July 31 , 2007

Lochinvar: A Novel


Aye, said Mistress Crombie, house-keeper to Roger McGhie, Laird of Balmaghie, a considerable house in the south-lying and better-cultivated part of the wild lands of Galloway—"aye, indeed, ye may well say it, Alisoun Begbie. It is a wondrous and most ungentle thing when the doe seeks the hart—panting and brayin' for a man, as the Guid Buik says. And saw ye ever sic feathers?—I declare they nearly soopit the floor. My Lady Wellwood, or no my Lady Wellwood, I trow she didna come ridin' by the hoose o' Balmaghie only to ask the time o' day, upsetting besom that she is!" During this harangue Alisoun Begbie was clattering about among her bottles and dishes in the stone-flagged, slate-shelved still-room which constituted her pantry. A few minutes before she had cried mischievously out of the window to Lang Wat, the new under-gardener of Balmaghie, to the effect that "siccan a guid-lookin' chiel should be seen oftener about the house—but that she, Alisoun Begbie, was not wanting anything to do with the likes of him. She could get plenty of lads, and it was weel-kenned that the Glenkens' folk aye took up wi' their ain folk at ony rate." But as soon as the "bauchles"A of Mistress Crombie, the shrill-tempered house-keeper, were heard scuffling up the stairs, Alisoun made a pretty warning face of silence at Lang Wat, and tossed her head to intimate that some one approached from behind; so that, without making any verbal answer, the under-gardener resumed his occupation of the moment, which was the pruning and grafting of sundry rose-bushes—the pride and care of Mistress Kate McGhie, the "young leddy" of the great house of Balmaghie.
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