« PreviousContinue »
think, and Alcibiades Triplet told, in after years, that, when they were all dancing except the lady, he caught sight of her face, — and it was quite, quite grave, and even sad; but, as often as she saw him look at her, she smiled at him so gayly,he could n't believe it was the same face.
If it was art, glory be to such art so worthily applied ! and honor to such creatures as this, that come like sunshine into poor men's houses, and tune drooping hearts to daylight and hope !
(From "Christie Johnstone.") RICHARD, Lord Viscount Ipsden, having dotted the sea-shore with sentinels, to tell him of Lady Barbara's approach, awaited his guest in the “ Peacock ;” but, as Gatty was a little behind time, he placed Saunders sentinel over the “Peacock," and strolled eastward; as he came out of the “Peacock,” Mrs. Gatty came down the little hill in front, and also proceeded eastward ; meantime Lady Barbara and her escort were not far from the New Town of Newhaven, on their way from Leith.
Mrs. Gatty came down, merely with a vague fear. She had no reason to suppose her son's alliance with Christie either would or could be renewed, but she was a careful player and would not give a chance away; she found he was gone out unusually early, so she came straight to the only place she dreaded; it was her son's last day in Scotland. She had packed his clothes, and he had inspired her with confidence by arranging pictures, etc., himself; she had no idea he was packing for his departure from this life, not Edinburgh only.
She came then to Newhaven with no serious misgivings, for, even if her son had again vacillated, she saw that, with Christie's pride and her own firmness, the game must be hers in the end ; but, as I said before, she was one who played her cards closely, and such seldom lose.
But my story is with the two young fishwives, who, on their return from Leith, found themselves at the foot of the New Town, Newhaven, some minutes before any of the other persons who, it is to be observed, were approaching it from different points; they came slowly in, Christie in particular, with a listlessness she had never known till last week ; for some days her strength had failed her, - it was Jean that carried the creel
now,— before, Christie, in the pride of her strength, would always do more than her share of their joint labor: then she could hardly be forced to eat, and what she did eat was quite tasteless to her, and sleep left her, and in its stead came uneasy slumbers, from which she awoke quivering from head to foot.
Oh! perilous venture of those who love one object with the whole heart.
This great but tender heart was breaking day by day.
Well, Christie and Jean, strolling slowly into the New Town of Newhaven, found an assemblage of the natives all looking seaward; the fishermen, except Sandy Liston, were away at the herring fishery, but all the boys and women of the New Town were collected; the girls felt a momentary curiosity; it proved, however, to be only an individual swimming in towards shore from a greater distance than usual.
A little matter excites curiosity in such places.
Sandy Liston was minding his own business, lazily mending a skait-net, which he had attached to a crazy old herring-boat hauled
to rot. Christie sat down, pale and languid, by him, on a creepie that a lass who had been baiting a line with mussels had just vacated; suddenly she seized Jean's arm with a convulsive motion ; Jean looked up,- it was the London steamboat running out from Leith to Granton Pier to take up her passengers for London. Charles Gatty was going by that boat; the look of mute despair the poor girl gave went to Jean's heart; she ran hastily from the group, and cried out of sight for poor Christie.
A fishwife, looking through a telescope at the swimmer, remarked : “He's coming in fast; he's a gallant swimmer
yon — "
“ Can he dee 't?” inquired Christie of Sandy Liston.
“Fine thaat,” was the reply; "he does it aye o' Sundays when ye are at the kirk.”
“It's no oot o' the kirk-window ye 'll hae seen him, Sandy, my mon," said a young fish wife.
“Rin for my glass ony way, Flucker,” said Christie, forcing herself to take some little interest.
Flucker brought it to her, she put her hand on his shoulder, got slowly up, and stood on the creepie, and adjusted the focus of her glass; after a short view, she said to Flucker:
VOL. XVII,— 21
“Rin and see the nock." She then levelled her glass again at the swiminer.
Flucker informed her the nock said “half eleven," — Scotch for “half-past ten.”
Christie whipped out a well-thumbed almanac.
“Yon nock 's aye ahint,” said she. She swept the sea once more with her glass, then brought it together with a click, and jumped off the stool: her quick intelligence viewed the matter differently from all the others.
“Noow,” cried she, smartly, “wha 'll lend me his yawl ?” “ Hets! dinna be sae interferin, lassie,” said a fishwife.
“Hae nane o' ye ony spunk ?” said Christie, taking no notice of the woman.
“Speak, laddies!” 'M' uncle's yawl is at the pier-head; ye'll get her, my woman,” said a boy.
“A'schell'n for wha's first on board,” said Christie, holding up the coin.
“Come awa', Flucker, we'll hae her schell'n;" and these two worthies instantly effected a false start.
“It's no under your jackets,” said Christie, as she dashed after them like the wind.
“ Haw! haw! haw!” laughed Sandy.
“What's her business picking up a mon against his will ?” said a woman.
“She's an awfu' lassie," whined another.
The examination of the swimmer was then continued, and the crowd increased; some would have it he was rapidly approaching, others that he made little or no way.
“ Wha est?” said another.
Christie's boat was now seen standing out from the pier. Sandy Liston, casting a contemptuous look on all the rest, lifted himself lazily into the herring-boat and looked seaward. His manner changed in a moment.
“The Deevil!” cried he; “the tide 's turned! You wi’ your glass, could you no see yon man's drifting oot to sea ?”
“Hech!” cried the women, “he'll be drooned, - he'll be drooned!”
“Yes; he'll be drooned !” cried Sandy, "if yon lassie does na come alongside him deevelich quick, — he's sair spent, I doot.”