work. He heard no other sound save the burn stealing
on tiptoe from an evil place, and the uneasy rustling of
tree-tops, and his own breathing.

The Coffin Brig remains, but the double dykes have
fallen bit by bit into the burn, and the path they made
safe is again as naked as when the Kingoldrum
Jacobites filed along it, and sweer they were, to the
support of the Pretender. It traverses a ridge and is
streaked with slippery beech-roots which like to fling
you off your feet, on the one side into a black burn
twenty feet below, on the other down a pleasant slope.
The double dykes were built by a farmer fond of his
dram, to stop the tongue of a water-kelpie which lived
in a pool below and gave him a turn every night he
staggered home by shouting, “Drunk again, Peewit-
brae!” and announcing, with a smack of the lips, that
it had a bed ready for him in the burn. So Peewitbrae
built two parallel dykes two feet apart and two feet
high, between which he could walk home like a straight
man. His cunning took the heart out of the brute, and
water-kelpies have not been seen near Thrums since
about that time.

By day even girls played at palaulays here, and it
was a favorite resort of boys, who knew that you were
a man when you could stand on both dykes at once.
They also stripped boldly to the skin and then looked
doubtfully at the water. But at night! To test your
nerves you walked alone between the double dykes,
184 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

and the popular practice was to start off whistling,
which keeps up the courage. At the point where you
turned to run back (the Painted Lady after you, or so
you thought) you dropped a marked stone, which told
next day how far you had ventured. Corp Shiach long
held the championship, and his stone was ostentatiously
fixed in one of the dykes with lime. Tommy had
suffered at his hands for saying that Shovel’s mark was
thirty yards farther on.

With head bent to the level of the dykes, though it
was almost a mirk night beneath the trees, and one arm
outstretched before him straight as an elvint, Tommy
faced this fearful passage, sometimes stopping to touch
cold iron, but on the whole hanging back little, for
Elspeth was in peril. Soon he reached the paling that
was not needed to keep boys out of the Painted Lady’s
garden, one of the prettiest and best-tended flower-
gardens in Thrums, and crawling through where some
spars had fallen, he approached the door as noiseless as
an Indian brave after scalps. There he crouched, with
a heart that was going like a shuttle on a loom, and
listened for Elspeth’s voice.

On a night he had come nearly as far as this before,
but in the tail of big fellows with a turnip lantern.
Into the wood-work of the east window they had thrust
a pin, to which a button was tied, and the button was
also attached to a long string. They hunkered afar off
and pulled this string, and then the button tapped the
THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME 185

death-rap on the window, and the sport was successful,
for the Painted Lady screamed. But suddenly the door
opened and they were put to flight by the fierce barking
of adog. One said that the brute nabbed him in the
leg, another saw the vive tongue of it, a third played
lick at it with the lantern; this was before they dis-
covered that the dog had been Grizel imitating one,
brave Grizel, always ready to protect her mother, and
never allowed to cherish the childish fears that were
hers by birthright.

Tommy could not hear a sound from within, but he
had startling proof that Elspeth was near. His foot
struck against something at the door, and, stooping,
he saw that it was a little bundle of the treasures she
valued most. So she had indeed come to stay with the
Painted Lady if Grizel proved merciless! Oh, what a
black he had been! :

Though originally a farm-house, the cottage was no
larger than Aaron’s, and of its two front windows only
one showed a light, and that through a blind. Tommy
sidled round the house in the hope that the small east
window would be more hospitable, and just as he saw
that it was blindless something that had been crouching
rose between him and it.

“Let go!” he cried, feeling the Painted Lady’s
talons in his neck.

“Tommy!” was the answer.

“It’s you, Elspeth ?”
186 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Ts it you, Tommy ?”

“Of course. Whisht!”

“But say it is.”

sebelS sus

“Oh, Tommy, I’m so fleid!”

He drew her farther from the window and told her it
had all been a wicked lie, and she was so glad that she
forgot to chide him, but he denounced himself, and he
was better than Elspeth even at that. However, when
he learned what had brought her here he dried his eyes
and skulked to the door again and brought back her
belongings, and then she wanted him to come away at
once. But the window fascinated him; he knew he
should never find courage to come here again, and he
glided toward it, signing to Elspeth to accompany him.
They were now too near Double Dykes for speaking to
be safe, but he tapped his head as a warning to her to
remove her hat, for a woman’s head-gear always reaches
a window in front of its wearer, and he touched his
cold iron and passed it to her as if it were a snuff-mull.
Thus fortified, they approached the window fearfully,
holding hands and stepping high, like a couple in a
minuet.
CHAPTER XVI

THE PAINTED LADY

Ir had been the ordinary dwelling room of the
unknown poor, the mean little “end ” — ah, no, no, the
noblest chamber in the annals of the Scottish nation.
Here on a hard anvil has its character been fashioned
and its history made at rush-lights and its God ever
most prominent. Always within reach of hands which
trembled with reverence as they turned its broad page
could be found the Book that is compensation for all
things, and that was never more at home than on bare
dressers and. worm-eaten looms. If you were brought
up in that place and have forgotten it, there is no more
hope for you.

But though still recalling its past, the kitchen into
which Tommy and Elspeth peered was trying success-
fully to be something else. The plate-rack had been a
fixture, and the coffin-bed and the wooden bole, or
board in the wall, with its round hole through which
you thrust your hand when you wanted salt, and instead
of areal mantelpiece there was a quaint imitation one
painted over the fireplace. There were some pieces of
furniture too, such as were usual in rooms of the kind,
188 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

but most of them, perhaps in ignorance, had been put
to novel uses, like the plate-rack, where the Painted
Lady kept her many pretty shoes instead of her
crockery. Gossip said she had a looking-glass of such
prodigious size that it stood on the floor, and Tommy
nudged Elspeth to signify, “There it is!” Other
nudges called her attention to the carpet, the spinet, a
chair that rocked like a cradle, and some smaller oddi-
ties, of which the queerest was a monster velvet glove
hanging on the nail that by rights belonged to the
bellows. The Painted Lady always put on this glove
before she would touch the coals, which diverted
Tommy, who knew that common folk lift coals with
their bare hands while society uses the fringe of its
second petticoat.

It might have been a boudoir through which a
kitchen and bedroom had wandered, spilling by the
way, but though the effect was tawdry, everything had
been rubbed clean by that passionate housewife, Grizel.
She was on her knees at present ca’ming the hearth-
stone a beautiful blue, and sometimes looking round to
address her mother, who was busy among her plants
and cut flowers. Surely they were know-nothings who
called this woman silly, and blind who said she painted.
It was a little face all of one color, dingy pale, not
chubby, but retaining the soft contours of a child’s
face, and the features were singularly delicate. She
was ‘clad in a soft gray, and her figure was of the
THE PAINTED LADY 189

smallest; there was such an air of youth about her that
Tommy thought she could become a girl again by
merely shortening her frock, not such a girl as gaunt
Grizel, though, who would have looked a little woman
had she let her frock down. In appearance indeed the
Painted Lady resembled her plain daughter not at all,
but in manner in a score of ways, as when she rocked
her arms joyously at sight of a fresh bud or tossed her
brown hair from her brows with a pretty gesture that
ought, God knows, to have been for some man to love.
The watchers could not hear what she and Grizel said,
but evidently it was pleasant converse, and mother and
child, happy in each other’s company, presented a
picture as sweet as it is common, though some might
have complained that they were doing each other’s
work.. But the Painted Lady’s delight in flowers was
a scandal in Thrums, where she would stand her ground
if the roughest boy approached her with roses in his
hand, and she gave money for them, which was one
reason why the people thought her daft. She was
tending her flowers now with experienced eye, smelling
them daintily, and every time she touched them it was
a caress.

The watchers retired into the field to compare
impressions, and Elspeth said emphatically, “I like
her, Tommy, I’m not none fleid at her.”

Tommy had liked her also, but being a man he said,
“You forget that she’s an ill one.”
190 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“She looks as if she didna ken that hersel’,”
answered Elspeth, and these words of a child are the
best picture we can hope to get of the Painted Lady.

On their return to the window, they saw that Grizel
had finished her ca’ming and was now sitting on the
floor nursing a doll. Tommy had not thought her the
kind to shut her eyes to the truth about dolls, but she
was hugging this one passionately. Without its clothes
it was of the nine-pin formation, and the painted eyes
and mouth had been incorporated long since in loving
Grizel’s system; but it became just sweet as she
swaddled it in a long yellow frock and slipped its
bullet head into a duck of a pink bonnet. These
articles of attire and the others that you begin with had
all been made by Grizel herself out of the colored
tissue-paper that shopkeepers wrap round brandy
bottles. The doll’s name was Griselda, and it was
exactly six months old, and Grizel had found it, two
years ago, lying near the Coffin Brig, naked and almost
dead.

It was making the usual fuss at having its clothes
put on, and Grizel had to tell it frequently that of all
the babies — which shamed it now and again, but kept
her so occupied that she forgot her mother. The
Painted Lady had sunk into the rocking-chair, and for
atime she amused herself with it, but by and by it
ceased to rock, and as she sat looking straight before
her a change came over her face. Elspeth’s hand
THE PAINTED LADY 191

tightened its clutch on Tommy’s; the Painted Lady
had begun to talk to herself.

She was not speaking aloud, for evidently Grizel,
whose back was toward her, heard nothing, but her lips
moved and she nodded her head and smiled and beck-
oned, apparently to the wall, and the childish face
rapidly became vacant and foolish. This mood passed,
and now she was sitting very still, only her head
moving, as she looked in apprehension and perplexity
this way and that, like one who no longer knew where
she was, nor who was the child by the fire. When at
last Grizel turned and observed the change, she may
have sighed, but there was no fear in her face; the
fear was on the face of her mother, who shrank from
her in unmistakable terror and would have screamed at
a harsh word or a hasty movement. Grizel seemed to
know this, for she remained where she was, and first

- she nodded and smiled reassuringly to her mother, and
then, leaning forward, took her hand and stroked it
softly and began to talk. She had laid aside her doll,
and with the act become a woman again.

The Painted Lady was soothed, but her bewildered
look came and went, as if she only caught at some
explanation Grizel was making, to lose it in a moment.
Yet she seemed most eager to be persuaded. The little
watchers at this queer play saw that Grizel was saying
things to her which she repeated docilely and clung to
and lost hold of. Often Grizel illustrated her words by
192 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

a sort of pantomime, as when she sat down on a chair
and placed the doll in her lap, then sat down on her
mother’s lap; and when she had done this several times
Tommy took Elspeth into the field to say to her:

“Do you no see? She means as she is the Painted
Lady’s bairn, just the same as the doll is her bairn.”

If the Painted Lady needed to be told this every
minute she was daft indeed, and Elspeth could peer no
longer at the eerie spectacle. To leave Tommy, how-
ever, was equally difficult, so she crouched at his feet
when he returned to the window, drawn there hastily
by the sound of music.

The Painted-Lady could play on the spinet beauti-
fully, but Grizel could not play, though it was she who
was trying to play now. She was running her fingers
over the notes, producing noises from them, while she
swayed grotesquely on her seat and made comic faces.
Her object was to capture her mother’s mind, and she
succeeded for a short time, but soon it floated away
from all control, and the Painted Lady fell a-shaking
violently. Then Grizel seemed to be alarmed, and her
arms rocked despairingly, but she went to her mother
and took loving hold of her, and the woman clung to
her child in a way pitiful to see. She was on Grizel’s
knee now, but she still shivered as if in a deadly chill,
and her feet rattled on the floor, and her arms against
the sides of the chair. Grizel pinned the trembling
arms with her own and twisted her legs round her
THE PAINTED LADY 193

mother’s, and still the Painted Lady’s tremors shook
them both, so that to Tommy they were as two people
wrestling..

The shivering slowly lessened and at last ceased,
but this seemed to make Grizel no less unhappy. ‘To
her vehement attempt to draw her mother’s attention
she got no response; the Painted Lady was hearkening
intently for some sound other than Grizel’s voice, and
only once did she look at her child. Then it was with
eruel, ugly eyes, and at the same moment she shoved
Grizel aside so viciously that it was almost a blow.
Grizel sat down sorrowfully beside her doll, like one
aware that she could do no more, and her mother at
once forgot her. What was she listening for- so
eagerly ? Was it for the gallop of a horse? Tommy
strained his ears.

“Elspeth — speak low — do you hear anything ?”

“No; I’m ower fleid to listen.”

“Whisht! do you no hear a horse ?”

“No, everything ’s terrible still. Do you hear a
horse ?”

“] —J think I do, but far awa’.”

His imagination was on fire. Did he-hear a distant
galloping or did he only make himself hear it? He had
bent his head, and Elspeth, looking affrighted into his
face, whispered, “I hear it too, oh, Tommy, so do I!”

And the Painted Lady had heard it. She kissed her
hand toward the Den several times, and each time

13
194 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Tommy seemed to hear that distant galloping. All the
sweetness had returned to her face now, and with it a
surging joy, and she rocked her arms exultantly, but
quickly controlled them lest Grizel should see. For
evidently Grizel must be cheated, and so the Painted
Lady became very sly. She slipped off her shoes to be
able to make her preparations noiselessly, and though
at all other times her face expressed the rapture of
love, when she glanced at her child it was suspiciously
and with a gleam of hatred. Her preparations were for
going out. She was long at the famous mirror, and
when she left it her hair was elaborately dressed and
her face so transformed that first Tommy exclaimed
“Bonny!” and then corrected himself with a scornful
“Paint!” On her feet she put a foolish little pair of
red shoes, on her head a hat too gay with flowers, and
across her shoulders a flimsy white shawl at which the
night air of Thrums would laugh. Her every move-
ment was light and cautious and accompanied by side-
glances at Grizel, who occasionally looked at her, when
the Painted Lady immediately pretended to be tending
her plants again. She spoke to Grizel sweetly to
deceive her, and shot baleful glances at her next
moment. Tommy saw that Grizel had taken up her
doll once more and was squeezing it to her breast. She
knew very well what was going on behind her back.
Suddenly Tommy took to his heels, Elspeth after
him. He had seen the Painted Lady coming on her
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THE PAINTED LADY 195

tiptoes to the window. They saw the window open and
a figure ina white shawl creep out of it, as she had
doubtless escaped long ago by another window when
the door was barred. They lost sight of her at once.

“ What will Grizel do now ?” Tommy whispered, and
he would have returned to his watching place, but
Elspeth pointed to the window. Grizel was there
closing it, and next moment the lamp was extinguished.
They heard a key turn in the lock, and presently
Grizel, carrying warm wraps, passed very near them
and proceeded along the double dykes, not anxious
apparently to keep her mother in view, but slowly, as
if she knew where to find her. She went into the Den,
where Tommy dared not follow her, but he listened at
the stile and in the awful silence he fancied he heard
the neighing of a horse.

The next time he met Grizel he was yearning to ask
her how she spent that night, but he knew she would
not answer; it would be a long time before she gave
him her contideuce again. He offered her his piece of
cold iron, however, and explained why he carried it,
whereupon she flung it across the road, crying, “You
horrid boy, do you think I am frightened at my
mamma!” But when he was out of sight she came
back and slipped the cold iron into her pocket.
CHAPTER XVII

IN WHICH TOMMY SOLVES THE WOMAN PROBLEM

Priry made Elspeth want to like the Painted Lady’s
shild now, but her own rules of life were all from a
book never opened by Grizel, who made her religion for
herself and thought God a swear; she also despised
Elspeth for being so dependent on Tommy, and Elspeth
knew it. The two great subjects being barred thus, it
was not likely that either girl, despite some attempts
on Elspeth’s part, should find out the best that was in
the other, without which friendship has no meaning,
and they would have gone different ways had not
Tommy given an arm to each. He, indeed, had as
little in common with Grizel, for most conspicuous of
his traits was the faculty of stepping into other people’s
shoes and remaining there until he became someone
else; his individuality consisted in having none, while
she could only be herself and was without tolerance for
those who were different; he had at no time in his life
. the least desire to make other persons like himself, but
if they were not like Grizel she rocked her arms and
eried, “Why, why, why ?” which is the mark of the
TOMMY SOLVES THE WOMAN PROBLEM 197

“womanly” woman. But his tendency to be anyone he
was interested in implied enormous sympathy (for the
time being), and though Grizel spurned his overtures,
this only fired his pride of conquest. We can all get
whatever we want if we are quite determined to have
it (though it be a king’s daughter), and in the end
Tommy vanquished Grizel. How? By offering to let
her come into Aaron’s house and wash it and dust it
and ca’m it, “just as if you were our mother,” an invi-
tation she could not resist. To you this may seem an
easy way, but consider the penetration he showed in
thinking of it. It came to him one day when he saw
her lift the smith’s baby out of the gutter, and hug it
with a passionate delight in babies.

“She’s so awid to do it,” he said basely to Elspeth,
“that we needna let on how much we want it done.”
And he also mentioned her eagerness to Aaron as a
reason why she should be allowed to do it for nothing.

For Aaron to hold out against her admittance would
have been to defraud himself, for she transformed his
house. When she saw the brass lining of the jelly-pan
discolored, and that the stockings hanging from the
string beneath the mantelpiece had given way where
the wearers were hardest on them; when she found
dripping adhering to a cold frying-pan instead of ina
“pig,” and the pitcher leaking and the carrot-grater
stopped — when these and similar discoveries were
made by Grizel, was it a squeal of horror she gave that
198 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

such things should be, or a cry of rapture because to
her had fallen the task of setting them right ?

“She just made a jump for the besom,” was Tommy’s
graphic description of how it all began.

You should have seen Grizel on the hoddy-table
knocking nails into’ the wall. The hoddy-table is
so called because it goes beneath the larger one at
night, like a chicken under its mother, and Grizel,
with the nails in her mouth, used them up so quickly
that you would have sworn she swallowed half of them;
yet she rocked her arms because she could not be at
all four walls at once. She rushed about the room
until she was dizzy, and Tommy knew the moment to
ery “Grip her, she’ll tumble!” when he and Elspeth
seized her and put her on a stool.

Tt is on the hoddy-table that you bake and iron.
“There ’s not a baking-board in the house,” Elspeth
explained. “There is!” cried Grizel, there and then
converting a drawer into one.

Between her big bannocks she made baby ones, for
no better reason than that she was so fond of babies,
and she kissed the baby ones and said, “Oh, the loves,
they are just sweet!” and she felt for them when
Tommy took a bite. She could go so quickly between
the board and the girdle that she was always at one
end of the course or the other, but never gave you time
to say at which end, and on the limited space round
the fire she could balance such a number of bannocks
TOMMY SOLVES THE WOMAN PROBLEM 199

that they were as much a wonder as the Lord’s prayer
written on asixpence. Snch a vigilant eye she kept
on them, too, that they dared not fall. Yet she had
never been taught to bake; a good-natured neighbor
had now and again allowed her to look on.

Then her ironing! Even Aaron opened his mouth
on this subject, Blinder being his confidant. “I
thought there was a smell o’ burning,” he said, “and so
I went butt the house; but man, as soon as my een
lighted on her I minded of my mother at the same job.
The crittur was so busy with her work that she looked
as if, though the last trumpet had blawn, she would
just have eried, ‘I canna come till my ironing’s done!’
Ay, I went ben without a word.”

But best of all was to see Grizel “redding up” on a
Saturday afternoon. Where were Tommy and Elspeth
then? They were shut up in the coffin-bed to be out of
the way, and could scarce have told whether they fled
thither or were wrapped into it by her energetic arms.
Even Aaron dared not cross the floor until it was
sanded. “I believe,” he said, trying to jest, “you
would like to shut me up in the bed too!” “TI should
just love it,” she cried, eagerly; “will you go?” It is
an inferior woman who has a sense of humor when
there is a besom in her hand.

Thus began great days to Grizel, “sweet” she called
them, for she had many of her mother’s words, and a
pretty way of emphasizing them with her plain face
200 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

that turned them all into superlatives. But though
Tommy and Elspeth were her friends now, her mouth
shut obstinately the moment they mentioned the
Painted Lady; she regretted ever having given Tommy
her confidence on that subject, and was determined not
to do so again. He did not dare tell her that he had
once been at the east window of her home, but often he
and Elspeth spoke to each other of that adventure, and
sometimes they woke in their garret bed thinking they
heard the horseman galloping by. Then they crept
‘closer to each other, and wondered whether Grizel was
cosey in her bed or stalking an eerie figure in the Den.

Aaron said little, but he was drawn to the girl, who
had not the self-consciousness of Tommy and Elspeth
in his presence, and sometimes he slipped a penny into
her hand. The pennies were not spent, they were
hoarded for the fair, or Muckle Friday, or Muckley,
great day of the year in Thrums. If you would know
how Tommy was making ready for this mighty festival,
listen.

One of his sources of income was the Mentor, a
famous London weekly paper, which seemed to visitors
to be taken in by every person of position in Thrums.
It was to be seen not only in parlors, but on the arm-
chair at the Jute Bank, in the gauger’s gig, in the
Spittal factor’s dog-cart, on a shoemaker’s form, pro-
truding from Dr. McQueen’s tail pocket and from Mr.
Duthie’s oxter pocket, on Cathro’s school-desk, in the
TOMMY SOLVES THE WOMAN PROBLEM 201

Rev. Mr. Dishart’s study, in half a dozen farms. Miss
Ailie compelled her little servant, Gavinia, to read the
Mentor, and stood over her while she did it; the phrase,
“this week’s,” meant this week’s Mentor. Yet the
secret must be told: only one copy of the paper came
to Thrums weekly; it was subscribed for by the whole
reading public between them, and by Miss Ailie’s
influence Tommy had become the boy who carried it
from house to house.

This brought him a penny a week, but so heavy were
his incidenal expenses that he could have saved little
for the Muckley had not another organization given
him a better chance. It was a society, newly started,
for helping the deserving poor; they had to subscribe
not less than a penny weekly to it, and at the end of
the year each subscriber was to be given fuel, etc., to
the -value of double what he or she had put in. “The
three Ps” was a nickname given to the society by Dr.
McQueen, because it claimed to distribute “ Peats and
Potatoes with Propriety,” but he was one of its heartiest
supporters nevertheless. The history of this society in
the first months of its existence not only shows how
Tommy became a moneyed man, but gives a glimpse
into the character of those it benefited.

Miss Ailie was treasurer, and the pennies were to be
brought to her on Monday evenings between the hours
of seven and eight. The first Monday evening found
her ready in the school-room, in her hand the famous
202 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

pencil that wrote red with the one end and biue with

the other; by her side her assistant, Mr. T. Sandys, a
| pen balanced on his ear. For a whole hour did they
wait, but though many of the worthiest poor had been
enrolled as members, the few who appeared with their
pennies were notoriously riff-raff. At eight Miss Ailie
disconsolately sent Tommy home, but he was back in
five minutes.

“There’s a mask of them,” he told her, excitedly,
“hanging about, but feared to come in because the
others would see them. ‘They ’re ashamed to have it
kent that they belong to a charity society, and Megg
Robbie is wandering round the Dovecot wi’ her penny
wrapped in a paper, and Watty Rattray and Ronny-On
is walking up and down the brae pretending they dinna
ken one another, and auld Connacher’s Jeanie Ann
says she has been four times round the town waiting for
Kitty Elshioner to go away, and there’s a one-leggit
man hodding in the ditch, and Tibbie Birse is out wi’
a lantern counting them.”

Miss Ailie did not know what to do. “Here’s
Jeanie Ann’s penny,” Tommy continued, opening his
hand, “and this is three bawbees frae Kitty Elshioner
and you and me is no to tell a soul they ’ve joined.”

A furtive tapping was heard at the door. It was
Ronny-On, who had skulked forward with twopence,
but Gavinia answered his knock, so he just said, “Ay,
Gavinia, it’s yoursel’. Well, I’ll be stepping,” and
TOMMY SOLVES THE WOMAN PROBLEM 203

would have retired had not Miss Ailie caught him.
Even then he said, “Three bawbees is to you to lay by,
and one bawbee to Gavinia no to tell.”

To next Monday evening Miss Ailie now looked
with apprehension, but Tommy lay awake that night
until, to use a favorite crow of his, he “found a way.”
He borrowed the school-mistress’s blue-and-red pencil
and sought the houses of the sensitive poor with the
following effect. One sample will suffice; take him at
the door of Meggy Robbie in the West Muir, which he
flung open with the effrontery of a tax-collector.

“You’re a three P,” he said, with a wave of his
pencil.

“T’m no sic thing!” cried the old lady.

“Tt winna do, woman,” Tommy said sternly. “Miss
Ailie telled me you paid in your first penny on the
chap of ten.” He wetted the pencil on his tongue to
show that it was vain to trifle with him, and Meggy
bowed her head.

“Tt ’ll be through the town that I’ve joined,” she
moaned, but Tominy explained that he was there to
save her.

“T’m willing to come to your house,” he said, “and
collect the money every week, and not a soul willl
tell except the committee.”

“Kitty Elshioner would see you coming,” said Meggy.

“No, no, I’ll creep yont the hedge and climb the
hen-house.”
204 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“But it would be a’ found out at any rate,” she
remembered, “when I go for the peats and things at
Hogmanay.”

“Tt needna be,” eagerly replied Tommy. “I’ll bring
them to you in a barrow in the dead o’ night.”

“Could you?” she cried passionately, and he
promised he would, and it may be mentioned here that
he did.

“And what for yoursel’ ?” she inquired.

“A bawhbee,” he said, “the night afore the Muckley.”

The bargain was made, but before he could get away,
“Tell me, laddie,” said Megey, coaxingly, “has Kitty
Elshioner joined?” They were all as curious to know
who had joined as they were anxious to keep their own
membership @ secret; but Tommy betrayed none, at
least none who agreed to his proposal. There were so
many of these that on the night before the Muckley he
had thirteen pence.

“And you was doing good all the time you was
making the thirteen pence,” Elspeth said, fondly. “I
believe that was the reason you did it.”

“T believe it was!” Tommy exclaimed. He had not
thought of this before, but it was easy to him to believe
anything.
CHAPTER XVIII

@HE MUCKLEY

Every child in Thrums went to bed on the night
before the Muckley hugging a pirly, or, as the vulgar
say, a money-box ; and all the pirlies were ready for
to-morrow, that is to say, the mouths of them had been
widened with gully knives by owners now so skilful at
the jerk which sends their contents to the floor that
pirlies they were no longer. “ Disgorge!” was the uni-
versal cry, or, in the vernacular, “Out you come, you
sweer deevils!”

Not a coin but had its history, not a boy who was
unable to pick out his own among a hundred. The black
one came from the ’Sosh, the bent lad he got for carrying
in Ronny-On’s sticks. Oh michty me, sure as death he
had nearly forgotten the one with the warts on it.
Which to spend first? The goldy one? Na faags, it
was ower ill to come by. The scartit one? No, no, it
was a lucky. Well, then, the one found in the rat’s
hole? (That wasaday!) Ay, dagont, ay, we 11 ake
the first blatter with it.

It was Tommy’s first Muckley, and the report that he
had thirteen pence brought him many advisers about its
206 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

best investment. Even Corp Shiach (five pence) sus-
pended hostilities for this purpose. “Mind this,” he
said solemnly, “there’s none o’ the candies as sucks so
long as Californy’s Teuch and Tasty. Other kinds may
be sweeter, but Teuch and Tasty lasts the longest, and
what a grip it has! It pulls out your teeth!” Corp
seemed to think that this was a recommendation.

“I’m nane sure o’ Teuch and Tasty,” Birkie said. “If
you dinna keep a watch on it, it slips ower when you’re
swallowing your spittle.”

“Then you should tie a string to it,” suggested Tommy,
who was thought more of from that hour.

Beware of Pickpockets! Wad it not been for placards
with this glorious announcement (it is the state’s first
printed acknowledgment that boys and girls form part
of the body politic) you might have thought that the
night before the Muckley was absurdly like other nights.
Not a show had arrived, not a strange dog, no romantic
figures were wandering the streets in search of lodgings,
no stands had sprung up in the square. You could
pass hours in pretending to fear that when the morning
came there would be no fairyland. And all the time
you knew.

About ten o’clock Ballingall’s cat was observed wash-
ing its face, a deliberate attempt to bring on rain. It
was immediately put to death.

Tommy and Elspeth had agreed to lie awake all night;
if Tommy nipped Elspeth, Elspeth would nip Tommy.
THE MUCKLEY 207

Other children had made the same arrangement, though
the experienced ones were aware that it would fail. If
ié was true that all the witches were dead, then the
streets of stands and shows and gaming-tables and shoot-
ing-galleries were erected by human hands, and it fol-
lowed that were you to listen through the night you
must hear the hammers. But always in the watches the
god of the Muckley came unseen and glued your eyes,
as if with Teuch and Tasty, and while you slept —
Up you woke with a start. What was it you were
to mind as soon as you woke? Listen! That’s a
drum beating! It’s the Muckley! They are all here!
It has begun! Oh, michty, michty, michty, whaur’s my
breeks ?

When Tommy, with Elspeth and Grizel, set off excit-
edly for the town, the country folk were already swarm-
ing in. The Monypenny road was thick with them,
braw loons in blue bonnets with red bobs to them, tartan
waistcoats, scarves of every color, woollen shirts as gay,
and the strutting wearers in two minds — whether to
take off the scarf to display the shirt, or hide the shirt
and trust to the scarf. Came lassies, too, in wincey
bodices they were like to burst through, and they were
listening apprehensively as they ploughed onward for a
tearing at the seams. There were red-headed lasses,
yellow-chy-headed and black-headed, blue-shawled and
red-shawled lasses; boots on every one of them, stock-
ings almost as common, the skirt kilted up for the pres-
208 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ent, but down it should go when they were in the thick
of things, and then it must take care of itself. All were
solemn and sheepish as yet, but wait a bit.

The first-known face our three met was Corp. He
was only able to sign to them, because Californy’s spe-
cialty had already done its work and glued his teeth
together. He was off to the smithy to be melted, but
gave them to understand that though awkward it was
glorious. Then came Birkie, who had sewn up the
mouths of his pockets, all but a small slit in each, as a
precaution against pickpockets, and was now at his own
request being held upside down by the Haggerty-Tag-
gertys on the chance that a half-penny which had disap-
peared mysteriously might fall out. A more tragic
figure was Francie Crabb (one and seven pence), who,
like a mad, mad thing, had taken all his money to the
fair at once. In ten minutes he had bought fourteen
musical instruments.

Tommy and party had not yet reached the celebrated
corner of the west town end where the stands began, but
they were near it, and he stopped to give Grizel and
Elspeth his final instructions: (1) Keep your money in
your purse, and your purse in your hand, and your hand
in your pocket; (2) if you lose me, I’ll give Shovel’s
whistle, and syne you maun squeeze and birse your way
back to me.”

Now then, are you ready ? Bang! They were in it.
Strike up, ye fiddlers; drums, break ; tooters, fifers, at
THE MUCKLEY 209

it for your lives; trumpets, blow ; bagpipes, skirl ; music-
boxes, all together now — Tommy has arrived.

Even before he had seen Thrums, except with his
mother’s eye, Tommy knew that the wise begin the Muck-
ley by measuring its extent. That the square and adjoin-
ing wynds would be crammed was a law of nature, but
boyhood drew imaginary lines across the Roods, the
west town end, the east town end, and the brae, and if
the stands did not reach these there had been retrogres-
sion. Tommy found all well in two quarters, got a nasty
shock on the brae, but medicine for it in the Roods; on
the whole, yelled a hundred children, by way of greet~
ing to each other, a better Muckley than ever.

From those who loved them best, the more notable
Muckleys got distinctive names for convenience of ref-
erence. As shall be ostentatiously shown in its place,
there was a Muckley called (and by Corp Shiach, too)
after Tommy, but this, his first, was dubbed Sewster’s
Muckley, in honor of a seamstress who hanged herself
that day in the Three-cornered Wood. Poor little sew-
ster, she had known joyous Muckleys too, but now she
was up in the Three-cornered Wood hanging herself,
aged nineteen. I know nothing more of her, except that
in her maiden days when she left the house her mother
always came to the door to look proudly after her.

How to describe the scene, when owing to the throng
a boy could only peer at it between legs or through the
crook of a woman’s arm? Shovel would have run up

4
910 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ploughmen to get his bird’s-eye view, and he could have
told Tommy what he saw, and Tommy could have made
a picture of it in his mind, every figure ten feet high.
But perhaps to be lost in it was best. You had but to
dive and come up anywhere to find something amazing ;
you fell over a box of jumping-jacks into a new world.

Everyone to his taste. If you want Tommy’s senti-
ments, here they are, condensed: “The shows surpass
everything else on earth. Four streets of them in the
square! The best is the menagerie, because there is the
loudest roaring there. Kick the caravans and you in-
crease the roaring. Admission, however, prohibitive
(threepence). More economical. to stand outside the
show of the ‘Mountain Maid and the Shepherd’s Bride’
and watch the merriman saying funny things to the
monkey. Take care you don’t get in front of the steps,
else you will be pressed up by those behind and have to
pay before you have decided that you want to go in.
When you fling pennies at the Mountain Maid and the
Shepherd’s Bride they stop play-acting and scramble for
them. Go in at night when there are drunk ploughmen
to fling pennies. The Fat Wife with the Golden Locks
lets you put your fingers in her arms, but that is soon
over, ‘The Slave-driver and his Victims.’ Not worth
the money; they are not blooding. To Jerusalem and
Back in a Jiffy. This is a swindle. You just keek
through holes.”

But Elspeth was of a different mind. She liked To
THE MUCKLEY 211

Jerusalem and Back best, and gave the Slave-driver and
his Victims a penny to be Christians. The only show
she disliked was the wax-work, where was performed
the “Tragedy of Tiffano and the Haughty Princess.”
Tiffano loved the woodman’s daughter, and so he would
not have the Haughty Princess, and so she got a magi-
cian to turn him into a pumpkin, and then she ate him.
What distressed Elspeth was that Tiffano could never
get to heaven now, and all the consolation Tommy,
doing his best, could give her was, ‘‘He could go, no
doubt he could go, but he would have to take the
Haughty Princess wi’ him, and he would be sweer to
do that.”

Grizel reflected: “If I had a whip like the one the
Slave-driver has should n’t I lash the boys who hoot my
mamma! I wish I could turn boys into pumpkins.
The Mountain Maid wore a beautiful muslin with gold
lace, but she does not wash her neck.”

Lastly, let Corp have his say: “T looked at the out-
side of the shows, but always landed back at Californy’s
stand. Sucking is better nor near anything. The Teuch
and Tasty is stickier than ever. I have lost twa teeth.
The Mountain Maid is biding all night at Tibbie Birse’s,
and I went in to see her. She had a bervie and a boiled
egg to her tea. She likes her eggs saft wi’ a lick of
butter in them. The Fat Wife is the one I like best.
She’s biding wi’ Shilpit Kaytherine on the Tanage Brae.

She weighs Jeems and Kaytheriné and the sma’ black
212 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

swine. She had an ingin to her tea. The Slave-driver’s
a fushinless body. One o’ the Victims gives him his
licks. They a’ bide in the caravan. You can stand on
the wheel and keek in. They had herrings wi’ the rans
to their tea. I cut a hole in Jerusalem and Back, and
there was no Jerusalem there. The man as ocht Jeru-
salem greets because the Fair Circassian winna take
him. He is biding a’ night wi’ Blinder. He likes a
dram in his tea.”

Elspeth’s money lasted till four o’clock. For Aaron,
almost the only man in Thrums who shunned the revels
that day, she bought a gingerbread house; and the
miraculous powder which must be taken on a sixpence
was to make Blinder see again, but unfortunately he
forgot about putting it on the sixpence. And of course
there was something for a certain boy. Grizel had com-
pleted her purchases by five o’clock, when Tommy was
still heavy with threepence halfpenny. They included
a fluffy pink shawl, she did not say for whom, but the
Painted Lady wore it afterwards, and for herself another
doll.

“ But that doll’s leg is broken,” Tommy pointed out.

“That was why I bought it,’ she said warmly, “I
feel so sorry for it, the darling,” and she carried it care-
fully so that the poor thing might suffer as little pain as
possible.

Twice they rushed home for hasty meals, and were
back so quickly that Tommy’s shadow strained a muscle
THE MUCKLEY 213

in turning with him. Night came on, and from a hun-
dred strings stretched along stands and shows there
now hung thousands of long tin things like trumpets.
One burning paper could set a dozen of these ablaze,
and no sooner were they lit than a wind that had been
biding its time rushed in like the merriman, making the
lamps swing on their strings, so that the flaring lights
embraced, and from a distance Thrums seemed to be
on fire.

Even Grizel was willing to hold Tommy’s hand now,
and the three could only move this way and that as the
roaring crowd carried them. ‘They were not looking at
the Muckley, they were part of it, and at last Thrums
was all Tommy’s fancy had painted it. This intoxicated
him, so that he had to scream at intervals, “ We ’re here,
Elspeth, I tell you, we ’re here!” and he became pugna-
cious and asked youths twice his size whether they de-
nied that he was here, and if so, would they come on.
In this frenzy he was seen by Miss Ailie, who had stolen
out in a veil to look for Gavinia, but just as she was
about to reprove him, dreadful men asked her was she
in search of a lad, whereupon she fled home and barred
the door, and later in the evening warned Gavinia,
through the key-hole, taking her for a roystering blade,
that there were policemen in the house, to which the
astounding reply of Gavinia, then aged twelve, was,
“No sic luck.”

With the darkness, too, crept into the Muckley cer.
214 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

tain devils in the color of the night who spoke thickly
and rolled braw lads in the mire, and egged on friends
to fight and cast lewd thoughts into the minds of the
women. At first the men had been bashful swains. To
the women’s “Gie me my faring, Jock,” they had re-
plied, “Wait, Jean, till I’m fee’d,” but by night most
had got their arles, with a dram above it, and he who
could only guffaw at Jean a few hours ago had her
round the waist now, and still an arm free for rough
play with other kimmers. The Jeans were as boister-
ous as the Jocks, giving them leer for leer, running
from them with a giggle, waiting to be caught and
rudely kissed. Grand, patient, long-suffering fellows
these men were, up at five, summer and winter, fodder-
ing their horses, maybe hours before there would be
food for themselves, miserably paid, housed like cattle,
and when the rheumatisin seized them, liable to be flung
aside like a broken graip. As hard was the life of the
women: coarse food, chaff beds, damp clothes, their por-
tion; their sweethearts in the service of masters who
were reluctant to fee a married man. Is it to be won-
dered that these lads who could be faithful unto death
drank soddenly on their one free day, that these girls,
starved of opportunities for womanliness, of which they
could make as much as the finest lady, sometimes woke
after a Muckley to wish that they might wake no more?

Our three brushed shoulders with the devils that
had been let loose, but hardly saw them; they heard
THE MUCKLEY 215

them, but did not understand their tongue. The eight-
o’clock bell had rung long since, and though the racket
was as great as ever, it was only because every reveller
left now made the noise of two. Mothers were out fish-
ing for their bairns. The -Haggerty-Taggertys had
straggled home hoarse as crows; every one of them
went to bed that night with a stocking round his throat.
Of Monypenny boys, Tommy could find none in the
square but Corp, who, with another tooth missing,
had been going about since six o’clock with his pockets
hanging out, as a sign that all was over. An awkward
silence had fallen on the trio; the reason, that ‘Tommy
had only threepence left and the smallest of them cost
threepence. The reference of course is to the wondrous
gold-paper packets of sweets (not unlike crackers in
appearance) which are only seen at the Muckley, and
are what every girl claims of her lad or lads. Now,
Tommy had vowed to Elspeth — But he had also said
to Grizel —In short, how could he buy for both with
threepence ?

Grizel, as the stranger, ought to get — But he knew
Elspeth too well to believe that she would dry her eyes
with that.

Elspeth being his sister — But he had promised Grizel,
and she had been so ill brought up that she said nasty
things when you broke your word.

The gold packet was bought. That is it sticking out

of Tommy’s inside pocket. The girls saw it and knew
916 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

what was troubling him, but not a word was spoken now
between the three. They set off for home self-con-
sciously, Tommy the least agitated on the whole, be-
cause he need not make up his mind for another ten
minutes. But he wished Grizel would not look at him
sideways and then rock her arms in irritation. They
passed many merry-makers homeward bound, many of
them following a tortuous course, for the Scottish toper
gives way first in the legs, the Southron in the other
extremity, and thus between them could be constructed
aman wholly sober and another as drunk as Chloe.
But though the highway clattered with many feet, not
a soul was in the double dykes, and at the easy end of
that formidable path Grizel came to a determined stop.

“ Good-night,” she said, with such a disdainful glance
at Tommy.

He had not made up his mind yet, but he saw that it
must be done now, and to take a decisive step was always
agony to him, though once taken it ceased to trouble. To
dodge it for another moment he said, weakly: “ Let’s
—let’s sit down a whiley on the dyke.”

But Grizel, while coveting the packet, because she Tad
never got a present in her life, would not shilly-shally.
“ Are you to give it to Elspeth ?” sheasked, with the horrid
directness that is so trying to an intellect ike Tommy’s.

“N-no,” he said.

“To Grizel ?” cried Elspeth.

‘‘N-no,” he said again.
THE MUCKLEY 217

Tt was an undignified moment for a great boy, but the
providence that watched over Tommy until it tired of
him came to his aid in the nick of time. It took the
form of the Painted Lady, who appeared suddenly out
of the gloom of the Double Dykes. Two of the children
jumped, and the third clenched her little fists to defend
her mamma if Tommy cast a word at her. But he did
not; his mouth remained foolishly open. The Painted
Lady had been talking cheerfully to herself, but she
drew back apprehensively, with a look of appeal on her
face, and then—and then Tommy “saw a way.” He
handed her the gold packet, “It’s to you,” he said, “it’s



—it’s your Muckley!”

For a moment she was afraid to take it, but when she
knew that this sweet boy’s gift was genuine, she fondled
it and was greatly flattered, and dropped him the quaint-
est courtesy and then looked defiantly at Grizel. But
Grizel did not take it from her. Instead, she flung her
arms impulsively round Tommy’s neck, she was so glad,
glad, glad.

As Tommy and Elspeth walked away to their home,
Elspeth could hear him breathing heavily, and occasion-
ally he gave her a furtive glance.

“ Grizel needna have done that,” she said, sharply.

“No,” replied Tommy.

“But it was noble of you,” she continued, squeezing
his hand, “to give it to the Painted Lady. Did you

mean to give it to her a’ the time?”
218 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Oh, Elspeth!”

“But did you?”

‘¢Oh, Elspeth!”

“That’s no you greeting, is it?” she asked, softly.

“J’m near the greeting,” he said truthfully, “but
I’m no sure what about.” His sympathy was so easily
aroused that he sometimes cried without exactly know
ing why.

“It’s because you’re so good,” Elspeth told him ; but
presently she said, with a complete change of voice,
“No, Grizel needna have done that.”

“Tt was a shameful thing to do,” Tommy agreed,
shaking his head. “But she did it!” he added trium-
phantly ; “you saw her do it, Elspeth !”

“But you didna like it?” Elspeth asked, in terror.

“ No, of course I didna like it, but —”

“But what, Tommy ?”

“But I liked her to like it,” he admitted, and by and
by he began to laugh hysterically. J’m no sure what
I’m laughing at,” he said, “but I think it’s at inysel’.””
He may have laughed at himself before, but this Muckley
is memorable as the occasion on which he first caught
himself doing it. The joke grew with the years, until
sometimes he laughed in his most emotional moments,
suddenly seeing himself in his true light. But it had
become a bitter laugh by that time.
CHAPTER XIX

CORP IS BROUGHT TO HEEL— GRIZEL DEFIANT

Corp Sniacn was a bare-footed colt of a boy, of un-
gainly build, with a nose so thick and turned up that it
was a certificate of character, and his hands were covered
with warts, which he had a trick of biting till they bled.
Then he rubbed them on his trousers, which were the
picturesque part of him, for he was at present “serving”
to the masons (he had “earned his keep” since long be-
fore he could remember), and so wore the white or yellow
ducks which the dust of the quarry stains a rarer orange
color than is known elsewhere. The orange of the
masons’ trousers, the blue of the hearthstones, these are
the most beautiful colors to be seen in Thrums, though
of course Corp was unaware of it. He was really very
good-natured, and only used his fists freely because of
imagination he had none, and thinking made him sweat,
and consequently the simplest way of proving his case
was to say, “Ill fight you.” What might have been the
issue of a conflict between him and Shovel was a problem
for Tommy to puzzle over. Shovel was as quick as Corp
was deliberate, and would have danced round him, put-
220 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ting in unexpected ones, but if he had remained just one



moment too long within Corp’s reach

They nicknamed him Corp because he took fits, when
he lay like one dead. He was proud of his fits, was
Corp, but they were a bother to him, too, because he
could make so little of them. They interested doctors
and other carriage folk, who came to his aunt’s house to
put their fingers into him, and gave him sixpence, and
would have given him more, but when they pressed him
to tell them what he remembered about his fits, he could
only answer dejectedly, “ Not a damued thing.”

“ You might as well no have them ava,” his wrathful
aunt, with whom he lived, would say, and she thrashed
him until his size forbade it.

Soon after the Muckley came word that the Lady of
the Spittal was to be brought to see Corp by Mr. Ogilvy,
the school-master of Glen Quharity, and at first Corp
boasted of it, but as the appointed day drew near he
became uneasy.

“The worst o’t,” he said to anyone who would listen,
“is that my auntie is to be away frae hame, and so
they ’ll put a’ their questions to me.”

The Haggerty-Taggertys and Birkie were so jealous
that they said they were glad they never had fits, but
Tommy made no such pretence.

‘Oh, Corp, if I had thae fits of yours!” he exclaimed ~
greedily.

“Tf they were mine to give awa’,” replied Corp sul-
CORP IS BROUGHT TO HEEL 221

lenly, “you could have them and welcome.” Grown
meek in his trouble, he invited Tommy to speak freely,
with the result that his eyes were partially opened
to the superiority of that boy’s attainments. ‘Tommy
told him a number of interesting things to say to Mr.
Ogilvy and the lady about his fits, about how queer he
felt just before they came on, and the visions he had
while he was lying stiff. But though the admiring Corp
gave attentive ear, he said hopelessly next day, “Not a
dagont thing do I mind. When they question me about
my fits I’ll just say 1’m sometimes in them and some-
times out o’ them, and if they badger me more, I can aye
kick.”

Tommy gave him a look that meant, “Fits are just
wasted on you,” and Corp replied with another that
meant, “I ken they are.” Then they parted, one of them
to reflect.

“Corp,” he said excitedly, when next they met, “has
Mr. Ogilvy or the lady ever come to see you afore ?”

They had not, and Corp was able to swear that they
did not even know him by sight.

“They dinna ken me either,” said Tommy.

“What does that matter?” asked Corp, but Tommy
was too full to speak. He had “found a way.”

The lady and Mr. Ogilvy found Corp such a success
that the one gave him ashilling and the other took down
his reminiscences in a note-book. But if you would hear
of the rings of blue and white and yellow Corp saw, and
222 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of the other extraordinary experiences he described him-
self as having when in a fit, you need not search that
note-book, for the page has been torn out. Instead of
making inquiries of Mr. Ogilvy, try any other dominie
in the district, Mr. Cathro, for instance, who delighted
to tell the tale. ‘his of course was when it leaked out
that Tommy had personated Corp, by arrangement with
the real Corp, who was listening in rapture beneath the
bed.

Tommy, who played his part so well that he came out
of it in a daze, had Corp at heel from.that hour. He
told him what a rogue he had been in London, and Corp
evied admiringly, “Oh, you deevil! oh, you queer little
deevil!” and sometimes it was Elspeth who was narra-
tor, and then Tommy’s noble acts were the subject; but
still Corp’s comment was “Oh, the deevil! oh, the queer
little deevil!” Elspeth was flattered by his hero-wor-
ship, but his language shocked her, and after consulting
Miss Ailie she advised him to count twenty when he felt
an oath coming, at the end of which exercise the desire
to swear would have passed away. Good-natured Corp
willingly promised to try this, but he was never hopeful,
and as he explained to Tommy, after a failure, “It just
made me waur than ever, for when I had counted the
twenty I said a big Damn, thoughtful-lke, and syne out
jumpit three little damns, like as if the first ane had
cleckit in my mouth.”

It was fortunate that Elspeth liked Corp on the whole,
CORP IS BROUGHT TO HEEL 223

for during the three years now to be rapidly passed over,
Tommy took delight in his society, though he never
treated him as an equal; Corp indeed did not expect
that, and was humbly grateful for what he got. In
summer, fishing was their great diversion. They would
set off as early as four in the morning, fishing wands in
hand, and scour the world for trout, plodding home in
the gloaming with stones in their fishing-basket to de-
ceive those who felt its weight. In the long winter
nights they liked best to listen to Blinder’s tales of the
Thrums Jacobites, tales never put into writing, but
handed down from father to son; and proved true in the
oddest of ways, as by Blinder’s trick of involuntarily
holding out his hands to a fire when he found himself
near one, though he might be sweating to the shirt and
the time a July forenoon. “I make no doubt,” he told
them, “as I do that because my forbear, Buchan Osler
(called Buchan wi’ the Haap after the wars was ower),
had to hod so lang frae the troopers, and them so greedy
for him that he daredna crawl to a fire once in an eight
days.”

The Lord of the Spittal and handsome Captain Body
(whose being “out” made all the women anxious)
marched through the Den, flapping their wings at the
head of a fearsome retinue, and the Thrums folk looked
so glum at them that gay Captain Body said he should
kiss every lass who did not cheer for Charlie, and none

cheered, but at the same time none ran away. Tew in
224 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Thrums cared a doit for Charle, but some hung on be-
hind this troop till there was no turning back for them,
and one of these was Buchan. He forced his wife to
give Captain Body a white rose from her bush by the
door, but a thorn in it pricked the gallant, and the blood
from his fingers fell on the bush, and from that year it
grew red roses.

“Tf you dinna believe me,” Blinder said, “ look if the
roses is no red on the bush at Pyotdykes, which was a
split frae Buchan’s, and speir whether they ’re no named
the blood rose.”

“T believe you,” Tommy would say breathlessly:
“oo on.”

Captain Body was back in the Den by and by, but

> mouths now. His

he had no thought of preeing lasses
face was scratched and haggard and his gay coat torn,
and when he crawled to the Cuttle Well he caught some
of the water in his bonnet and mixed meal with it,
stirring the precious compound with his finger and
using the loof of his hand asaspoon. Every stick of
furniture Buchan and the other Thrums rebels pos-
sessed was seized by the government and rouped in the
market-place of Thrums, but few would bid against the
late owners, for whom the things were secretly bought
back very cheaply.

To these and many similar stories Tommy listened
open-mouthed, seeing the scene far more vividly than

the narrator, who became alarmed at his quick, loud
CORP 18 BROUGHT TO HEEL 225

breathing, and advised him to forget them and go
back to his lessons. But his lessons never interested
Tommy, and he would go into the Den instead, and re-
peat Blinder’s legends, with embellishments which made
them so real that Corp and Elspeth and Grizel were afraid
to look behind them lest the spectre of Captain Body
should be standing there, leaning on a ghostly sword.

At such times Elspeth kept a firm grip of Tommy’s
hand, but one evening as they all ran panic-stricken
from some imaginary alarm, she lost him near the
Cuttle Well, and then, as it seemed to her, the Den
became suddenly very dark and lonely. At first she
thought she had it to herself, but as she stole timidly
along the pink path she heard voices, and she cried
“Tommy!” joyously. But no answer came, so it could
not be Tommy. ‘Then she thought it must be a pair of
lovers, but next moment she stood transfixed with fear,
for it was the Painted Lady, who was coming along the
path talking aloud to herself. No, not to herself — to
someone she evidently thought was by her side; she
called him darling and other sweet names, and waited
for his replies and nodded pleased assent to them, or
pouted at them, and terrified Elspeth knew that she
was talking to the man who never came.

When she saw Elspeth she stopped irresolutely, and
the two stood looking in fear at each other. “You are
not my brat, are you?” the Painted Lady asked.

“N-no,” the child gasped.
15
226 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Then why don’t you call me nasty names ?”

“T dinna never call you names,” Elspeth replied, but
the woman still looked puzzled.

“Perhaps you are naughty also?” she said doubt-
fully, and then, as if making up her mind that it must
be so, she came closer and said, with a voice full of
pity: “I am so sorry.”

Elspeth did not understand half of it, but the pity-
ing voice, which was of the rarest sweetness, drove
away much of her fear, and she said: “Do you no mind
me? I was wi’ Tommy when he gave you the gold
packet on Muckley night.”

Then the Painted Lady remembered. “He took such
a fancy to me,” she said, with a pleased simper, and
then she looked serious again.

“Do you love him ?” she asked, and Elspeth nodded.

“But is he all the world to you ?”

“Yes,” Elspeth said.

The Painted Lady took her by the arm and said
impressively, “Don’t let him know.”

“But he does know,” said Elspeth.

“T am so sorry,” the Painted Lady said again.
“ When they know too well, then they have no pity.”

“But I want Tommy to know,” Elspeth insisted.

“That is the woful thing, the Painted Lady said,
rocking her arms in a way that reminded the child of
Grizel. “We want them to know, we cannot help
liking them to know!”
CORP IS BROUGHT TO HEEL 227

Suddenly she became confidential. “Do you think I
showed my love too openly ?” she asked eagerly. “I
tried to hide it, you know. I covered my face with my
hands, but he pulled them away, and then, of course,
he knew.”

She went on, “I kissed his horse’s nose, and he said
I did that because it was his horse. How could he
know ? When I asked him how he knew, he kissed
me, and I pretended to be angry and ran away. But I
was not angry, and I said to myself, ‘Iam glad, I am
glad, I am glad!’

“T wanted so to be good, but —It is so difficult to
refuse when you love him very much, don’t you
think ?”

The pathos of that was lost on the girl, and the
Painted Lady continued sadly: “It would be so nice,
would it not, if they liked us to be good? I think it
would be sweet.” She bent forward and whispered
emphatically, “But they don’t, you know —it bores
them.

“Never bore them —and they are so easily bored! It
bores them if you say you want to be married. I think
it would be sweet to be married, but you should never
ask for a wedding. They give you everything else,
but if you say you want a wedding, they stamp their
feet and go away. Why are you crying, girl? You
should not cry; they don’t like it. Put on your prettiest
gown and laugh and pretend you are happy, and then
228 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

they will tell you naughty stories and give you these.”
She felt her ears and looked at her fingers, on which
there may once have been jewels, but there were none
now.

“Tf you cry you lose your complexion, and then they
don’t love you any more. Thad always such a beauti-
ful skin. Some ladies when they lose their complexion
paint. Horrid, isn’t it? I wonder they can do such a
thing.”

She eyed Elspeth suspiciously. “But of course you
might do it just a little,” she said, pleadingly —.“just
to make them go on loving you, don’t you think ?

“When they don’t want to come any more they write
you a letter, and you run with it to your room and kiss
it, because you don’t know what is inside. Then you
open it, and that breaks your heart, you know.” She
nodded her head sagaciously and smiled with tears in
her eyes. “Never, never, never open the letter. Keep
it unopened on your breast, and then you can always

think that he may come to-morrow. And if a



Someone was approaching, and she stopped and
listened. “My brat!” she cried, furiously, “she is
always following me,” and she poured forth a torrent of
filthy abuse of Grizel, in the midst of which Tommy
(for it was he) appeared and carried Elspeth off hastily.
This was the only conversation either child ever had
with the Painted Lady, and it bore bad fruit for Grizel.
Elspeth told some of the Monypenny women about it,
CORP IS BROUGHT TO HEEL | 229

and they thought it their duty to point out to Aaron
that the Painted Lady and her child were not desirable
aquaintances for Tommy and Elspeth.

“T dinna ken,” he answered sharply, “whether
Tommy ’s a fit acquaintance for Grizel, but I’m very
sure o’ this, that she’s more than a fit acquaintance for
him. And look at what she has done for this house.
I kenna what we should do if she didna come in nows
and nans.”

“You ken well, Aaron,” they said, “that onything
we could do in the way 0’ keeping your house in order
we should do gladly.”

“Thank you,” he replied ungraciously, “but I would
rather have her.”

Nevertheless he agreed that he ought to forbid any
intercourse with the Painted Lady, and unfortunately
Grizel heard of this. Probably there never would have
been any such intercourse; Grizel guarded against it
more than anyone, for reasons she never spoke of, but
she resented this veto proudly.

“Why must you not speak to my mamma?” she
demanded of Tommy and Elspeth.

“ Because — because she is a queer one,” he said. .

“She is not a queer one —she is just sweet.”

He tried to evade the question by saying weakly,
“We never see her to speak to at any rate, so it will
make no difference. It’s no as if you ever asked us to

come to Double Dykes.”
230 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“But I ask you now,” said Grizel, with flashing eyes.

“Oh, I darena!” cried Elspeth.

“Then I won’t ever come into your house again,”
said Grizel, decisively.

“No to redd up ?” asked Tommy, increduously. “No
to bake nor to iron? ‘You couldna help it.”

“Yes I could.”

“Think what you?ll miss!”

Grizel might have retorted, “Think what you will
miss!” but perhaps the reply she did make had a
sharper sting in it. “I shall never come again,” she
said loftily, “and my reason for not coming is that —
that my mamma thinks your house is not respectable!”
She flung this over her shoulder as she stalked away,
and it may be that the tears came when there were none
to see them, but hers was a resolute mind, and though
she continued to be friendly with Tommy and Elspeth
out of doors she never again crossed their threshold.

“The house is inaterrible state for want o’ you,”
Tommy would say, trying to wheedle her. “We hinna
sanded the floor for months, and the box-iron has fallen
ahint the dresser, and my gray sark is rove up the
back, and oh, you should just see the holes in Aaron’s
stockings!”

Then Grizel rocked her arms in agony, but no, she

would not go in.
CHAPTER XX
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER

Tommy was in Miss Ailie’s senior class now, though
by no means at the top of it, and her mind was often
disturbed about his future. On this subject Aaron had
never spoken to anyone, and the problem gave Tommy
himself so little trouble that all Elspeth knew was that
he was to be great and that she was to keep his house.
So the school-mistress braved an interview with Aaron
for the sake of her favorite.

“You know he is a remarkable boy,” she said.

“ At his lessons, ma’am ?” asked Aaron, quietly.

Not exactly at his lessons, she had to admit.

“In what way, then, ma’am ?”

Really Miss Ailie could not say. ‘There was some-
thing wonderful about Tommy, you felt it, but you
could not quite give ita name. ‘The warper must have
noticed it himself.

“Tye heard him saying something o’ the kind to
Elspeth,” was Aaron’s reply.

“But sometimes he is like a boy inspired,” said the
school-mistress. “You-must have seen that?”

“When he was thinking o’ himsel’,” answered Aaron.
232 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“He has such noble sentiments.”

“ He has.”

“And I think, I really think,” said Miss Ailie,
eagerly, for this was what she had come to say, “that
he has got great gifts for the ministry.”

“T’m near sure o’t,” said Aaron, grimly.

“Ah, I see you don’t like him.”

“T dinna,” the warper acknowledged quietly, “but
I’ve been trying todo my duty by him for all that,
It’s no every laddie that gets three years’ schooling
straight on end.”

This was true, but Miss Ailie used it to press her
point. “You have done so well by him,” she said,
“that I think you should keep him at school for an-
other year or two, and so give him a chance of carrying
a bursary. If he carries one it will support him at
college; if he does not — well, then I suppose he must
be apprenticed to some trade.”

“No,” Aaron said, decisively; “if he gets the chance
of a college education and flings it awa’, I’ll waste no
more siller on his keep. I’1] send him straight to the
herding.” ;

“And I shall not blame you,” Miss Ailie declared
eagerly.

“Though I would a hantle rather,” continued the
warper, “waur my money on Elspeth.”

“What you spend on him,” Miss Ailie argued, “you
will really be spending on her, for if he rises in the
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER 238

world he will not leave Elspeth behind. You are preju-
diced against him, but you cannot deny that.”

“T'dinna deny but what he’s fond 0’ her,” said
Aaron, and after considering the matter for some days
he decided that Tommy should get his chance. The
school-mistress had not acted selfishly, for this decision,
as she knew, meant that the boy must now be placed in
the hands of Mr. Cathro, who was a Greek and Latin
scholar. She taught Latin herself, it is true, but as
cautiously as she crossed a plank bridge, and she was
never comfortable in the dominie’s company, because
even at a tea-table he would refer familiarly to the
ablative absolute instead of letting sleeping dogs lie.

“But Elspeth couldna be happy if we were at different
schools,” Tommy objected instantly.

“Yes, I could,” said Elspeth, who had been won over
by Miss Ailie; “it will be so fine, Tommy, to see you
again after I hinna seen you for three hours.”

‘Tommy was little known to Mr. Cathro at this time,
except as the boy who had got the better of a rival
teacher in the affair of Corp, which had delighted him
greatly. “But if the sacket thinks he can play any of
his tricks on me,” he told Aaron, “there is an awaken-
ing before him,” and he began the cramming of Tommy
for a bursary with perfect confidence.

But before the end of the month, at the mere mention
of Tommy’s name, Mr. Cathro turned red in the face,
and the fingers of his laying-on hand would clutch an
234 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

imaginary pair of tawse. Already Tommy had made
him self-conscious. He peered covertly at Tommy, and
Tommy caught him at it every time, and then each
quickly looked another way, and Cathro vowed never to
look again, but did it next minute, and what enraged
him most was that he knew Tommy noted his attempts
at self-restraint as well as his covert glances. All
the other pupils knew that a change for the worse
had come over the dominie’s temper. They saw him
punish Tommy frequently without perceptible cause,
and that he was still unsatisfied when the punishment
was over. This apparently was because Tommy gave
him a look before returning to his seat. When they
had been walloped they gave Cathro a look also, but it
merely meant, “Oh, that this was a dark road and I
had a divot in my hand!” while his look was unread-
able, that is unreadable to them, for the dominie un-
derstood it and writhed. What it said was, “ You think
me a wonder, and therefore I forgive you.”

“ And sometimes he fair beats Cathro!” So Tommy’s
schoolmates reported at home, and the dominie had to
acknowledge its truth to Aaron. ‘I wish you would
give that sacket a thrashing for me,” he said, half furi-
ously, yet with a grin on his face, one day when he and
the warper chanced to meet on the Monypenny road.

“Tl no lay a hand on bairn o’ Jean Myles,” Aaron
replied. “Ay, and I understood you to say that he
should meet his match in you.”
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER 235

“Did I ever say that, man? Well, well, we live and
learn.”

“What has he been doing now ?”

“What has he been doing!” echoed Cathro, “He
has been making me look foolish in my own class-room.
Yes, sir, he has so completely got the better of me
(and not for the first time) that when I tell the story
of how he diddled Mr. Ogilvy, Mr. Ogilvy will be able
to cap it with the story of how the little whelp diddled
me. Upon my soul, Aaron, he is running away with
all my self-respect and destroying my sense of humor.”

What had so crushed the dominie was the affair of
Francie Crabb. Francie was now a pupil, like Gavin
Dishart and Tommy, of Mr. Cathro’s, who detested the
boy’s golden curls, perhaps because he was bald him-
self. They were also.an incentive to evil-doing on the
part of other boys, who must give them a tug in pass-
ing, and on a day the dominie said, in a fury, ‘*Give
your mother my compliments, Francie, and tell her
T’m so tired of seeing your curls that I mean to cut
them off to-morrow morning.”

“Say he shall not,” whispered Tommy.

“You shanna!” blurted out Francie.

“But I will,” said Cathro; “I would do it now if I
had the shears.”

It was only an empty threat, but an hour afterwards
the dominie caught Tommy wagering in witchy marbles
and other coin that he would not do it, and then instead
236 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of taking the tawse to him he said, “ Keep him to his bar-
gains, laddies, for whatever may have been my intention
at the time, I mean to be as good as my word now.”

He looked triumphantly at Tommy, who, however,
instead of seeming crestfallen, continued to bet, and
now the other boys were eager to close with him, for
great was their faith in Cathro. These transactions
were carried out on the sly, but the dominie knew what
was going on, and despite his faith in himself he had
his twitches of uneasiness.

“However, the boy can only be trusting to fear of Mrs.
Crabb restraining me,” he decided, and he marched into
the school-room next morning, ostentatiously displaying
his wife’s largest scissors. His pupils crowded in after
him, and though he noticed that all were strangely
quiet and many wearing scared faces, he put it down
to the coming scene. He could not resist giving one
triumphant glance at Tommy, who, however, instead of
returning it, looked modestly down. Then — “Is
Francie Crabb here?” asked Mr. Cathro, firmly.

“He’s hodding ahint the press,” cried a dozen voices.

“Come forward, Francie,” said the dominie, clicking
the shears to encourage him.

There was a long pause, and then Francie emerged in
fear from behind the press. Yes, it was Francie, but
his curls were gone!

The shears fell to the floor. “Who did this?”
roared the terrible Cathro.
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER 237

“Tt was Tommy Sandys,” blurted out Francie, in
tears.

The school-master was unable to speak, and, alarmed
at the stillness, Francie whined, ‘“‘He said it would
be done at ony rate, and he promised me half his
winnings.”

It is still remembered by bearded men and married
women who were at school that day how Cathro leaped
three forms to get at Tommy, and how Tommy cried
under the tawse and yet laughed ecstatically at the
same time, and how subsequently he and Francie col-
lected so many dues that the pockets of them stood out
like brackets from their little persons.

The dominie could not help grinning a little at his
own discomfiture as he told this story, but Aaron saw
nothing amusing in it. “As I telled you,” he repeated,
“JT winna touch him, so if you’re no content wi’ what
you’ve done yoursel’, you had better put Francie’s
mither on him.”

“T hear she has taken him in hand already,” Mr.
Cathro replied dryly. “But, Aaron, I wish you would
at least keep him closer to his lessons at night, for it is
seldom he comes to the school well prepared.”

“J see him sitting lang ower his books,” said Aaron.

“Ay, maybe, but is he at them?” responded the
dominie with a shake of the head that made Aaron say,
with his first show of interest in the conversation, “ You
have little faith in his carrying a bursary, I see.”
238 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

But this Mr. Cathro would not admit, for if he
thought Tommy a numskull the one day he often saw
cause to change his mind the next, so he answered
guardedly, “It’s too soon to say, Aaron, for he has
eighteen months’ stuffing to undergo yet before we send
him to Aberdeen to try his fortune, and I have filled
some gey toom wimes in eighteen months. But you
must lend me a hand.”

The weaver considered, and then replied stubbornly,
“No, I give him his chance, but I’ll have nocht to do
wi’ his use o’t. And, dominie, I want you to say not
another word to me about him atween this and exami-
nation time, for my mind’s made up no to say a word
to him. It’s well kent that I’m no more fit to bring
up bairns than to have them (dinna conter me, man, for
the thing was proved lang syne at the Cuttle Well),
~ and so till that time Ill let him gang his ain gait.
But if he doesna carry a bursary, to the herding he
goes. I’ve said it and I’ll stick to it.”

So, as far as Aaron was concerned, Tommy was left
in peace to the glory of collecting his winnings from
those who had sworn by Cathro, and among them was
Master Gavin Ogilvy Dishart, who now found himself
surrounded by a debt of sixpence, a degrading position
for the son of an Auld Licht minister.

Tommy would not give him time, but was willing to
take his copy of “ Waverley ” as full payment.

Gavin offered him “Ivanhoe” instead, because his
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER 239

mother had given a read of “Waverley” to Gavinia,
Miss Ailie’s servant, and she read so slowly, putting her
finger beneath each word, that she had not yet reached
the middle. Also, she was so enamoured of the work that
she would fight anyone who tried to take it from her.

Tommy refused “Ivanhoe,” as it was not about
Jacobites, but suggested that Gavinia should be offered

it in lieu of “ Waverley,” and told that it was a better
story.

The suggestion came too late, as Gavinia had already
had a loan of “Ivanhoe,” and read it with rapture, inch
by inch. However, if Tommy would wait a month,
or



Tommy was so eager to read more about the Jacobites
that he found it trying to wait five minutes. He
thought Gavin’s duty was to get his father to compel
Gavinia to give the book up.

Was Tommy daft? Mr. Dishart did not know that
his son possessed these books. He did not approve of
story books, and when Mrs. Dishart gave them to
Gavin on his birthday she — she had told him to keep
them out of his father’s sight. (Mr. and Mrs. Dishart
were very fond of each other, but there were certain
little matters that she thought it unnecessary to trouble
him about.)

” at once, he

So if Tommy was to get “Waverley
must discover another way. He reflected, and then set

oft to Miss Ailie’s (to whom he still read sober works
240 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of an evening, but novels never), looking as if he had
found a way.

For some time Miss Ailie had been anxious about her
red-armed maid, who had never before given pain unless
by excess of willingness, as when she offered her garter
to tie Miss Ailie’s parcels with. Of late, however,
Gavinia had taken to blurting out disquieting ques-
tions, to the significance of which she withheld the
key, such as —

“Ts there ony place nowadays, ma’am, where there ’s
tourniements ? And could an able-bodied lassie walk
to them? and what might be the charge to win in?”

Or, “Would you no like to be so michty beautiful,
ma’am, that as soon as the men saw your bonny face
they just up wi’ you in their arms and ran?”

Or again, “ What’s the heaviest weight 0’ a woman a
grand lusty man could carry in his arms as if she were
an infant ?”

This method of conveyance seemed to have a peculiar
fascination for Gavinia, and she got herself weighed at
the flesher’s. On another occasion she broke a glass
candlestick, and all she said to the pieces was, ‘Wha
carries me, wears me.”

This mystery was troubling the school-mistress sadly
when Tommy arrived with the key to it. “I’m doubt-
ing Gavinia’s reading ill books on the sly,” he said.

“Never!” exclaimed Miss Ailie, “she reads nothing
but the Mentor.”
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER 241

Tommy shook his head, like one who would fain
hope so, but could not overlook facts. “I’ve been
hearing,” he said, “that she reads books as are full o’
Strokes and Words We have no Concern with.”

Miss Ailie could not believe it, but she was advised
to search the kitchen, and under Gavinia’s ‘mattress
was found the dreadful work.

“And you are only fifteen!” said Miss Ailie, eying
her little maid sorrowfully.

‘The easier to carry,” replied Gavinia, darkly.

“And you named after a minister!” Miss Ailie con-
tinued, for her maid had been christened Gavinia
because she was the first child baptized in his church
after the Rev. Gavin Dishart came to Thrums.
“Gavinia, I must tell him of this. I shall take this
book to Mr. Dishart this very day.”

“The right man to take it to,” replied the maid,
sunllenly, “for it’s his ain.”

“Gavinia!”

“Well, it was Mrs. Dishart that lended it to me.”

““T —TI never saw it on the manse shelves.”

“T’m thinking,” said the brazen Gavinia, “as there ’s
hoddy corners in manses as well as in — blue-and-white
rooms.”

This dark suggestion was as great a shock to the
gentle school-mistress as if out of a clear sky had come
suddenly the word —

Stroke /

16
242 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

She tottered with the book that had so demoralized
the once meek Gavinia into the blue-and-white room,
where Tommy was restlessly awaiting her, and when
she had told him all, he said, with downcast eyes:

“J was never sure o’ Mrs. Dishart. When I hand
her the Mentor she looks as if she didna care a stroke
for ’*t ——”

“Tommy!”

“I’m doubting,” he said sadly, “that she’s ower
fond o’ Words We have no Concern with.”

Miss Ailie would not listen to such talk, but she
approved of the suggestion that “ Waverley” should be
returned not to the minister, but to his wife, and she
accepted gratefully Tommy’s kindly offer to act as
bearer. Only happening to open the book in the
middle, she —— S

“T’m waiting,” said Tommy, after ten minutes.

She did not hear him.

“T’m waiting,” he said again, but she was now in
the next chapter.

“Maybe you would like to read it yoursel’!” he
eried, and then she came to, and, with a shudder
handed him the book. But after he had gone she
returned to the kitchen to reprove Gavinia at greater
length, and in the midst of the reproof she said
faintly: “You did not happen to look at the end, did
you?” 2

“That I did, replied Gavinia.
THE SHADOW OF SIR WALTER 248

* And did she — did he 2

“No,” said Gavinia, sorrowfully.

Miss Ailie sighed. “That ’s what I think too,” said
Gavinia.

“Why did n’t they ?” asked the school-mistress.

“Because he was just a sumph,” answered Gavinia,



scornfully. “If he had been like Fergus, or like the
chield in ‘ Ivanhoe,’ he wouldna have ta’ena ‘no.’ He
would just have whipped her up in his arms and away
wi’ her. That’s the kind for me, ma’am.”

“There is a fascination about them,” murmured Miss
Ailie.

“ A what?”

But again Miss Ailie came to. “For shame, Gavinia,
for shame!” she said, severely; “these are disgraceful
sentiments.”

In the meantime Tommy had hurried with the book,
not to the manse, but to a certain garret, and as he
read, his imagination went on fire. Blinder’s stories
had made him half a Jacobite, and now “Waverley ”
revealed to him that he was born neither for the
ministry nor the herding. but to restore to his country
its rightful king. The first to whom he confided this
was Corp, who immediately exclaimed: “Michty me!
But what will the police say ?”

“T ken a wy,” answered Tommy, sternly.
CHAPTER XXI

THE LAST JACOBITE RISING

On the evening of the Queen’s birthday, bridies were
eaten to her honor in a hundred Thrums homes, and
her health was drunk in toddy, Scotch toddy and
Highland toddy. Patullo, the writer, gave a men’s
party, and his sole instructions to his maid were “Keep
running back and forrit wi’ the hot water.” At the
bank there was a ladies’ party and ginger wine. From
Cathro’s bedroom-window a flag was displayed with
Vivat Regina on it, the sentiment composed by Cathro,
the words sewn by the girls of his McCulloch class.
The eight-o’clock bell rang for an hour, and a loyal
crowd had gathered in the square to shout. To a
superficial observer, such as the Baron Bailie or Todd,
the new policeman, all seemed well and fair.

But a very different scene was being enacted at the
same time in the fastnesses of the Den, where three
resolute schemers had met by appointment. Their
trysting-place was the Cuttle Well, which is most
easily reached by the pink path made for that purpose;
but the better to further their dark and sinister design,
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING 245

the plotters arrived by three circuitous routes, one
descending the Reekie Broth Pot, alow but dangerous
waterfall, the second daring the perils of the crags,
and the third walking stealthily up the burn.

“Ts that you, Tommy ?”

“Whist! Do you mind the pass-word ?”

“Stroke!”

“Right. Have you heard Gav Dishart coming ?”

“Thinna. I doubt his father had grippit him as he
was slinking out 0’ the manse.”

“TY fear it, Corp. I’m thinking his father is in the
Woman’s pay.”

“What woman ?”

“The Woman of Hanover ?”

“That ’s the queen, is it no?”

“She ’1l never get me to call her queen.”

“Nor yet me. I think I hear Gav coming.”

Gav Dishart was the one who had come by the burn,
and his boots were cheeping like a field of mice. He
gave the word “Stroke,” and the three then looked at
each other firmly. The lights of the town were not
visible from the Cuttle Well, owing to an arm of cliff
that is outstretched between, but the bell could be dis-
tinctly heard, and occasionally a shout of revelry.

“They little ken!” said Tommy, darkly.

“They hinna a notion,” said Corp, but he was look-
ing somewhat perplexed himself.

“It’s near time I was back for family exercise,”
246 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

said Gav, uneasily, “so we had better do it quick,
Tommy.”

“Did you bring the wineglasses?” Tommy asked ©
him.

“No,” Gav said, “the press was lockit, but I’ve
brought egg-cups.”

“Stand round then.”

The three boys now presented a picturesque appear-
ance, but there was none save the man in the moon to
see them. They stood round the Cuttle Well, each
holding an egg-cup, and though the daring nature of
their undertaking and the romantic surroundings com-
bined to excite them, it was not fear but soaring pur-
pose that paled their faces and caused their hands to
tremble, when Tommy said solemnly, “Afore we do
what we’ve come here to do, let’s swear.”

“Stroke!” he said. —

“Stroke!” said Gav.

“Stroke!” said Corp.

They then filled their cups and holding them over the
well, so that they clinked, they said:

“To the king ower the water!”

“To the king ower the water! ”

“To the king ower the water! ”

When they had drunk Tommy broke his cup against
a rock, for he was determined that it should never be
used to honor a meaner toast, and the others followed
his example, Corp briskly, though the act puzzled him,
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING Q4T

and Gav with a gloomy look because he knew that the
cups would be missed to-morrow.

“Ts that a’ now?” whispered Corp, wiping his fore-
head with his sleeve.

“All!” cried Tommy. “Man, we ’ve just begood.”

As secretly as they had entered it, they left the Den,
and anon three figures were standing ina dark trance,
cynically watching the revellers in the square.

“Tf they just kent!” muttered the smallest, who was
wearing his jacket outside in to escape observation.

“But they little ken!” said Gav Dishart.

“They hinna a notion!” said Corp, contemptuously,
but still he was a little puzzled, and presently he asked
softly: “Lads, what just is it that they dinna ken?”

Had Gav been ready with an answer he could not
have uttered it, for just then a terrible little man in
black, who had been searching for him in likely places,
seized him by the cuff of the neck, and, turning his face
in an easterly direction, ran him to family worship.
But there was still work to do for the other two.
Walking home alone that night from Mr. Patullo’s
party, Mr. Cathro had an uncomfortable feeling that he
was being dogged. When he stopped to listen, all was
at once still, but the moment he moved onward he
again heard stealthy steps behind. He retired to rest
as soon as he reached his house, to be wakened
presently by a slight noise at the window, whence the
flag-post protruded. It had been but a gust of wind,
248 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

he decided, and turned round to go to sleep again, when
crash! the post was plucked from its place and cast to
the ground. The dominie sprang out of bed, and while
feeling for a light, thought he heard scurrying feet,
but when he looked out at the window no one was to be
seen; Vivat Regina lay ignobly in the gutters. That
it could have been the object of an intended theft was
not probable, but the open window might have tempted
thieves, and there was a possible though risky way up
by the spout. The affair was a good deal talked about
at the time, but it remained shrouded in a mystery
which even we have been unable to penetrate.

On the heels of the Queen’s birthday came the
Muckley, the one that was to be known to fame, if
fame was willing to listen to Corp, as Tommy’s
Muckley. Unless he had some grand aim in view
never was a boy who yielded to temptations more
blithely than Tommy, but when he had such aim never
was a boy so firm in withstanding them. At this
Muckley he had a mighty reason for not spending
money, and with ninepence in his pocket clamoring to
be out he spent not one halfpenny. There was some-
thing uncanny in the sight of him stalking unscathed
between rows of stands and shows, everyone of them
aiming at his pockets. Corp and Gav, of course, were
in the secret and did their humble best to act in the
same unnatural manner, but now and again a show
made a successful snap at Gav, and Corp had gloomy
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING 249

fears that he would lose his head in presence of the
Teuch and Tasty, from which humiliation indeed he
was only saved by the happy idea of requesting Tommy
to shout “Deuteronomy!” in a warning voice, every
time they drew nigh Californy’s seductive stand.

Was there nothing for sale, then, that the three
thirsted to buy ? There were many things, among them
weapons of war, a pack of cards, more properly called
Devil’s books, blue bonnets suitable for Highland
gentlemen, feathers for the bonnets, a tin lantern,
yards of tartan cloth, which the deft fingers of Grizel
would convert into warriors’ sashes. Corp knew that
these purchases were in Tommy’s far-seeing eye, but
he thought the only way to get them was to ask the
price and then offer half. Gav, the scholar, who had
already reached daylight through the first three books
of Euclid, and took a walk every Saturday morning
with his father and Herodotus, even Gav, the scholar,
was as thick-witted as Corp.

“Well let other laddies buy them,” Tommy explained
in his superior way, “and then after the Muckley is
past, well buy them frae them.”

The others understood now. After a Muckley there
was always a great dearth of pence, and a moneyed
man could become owner of Muckley purchases at a sixth
part of the Muckley price.

“You crittur!” exclaimed Corp, in abject admiration.

But Gav saw an objection. “The feck of them,” he
250 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

pointed out, “will waur their siller on shows and
things to eat, instead of on what we want them to
buy.”

“So they will, the nasty sackets!” cried Corp.

“You couldna blame a laddie for buying Teuch and
Tasty,” continued Gav with triumph, for he was a
little jealous of Tommy.

“You couldna,” agreed Corp, “no, Ill be dagont, if
you could,” and his hand pressed his money feverishly.

“Deuteronomy!” roared Tommy, and Corp’s hand
jumped as if it had been caught in some other person’s
pocket.

“But how are we todo?” he asked. “If you like,
I’ll take Birkie and the Haggerty-Taggertys round the

oP



Muckley and fight ilka ane that doesna buy

“Corp,” said Tommy, calmly, “I wonder at you.
Do you no ken yet that the best plan is to leave a’
thing to me?”

“Blethering gowks that we are, of course it is!”
cried Corp, and he turned almost fiercely upon Gav.
“Lippen all to him,” he said with erand confidence,
“he’ll find a wy.”

And Tommy found a way. Birkie was the boy who
bought the pack of cards. He saw Tommy looking so
woe-begone that it was necessary to ask the reason. .

“Oh, Birkie, lend me threepence,” sobbed Tommy,
“and I’ll give you sixpence the morn.”

“You ’re daft,” said Birkie, “there ’s no a laddie in
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING 251

Thrums that will have one single lonely bawhbee the
morn.” ,

“Him that buys the cards,” moaned Tommy, “will
never be without siller, for you tell auld folks fortunes
on them at a penny every throw. Lend me threepence,
Birkie. They cost a sic, and I have just —— ”

“Na, na,”

said greedy Birkie, “I’m no to be catched
wi’ chaff. If it’s true, what you say, I’ll buy the
cards nysel’.”

Having thus got hold of him, Tommy led Birkie to a
stand where the King of Egypt was telling fortunes
with cards, and doing a roaring trade among the Jocks
and Jennys. He also sold packs at sixpence each, and
the elated Birkie was an immediate purchaser.

“You’re no so clever as you think yoursel’!” he
said triumphantly to Tommy, who replied with his
inscrutable smile. But to his satellites he said, “ Not
a soul will buy a fortune frae Birkie. I’ll get thae
cards for a penny afore next week’s out.”

Francie Crabb found Tommy sniggering to himself
in the back wynd. “What are you goucking at?”
asked Francie, in surprise, for, as a rule, Tommy only
laughed behind his face.

“T winna tell you,” chuckled Tommy, “but what a
bar, oh, what a divert!”

“Come on, tell me.”

“Well, it’s at the man as is swallowing swords ahint

the menagerie.”
252 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“T see nothing to laugh at in that.”

“T’m no laughing at that. I’m laughing at him for
selling the swords for ninepence the piece. Oh, what
ignorant he is, oh, what a bar!”

“Ninepence is a mislaird price for a soord,” said
Francie. “I never gave ninepence.”

Tommy looked at him in the way that always made
boys fidget with their fists.

“YVou’re near as big a bar as him,” he said scorn-
fully. “Did you ever see the sword that’s hanging on
the wall in the backroom at the post-office ?”

“No, but my father has telled me about it. Ithasa
grand name.”

“Tt’s an Andrea Ferrara, that’s what it is.”

“Ay, I mind the name now; there has been folk
killed wi’ that soord.”

This was true, for the post-office Andrea Ferrara has
a stirring history, but for the present its price was the
important thing. “Dr. McQueen offered a pound note
for it,” said Tommy.

“JT ken that, but what has it to do wi’ ‘the soord-
swallower ?”

“Just this; that the swords he is selling for nine-
pence are Andrea Ferraras, the same as the post-office
ones, and he could get a pound a piece for them if he
kent their worth. Oh, what a bar, oh, what 2,

Francie’s eyes lit up greedily, and he looked at his



two silver shillings, and took two steps in the direction
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING 253

of the sword-swallower’s, and faltered and could not
make up his agitated mind. Tommy set off toward the
square at a brisk walk.

“Whaur are you off to?” asked Francie, following
him.

“To tell the man what his swords is worth. It would
be ill done no to tell him.” ‘To clinch the matter, off
went Tommy at a run, and off went Francie after
him. As a rule Tommy was the swifter, but on this
occasion he lagged of fell purpose, and reached the
sword-swallower’s tent just in time to see Francie
emerge elated therefrom, carrying two Andrea Fer-
raras. Francie grinned when they met.

“What a bar!” he crowed.

“What a bar!” agreed Tommy, and sufficient has
now been told to show that he had founda way. Even
Gav acknowledged a master, and, when the accoutre-
ments of war were bought at second hand as cheaply as
Tommy had predicted, applauded him with eyes and
mouth for a full week, after which he saw things in a
new light. Gav of course was to enter the bursary lists
anon, and he had supposed that Cathro would have the
last year’s schooling of him; but no, his father decided
to send him for the grand final grind to Mr. Ogilvy of
Glen Quharity, a famous dominie between whom and
Mr. Dishart existed a friendship that none had ever
got at the root of. Mr. Cathro was more annoyed than
he cared to show, Gav being of all the boys of that
254 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

time the one likeliest to do his teacher honor at the
university competitions, but Tommy, though the
decision cost him an adherent, was not ill-pleased, for
he had discovered that Gav was one of those irritating
boys who like to be leader. Gav, as has been said,
suddenly saw Tommy’s victory over Messrs. Birkie,
Francie, etc., in a new light; this was because when he
wanted back the shilling which he had contributed to the
funds for buying their purchases, Tommy replied firmly:

“I canna give you the shilling, but I ’ll give you the
lantern and the tartan cloth we bought wi’ it.”

“What use could they be to me at Glen Quharity ?”
Gav protested.

“Oh, if they are no use to you,” Tommy said
sweetly, “me and Corp is willing to buy them off you
for threepence.”

Then Gav became a scorner of duplicity, but he had
to consent to the bargain, and again Corp said to
Tommy, “Oh, you crittur!” But he was sorry to lose
a fellow-conspirator. “There’s just the twa o’ us
now,” he sighed.

“Just twa!” cried Tommy. “What are you havering
about, man? There’s as many as I like to whistle for.”

“You mean Grize] and Elspeth, I ken, but 2

“JT wasna thinking of the women-folk,” Tommy told



him, with a contemptuous wave of the hand. He
went closer to Corp, and said, in a low voice, “The
McKenzies are waiting!”
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING 255

“Are they, though?” said Corp, perplexed, as he
had no notion who the McKenzies might be.

“And Lochiel has twa hunder spearsmen.”

“Do you say so?”

“Young Kinnordy ’s ettling to come out, and I meet
Lord Airlie, when the moon rises, at the Loups 0’
Kenny, and auld Bradwardine’s as spunky as ever,
and there’s fifty wild Highlandmen lying ready in the
muckle cave of Clova.”

He spoke so earnestly that Corp could only ejaculate,
“Michty me!”

“But of course they winna rise,” continued Tommy,
darkly, “till he lands.”

“Of course no,” said Corp, “but — wha is he ?”

“Himsel’,” whispered Tommy, “the Chevalier! ”

Corp hesitated. “But, I thought,” he said diffi-
dently, “I thought you ——”

“So I am,” said Tommy.

“But you said he hadna landed yet ?”

“Neither he has.”

“But you ——”

“Well ?”

“You ’re here, are you no ?”

Tommy stamped his foot in irritation. “You’re slow
in the uptak,” he said. “I’m no here. How can I be
here when I’m at St. Germains ?”

“Dinna be angry wi’ me,” Corp begged. “I ken
you ’re ower the water, but when I see you, I kind of
forget; and just for the minute I think you’re here.”
256 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Well, think afore you speak.’

“I?ll try, but that’s teuch work. When do you
come to Scotland ?”

‘‘T’m no sure; but as soon as I’m ripe.”

At nights Tommy now sometimes lay among the
cabbages of the school-house watching the shadow of
Black Cathro on his sitting-room blind. Cathro never
knew he was there. The reason Tommy lay among the
cabbages was that there was a price upon his head.

“But if Black Cathro wanted to get the blood-money,”
Corp said apologetically, “he could nab you any day.
He kens you fine.”

Tommy smiled meaningly. “Not him,” he answered,
“T’ve cheated him bonny, he hasna a notion wha I am.
Corp, would you like a good laugh ?”

“That I would.”

“Weel, then, I’ll tell you wha he thinks I am.
Do you ken a little house yont the road a bitty frae
Monypenny ?”

“T ken no sic house,” said Corp, “except Aaron’s.”

“ Aaron’s the man as bides in it,” Tommy continued
hastily, “at least I think that’s the name. Well, as
you ken the house, you ’ve maybe noticed a laddie that
bides there too?”

“There ’s no laddie,” began Corp, “except 2



“Let me see,” interrupted Tommy, “what was his
name ? Was it Peter? No. Was it Willie? Stop,
I mind, it was Tommy.”
THE LAST JACOBITE RISING 257

He glared so that Corp dared not utter a word.
“Have you notitched him?”

“T?’vye —I’ve seen him,” Corp gasped.

“Well, this is the joke,” said Tommy, trying vainly
to restrain his mivth, “Cathro thinks I’m that laddie!
Ho! ho! ho!”

Corp scratched his head, then he bit his warts, then
he spat upon his hands, then he said “Damn.”

The crisis came when Cathro, still ignorant that the
heather was on fire, dropped some disparaging remarks
about the Stuarts to his history class. Tommy said
nothing, but — but one of the school-windows was with-
out a snib, and next morning when the dominie reached
his desk he was surprised to find on it a little cotton
glove. He raised it on high, greatly puzzled, and then,
as ever when he suspected knavery, his eyes sought
Tommy, who was sitting on a form, his arms proudly
folded. That the whelp had put the glove there,
Cathro no longer doubted, and he would have liked to
know why, but was reluctant to give him the satisfac-
tion of asking. So the gauntlet —for gauntlet it was
— was laid aside, the while Tommy, his head bumming
like a beeskep, muttered triumphantly through his
teeth, “But he lifted it, he lifted it!” and at closing
time it was flung in his face with this fair tribute:

“I’m no a rich man, laddie, but I would give a
pound note to know what you ll be at ten years from

now.”
17
258 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

There could be no mistaking the dire meaning of
these words, and Tommy hurried, pale but determined,
to the quarry, where Corp, with a barrow in his hands,
was learning strange phrases by heart, and finding it a
help to call his warts after the new swears.

“Corp,” cried Tommy, firmly, “I’ve set sail!”

On the following Saturday evening Charles Edward
landed in the Den. In his bonnet was the white
cockade, and round his waist a tartan sash; though he
had long passed man’s allotted span his face was still
full of fire, his figure lithe and even boyish. For state
reasons he had assumed the name of Captain Stroke.
As he leapt ashore from the bark, the Dancing Shovel,
he was received right loyally by Corp and other faith-
ful adherents, of whom only two, and these of a sex to
which his House was ever partial, were visible, owing
to the gathering gloom. Corp of that Ilk sank on his
knees at the water’s edge, and kissing his royal master’s
hand said, fervently, ‘“ Welcome, my prince, once more
to bonny Scotland!” Then he rose and whispered, but
with scarcely less emotion, “There ’s an egg to your
tea.”
CHAPTER XXII

THE SIEGE OF THRUMS

Tur man in the moon is a native of Thrums, who was
put up there for hacking sticks on the Sabbath, and as
he sails over the Den his interest in the bit placey is
still sufficient to make him bend forward and ery “ Boo!”
at the lovers. When they jump apart you can see the
aged reprobate grinning. Once out of sight of the den,
he cares not a boddle how the moon travels, but the
masterful crittur enrages him if she is in a hurry here,
just as he is cleverly making out whose children’s chil-
dren are courting now. “Slow, there!” he cries to the
moon, but she answers placidly that they have the rest
of the world to view to-night. “The rest of the world
be danged!” roars the man, and he cranes his neck for a
last glimpse of the Cuttle Well, until he nearly falls out
of the moon.

Never had the man such a trying time as during the
year now before him. It was the year when so many
scientific magnates sat up half the night in their shirts,
spying at him through telescopes. But every effort to
discover why he was in such a fidget failed, because the
spy-glasses were never levelled at thé Thrums den,
260 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Through the whole of the incidents now to tell, you may
conceive the man (on whom sympathy would be wasted)
dagoning horribly, because he was always carried past
the den before he could make head or tail of the change
that had come over it.

The spot chosen by the ill-fated Stuart and his gallant
remnant for their last desperate enterprise was eminently
fitted for their purpose. Being round the corner from
Thrums, it was commanded by no fortified place save
the farm of Nether Drumgley, and on a recent goustie
night nearly all the trees had been blown down, making
a hundred hiding-places for bold climbers, and trans-
forming the Den into a scene of wild and mournful gran-
deur. In no bay more suitable than the flooded field
called the Silent Pool could the hunted prince have cast
anchor, for the Pool is not only sheltered from observa-
tion, but so little troubled by gales that it had only one
dvawback: at some seasons of the year it was not there.
This, however, did not vex Stroke, as it is cannier to call
him, for he burned his boats on the night he landed (and
a dagont, tedious job it was too), and pointed out to his
followers that the drouth which kept him in must also
keep the enemy out. Part of the way to the lair they
usually traversed in the burn, because water leaves no
trace, and though they carried turnip lanterns and were
armed to the teeth, this was often a perilous journey
owing to the lovers close at hand on the pink path, from
which the trees had been cleared, for lads and lasses
THE SIEGE OF THRUMS 261

must walk whate’er betide. Ronny-On’s Jean and Peter
Scrymgeour, little Lisbeth Doak and long Sam’l from
Pyotdykes were pairing that year, and never knew how
near they were to being dirked by Corp of Corp, who,
lurking in the burn till there were no tibbits in his toes,
muttered fiercely, “Cheep one single cheep, and it will
be thy hinmost, methinks!” under the impression that
Methinks was a Jacobite oath.

For this voluntary service, Stroke clapped Corp of
Corp on the shoulder with a naked sword, and said,
“Rise, Sir Joseph!” which made Corp more confused
than ever, for he was already Corp of Corp, Him of
Muckle Kenny, Red McNeil, Andrew Ferrara, and the
Master of Inverquharity (Stroke’s names), as well as
Stab-in-the-Dark, Grind-them-to-Mullins, and Warty Joe
(his own), and which he was at any particular moment
he never knew, till Stroke told him, and even then he
forgot and had to be put in irons.

The other frequenters of the lair on Saturday nights
(when alone the rebellion was active) were the proud
Lady Grizel and Widow Elspeth. It had been thought
best to make Elspeth a widow, because she was so
religious.

The lair was on the right bank of the burn, near the
waterfall, and you climbed to it by ropes, unless you
preferred an easier way. It is now a dripping hollow,
down which water dribbles from beneath a sluice, but at
that time it was hidden on all sides by trees and the
262 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

huge clods of sward they had torn from the earth as
they fell, Two of these clods were the only walls of
the lair, which had at times a ceiling not unlike Aaron
Latta’s bed coverlets, and the chief furniture was two
barrels, marked “Usquebach” and “Powder.” When
the darkness of Stroke’s fortunes sat like a pall upon
his brow, as happened sometimes, he sought to drive it
away by playing cards on one of these barrels with Sir
Joseph, but the approach of the Widow made him pocket
them quickly with a warning sign to his trusty knight,
who did not understand, and asked what had become of
them, whereupon Elspeth cried, in horror:

“Cards! Oh, Tommy, you promised —— ”

But Stroke rode her down with, “Cards! Wha has
been playing cards? You, Muckle Kenny, and you, Sir
Joseph, after I forbade it! Hie, there, Inverquharity,
all of you, seize those men.”

Then Corp blinked, came to his senses and marched
himself off to the prison on the lonely promontory called
the Queen’s Bower, saying ferociously, “Jouk, Sir Jo-
seph, and I’ll blaw you into posterity.”

Tt is sable night when Stroke and Sir Joseph reach a
point in the Den whence the glimmering lights of the
town are distinctly visible. Neither speaks. Presently
the distant eight-o’clock bell rings, and then Sir Joseph
looks anxiously at his warts, for this is the signal to
begin, and as usual he has forgotten the words.

“Go on,” says someone in a whisper. It cannot be
THE SIEGE OF THRUMS 2638

Stroke, for his head is brooding on his breast. This
mysterious voice haunted all the doings in the Den, and
had better be confined in brackets.

(“ Go on.”)

“Methinks,” says Sir Joseph, “methinks the borers

”

(“ Burghers.”)

‘¢ Methinks the burghers now cease from their labors.”

“ Ay,” replied Stroke, “’tis so, would that they ceased
from them forever !”

“ Methinks the time is at hand.”

‘“‘Ha!” exclaims Stroke, looking at his lieutenant
curiously, “what makest thou say so ? For three weeks
these fortifications have defied my cannon, there is scarce
a breach yet in the walls of yonder town.”

“ Methinks thou wilt find a way.”

“Tt may be so, my good Sir Joseph, it may be so, and
yet, even when I am most hopeful of success, my schemes
go a gley.”

“Methinks thy dark 22

(“ Dinna say Methinks so often.”)

(“Tommy, I maun. If I dinna get that to start me
off, I go through other.”’)

(«Go on.”)

“Methinks thy dark spirit lies on thee to-night.”



“ Ay, ’tbis too true. But canst thou blame me if I
grow sad? The town still in the enemy’s hands, and so
much brave blood already spilt in vain. Knowest thon
264 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

that the brave Kinnordy fell last night? My noble
Kinnordy !”

Here Stroke covers his face with his hands, weeping
silently, and — and there is an awkward pause.

(“ Go on — ‘Still have me.’”)

(“So it is.”) ‘Weep not, my royal scone 2

(“Scion.”)

“Weep not, my royal scion, havest thou not still me?”



‘Well said, Sir Joseph,” cries Stroke, dashing the
sign of weakness from his face. “T still have many
brave fellows, and with their help I shall be master of
this proud town.”

“ And then ghost we to fair Edinburgh ? ”

“Ay, ’tis so, but, Sir Joseph, thinkest thou these
burghers love the Stuart not?”

“Nay, methinks they are true to thee, but their starch
commander — (give me my time, this is a lang ane,) but
their arch commander is thy bitterest foe. Vile spoon
that he is! (It’s no spoon, it’s spawn.)”

“Thou meanest the craven Cathro ?”

“Methinks ay. (I like thae short anes.)”

“Tis well!” says Stroke, sternly. “That man hath
ever slipped between me and my right. His time will
come.”

“ He floppeth thee — he flouteth thee from the battle.
ments.”

“Ha, ’tis well!”

(“ You ’ve said that already.”)
THE SIEGE OF THRUMS 265

(“I say it twice.”)

(“That’s what aye puts me wrang.) Ghost thou to
meet the proud Lady Grizel to-night?”

6c Ay.”

“ Ghost thou alone ?”

“cc Ay.”

(“ What easy anes you have!) I fear it is not chan-
cey for thee to go.”

“T must dree my dreed.”

“These women is kittle cattle.”

“The Stuart hath ever a soft side for them. Ah, my
trusty foster-brother, knowest thou not what it is to
love ?”

“ Alas, I too have had my fling. (Does Grizel kiss
your hand yet?)”

_ “(No, she winna, the immer.) Sir Joseph, I go to
her.”

“Methinks she is a haughty onion. I prithee go not
to-night.”

“T have given my word.”

“Thy word is a band.”

“ Adieu, my friend.”

“Methinks thou ghost to thy damn. (Did we no
promise Elspeth there should be no swearing ?)”

The raft Vick Ian Vohr is dragged to the shore, and
Stroke steps on board, a proud solitary figure. “ Fare-
well!” he cries hoarsely, as he seizes the oar.

“Farewell, my leech,’ answers Corp, and then helps
266 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

him to disembark. Their hands chance to meet, and
Sstroke’s is so hot that Corp quails.

“Tommy,” he says, with a shudder, “do you — you
dinna think it’s a’ true, do you?” But the ill-fated
prince only gives him a warning look and plunges into
the mazes of the forest. For a long time silence reigns
over the Den. Lights glint fitfully, a human voice imi-
tates the ‘plaintive cry of the peewit, cautious whistling
follows, comes next the clash of arms, and the scream of
one in the death-throes, and again silence falls. Stroke
emerges near the Reekie Broth Pot, wiping his sword
and muttering, “Faugh! it drippeth!” At the same
moment the air is filled with music of more than mortal
— well, the air is filled with music. It seems to come
from but a few yards away, and pressing his hand to his
throbbing brow the Chevalier presses forward till, push-
ing aside the branches of a fallen fir, he comes suddenly
upon a scene of such romantic beauty that he stands
rooted to the ground. Before him, softly lit by a half-
moon (the man in it perspiring with curiosity), is a
miniature dell, behind which rise threatening rocks, over-
grown here and there by grass, heath, and bracken,
while in the centre of the dell is a bubbling spring called
the Cuttle Well, whose water, as it overflows a natural
basin, soaks into the surrounding ground and so finds a
way into the picturesque stream below. But it is not
the loveliness of the spot which fascinates the prince;
rather is it the exquisite creature who sits by the bub-
THE SIEGE OF THRUMS 267

bling spring, a reed from a hand-loom in her hands, from
which she strikes mournful sounds, the while she raises
her voice in song. A pink scarf and a blue ribbon are
crossed upon her breast, her dark tresses kiss her lovely
neck, and as she sits on the only dry stone, her face
raised as if in wrapt communion with the heavens, and
her feet tucked beneath her to avoid the mud, she seems
not a human being, but the very spirit of the place and
hour. The royal wanderer remains spellbound, while
she strikes her lyre and sings (with but one trivial
alteration) the song of MacMurrough : —

Awake on your hills, on your islands awake,

Brave sons of the mountains, the frith and the lake!
Tis the bugle — but not for the chase is the call ;

’T is the pibroch’s shrill summons — but not to the hall.

*Tis the summons of heroes for conquest or death,
When the banners are blazing on mountain and heath ;
They call to the dirk, the claymore and the targe,
To the march and the muster, the line and the charge.

Be the brand of each Chieftain like Stroke’s in his ire!
May the blood through his veins flow like currents of fire!
Burst the base foreign yoke as your sires did of yore,

Or die like your sires, and endure it no more.

As the fair singer concluded, Stroke, who had been
deeply moved, heaved a great sigh, and immediately, as
if in echo of it, came a sigh from the opposite side of
the dell. In a second of time three people had learned
that a certain lady had two lovers. She starts to her
268 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

feet, still carefully avoiding the puddles, but it is not
she who speaks.

(“Did you hear me ?”)

(“Ay.”)

(“ You’re ready? ”’)

(“ Ca’ awa’.’’)

Stroke dashes to the girl’s side, just in time to pluck
her from the arms of a masked man. ‘The villain raises
his mask and reveals the face of —it looks like Corp,
but the disguise is thrown away on Stroke.

“Ha, Cathro,” he exclaims joyfully, “so at last we
meet on equal terms!”

“Back, Stroke, and let me pass.”

“ Nay, we fight for the wench.”

“So be it. The prideful onion is his who wins her.”

“ Have at thee, caitiff!”

A terrible conflict ensues. Cathro draws first blood.
*Tis but a scratch. Ha! well thrust, Stroke. In vain
Cathro girns his teeth. Inch by inch he is driven back,
he slips, he recovers, he pants, he is apparently about to
fling himself down the steep bank and so find safety in
flight, but he comes on again.

(“What are you doing? You run now.”)

(“I ken, but I’m sweer!’’)

(“Off you go.”)

Even as Stroke is about to press home, the cowardly
foe flings himself down the steep bank and rolls out of
sight. He will give no more trouble to-night; and the
THE SIEGE OF THRUMS 269

victor turns to the Lady Grizel, who had been repinning
the silk scarf across her breast, while the issue of the
combat was still in doubt. ;

(Now, then, Grizel, you kiss my hand.”)

(“TI tell you I won’t.”’)

(“ Well, then, go on your knees to me.”)

(“ You need n’t think it.’”)

(“Dagon you! Then ea’ awa’ standing.”)

“My liege, thou hast saved me from the wretch
Cathro.”

“May I always be near to defend thee in time of
danger, my pretty chick.”

(« Tommy, you promised not to call me by those silly
names.”’)

(“They slip out, I tell you. That was aye the way
wi’ the Stuarts.”)

(“Well, you must say ‘Lady Grizel.’) Good, my
prince, how can I thank thee?”

“By being my wife. (Not a word of this to
Elspeth.)”

“Nay, I summoned thee here to tell thee that can
never be. The Grizels of Grizel are of ancient lineage,
but they mate not with monarchs. My sire, the nun-
nery gates will soon close on me forever.’’

“Then at least say thou lovest me.”

“ Alas, I love thee not.”

(“ What haver is this? I telled you to say ‘Charles,
would that I loved thee less.’ ”’)
a a aneamhiemanen eaten eesenraart

270 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

(“And J told you I would not.”)

(“ Well, then, where are we now ?”)

(“We miss out all. that about my wearing your por-
trait next my heart, and put in the rich apparel bit, the
same as last week.”)

(“Oh! Then I goon?) Bethink thee, fair jade—”

(“ Lady.) 3

“Bethink thee, fair lady, Stuart is not so poor but
that, if thou come with him to his lowly lair, he can
deck thee with rich apparel and ribbons rare.”

“JT spurn thy gifts, unhappy man, but if there are

holes in 22



(“ Miss that common bit out. I canna thole it.”)

(“I like it.) If there are holes in the garments of
thy loyal followers, I will come and mend them, and I
have a needle and thread in my pocket. (Tommy,
there is another button off your shirt! Have you got
the button ? ”)

“(It’s down my breeks.) So be it, proud girl,
come!”

It was Grizel who made masks out of tin rags, picked
up where tinkers had passed the night, and musical
instruments out of broken reeds that smelled of caddis
and Jacobite head-gear out of weaver’s night-caps; and
she kept the lair so clean and tidy as to raise a fear
that intruders might mistake its character. Elspeth
had to mind the pot, which Aaron Latta never missed,
and Corp was supposed to light the fire by striking
THE SIEGE OF THRUMS 271

sparks from his knife, a trick which Tommy considered
so easy that he refused to show how it was done.
Many strange sauces were boiled in that pot, a sort of
potato-turnip pudding often coming out even when not
expected, but there was an occasional rabbit that had
been bowled over by Corp’s unerring hand, and once
Tommy shot a —a haunch of venison, having first, with
Corp’s help, howked it out of Ronny-On’s swine, then
suspended head downward, and open like a book at the
page of contents, steaming, dripping, a tub beneath,
boys with bladders in the distance. When they had
supped they gathered round the fire, Grizel knitting a
shawl for they knew whom, but the name was never
mentioned, and Tommy told the story of his life at the
French court, and how he fought in the ’45 and after-
ward hid in caves, and so did he shudder, as he described
the cold of his bracken beds, and so glowed his face,
for it was all real to him, that Grizel let the wool drop
on her knee, and Corp whispered to Elspeth, “Dinna
be fleid for him; I’se uphaud he found a wy.” ‘Those
quiet evenings were not the least pleasant spent in the
Den.

But sometimes they were interrupted by a fierce
endeavor to carry the lair, when boys from Cathro’s
climbed to it up each other’s backs, the rope, of course,
having been pulled into safety at the first sound, and
then that end of the Den rang with shouts, and deeds of
valor on both sides were as common as pine needles,
272 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

and onee Tommy and Corp were only saved from
captors who had them down, by Grizel rushing into the
midst of things with two flaring torches, and another
time bold Birkie, most daring of the storming party,
was seized with two others and made to walk the plank.
The plank had been part of a gate, and was suspended
over the bank of the Silent Pool, so that, as you
approached the farther end, down you went. It was
not a Jacobite method, but Tommy feared that rows of
bodies, hanging from the trees still standing in the
Den, might attract attention.
CHAPTER XXIII

GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS

Luss alarming but more irritating was the attempt of
the youth of Monypenny and the West town end, to
establish a rival firm of Jacobites (without even being
sure of the name). They started business (Francie
Crabb leader, because he had a kilt) on a flagon of
porter and an, ounce of twist, which they carried on a
stick through the Den, saying “Bowf!” like dogs, when
they met anyone, and then laughing doubtfully. The
twist and porter were seized by Tommy and his fol-
lowers, and Haggerty-Taggerty, Major, arrived home
with his head so firmly secured in the flagon that the
solder had to be melted before he saw the world again.
Francie was in still worse plight, for during the
remainder of the evening he had to hide in shame
among the brackens, and Tommy wore a kilt.

One cruel revenge the beaten rivals had. They way-
laid Grizel, when she was alone, and thus assailed her,
she answering not a word.

“What’s a father ?”

“She ll soon no have a mither either!”

18
274. SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“The Painted Lady needs to paint her cheeks no
longer!”

“Na, the red spots comes themsels now.”

“Have you heard her hoasting ?”

“ Ay, it’s the hoast o’ a dying woman.’

“The joiner heard it, and gave her a look, measuring
her wi’ his eye for the coffin. ‘Five and a half by one
and a half would hold her snod, ’? he says to himsel’.”

“Ronny-On’s auld wife heard it, and says she,
‘Dinna think, my leddy, as you’ll be buried in con-
secrated ground.’ ”

“Na, a’body kens she ’ll just be hauled at the end 0
a rope to the hole where the witches was shooled in.”

“Wi? a paling spar through her, to keep her down on
the day o’ judgment.”

Well, well, these children became men and women
in time, one of them even a bit of a hero, though he
never knew it.

Are you angry with them? If so, put the cheap

thing aside, or think only of Grizel, and perhaps God
* will turn your anger into love for her.

Great-hearted, solitary child! She walked away
from them without flinching, but on reaching the Den,
where no one could see her—she lay down on the
ground, and her cheeks were dry, but little wells of
water stood in her eyes.

She would not be the Lady Grizel that night. She
went home instead, but there was something she wanted




THEY WAYLAID GRIZEL WHEN SHE WAS ALONE
GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS 275

to ask Tommy now, and the next time she saw him
she began at once. Grizel always began at once, often

in the middle, she saw what she was making for so
clearly.

“Do you know what it means when there are red
spots in your cheeks, that used not to be there ?”

Tommy knew at once to whom she was referring, for
he had heard the gossip of the youth of Monypenny,
and he hesitated to answer. a

“And if, when you cough, you bring up a tiny speck.
of blood ?”

“T would get a bottle frae the doctor,” said Tommy,
evasively.

“She won’t have the doctor,” answered Grizel, un-
guardedly, and then with a look dared Tommy to say
that she spoke of her mother.

“Does it mean you are dying ?”

oT ohana; they soon get better.”

He said this because he was so sorry for Grizel.
There never was a more sympathetic nature than
Tommy’s. At every time of his life his pity was
easily roused for persons in distress, and he sought to
comfort them by shutting their eyes to the truth as
long as possible. This sometimes brought relief to
them, but it was useless to Grizel, who must face her
troubles.

“Why don’t you answer truthfully ?” she cried,
with vehemence. “It is so easy to be truthful!”
276 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Well, then,” said Tommy, reluctantly, “I think
they generally die.”

Elspeth often carried in her pocket a little Testament,
presented to her by the Rev. Mr. Dishart for learning
by heart one of the noblest of books, the Shorter
Catechism, as Scottish children do or did, not under-
standing it at the time, but its meaning .comes long
afterwards and suddenly, when you have most need of,
it. Sometimes Elspeth read aloud from her Testament
to Grizel, who made no comment, but this same even-
ing, when the two were alone, she said abruptly:

“Have you your Testament ?”

“Yes,” Elspeth said, producing it.

“Which is the page about saving sinners oe

“Tt’s all about that.”

“But the page when you are in a hurry ?”

Elspeth read aloud the story of the Crucifixion, and
Grizel listened sharply until she heard what Jesus said
to the malefactor: “To-day shalt thou be with me in
Paradise.”

“ And was he ?”

“Of course.”

“But he had been wicked all his life, and T believe

he was only good, just that minute, because they were
2



erucifying him. If they had let him come down

“No, he repented, you know. That means he had
faith, and if you have faith you are saved. It doesna
matter how bad you have been. You have just to say
GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS QT7

‘TI believe’ before you die, and God lets you in. It’s
so easy, Grizel,” cried Elspeth, with shining eyes.

Grizel pondered. “I don’t believe it is so easy as
that,” she said, decisively.

Nevertheless she asked presently what the Testament
cost, and when Elspeth answered “ Fourpence,” offered
her the money.

“T don’t want to sell it,” Elspeth remonstrated.

“Tf you don’t give it to me, I shall take it from you,”
said Grizel, determinedly.

“You can buy one.”

“No, the shop people would guess.”

“Guess what ?”

“T won’t tell you.”

“T7}1 lend it to you.”

“T won’t take it that way.” So Elspeth had to part
with her Testament, saying wonderingly, “Can you
read ?” :

ae Yes, and write too. Mamma taught me.”

“But I thought she was daft,” Elspeth blurted out.

“She is only daft now and then,” Grizel replied,
without her usual spirit. “Generally she is not daft
at all, but only timid.”

Next morning the Painted Lady’s child paid three
calls, one in town, two in the country. The adora-
ble thing is that, once having made up her mind, she
never flinched, not even when her hand was on the

knocker.
278 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

The first gentleman received her in his lobby. Fora
moment he did not remember her; then suddenly the
color deepened on his face, and he went back and shut
the parlor-door.

“Did anybody see you coming here?” he asked,
quickly.

“T don’t know.”

“What does she want ?”

“She did not send me, I came myself.”

“Well ?”

“When you come to our house 2



“T never come to your house.”

“That is a lie.”

“Speak lower!”

“When you come to our house you tell me to go out
and play. ButI don’t. I go and cry.”

No doubt he was listening, but his eyes were on the
parlor-door.

“T don’t know why I ery, but you know, you wicked
man! Why is it?”

“Why is it?” she demanded again, like a queen-child,
but he could only fidget with his gold chain and shuffle
uneasily in his parnella shoes.

“Vou are not coming to see my mamma again.”

The gentleman gave her an ugly look.

“Tf you do,” she said at once, “I shall come straight
here and open that door you are looking at, and tell

your wife.”
GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS 279

He dared not swear. His hand ——

“Tf you offer me money,” said Grizel, “I shall tell
her now.”

He muttered something to himself.

“Ts it true?” she asked, “that mamma is dying ?”

This was a genuine shock to him, for he had not
been at Double Dykes since winter, and then the
Painted Lady was quite well.

“Nonsense!” he said, and his obvious disbelief
brought some comfort to the girl. But she asked,
“Why are there red spots on her cheeks, then ?”

“Paint,” he answered.

“No,” cried Grizel, rocking her arms, “it is not paint
now. I thought it might be and I tried to rub it off
while she was sleeping, but it will not come off. And
when she coughs there is blood on her handkerchief.”

He looked alarmed now, and Grizel’s fears came
back. “If mamma dies,” she said determinedly, “she
must be buried in the cemetery.”

“She is not dying, I tell you.”

“ And you must come to the funeral.”

‘Are you gyte ?”

“With crape on your hat.”

His mouth formed an emphatic ‘‘No.”

“You must,” said Grizel, firmly, “you shall! If you
don’t ” She pointed to the parlor-door.

Her remaining two visits were to a similar effect, and
one of the gentlemen came out of the ordeal somewhat


280 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

less shamefully than the first, the other worse, for he
blubbered and wanted to kiss her. It is questionable
whether many young ladies have made such a profound
impression in a series of morning calls.

The names of these gentlemen are not known, but
yon shall be told presently where they may be found.
Every person in Thrums used to know the place, and
many itched to get at the names, but as yet no one has
had the nerve to look for them.

Not at this time did Grizel say a word of these inter-
views to her friends, though Tommy had to be told of
them later, and she never again referred to her mother
at the Saturday evenings in the Den. But the others
began to know a queer thing, nothing less than this,
that in their absence the lair was sometimes visited by
a person or persons unknown, who made use of their
stock of firewood. It was a startling discovery, but
when they discussed it in ‘council, Grizel never con-
tributed a word. The affair remained a mystery until
one Saturday evening, when Tommy and Elspeth,
reaching the lair first, found in it a delicate white
shawl. They both recognized in it the pretty thing the
Painted Lady had pinned across her shoulders on the
night they saw her steal out of Double Dykes, to meet
the man of long ago.

ven while their eyes were saying this, Grizel
climbed in without giving the password, and they knew
from her quick glance around that she had come for the
GRIZEL PAYS THREE VISITS 281

shawl. She snatched it out of Tommy’s hand with a
look that prohibited questions.

“Ts the pair o’ them,” Tommy said to Elspeth at
the first opportunity, “that sometimes comes here at
nights and kindles the fire and warms themsels at the
gloze. And the last time they came they forgot the
shawl.”

“T dinna like to think the Painted Lady has been up
here, Tommy.”

“But she has. You ken how, when she has a daft fit,
she wanders the Den trysting the man that never comes.
Has she no been seen at all hours o’ the night, Grizel
following a wee bit ahint, like as if to take tent 0’
her ?”

“They say that, and that Grizel canna get her to go
home till the daft fit has passed.”

“Well, she has that kechering hoast and spit now,
and so Grizel brings her up here out o’ the blasts.”

“But how could she be got to come here, if she winna
go home ?”

“Because frae here she can watch for the man.”

Elspeth shuddered. “Do you think she’s here often,
Tommy ?” she asked.

“Just when she has a daft fit on, and they say she’s
wise sax days in seven.”

This made the Jacobite meetings eerie events for
Elspeth, but Tommy liked them the better; and what
were they not to Grizel, who ran to them with passion-
282 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

ate fondness every Saturday night ? Sometimes she
even outdistanced her haunting dreads, for she knew
that her mother did not think herself seriously ill; and
had not the three gentlemen made light of that curious
cough ? So there were nights when the lair saw Grizel
go riotous with glee, laughing, dancing, and shouting
over-much, like one trying to make up for a lost child-
hood. But it was also noticed that when the time came
to leave the Den she was very loath, and kissed
her hands to the places where she had been happiest,
saying, wistfully, and with pretty gestures that were
foreign to Thrums, “Good-night, dear Cuttle Well!
Good-by, sweet, sweet Lair!” as if she knew it could
not last. These weekly risings in the Den were most
real to Tommy, but it was Grizel who loved them best.
CHAPTER XXIV

A ROMANCE OF TWO OLD MAIDS AND A STOUT
BACHELOR

Came Gavinia, a burgess of the besieged city, along
the south shore of the Silent Pool. She was but a
maid. seeking to know what love might be, and as she
wandered on, she nibbled dreamily at a hot sweet-
smelling bridie, whose gravy oozed deliciously through
a bursting paper-bag.

Té was a fit night for dark deeds.

“Methinks she cometh to her damn!”

The speaker was a masked man who had followed
her — he was snifling ecstatically — since she left the
city walls.

She seemed to possess a charmed life. He would
have had her in Shovel Gorge, but just then Ronny-
On’s Jean and Peter Scrymgeour turned the corner.

Suddenly Gavinia felt an exquisite thrill: a man was
pursuing her. She slipped the paper-bag out of sight,
holding it dexterously against her side with her arm, so
that the gravy should not spurt out, and ran. Lights
flashed, a kingly voice cried “Now!” and immediately
284 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

a petticoat was flung over her head. (The Lady
Griselda looked thin that evening.)

Gavinia was dragged tothe Lair, and though many a
time they bumped her, she still tenderly nursed the
paper-bag with her arm, or fondly thought she did so,
for when unmuffled she discovered that it had been
removed, as if by painless surgery. And her captors’
tongues were sweeping their chins for stray crumbs.

The wench was offered her choice of Stroke’s gallant

fellows, but “Wha carries me wears me,”

said she,
promptly, and not only had he to carry her from one
end of the Den to the other, but he must do it whistling
as if barely conscious that she was there. So after
many attempts (for she was always willing to let them
have their try) Corp of Corp, speaking for Sir Joseph
and the others, announced a general retreat.

Instead of taking this prisoner’s life, Stroke made
her his tool, releasing her on condition that every
seventh day she appeared at the Lair with information
concerning the doings in the town. Also, her name
was Agnes of Kingoldrum, and, if she said it was not,
the plank. Bought thus, Agnes proved of service,
bringing such bags of news that Stroke was often
occupied now in drawing diagrams of Thrums and its
strongholds, including the residence of Cathro, with
dotted lines to show the direction of proposed under-
ground passages.

And presently came by this messenger disquieting
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 285

rumors indeed. Another letter, being the third in six
months, had reached the Dovecot, addressed, not to
Miss Ailie, but to Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty had been
dead fully six years, and Archie Piatt, the post, swore
that this was the eighteenth, if not the nineteenth,
letter he had delivered to her name since that time.
They were all in the same hand, a man’s, and there had
been similar letters while she was alive, but of these he
kept no record. Miss Ailie always took these letters
with a trembling hand, and then locked herself in her
bedroom, leaving the key in such a position in its hole
that you might just as well go straight back to the
kitchen. Within a few hours of the arrival of these
ghostly letters, tongues were wagging about them, but
to the two or three persons who (after passing a sleep-
less night) bluntly asked Miss Ailie from whom they
came, she only replied by pursing her lips. Nothing
could be learned at the post-office save that Miss Ailie
never posted any letters there, except to two Misses
and a Mrs., all resident in Redlintie. The mysterious
letters came from Australy or Manchester, or some
such part.

What could Stroke make of this? He expressed no
opinion, but oh, his face was grim. Orders were imme-
diately given to double the sentinels. A barrel was
placed in the Queen’s Bower. Sawdust was introduced
at immense risk into the Lair. A paper containing this
writing, “24Sxho317 Oxh4591A WS3 14dd5,” was passed
286 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

round and then solemnly burned. Nothing was left to
chance.

Agnes of Kingoldrum (Stroke told her) did not know
Miss Ailie, but she was commanded to pay special
attention to the gossip of the town regarding this new
move of the enemy. By next Saturday the plot had
thickened. Previous -letters might have reddened Miss
Ailie’s eyes for an hour or two, ‘but they gladdened her
as a whole. Now she sat crying all evening with this
one on her lap; she gave up her daily walk to the
Berlin wool shop, with all its romantic possibilities; at
the clatter of the tea-things she would start apprehen-
sively; she had let a red shawl lie for two days in the
blue-and-white room.

Stroke never blanched. “He called his faithful
remnant around him, and told them the story of Bell
the Cat, with its application in the records of his race.
Did they take his meaning? This Miss Ailie must
be watched closely. In short, once more, in Scot-
tish history, someone must bell the cat. Who would
volunteer ?

Corp of Corp and Sir Joseph stepped forward as one
man.

“Thou couldst not look like Gavinia,” the prince
said, shaking his head.

“Wha wants him to look like Gavinia ?” cried an
indignant voice.

“Peace, Agnes!” said Stroke.
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 287

“ Aones, why bletherest thou?” said Sir Joseph.

“Tf onybody ’s to watch Miss Ailie,” insisted the
obstinate woman, ‘‘surely it should be me!”

“Ta!” Stroke sprang to his feet, for something in
her voice, or the outline of her figure, or perhaps it was
her profile, had given him an idea. ‘‘A torch!” he
cried eagerly and with its aid he scanned her face until
his own shone triumphant.

“Hekensa wy, methinks!” exclaimed one of rfl men.

Sir Joseph was right. It had been among the
prince’s exploits to make his way into Thrums in dis-
guise, and mix with the people as one of themselves,
and on several of these occasions he had seen Miss
Ailie’s attendant. Agnes’s resemblance to her now
struck him for the first time. It should be Agnes of
Kingoldrum’s honorable though dangerous part to take
this Gavinia’s place.

But how to obtain possession of Gavinia’s person ?
Agnes made several suggestions, but was told to hold
her prating peace. It could only be done in one way.
They must kidnap her. Sir Joseph was ordered to be
ready to accompany his liege on this perilous enterprise
in ten minutes. “And mind,” said Stroke, gravely,
“we carry our lives in our hands.”

“In our hands!” gasped Sir Joseph, greatly puzzled,
but he dared ask no more, and when the two set forth
(leaving Agnes of Kingoldrum looking very uncomfort-
able), he was surprised to see that Stroke was carrying
288 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

nothing. Sir Joseph carried in his hand his red hanky,
mysteriously knotted.

“Where is yours ?” he whispered.

“What meanest thou ?”

Sir Joseph replied, “Oh, nothing,” and thought it
best to slip his handkerchief into lis trouser-pocket, -
but the affair bothered him for long afterwards.

When they returned. through the Den, there still
seemed (to the unpiercing eye) to be but two of them;
nevertheless, Stroke re-entered the Lair to announce to
Agnes and the others that he had left Gavinia below in
charge of Sir Joseph. She was to walk the plank anon,
but first she must be stripped that Agnes might don her
garments. Stroke was every inch a prince, so he kept
Agnes by his side, and sent down the Lady Griselda
and Widow Elspeth to strip the prisoner, Sir Joseph
having orders to stand back fifty paces. (It is a
pleasure to have to record this.)

The signal having been given that this delicate task
was accomplished, Stroke whistled shrilly, and next
moment was heard from far below-a thud, as of a body
falling in water, then an agonizing shriek, and then
again all was still, save for the heavy breathing of
Agnes of Kingoldrum.

Sir Joseph (very wet) returned to the Lair, and Agnes
was commanded to take off her clothes in a retired spot
and put on those of the deceased, which she should find
behind a fallen tree.
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 289

“T winna be called the deceased,” cried Agnes hotly,
but she had to do as she was bid, and when she emerged
from behind the tree she was the very image of the ill-
fated Gavinia. Stroke showed her a plan of Miss Ailie’s
backdoor, and also gave her a kitchen key (when he
produced this, she felt in her pockets and then snatched
it from him), after which she set out for the Dovecot
in a scare about her own identity.

“And now, what doest thou think about it a’ ?”
inquired Sir Joseph eagerly, to which Stroke made
answer, looking at him fixedly.

“The wind is in the west!”

Sir Joseph should have kept this a secret, but soon
Stroke heard Inverquharity prating of it, and he called
his lieutenant before him. Sir Joseph acknowledged
humbly that he had been unable to hide it from Inver-
quharity, but he promised -not to tell Muckle Kenny,
of whose loyalty there were doubts. Henceforth, when
the faithful fellow was Muckle Kenny, he would say
doggedly to himself, ‘‘Dinna question me, Kenny. I
ken nocht about it.”

Dark indeed were now the fortunes of the Pretender,
but they had one bright spot. Miss Ailie had been
taken in completely by the trick played on her, and
thus Stroke now got full information of the enemy’s
doings. Cathro having failed to dislodge the Jacobites,
the seat of war had been changed by Victoria to the
Dovecot, whither her despatches were now forwarded.

19
. 290 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

That this last one, of which Agnes of Kingoldrum tried
in vain to obtain possession, doubled the price on the
Pretender’s head, there could be no doubt; but as Miss
Ailie was a notorious Hanoverian, only the hunted
prince himself knew why this should make her cry.

He hinted with a snigger something about an affair
he had once had with the lady.

The Widow and Sir Joseph accepted this explana-
tion, but it made Lady Griselda rock her arms in
irritation.

The reports about Miss Ailie’s behavior became more
and more alarming. She walked up and down her bed-
room now in the middle of the night. Every time the
knocker clanked she held herself together with both
hands. Agnes had orders not to answer the door until
her mistress had keeked through the window.

“She’s expecting a veesitor, methinks,” said Corp.
This was his bright day.

“Ay,” answered Agnes, “but is’t a man-body, or just
a woman-body ?”

Leaving the rebels in the Lair stunned by Victoria’s
latest move, we now return to Thrums, where Miss
Ailie’s excited state had indeed been the talk of many.
Even the gossips, however, had underestimated her
distress of mind, almost as much as they misunderstood
its cause. You must listen now (will you ?) to so mild
a thing as the long thin romance of two maiden ladies

and a stout bachelor, all beginning to be old the day
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 291

the three of them first drank tea together, and that was
ten years ago.

Miss Ailie and Miss Kitty, you may remember, were
not natives of Thrums. They had been born and
brought up at Redlintie, and on the death of their
parents they had remained there, the gauger having
left them all his money, which was just sufficient to
enable them to live like ladies, if they took tiny
Magenta Cottage, and preferred an inexperienced maid.
At first their life was very quiet, the walk from eleven
to one for the good of fragile Miss Kitty’s health its
outstanding feature. When they strolled together on
the cliffs, Miss Ailie’s short thick figure, straight as an
elvint, cut the wind in two, but Miss Kitty was swayed
this way and that, and when she shook her curls at the
wind, it blew them roguishly in her face, and had
another shot at them, as soon as they were put to
rights. If the two walked by the shore (where the
younger sometimes bathed her feet, the elder keeping
a sharp eye on land and water), the sea behaved like
the wind, dodging Miss Ailie’s ankles and snapping
playfully at Miss Kitty’s. Thus even the elements
could distinguish between the sisters, who neverthe-
less had so much in common that at times Miss Ailie
would look into her mirror and sigh to think that some
day Miss Kitty might be like this. How Miss Ailie
adored Miss Kitty! She trembled with pleasure if you
said Miss Kitty was pretty, and she dreamed dreams
292 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

in which she herself walked as bridesmaid only. And
just as Miss Ailie could be romantic, Miss Kitty, the
romantic, could be prim, and the primness was her own
as much as the curls, but Miss Aile usually carried it
for her, like a cloak in case of rain.

Not often have two sweeter women grown together on
one stem. What were the men of Redlintie about ?
The sisters never asked each other this question, but
there were times when, apparently without cause, Miss
Ailie hugged Miss Kitty vehemently, as if challenging
the world, and perhaps Miss Kitty understood.

Thus a year or more passed uneventfully, until the
one romance of their lives befell them. It began with
the reappearance in Redlintie of Magerful Tam, who
had come to torment his father into giving him more
money, but, finding he had come too late, did not harass
the sisters. This is perhaps the best thing that can be
told of him, and, as if he knew this, he had often told
it himself to Jean Myles, without however telling her
what followed. For something to his advantage did
follow, and it was greatly to the credit of Miss Ailie’
and Miss Kitty, though they went about it as timidly
as if they were participating in a crime. Ever since
they learned of the sin which had brought this man
into the world their lives had been saddened, for on the
same day they realized what a secret sorrow had long
lain at their mother’s heart. Alison Sibbald was a

very simple gracious lady, who never recovered from
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 293

the shock of discovering that she had married a liber-
tine; yet she had pressed her husband to do something
for his son, and been greatly pained when he refused-
with a coarse laugh. ‘I'he daughters were very like her
in nature, and though the knowledge of what she had
suffered increased many fold their love for her, so that
in her last days their passionate devotion to her was
the talk of Redlintie, it did not blind them to what
seemed to them to be their duty to the man. As their
father’s son, they held, he had a right to a third of the
gauger’s money, and to withhold it from him, now that
they knew his whereabouts, would have been a form of
theft. But how to give T. his third? They called
him T. from delicacy, and they had never spoken to
him. When he passed them in the streets, they turned
pale, and, thinking of their mother, looked another
way. But they knew he winked.

At last, looking red in one street, and white in
another, but resolute in all, they took their business to
the office of Mr. John McLean, the writer, who had
once escorted Miss Kitty home from a party without
anything coming of it, so that it was quite a psycho-
logical novel in several volumes. Now Mr. John hap-
pened to be away at the fishing, and a reckless maid
showed them into the presence of a strange man, who
was no other than his brother Ivie, home for a year’s
holiday from India, and naturally this extraordinary
occurrence so agitated them that Miss Ailie had told
294 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

half her story before she realized that Miss Kitty was
titting at her dress. Then indeed she sought to with-
draw, but Ivie, with the alarming yet not unpleasing
audacity of his sex, said he had heard enough to con-
vince him that in this matter he was qualified to take
his brother’s place. But he was not, for he announced,
“My advice to you is not to give T. a halfpenny,” which
showed that he did not even understand what they had
come about.

They begged permission to talk to each other behind
the door, and presently returned, troubled but brave.
Miss Kitty whispered “Courage!” and this helped
Miss Ailie to the deed.

“We have quite made up our minds to let T. have
the money,” she said, “but — but the difficulty is the
taking it to him. Must we take it in person?”

“Why not?” asked Ivie, bewildered.

“It would be such a painful meeting to us.” said
Miss Ailie.

“ And to him,” added simple Miss Kitty.

“You see we have thought it best not to — not to
know him,” said Miss Ailie, faintly.

“Mother ” faltered Miss Kitty, and at the word
the eyes of both ladies began to fill.

Then, of course, Mr. McLean discovered the object. of



their visit, and promised that his brother should take
this delicate task off their hands, and as he bowed
them out he said, “ Ladies, I think you are doing a very
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 295
1

foolish thing, and I shall respect you for it all my
life.” At least Miss Kitty insisted that respect was
the word, Miss Ailie thought he said esteem.

That was how it began, and it progressed for nearly
ayear atarate that will take away your breath. On
the very next day he met Miss Kitty in High Street, a
most awkward encounter for her (“for, you know,
Ailie, we were never introduced, so how could I decide
all in a moment what to do ?”), and he raised his hat
(the Misses Croall were at their window and saw the
whole thing). But we must gallop, like the friendship.
He bowed the first two times, the third time he shook
hands (by a sort of providence Miss Kitty had put on
her new mittens), the fourth, fifth, and sixth times he
conversed, the seventh time he — they replied that they
really could not trouble him so much, but he said he
was going that way at any rate; the eighth time, ninth
time, and tenth time the figures of two ladies and a
gentleman might have been observed, etc., and either
the eleventh or twelfth time (“Fancy our not being
sure, Ailie” — “It has all come so quickly, Kitty”) he
took his first dish of tea at Magenta Cottage.

There were many more walks after this, often along
the cliffs to a little fishing village, over which the
greatest of magicians once stretched his wand, so that
it became famous forever, as all the world saw except
himself; and tea at the cottage followed, when Ivie
asked Miss Kitty to sing “The Land o’ the Leal,” and


296 | SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Miss-Ailie sat by the window, taking in her merino,
that it might fit Miss Kitty, cutting her sable muff
(once Alison Sibbald’s) into wristbands for Miss Kitty’s
astrakhan; they did not go quite all the way round, but
men are blind.

Ivie was not altogether blind. The sisters, it is to
be feared, called him the dashing McLean, but he was
at this time nearly forty years old, an age when
bachelors like to take a long rest from thinking of
‘matrimony, before beginning again. Fifteen years
earlier he had been in love, but the girl had not cared
to wait for him, and, though in India he had often
pictured himself returning to Redlintie to gaze wist-
fully at her old home, when he did come back he never
went, because the house was a little out of the way.
But unknown to him two ladies went, to whom he had
told this as a rather dreary joke. They were ladies he
esteemed very much, though having a sense of humor
he sometimes chuckled on his way home from Magenta
Cottage, and he thought out many ways of adding little
pleasures to their lives. It was like him to ask Miss
Kitty to sing and play, though he disliked music. He
understood that it is a hard world for single women,
and knew himself for a very ordinary sort of man. If
it ever crossed his head that Miss Kitty would be
willing to marry him, he felt genuinely sorry at the
same time that she had not done better longago. He
never flattered himself that he could be accepted now,
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 297

save for the good home he could provide (he was not
the man to blame women for being influenced by that),
for like most of his sex he was unaware that a woman
is never too old to love or to be loved; if they do know
it, the mean ones among them make a jest of it, at which
(God knows why) their wives laugh. Mr. McLean had
been acquainted with the sisters for months before he
was sure even that Miss Kitty was his favorite. He
found that out one evening when sitting with an old
friend, whose wife and children were in the room,
gathered round a lamp and playing at some child’s
game. Suddenly Ivie McLean envied his friend, and
at the same moment he thought tenderly of Miss Kitty.
But the feeling passed. He experienced it next and as
suddenly when arriving at Bombay, where some women
were waiting to greet their husbands.

Before he went away the two gentlewomen knew that
he was not to speak. They did not tell each other
what was in their minds. Miss Kitty was so bright
during those last days, that she must have deceived
anyone who did not love her, and Miss Ailie held her
mouth very tight, and if possible was straighter than
ever, but oh, how gentle she was with Miss Kitty!
Ivie’s last two weeks in the old country were spent in
London, and during that time Miss Kitty liked to go
away by herself, and sit on a rock and gaze at the sea.
Once Miss Ailie followed her and would have called

him a




298 . SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Don’t, Ailie!” said Miss Kitty, imploringly. But
that night, when Miss Kitty was brushing her hair,
she said, courageously, “Ailie, 1 don’t think I should
wear curls any longer. You know I—I shall be
thirty-seven in August.” And after the elder sister
had become calm again, Miss Kitty said timidly,
“You don’t think I have been unladylike, do you,
Ailie ?”

Such a trifle now remains to tell. Miss Kitty was
the better business woman of the two, and kept the
accounts, and understood, as Miss Ailie could not
understand, how their little income was invested, and
even knew what consols were, though never quite
certain whether it was their fall or rise that is matter
for congratulation. And after the ship had sailed, she
told Miss Ailie that nearly all their money was lost,
and that she had known it for a month.

* And you kept it from me! Why ?”

“T thought, Ailie, that you, knowing I am not strong
— that you — would perhaps tell him.”

“And I would!” cried Miss Ailie.

“And then,” said Miss Kitty, “perhaps he, out of
pity, you know!”

“Well, even if he had!” said Miss Ailie.

“J gould not, oh, I could not,” replied Miss Kitty,
flushing; “it— it would not have been ladylike,
Ailie.” ;

Thus forced to support themselves, the sisters decided
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 299

to keep school genteelly, and, hearing that there was an
opening in Thrums, they settled there, and Miss Kitty
brushed her hair out now, and with a twist and a twirl
ran it up her fingers into a net, whence by noon some
of it had escaped through the little windows and was
curls again. She and Miss Ailie were happy in Thrums,
for time took the pain out of the affair of Mr. McLean,
until it became not merely a romantic memory, but,
with the letters he wrote to Miss Kitty and her answers,
the great quiet pleasure of their lives. They were
friendly letters only, but Miss Kitty wrote hers out in
pencil first and read them to Miss Ailie, who had been
taking notes for them.

In the last weeks of Miss Kitty’s life Miss Ailie
conceived a passionate unspoken hatred of Mr. McLean,
and her intention was to write and tell him that he had
killed her darling. But owing to the illness into which
she was flung by Miss Kitty’s death, that unjust letter
was never written.

But why did Mr. McLean continue to write to Miss
Kitty ?

Well, have pity or be merciless as you choose. For
several years Mr. McLean’s letters kad been the one
thing the sisters looked forward to, and now, when
Miss Ailie was without Miss Kitty, must she lose
them also? She never doubted, though she may have
been wrong, that, if Ivie knew of Miss Kitty’s death,
one letter would come in answer, and that the last.
300 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

She could not tell him. In the meantime he wrote
twice asking the reason of this long silence, and at
last Miss Ailie, whose handwriting was very like
her sister’s, wrote him a letter which was posted at
Tilliedrum and signed “Katherine Cray.” The thing
seems monstrous, but this gentle lady did it, and it
was never so difficult to do again. Latterly, it had been
easy.

This last letter of Mr. McLean’s announced to Miss
Kitty that he was about to start for home “for good,”
and he spoke in it of coming to Thrums to see the
sisters, aS soon as he reached Redlintie. Poor Miss
Ailie! After sleepless nights she trudged to -the
Tilliedrum post-office with a full confession of her
crime, which would be her welcome home to him when
he arrived at his brother’s house. Many of the words
were written on damp blobs. After that she could do
nothing but wait for the storm, and waiting she became
so meek, that Gavinia, who loved her because she was
“that simple,” said sorrowfully:

“How is ’t you never rage at me now, ma’am? J’m
sure it keepit you lghtsome, and I likit to hear the
bum 0’t.”

“And instead o’ the raging I was prigging for,” the
soft-hearted maid told her friends, “she gave me a
flannel petticoat!” Indeed, Miss Ailie had taken to
giving away her possessions at this time, like a woman ~
who thought she was on her death-bed. There was
TWO OLD MAIDS AND A BACHELOR 301

something for each of her pupils, including — but the
important thing is that there was a gift for Tommy,
which had the effect of planting the Hanoverian Woman
(to whom he must have given many uneasy moments)
more securely on the British Throne.
CHAPTER XXV
A PENNY PASS-BOOK

ExsretnH conveyed the gift to Tommy in a brown
paper wrapping, and when it lay revealed as an aging
volume of Mamma’s Boy, a magazine for the Home,
nothing could have looked more harmless. But, ah,
you never know. Hungrily Tommy ran his eye through
the bill of fare for something choice to begin with,
and he found it. “The Boy Pirate” it was called.
Never could have been fairer promise, and down he
sat confidently.

It was a paper on the boys who have been undone
by reading pernicious fiction. It gave their names, and
the number of pistols they had bought, and what the
judge said when he pronounced sentence. It counted
the sensational tales found beneath the bed, and de-
scribed the desolation of the mothers and sisters. It told
the color of the father’s hair before and afterwards.

Tommy flung the thing from him, picked it up again,
and read on uneasily, and when at last he rose he was
shrinking from himself. In hopes that he might sleep
it off he went early to bed, but his contrition was still
with him in the morning. Then Elspeth was shown the
A PENNY PASS-BOOK 808

article which had saved him, and she, too, shuddered at
what she had been, though her remorse was but a poor
display beside his, he was so much better at everything
than Elspeth. ‘Tommy’s distress of mind was so genuine
and so keen that it had several hours’ start of his admi-
ration of it; and it was still sincere, though he himself
had become gloomy, when he told his followers that
they were no more. Grizel heard his tale with disdain.
and said she hated Miss Ailie for giving him the silly
book, but he reproved these unchristian sentiments,
while admitting that Miss Ailie had played on him a
scurvy trick,

“But you’re glad you ’ve repented, Tommy,” Elspeth
reminded him, anxiously.

“Ay, I’m glad,” he answered, without heartiness.

“Well, gin you repent I’ll repent too,” said Corp,
always ready to accept Tommy without question.

“Youll be happier,” replied Tommy, sourly.

“Ay, to be good’s the great thing,” Corp growled ;
“but, Tommy, could we no have just one michty blatter,
methinks, to end up wi’? ”

This, of course, could not be, and Saturday forenoon
found Tommy wandering the streets listlessly, very
happy, you know, but inclined to kick at any one who
came near, such, for instance, as the stranger who asked
him in the square if he could point out the abode of
Miss Ailie Cray.

Tommy led the way, casting some converted looks at
804 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

the gentleman, and judging him to be the mysterious
unknown in whom the late Captain Stroke had taken
such a reprehensible interest. He was a stout, red-faced
man, stepping firmly into the fifties, with a beard that
even the most converted must envy, and a frown sat on
his brows all the way, proving him possibly ill-tempered,
but also one of the notable few who can think hard
about one thing for at least five consecutive minutes,
Many took a glint at him as he passed, but missed the
frown, they were wondering so much why the fur of his
heavy top-coat was on the inside, where it made little
show, save at blasty. corners.

Miss Ailie was in her parlor, trying to give her mind
to a blue and white note-book, but when she saw who
was coming up the garden she dropped the little volume
and tottered to her bedroom. She was there when Ga-
vinia came up to announce that she had shown a gentle-
man into the blue-and-white room, who gave the name
of Ivie McLean. “Tell him —TI shall come down —
presently,” gasped Miss Ailie, and then Gavinia was
sure this was the man who was making her mistress
so unhappy.

“She ’s so easily flichtered now,” Gavinia told Tommy
in the kitchen, “that for fear o’ starting her I never
whistle at my work without telling her I’m to do’t, and
if I fall on the stair, my first thought is to jump up and

’

ery, ‘It was just me tum’ling” And now I believe this

brute ’1l be the death o’ her.”
A PENNY PASS-BOOK 305

But what can he do to her ?”

“T dinna ken, but she’s greeting sair, and yon can
hear how he’s rampaging up and down the blue-and-
white room. Listen to his thrawn feet! He’s raging
because she’s so long in coming down, and come she
daurna. Oh, the poor crittur!”

Now, Tommy was very fond of his old school-mistress,
and he began to be unhappy with Gavinia.

“She hasna a man-body in the world to take care 0’
her,” sobbed the girl.

“Has she no?” cried Tommy, fiercely, and under one
of the impulses that so easily mastered him he marched
into the blue-and-white room.

“Well, my young friend, and what may you want?”
asked Mr. McLean, impatiently.

Tommy sat down and folded his arms. “I’m going
to sit here and see what you do to Miss Ailie,” he said,
determinedly.

Mr. McLean said “Oh!” and then seemed favorably
impressed, for he added quietly: “She is a friend of
yours, is she? Well, I have no intention of hurting
her.”

“You had better no,” replied Tommy, stoutly.

“Did she send you here ?”

“No; I came mysel’.”

“To protect her ?”

There was the irony in it that so puts up a boy’s
dander. “Dinna think,” said Tommy, hotly, “that I’m

20
306 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

fleid at you, though I have no beard — at least, I hinna
it wi? me.”

At this unexpected conclusion a smile crossed Mr. Mc-
Lean’s face, but was gone in an instant. “I wish you
had laughed,” said Tommy, on the watch; “once a body
laughs he canna be angry no more,” which was pretty
good even for Tommy. It made Mr. McLean ask him
why he was so fond of Miss Ailie.

“T’m the only man-body she has,” he answered.

“Oh? But why are you her man-body?”

The boy could think of no better reason than this:
“Because — because she’s so sair in need o” ane.”
(There were moments when one liked Tommy.)

Mr. McLean turned to the window, and perhaps for-
got that he was not alone. “ Well, what are you think-
ing about so deeply?” he asked by and by.

“J was trying to think o’ something that would gar
you laugli,” answered Tommy, very earnestly, and was
surprised to see that he had nearly done it.

The blue and white note-book was lying on the floor
where Miss Ailie had dropped it. Often in Tommy’s
presence she had consulted this work, and certainly its
effect on her was the reverse of laughter; but once he
had seen Dr. McQueen pick it up and roar over every
page. With an inspiration Tommy handed the book
to Mr. McLean. “It made the doctor laugh,” he said
persuasively. _

“Go away,” said Ivie, impatiently ; “T am in no

mood for laughing.”
A PENNY PASS-BOOK 307

“1 tell you what,” answered Tommy, “I’ll go, if
you promise to look at it,” and to be rid of him the
man agreed. For the next quarter of an hour Tommy
and Gavinia were very near the door of the blue-and-
white room, Tommy whispering dejectedly, “I hear no
laughing,” and Gavinia replying, “But he has quieted
down.”

Mr. McLean had a right to be very angry, but God
only can say whether he had a right to be as angry as he
was. The book had been handed to him open, and he
was laying it down unread when a word underlined
caught his eye. It was his own name. Nothing in all
literature arrests our attention quite so much as that.
He sat down to the book. It was just about this time
that Miss Ailie went on her knees to pray.

It was only a penny pass-book. On its blue cover had
been pasted a slip of white paper, and on the paper was
written, in blue ink, “ Alison Cray,” with a date nearly
nine years old. The contents were in Miss Ailie’s prim
handwriting ; jottings for her own use begun about the
time when the sisters, trembling at their audacity, had
opened school, and consulted and added to fitfully ever
since. Hours must have been spent in erasing the blots
and other blemishes so carefully. The tiny volume was
not yet full, and between its two last written pages lay
a piece of blue blotting-paper neatly cut to the size of
the leaf.

Some of these notes were transcripts from books, some
308 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

contained the advice of friends, others were doubtless
the result of talks with Miss Kitty (from whom there
were signs that the work had been kept a secret), many
were Miss Ailie’s own. An entry of this kind was
frequent: “If you are uncertain of the answer to a
question in arithmetic, it is advisable to leave the room
on some pretext and work out the sum swiftly in the
passage.” Various pretexts were suggested, and this
one (which had an insufficient line through it) had been
inserted by Dr. McQueen on that day when Tommy saw
him chuckling, “You pretend that your nose is bleeding,
and putting your handkerchief to it, retire hastily, the
supposition being that you have gone to put the key of
the blue-and-white room down your back.” Evidently
these small deceptions troubled Miss Ailie, for she had
written, “Such subterfuge is, I hope, pardonable, the
object being the maintenance of scholastic discipline.”
On another page, where the arithmetic was again troub-
ling her, this appeared: “If Kitty were aware that the
squealing of the slate-pencils gave me such headaches,
she would insist on again taking the arithmetic class,
though it always makes her ill. Surely, then, I am
justified in saying that the sound does not distress me.”
To this the doctor had added, “You are a brick.”
There were two pages headed Never, which men-
tioned ten things that Miss Ailie must never do; among
them, “ ever Jet the big boys know you are afraid of
them. To awe them, stamp with the foot, speak in a
A PENNY PASS-BOOK 809

loud ferocious voice, and look them unflinchingly in the
face.”

“Punishments” was another heading, but she had
written it small, as if to prevent herself seeing it each
time she opened the book. Obviously her hope had
been to dispose of Punishment in a few lines, but it
would have none of that, and Mr. McLean found it
stalking from page to page. Miss Ailie favored the
cane in preference to tawse, which, “often flap round
your neck as you are about to bring them down.” Ex-
cept in desperate cases “it will probably be found suf-
ficient to order the offender to bring the cane to you.”
Then followed a note about rubbing the culprit’s hand
“ with sweet butter or dripping ” should you have struck
too hard.

Dispiriting item, that on resuming his seat the chas-
tised one is a hero to his fellows for the rest of the day.
Item, that,Master John J ames Rattray knows she hurts
her own hand more than his. Item, that John James
promised to be good throughout the session if she would
let him thrash the bad ones. Item, that Master T.
Sandys, himself under correction, explained to her (the
artistic instinct again) how to give the cane a waggle
when descending, which would, double its nip. Item,
that Elsie Dundas offered to receive Francie Crabb’s
punishment for two snaps. Item, that Master Gavin
Dishart, for what he considered the honor of his school,
though aware he was imperilling his soul, fought Hendry
310 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Dickie of Cathro’s for saying Miss Ailie could not draw
blood with one stroke.

The effect on Miss Aile of these mortifying discov-
eries could be read in the paragraph headed A MorueEr’s
Metuop, which was copied from a newspaper. Mrs.
E
at D——), and she subjected them frequently to cor-



, it seems, was the mother of four boys (residing

poral chastisement without permanent spiritual result.
Mrs. E——, by the advice of another lady, Mrs. K



(mother of six), then had recourse to the following inter-
esting experiment. Instead of punishing her children
physically when they misbehaved, she now in their pres-
ence wounded herself by striking her left hand severely
with a ruler held in the right. Soon their better natures
were touched, and the four implored her to desist, prom-
ising with tears never to offend again. From that hour
Mrs. E—— had litle trouble with her boys.

It was recorded in the blue and white book how Miss
Ailie gave this plan a fair trial, but her boys must have
been darker characters than Mrs. E——’s, for it merely
set them to watching each other, so that they might cry
out, “ Pandy yourself quick, Miss Ailie; Gavin Dishart’s
drawing the devil on his slate.” Nevertheless, when
Miss Ailie announced a return to more conventional
methods, Francie was put up (with threats) to say that
he suffered agonies of remorse every time she pandied
herself for him, but the thing had been organized in a
hurry and Francie was insufficiently primed, and on
A PENNY PASS-BOOK 811

cross-examination he let out that he thought remorse
was a swelling of the hands.

Miss Ailie was very humble-minded, and her entries
under Tur Tracurr Taveur were all admonitions for
herself. Thus she chided herself for cowardice because
“ Delicate private reasons have made me avoid all men-
tion of India in the geography classes. Kitty says quite
calmly that this is fair neither to our pupils nor to I



M——. The courage of Kitty in this matter is a con-
stant rebuke to me.” Except on a few occasions Mr.
McLean found that he was always referred to as I——
M—.

Quite early in the volume Miss Ailie knew that her
sister’s hold on life was loosening. “How bright the
world suddenly seems,” Mr. McLean read, “ when there
is the tiniest improvement in the health of an invalid
one loves.” Is it laughable that such a note as this is
appended to a recipe for beef-tea? “It is surely not
very wicked to pretend to Kitty that I keep some of it
for myself; she would not take it all if she knew I dined
on the beef it was made from.” Other entries showed
too plainly that Miss Ailie stinted herself of food to pro-
vide delicacies for Miss Kitty. No doubt her expenses
were alarming her when she wrote this: “An interest-
ing article in the Mentor says that nearly all of us eat
and drink too much. Were we to mortify our stomachs
we should be healthier animals and inore capable of sus-

tained thought. The word animal in this connection is
312 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

coarse, but the article is most impressive, and a crushing
reply to Dr. McQueen’s assertion that the editor drinks.
In the school-room I have frequently found my thoughts
of late wandering from classwork, and I hastily ascribed
it to sitting up during the night with Kitty or to my
habit of listening lest she should be calling for me.
Probably I had over-eaten, and I must mortify the
stomach. A glass of hot water with half a spoonful of
sugar in it is highly recommended as a light supper.”

“How long ago it may seem since yesterday!” Do
you need to be told on what dark day Miss Ailie discov-
ered that? “T used to pray that IT should be taken first,
but I was both impious and selfish, for how could fragile
Kitty have fought on alone ? ”

In time happiness again returned to Miss Ailie; of all
our friends it is the one most reluctant to leave us on
this side of the grave. It came at first disguised, in the
form of duties, old and new; and stealthily, when Miss
Ailie was not looking, it mixed with the small worries
and joys that had been events while Miss Kitty lived,
and these it converted once more into events, where
Miss Ailie found it lurking, and at first she would not
take it back to her heart, but it crept in without her
M
“They are all I have to look forward to,” she wrote in

knowing. And still there were I ’s letters.





self-defence. “J shall never write to I—— M— —
again,” was another entry, but Mr. McLean found on the

same page, “I have written to I M , but do not




A PENNY PASS-BOOK 3138

intend posting it,” and beneath that was, “God forgive
me, I have posted it.”

The troubles with arithmetic were becoming more
terrible. “Iam never really sure about the decimals,”
she wrote.

A Professor of Memory had appeared at the Muckley,
and Miss Ailie admits having given him half-a-crown
to explain his system to her. But when he was gone
she could not remember whether you multiplied every-
thing by ten before dividing by five and subtracting a
hundred, or began by dividing and doing something
underhand with the cube root. Then Mr. Dishart, who
had a microscope, wanted his boy to be taught science,
and several experiments were described at length in the
book, one of them dealing with a penny, H, and a
piston, X Y, and you do things to the piston “and then
the penny comes to the surface.” “But it never does,”
Miss Ailie wrote sorrowfully; perhaps she was glad
when Master Dishart was sent to another school.

“Though I teach the girls the pianoforte I find that
I cannot stretch my fingers as I used todo. Kitty used
to take the music, and I often remember this suddenly
when superintending a lesson. It is a pain to me that
so many wish to acquire ‘ The Land o’ the Leal,’ which
Kitty sang so often to I—— M—— at Magenta Cottage.

Even the French, of which Miss Ailie had once been
very proud, was slipping from her. “Kitty and I kept

M *s letters and





up our French by translating I




314. SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

comparing our versions, but now that this stimulus is
taken away I find that I am forgetting my French. Or
is it only that I am growing old? too old to keep
school?” This dread was beginning to haunt Miss
Ailie, and the pages between which the blotting-paper
lay revealed that she had written to the editor of the
Mentor asking up to what age he thought a needy
gentlewoman had a right to teach. The answer was
not given, but her comment on it told everything. “I
asked him to be severely truthful, so that I cannot
resent his reply. But if I take his advice, how am I
to live? And if I do not take it, I fear I am buta
stumbling-block in the way of true education.”

That is a summary of what Mr. McLean read in the
blue and white book; remember, you were warned not
to expect much. And Tommy and Gavinia listened,
and Tommy said, “I hear no laughing,” and Gavinia

answered, “But he has quieted down,”

and upstairs
Miss Ailie was on her knees. A time came when Mr.
McLean could find something to laugh at in that little
pass-book, but it was not then, not even when he
reached the end. He left something on the last page
instead. At least I think it must have been he: Miss
Ailie’s tears could not have been so long a-drying.

You may rise, now, Miss Ailie; your prayer is
granted.
CHAPTER XXVI

TOMMY REPENTS, AND IS NONE THE WORSE FOR IT

Mr. McLean wrote a few reassuring words to Miss
Ailie, and having told Gavinia to give the note to her
walked quietly out of the house; he was coming back
after he had visited Miss Kitty’s grave. Gavinia,
however, did not kncw this, and having delivered the
note she returned dolefully to the kitchen to say to
Tommy, “His letter maun have been as thraun as him-
sel’, for as soon as she read it. down she plumped on
her knees again.”

But Tommy was not in the kitchen; he was on the
garden-wall watching Miss Ailie’s persecutor.

“Would it no be easier to watch him frae the gate?”
suggested Gavinia, who had not the true detective
instinct. —

Tommy disregarded her womanlike question; a great
change had come over him since she went upstairs; his
head now wobbled on his shoulders like a little balloon
that wanted to cut its connection with earth and soar.

“What makes you look so queer ?” cried the startled
maid. “I thought you was converted.”








316 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“So I am,” he shouted, “I’m more converted than
ever, and yet I can do it just the same! Gavinia, I’ve
found a wy!”

He was hurrying off on Mr. McLean’s trail, but
turned to say, “Gavinia, do you ken wha that man
is ?”.

“Ower weel I ken,” she answered, “it’s Mr.
McLean.”

“McLean!” he echoed scornfully, “ay, I’ve heard
that’s one of the names he goes by, but hearken, and
I7il tell you wha he really is. That’s the scoundrel
Stroke!”

No wonder Gavinia was flabbergasted. “Wha are
you then ?” she cried.

“T’m the Champion of Dames,” he replied loftily,
and before she had recovered from this he was stalking
Mr. McLean in the cemetery.

Miss Kitty sleeps in a beautiful hollow called the
Basin, but the stone put up to her memory hardly
marks the spot now, for with a score of others it was
blown on its face by the wind that uprooted so many
trees in the Den, and as it fell it lies. From the Basin
to the rough road that clings like a belt to the round
cemetery dyke is little more than a jump, and shortly
after Miss Kitty’s grave had been pointed out to him,
Mr. McLean was seen standing there hat in hand by a
man on the road. This man was Dr. McQueen hobbling
home from the Forest Muir; he did not hobble as a


TOMMY CROUCHED BEHIND HAGGART’S STONE


TOMMY REPENTS 381T

tule, but hobble everyone must on that misshapen brae,
except Murdoch Gelatley, who, being short in one leg
elsewhere, is here the only straight man. McQueen’s
sharp eyes, however, picked out not only the stranger
but Tommy crouching behind Haggart’s stone, and him
did the doctor’s famous crook staff catch in the neck
and whisk across the dyke.

“What man is that you ’re watching, you mysterious
loon?” McQueen demanded, curiously; but of course
Tommy would not divulge so big a secret. Now the
one weakness of this large-hearted old bachelor (per-
haps it is a professional virtue) was a devouring inquisi-
tiveness, and he would be troubled until he discovered
who was the stranger standing in such obvious emotion
by the side of an old grave. “Well, you must come
back with me to the surgery, for I want you to run an
errand for me,” he said testily, hoping to pump the
boy by the way, but Tommy dived beneath his stick
and escaped. This rasped the doctor’s temper, which
was unfortunate for Grizel, whom he caught presently
peeping in at his surgery window. A dozen times of
late she had wondered whether she should ask him to
visit her mamma, and though the Painted Lady had
screamed in terror at the proposal, being afraid of
doctors, Grizel would have ventured ere now, had it not
been for her mistaken conviction that he was a hard
man, who would only flout her. It had once come to
her ears that he had said a woman like her mamma
318 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

could demoralize a whole town, with other harsh
remarks, doubtless exaggerated in the repetition, and
so he was the last man she dared think of going to for
help, when he should have been the first. Nevertheless
she had come now, and a soft word from him, such as
he gave most readily to all who were in distress, would
have drawn her pitiful tale from her, but he was ina
grumpy mood, and had heard none of the rumors about
her mother’s being ill, which indeed were only common
among the Monypenny children, and his first words
checked her confidences: ‘“ What are you hanging about
my open window for?” he cried sharply.

“Did you think I wanted to steal anything ?” replied
the indignant child.

. “T won’t say but what I had some such thait.”

She turned to leave him, but he hooked her with his
staff. “As you’re here,” he said, “will you go an
errand for me?”

“No,” she told him promptly; “T don’t like you.”

“There ’s no love lost between us,” he replied, “for
I think you’re the dourest lassie I ever clapped eyes
on, but there ’s no other litlin handy, so you must do as
you are bid, and take this bottle to Ballingall’s.”

“Tg it a medicine bottle?” she asked, with sudden
interest.

“Yes, it’s medicine. Do you know Ballingall’s
house in the West town end ?”

“Ballingall who has the little school ?”
TOMMY REPENTS 319

“The same, but I doubt he ’1l keep school no longer.”

“Ts he dying ?”

“T’m afraid there’s no doubt of it. Will you
go?”

“T should love to go,” she cried.

“Love!” he echoed, looking at her with displeasure.
“You can’t love to go, so talk no more nonsense, but
go, and Ill give you a bawbee.”

“I don’t want a bawbee,” she said. “Do you think
they will let me go in to see Ballingall ?”

The doctor frowned. “What makes you want to see
a dying man ?” he demanded.

“I should just love to see him!” she exclaimed, and
she added determinedly, “I won’t give up the bottle
until they let me in.”

He thought her an unpleasant, morbid girl, but “that
is no affair of mine,” he said shrugging his shoulders,
and he gave her the bottle to deliver. Before taking it
to Ballingall’s, however, she committed a little crime.
She bought an empty bottle at the ’Sosh, and poured
into it some of the contents of the medicine bottle,
which she then filled up with water. She dared try no
other way now of getting medicine for her mother, and
was too ignorant to know that there are different drugs
for different ailments.

Grizel not only contrived to get in to see Ballingall,
but stayed by his side for several hours, and when she
came out it was night-time. On her way home she saw


3820 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

a light moving in the Den, where she had expected to
play no more, and she could not prevent her legs from
running joyously toward it. So when Corp, rising out of
the darkness, deftly cut her throat, she was not so
angry as she should have been.

“T’m so glad we are to play again, after all, Corp,”
she said; but he replied grandly, “Thou little kennest
wha you ’re speaking to, my gentle jade.”

He gave acurious hitch to his breeches, but it only
puzzled her. “I wear gallowses no more,” he explained,
lifting his waistcoat to show that his braces now
encircled him as a belt, but even then she did not
understand. “Know, then,” said Corp, sternly, “I am
Ben the Boatswain.”

“And am I not the Lady Griselda any more?” she
asked.

“I’m no sure,” he confessed; “but if you are, there ’s
a price on your head.”

“What is Tommy ?”

“T dinna ken yet, but Gavinia says he telled her he’s
Champion of Damns. I kenna what Elspeth ’ll say to
that.”

Grizel was starting for the Lair, but he caught her
by the skirt.

“Ts he not at the Lair?” she inquired.

“We knowest it not,” he answered gravely. “We’re
looking for ’t,” he added with some awe; “we’ve been
looking for’t this three year.” Then, in a louder voice,
TOMMY REPENTS 821

“If you can guide us to it, my pretty trifle, you ’ll be
richly rewarded.”

“But where is he? Don’t you know ?”

“Fine I knowest, but it wouldna be mous to tell you,
for I kenna whether you be friend or foe. What’s that
you ’re carrying ?”

“Tt is a—a medicine bottle.”

“Gie me a sook!”

6“ No.”

“Just one,” begged Corp, “and I’ll tell you where
he is.”

He got his way, and smacked his lips unctuously.

“Now, where is Tommy ?”

“Put your face close to mine,” said Corp, and then
he whispered hoarsely, “He’s inaspleet new Lair,
writing out bills wi’ a’ his might, offering five hunder
crowns reward for Stroke’s head, dead or alive !”

The new haunt was a deserted house, that stood, very
damp, near a little waterfall to the east of the Den.
“Bits of it well planted in the marsh adhere doggedly
together to this day, but even then the roof was off and
the chimney lay in a heap on the ground, like blankets
that have slipped off a bed.

This was the good ship Ailie, lying at anchor,
man-of-war, thirty guns, a cart-wheel to steer it by,
T. Sandys, commander.

On the following Saturday, Ben the Boatswain piped
21


3822 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

all hands, and Mr. Sandys delivered a speech of the
bluff, straightforward kind that sailors love. Here,
unfortunately, it must be condensed. He reminded
them that three years had passed since their gracious
queen (cheers) sent them into these seas to hunt down
the Pretender (hisses). Their ship had been christened
the Ailie, because its object was to avenge the insults
offered by the Pretender to a lady of that name for
whom everyone of them would willingly die. Like all
his race the Pretender, or Stroke, as he called himself,
was a torment to single women; he had not only stolen
all this lady’s wealth, but now he wanted to make her
walk the plank, a way of getting rid of enemies the
mere mention of which set the blood of all honest men
boiling (cheers). As yet they had not succeeded in
finding. Stroke’s Lair, though they knew it to be in one
of the adjoining islands, but they had suffered many
privations, twice their gallant vessel had been burned
to the water’s edge, once she had been sunk, once
blown into the air, but had that dismayed them ?

Here the Boatswain sent round a whisper, and they
all cried loyally, “Ay, ay, sir.”

He had now news for them that would warm their
hearts like grog. He had not discovered the Lair, but
he had seen Stroke, he had spoken to him! Disguised
as a boy he had tracked the Jacobite and found him
skulking in the house of the unhappy Ailie. After
blustering for a little Stroke had gone on his knees and
TOMMY REPENTS 323

offered not only to cease persecuting this lady but to
return to France. Mr. Sandys had kicked him into a
standing posture and then left him. But this clemency
had been ill repaid. Stroke had not returned to France.
He was staying at the Quharity Arms, a Thrums inn,
where he called himself McLean. It had gone through
the town like wildfire that he had written to someone
in Redlintie to send him on another suit of clothes and
four dickies. No one suspected his real character, but
all noted that he went to the unhappy Ailie’s house
daily, and there was a town about it. Ailie was but
a woman, and women could not defend themselves
“(Boatswain, put Grizel in irons if she opens her
mouth) ,” and so the poor thing had been forced to
speak to him, and even to go walks with him. Her
life was in danger, and before now Mr. Sandys would
have taken him prisoner, but the queen had said these
words, “Noble Sandys, destroy the Lair,” and the best
way to discover this horrid spot was to follow Stroke
night and day until he went to it. Then they would
burn it to the ground, put him on board the Ailie, up
with the jib-boom sail, and away to the Tower of
London.

At the words “Tower of London,” Ben cried “Tumble
up there!” which was the signal for three such ringing
cheers as only British tars are capable of. Three? To
be exact only two and a half, for the third stopped in
the middle, as if the lid had suddenly been put on.


324 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

What so startled them was the unexpected appearance
in their midst of the very man Tommy had been talking
of. Taking a stroll through the Den, Mr. McLean had
been drawn toward the ruin by the first cheers, and had
arrived in time to learn who and what he really was.

“Stroke!” gasped one small voice.

The presumptuous man folded his arms. ‘So, San-
dys,” he said, in hollow tones, “we meet again!”

Even Grizel got behind Tommy, and perhaps it was
this that gave him spunk to say tremulously, “ Wh-what
are you doing her ?”

“T have come,” replied the ruddy Pretender, “to
defy you, ay, proud Sandys, to challenge thee to the
deed thou pratest of. I go from here to my Lair.
Follow me, if thou darest!”

He brought his hand down with a bang upon the
barrel, laughed disdainfully, and springing over the
vessel’s side was at once lost in the darkness. Instead
of following, all stood transfixed, gazing at the barrel,
on which lay five shillings.

“He put them there when he slammed it!”

“Tosh behears! there’s a shilling to ilka ane o’ us,”

“T winna touch the siller,” said Sandys, moodily.

“What?” cried Gavinia.

“T tell you it’s a bribe.”

“Do you hear hin?” screamed Gavinia. “He says
we’re no to lay hands on’t! Corp, where’s your

tongue ?”
TOMMY REPENTS 325

But even in that trying moment Corp’s trust in
Tommy shone out beautiful and strong. “Dinna be
feared, Gavinia,” he whispered, “he’ll find a wy.”

“Lights out and follow Stroke!” was the order, and
the crew at once scattered in pursuit, Mr. Sandys
remaining behind a moment to—to put something in
his pocket.

Mr. McLean gave them a long chase, walking demurely
when lovers were in sight, but at other times doubling,
jumping, even standing on eminences and crowing
insultingly, like a cock, and not until he had only
breath left to chuckle did the stout man vanish from
the Den. Elspeth, now a cabin-boy, was so shaken by
the réalism of the night’s adventures that Gavinia (able
seaman) took her home, and when Mr. Sandys and his
Boatswain met at the Cuttle Well neither could tell
where Grizel was.

“She had no business to munt without my leave,”
Tommy said sulkily.

“No, she hadna. Is she the Lady Griselda yet ?”

“Not her, she’s the Commandevr’s wife.”

Ben shook his head, for this, he felt, was the one
thing Tommy could not do. “Well, then,” growled
Tommy, “if she winna be that, she’ll have to serve
before the mast, for I tell you plain 1711 have no single
women on board.”

“And what am I, forby Ben the Boatswain ?”

“Nothing. Honest men has just one name.”
3826 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“What! I’m just one single man?” Corp was a
little crestfallen. “It’s a come down,” he said, with
asigh, “mind, I dinna grumble, but it’s a come down.”

“And you dinna have ‘ Methinks’ now either,”
Tommy announced pitilessly.

Corp had dreaded this. “I’ll be gey an’ lonely
without it,” he said, with some dignity, “and it was
the usefulest swear I kent 0’. ‘Methinks!’ I used to
roar at Mason Malcolm’s collie, and the crittur came in
ahint in a swite o’ fear. Losh, Tommy, is that you
blooding ?”

There was indeed an ugly gash on Tommy’s hand.
“You ’ve been hacking at yoursel’ again,” said the dis-
tressed Corp, who knew that in his enthusiasm Tommy
had more than once drawn blood from himself. ‘“ When
you take it a’ so real as that,” he said, uncomfortably
“T near think we should give it up.”

Tommy stamped his foot. “Take tent 0’ yoursel’!”
he cried threateningly. ‘“ When I was tracking Stroke
I fell in with one of his men, and we hadatussle. He
pinked me in the hand, but ’tis only a scratch, bah!
He was carrying treasure, and I took it from him.”

Ben whistled. “Five shillings?” he asked, slapping
his knee.

“How did you know?” demanded Tommy, frown-
ing, and then they tried to stare each other down.

“T thought I saw you pouching it,” Corp ventured
to say.
TOMMY REPENTS 327

“Boatswain! ”

“T mean,” explained Corp hurriedly, “I mean that
I kent you would find a wy. Didest thou kill the
Jacobite rebel ?”

“He lies but a few paces off,” replied Tommy, “and
already the vultures are picking his bones.”

“So perish all Victoria’s enemies,” said Ben the
Boatswain, loyally, but a sudden fear made him add,
with a complete change of voice, “You dinna chance to
ken his name ?” ~

“Ay, I had marked him before,” answered Tommy,
“he was called Corp of Corp.”

Ben the Boatswain rose, sat down, rose again.
“Tommy,” he said, wiping his brow with his sleeve,
“come awa’ hame!” :
CHAPTER XXVII

THE LONGER CATECHISM

In the meantime Mr. McLean was walking slowly to
the Quharity Arms, fanning his face with his hat, and
in the West town end he came upon some boys who had
gathered with offensive cries round a girl in a lustre
jacket. A wave of his stick put them to flight, but the
girl only’thanked him with a look, and entered a little
house the window of which showed a brighter light
than its neighbors. Dr. McQueen came out of this
house a moment afterwards, and as the two men now
knew each other slightly, they walked home together,
McLean relating humorously how he had spent the
evening. “And though Commander Sandys means to
incarcerate me in the Tower of London,” he said, “he
did me a good service the other day, and I feel an
interest in him.”

“What did the inventive sacket do?” the doctor
asked inquisitively; but McLean, who had referred to
the incident of the pass-book, affected not to hear.
“Miss Ailie has told me his history,” he said, “and
that he goes to the University next year.”

“Or to the herding,” put in McQueen, dryly.
THE LONGER CATECHISM 329

“Yes, I heard that was the alternative, but he should
easily carry a bursary; he is a remarkable boy.”

“Ay, but I’m no sure that it’s the remarkable boys
who carry the bursaries. However, if you have taken a
fancy to him you should hear what Mr. Cathro has to
say on the subject; for my own part I have been more
taken up with one of his band lately than with himself
— a lassie, too.”

“She who went into that house just before you came
out ?”

“The same, and she is the most puzzling bit of
womankind I ever fell in with.”

“She looked an ordinary girl enough,” said Mr.
McLean.

The doctor chuckled. “Man,” he said, “in my time
I have met all kinds of women except ordinary ones.
What would you think if I told you that this ordinary
girl had been spending three or four hours daily in that
house entirely because there was a man dying in it ?”

“Some one she had an affection for ?”

“My certie, no! I’m afraid it is long since anybody
had an affection for shilpit, hirpling, old Ballingall,
and as for this lassie Grizel, she had never spoken to
him until I sent her on an errand to his house a week
ago. He was a single man (like you and me), without
womenfolk, a schoolmaster of his own making, and in
the smallest way, and his one attraction to her was that
he was on his death-bed. Most lassies of her age skirl
330 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY.

to get away from the presence of death, but she prigged,
sir, fairly prigged, to get into it!”

“Ah, I prefer less uncommon girls,” McLean said.
“They should not have let her have her wish; it can
only do her harm.”

“That is another curious thing,” replied the doctor.
“Tt does not seem to have done her harm; rather it
has turned her from being a dour, silent crittur into a
talkative one, and that, I take it, is a sign of grace.”

He sighed, and added: “Not that I can get her to
talk of herself and her mother. (There is a mystery
about them, you understand.) No, the obstinate brat
will tell me nothing on that subject; instead of answer-
ing my questions she asks questions of me — an endless
rush of questions, and all about Ballingall. How did
I know he was dying ? When you put your fingers on
their wrist, what is it you count? which is the place
where the lungs are ? when you tap their chest what do
you listen for? are they not dying as long as they can
rise now and then, and dress and go out? when they
are really dying do they always know it themselves ?
If they don’t know it, is that a sign that they are not
so ill as you think them ? ‘When they don’t know they
are dying, is it best to keep it from them in case they
should scream with terror? and so on in a spate of
questions, till I called her the Longer Catechism.”

“And only morbid curiosity prompted her ?”

“Nothing else,” said the confident doctor; “if there
THE LONGER CATECHISM 331

had been anything else I should have found it out, you
may be sure. However, unhealthily minded though she
be, the women who took their turn at Ballingall’s
bedside were glad of her help.”

“The more shame to them,” McLean remarked
warmly; but the doctor would let no one, save himself,
miscall the women of Thrums,

“Ca’ canny,” he retorted. “The women of this
place are as overdriven as the men, from the day they
have the strength to turn a pirn-wheel to the day they
crawl over their bed-board for the last time, but never
yet liave I said, ‘I need one of you to sit up all night
wi’ an unweel body,’ but what there were half a dozen
willing to do it. hey are a grand race, sir, and will
remain so till they find it out themselves.”

“But of what use could a girl of twelve or fourteen
be to them ?”

“Use!” McQueen cried. “Man, she has been simply
a treasure, and but for one thing I would believe it was
less a morbid mind than a sort of divine instinct for
nursing that took her to Ballingall’s bedside. The
women do their best in a rough and ready way; but,
sir, it cowed to see that lassie easying a pillow for
Ballingall’s head, or changing a sheet without letting
.in the air, or getting a poultice on his back without
disturbing the one on his chest. I had just to let her
see how to do these things once, and after that Ballingall
complained if any other soul touched him.”
332 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Ah,” said McLean, “then perhaps I was unchari-
table, and the nurse’s instinct is the true explanation.”

“No, you ’re wrong again, though T might have been
taken in as well as you but for the one thing I spoke
of. Three days ago Ballingall had a ghost of a chance
of pulling through, I thought, and I told the lassie that
if he did, the credit would be mainly hers. Youll
scarcely believe it, but, upon my word, she looked dis-
appointed rather than pleased, and she said to me,
quite reproachfully, ‘ You told me he was sure to die!’
What do you make of that ?”

“Té sounds unnatural.”

“It does, and so does what followed. Do you know
what straiking is ?”

“Arraying the corpse for the coffin, laying it out, in
short, is it not ?”

“Ay, ay. Well, it appears that Grizel had prigged
with the women to let her be present at Ballingall’s
straiking, and they had refused.”

“I should think so,” exclaimed McQueen, with a
shudder.

“But that’s not all. She came to me in her diffi-
cuity, and said that if I didna promise her this privilege
she would nurse Ballingall no more.”

“Ugh! That shows at least that pity for him had
not influenced her.”

“No, she cared not a doit for him. I question if
she’s the kind that could care for anyone. It’s plain
THE LONGER CATECHISM 833

by her thrawn look when you speak to her about her
mother that she has no affection even for her. How-
ever, there she was, prepared to leave Ballingall to his
fate if I did not grant her request, and I had to yield
to her.”

“You promised ?”

“T did, sore against the grain, but I accept the
responsibility. You are pained, but you don’t know
what a good nurse means to a doctor.”

“Well ?”

“Well, he died after all, and the straiking is going
on now. You saw her go in.”

“T think you could have been excused for breaking
your word and turning her out.”

“To tell the truth,” said the doctor, ‘‘I had the same
idea when I saw her enter, and I tried to shoo her to
the door, but she cried, ‘ You promised, you can’t break
a promise!’ and the morbid brat that she is looked so
horrified at the very notion of anybody’s breaking a
promise that I slunk away as if she had right on her
side.”

” was

“No wonder the little monster is unpopular,
McLean’s comment. “The children hereabout seem to
take to her as little as I do, for I had to drive away
some who were molesting her. I am sorry I interfered
now.”

“T can tell you why they t’nead her,” replied the

doctor, and he repeated the little that was known in
884 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Thrums of the Painted Lady. “And you see the
womenfolk are mad because they can find out so little
about her, where she got her money, for instance, and
who are the ‘ gentlemen’ that are said to visit her at
Double Dykes. hey have tried many ways of drawing
Grizel, from heckle biscuits aud parlies to a slap in the
face, but neither by coaxing nor squeezing will you get
an egg out of a sweer hen, and so they found. ‘ The
dour little limmer,’ they say, ‘ stalking about wi’ all
her blinds down,’ and they are slow to interfere when
their laddies call her names. It’s a pity for herself
that she’s not more communicative, for if she would
just satisfy the women’s curiosity she would find them
full of kindness. A terrible thing, Mr. McLean, is curi-
osity. The Bible says that the love of money is the
root of all evil, but we must ask Mr. Dishart if love
of money is not a misprint for curiosity. And you
won’t find men boring their way into other folk’s con-
cerns; it is a woman’s failing, essentially a woman’s.”
This was the doctor’s pet topic, and he pursued it until
they had to part. He had opened his door and was
about to enter when he saw Gavinia passing on her way
home from the Den.

“Come here, my lass,” he called to her, and then
said inquisitively, “I’m told Mr. McLean is at his tea
with Miss Ailie every day ?”

“And. it’s true,” replied Gavinia, in huge delight,
“and what ’s more, she has given him some presents.”
THE LONGER CATECHISM 335

“You say so, lassie! What were they now ?”

“TI dinna ken,” Gavinia had to admit, dejectedly.
“She took them out o’ the ottoman, and it has aye been
kept locked.”

McQueen looked very knowingly at her. “Will he,
think you?” he asked mysteriously.

The maid seemed to understand, for she replied,
promptly, “I hope he will.”

“But he hasna spiered her as yet, you think ?”

“No,” she said, “no, but he calls her Ailie, and wi’
the gentry it ’s but one loup frae that to spiering.”

“Maybe,” answered the doctor, “but it’s a loup
they often bogle at. I’se uphaud he’s close on fifty,
Gavinia ?”

“There ’s no denying he is by his best,” she said
regretfully, and then added, with spirit, “but Miss
Ailie’s no heavy, and in thae grite arms o’ his he could
daidle her as if she were an infant.”

This bewildered McQueen, and he asked, “ What are
you blethering about, Gavinia ?” to which she replied,
regally, “Wha carries me, wears me!” The doctor
concluded that it must be Den language.

“And I hope he’s good enough for her,” continued
Miss Ailie’s warm-hearted maid, “for she deserves a
good ane.”

“She does,” McQueen agreed heartily; “ay, and I
believe he is, for he breathes through his riose instead
of through his mouth; and let me tell you, Gavinia,
336 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

that’s the one thing to be sure of ina man before you
take him for better or worse.”

The astounded maid replied, “I’ll ken better things
than that about my lad afore I take him,” but the
doctor assured her that it was the box which held them
all, “though you maun tell no one, lassie, for it’s my
one discovery in five and thirty years of practice.”

Seeing that, despite his bantering tone, he was
speaking seriously, she pressed him for his meaning,
but he only replied sadly, “You’re like the rest,
Gavinia, I see it breaking out on you in spots.”

“ An illness!” she cried, in alarm.

“Ay, lassie, an illness called curiosity. I had just
been telling Mr. McLean that curiosity is essentially a
woman’s ailment, and up you come ahint to prove it.”
He shook-a finger at her reprovingly, and was probably
still reflecting on woman’s ways when Grizel walked
home at midnight breathing through her nose, and
Tommy fell asleep with his mouth open. For Tommy
could never have stood the doctor’s test of a man. In
the painting of him, aged twenty-four, which was
exhibited in the Royal Academy, his lips meet firmly,
but no one knew save himself how he gasped after each
sitting.
CHAPTER XXVIII
BUT It SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISS KITTY

Tue ottoman whence, as Gavinia said, Miss Ailie pro-
duced the presents she gave to Mr. McLean, stood near
the door of the blue-and-white room, with a reel of
thread between, to keep them apart forever. Except on
washing days it was of a genteel appearance, for though
but a wooden kist, it had a gay outer garment with frills,
which Gavinia starched, and beneath this was apparel of
a private character that tied with tapes. When Miss
Ailie, pins in her mouth, was on her knees arraying
the ottoman, it might almost have been mistaken for a
female child.

The contents of the ottoman were a few trivial articles
sewn or knitted by Miss Kitty during her last illness,
“just to keep me out of languor,” she would explain
wistfully to her sister. She never told Miss Ailie that
they were intended for any special person ; on the con-
trary, she said, “Perhaps you may find someone they
will be useful to,” but almost without her knowing it
they always grew into something that would be useful

to Ivie McLean.
ag
338 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“The remarkable thing is that they are an exact fit,”
the man said about the slippers, and Miss Ailie nodded,
but she did not think it remarkable.

There were also two fluffy little bags, and Miss Ailie
had to explain their use. “If you put your feet into
them in bed,” she faltered, “they —they keep you
warm.”

McLean turned hastily to something else, a smoking-
cap. “T scarcely think this can have been meant for
me,” he said; “you have forgotten how she used to
chide me for smoking.”

Miss Ailie had not forgotten. “But in a way,” she
replied, flushing a little, “we — that is, Kitty — could
not help admiring you for smoking. There is some-
thing so—so dashing about it.”

“ me, Ailie,” he told her humbly, and he was nearly say-
ing something to her then that he had made up his mind
to say. The time came a few days later. They had
been walking together on the hill, and on their return
to the Dovecot he had insisted, “in his old imperious
way,” on coming in to tea. Hearing talking in the
kitchen Miss Ailie went along the passage to discover
what company her maid kept; but before she reached
the door, which was ajar, she turned as if she had heard
something dreadful and hurried upstairs, signing to Mr.
McLean, with imploring eyes, to follow her. This at
once sent him to the kitchen door.


OVER HER HEAD WAS A LITTLE MUSLIN WINDOW-BLIND, REPRESENTING
A BRIDE’S VEIL
BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISS KITTY 839

Gavinia was alone. She was standing in the middle
of the floor, with one arm crooked as if making believe
that another’s arm rested on it, and over her head was
a little muslin window-blind, representing a bride’s veil.
Thus she was two persons, but she was also a third, who
addressed them in clerical tones.

“Tvie McLean,” she said as solemnly as tho’ she were
the Rev. Mr. Dishart, “do you take this woman to be
thy lawful wedded wife?” With almost indecent haste
she answered herself, “I do.”

“ Alison Cray,” she said next, “do you take this man
to be thy lawful wedded husband?” “T do.”

Just then the door shut softly; and Gavinia ran to
see who had been listening, with the result that she hid
herself in the coal-cellar.

While she was there, Miss Ailie and Mr. McLean
were sitting in the blue-and-white room very self-
conscious, and Miss Ailie was speaking confusedly of
anything and everything, saying more in five minutes
than had served for the previous hour, and always as
she slackened she read an intention in his face that
started her tongue upon another journey. But, “Timid
Ailie,” he said at last, “do you think you can talk me
down?” and then she gave him a look of reproach that
turned treacherously into one of appeal, but he had the
hardihood to continue; “ Ailie, do you need to be told
what I want to say?”

Miss Ailie stood quite still now, a stiff, thick figure,
340 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

with a soft, plain face and nervous hands. “Before you
speak,” she said, nervously, “I have something to tell
you that — perhaps then you will not say it.

“T have always led you to believe,” she began, trem-
bling, “that I am forty-nine. Iam fifty-one.”

He would have spoken, but the look of appeal came
back to her face, asking him to make it easier for her by
saying nothing. She took a pair of spectacles from her
pocket, and he divined what this meant before she spoke.
“T have avoided letting you see that I need them,” she
said. “ You-—men don’t like—” She tried to say it
all in a rush, but the words would not come.

“JT am beginning to be a little deaf,” she went on.
“To deceive you about that, I have sometimes answered
you without really knowing what you said.”

“ Anything more, Ailie ?”

“My accomplishments — they were never great, but
Kitty and I thought my playing of classical pieces — my
fingers are not sufficiently pliable now. And 1-—I for-
get so many things.”

“But, Ailie y

“Please let me tell you. I was reading a book, a
story, last winter, and one of the characters, an old maid,



was held up to ridicule in it for many little peculiarities

that — that I recognized as my own. They had grown

upon me without my knowing that they made me ridicu-

lous, and now I —J have tried, but I cannot alter them.”
“Ts that all, Ailie ? ”
BUT It SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISS KITTY 3841

it No.”

The last seemed to be the hardest to say. Dusk had
come on, and they could not see each other well. She
asked him to light the lamp, and his back was toward
her while he did it, wondering a little at her request.
When he turned, her hands rose like cowards to hide her
head, but she pulled them down. “Do you not see?”
she said.

“T see that you have done something to your hair,”
he answered, “TI liked it best the other way.”

Most people would have liked it best the other way.
There was still a good deal of it, but the “bun” in
which it ended had gone strangely small. ‘The rest
was false,” said Miss Ailie, with a painful effort; “at
least, it is my own, but it came out when — when Kitty
died.”

She stopped, but he was silent. “That is all now,”
she said, softly; and she waited for him to speak if he
chose. He turned his head away sharply, and Miss
Ailie mistook his meaning. If she gave one little sob —
Well, it was but one, and then all the glory of woman-
hood came rushing to her aid; and it unfurled its flag
over her, whispering, “Now, sweet daughter, now, strike
for me,” and she raised her head gallantly, and for a
moment in her life the old school-mistress was a queen.
“T shall ring for tea,” she said, quietly and without a
tremor; “do you think there is anything so refreshing
after a walk as a dish of tea?”
342 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

She rang the bell, but its tinkle only made Gavinia
recede farther into the cellar, and that summons has not
been answered to this day, and no one seems to care, for
while the wires were still vibrating Mr. McLean had
asked Miss Ailie to forgive him and marry him.

Miss Ailie said she would, but, “ Oh,” she cried, “ten
years ago it might have been my Kitty. I would that
it had been Kitty !”

Miss Ailie was dear to him now, and ten years is a
long time, and menare vain. Myr. McLean replied, quite
honestly, “I am not sure that I did not always like you
best,” but that hurt her, and he had to unsay the words.

“J was a thoughtless fool ten years ago,” he said, bit-
terly, and Miss Ailie’s answer came strangely from such
timid lips. “Yes, you were!” she exclaimed, passion-
ately, and all the wrath, long pent up, with very differ-
ent feelings, in her gentle bosom, against the man who
should have adored her Kitty, leapt at that reproachful
ery to her mouth and eyes, and so passed out of her
forever.
CHAPTER XXIX
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR

So Miss Ailie could be brave, but what a poltroon she
was also! Three calls did she make on dear friends,
ostensibly to ask how a cold was or to instruct them in
a new device in Shetland wool, but really to announce
that she did not propose keeping school after the end of
the term — because —in short, Mr. Ivie McLean and
she —that is he—and so on. But though she had
planned it all out so carefully, with at least three capi-
tal ways of leading up to it, and knew precisely what
they would say, and pined to hear them say it, on each
occasion shyness conquered and she came away with the
words unspoken. How she despised herself, and how
Mr. McLean laughed! He wanted to take the job off
her hands by telling the news to Dr. McQueen, who
could be depended on to spread it through the town, and
Miss Ailie discovered with horror that his simple plan
was to say, “ How are you, doctor? I just looked in to
tell you that Miss Ailie and I are to be married. Good
afternoon.” The audacity of this captivated Miss Ailie
even while it outraged her sense of decency. To Red-
lintie went Mr. McLean, and returning next day drew
3844 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

from his pocket something which he put on Miss Ailie’s
finger, and then she had the idea of taking off her left
glove in church, which would have announced her engage-
ment as loudly as though Mr. Dishart had included it in
his pulpit intimations. Religion, however, stopped her
when she had got the little finger out, and the Misses
Finlayson, who sat behind and knew she had an itchy
something inside her glove, concluded that it was her
threepenny for the plate. As for Gavinia, like others
of her class in those days, she had never heard of engage-
ment rings, and so it really seemed as if Mr. McLean
must call on the doctor after all. But “No,” said he,
“T hit upon a better notion to-day in the Den,” and to
explain this notion he produced from his pocket a large,
vulgar bottle, which shocked Miss Ailie, and indeed
that bottle had not passed through the streets uncom-
mented on.

Mr. McLean having observed this bottle afloat on the
Silent Pool, had fished it out with his stick, and its con-
tents set him chuckling. They consisted of a sheet of
paper which stated that the bottle was being flung into
the sea in lat. 20, long. 40, by T. Sandys, Commander of
the Ailie, then among the breakers. Sandys had little
hope of weathering the gale, but he was indifferent to
his own fate so long as his enemy did not escape, and he
called upon whatsoever loyal subjects of the Queen
should find this document to sail at once to lat. 20,
long. 40, and there cruise till they had captured the
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR 845

Pretender, alias Stroke, and destroyed his Lair. A
somewhat unfavorable personal description of Stroke
was appended, with a map of the coast, and a stern
warning to all loyal subjects not to delay as one Ailie
was in the villain’s hands and he might kill her any
day. Victoria Regina would give five hundred pounds
for his head. The letter ended in manly style with the
writer’s sending an affecting farewell message to his wife
and little children.

“And so while we are playing ourselves,” said Mr.
McLean to Miss Ailie, “your favorite is seeking my
blood.”

“ Our favorite,” interposed the school-mistress, and he
accepted the correction, for neither of them could forget
that their present relations might have been very differ-
ent had it not been for Tommy’s faith in the pass-book-
The boy had shown a knowledge of the human heart, in
Miss Ailie’s opinion, that was simply wonderful; in-
_Spiration she called it, and though Ivie thought it a
happy accident, he did not call it soto her. Tommy’s
father had been the instrument in bringing these two
together originally, and now Tommy had brought them
together again ; there was fate in it, and if the boy was
of the right stuff McLean meant to reward him.

“T see now,” he said to Miss Ailie, “a way of getting
rid of our fearsome secret and making my peace with
Sandys at one fell blow.” He declined to tell her more,
but presently he sought Gavinia, who dreaded him now-


346 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

adays because of his disconcerting way of looking at her
inquiringly and saying “Ido!”

“ You don’t happen to know, Gavinia,” he asked,
“whether the good ship Ailie weathered the gale of the
15th instant? If it did,” he went on, “Commander
Sandys will learn something to his advantage from a
bottle that is to be cast into the ocean this evening.”

Gavinia thought she heard the chink of another five
shillings, and her mouth opened so wide that a chaffinch
could have built therein. “Is he to look for a bottle in
the pond?” she asked, eagerly.

“T do,” replied McLean with such solemnity that she
again retired to the coal-cellar.

That evening Mr. McLean cast a bottle into the Silent
Pool, and subsequently called on Mr. Cathro, to whom
he introduced himself as one interested in Master
Thomas Sandys. He was heartily received, but at the
name of Tommy, Cathro heaved a sigh that could not
pass unnoticed. “Isee you don’t find him an angel,”
said Mr. McLean, politely.

“Teed, sir, there are times when I wish he was an
angel,” the dominie replied so viciously that McLean
laughed. “And I grudge you that laugh,” continued
Cathro, “ for your Tommy Sandys has taken from me
the most precious possession a teacher can have — my
sense of humor.”

“He strikes me as having a considerable sense of

humor himself.”
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR 3847

“Well he may, Mr. McLean, for he has gone off with
all mine. But bide a wee till I get in the tumblers, and
I’ll tell you the latest about him —if what you want to
hear is just the plain exasperating truth.

“His humor that you spoke of,” resumed the school-
master presently, addressing his words to the visitor,
and his mind to a toddy ladle of horn, “is ill to endure
in a school where the understanding is that the dominie
makes all the jokes (except on examination-day, when
the ministers get their yearly fling), but I think I like
your young friend worst when he is deadly serious.
He is constantly playing some new part— playing is
hardly the word though, for into each part he puts an
earnestness that cheats even himself, until he takes to
another. I suppose you want me to give you some idea
of his character, and I could tell you what it is at any
particular moment; but it changes, sir, I do assure you,
almost as quickly as the circus-rider flings off his layers
of waistcoats. A single puff of wind dlows him from
one character to another, and he may be noble and
vicious, and a tyrant and a slave, and hard as granite
and melting as butter in the sun, all in one forenoon.
All you can be sure of is that whatever he is he will be
it in excess.”

«But I understood,” said McLean, “that at present
he is solely engaged on a war of extermination in the
Den.” .

“ Ah, those exploits, I fancy, are confined to Saturday


348 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

nights, and unfortunately his Saturday debauch does
not keep him sober for the rest of the week, which
we demand of respectable characters in these parts.
For the last day or two, for instance, he has been in
mourning.”

“T had not heard of that.”

“No, I daresay not, and I’ll give you the facts, if
you’ll fill your glass first. But perhaps—” here the
dominie’s eyes twinkled as if a gleam of humor had been
left him after all— “perhaps you have been more used
of late to ginger wine?”

The visitor received the shock impassively as if he did
not know he had been hit, and Cathro proceeded with
his narrative. “Well, for a day or two Tommy Sandys
has been coming to the school in a black jacket with
crape on the cuffs, and not only so, he has sat quiet and
forlorn-like at his desk as if he had lost some near and
dear relative. Now I knew that he had not, for his only
relative is a sister whom you may have seen at the
Hanky School, and both she and Aaron Latta are hearty.
Yet, sir (and this shows the effect he has on me), though
I was puzzled and curious I dared not ask for an
explanation.”

“But why not?” was the visitor’s natural question.

“ Because, sir, he is such a mysterious little sacket,”’
replied Cathro, testily, “and so clever at leading you
into a hole, that it’s not chancey to meddle with him,
and I could see through the corner of my eye that, for
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR 849

all this woful face, he was proud of it, and hoped I was
taking note. For though sometimes his emotion masters
him completely, at other times he can step aside as it
were, and take an approving look at it. That is a char-
acteristic of him, and not the least maddening one.”
“But you solved the mystery somehow, I suppose ? ”
“T got at the truth to-day by an accident, or rather
my wife discovered it for me. She happened to call in
at the school on a domestic matter I need not trouble
you with (sal, she needna have troubled me with it
either !), and on her way up the yard she noticed a laddie
called Lewis Doig playing with other ungodly youths at
the game of kickbonnety, Lewis’s father, a gentleman
farmer, was buried jimply a fortnight since, and such
want of respect for his memory made my wife give the
loon a dunt on the head with a pound of sugar, which
she had just bought at the ’Sosh. He turned on her,
ready to scart or spit or run, as seemed wisest, and in a
klink her woman’s eye saw what mine had overlooked,
that he was not even wearing a black jacket. Well, she
told him what the slap was for, and his little counte-
nance cleared at once. ‘Oh’ says he, ‘that’s all right,
Tommy and me has arranged it,’ and he pointed blithely
to a corner of the yard where Tommy was hunkering by
himself in Lewis’s jacket, and wiping his mournful eyes
with Lewis’s hanky. I daresay you can jalouse the rest,
but I kept Lewis behind after the school skailed, and
got a full confession out of him. He had tried hard, he




350 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

gave me to understand, to mourn fittingly for his father,
put the kickbonnety season being on, it was up-hill work,
and he was relieved when Tommy volunteered to take it
off his hands. Tommy’s offer was to swop jackets every
morning for a week or two, and thus properly attired to
do the mourning for him.”

The dominie paused, and regarded his guest quizzi-
cally. “Sir,” he said at length, “laddies are a queer
growth; I assure you there was no persuading Lewis
that it was not a right and honorable compact.”

“And what payment,” asked McLean, laughing, ‘‘did
Tommy demand from Lewis for this service ?”

“Not a farthing, sir—— which gives another uncanny
glint into his character. When he wants money there ’s
none so crafty at getting it, but he did this for the
pleasure of the thing, or, as he said to Lewis, ‘ to feel
what it would be like.’ That, I tell you, is the nature
of the sacket, he has a devouring desire to try on other
folk’s feelings, as if they were so many suits of
clothes.”

“And from your account he makes them fit him too.”

‘“My certie, he does, and a lippie in the bonnet more
than that.”

So far the schoolmaster had spoken frankly, even
with an oceasional grin at his own expense, but his
words came reluctantly when he had to speak of
Tommy’s prospects at the bursary examinations. “I
would rather say nothing on that head,” he said, almost
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR 3851

coaxinely, “for the laddie has a year to reform in yet,
and it ’s never safe to prophesy.”

“Still I should have thought that you could guess
pretty accurately how the boys you mean to send up in
a year’s time are likely to do? You have had a long
experience, and, I am told, a glorious one.”

“?TDeed, there ’s no denying it,” answered the dominie,
with a pride he had won the right to wear. “If all the
ministers, for instance, I have turned out in this bit
school were to come back together, ‘they could hold the
General Assembly in the square.”

He lay back in his big chair, a complacent dominie
again. “Guess the chances of my laddies!” he cried,
forgetting what he had just said, and that there was a
Tommy to bother him. “I tell you, sir, that’s a
matter on which I’m never deceived, I can tell the
results so accurately that a wise Senatus would give my
lot the bursaries I say they ’1l carry, without setting them
down to examination-papers at all.” And for the next
half-hour he was reciting cases in proof of his sagacity.

“Wonderful!” chimed in McLean. “TI see it is evi-
dent you can tell me how Tommy Sandys will do,” but
at that Cathro’s rush of words again subsided into a
dribble.

“He’s the worst Latinist that ever had the impudence
to think of bursaries,” he groaned.

“And his Greek —” asked McLean, helping on the

conversation as far as possible.

ectiala a aidan ee RA Pons) Ne Roe I is

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852 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“His Greek, sir, could be packed in a pill-box.”

“That doesnot sound promising. But the best math-
ematicians are sometimes the worst linguists.”

“His Greek is better than his mathematics,” said
Cathro, and he fell into lamentation. “I have had no
luck lately,” he sighed. “The laddies I have to prepare
for college are second-raters, and the vexing thing is,
that when a real scholar is reared in Thrums, instead of
his being handed over to me for the finishing, they send
him to Mr. Ogilvy in Glenquharity. Did Miss Ailie
ever mention Gavin Dishart to you—the minister’s
son? I just craved to get the teaching of that laddie,
he was the kind you can cram with learning till there ’s
no room left for another spoonful, and they bude send
him to Mr. Ogilvy, and you’] see he’ll stand high
above my loons in the bursary list. And then Ogilvy
will put on sic airs that there will be no enduring him.
Ogilvy and I, sir, we are engaged in an everlasting
duel; when we send students to the examinations, it is
we two who are the real competitors, but what chance
have I, when he is represenetd by a Gavin Dishart and
my man is Tommy Sandys ?”

McLean was greatly disappointed. “Why send
Tommy up at all if he is so backward?” he said.
“You are sure you have not exaggerated his defi-
ciencies ?” ,

“Well, not much at any rate. But he baffles me;
one day I think him a perfect numskull, and the next
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR 8538

he makes such a show of the small drop of scholarship

he has that I’m not sure but what he may be a genius.”
“That sounds better. Does he study hard ?”
“Study! He is the most careless whelp that

ever 2



“But if I were to give him an inducement to study ?”

“Such as ?” asked Cathro, who could at times be as
inquisitive as the doctor.

“We need not go into that. But suppose it appealed
to him ?”

Cathro considered. “To be candid,” he said, “I
don’t think he could study, in the big meaning of the
word. JI daresay I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that
whatever knowledge that boy acquires he will dig out
of himself. There is something inside him, or so I
think at times, that is his master, and rebels against
book-learning. No, I can’t tell what it is; when we
know that we shall know the real Tommy.” __

“And yet,” said McLean, curiously, “you advise
his being allowed to compete for a bursary. That, if
you will excuse my saying so, sounds foolish to me.”

“Tt can’t seem so foolish to you,” replied Cathro,
scratching his head, “as it seems to me six days in-
seven.”

“And you know that Aaron Latta has sworn to send
him to the herding if he does not carry a bursary.
Surely the wisest course would be to apprentice him
now to some trade ——”

23
854 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY .

“What trade would not be the worse of him? He
would cut off his fingers with a joiner’s saw, and smash
them with a mason’s mell; put him in a brot behind a
counter, and in some grand, magnanimous mood he
would sell off his master’s things for nothing; make a
‘clerk of him, and he would only ravel the figures; send
him to the soldiering, and he would have a sudden
impulse to fight on the wrong side. No, no, Miss
Ailie says he has a gift for the ministry, and we must
cling to that.”

In thus sheltering himself behind Miss Ailie, where
he had never skulked before, the dominie showed how
weak he thought his position, and he added, with a
brazen laugh, “Then if he does distinguish himself at
the examinations I can take the credit for it, and if he
comes back in disgrace I shall call you to witness that
I only sent him to them at her instigation.”

“ All which,” maintained McLean, as he put on his
topcoat, “means that somehow, against your better
judgment, you think he may distinguish himself after
all.”

“You’ve found me out,” answered Cathro, half
relieved, half sorry. “I had no intention of telling
you so much, but as you have found me out I *1l make a
clean breast of it. Unless something unexpected hap-
pens to the laddie —unless he take to playing at
scholarship as if it were a Jacobite rebellion, for
instance — he shouldna have the ghost of a chance of a
TOMMY THE SCHOLAR 855

bursary, and if he were any other boy as ill-prepared
I should be ashamed to send him up, but he is Tommy
Sandys, you see, and — it is a terrible thing to say, but
it’s Gospel truth, it’s Gospel truth —I’m trusting to
the possibility of his diddling the examiners!”

It was a startling confession for a conscientious
dominie, and Cathro flung out his hands as if to with-
draw the words, but his visitor would have no tamper-
ing with them. “So that sums up Tommy, so far as
you know him,” he said as he bade his host good-night.

“It does,” Cathro admitted, grimly, “but if what
you wanted was a written certificate of character I
should like to add this, that never did any boy sit on
my forms whom I had such a pleasure in thrashing.”
CHAPTER XXX

END OF THE JACOBITE RISING

In the small hours of the following night the pulse
of Thrums stopped for a moment, and then went on
again, but the only watcher remained silent, and the
people rose in the morning without knowing that they
had lost one of their number while they slept. In the
same ignorance they toiled through a long day.

It was a close October day in the end of a summer
that had lingered to give the countryside nothing
better than a second crop of haws. Beneath the
beeches leaves lay in yellow heaps like sliced turnip,
and over all the strath was a pink haze; the tields were
singed brown, except where a recent ploughing gave
them a mourning border. From early morn men,
women and children (Tommy among them) were in the
fields taking up their potatoes, half-a-dozen gatherers
at first to every drill, and by noon it seemed a dozen,
though the new-comers were but stout sacks, now able
to stand alone. By and by heavy-laden carts were
trailing into Thrums, dog-tired toilers hanging on
behind, not to be dragged, but for an incentive to keep
END OF THE JACOBITE RISING 357

them trudging, boys and girls falling asleep on top of
the load, and so neglecting to enjoy the ride which was
their recompense for lifting. A growing mist mixed
with the daylight, and still there were a few people
out, falling over their feet with fatigue; it took silent
possession, and then the shadowy forms left in the
fields were motionless and would remain there until
carted to garrets and kitchen corners and other winter
quarters on Monday morning. There were few gad-
abouts that Saturday night. Washings were not
brought in, though Mr. Dishart had preached against
the unseemly sight of linen hanging on the line on the
Sabbath-day. Innes, stravaiging the square and wynds
in his apple-cart, jingled his weights in vain, unable to
shake even moneyed children off their stools, and when
at last he told his beast to go home they took with them
all the stir of the town. Family exercise came on
early in many houses, and as the gude wife handed her
man the Bible she said entreatingly, “A short ane.”
After that one might have said that no earthly knock
could bring them to their doors, yet within an hour the
town was in a ferment.

When Tommy and Elspeth reached the Den the mist
lay so thick that they had to feel their way through it
to the Ailie, where they found Gavinia alone and
scared. “\Was you peeping in, trying to fleg me twa
three minutes syne ?” she asked, eagerly, and when
they shook their heads, she looked cold with fear.




358 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“ As sure as death,” she said, “there was some living
thing standing there; I couldna see it for the rime,
but I heard it breathing hard.”

Tommy felt Elspeth’s hand begin to tremble, and he
said “McLean!” hastily, though he knew that McLean
had not yet left the Quharity Arms. Next moment
Corp arrived with another story as unnerving.

“Has Grizel no come yet ?” he asked, ina troubled
voice. “Tommy, hearken to this, a light has been
burning in Double Dykes and the door swinging open
a’? day! I saw it mysel’, and so did Willum Dods.”

‘Did you go close ?”

“Na faags! Willum was hol’ing and I was lifting,
so we hadna time in the daylight, and wha would
venture near the Painted Lady’s house on sic a
night ?”

Even Tommy felt uneasy, but when Gavinia cried,
“There ’s something uncanny in being out the night;
tell us what was in Mr. McLean’s bottle, Tommy, and
syne we ’ll run hame,” he became Commander Sandys
again, and replied, blankly, ‘‘What bottle ?”

“The ane I warned you he was to fling into the
water; dinna dare tell me you hinna got it.”

“TI know not what thou art speaking about,” said
Tommy; “but it’s a queer thing, it’s a queer thing,
Gavinia ” — here he fixed her with his terrifying eye —
“that I happen to have found a — another bottle,” and
still glaring at her he explained that he had found his
END OF THE JACOBITE RISING 859

bottle floating on the horizon. It contained a letter to
him, which he now read aloud. It was signed “The
Villain Stroke, his mark,” and announced that the writer,
“tired of this relentless persecution,” had determined
to reform rather than be killed. “Meet me at the
Cuttle Well, on Saturday, when the eight-o’clock bell is
ringing,” he wrote, “and I shall there make you an offer
for my freedom.”

The crew received this communication with shouts,
Gavinia’s cry of “Five shillings, if no ten!” expres-
sing the general sentiment, but it would not have been
like Tommy to think with them. “You poor things,”
he said, “you just believe everything you’re telled!
How do I know that this is not a trick of Stroke’s to
bring me here when he is some other gait working
mischief ? ”

Corp was impressed, but Gavinia said, short-sightedly,
“There ’s no sign 0’t.”

“There’s ower much sign o’t,” retorted Tommy.
“What’s this story about Double Dykes ? And how
do we ken that there hasna been foul work there, and
this man at the bottom o’t? I tell you, before the
world ’s half an hour older, 1711 find out,” and he looked
significantly at Corp, who answered, quaking, ‘I winna

gang by mysel’, no, Tommy, I winna!”

So Tommy had to accompany him, saying, valiantly,
“I’m no feared, and this rime is fine for hodding in,”
to which Corp replied, as firmly, “Neither am I, and




360 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

we can aye keep touching cauld iron.” Before they
were half way down the Double Dykes they got a
thrill, for they realized, simultaneously, that they were
being followed. They stopped and gripped each other
hard, but now they could hear nothing.

“The Painted Lady!” Corp whispered.

“Stroke!” Tommy replied, as cautiously. He was
excited rather than afraid, and had the pluck to cry,
“Wha ’s that ? I see you!” — but no answer came back
through the mist, and now the boys had a double reason
for pressing forward.

“Can you see the house, Corp ?”

“Tt should be here about, but it’s smored in rime.”

“J ’m touching the paling. I ken the road to the
window now.”

“Hark! What’s that?”

It sounded like devil’s music in front of them, and
they fell back until Corp remembered, “It maun be the
door swinging open, and squealing and moaning on its
hinges. Tommy, I take ill wi’ that. What can it
mean ?”

“I’m here to find out.” They reached the window
where Tommy had watched once before, and looking in
together saw the room plainly by the light of a lamp
which stood on the spinet. There was no one inside,
but otherwise Tommy noticed little change. The fire
was out, having evidently burned itself done, the bed-
clothes were in some disorder. ‘To avoid the creaking
END OF THE JACOBITE RISING 361

door, the boys passed round the back of the house to
the window of the other room. This room was without
a light, but its door stood open and sufficient light came
from the kitchen to show that it also was untenanted.
It seemed to have been used as a lumber-room.

The boys turned to go, passing near the front of the
empty house, where they shivered and stopped, mastered
by a feeling they could not have explained. The help-
less door, like the staring eyes of a dead person, seemed
to be calling to them to shut it, and Tommy was about
to steal forward for this purpose when Corp gripped
him and whispered that the light had gone out. It was
true, though Tommy disbelieved until they had returned
to the east window to make sure.

“There maun be folk in the hoose, Tommy!”

“You saw it was toom. The lamp had gone out
itself, or else — what’s that?”

It was the unmistakable closing of a door, softly but
firmly. “The wind has blown it to,” they tried to
persuade themselves, though aware that there was not
sufficient wind for this. After a long period of still-
ness they gathered courage to go to the door and shake
it. It was not only shut, but locked.

On their way back through the Double Dykes ee
were silent, listening painfully but hearing nothing.
But when they reached the Coffin Brig Tommy said,
“Dinna say nothing about this to Elspeth, it would
terrify her;” he was always so thoughtful for Elspeth.
862 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“But what do you think o’t a’?” Corp said,
imploringly.

“J winna tell you yet,” replied Tommy, cautiously.

When they boarded the Addie, where the two girls
were very glad to see them again, the eight-o’clock bell
had begun to ring, and thus Tommy had a reasonable
excuse for hurrying his crew to the Cuttle Well with-
out saying anything of his expedition to Double Dykes,
save that he had not seen Grizel. At the Well they
had not long to wait before Mr. McLean suddenly
appeared out of the mist, and to their astonishment
Miss Ailie was leaning on his arm. She was blushing
and smiling too, in a way pretty to see, though it spoilt
the effect of Stroke’s statement.

The first thing Stroke did was to give up his sword
to Tommy and to apologize for its being an umbrella on
account of the unsettled state of the weather, and then
Corp led three cheers, the captain alone declining to
join in, for he had an uneasy feeling that he was being
ridiculed.

“But I thought there were five of you,” Mr. McLean
said; ‘where is the fifth? ”

“You ken best,” replied Tommy, sulkily, and sulky he
remained throughout the scene, because he knew he was
not the chief figure in it. Having this knowledge to de-
press him, it is to his credit that he bore himself with dig-
nity throughout, keeping his crew so well in hand that
they dared not give expression to their natural emotions.
END OF THE JACOBITE RISING 3863

“As you are aware, Mr. Sandys,” McLean began
solemnly, “I have come here to sue for pardon. It is
not yours to give, you reply, the Queen alone can
pardon, and I grant it; but, sir, is it not well known to

all of us that you can get anything out of her you |

like ?”

Tommy’s eyes roved suspiciously, but the suppliant
proceeded in the same tone. “What are my offences ?
The first is that I have been bearing arms (unwittingly)
against the Throne; the second, that I have brought
trouble to the lady by my side, who has the proud
privilege of calling you her friend. But, Sandys, such
amends as can come from an erring man I now offer to
make most contritely. Intercede with Her Majesty on
my behalf, and on my part I promise to war against
her no more. I am willing to settle down in the neigh-
boring town as a law-abiding citizen, whom you can
watch with eagle eye. Say, what more wouldst thou of
the unhappy Stuart’? ”

But Tommy would say nothing, he only looked doubt-
fully at Miss Ailie, and that set McLean off again.
“You ask what reparation I shall make to this lady ?
Sandys, I tell thee that here also thou hast proved
too strong for me. In the hope that she would plead
for me with you, I have been driven to offer her my
hand in marriage, and she is willing to take me if thou
grantest thy consent.”

At this Gavinia jumped with joy, and then cried,
364 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Up wi’ her!” words whose bearing the school-mis-
tress fortunately did not understand. All save Tommy
looked at Miss Ailie, and she put her arm on Mr.
McLean’s, and, yes, it was obvious, Miss Ailie was a
lover at the Cuttle Well at last, like so many others.
She had often said that the Den parade was vulgar, but
she never said it again.

It was unexpected news to Tommy, but that was not
what lowered his head in humiliation now. In the
general rejoicing he had been nigh forgotten; even
Elspeth was hanging on Miss Ailie’s skirts, Gavinia
had eyes for none but lovers, Corp was rapturously
examining five half-crowns that had been dropped into
‘his hands for distribution. Had Tommy given an
order now, who would have obeyed it ? His power was
gone, his crew would not listen to another word against
Mr. Mclean.

“Tommy thought Mr. McLean hated you!” said
Elspeth to Miss Ailie.

“Tt was queer you made sic a mistake!” said Corp to
Tommy.

“Oh, the tattie-doolie! ” cried Gavinia.

So they knew that Mr. McLean had only been speak-
ing sarcastically ; of a sudden they saw through and
despised their captain. Tears of mortification rose in
Tommy’s eyes, and kind-hearted Miss Ailie saw them,
and she thought it was her lover’s irony that made him
smart. She had said little hitherto, but now she put
END OF THE JACOBITE RISING 3865

her hand on his shoulder, and told them all that she
did indeed owe the supreme joy that had come to her to
him. “No, Gavinia,” she said, blushing, “I will not
give you the particulars, but I assure you that had it
not been for Tommy, Mr. McLean would never have
asked me to marry him.”

Elspeth crossed proudly to the side of her noble
brother (who could scarcely trust his ears), and Gavinia
cried, in wonder, “ What did he do ?”

Now McLean had seen Tommy’s tears also, and being
a kindly man he dropped the satirist and chimed in
warmly, “And if I had not asked Miss Ailie to marry
me I should have lost the great happiness of my life,

so you may all imagine how beholden I feel to

Tommy.”

Again Tommy was the centre-piece, and though these
words were as puzzling to him as to his crew, their
sincerity was unmistakable, and once more his head
began to waggle complacently.

‘“* And to show how grateful we are,” said Miss Ailie,
“we are to give him a—a sort of marriage present.
We are to double the value of the bursary he wins at
the university —” She could get no farther, for now
Elspeth was hugging her, and Corp cheering frantically,
and Mr. McLean thought it necessary to add the warn-
ing, “If he does carry a bursary, you understand, for
should he fail I give him nothing.”

“Him fail!” exclaimed Corp, with whom Miss Ailie
366 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of course agreed. “And he can spend the money in
whatever way he chooses,” she said, “what will you do
with it, Tommy ?”

The lucky boy answered, instantly, “Ill take Elspeth
to Aberdeen to bide with me,” and then Elspeth hugged
him, and Miss Ailie said, in a delighted aside to Mr.
McLean, “I told you so,” and he, too, was well pleased.

“Tt was the one thing needed to make him work,”
the school-mistress whispered. “Is not his love for his
sister beautiful ? ”

McLean admitted that it was, but half-banteringly he
said to Elspeth: “What could you do in lodgings, you
excited mite ?”

“T can sit and look at Tommy,” she answered,
quickly.

“But he will be away for hours at his classes.”
~ “T?11 sit at the window waiting for him,” said she.

“And I’l) run back quick,” said Tommy.

All this time another problem had been bewildering
Gavinia, and now she broke ir, eagerly: “But what

‘was ithe did? I thought he was agin Mr. McLean.”

“And so did I,” said Corp.

“TJ cheated you grandly,” replied Tommy with the
audacity he found so useful.

“And a’ the time you was pretending to be agin
him,” screamed Gavinia, “was you — was you bringing
this about on the sly?.”

Tommy looked up into Mr. McLean’s face, but could
END OF THE JACOBITE RISING 3867

get no guidance from it, so he said nothing; he only ©
held his head higher than ever. “Oh, the clever lit-
tle curse!” cried Corp, and Elspeth’s delight was as
ecstatic, though differently worded. Yet Gavinia stuck
to her problem, “How did you do it, what was it you
did ?” and the cruel McLean said: “You may tell her,
Tommy; you have my permission.”

It would have been an awkward position for most
boys, and even Tommy — but next moment he said,
quite coolly: “I think you and me and Miss Ailie
should keep it to oursels, Gavinia’s sic a gossip.”

“Oh, how thoughtful of him!” cried Miss Ailie, the
deceived, and McLean said: “How very thoughtful!”
but now he saw in a flash why Mr. Cathro still had
hopes that Tommy might carry a bursary.

Thus was the repentant McLean pardoned, and noth-
ing remained for him to do save to show the crew his
Lair, which they had sworn to destroy. He had
behaved so splendidly that they had forgotten almost
that they were the emissaries of justice, but not to
destroy the Lair seemed a pity, it would be such a
striking way of bringing their adventures in the Den
toaclose. The degenerate Stuart read this feeling in
their faces, and he was ready, he said, to show them
his Lair if they would first point it out to him; but
here was a difficulty, for how could they do that? For
a moment it seemed as if the negotiations must fall
through; but Sandys, that captain of resource, invited


3868 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

McLean to step aside for a private conference, and
when they rejoined the others McLean said, gravely,
that he now remembered where the Lair was and would
guide them to it.

They had only to cross a plank, invisible in the mist
until they were close to it, and climb a slippery bank
strewn with fallen trees. McLean, with a mock serious
air, led the way, Miss Ailie on his arm. Corp and
Gavinia followed, weighted and hampered by their new
half-crowns,. and Tommy and Elspeth, in the rear,
whispered joyously of the coming life. And so, very
unprepared for it, they moved toward the tragedy of
the night.
CHAPTER XXxXI

A LETTER TO GOD

“Do you keep a light burning in the Lair?” McLean
turned to ask, forgetting for the moment that it was
not their domicile, but his.

“No, there ’s no light,” replied Corp, equally forget-
ful, but even as he spoke he stopped so suddenly that
Elspeth struck against him. For he had seen a light.
“This is queer!” he cried, and both he and Gavinia
fell back in consternation. McLean pushed forward
alone, and was back in a trice, with a new expression
on his face. “Are you playing some trick on me ?” he
demanded suspiciously of Tommy. “There is some one
there; I almost ran against a pair of blazing eyes.”

“But there ’s nobody; there can be nobody there,”
answered Tommy, in a bewilderment that was obviously
unfeigned, “unless —unless—” He looked at Corp,
and the eyes of both finished the sentence. The deso-
late scene at Double Dykes, which the meeting with
McLean and Miss Ailie had driven from their minds,
again confronted them, and they seemed once more to
hear the whimpering of the Painted Lady’s door.

24
370 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Unless what?” asked the man, impatiently, but
still the two boys only stared at each other. “The
Den ’s no mous the night,” said Corp at last, in a low
voice, and his unspoken fears spread to the womankind,
so that Miss Ailie shuddered and Elspeth gripped
Tommy with both hands and Gavinia whispered, “Let’s
away hame, we can come back in the daylight.”

But McLean chafed and pressed upward, and next
moment a girl’s voice was heard, crying: “It is no
business of yours; I won’t let you touch her.”

“Grizel!” exclaimed Tommy and his crew, simulta-
neously, and they had no more fear until they were
inside the Lair. What they saw had best be described
very briefly. A fire was burning in a corner of the
Lair, and in front of it, partly covered with a sheet,
lay the Painted Lady, dead. Grizel stood beside the
body guarding it, her hands clenched, her eyes very
strange. “You sha’n’t touch her!” she cried, passion-
ately, and repeated it many times, as if she had lost the
power to leave off, but Corp crept past her and raised
the coverlet. ,

“She’s straikit!” he shouted. “Did you do it your-
sel’, Grizel ? God behears, she did it hersel’!”

A very long silence it seemed to be after that.

Miss Ailie would have taken the motherless girl to
her arms, but first, at Corp’s discovery, she had drawn
back in uncontrollable repulsion, and Grizel, about to
go to her, saw it, and turned from her to Tommy. Her


GRIZEL STOOD BY THE BODY GUARDING IT
A LETTER TO GOD 871

eyes rested on him beseechingly, with a look he saw
only once again in them until she was a woman, but
his first thought was not for Grizel. Elspeth was
clinging to him, terrified and sobbing, and he cried to
her, “Shut your een,” and then led her tenderly away.
He was always good to Elspeth.

There was no lack of sympathy with Grizel when the
news spread through the town, and unshod men with
their gallowses hanging down, and women buttoning
as they ran, hurried ‘to the Den. But to all the ques-
tions put to her and to all the kindly offers made, as
the body was carried to Double Dykes, she only rocked
her arms, crying, “I don’t want anything to eat. I
shall stay all night beside her. Iam not frightened at
my mamma. I won’t tell you why she was in the Den.
Tam not sure how long she has been dead. Oh, what
do these little things matter?”

The great thing was that her mamma should be
buried in the cemetery, and not in unconsecrated ground
with a stake through her as the boys had predicted, and
it was only after she was promised this that Grizel told
her little tale. She had feared for a long time that her
mamma was dying of consumption, but she told no one,
because everybody was against her and her mamma.
Her mamma never knew that she was dying, and some-
times she used to get so much better that Grizel hoped
she would live a long time, but that hope never lasted
3872 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

long. The reason she sat so much with Ballingall was
just to find out what doctors did to dying people to
make them live a little longer, and she watched his
straiking to be able to do it to her mamma when the
time came. She was sure none of the women would
consent to straik her mamma. On the previous night,
she could not say at what hour, she had been awakened
by a cold wind, and so she knew that the door was
open. She put out her hand in the darkness and found
that her mamma was not beside her. It had happened
before, and she was not frightened. She had hidden
the key of the door that night and nailed down the
window, but her mamma had found the key. Grizel
rose, lit the lamp, and, having dressed hurriedly, set off
with wraps to the Den. Her mamma was generally as
sensible as anybody in Thrums, but sometimes she had
shaking fits, and after them she thought it was the time
of long ago. Then she went to the Den to meet a man
who had promised, she said, to be there, but he never
came, and before daybreak Grizel could usually induce
her to return home. Latterly she had persuaded her
mamma to wait for him in the old Lair, because it was
less cold there, and she had got her to do this last
night. Her mamma did not seem very unwell, but she
fell asleep, and she died sleeping, and then Grizel went
back to Double Dykes for linen and straiked her.

Some say in Thrums that a spade was found in the
Lair, but that is only the growth of later years. Grizel
A LETTER TO GOD 873

had done all she could do, and through the long Satur-
day she sat by the side of the body, helpless and unable
to cry. She knew that it could not remain there much
longer, but every time she rose to go and confess, fear
of the indignities to which the body of her darling
mamma might be subjected pulled her back. The
boys had spoken idly, but hunted Grizel, who knew so
much less and so much more than any of them, believed
it all.

It was she who had stood so near Gavinia in the
ruined house. She had only gone there to listen to
human voices. When she discovered from the talk of
her friends that she had left a light burning at Double
Dykes and the door open, fear of the suspicions this
might give rise to had sent her to the house on the
heels of the two boys, and it was she who had stolen
past them in the mist to put out the light and lock the
door. Then she had returned to her mamma’s side.

The doctor was among the listeners, almost the only
dry-eyed one, but he was not dry-eyed because he felt
the artless story least. Again and again he rose from
his chair restlessly, and Grizel thought he scowled at
her when he was really scowling at himself; as soon as
she had finished he cleared the room brusquely of all
intruders, and then he turned on her passionately.

“Think shame of yoursel’,” he thundered, “for
keeping me in the dark,” and of course she took his
words literally, though their full meaning was, “TI shall
3874 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

<

scorn myself from this hour for not having won the
poor child’s confidence.”

Oh, he was a hard man, Grizel thought, the hardest
of them all. But she was used to standing up to hard
men, and she answered, defiantly: “I did mean to tell
you, that day you sent me with the bottle to Ballingall,
I was waiting at the surgery door to tell you, but you
were cruel, you said I was a thief, and then how could
I tell you ?”

This, too, struck home, and the doctor winced, but
what he said was, “You fooled me for a whole week,
and the town knows it; do you think I can forgive you
for that ?”

“I don’t care whether you forgive me,” replied
Grizel at once.

‘‘Nor do I care whether you care,” he rapped out, all
the time wishing he could strike himself; “but I’m the
doctor of this place, and when your mother was ill you
should have come straight to me. What had I done
that you should be afraid of me?”

“TI am not afraid of you,” she replied, “I am not
afraid of anyone, but mamma was afraid of you because
she knew you had said cruel things about her, and I
thought — I won’t tell you what I thought.” But with
a little pressing she changed her mind and told him.
“T was not sure whether you would come to see her,
though I asked you, and if you came I knew you would
tell her she was dying, and that would have made her
A LETTER TO GOD 375

scream. And that is not all, I thought you might tell
her that she would be buried with a stake through
her e

“Oh, these blackguard laddies!” cried McQueen,
clenching his fists.

“And so I dared not tell you,” Grizel concluded
caimly; “I am not frightened at you, but I was



frightened you would hurt my dear darling mamma,”
and she went and stood defiantly between him and her
mother.

The doctor moved up and down the room, crying,
“How did I not know of this, why was I not told ?”
and he knew that the fault had been his own, and so
was furious when Grizel told him so.

“Yes, it is,” she insisted, “you knew mamma was an
unhappy lady, and that the people shouted things
against her and terrified her; and you must have
known, for everybody knew, that she was sometimes
silly and wandered about all night, and you are a big
strong man, and so you should have been sorry for her;
and if you had been sorry you would have come to see
her and been kind to her, and then you would have
found it all out.”

“Have done, lassie!” he said, half angrily, half
beseechingly, but she did not understand that he was
suffering, and she went on, relentlessly: “And you
knew that bad men used to come to see her at night —
they have not come for a long time — but you never
876 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

tried to stop their coming, and I could have stopped it
if I had known they were bad; but I did not know at
first, and I was only a little girl, and you should have
told me.”

“Have done!” It was all that he could say, for like
many he had heard of men visiting the Painted Lady
by stealth, and he had only wondered, with other
gossips, who they were.

He crossed again to the side of the dead woman,
“And Ballingall’s was the only corpse you ever saw
straiked ?” he said in wonder, she had done her work
so well. But he was not doubting her; he knew already
that this girl was clothed in truthfulness.

“Was it you that kept this house so clean?” he
asked, almost irritably, for he himself was the one
undusted, neglected-looking thing in it, and he was
suddenly conscious of his frayed wristband and of
buttons hanging by a thread.

SaViCS sa,

“What age are you ?”

“T think I am thirteen.”

He looked long at her, vindictively she thought,
but he was only picturing the probable future of a
painted lady’s child, and he said mournfully to him-
self, “Ay, it does not even end here; and that’s the
crowning pity of it.” But Grizel only heard him say,
“Poor thing!” and she bridled immediately.

«TI won’t let you pity me,” she cried.
_ A LETTER TO GOD 877

“You dour brat!” he retorted. “But you need not
think you are to have everything your own way still.
I must get some Monypenny woman to take you till the
funeral is over, and after that —— ”

“I won’t go,” said Grizel, determinedly, “I shall
stay with mamma till she is buried.”

He was not accustomed to contradiction, and he
stamped his foot. “You shall do as you are told,” he
said.

“T won't!” replied Grizel, and she also stamped
her foot.

“Very well, then, you thrawn tid, but at any rate
I’ll send in a woman to sleep with you.”

“T want noone. Doyou think I am afraid ?”

“T think you will be afraid when you wake up in the
darkness, and find yourself alone with — with it.”

“T sha’n’t, I shall remember at once that she is to be
buried nicely in the cemetery, and that will make me
happy.”

“You unnatural —— ”

“Besides, I sha’n’t sleep, I have something to do.”

His curiosity again got the better of the doctor.
“What can you have to do at such a time?” he
demanded, and her reply surprised him:

“T am to make a dress.”

“You!”

“T have made them before now,” she said indignantly.

“But at such a time!”
378 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Tt is a black dress,” she cried, “I don’t have one,
I am to make it out of mamma’s.”

He said nothing for some time, then “When did you
think of this ?”

“TI thought of it weeks ago, I bought crape at the
corner shop to be ready, and ——”

She thought he was looking at her in horror, and
stopped abruptly. “I don’t care what you think,” she
said.

“What I do think,” he retorted, taking up his hat,
“is, that you are a most exasperating lassie. If I bide
here another minute I believe you ’ll get round me.”

“T don’t want to get round you.”

“Then what makes you say such things ? I question if
Ill get an hour’s sleep to-night for thinking of you!”

“TJ don’t want you to think of me!”

_ He groaned. “What could an untidy, hardened old
single man like me do with you in his house ?” he said.
“Oh, you little limmer, to put such a thought into my
head.”

“T never did!” she exclaimed, indignantly.

“Tt began, I do believe it began,” he sighed, “the
first time I saw you easying Ballingall’s pillows.”

“What began ?”

“You brat, you wilful brat, don"t pretend ignorance.
You set a trap to catch me, and ——”

“Oh!” cried Grizel, and she opened the door quickly.
“Go away, you horrid man,” she said.
A LETTER TO GOD 3879

He liked her the more for this regal action, and
therefore it enraged him. Sheer anxiety lest he should
succumb to her on the spot was what made him bluster
as he strode off, and “That brat of a Grizel,” or “The
Painted Lady’s most unbearable lassie,” or “The dour
little besom” was his way of referring to her in com-
pany for days, but if any one agreed with him he roared
“Don’t be a fool, man, she’s a wonder, she’s a delight,”
or “You have a dozen yourself, Janet, but I wouldna
neifer Grizel for the lot of them.” And it was he, still
denouncing her so long as he was contradicted, who
persuaded the Auld Licht Minister to officiate at the
funeral. Then he said to himself, “And now I wash
my hands of her, I have done all that can be expected
of me.” He told himself this a great many times as if
it were a medicine that must be taken frequently, and
Grizel heard from Tommy, with whom she had some
strange conversations, that he was going about denoun-
cing her “up hill and down dale.” But she did not
care, she was so—so happy. Fora hole was dug for
the Painted Lady in the cemetery, just as if she had
been a good woman, and Mr. Dishart conducted the
service in Double Dykes before the removal of the
body, nor did he say one word that could hurt Grizel,
perhaps because his wife had drawn a promise from
him. three of them because, as you may remember, Grizel
had dared them to stay away, but all the others out of
380 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

sympathy with a motherless child who, as the proces-
sion started, rocked her arms in delight because her
mamma was being buried respectably.

Being a woman, she could not attend the funeral, and
so the chief mourner was Tommy, as you could see by
the position he took at the grave, and by the white
bands Grizel had sewn on his sleeves. He was looking
very important, as if he had something remarkable in
prospect, but little attention was given him until the
cords were dropped into the grave, and a prayer -offered
up, when he pulled Mr. Dishart’s coat and muttered
something about a paper. Those who had been making
ready to depart swung round again, and the minister
told him if he had anything to say to speak out.

“It’s a paper,” Tommy said, nervous yet elated, and
addressing all, “that Grizel put in the coffin. She told
me to tell you about it when the cords fell on the
lid.”

“What sort of a paper?” asked Mr. Dishart, _
frowning.

“Tt ’s — it’s a letter to God,” Tommy gasped.

Nothing was to be heard except the shovelling of
earth into the grave. “Hold your spade, John,” the
minister said to the gravedigger, and then even that
sound stopped. “Go on,” Mr. Dishart signed to the
boy.

“Grizel doesna believe her mother has much chance
of getting to heaven,” Tommy said, “and she wrote the
A LETTER TO GOD 3881

letter to God, so that when he opens the coffins on the
last day he will find it and read about them.”

“About whom ?” asked the stern minister.

“ About Grizel’s father, for one. She doesna know
his name, but the Painted Lady wore a locket wi’ a
picture of him on her breast, and it’s buried wi’ her,
and Grizel told God to look at it so as to know him.
She thinks her mother will be damned for having her,
and that it winna be fair unless God damns her father
too.”

“Go on, ” said Mr. Dishart.

“There was three Thrums men —I think they were
gentlemen —” Tommy continued, almost blithely, “that
used to visit the Painted Lady in the night time afore
she took ill. They wanted Grizel to promise no to tell
about their going to Double Dykes, and she promised
because she was ower innocent to know what they went
for — but their names are in the letter.”

A movement in the crowd was checked by the
minister’s uplifted arm. “Go on,” he cried.

“She wouldna tell me who they were, because it
would have been breaking her promise,” said Tommy,
“but” —he looked around him inquisitively — “but
they ’re here at the funeral.”

The mourners were looking sideways at each other,
some breathing hard, but none dared to speak before
the minister. He stood for a long time in doubt, but
at last he signed to John to proceed with the filling in
3882 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

of the grave. Contrary to custom all remained. Not
until the grave was again level with the sward did Mr.
Dishart speak, and then it was with a gesture that
appalled his hearers. “This grave,” he said, raising
his arm, “is locked till the day of judgment.”

Leaving him standing there, a threatening figure,
they broke into groups and dispersed, walking slowly
at first, and then fast, to tell their wives.
CHAPTER XXXII

AN ELOPEMENT

Tue solitary child remained at Double Dykes, await-
ing the arrival of her father, for the Painted Lady’s
manner of leaving the world had made such a stir that
the neighbors said he must have heard of it, even
though he were in London, and if he had the heart of a
stone he could not desert his bairn. They argued thus
among themselves, less as people who were sure of it
than to escape the perplexing question, what to do with
Grizel if the man never claimed her ? and before her
they spoke of his coming as a certainty, because it
would be so obviously the best thing for her. In the
meantime they overwhelmed her with offers of every-
thing she could need, which was kindly but not essen-
tial, for after the funeral expenses had been paid
(Grizel insisted on paying them herself) she had still
several gold pieces, found in her mamma’s beautiful
tortoise-shell purse, and there were nearly twenty
pounds in the bank.

But day after day passed, and the man had not come.
Perhaps he resented the Painted Lady’s ostentatious
384. SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

death; which, if he was nicely strung, must have jarred
upon his nerves. He could hardly have acknowledged
Grizel now without publicity being given to his private
concerns. Or he may never have heard of the Painted
Lady’s death, or if he read of it, he may not have known
which painted lady in particular she was. Or he may
have married, and told his wife all and she had for-
given him, which somehow, according to the plays and
the novels, cuts the past adrift from a man and enables
him to begin again at yesterday. Whatever the reason,
Grizel’s father was in no hurry to reveal himself, and
though not to her, among themselves the people talked
of the probability of his not coming at all. She could
not remain alone at Double Dykes, they all admitted,
but where, then, should she go? No fine lady in need
of a handmaid seemed to think a painted lady’s child
would suit; indeed, Grizel at first sight had not the
manner that attracts philanthropists. Once only did
the problem approach solution; a woman in the Den-
head was willing to take the child because (she
expressed it) as she had seven she might as well have
eight, but her man said no, he would not have his
bairns fil’t. Others would have taken her cordially for
a few weeks or months, had they not known that at the
end of this time they would be blamed, even by them-
selves, if they let her go. All, in short, were eager to
show her kindness if one would give her a home, but
where was that one to be found ?
AN ELOPEMENT 385

Much of this talk came to Grizel through Tommy,
and she told him in the house of Double Dykes that
people need not trouble themselves about her, for she
had no wish to stay with them. It was only charity
they brought her; no one wanted her for herself. “It
is because I am achild of shame,” she told him, dry-
eyed.

He fidgeted on his chair, and asked, “ What’s that ?”
not very honestly.

“T don’t know,” she said, “no one will tell me, but
it is something you can’t love.”

“You have a terrible wish to be loved,” he said in
wonder, and she nodded her head wistfully. “That is
not what I wish for most of all, though,” she told him,
and when he asked what she wished for most of all,
she said, “To love somebody; oh, it would be sweet!”

To Tommy, most sympathetic of mortals, she seemed
a very pathetic little figure, and tears. came to his eyes
as he surveyed her; he could always cry very easily.

“Tf it wasna for Elspeth,” he began, stammering, “I
could love you, but you winna let a body do onything
on the sly.”

It was a vague offer, but she understood, and became
the old Grizel at once. “I don’t want you to love me,” °*
she said indignantly; “I don’t think you know how to
love.”

“Neither can. you know, then,” retorted Tommy,

huffily, “for there’s nobody for you to love.”
25
386 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“Yes, there is,” she said, “and I do love her and she
loves me.”

“But wha is she ?”

“That girl.” To his amazement she pointed to her
own reflection in the famous mirror the size of which
had ‘scandalized Thrums. Tommy thought this affec-
tion for herself barely respectable, but he dared not say
so lest he should be put to the door. “I love her ever
so much,” Grizel went on, “and she is so fond of me,
she hates to see me unhappy. Don’t look so sad, dear-
est, darlingest,” she cried vehemently; “I love you,
you know, oh, you sweet!” and with each epithet she
kissed her reflection and looked defiantly at the boy.

“But you canna put your arms round her and hug
her,” he pointed out triumphantly, and so he had the
last word after all. Unfortunately Grizel kept this side
of her, new even to Tommy, hidden from all others, and
her unresponsiveness lost her many possible friends.
Even Miss Ailie, who now had a dressmaker in the blue-
and-white room, sitting on a bedroom chair and sewing
for her life (oh, the agony —or is it the rapture ? — of
having to decide whether to marry in gray with beads
or brown plain to the throat), even sympathetic Miss
Ailie, having met with several rebuffs, said that Grizel
had a most unaffectionate nature, and, “Ay, she’s
hardy,” agreed the town, “but it’s better, maybe, for
hersel’.” There are none so unpopular as the silent
ones.
AN ELOPEMENT 3887

If only Miss Ailie, or others like her, could have
slipped noiselessly into Double Dykes at night, they
would have found Grizel’s pillow wet. But she would
have heard them long before they reached the door,
and jumped to the floor in terror, thinking it was her
father’s step at last. For, unknown to anyone, his
coming, which the town so anxiously desired, was her
one dread. She had told Tommy what she should say
to him if he came, and Tommy had been awed and
delighted, they were such scathing things; probably,
had the necessity arisen, she would have found courage
to say them, but they were made up in the daytime,
and at night they brought less comfort. Then she
listened fearfully and longed for the morning, wild
ideas coursing through her head of flying before he
could seize her; but when morning came it brought
other thoughts, as of the strange remarks she had heard
about her mamma and herself during the past few days.
To brood over these was the most unhealthy occupation
she could find, but it was her only birthright. Many
of the remarks came unguardedly from lips that had no
desire to pain her, others fell in a rage because she
would not tell what were the names in her letter to
God. The words that troubled her most, perhaps, were
the doctor’s, “She is a brave lass, but it must be in
her blood.” They were not intended for her ears, but
she heard. “What did he mean?” she asked Miss
Ailie, Mrs. Dishart, and others who came to see her,
888 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

and they replied awkwardly, that it had only been a
doctor’s remark, of no importance to people who were
well. “Then why are you crying?” she demanded,
looking them full in the face with eyes there was no
deceiving.

“Oh, why is everyone afraid to tell me the truth! ”
she would cry, beating her palms in anguish.

She walked into McQueen’s surgery and said, “Could
you not cut it out?” so abruptly that he wondered what
she was speaking about.

“The bad thing that is in my blood,” she explained.
“Do cut it out, I sha’n’t scream. I promise not to
scream.”

He sighed and answered, ‘‘If it could be cut out,
lassie, I would try to do it, though it was the most
dangerous of operations.”

She looked in anguish at him. “There are cleverer
doctors than you, aren’t there?” she asked, and he
-was not offended.

“Ay, a hantle cleverer,” he told her, “but none so
clever as that. God help you, bairn, if you have to do
it yourself some day.” ;

“Can I do it myself ?” she cried, brightening. “TI
shall do it now. Is it done with a knife ?”

“With a sharper knife than a surgeon’s,” he answered,
and then, regretting he had said so much, he tried to
cheer her. But that he could not do. “You are afraid
to tell me the truth too,” she said, and when she went
AN ELOPEMENT 3889

away he was very sorry for her, but not so sorry as she
was for herself. “When I am grown up,” she announced
dolefully, to Tommy, “I shall be a bad woman, just
like mamma.

“Not if you try to be good,” he said.

“Yes, I shall. ‘There is something in my blood that
will make me bad, and I so wanted to be good. Oh!
oh! oh!”

She told him of the things she had heard people say,
but though they perplexed him almost as much as her,
he was not so hopeless of learning their meaning, for
here was just the kind of difficulty he liked to over-
come. “J’ll get it out o’ Blinder,” he said, with con-
fidence in his ingenuity, “and then Ill tell you what
he says.” But however much he might strive to do so,
Tommy could never repeat anything without giving it
frills and other adornment of his own making, and
Grizel knew this. “I must hear what he says myself,”
she insisted.

“But he winna speak plain afore you.”

“Yes, he will, if he does not know I am there.”

The plot succeeded, though only partially, for so
quick was the blind man’s sense of hearing that in the
middle of the conversation he said, sharply, “Some-
body’s ahint the dyke!” and he caught Grizel by the
shoulder. “It’s the Painted Lady’s lassie,” he said
when she screamed, and he stormed against Tommy for
taking such advantage of his blindness. But to her he
390 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

said, gently, “I daresay you egged him on to this,
meaning well, but you maun forget most of what I’ve
said, especially about being in the blood. I spoke in
haste, it doesna apply to the like of you.”

“Yes, it does,” replied Grizel, and all that had been
revealed to her she carried hot to the surgery, Tommy
stopping at the door in as great perturbation as her-
self. “I know what being in the blood is now,” she
said, tragically, to McQueen, “there is something about
it in the Bible. I am the child of evil passions, and
that means that I was born with wickedness in my
blood. It is lying sleeping in me just now because I
am only thirteen, and if I can prevent its waking when
I am grown up I shall always be good, but a very little
thing will waken it; it wants so much to be wakened,
and if it is once wakened it will run all through me,
and soon I shall be like mamma.”

It was all horribly clear to her, and she would not
wait for words of comfort that could only obscure the
truth. Accompanied by Tommy, who said nothing, but
often glanced at her fascinated yet alarmed, as if
expecting to see the ghastly change come over her at
any moment — for he was as convinced as she, and had
the livelier imagination — she returned to Monypenny
to beg of Blinder to tell her one thing more. And he
told her, not speaking lightly, but because his words
contained a solemn warning to a girl who, he thought,
might need it.
AN ELOPEMENT 391

“What sort of thing would be likeliest to waken the
wickedness ?” she asked, holding her breath for the
answer.

“Keeping company wi’ ill men,” said Blinder,
gravely.

“Like the man who made mamma wicked, like my
father ?”

“Ay,” Blinder replied, “fly from the like of him, my
lass, though it should be to the other end of the world.”

She stood quite still, with a most sorrowful face, and
then ran away, ran so swiftly that when Tommy, who
had lingered for a moment, came to the door she was
already out of sight. Scarcely less excited than she,
he set off for Double Dykes, his imagination in such a
blaze that he looked fearfully in the pools of the burn
for a black frock. But Grizel had not drowned herself;
she was standing erect in her home, like one at bay,
her arms rigid, her hands clenched, and when he pushed
open the door she screamed.

“Grizel,” said the distressed boy, “did you think I
was him come for you?”

“Yes!”

“Maybe he’ll no come. The folk think he winna
come.”

“But if he does, if he does! ”

“Maybe you needna go wi’ him unless you’re
willing ?”

_ “T must, he ean compel me, because he is my father.
3892 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Oh! oh! oh!” She lay down on the bed, and on her
eyes there slowly formed the little wells of water
Tommy was to know so well in time. He stood by her
side in anguish; for though his own tears came at the
first call, he could never face them in others.

“Grizel,” he said impulsively, “there’s just one
thing for you todo. You have money, and you maun
run away afore he comes! ”

She jumped up at that. “I have thought of it,” she’
answered, “I am always thinking about it, but how can
I, oh, how canI? It would not be respectable.”

“To run away ?”

“To go by myself,” said the poor girl, “and I do
want to be respectable, it would be sweet.”

In some ways Tommy was as innocent as she, and
her reasoning seemed to him to be sound. She was
looking at him wofully, and entreaty was on her face;
all at once he felt what a lonely little crittur she was,
and, in a burst of manhood, —

“But, dinna prig wi’ me to go with you,” he said,
struggling.

‘“‘T have not!” she answered, panting, and she had
not in words, but the mute appeal was still on her face.
“Grizel,” he cried, “I ’ll come!”

Then she seized his hand and pressed it to her breast,
saying, “Oh, Tommy, I am so fond of you! ”

It was the first time she had admitted it, and his
head wagged well content, as if saying for him, “I
AN ELOPEMENT 393

knew you would understand me some day.” But next
moment the haunting shadow that so often overtook
him in the act of soaring fell cold upon his mind, and
“T maun take Elspeth!” he announced, as if Elspeth
had him by the leg.

“You sha’n’t!” said Grizel’s face.

“She winna let go,” said Tommy’s.

Grizel quivered from top to toe. “I hate Elspeth!”
she cried, with curious passion, and the more moral -
Tommy was ashamed of her.

“You dinna ken how fond o’ her I am,” he said.

“Yes, I do.”

“Then you shouldna want me to leave her and go
wi’ you.”

“That is why I want it,” Grizel blurted out, and now
we are all ashamed of her. But fortunately Tommy
did not see how much she had admitted in that hasty
cry, and as neither would give way to the other they
parted stiffly, his last words being “Mind, it wouldna
be respectable to go by yoursel’,” and hers ‘‘I don’t
care, 1’m going.” Nevertheless it was she who slept
easily that night, and he who tossed about almost until
cockcrow. She had only one ugly dream, of herself
wandering from door to door in a strange town, asking
for lodgings, but the woman who answered her weary
knocks — there were many doors but it was invariably
the same woman —always asked, suspiciously; “Is
Tommy with you?” and Grizel shook her head, and
394 : SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

then the woman drove her away, perceiving that she
was not respectable. This woke her, and she feared
the dream would come true, but she clenched her fists
in the darkness, saying, “I can’t help it, I am going,
and I won’t have Elspeth,” and after that she slept in
peace. In the meantime Tominy the imaginative — but
that night he was not Tommy, rather was he Grizel,
for he saw her as we can only see ourselves. Now she
—or he, if you will—had been caught by her father
and brought back, and she turned into a painted thing
like her mother. She brandished a brandy bottle and
a stream of foul words ran lightly from her mouth and
suddenly stopped, because she was wailing “I wanted
so to be good, it is sweet to be good!” Nowa man
with a beard was whipping her, and Tommy felt each
lash on his own body, so that he had to strike out, and
he started up in bed, and the horrible thing was that he
had never been asleep. Thus it went on until early
morning, when his eyes were red and his body was
damp with sweat.

But now again he was Tommy, and at first even to
think of leaving Elspeth was absurd. Yet it would be
pleasant to leave Aaron, who disliked him so much.
To disappear without a word would be a fine revenge,
for the people would say that Aaron must have ill-
treated him, and while they searched the pools of the
burn for his body, Aaron would be looking on trembling,
perhaps with a policeman’s hand on his shoulder.
AN ELOPEMENT 395

Tommy saw the commotion as vividly as if the searchers
were already out and he ina tree looking down at them;
but im a second he also heard Elspeth skirling, and
down he flung himself from the tree, crying, “I’m here,
Elspeth, dinna greet; oh, what a brute I’ve been!”
No, he could not leave Elspeth, how wicked of Grizel
to expect it of him; she was a bad one, Grizel.

But having now decided not to go, his sympathy with
the girl who was to lose him returned in a rush, and
before he went to school he besought her to — it
amounted to this, to be more like himself; that is, he
begged her to postpone her departure indefinitely, not:
to make up her mind until to-morrow — or the day after
— or the day after that. He produced reasons, as that
she had only four pounds and some shillings now,
while by and by she might get the Painted Lady’s
money, at present in the bank; also she ought to wait
for the money that would come to her from the roup of
the furniture. But Grizel waived all argument aside;
secure in her four pounds and shillings she was deter-
mined to go to-night, for her father might be here
to-morrow; she was going to London because it was so
big that no one could ever find her there, and she would
never, never write to Tommy to tell him how she fared,
lest the letter put her father on her track. He implored
her to write once, so that the money owing her might
be forwarded, but even this bribe did not move her, and
he set off for school most gloomily.
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3896 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Cathro was specially aggravating that day, nagged
him, said before the whole school that he was a num-
skull, even fell upon him with the tawse, and for no
earthly reason except that Tommy would not bother his
head with the oratio obligua. If there is any kind of
dominie more maddening than another, it is the one
who will not leave you alone (ask any thoughtful boy).
How wretched the lot of him whose life is cast among
fools not capable of understanding him; what was that
saying about entertaining angels unawares ? London !
Grizel had more than sufficient money to take two
there, and once in London, a wonder such as himself
was bound to do wondrous things. Now that he
thought of it, to become a minister was abhorrent to
him; to preach would be rather nice, oh, what things
he should say (he began to make them up, and they
were so grand that he almost wept), but to be good
after the sermon was over, always to be good (even
when Elspeth was out of the way), never to think queer
unsayable things, never to say Stroke, never, in short,
to “find a way ” —he was appalled. If it had not been
for Elspeth ——

So even Elspeth did not need him. When he went
home from school, thinking only of her, he found that
she had gone to the Auld Licht manse to play with
little Margaret. Very well, if such was her wish, he
would go. Nobody wanted him except Grizel. Per-
haps when news came from London of his greatness,
AN: ELOPEMENT 397

they would think more of him. He would send a letter
to Thrums, asking Mr. McLean to transfer his kindness
to Elspeth. That would show them what a noble fellow
he was. Elspeth would really benefit by his disappear-
ance; he was running away for Elspeth’s sake. And
when he was great, which would be in a few years, he
would come back for her.

But no, he—. The dash represents Tommy swither-
ing once more, and he was at one or other end of the
swither all day. When he acted sharply it was always
on impulse, and as soon as the die was cast he. was a
philosopher with no regrets. But when he had time to
reflect, he jumped miserably back and forward. So
when Grizel was ready to start, he did not know in the
least what he meant to do. ;

She was to pass by the Cuttle Well, on her way to
Tilliedrum, where she would get the London train, he
had been told coldly, and he could be there at the time
—ifhe liked. The time was seven o’clock in the even-
ing on a week-day, when the lovers are not in the Den,
and Tommy arrived first. When he stole through the
small field that separates Monypenny from the Den, his
decision was —but on reaching the Cuttle Well, its
nearness to the uncanny Lair chilled his courage, and
now he had only come to bid her good-by. She was
very late, and it suddenly struck him that she had
already set off. “After getting me to promise to go
wi’ her!” he said to himself at once.
895 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

But Grizel came; she was only late because it had
taken her such a long time to say good-by to the girl in
the glass. She was wearing her black dress and lustre
jacket, and carried in a bundle the few treasures she
was taking with her, and though she did not ask Tommy
if he was coming, she cast a quick look round to see if
he had a bundle anywhere, and he had none. That
told her his decision, and she would have liked to sit
down for a minute and cry, but of course she had too
much pride, and she bade him farewell so promptly
that he thought he had a grievance. “I’m coming as
far as the toll-house wi’ you,” he said, sulkily, and so
they started together.

At the toll-house Grizel stopped. “It’s a fine
night,” said Tommy, almost apologetically, “Tl go
as far as the quarry 0’ Benshee.”

When they came to the quarry he said, “We ’re no
half-roads yet, I’ll go wi’ you as far as Padanarum.”
Now she began to wonder and to glance at him side-
ways, which made him more uncomfortable than ever.
To prevent her asking him a question for which he had
no answer, he said, “ What makes you look so little the
day ?”

“T am not looking little,” she replied, greatly
annoyed, “I am looking taller than usual. T have let
down my frock three inches so as to look taller — and
older.”

“You look younger than ever,” he said cruelly.
AN ELOPEMENT 899

“TI don’t! I look fifteen, and when you are fifteen
you grow up very quickly. Do say I look older!” she
entreated anxiously. “It would make me feel more
respectable.”

But he shook his head with surprising obstinacy, and
then she began to remark on his clothes, which had
been exercising her curiosity ever since they left the
Den.

“How is it that you are looking so stout?” she
asked.

“T feel cold, but you are wiping the sweat off your
face every minute.”

It was true, but he would have preferred not to’
answer. Grizel’s questions, however, were all so
straight in the face, that there was no dodging them.
“TI have on twa suits o’ clothes, and a’ my ee he
had to admit, sticky and sullen.

She stopped, but he trudged on doggedly. She ran
after him and gave his arm an impulsive squeeze with
both hands, “Oh, you sweet!” she said.

“No, I’m not,” he answered in alarm.

“Yes you are! You are coming with me.”

“T’m not!”

“Then why did you put on so many clothes ?”

Tommy swithered wretchedly on one foot. “I didna
put them on to come wi’ you,” he explained, “I just
put them on in case I should come wi’ you.”

“And are you not coming ?”
400 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“How can I ken ?”

“But you must decide,” Grizel almost screamed.

“T needna,” he stammered, “till we’re at Tilliedrum.
Let ’s speak about some other thing.”

She rocked her arms, crying, “It is so easy to make
up one’s mind.”

“It’s easy to you that has just one mind,” he re-
torted with spirit, “but if you had as many minds as
I have — !”

On they went.
CHAPTER XXXITII

THERE IS SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL AT LAST

Corp was sitting on the Monypenny dyke, spitting
on a candlestick and then rubbing it briskly against
his orange-colored trousers. The doctor passing in
his gig, both of them streaked, till they blended, with
the mud of Look-about-you road (through which you
should drive winking rapidly all the way), saw him
and drew up.

“ Well, how is Grizel?” he asked. He had avoided
Double Dykes since the funeral, but vain had been his
attempts to turn its little inmate out of his mind; there
she was, against. his will, and there, he now admitted
to himself angrily or with a rueful sigh, she seemed
likely to remain until someone gave her a home. It
was an almost ludicrous distrust of himself that kept
him away from her; he feared that if he went to Double
Dykes her lonely face would complete his conquest.
For oh, he was reluctant to be got the better of, as he
expressed it to himself. Maggy Ann, his maid, was
the ideal woman for a bachelor’s house. When she
saw him coming she fled, guiltily concealing the hated

26



nenerpresemetensecheeneenndenienrennnmemeenaapneere eaeaterrtentmmemmaintaitanta sms
402 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

duster; when he roared at her for announcing that
dinner was ready, she left him to eat it half cold; when
he spilled matches on the floor and then stepped upon
them and set the rug on fire, she let him tell her that
.she should be more careful; she did not carry off his
favorite boots to the cobbler because they were down at
heel; she did not fling up her arms in horror and ery
that she had brushed that coat just five minutes ago;
nor did she count the treasured ‘“‘dottels” on the
mantelpiece to discover how many pipes he had smoked
since morning; nor point out that he had stepped over
the door-mat; nor line her shelves with the new
Mentor ; nor give him up his foot for sitting half the
night with patients who could not pay —in short, he
knew the ways of the limmers, and Maggy Ann was a
jewel. But it had taken him a dozen years to bring her
to this perfection, and well he knew that the curse of
Eve, as he called the rage for the duster, slumbered in
her rather than was extinguished. With the volcanic
Grizel in the house, Maggy Ann would once more burst
into flame, and the horrified doctor looked to right of
him, to left of him, before him and behind him, and
everywhere he seemed to see two new brooms bearing
down. No, the brat, he would not have her; the besom,
why did she bother him; the witches take her, for
putting the idea into his head, nailing it into his head
indeed. But nevertheless he was forever urging other
people to adopt her, assuring them that they would find
SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL 403

her a treasure, and even shaking his staff at them when
they refused; and he was so uneasy if he did not hear
of her several times a day that he made Monypenny
the way to and from everywhere, so that he might drop
into artful talk with those who had seen her last.
Corp, accordingly, was not surprised at his “How is
Grizel ?” now, and he answered, between two spits,
“She ’s fine; she gave me this.”

It was one of the Painted Lady’s silver candlesticks,
and the doctor asked sharply why Grizel had given it
to him.

“She said because she liked me,” Corp replied, won-
deringly. “She brought it to my auntie’s door soon
after I loused, and put it into my hand; ay, and she
had a blue shawl, and she telled me to give it to
Gavinia, because she liked her too.”

“What else did she say ?”

Corp tried to think. “T said, ‘This cows, Grizel,
but thank you kindly,’” he answered, much pleased
with his effort of memory, but the doctor interrupted
him rudely. “Nobody wants to hear what you said,
you dottrel; what more did she say?” And thus
encouraged Corp remembered that she had said she
hoped he would not forget her. “What for should I
forget her when I see her ilka day ?” he asked, and
was probably about to divulge that this was his reply to
her, but without waiting for more, McQueen turned his
beast’s head and drove to the entrance to the Double
404 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Dykes. Here he alighted and hastened up the path on
foot, but before he reached the house he met Dite
Deuchars taking his ease beneath a tree, and Dite could
tell him that Grizel was not at home. “But there ’s
somebody in Double Dykes,” he said, “though I kenna
wha could be there unless it’s the ghost of the Painted
Lady hersel’. About an hour syne I saw Grizel come.
out 0’ the house, carrying a bundle, but she hadna gone
many yards when she turned round and waved her
hand to the east window. I couldna see wha was at it,
but there maun have been somebody, for first the crittur
waved to the window and next she kissed her hand to
it, and syne she went ona bit, and syne she ran back
close to the window and nodded and flung more kisses,
and back and forrit she went a curran times as if she
could hardly tear hersel’ awa’. ‘Wha’s that you’re so
chief wi’ ?’ I speired when she came by me at last, but
she just said, ‘I won’t tell you,’ in her dour wy, and
she hasna come back yet.”

Whom could she have been saying good-by to so
demonstratively, and whither had she gone? With a
curiosity that for the moment took the place of his
uneasiness, McQueen proceeded to the house, the door
of which was shut but not locked. Two glances con-
vinced him that there was no one here, the kitchen was
as he had seen it last, except that the long mirror had
been placed on a chair close to the east window. The
doctor went to the outside of the window, and looked


HE RAN THEM DOWN WITHIN A MILE OF TILLIEDRUM
SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL 405

in, he could see nothing but his own reflection in the
mirror, and was completely puzzled. But it was no
time, he felt, for standing there scratching his head,
when there was reason to fear that the girl had gone.
Gone where’? He saw his selfishness now, in a glaring
light, and it fled out of him pursued by curses.

He stopped at Aaron’s door and called for Tommy,
but Tommy had left the house an hour ago. ‘Gone
with her, the sacket; he very likely put her up to this,”
the doctor muttered, and the surmise seemed justified
when he heard that Grizel and Tommy had been seen
passing the Fens. That they were running away had
never struck those who saw them, and McQueen said
nothing of his suspicions, but off he went in his gig on
their track and ran them down within a mile of Tillie-
drum. Grizel scurried on, thinking it was undoubtedly
her father, but in a few minutes the three were convers-
ing almost amicably, the doctor’s first words bad been
so “sweet.”

Tommy explained that they were out for a walk,
but Grizel could not lie, and in a few passionate sen-
tences she told McQueen the truth. He had guessed the
greater part of it, and while she spoke he looked so
sorry for her, such a sweet change had come over his
manner, that she held his hand.

“But you must go no farther,” he told her, “I am to
take you back with me,” and that alarmed her. “I wou’t
go back,” she said, determinedly, “he might come.”
406 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“There's little fear of his coming,” McQueen assured
her, gently, “but if he does come I give you my solemn
word that I won’t let him take you away unless you
want to go.”

Even then she only wavered, but he got her altogether
with this: “And should he come, just think what a
piece of your mind you could give him, with me stand-
ing by holding your hand.”

“Oh, would you do that ?” she asked, brightening.

“T would do a good deal to get the chance,” he said.

“T ghould just love it!” she cried. “I shall come
now,” and she stepped light-heartedly into the gig,
where the doctor joined her. Tommy, who had been in
the background all this time, was about to jump up
beside them, but McQueen waved him back, saying
maliciously, “There ’s just room for two, my man, so I
won’t interfere with your walk.”

Tommy, in danger of being left, very hot and stout
and sulky, whimpered, “What have I done to anger
you?”

“You were going with her, you blackguard,” replied
McQueen, not yet in full possession of the facts, for
whether Tommy was or was not going with her no one
can ever know.

“Tf I was,” cried the injured boy, “it wasna because
I wanted to go, it was because it wouldna have been
respectable for her to go by hersel’.”

The doctor had already started his shalt, but at these
SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL 407

astonishing words he drew up sharply. “Say that
again,” he said, as if thinking that his ears must have
deceived him, and Tommy repeated his remark, won-
dering at its effect.

“And you tell me that you were going with her,” the
doctor repeated, “to make her enterprise more respect-
able ?” and he looked from one to the other.

“Of course I was,” replied Tommy, resenting his
surprise at a thing so obvious; and “That’s why I
wanted him to come,” chimed in Grizel.

Still McQueen’s glance wandered from the boy to the
girl and from the girl to the boy. “You area pair!”
he said at last, and he signed in silence to Tommy to
mount the gig. But his manner had alarmed Grizel,
ever watching herself lest she should stray into the
ways of bad ones, and she asked anxiously, “There
was nothing wrong in it, was there ?”

“No,” the doctor answered gravely, laying his hand
on hers, “no, it was just sweet.”

What McQueen had to say to her was not for
Tommy’s ears, and the conversation was but a make-
shift until they reached Thrums, where he sent the boy
home, recommending him to hold his tongue about the
escapade (and Tommy of course saw the advisability of
keeping it from Elspeth); but he took Grizel into his
parlor and set her down on the buffet stool by the fire,
where he surveyed her in silence at his leisure. Then
408 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

he tried her in his old armchair, then on his sofa; then
he put the Mentor into her hand and told her to hold it
as if it were a duster, then he sent her into the passage,
with instructions to open the door presently and announce
“Dinner is ready;” then he told her to put some coals
on the fire; then he told her to sit at the window, first
with an open book in her hand, secondly as if she was
busy knitting; and all these things she did wondering
exceedingly, for he gave no explanation except the
incomprehensible one, “I want to see what it would be
like.”

She had told him in the gig why she had changed the
position of the mirror at Double Dykes, it was to let
“that darling” wave good-by to her from the window;
and now having experimented with her in his parlor he
drew her toward his chair, so that she stood between
his knees. And he asked her if she understood why he
had gone to Double Dykes.

“Was it to get me to tell you what were the names in
the letter ?” she said, wistfully. “That is what every-
one asks me, but I won’t tell, no, I won’t;” and she
closed her mouth hard.

He, too, would have liked to hear the names, and he
sighed, it must be admitted, at sight of that determined
mouth, but he could say truthfully, “Your refusal to
break your promise is one of the things that I admire
in you.”

Admire! Grizel could scarce believe that this gift
SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL 409

was for her. ‘You don’t mean that you really like
me?” she faltered, but she felt sure all the time that
he did, and she cried, “Oh, but why, oh, how can
you!”

‘“‘For one reason,’ he said, “because you are so
good.”

“Good! Oh! oh! oh!” She clapped her hands
joyously. é

“ And for another — because you are so brave.”

“But I am not really brave,” she said anxiously,
yet resolved to hide nothing, “I only pretend to be
brave, I am often frightened, but I just don’t let on.”

That, he told her, is the highest form of bravery, but
Grizel was very, very tired of being brave, and she
insisted impetuously, “I don’t want to be brave, I want
to be afraid, like other girls.”

“ Ay, it’s your right, you little woman,” he answered,
tenderly, and then again he became mysterious. He
kicked off his shoes to show her that he was wearing
socks that did not match. “TI just pull on the first that
come to hand,” he said recklessly.

“Oh!” cried Grizel.

On his dusty book-shelves he wrote, with his finger,
“Not dusted since the year One.”

“Oh! oh!” she cried.

He put his fingers through his gray, untidy hair.
“That ’s the only comb I have that is at hand when I

want it,” he went on, regardless of her agony.
410 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“All the stud-holes in my shirts,” he said, “are now
so frayed and large that the studs fall out, and I find
them in my socks at night.”

Oh! oh! he was killing her, he was, but what cared
he? “Look at my clothes,” said the cruel man, “I
read when I’m eating, and I spill so much gravy that
—that we boil my waistcoat once a month, and make
soup of it!”

To Grizel this was the most tragic picture ever drawn
by man, and he saw that it was time to desist. “And
it’s all,” he said, looking at her sadly, “it’s all because
Iam a lonely old bachelor with no womankind to look
after him, no little girl to brighten him when he comes
home dog-tired, no one to care whether his socks are in
holes and his comb behind the wash-stand, no sott hand
to soothe his brow when it aches, no one to work for,
no one to love, many a one to close the old bachelor’s

eyes when he dies, but none to drop a tear for him, no
oP)



one to

“Oh! oh! oh! That is just like me. Oh! oh!”
eried Grizel, and he pulled her closer to him, saying,
“The more reason we should join thegither; Grizel, if
you don’t take pity on me, and come and bide with me
and be my little housekeeper, the Lord Almighty only
knows what is to become of the old doctor.”

At this she broke away from him, and stood far back
pressing her arms to her sides, and she cried, “It is not
out of charity you ask me, is it?” and then she went a
SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL 411

little nearer. “You would not say it if it was n’t true,
would you?”

“No, my dawtie, it’s true,” he told her, and if he
had been pitying himself a little, there was an end of
that now.

She remembered something and cried joyously,
“And you knew what was in my blood before you asked
me, so I don’t need to tell you, do I? And you are not
afraid that I shall corrupt you, are you? And you
don’t think it a pity I didn’t die when I was a tiny
baby, do you? Some people think so, I heard them
say it.”

“What would have become of me ?” was all he dared
answer in words, but he drew her to him again, and
when she asked if it was true, as she had heard some
woman say, that in some matters men were all alike,
and did what that one man had done to her mamma,
he could reply solemnly, “No, it is not true; it’s a lie
that has done more harm than any war in any century.”

She sat on his knee, telling him many things that
had come recently to her knowledge but were not so
new to him. The fall of woman was the subject, a
strange topic for a girl of thirteen and a man of sixty.
‘They don’t become wicked in a moment, he learned; if
they are good to begin with, it takes quite a long time
to make them bad. Her mamma was good to begin
with. “TI know she was good, because when she

thought she was the girl she used to be, she looked
412 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

sweet and said lovely things.” The way.the men do is
this, they put evil thoughts into the woman’s head,
and say them often to her, till she gets accustomed to
them, and thinks they cannot be bad when the man she
loves likes them, and it is called corrupting the mind.

“And then a baby comes to them,” Grizel said
softly, “and it is called a child of shame. I ama child
of shame.”

He made no reply, so she looked up, and his face was
very old and sad. “T am sorry too,” she whispered,
but still he said nothing, and then she put her fingers
on his eyes to discover if they were wet, and they were
wet. And so Grizel knew that there was someone who
loved her at last.

The mirror was the only article of value that Grizel
took with her to her new home; everything else was
rouped at the door of Double Dykes; Tommy, who
should have been at his books, acting as auctioneer’s
elerk for sixpence. There are houses in Thrums where
you may still be told who got the bed and who the
rocking-chair, and how Nether Drumeley’s wife dared
him to come home without the spinet; but it is not by
the sales that the roup is best remembered. Curiosity
took many persons into Double Dykes that day, and in
the room that had never been furnished they saw a
mournful stack of empty brandy bottles, piled there by
the auctioneer who had found them in every corner,
beneath the bed, in presses, in boxes, whither they had
SOME ONE TO LOVE GRIZEL 418

been thrust by Grizel’s. mamma, as if to conceal their
number from herself. The counting of these bottles
was a labor, but it is not even by them that the roup is
remembered. Among them some sacrilegious hands
found a bundle of papers with a sad blue ribbon round
them. They were the Painted Lady’s love-letters, the
letters she had written to the man. Why or how they
had come back to her no one knew.

Most of them were given to Grizel, but a dozen or
more passed without her leave into the kists of various
people, where often since then they have been consulted
by swains in need of a pretty phrase; and Tommy’s
school-fellows, the very boys and girls who hooted the
Painted Lady, were in time — so oddly do things turn
out —to be among those whom her letters taught how
to woo. Where the kists did not let in the damp or
careless fingers, the paper long remained clean, the ink
but little faded. Some of the letters were creased, as
if they had once been much folded, perhaps for slipping
into secret hiding-places, but none of them bore any
address or a date. “To my beloved,” was sometimes
written on the cover, and inside he was darling or
beloved again. So no one could have arranged them in
the order in which they were written, though there was
a three-cornered one which said it was the first. There
was a violet in it, clinging to the paper as if they were
fond of each other, and Grizel’s mamma had written,
“The violet is me, hiding in a corner because I am so
414 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

happy.” The letters were in many moods, playful,
reflective, sad, despairing, arch, but all were written in
an ecstasy of the purest love, and most of them were
cheerful, so that you seemed to see the sun dancing on
the paper while she wrote, the same sun that afterwards
showed up her painted cheeks. Why they came back
to her no one ever discovered, any more than how she
who slipped the violet into that three-cornered one and
took it out to kiss again and wrote, “It is my first love-
letter, and I love it so much I am reluctant to let it go,”
became in a few years the derision of the Double Dykes.
Some of these letters may be in old kists still, but
whether that is so or not, they alone have passed the
Painted Lady’s memory from one generation to another,
and they have purified it, so that what she was died
with her vile body, and what she might have been lived
on, as if it were her true self.
CHAPTER XXXIV

WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK



Miss Axtson Cray presents her compliments to
and requests the favor of their company at her marriage
with Mr. Ivie McLean, on January 8th, at six o’clock.”

Tommy in his Sabbath clothes, with a rose from the
Dovecot hot-house for buttonhole (which he slipped into
his pocket when he saw other boys approaching), de-
livered them at.the doors of the aristocracy, where,
by the way, he had been a few weeks earlier, with
another circular,

“Miss Alison Cray being about to give up school, has
pleasure in stating that she has disposed of the good-
will of her establishment to Miss Jessy Langlands and
Miss 8. Oram, who will enter upon their scholastic
duties on January 9th, at Roods Cottage, where she
most cordially,” and so on.

Here if the writer dared (but you would be so angry)
he would introduce at the length of a chapter two
brand-new characters, the Misses Langlands and Oram,
who suddenly present themselves to him in the most
sympathetic light. Miss Ailie has been safely stowed
416 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

to port, but their little boat is only setting sail, and
they are such young ones, neither out of her teens, that
he would fain turn fora time from hertothem. ‘Twelve
pounds they paid for the good-will, and, oh, the excit-
ing discussions, oh, the scraping to get the money
together! If little Miss Langlands had not been so
bold, big Miss Oram must have drawn back, but if
Miss Oram had not had that idea about a paper parti-
tion, of what avail the boldness of Miss Langlands ?
How these two trumps of girls succeeded in hiring the
Painted Lady’s spinet from Nether Drumgley — in the
absence of his wife, who on her way home from buying
a cochin-china met the spinet in a cart —how the
mother of one of them, realizing in a klink that she was
common no more, henceforth wore black caps instead of
mutches (but the father dandered on in the old plebeian
way), what the enterprise meant to a young man in
distant Newcastle, whose favorite name was Jessy, how
the news travelled to still more distant Canada, where
a family of emigrants which had left its Sarah behind
in Thrums, could talk of nothing else for weeks — it is
hard to have to pass on without dwelling on these
things, and indeed — but pass on we must.

The chief figure at the wedding of Miss Ailhe was
undoubtedly Mr. I. Sandys. When one remembers his
prominence, it is difficult to think that the wedding
could have taken place without him. It was he (in his
Sabbath clothes again, and now flaunting his buttonhole
WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK 417

brazenly) who in insulting language ordered the rabble
to stand back there. It was he who dashed out to the
’Sosh to get a hundred ha’pennies for the fifty pennies
Mr. McLean had brought to toss into the air. It was
he who went round in the carriage to pick up the guests
and whisked them in and out, and slammed the door,
and saw to it that the minister was not kept waiting,
and warned Miss Ailie that if she did not come now
they should begin without her. It was he who stood
near her with a handkerchief ready in his hand lest she
took to crying on her new brown silk (Miss Ailie was
married in brown silk after all). As a crown to his
audacity, it was he who told Mr. Dishart, in the middle
of a noble passage, to mind the lamp.

These duties were Dr. McQueen’s, the best man,
but either demoralized by the bridegroom, who went all
to pieces at the critical moment and was much more
nervous than the bride, or in terror lest Grizel, who
had sent him to the wedding speckless and most beau-
tifully starched, should suddenly appear at the door
and ery, “Oh, oh, take your fingers off your shirt!” he
was through other till the knot was tied, and then it
was too late, for Tommy had made his mark. It was
Tommy who led the way to the school-room, where the
feast was ready, it was Tommy who put the guests in
their places (even the banker cringed to him), it was
Tommy who winked to Mr. Dishart as a sign to say
grace. As you will readily believe, Miss Ailie could

27
418 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

not endure the thought of excluding her pupils from
the festivities, and they began to arrive as soon as the
tables had been cleared of all save oranges and tarts
and raisins. Tommy, waving Gavinia aside, showed
them in, and one of them, curious to tell, was Corp, in
borrowed blacks, and Tommy shock hands with him
and called him Mr. Shiach, both new experiences to
Corp, who knocked over a table in his anxiety to behave
himself, and roared at intervals “Do you see the little
deevil!” and bit his warts and then politely swallowed
the blood.

As if oranges and tarts and raisins were not enough,
came the Punch and Judy show, Tommy’s culminating
triumph. All the way to Redlintie had Mr. McLean
sent for the Punch and Judy show, and nevertheless
there was a probability of no performance, for Miss
Ailie considered the show immoral. Most anxious was
she to give pleasure to her pupils, and this she knew
was the best way, but how could she countenance an
entertainment which was an encouragement to every
form of vice and crime? To send these children to the
Misses Langlands and Oram, fresh from an introduction
to the comic view of murder! It could not be done,
now could it? Mr. McLean could make no sugges-
tion. Mr. Dishart thought it would be advisable to
substitute another entertainment; was there not a game
called “The Minister’s Cat” ? Mrs. Dishart thought
they should have the show.and risk the consequences.
WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK 419

So also thought Dr. McQueen. The banker was con-
sulted, but saw no way out of the difficulty, nor did the
lawyer, nor did the Misses Finlayson. Then Tommy ap-
peared on the scene, and presently retired to find a way.

He found it. The performance took place, and none
of the fun was omitted, yet neither Miss Ailie — tuts,
tuts Mrs. McLean — nor Mr. Dishart could disapprove.
Punch did chuck his baby out at the window (roars of
‘ laughter) in his jovial time-honored way, du¢ imme-
diately thereafter up popped the showman to say, “ Ah,
my dear boys and girls, let this be a lesson to you never
to destroy your offsprings. Oh, shame on Punch, for
to do the wicked deed; he will be catched in the end
and serve him right.” Then when Mr. Punch had
wolloped his wife with the stick, amid thunders of
applause, up again bobbed the showman, “Ah, my dear
boys and girls, what a lesson is this we sees, what
goings on is this? He have bashed the head of her as
should ha’ been the apple of his eye, and he does not
care a—he does not care; but mark my words, his
home it will now be desolate, no more shall she meet him
at his door with kindly smile, he have done for her quite,
and now he is a hunted man. Oh, be warned by his
sad igsample, and do not bash the head of your loving
wife.” And there was a great deal more of the same,
and simple Mrs. McLean almost wept. tears of joy
because her favorite’s good heart had suggested these
improvements.
420 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Grizel was not at the wedding; she was invited, but
could not go because she was in mourning. But only
her parramatty frock was in mourning, for already she
had been the doctor’s housekeeper for two full months,
and her father had not appeared to plague her (he never
did appear, it may be told at once), and so how could
her face be woful when her heart leapt with gladness ?
Never had prisoner pined for the fields more than this
reticent girl to be frank, and she poured out her inmost
self to the doctor, so that daily he discovered something
beautiful (and exasperating) about womanhood. And
it was his love for her that had changed her. “You do
love me, don’t you?” she would say, and his answer
might be “I have told you that fifty times already; ” to
which she would reply, gleefully, “That is not often, I
say it all day to myself.”

Exasperating 2? Yes, that was the word. Long
before summer came, the doctor knew that he had
given himself into the hands ofa tyrant. It was idle
his saying that this irregularity and that carelessness
were habits that had become part of him; she only
rocked her arms impatiently, and if he would not stand
still to be put to rights, then she would follow him
along the street, brushing him as he walked, a sight
that was witnessed several times while he was in the
mutinous stage.

“Talk about masterfulness,” he would say, when she
whipped off his coat or made a dart at the mud on his
WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK 421

trousers; “you are the most masterful little besom I
ever clapped eyes on.”

But as he said it he perhaps crossed his legs, and she
immediately cried, “You have missed two holes in
lacing your boots!”

Of a morning he would ask her sarcastically to
examine him from top to toe and see if he would do,
and examine him she did, turning him round, pointing
out that he had been sitting “again” on his tails, that
oh, oh, he must have cut that buttonhole with his
knife. He became most artful in hiding deficiencies
from her, but her suspicions once roused would not
sleep, and all subterfuge was vain. “Why have you
buttoned your coat up tight to the throat to-day ?” she
would demand sternly.

“Tt is such a cold morning,” he said.

“That is not the reason,” she replied at once (she
could see through broadcloth at a glance), “I believe
you have on the old necktie again, and you promised to
buy a new one.”

“T always forget about it when I’m out,” he said
humbly, and next evening he found on his table a new
tie, made by Grizel herself out of her mamma’s rokelay.

It was related by one who had dropped in at the
doctor’s house unexpectedly, that he found Grizel mak-
ing a new shirt, and forcing the doctor to try on the
sleeves while they were still in the pin stage.

She soon knew his every want, and just as he was
422 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

beginning to want it, there it was at his ‘elbow. He
realized what a study she had made of him when he
heard her talking of his favorite dishes and his favorite
seat, and his way of biting his underlip when in
thought, and how hard he was on his left cuff. It had
‘been one of his boasts that he had no favorite dishes,
etc., but he saw now that he had been a slave to them
for years without knowing it.

She discussed him with other mothers as if he were
her little boy, and he denounced her for it. But all
the time she was spoiling him. Formerly he had got
on very well when nothing was in its place. Now he
roared helplessly if he mislaid his razor.

He was determined to make a lady of her, which
necessitated her being sent to school; she preferred
hemming, baking and rubbing things till they shone,
and not both could have had their way (which sounds
fatal for the man), had they not arranged a compromise,
Grizel, for instance, to study geography for ar hour in
the evening with Miss Langlands (go to school in the
daytime she would not) so long as the doctor shaved
every morning, but if no shave no geography; the
doctor to wipe his pen on the blot-sheet instead of on
the lining of his coat if she took three lessons a week
from Miss Oram on the spinet. How happy and
proud she was! Her glee was a constant source of
wonder to McQueen. Perhaps she put on airs a little,
her walk, said the critical, had become a strut; but how
WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK 423 |

could she help that when the new joyousness of living
was dancing and singing within her ?

Had all her fears for the future rolled away like
clouds that leave no mark behind ? The doctor thought
so at times, she so seldom spoke of them to him; he did
not see that when they came she hid them from him
because she had discovered that they saddened him.
And she had so little time to brood, being convinced of
the sinfulness of sitting still, that if the clouds came
suddenly, they never stayed long save once, and then it
was, mayhap, as well. The thunderclap was caused by
Tommy, who brought it on unintentionally and was
almost as much scared by his handiwork as Grizel
herself. She and he had been very friendly of late,
partly because they shared with McQueen the secret
of the frustrated elopement, partly because they both
thought that in that curious incident Tommy had
behaved in a most disinterested and splendid way.
Grizel had not been sure of it at first, but it had grown
on Tommy, he had so thoroughly convinced himself of
his intention to get into the train with her at Tilliedrum
that her doubts were dispelled — easily dispelled, you
say, but the truth must be told, Grizel was very anxious
to be rid of them. And Tommy’s were honest convic-
tions, born full grown of a desire for happiness to all.
Had Elspeth discovered how nearly he had deserted
her, the same sentiment would have made him swear to
her with tears that never should he have gone farther
424 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

than Tilliedrum, and while he was persuading her he
would have persuaded himself. Then again, when ,he
met Grizel — well, to get him in doubt it would have
been necessary to catch him on the way between these
two girls.

So Tommy and Grizel were friends, and finding that
it hurt the doctor to speak on a certain subject to him,
Grizel gave her confidences to Tommy. She had a
fear, which he shared on its being explained to him,
that she might meet a man of the stamp of her father,
and grow fond of him before she knew the kind he was,
and as even Tommy could not suggest an infallible test
which would lay them bare at the first glance, he con-
sented to consult Blinder once more. He found the
blind man by his fire-side, very difficult to coax into
words on the important topic, but Tommy’s “You ’ve
said ower much no to tell a bit more,” seemed to
impress him, and he answered the question, —

“You said a woman should fly frae the like 0’ Grizel’s
father though it should be to the other end of the world,
but how is she to ken that he ’s that kind ?”

“She ’ll ken,” Blinder answered after thinking it
over, “if she likes him and fears him at one breath,
and has a sort of secret dread that he’s getting a power
ower her that she canna resist.”

These words were a flash of light on a neglected
corner to Tommy. “Now I see, now I ken,” he ex-
claimed, amazed; “now I ken what my mother meant!
WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK 425

Blinder, is that no the kind of man that’s called mas-
terful ?”

“Tt ’s what poor women find them and call them to
their cost,” said Blinder.

Tommy’s excitement was prodigious. “Now I ken,
now I see!” he cried, slapping his leg and stamping up
and down the room.

“Sit down!” roared his host.

“JT canna,” retorted the boy. “Oh, to think o’t, to
think I came to speir that question at you, to think her
and me has wondered what kind he was, and I kent a’
the time!” Without staying to tell Blinder what he
was blethering about, he hurried off to Grizel, who was
waiting for him in the Den, and to her he poured out
his astonishing news.

“T ken all about them, I’ve kent since afore I came
to Thrums, but though I generally say the prayer, I’ve
forgot to think o’ what it means.” In a stampede of
words he told her all he could remember of his mother’s
story as related to him on a grim night in London so
long ago, and she listened eagerly. And when that
was over, he repeated first his prayer and then
Elspeth’s, “O God, whatever is to be my fate, may I
never be one of them that bow the knee to masterful
man, and if I was born like that and canna help it, O
take me up to heaven afore I’m fil’t.” Grizel repeated
it after him until she had it by heart, and even as
she said it a strange thing happened, for she began
426 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

to draw back from Tommy, with a look of terror on
her face.

“What makes you look at me like that ?” he cried.

“JT believe —I think — you are masterful,” she
gasped.

“Me!” he retorted indignantly.

“Now,” she went on, waving him back, “now I know
why I would not give in to you when you wanted me to
be Stroke’s wife. I was afraid you were masterful!”

“Was that it?” cried Tommy.

“Now,” she proceeded, too excited to heed his inter-
ruptions, “now I know why I would not kiss your
hand, now I know why I would not say I liked you. I
was afraid of you, I ——”

“Were you?” His eyes began to ee and some-
thing very like rapture was pushing the indignation
from his face. “Oh, Grizel, have I a power ower
you ?”

“No, you have not,” she cried passionately. “I was
just frightened that you might have. Oh, oh, I know
you now!”

“To think o’t, to think 0’t!” he crowed, wagging his
head, and then she clenched her fist, crying, “Oh, you
wicked, you should ery with shame!”

But he had his answer ready, “It canna be my wite,
for I never kent 0’t till you telled me. Grizel, it has
just come about without either of us kenning!”

She shuddered at this, and then seized him by the
WHO TOLD TOMMY TO SPEAK 427

shoulders. “It has not come about at all,” she said, “I
was only frightened that it might come, and now it
can’t come, for I won’t let it.”

“But can you help yoursel’ ?”

“Yes, I can. I shall never be friends with you
again.”

She had such a capacity for keeping her word that
this alarmed him, and he did his best to extinguish his
lights. “I’m no masterful, Grizel,” he said, “and I
dinna want to be, it was just for a minute that I liked
the thought.” She shook her head, but his next words
had more effect. “If I had been that kind, would I
have teached you Elspeth’s prayer ?”

“N-no, I don’t think so,” she said slowly, and per-
haps he would have succeeded in soothing her, had not
a sudden thought brought back the terror to her face.

“What is ’t now ?” he asked.

“Oh, oh, oh!” she cried, “and I nearly went away
with you!” and without another word she fled from the
Den. She never told the doctor of this incident, and in
time it became a mere shadow in the background, so
that she was again his happy housekeeper, but that was
because she had found strength to break with Tommy.
She was only an eager little girl, pathetically ignorant
about what she wanted most to understand, but she saw
how an instinct had been fighting for her, and now it
should not have to fight alone. How careful she
became! All Tommy’s wiles were vain, she would
428 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

scarcely answer if he spoke to her; if he had ever pos-
sessed a power over her it was gone, Elspeth’s prayer
had saved her.

Jean Myles had told Tommy to teach that prayer
to Elspeth; but who had told him to repeat it to
Grizel ?
CHAPTER XXXV.

THE BRANDING OF TOMMY

GrizeL’s secession had at least one good effect: it
gave Tommy more time in which to make a scholar of
himself. Would you like a picture of Tommy trying
to make a scholar of himself ?

They all helped him in their different ways: Grizel,
by declining his company; Corp, by being far away at
Look-about-you, adding to the inches of a farm-house;
Aaron Latta, by saying nothing but looking “college
or the herding;” Mr. McLean, who had settled down
with Ailie at the Dovecot, by inquiries about his pro-
gress; Elspeth by —but did Elspeth’s talks with him
about how they should live in Aberdeen and afterwards
(when they were in the big house) do more than send
his mind a-galloping (she holding on behind) along
roads that lead not to Aberdeen ? What drove Tommy
oftenest to the weary drudgery was, perhaps, the alarm
that came over him when he seemed of a sudden to hear
the names of the bursars proclaimed and no Thomas
Sandys among them. Then did he shudder, for well he
knew that Aaron would keep his threat, and he hastily
430 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

covered the round table with books and sat for hours
sorrowfully pecking at them, every little while to dis-
cover that his mind had soared to other things, when
he hauled it back, as one draws in a reluctant kite. On
these occasions Aaron seldom troubled him, except by
glances that, nevertheless, brought the kite back more
quickly than if they had been words of warning. If
Elspeth was present, the warper might sit moodily by
the fire, but when the man and the boy were left
together, one or other of them soon retired, as if this
was the only way of preserving the peace. Though
determined to keep his word to Jean Myles liberally,
Aaron had never liked Tommy, and Tommy’s avoidance
of him is easily accounted for; he knew that Aaron did
not admire him, and unless you admired Tommy he
was always a boor in your presence, shy and self-
distrustful. Especially was this so if you were a lady
(how amazingly he got on in after years with some of
you, what agony others endured till he went away!),
and it is the chief reason why there are such contra-
dictory accounts of him to-day.

Sometimes Mr. Cathro had hopes of him other than
those that could only be revealed in a shameful whisper
with the door shut. “Not so bad,” he might say to
Mr. McLean; “if he keeps it up we may squeeze him
through yet, without trusting to—to what I was fool
enough to mention to you. The mathematics are his
weak point, there ’s nothing practical about him (except
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 431

when it’s needed to carry out his devil’s designs) and
he cares not a doit about the line A B, nor what it’s
doing in the circle K, but there ’s whiles he surprises
me when we’re at Homer. He has the spirit o’t, man,
even when he bogles at the sense.”

But the next time Ivie called for a report —!

In his great days, so glittering, so brief (the days of
the penny Life) Tommy, looking back to this year, was
sure that he had never really tried to work. But he
had. He did his very best, doggedly, wearily sitting
at the round table till Elspeth feared that he was kill-
ing himself and gave him a melancholy comfort by
saying so. An hour afterwards he might discover that
he had been far away from his books, looking on at
his affecting death and counting the mourners at the
funeral.

Had he thought that Grizel’s discovery was making
her unhappy he would have melted at once, but never
did she look so proud as when she scornfully passed
him by, and he wagged his head complacently over her
coming chagrin when she heard that he had carried the
highest bursary. Then she would know what she had
‘flung away. This should have helped him to another
struggle with his lexicon, but it only provided a breeze
for the kite, which flew so strong that he had to let go
the string.

Aaron and the Dominie met one day in the square,
and to Aaron’s surprise Mr. Cathro’s despondency
432 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

about Tommy was more pronounced than before. “I
wonder at that,” the warper said, “ for I assure you he
has been harder at it than ever thae last nights.
What ’s more, he used to look doleful as he sat at his
table, but I notice now that he’s as sweer to leave off
as he’s keen to begin, and the face of him is a’ eager-
ness too, and he reads ower to himself what he has
wrote and wags his head at it as if he thought it
grand.”

“Say you so?” asked Cathro, suspiciously; “does
he leave what he writes lying about, Aaron?”

“No, but he takes it to you, does he no’ ?”

“Not him,” said the Dominie, emphatically. “1
may be mistaken, Aaron, but I’m doubting the young
whelp is at his tricks again.”

The Dominie was right, and before many days passed
he discovered what was Tommy’s new and delicious
occupation.

For years Mr. Cathro had been in the habit of writ-
ing letters for such of the populace as could not guide a
pen, and though he often told them not to come deaving
him he liked the job, unexpected presents of a hen or a
ham occasionally arriving as his reward, while the per-
sonal matters thus confided to him, as if he were a safe
for the banking of private histories, gave him and his
wife gossip for winter nights. Of late the number of
his clients had decreased without his noticing it, so
confident was he that they could not get on without
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 433

him, but he received a shock at last from Andrew
Dickie, who came one Saturday night with paper,
envelope, a Queen’s head, and a request for a letter for
Bell Birse, now of Tilliedrum. 5

“You want me to speir in your name whether she’ll
have you, do you?” asked Cathro, with a flourish of
his pen.

“Tt ’s no just so simple as that,” said Andrew, and
then he seemed to be rather at a loss to say what it was.
“T dinna ken,” he continued presently with a grave face,
“whether you’ve noticed that I’m a gey queer deevil?
Losh, I think I’m the queerest deevil I ken.”

“We are all that,” the Dominie assured him. “But
what do you want me to write ?”

“Well, it’s like this,” said Andrew, “I’m willing to
marry her if she’s agreeable, but I want to make sure
that she ’ll take me afore I speir her. I’m a proud
man, Dominie.”

“You ’re a sly one!”

“Am I no!” said Andrew, well pleased. “Well,
could you put the letter in that wy?”

“T wouldna,” replied Mr. Cathro, “though I eould,
and I couldna though I would. It would defy the face
of clay to do it, you canny lover.”

Now, the Dominie had frequently declined to write
as he was bidden, and had suggested alterations which
were invariably accepted, but to his astonishment

Andrew would not give in. “I’ll be stepping, then,”
28
434 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

he said coolly, “for if you hinna the knack o’t I ken
somebody that has.”

“Who ?” demanded the irate Dominie.

“I promised no to tell you,” replied Andrew, and
away he went. Mr. Cathro expected him to return
presently in humbler mood, but was disappointed, and
a week or two afterwards he heard Andrew and Mary
Jane Proctor cried in the parish church. “Did Bell

_Birse refuse him ?” he asked the kirk officer, and was
informed that Bell had never gota chance. “His letter
was so cunning,” said John, “that without speiring
her, it drew ane frae her in which she let out that she
was centred on Davit Allardyce.”

“But who wrote Andrew’s letter ?” asked Mr. Cathro,
sharply.

“TJ thought it had been yoursel’,” said John, and the
Dominie chafed, and lost much of the afternoon service
by going over in his mind the names of possible rivals.
He never thought of Tommy.

Then a week or two later fell a heavier blow. At
least twice a year the Dominie had written for Meggy
Duff to her daughter in Ireland a long letter founded
on this suggestion, “Dear Kaytherine, if you dinna
send ten shillings immediately, your puir auld mother
will have neither house nor hame. I’m erying to
you for’t, Kaytherine; hearken and you’ll hear my
ery across the cauldriff sea.” He met Meggy in the
Banker’s Close one day, and asked her pleasantly if the
time was not drawing nigh for another appeal.
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 435

“T have wrote,”

replied the old woman, giving her
pocket a boastful smack, which she thus explained,
“And it was the whole ten shillings this time, and you
never got more for me than five.”

“Who wrote the letter for you?” he asked, lowering.

She, too, it seemed, had promised not to tell.

“Did you promise to tell nobody, Meggy, or just no
to tell me,” he pressed her, of a sudden suspecting
Tommy.

“Just no to tell you,” she answered, and at that,

“Da-a-a,” began the Dominie, and then saved his
reputation by adding “gont.” The derivation of the
word dagont has puzzled many, but here we seem to
have it.

It is interesting to know what Tommy wrote. The
general opinion was that his letter must have been a
triumph of eloquent appeal, and indeed he had first
sketched out several masterpieces, all of some length
and in different styles, but on the whole not unlike the
concoctions of Meggy’s former secretary; that is, he
had dwelt on the duties of daughters, on the hardness
of the times, on the certainty that if Katherine helped
this time assistance would never be needed again.
This sort of thing had always satisfied the Dominie,
but Tommy, despite his several attempts, had a vague
consciousness that there was something second-rate
about them, and he tapped on his brain till it
responded. The letter he despatched to Ireland, but
436 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

had the wisdom not to read aloud even to Meggy, con:
tained nothing save her own words, “Dear Kaytherine,
if you dinna send ten shillings immediately, your puir
auld mother will have neither house nor hame. I’m
crying to you for’t, Kaytherine; hearken and you?ll
hear my cry across the cauldriff sea.” It was a call
from the heart which transported Katherine to Thrums
in a second of time, she seemed to see her mother
again, grown frail since last they met — and so all was
well for Meggy. Tommy did not put all this to him-
self but he felt it, and after that he could not have
written the letter differently. Happy Tommy! To be
an artist is a great thing, but to be an artist and not
know it is the most glorious plight in the world.

Other fickle clients put their correspondence into the
boy’s hands, and Cathro found it out but said nothing.
Dignity kept him in check; he did not even let the
tawse speak for him. So well did he dissemble that
Tommy could not decide how much he knew, and
dreaded his getting hold of some of the letters, yet
pined to watch his face while he read them. This
could not last forever. Mr. Cathro was like a haughty
kettle which has choked its spout that none may know
it has come a-boil, and we all know what in that event
must happen sooner or later to the lid.

The three boys who had college in the tail of their
eye had certain privileges not for the herd. It was
taken for granted that when knowledge came their way
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 487

they needed no overseer to make them stand their
ground, and accordingly for great part of the day they
had a back bench to themselves, with half a dozen
hedges of boys and girls between them and the Dominie.
From his chair Mr. Cathro could not see them, but a
foot-board was nailed to it, and when he stood on this,
as he had an aggravating trick of doing, softly and
swiftly, they were suddenly in view. A large fire had
been burning all day and the atmosphere was sporific.
Mr. Cathro was so sleepy himself that the sight of a
nodding head enraged him like a caricature, and he
was on the foot-board frequently for the reason that
makes bearded men suck peppermints in church.
Against his better judgment he took several peeps at
Tommy, whom he had lately suspected of writing his
letters in school or at least of gloating over them on
that back bench. To-day he was sure of it. However
absorbing Euclid may be, even the forty-seventh of the
first book does not make you chuckle and wag your
head; you can bring a substantive in Virgil back to the
verb that has lost it without looking as if you would
like to exhibit them together in the square. But
Tommy was thus elated until he gave way to grief of
the most affecting kind. Now he looked gloomily
before him as if all was over, now he buried his face in
his hands, next his eyes were closed ‘as if in prayer.
All this the Dominie stood from him, but when at last
he began to blubber —
438 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

At the black-board was an arithmetic class, slates in
hand, each member adding up aloud in turn a row of
figures. By and by it was known that Cathro had
ceased to listen. “Go on,” his voice rather than him-
self said, and he accepted Mary Dundas’s trembling
assertion that four and seven make ten. Such was the
faith in Cathro that even boys who could add promptly
turned their eleven into ten, and he did not catch them
at it. So obviously was his mind as well as his gaze on
something beyond, that Sandy Riach, a wit who had
been waiting his chance for years, snapped at it now,
and roared “Ten and eleven, nineteen” (“Go on,” said
Cathro), “and four, twenty,” gasped Sandy, “and eight,
sixteen,” he added, gaining courage. “Very good,”
murmured the Dominie, whereupon Sandy clenched his
reputation forever by saying, in one glorious mouthful,
“and six, eleven, and two, five, and one, nocht.”

There was no laughing at it then (though Sandy held
a levee in the evening), they were all so stricken with
amazement. By one movement they swung round to
see what had fascinated Cathro, and the other classes
doing likewise, Tommy became suddenly the centre of
observation. Big tears were slinking down his face,
and falling on some sheets of paper, which emotion
prevented his concealing. Anon the unusual stillness
in the school made him look up, but he was dazed, like
one uncertain of his whereabouts, and he blinked rapidly
to clear his eyes, as a bird shakes water from its wings.
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 439

Mr. Cathro first uttered what was.afterward described
as a kind of throttled skirl, and then he roared. “ Come
here!” whereupon Tommy stepped forward heavily,
and tried, as commanded, to come to his senses, but it
was not easy to make so long a journey in a moment,
and several times, as he seemed about to conquer his
tears, a wave of feeling set them flowing again.

“Take your time,” said Mr. Cathro, grimly, “I can
wait,” and this had such a helpful effect that Tommy
was able presently to speak up for his misdeeds. They
consisted of some letters written at home but brought to
the school for private reading, and the Dominie got a
nasty jar when he saw that they were all signed “ Betsy
Grieve.” Miss Betsy Grieve, servant to Mr. Duthie,
was about to marry, and these letters were acknowl-
edgments of wedding presents. Now, Mr. Cathro had
written similar letters for Betsy only a few days
before.

“Tid she ask you to write these for her?” he
demanded, fuming, and Tommy replied demurely that
she had. He could not help adding, though he felt the
unwisdom of it, “She got some other body to do them
first, but his letters didna satisfy her.”

“Oh!” said Mr. Cathro, and it was such a vicious
oh that Tommy squeaked tremblingly, “I dinna know
who he was.”

Keeping his mouth shut by gripping his underlip
with his teeth, the Dominie read the letters, and
440 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

Tommy gazed eagerly at him, all fear forgotten, soul
conquering body. The others stood or sat waiting,
perplexed as to the cause, confident of the issue. The
letters were much finer productions than Cathro’s, he
had to admit it to himself as he read. Yet the rivals
had started fair, for Betsy was a recent immigrant from
Dunkeld way, and the letters were to people known
neither to Tommy nor to the Dominie. Also, she had
given the same details for the guidance of each. A
lady had sent a teapot, which affected to be new, but
was not; Betsy recognized it by a scratch on the lid,
and wanted to scratch back, but politely. So Tommy
wrote, “When you come to see me we shall have a cup
of tea out of your beautiful present, and it will be like
a meeting of three old friends.” That was perhaps too
polite, Betsy feared, but Tommy said authoritatively,
“No, the politer the nippier.”

There was a set of six cups and saucers from Peter
something, who had loved Betsy in vain. She had
shown the Dominie and Tommy the ear-rings given her
long ago by Peter (they were bought with ’Sosh checks)
and the poem he had written about them, and she was
most anxious to gratify him in her reply. could do, however, was to wish Peter well in some
ornate sentences, while Tommy’s was a letter that only
a tender woman’s heart could have indited, with such
beautiful touches about the days which are no more alas
forever, that Betsy listened to it with heaving breast
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 441

and felt so sorry for her old swain that, forgetting she
had never loved him, she all but gave Andrew the go-by
and returned to Peter. As for Peter, who had been
getting over his trouble, he saw now for the first time
what he had lost, and he carried Betsy’s dear letter in
his oxter pocket and was inconsolable.

But the masterpiece went to Mrs. Dinnie, baker, in
returh for a flagon bun. Long ago her daughter,
Janet, and Betsy had agreed to marry on the same day,
and many a quip had Mrs. Dinnie cast at their romantic
compact. But Janet died, and so it was a sad letter
that Tommy had to write to her mother. “I’m doubt-
ing you’re no auld enough for this ane,” soft-hearted
Betsy said, but she did not know her man. “Tell me
some one thing the mother used often to say when she
was taking her fun off the pair of you,” he said, and
“Where is she buried ?” was a suggestive question,
with the happy tag, “Is there a tree hanging over the
grave ?” Thus assisted, he composed a letter that had
a tear in every sentence. Betsy rubbed her eyes red
over it, and not all its sentiments were allowed to die,
for Mrs. Dinnie, touched to the heart, printed the best
of them in black licorice on short bread for funeral
feasts, at which they gave rise to solemn reflections as
they went down.

Nevertheless, this letter affected none so much as the
writer of it. His first rough sketch became so damp
as he wrote that he had to abandon his pen and take to


442 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

peucil; while he was revising he had often to desist to
dry his eyes on the coverlet of Aaron’s bed, which
made Elspeth weep also, though she had no notion
what he was at. But when the work was finished he
took her into the secret and read his letter to her; and
he almost choked as he did so. Yet he smiled raptu-
rously through his woe, and she knew no better than to
be proud of him, and he woke next morning with a cold,
brought on you can see how, but his triumph was worth
its price.

Having read the letter in an uncanny silence, Mr.
Cathro unbottled Tommy for the details, and out they
came with a rush, blowing away the cork discretion.
Yet was the Dominie slow to strike; he seemed to find
more satisfaction in surveying his young friend with a
wondering gaze that had a dash of admiration in it,
which Tommy was the first to note.

“T don’t mind admitting before the whole school,”
said Mr. Cathro, slowly, “that if these letters had been
addressed to me they would have taken me in.”

Tommy tried to look modest, but his chest would
have its way.

‘You little sacket,” cried the Dominie, “how did you
manage it ?”

“T think 1 thought I was Betsy at the time,” Tommy
answered, with proper awe.

“She told me nothing about the weeping-willow at
the grave,” said the Dominie, perhaps in self-defence.
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 443

“You hadna speired if there was one,” retorted
Tommy, jealously.

“What made you think of it ?”

“T saw it might come in neat.” (He had said in the
letter that the weeping-willow reminded him of the
days when Janet’s bonny hair hung down kissing her
waist just as the willow kissed the grave.)

“Willows don’t hang so low as you seem to think,”
said the Dominie.

“Ves, they do,” replied Tommy, “I walked three
miles to see one to make sure. I was near putting in
another beautiful bit about weeping-willows.”

“Well, why didn’t you?”

Tommy looked up with an impudent snigger. “You
could never guess,” he said.

“Answer me at once,” thundered his preceptor.
“Was it because

“No,” interrupted Tommy, so conscious of Mr.

”



Cathro’s inferiority that to let him go on seemed waste
of time. “It was because, though it is a beautiful
thing in itself, I felt a servant Jassie wouldna have
thought o’t. Iwas sweer,” he admitted, with a sigh;
then firmly, “but I cut it out.”

Again Cathro admired, reluctantly. The hack does
feel the difference between himself and the artist.
Cathro might possibly have had the idea, he could not
have cut it out.

But the hack is sometimes, or usually, or nearly


444 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

always the artist’s master, and can make him suffer
for his dem’d superiority.

“What made you snivel when you read the pathetic
bits ?” asked Cathro, with itching fingers.

“T was so sorry for Peter and Mrs. Dinnie,” Tommy
answered, a little puzzled himself now. “I saw them
so clear.”

“And yet until Betsy came to you, you had never
heard tell of them ?”

73 No.”

“ And on reflection you don’t care a doit about them?”

“N-no.”

“ And you care as little for Betsy ?”

“No now, but at the time ] a kind of thought I was
to be married to Andrew.”

“And even while you blubbered you were saying to
yourself, ‘What a clever billie I am!’”

Mr. Cathro had certainly intended to end the scene
with the strap, but as he stretched out his hand for it
he had another idea. “Do you know why Nether
Drumgley’s sheep are branded with the letters N. D. ?”
he asked his pupils, and a dozen replied, “So as all may
ken wha they belong to.”

“Precisely,” said Mr. Cathro, “and similarly they
used to brand a letter on a felon, so that all might
know whom he belonged to.” He crossed to the fire-
place, and, picking up a charred stick, wrote with it on
the forehead of startled Tommy the letters “S. T.”
THE BRANDING OF TOMMY 445

“Now,” said the Dominie complacently, “we know
to whom Tommy belongs.”

All were so taken aback that for some seconds noth-
ing could be heard save Tommy indignantly wiping his
brow; then “Wha is he?” cried one, the mouthpiece
of half a hundred.

“He is one of the two proprietors we have just been
speaking of,” replied Cathro, dryly, and turning again
to Tommy, he said, “ Wipe away, Sentimental Tommy,
try hot water, try cold water, try a knife, but you will
never get those letters off you; you are branded for
ever and ever.”
CHAPTER XXXVI

OF FOUR MINISTERS WHO AFTERWARDS BOASTED THAT
THEY HAD KNOWN TOMMY SANDYS

Bursary examination time had come, and to the
siege of Aberdeen marched a hungry half-dozen — three
of them from Thrums, two from the Glenquharity
school. The sixth was Tod Lindertis, a ploughman
from the Dubb of Prosen, his place of study the bothy
after lousing time (Do you hear the klink of quoits?)
or a one-roomed house near it, his tutor a dogged little
woman, who knew not the accusative from the dative,
but never tired of holding the book while Tod recited.
Him someone greets with the good-natured jeer, “It’s
your fourth try, is it no, Tod ?” and he answers cheer-
ily, “It is, my lathie, and Ill keep kick, kick, kicking
away to the nth time.”

“Which means till the door flies open,” says the
dogged little woman, who is the gallant Tod’s no less
gallant wife, and already the mother of two. I hope
Tod will succeed this time.

The competitors, who were to travel part of the way
on their shanks, met soon after daybreak in Cathro’s
yard, where a little crowd awaited them, parents trying
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 447

to look humble, Mr. Duthie and Ramsay Cameron
thinking of the morning when they set off on the same
errand — but the results were different, and Mr. Duthie
is now a minister, and Ramsay is in the middle of
another wob. Both dominies were present, hating
each other, for that day only, up to the mouth, where
their icy politeness was a'thing to shudder at, and each
was drilling his detachment to the last moment, but by
different methods; for while Mr. Cathro entreated Joe
Meldrum for God’s sake to mind that about the geni-
tive, and Willie Simpson to keep his mouth shut and
drink even water sparingly, Mr. Ogilvy cracked jokes
with Gav Dishart and explained them to Lauchlan
McLauchlan. “Think of anything now but what is
before you,” was Mr. Ogilvy’s advice. “Think of
nothing else,” roared Mr. Cathro. But though Mr.
Ogilvy seemed outwardly calm it was base pretence;
his dickie gradually wriggled through the opening of
his waistcoat, as if bearing a protest from his inward
parts, and he let it hang crumpled and conspicuous,
while Grizel, on the outskirts of the crowd, yearned to
put it right. ;

Grizel was not there, she told several people, includ-
ing herself, to say good-by to Tommy, and oh, how she
scorned Elspeth, for looking as if life would not be
endurable without him. Knowing what Elspeth was,
Tommy had decided that she should not accompany him
to the yard (of course she was to follow him to Aberdeen
448 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

if he distinguished himself — Mr. McLean had promised
to bring her), but she told him of her dream that he
headed the bursary list, and as this dream coincided
with some dreams of his own, though not with all, it
seemed to give her such fortitude that he let her come.
An expressionless face was Tommy’s, so that not even
the experienced dominie of Glenquharity, covertly scan-
ning his rival’s lot, could tell whether he was gloomy
or uplifted; he did not seem to be in need of a long
sleep like Willie Simpson, nor were his eyes glazed
like Gav Dishart’s, who carried all the problems of
Euclid before him on an invisible blackboard and dared
not even wink lest he displaced them, nor did he, like
Tod Lindertis, answer questions about his money pocket
or where he had stowed his bread and cheese with

“ After envy, spare, obey,
The dative put, remember, pray.”

Mr. Ogilvy noticed that Cathro tapped his forehead
doubtfully every time his eyes fell on Tommy, but
otherwise shunned him, and he asked “ What are his
chances ?”

“That ’s the laddie,” replied Mr. Cathro, “who, when
you took her ladyship to see Corp Shiach years ago
impersona ——”

“T know,” Mr. Ogilvy interrupted him hastily, “but
how will he stand, think you ?”

Mr. Cathro coughed. “We’ll see,” he said guard-
edly.
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 449

Nevertheless Tommy was not to get round the corner
without betraying a little of himself, for Elspeth hav-
ing borne up magnificently when he shook hands,
screamed at the tragedy of his back and fell into the
arms of Tod’s wife, whereupon Tommy first tried to
brazen it out and then kissed her in the presence of a
score of witnesses, including Grizel, who stamped her
foot, though what right had she to be so angry? “I’m
sure,” Elspeth sobbed, “that the professor would let
me sit beside you; I would just hunker on the floor and
hold your foot and no say aword.” Tommy gave Tod’s
wife an imploring look, and she managed to comfort
Elspeth with predictions of his coming triumph and the

reunion to follow. Grateful Elspeth in return asked |

Tommy to help Tod when the professors were not look-
ing, and he promised, after which she had no more
fear for Tod.

And now, ye drums that we all carry in our breasts,
beat your best over the bravest sight ever seen in a
small Scotch town of an autumn morning, the departure
of its fighting lads for the lists at Aberdeen. Let the
tune be the sweet familiar one you found somewhere in
the Bible long ago, “The mothers we leave behind us”
— leave behind us on their knees. May it dirl through
your bones, brave boys, to the end, as you hope not to
be damned. And now, quick march.

A week has elapsed, and now — there is no call for
music now, for these are but the vanquished crawling

29


450 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

back, Joe Meldrum and—and another. No, it is not
Tod, he stays on in Aberdeen, for he is a twelve-pound
tenner. The two were within a mile of Thrums at
three o’clock, but after that they lagged, waiting for
the gloaming, when they stole to their homes, ducking
as they passed windows without the blinds down.
Elspeth ran to ‘Tommy when he appeared in the door-
way, and then she got quickly between him and Aaron.
The warper was sitting by the fire at his evening meal,
and he gave the wanderer a long steady look, then
without a word returned to his porridge and porter.
It was a less hearty welcome home even than Joe’s;
his mother was among those who had wept to lose her
son, but when he came back to her she gave him a
whack on the head with the thieval.

Aaron asked not a question about those days in
Aberdeen, but he heard a little about them from
Elspeth. Tommy had not excused himself to Elspeth,
he had let her do as she liked with his head (this was a
great treat to her), and while it lay pressed against
hers, she made remarks about Aberdeen professors
which it would have done them good to hear. These
she repeated to Aaron, who was about to answer
roughly, and then_ suddenly put her on his knee
instead.

“They didna ask the right questions,” she told him,
and when the warper asked if Tommy had said so, she
declared that he had refused to say a word against
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 4651

them, which seemed to her to cover him with glory.
“But he doubted they would make that mistake afore
he started, she said brightly, so you see he saw
through them afore ever he set eyes on them.”

Corp would have replied admiringly to this “Oh, the
little deevil!” (when he heard of Tommy’s failure he
wanted to fight Gav Dishart and Willie Simpson), but
Aaron was another kind of confidant, and even when
she explained on Tommy’s authority that there are two
kinds of cleverness, the kind you learn from books and
a kind that is inside yourself, which latter was Tommy’s
kind, he only replied,

“He can take it wi’ him to the herding, then, and
see if it ’ll keep the cattle frae stravaiging.”

“Tt ’s no that kind of cleverness either,” said Elspeth,
quaking, and quaked also Tommy, who had gone to the
garret, to listen through the floor.

“No? I would like to ken what use his cleverness
can be put to, then,” said Aaron, and Elspeth answered
nothing, and Tommy only sighed, for that indeed was
the problem. But though to these three and to Cathro,
and to Mr. and Mrs. McLean and to others more mildly
interested, it seemed a problem beyond solution, there
was one in Thrums who rocked her arms at their
denseness, a girl growing so long in the legs that twice
within the last year she had found it necessary to let
down her parramatty frock. As soon as she heard that
Tommy had come home vanquished, she put on the
452 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

quaint blue bonnet with the white strings, in which she
fondly believed she looked ever so old (her period of
mourning was at an end, but she still wore her black
dress) and forgetting all except that he was un-
happy, she ran to a certain little house to comfort
him. But she did not go in, for through the window —
she saw Elspeth petting him, and that somehow an-
noyed her. In the evening, however, she called on
Mr. Cathro. ;

Perhaps you want to know why she, who at last saw
Sentimental Tommy in his true light and spurned him
accordingly, now exerted herself in his behalf instead
of going on with the papering of the surgery. Well,
that was the reason. She had put the question to her-
self before — not, indeed, before going to Monypenny
but before calling on the Dominie — and decided that
she wanted to send Tommy to college, because she dis-
liked him so much that she could not endure the
prospect of his remaining in Thrums. Now, are you
satisfied ?

She could scarcely take time to say good-evening to
Mr. Cathro before telling him the object of her visit.
“The letters Tommy has been writing for people are
very clever, are they not?” she began.

“You ’ve heard of them, have you ?”

“Everybody has heard of them,” she said injudi-
ciously, and he groaned and asked if she had come to
tell him this. But he admitted their cleverness, where-
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 4653

upon she asked, “ Well, if he is clever at writing letters,
would he not be clever at writing an essay ?”

“T wager my head against a snuff mull that he would
be, but what are you driving at ?”

“T was wondering whether he could not win the prize
I heard Dr. McQueen speaking about, the —is it not
called the Hugh Blackadder ?”

“My head against a buckie that he could! Sit down,
Grizel, I see what you mean now. Ay, but the pity is
he’s not eligible for the Hugh Blackadder. Oh, that
he was, oh, that he was! It would make Ogilvy of
Glenquharity sing small at last! Huis loons have car-
ried the Blackadder for the last seven years without
a break. The Hugh Blackadder Mortification, the be-
quest is called, and, ’deed, it has been a sore mortifica-
tion to me !”

Calming down, he told her the story of the bequest.
Hugh Blackadder was a Thrums man who made a
fortune in America, and bequeathed the interest of
three hundred pounds of it to be competed for yearly
by the youth of his native place. He had grown fond
of Thrums and all its ways over there, and left direc- -
tions that the prize should be given for the best essay
in the Scots tongue, the ministers of the town and
glens to be the judges, the competitors to be boys
who were going to college, but had not without it the
wherewithal to support themselves. The ministers
took this to mean that those who carried small bursaries
454 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

were eligible, and indeed it: had usually gone to a
bursar.

“Sentimental Tommy would not have been able to
compete it he had got a bursary,” Mr. Cathro explained,
“because however small it was Mr. McLean meant to
double it; and he can’t compete without it, for McLean
refuses to help him now (he was here an hour since,
saying the laddie was obviously hopeless), so I never
thought of entering Tommy for the Blackadder. No,
it will go to Ogilvy’s Lauchlan McLauchlan, who is a
twelve-pounder, and, as there can be no competitors,
he ’1l get it without the trouble of coming back to write
the essay.”

“But suppose Mr. McLean were willing to do what
he promised if Tommy won the Blackadder ?”

“Tt’s useless to appeal to McLean. He’s hard set
against the laddie now and washes his hands of him,
saying that Aaron Latta is right after all. He may
soften, and get Tommy into a trade to save him from
the herding, but send him to college he won’t, and
indeed he’s right, the laddie’s a fool.”

“Not at writing let 2

“And what is the effect of his letter-writing, but to
make me ridiculous? Me! I wonder you can expect



me to move a finger for him, he has been my tor-
ment ever since his inscrutable face appeared at my
door.”

“Never mind him,” said Grizel, cunningly. “But
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 455

think what a triumph it would be to you if your boy
beat Mr. Ogilvy’s.”

The Dominie rose in his excitement and slammed the
table, “My certie, lassie, but it would!” he cried.
“Ogilvy looks on the Blackadder as his perquisite, and
he’s surer of it than ever this year. And there’s no
doubt but Tommy would carry it. My head to a buckie
preen he would carry it, and then, oh, for a sight of
Ogilvy’s face, oh, for ” He broke off abruptly.
“But what’s the good of thinking of it?” he said,
dolefully, ‘‘Mr. McLean ’s a firm man when he makes
up his mind.”

Nevertheless, though McLean, who had a Scotch-
man’s faith in the verdict of professors, and had been
bitterly disappointed by Tommy’s failure, refused to be
converted by the Dominie’s entreaties, he yielded to
them when they were voiced by Ailie (brought into the
plot vice Grizel retired), and Elspeth got round Aaron,
and so it came about that with his usual luck, Tommy
was given another chance, present at the competition,
which took place in the Thrums school, the Rev. Mr.
Duthie, the Rev. Mr. Dishart, the Rev. Mr. Gloag of
Noran Side, the Rev. Mr. Lorrimer of Glenquharity
(these on hair-bottomed chairs), and Mr. Cathro and
Mr. Ogilvy (cane); present also to a less extent (that
is to say, their faces at the windows), Corp and others
who applauded the local champion when he entered and
derided McLauchlan. The subject of the essay was


456 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

changed yearly, this time “A Day in Church” was
announced, and immediately Lauchlan McLauchlan,
who had not missed a service since his scarlet fever
year (and too few then), smote his red head in agony,
while Tommy, who had missed as many as possible,
looked calmly confident. For two hours the competi-
tors were put into a small room communicating with
the larger one, and Tommy began at once with a confi-
dent smirk that presently gave way to a most holy
expression; while Lauchlan gaped at him and at last
got started also, but had to pause occasionally to rub
his face on his sleeve, for like Corp he was one of the
kind who cannot think without perspiring. In the
large room the ministers gossiped about eternal punish-
ment, and of the two dominies one sat at his ease, like
a passenger who knows that the coach will reach the
goal without any exertion on his part, while the other
paced the floor, with many a despondent glance through
the open door whence the scraping proceeded; and the
one was pleasantly cool; and the other in a plot of
heat; and the one made genial remarks about every-day
matters, and the answers of the other stood on their
heads. It was a familiar comedy to Mr. Ogilvy, hardly
a variation on what had happened five times in six for
many years: the same scene, the same scraping in the
little room, the same background of ministers (black-
aviced Mr. Lorrimer had begun to bark again), the
same dominies; everything was as it had so often been,
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 457

except that he and Cathro had changed places; it was
Cathro who sat smiling now and Mr. Ogilvy who dole-
fully paced the floor.

To be able to write! Throughout Mr. Ogilvy’s life,
save when he was about one and twenty, this had
seemed the great thing, and he ever approached the
thought reverently, as if it were a maid of more than
mortal purity. And it is, and because he knew this
she let him see her face, which shall ever be hidden
from those who look not for the soul, and to help him
nearer to her came assistance in strange guise, the loss
of loved ones, dolour unutterable; but still she was
beyond his reach. Night by night, when the only light
in the glen was the school-house lamp, of use at least
as a landmark to solitary travellers — who miss it now-
adays, for it burns no more — she hovered over him, nor
did she deride his hopeless efforts, but rather, as she
saw him go from black to gray and from gray to white
in her service, were her luminous eyes sorrowful
because she was not for him, and she bent impulsively
toward him, so that once or twice in a long life he
touched her fingers, and a heavenly spark was lit, for
he had risen higher than himself, and that is literature.

He knew that oblivion was at hand, ready to sweep
away his pages almost as soon as they were filled. (Do
we not all hear her besom when we pause to dip ?), but
he had done his best and he had a sense of humor, and
perhaps some day would come a pupil of whom he could
458 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

make what he had failed to make of himself. That
prodigy never did come, though it was not for want of
nursing, and there came at least, in succession most
maddening to Mr. Cathro, a row of youths who could
be trained to carry the Hugh Blackadder. Mr. Ogilvy’s
many triumphs in this competition had not dulled his
appetite for more, and depressed he was at the prospect
of a reverse. That it was coming now he could not
doubt. McLauchlan, who was to be Rev., had a flow
of words (which would prevent his perspiring much in
the pulpit), but he could no more describe a familiar
scene with the pen than a milkmaid can draw & cow.
The Thrums representatives were sometimes as little
gifted, it is true, and never were they so well exercised,
but this Tommy had the knack of it, as Mr. Ogilvy
could not doubt, for the story of his letter-writing had
been through the glens. :

“Keep up your spirits,” Mr. Lorrimer had said to
him as they walked together to the fray, “Cathro’s loon
may compose the better of the two, but, as I under-
stand, the first years of his life were spent in London,
and so he may bogle at the Scotch.”

But the Dominie replied, “ Don’t buoy me up on a soap |
bubble. If there’s as much. in him as I fear, that
should be a help to him instead of a hindrance, for it
will have set him a-thinking about the words he uses.”

And the satisfaction on Tommy’s face when the sub-
ject of the essay was given out, with the business-like
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 459

way in which he set to work, had added to the
Dominie’s misgivings; if anything was required to dis-
hearten him utterly it was provided by Cathro’s confi-
dent smile. The two Thrums ministers were naturally
desirous that Tommy should win, but the younger of
them was very fond of Mr. Ogilvy, and noticing his
unhappy peeps through the door dividing the rooms,
proposed that it should be closed. He shut it himself,
and as he did so he observed that Tommy was biting
his pen and frowning, while McLauchlan, having ceased
to think, was getting on nicely. But it did not strike
Mr. Dishart that this was worth commenting on.

“Are you not satisfied’ with the honors you have
already got, you greedy man?” he said, laying his hand
affectionately on Mr. Ogilvy, who only sighed for reply.

“Tt is well that the prize should go to different lo-
calities, for in that way its sphere of usefulness is
extended,” remarked pompous Mr. Gloag, who could be
impartial, as there was no candidate from Noran Side.
He was a minister much in request for church soirees,
where he amused the congregations so greatly with
personal anecdote about himself that they never thought
much of him afterwards. There is one such minister in
every presbytery.

“And to have carried the Hugh Blackadder seven
times running is surely enough for any one locality,
even though it be Glenquharity,” said Mr. Lorrimer,
preparing for defeat.
460 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“There ’s consolation for you, sir,” said Mr. Cathro,
sarcastically, to his rival, who tried to take snuff in
sheer bravado, but let it slip through his fingers, and
after that, until the two hours were up, the talk was
chiefly of how Tommy would get on at Aberdeen. But
it was confined to the four ministers and one dominie.
Mr. Ogilvy still hovered about the door of communica-
tion, and his face fell more and more, making Mr.
Dishart quite unhappy.

“Tm an old fool,” the Dominie admitted, “but I
can’t help being cast down. The fact is that——I have
only heard the scrape of one pen for nearly an hour.”

“Poor Lauchlan!” exclaimed Mr. Cathro, rubbing
his hands gleefully, and indeed it was such a shameless:
exhibition that the Auld Licht minister said reproach-
fully, “You forget yourself, Mr. Cathro, let us not be
unseemly exalted in the hour of our triumph.”

Then Mr. Cathro sat upon his hands as the best way
of keeping them apart, but the moment Mr. Dishart’s
back presented itself, he winked at Mr. Ogilvy.

He winked a good deal more presently.

For after all — how to tell it! Tommy was ignomini-
ously beaten, making such a beggarly show that the
judges thought it unnecessary to take the essays home
with them for leisurely consideration before pronoun-
cing Mr. Lauchlan McLauchlan winner. There was
quite a commotion in the school-room. At the end of
the allotted time the two competitors had been told to
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 461

hand in their essays, and how Mr. McLauchlan was
sniggering is not worth recording, so dumfounded,
confused, and raging was Tommy. He clung to his
papers, crying fiercely that the two hours could not be
up yet, and Lauchlan having tried to keep the laugh in
too long it exploded in his mouth, whereupon, said he,
with a guffaw, “He hasna written a word for near an
hour!”

“What! It was you I heard!” cried Mr. Ogilvy
gleaming, while the unhappy Cathro tore the essay
from Tommy’s hands. Essay! It was no more an
essay than a twig is a tree, for the gowk had stuck in
the middle of his second page. Yes, stuck is the right
expression, as his chagrined teacher had to admit when
the boy was cross-examined. He had not been “up to
some of his tricks,” he had stuck, and his explanations,
as you will admit, merely emphasized his incapacity.

He had brought himself to public scorn for lack of a
word. What word ? they asked testily, but even now
he could not tell. He had wanted a Scotch word that
would signify how many people were in church, and it
was on the tip of his tongue but would come no farther.
Puckle was nearly the word, but it did not mean so
many people as he meant. The hour had gone by just
like winking; he had forgotten all about time while
searching his mind for the word.

When Mr. Ogilvy heard this he seemed to be much
impressed, repeatedly he nodded his head as some beat
462 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

time to music, and he muttered to himself, “The right
word — yes, that’s everything,” and “‘the time went
by like winking’ — exactly, precisely,” and he would i
have liked to examine Tommy’s bumps, but did not,
nor said a word aloud, for was he not there in McLauch-
lan’s interest ?

The other five were furious; even Mr. Lorrimer,
though his man had won, could not smile in face of
such imbecility. ‘You little tattie doolie,” Cathro
roared, “were there not a dozen words to wile from if
you had an ill-will to puckle? What ailed you at

2



manzy, or

“I thought of manzy,” replied Tommy, wofully, for
he was ashamed of himself, “but — but a manzy’s a
swarm. It would mean that the folk in the kirk were
buzzing thegither like bees, instead of sitting still.”

“Even if it does mean that,” said Mr Duthie, with
impatience, “what was the need of being so particular ?
Surely the art of essay-writing consists in using the
first word that comes and hurrying on.”

“That’s how I did,” said the proud McLauchlan,
who is now leader of a party in the church, and a figure
in Edinburgh during the month of May.

‘IT see,” interposed Mr. Gloag, “that McLauchlan
speaks of there being a mask of people in the church.
Mask is a fine Scotch word.”

“Admirable,” assented Mr. Dishart. “I thought of
mask,” whimpered Tommy, “but that would mean the
FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 463

kirk was crammed, and I just meant it to be middling
full.”

“Flow would have done,” suggested Mr. Lorrimer.

“Flow ’s but a handful,” said Tommy.

“Curran, then, you jackanapes! ” :

“Curran ’s no enough.”

Mr. Lorrimer flung up his hands in despair.

“J wanted something between curran and mask,” said
Tommy, dogged, yet almost at the crying.

Mr. Ogilvy, who had been hiding his admiration
with difficulty, spread a net for him. “You said you
wanted a word that meant middling full. Well, why
did you not say middling full—or fell mask ?”

“Yes, why not?” demanded the ministers, uncon-
sciously caught in the net.

“I wanted one word,” replied Tommy, unconsciously
avoiding it. 5

“You jewel!” muttered Mr. Ogilvy under his breath,
but Mr. Cathro would have banged the boy’s head had
not the ministers interfered.

“It is so easy, too, to find the right word,” said Mr.
Gloag.

“It’s no; it’s as difficult as to hit a squirrel,”
cried Tommy, and again Mr. Ogilvy nodded ap-
proval.

But the ministers were only pained.

“The lad is merely a numskull,” said Mr. Dishart,
kindly.
464 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“ And no teacher could have turned him into anything
else,” said Mr. Duthie.

“And so, Cathro, you need not feel sore over your
defeat,” added Mr. Gloag; but nevertheless Cathro took
Tommy by the neck and ran him out of the parish
school of Thrums. When he returned to the others he
found the ministers congratulating McLauchlan, whose
nose was in the air, and complimenting Mr. Ogilvy,
who listened to their formal phrases solemnly and
accepted their hand-shakes with a dry chuckle.

“Ay, grin away, sir,” the mortified dominie of
Thrums said to him sourly, “the joke is on your side.”

“You are right, sir,” replied Mr. Ogilvy, mysteri-
ously, “the joke is on my side, and the best of it is that
not one of you knows what the joke is!”

And then an odd thing happened. As they were
preparing to leave the school, the door opened a little
and there appeared in the aperture the face of Tommy,
tear-stained but excited. “I ken the word now,” he
cried, “it came to me a’ at once; it is hantle!”

The door closed with a victorious bang, just in time
to prevent Cathro

“Oh, the sumph! ” exclaimed Mr. Lauchlan McLauch-
lan, “as if it mattered what the word is now!”

And said Mr. Dishart, “Cathro, you had better tell
Aaron Latta that the sooner he sends this nincompoop
to the herding the better.”

But My, Ogilvy giving his Lauchlan a push that


FOUR MINISTERS WHO KNEW TOMMY SANDYS 465

nearly sent him sprawling, said in an ecstasy to himself,
“He had to think of it till he got it—and he got it.
The laddie is a genius!” They were about to tear up
Tommy’s essay, but he snatched it from them and put
it in his oxter pocket. “I am acollector of curiosities,”
he explained, “and this paper may be worth money
yet.”

“Well,” said Cathro, savagely, “I have one satisfac-
tion, I ran him out of my school.”

“Who knows,” replied Mr. Ogilvy, “but what you
may be proud to dust a chair for him when he comes
back ?”

30
CHAPTER XXXVII

THE END OF A BOYHOOD

Convincep of his own worthlessness, Tommy was
sufficiently humble now, but Aaron Latta, nevertheless,
“marched to the square on the following market day
and came back with the boy’s sentence, Elspeth being
happily absent.

“Tsay nothing about the disgrace you have brought
on this house,” the warper began without emotion, “for
it has been a shamed house since afore you were born,
and it’s a small offence to skail on a clarty floor. But
now I’ve done more for you than I promised Jean
Myles to do, and you had your pick atween college and
the herding, and the herding you ’ve chosen twice. I
call you no names, you ken best what you ’re fitted for,
but I’ve seen the farmer of the Dubb of Prosen the
day, and he was short-handed through the loss of Tod
Lindertis, so you’re fee’d to him. Dinna think you
get Tod’s place, itll be years afore you rise to that,
but it’s right and proper that as he steps up, you should
step down.”

“The Dubb of Prosen!” cried Tommy in dismay.
“Tt’s fifteen miles frae here.”
THE END OF A BOYHOOD 467

“Tt ’s a” that.”

“But — but — but Elspeth and me never thought of
my being so far away that she couldna see me. We
thought of a farmer near Thrums.”

“The farther you’re frae her the better,” said Aaron,
uneasily, yet honestly believing what he said.

“T4711 kill her,” Tommy cried fiercely. With only
his own suffering to consider he would probably have
nursed it into a play through which he stalked as the
noble child of misfortune, but in his anxiety for
Elspeth he could still forget himself. “Fine you ken
she canna do without me,” he screamed.

“She maun be weaned,” replied the warper, with a
show of temper; he was convinced that the sooner
Elspeth learned to do without Tommy the better it
would be for herself in the end, but in his way of
regarding the boy there was also a touch of jealousy,
pathetic rather than forbidding. To him he left
the task of breaking the news to Elspeth; and
Tommy, terrified lest she should swoon under it,
was almost offended when she remained calm. But,
alas, the reason was that she thought she was going
with him.

“Will we have to walk all the way to the Dubb of
Prosen ?” she asked, quite brightly, and at that Tommy
twisted about in misery. “ You are no — you canna— ”
he began, and then dodged the telling. “We ~-~ we may
get a lift in a cart,” he said weakly.
468 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“ And I’ll sit aside you in the fields, and make chains
o’ the gowans, will I no ? Speak, Tommy!”

“ Ay —ay, will you,” he groaned.

“And we’ll have a wee, wee room to oursels,
and 2 ,

He broke down, “Oh, Elspeth,” he cried, “it was ill-

done of me no to stick to my books, and get a bursary,



and it was waur o’? me to bother about that word. I’m

a scoundrel, J am, I’m a black, I’ma ge



But she put her hand on his mouth, saying, “I’m
fonder o’ you than ever, Tommy, and 1711 like the
Dubb o’ Prosen fine, and what does it matter where we
are when we’re thegither ?” which was poor comfort
for him, but still he could not tell her the truth, and
so in the end Aaron had to tell her. It struck her
down, and the doctor had to be called in during the
night to stop her hysterics. When at last she fell
asleep Tommy’s arm was beneath her, and by and by it
was in agony, but he set his teeth and kept it there
rather than risk waking her.

When Tommy was out of the way, Aaron did his
clumsy best to soothe her, sometimes half shamefacedly
pressing her cheek to his, and she did not repel him,
but there was no response. “Dinna take on in that
way, dawtie,” he would say, “I’ll be good to you.”

“But you’re no Tommy,” Elspeth answered.

“T’m not, I’m but a stunted tree, blasted in my
youth, but for a’ that I would like to have somebody
THE END OF A BOYHOOD 469

to care for me, and there’s none to do’t, Elspeth, if
you winna. Ill gang walks wi’ you, I’ll take you to
the fishing, Ill come to the garret at night to hap you
up, I’1l—T/’ll teach you the games I used to play
mysel’, I’m no sure but what you might make some-
thing 0’ me yet, bairn, if you tried hard.”

“But you ’re no Tommy,” Elspeth wailed again, and
when he advised her to put Tommy out of her mind for
a little and speak of other things, she only answered
innocently, “What else is there to speak about ?”

Mr. McLean had sent Tommy a pound, and so was
done with him, but Ailie still thought him a dear,
though no longer a wonder, and Elspeth took a strange
confession to her, how one night she was so angry
with God that she had gone to bed without saying her
prayers. She had just meant to keep Him in suspense
for a little, and then say them, but she fell asleep. And
that was not the worst, for when she woke in the morn-
ing, and saw that she was still living, she was glad she
had not said them. But next night she said them
twice.

And this, too, is another flash into her dark character.
Tommy, who never missed saying his prayers and could
say them with surprising quickness, told her, “God is
fonder of lonely lassies than of any other kind, and
every time you greet it makes Him greet, and when
you ’re cheerful it makes Him cheerful too.” This was
meant to dry her eyes, but it had not that effect, for,
470 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

said Elspeth, vindictively, “Well, then, I ’ll just make
Him as miserable as I can.”

When Tommy was merely concerned with his own
affairs he did not think much about God, but he knew
that no other could console Elspeth, and his love for
her usually told him the right things to say, and while
he said them he was quite carried away by his senti-
ments and even wept over them, but within the hour
he might be leering. They were beautiful, and were
repeated of course to Mrs. McLean, who told her hus-
band of them, declaring that this boy’s love for his
sister made her a better woman.

“But nevertheless,” said Ivie, “Mr. Cathro assures

me cry



“He is prejudiced,” retorted Mrs. McLean warmly,
prejudice being a failing which all women marvel at.
“Just listen to what the boy said to Elspeth to-day.
He said to her, ‘ When I am away, try for a whole day
to be better than you ever were before, and think of
nothing else, and then when prayer-time comes you
will see that you have been happy without knowing it.’
Fancy his finding out that.”

“T wonder if he ever tried it himself?” said Mr.

McLean.
aac Ivie, think shame of yourself! ”

“Well, even Cathro admits that he has a kind of

cleverness, but y



. “Cleverness!” exclaimed Ailie, indignantly, “that
THE END OF A BOYHOOD 4T1

is not cleverness, it is holiness ;” and leaving the cynic
she sought Elspeth, and did her good by pointing out
that a girl who had such a brother should try to save
him pain. “He is very miserable, dear,” she said,
“because you are so unhappy. If you looked brighter,
think how that would help him, and it would show that
you are worthy of him.” So Elspeth went home trying
hard to look brighter, but made a sad mess of it.
“Think of getting letters frae me every time the post
comes in!” said Tommy, and then indeed her face
shone. :
And then Elspeth could write to him — yes, as often
as ever she liked! This pleased her even more. It
was such an exquisite thought that she could not wait,
but wrote the first one before he started, and he answered ©
it across the table. And Mrs. McLean made a letter
bag, with two strings to it, and showed her how to
carry it about with her in a safer place than a pocket.
Then a cheering thing occurred. Came Corp, with
the astounding news that, in the Glenquharity dominie’s
opinion, Tommy should have got the Hugh Blackadder.
“He says he is glad he wasna judge, because he
would have had to give you the prize, and he laughs
like to split at the ministers for giving it to Lauchlan
McLauchlan.”
Now, great was the repute of Mr. Ogilvy, and Tommy
gaped incredulous. “He had no word of that at the
time,” he said.
472 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

“No likely! He says if the ministers was so doited
as to think his loon did best, it wasna for him to conter
them.”

“Man, Corp, you ca’ me me aff my-feet! How do you
ken this ?”

Covp had promised not to tell, and he thought he did
not tell, but Tommy was too clever for him. Grizel,
it appeared, had heard Mr. Ogilvy saying this strange
thing to the doctor, and she burned to pass it on to
Tommy, but she could not carry it to him herself,
because — Why was it ? Oh, yes, because she hated
him. So she made a messenger of Corp, and warned
him against telling who had sent him with the news.

Half enlightened, Tommy began to strut again. “You
see there ’s something in me for all they say,” he told
Elspeth. “Wisten to this. At the bursary examina-
tions there was some English we had to turn into Latin,
and it said, ‘No man ever attained supreme eminence
who worked for mere lucre; such efforts must ever be
bounded by base mediocrity. None shall climb high
but he who climbs for love, for in truth where the heart
is, there alone shall the treasure be found.’ Elspeth,
it came ower me in a clink how true that was, and I sat
saying it to myself, though I saw Gav Dishart and
Willie Simpson and the rest beginning to put it into
Latin at once, as little ta’en up wi’ the words as if they
had been about auld Hannibal. I aye kent, Elspeth,
that I could never do much at the learning, but I didna
THE END OF A BOYHOOD 473

see the reason till I read that. Syne I kent that playing
so real-like in the Den, and telling about my fits when
it wasna me that had them but Corp, and mourning for
Lewis Doig’s father, and writing letters for folk so
grandly, and a’ my other queer ploys that ended in
Cathro’s calling me Sentimental Tommy, was what my
heart was in, and I saw in a jiffy that if thae things
were work, I should soon rise to supreme eminence.”

“But they ’re no,” said Elspeth, sadly.

“No,” he admitted, his face falling, “ but, Elspeth, if
I was to hear some day of work I could put my heart
into as if it were a game! I wouldna be lang in finding
the treasure syne. Oh, the blatter I would make!”

“J doubt there’s no sic work,” she answered, but he
told her not to be so sure. “I thought there wasna my-
sel’,” he said, “till now, but sure as death my heart was
as ta?en up wi’ hunting for the right word as if it had
been a game, and that was how the time slipped by so
quick. Yet it was paying work, for the way I did it
made Mr. Ogilvy see I should have got the prize, and
a’ body kens there’s more cleverness in him than in a
cart-load o’ ministers,”

“But, but there are no more Hugh Blackadders to try
for, Tommy ?”

“That ’s nothing, there maun be other work o’ the
same kind. Elspeth, cheer up, I tell you, I'll find a wy!”

“But you didna ken yoursel’ that you should have got
the Hugh Blackadder ? ”
474 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

He would not let this depress him. “I ken now,” he
said. Nevertheless, why he should have got it was a
mystery which he longed to fathom. Mr. Ogilvy had
returned to Glenquharity, so that an explanation could
not be drawn from him even if he were willing to supply
it, which was improbable; but Tommy caught Grizel in
the Banker’s Close and compelled her to speak.

“JT won’t tell you a word of what Mr. Ogilvy said,”
she insisted, in her obstinate way, and, oh, how she
despised Corp for breaking his promise.

“Corp didna ken he telled me,” said Tommy, less to
clear Corp than to exalt himself, “I wriggled it out o’
him;” but even this did not bring Grizel to a proper
frame of mind, so he said, to annoy her, ;

“ At any rate you ’re fond o’ me.”

“J am not,” she replied, stamping; “I think you are
horrid.”

“What else made you send Corp to me?”

“T did that because I heard you were calling yourself
a blockhead.”

“Oho,” said he, “so you have been speiring about me
though you winna speak to me!”

Grizel looked alarmed, and thinking to weaken his
case, said, hastily, “I very nearly kept it from you, I
said often to myself ‘I won’t tell him!”

“So you have been thinking a lot about me!” was his
prompt comment.

“Tf I have,” she retorted, “I did not think nice
THE END OF A BOYHOOD A4T5

things. And what is more, I was angry with myself
for telling Corp to tell you.”

Surely this was crushing, but apparently Tommy did
not think so, for he said, “ You did it against your will!
That means I have a power over you that you canna
resist. Oho, oho!”

Had she become more friendly so should he, had she
shed one tear he would have melted immediately; but
she only looked him up and down disdainfully, and it
hardened him. He said with a leer, “I ken what makes
you hold your hands so tight, it’s to keep your arms
frae wagging;” and then her ery, “ How do you know ?”
convicted her. He had not succeeded in his mission,
but on his way home he muttered, triumphantly, “I
did her, I did her!” and once he stopped to ask him-
self the question, “Was it because my heart was in
it?” It was their last meeting till they were man and
woman.

A blazing sun had come out on top of heavy showers,
and the land reeked and smelled as of the wash-tub.
The smaller girls of Monypenny were sitting in pas-
sages playing at fivey, just as Sappho for instance used
to play it; but they heard the Dubb of Prosen cart
draw up at Aaron Latta’s door, and they followed it
to see the last of Tommy Sandys. Corp was already
there, calling in at the door every time he heard a sob;
“Dinna, Elspeth, dinna, he 1] find a wy,” but Grizel had
476 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

refused to come, though Tommy knew that she had been
asking when he started and which road the cart would
take. Well, he was not giving her a thought at any
rate; his box was in the cart now, and his face was
streaked with tears that were all for Elspeth. She
should not have come to the door, but she came, and —
it was such a pitiable sight that Aaron Latta could not
look on. He went hurriedly to his workshop, but not
to warp, and even the carter was touched and he said
to Tommy, “I tell you what, man, I have to ‘go round
by Causeway End smiddy, and you and the crittur have
time, if you like, to take the short cut and meet me at
the far corner 0’ Caddam wood.”

So Tommy and Elspeth, holding each other’s hands,
took the short cut and they came to the far end of
Caddam, and Elspeth thought they had better say it
here before the cart came; but Tommy said he would
‘walk back with her through the wood as far as the
Toom Well, and they could say it there. They tried
to say it at the Well, but — Elspeth was still with him
when he returned to the far corner of Caddam, where
the cart was now awaiting him. ‘The carter was sitting
on the shaft, and he told them he was in no hurry, and
what is more, he had the delicacy to turn his back on
them and struck his horse with the reins for looking
round at the sorrowful pair. They should have said
it now, but first Tommy walked back a little bit of the
way with Elspeth, and then she came back with him,


A GIRL ROSE FROM AMONG THE BROOM
THE END OF A BOYHOOD ATT

and that was to be the last time, but he could not leave
her, and so, there they were in the wood, looking wofully
at each other, and it was not said yet.

They had ‘said it now, and all was over; they were
several paces apart. Elspeth smiled, she had promised
to smile because Tommy said it would kill him if she
was greeting at the very end. But what a smile it was!
Tommy whistled, he had promised to whistle to show
that he was happy as long as Elspeth could smile. She
stood still, but he went on, turning round every few
yards to—to whistle. “Never forget, day nor night,
what I said to you,” he called to her. “You're the
only one I love, and I care not a hair for Grizel.”

But when he disappeared, shouting to her, “I?ll find
a wy, L’ll find a wy,” she screamed and ran after him.
He was already in the cart, and it had started. He
stood up in it and waved his hand to her, and she stood
on the dyke and waved to him, and thus they stood wav-
ing till a hollow in the road swallowed cart and man and
boy. Then Elspeth put her hands to her eyes and went
sobbing homeward.

When she was gone, a girl who had heard all that
passed between them rose from among the broom of
Caddam and took Elspeth’s place on the dyke, where she
stood motionless waiting for the cart to reappear as it
climbed the other side of the hollow. She wore a black
frock and a blue bonnet with white strings, but the cart
was far away, and Tommy thought she was Elspeth, and
478 SENTIMENTAL TOMMY

springing to his feet again in the cart he waved and
waved. At first she did not respond, for had ‘she not
heard him say, “ You’re the only one I love, and I care
not a hair for Grizel?” And she knew he was mistak-
ing her for Elspeth. But by and by it struck her that
he would be more unhappy if he thought Elspeth was
too overcome by grief to wave to him. Her arms rocked
passionately; no, no, she would not lift them to wave to
him, he could be as unhappy as he chose. Then in a
spirit of self-abnegation that surely raised her high
among the daughters of men, though she was but a
painted lady’s child, she waved to him to save him pain,
and he, still erect in the cart, waved back until nothing
could be seen by either of them save wood and fields
and a long, deserted road.
“23h402U «


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