The Little Minister

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The Little Minister

Chapter Fourteen.
THE MINISTER DANCES TO THE WOMAN’S PIPING

Gavin let the doctor’s warnings fall in the grass. In his joy over Nanny’s deliverance he jumped the garden gate, whose hinges were of yarn, and cleverly caught his hat as it was leaving his head in protest. He then re-entered the mud house staidly. Pleasant was the change. Nanny’s home was as a clock that had been run out, and is set going again. Already the old woman was unpacking her box, to increase the distance between herself and the poorhouse. But Gavin only saw her in the background, for the Egyptian, singing at her work, had become the heart of the house. She had flung her shawl over Nanny’s shoulders, and was at the fireplace breaking peats with the leg of a stool. She turned merrily to the minister to ask him to chop up his staff for firewood, and he would have answered wittily but could not. Then, as often, the beauty of the Egyptian surprised him into silence. I could never get used to her face myself in the after-days. It has always held me wondering, like my own Glen Quharity on a summer day, when the sun is lingering and the clouds are on the march, and the glen is never the same for two minutes, but always so beautiful as to make me sad. Never will I attempt to picture the Egyptian as she seemed to Gavin while she bent over Nanny’s fire, never will I describe my glen. Yet a hundred times have I hankered after trying to picture both.

An older minister, believing that Nanny’s anguish was ended, might have gone on his knees and finished 126 the interrupted prayer, but now Gavin was only doing this girl’s bidding.

“Nanny and I are to have a dish of tea, as soon as we have set things to rights,” she told him. “Do you think we should invite the minister, Nanny?”

“We couldna dare,” Nanny answered quickly. “You’ll excuse her, Mr. Dishart, for the presumption?”

“Presumption!” said the Egyptian, making a face.

“Lassie,” Nanny said, fearful to offend her new friend, yet horrified at this affront to the minister, “I ken you mean weel, but Mr. Dishart’ll think you’re putting yoursel’ on an equality wi’ him.” She added in a whisper, “Dinna be so free; he’s the Auld Licht minister.”

The gypsy bowed with mock awe, but Gavin let it pass. He had, indeed, forgotten that he was anybody in particular, and was anxious to stay to tea.

“But there is no water,” he remembered, “and is there any tea?”

“I am going out for them and for some other things,” the Egyptian explained. “But no,” she continued, reflectively, “if I go for the tea, you must go for the water.”

“Lassie,” cried Nanny, “mind wha you’re speaking to. To send a minister to the well!”

“I will go,” said Gavin, recklessly lifting the pitcher. “The well is in the wood, I think?”

“Gie me the pitcher, Mr. Dishart,” said Nanny, in distress. “What a town there would be if you was seen wi’t!”

“Then he must remain here and keep the house till we come back,” said the Egyptian, and thereupon departed, with a friendly wave of her hand to the minister.

“She’s an awfu’ lassie,” Nanny said, apologetically, “but it’ll just be the way she has been brought up.”

“She has been very good to you, Nanny.”

“She has; leastwise, she promises to be. Mr. Dishart, she’s awa’; what if she doesna come back?”

Nanny spoke nervously, and Gavin drew a long face.

“I think she will,” he said faintly. “I am confident of it,” he added in the same voice.

“And has she the siller?”

“I believe in her,” said Gavin, so doggedly that his own words reassured him. “She has an excellent heart.”

“Ay,” said Nanny, to whom the minister’s faith was more than the Egyptian’s promise, “and that’s hardly natural in a gaen-aboot body. Yet a gypsy she maun be, for naebody would pretend to be ane that wasna. Tod, she proved she was an Egyptian by dauring to send you to the well.”

This conclusive argument brought her prospective dower so close to Nanny’s eyes that it hid the poorhouse.

“I suppose she’ll gie you the money,” she said, “and syne you’ll gie me the seven shillings a week?”

“That seems the best plan,” Gavin answered.

“And what will you gie it me in?” Nanny asked, with something on her mind. “I would be terrible obliged if you gae it to me in saxpences.”

“Do the smaller coins go farther?” Gavin asked, curiously.

“Na, it’s no that. But I’ve heard tell o’ folk giving away half-crowns by mistake for twa-shilling bits; ay, and there’s something dizzying in ha’en fower-and-twenty pennies in one piece; it has sic terrible little bulk. Sanders had aince a gold sovereign, and he looked at it so often that it seemed to grow smaller and smaller in his hand till he was feared it micht just be a half after all.”

Her mind relieved on this matter, the old woman set off for the well. A minute afterwards Gavin went to the door to look for the gypsy, and, behold, Nanny was no further than the gate. Have you who read ever 128 been sick near to death, and then so far recovered that you could once again stand at your window? If so, you have not forgotten how the beauty of the world struck you afresh, so that you looked long and said many times, “How fair a world it is!” like one who had made a discovery. It was such a look that Nanny gave to the hill and Caddam while she stood at her garden gate.

Gavin returned to the fire and watched a girl in it in an officer’s cloak playing at hide and seek with soldiers. After a time he sighed, then looked round sharply to see who had sighed, then, absent-mindedly, lifted the empty kettle and placed it on the glowing peats. He was standing glaring at the kettle, his arms folded, when Nanny returned from the well.

“I’ve been thinking,” she said, “o’ something that proves the lassie to be just an Egyptian. Ay, I noticed she wasna nane awed when I said you was the Auld Licht minister. Weel, I’se uphaud that came frae her living ower muckle in the open air. Is there no’ a smell o’ burning in the house?”

“I have noticed it,” Gavin answered, sniffing, “since you came in. I was busy until then, putting on the kettle. The smell is becoming worse.”

Nanny had seen the empty kettle on the fire as he began to speak, and so solved the mystery. Her first thought was to snatch the kettle out of the blaze, but remembering who had put it there, she dared not. She sidled toward the hearth instead, and saying craftily, “Ay, here it is; it’s a clout among the peats,” softly laid the kettle on the earthen floor. It was still red with sparks, however, when the gypsy reappeared.

“Who burned the kettle?” she asked, ignoring Nanny’s signs.

“Lassie,” Nanny said, “it was me;” but Gavin, flushing, confessed his guilt.

“Oh, you stupid!” exclaimed the Egyptian, shaking 129 her two ounces of tea (which then cost six shillings the pound) in his face.

At this Nanny wrung her hands, crying, “That’s waur than swearing.”

“If men,” said the gypsy, severely, “would keep their hands in their pockets all day, the world’s affairs would be more easily managed.”

“Wheesht!” cried Nanny, “if Mr. Dishart cared to set his mind to it, he could make the kettle boil quicker than you or me. But his thochts is on higher things.”

“No higher than this,” retorted the gypsy, holding her hand level with her brow. “Confess, Mr. Dishart, that this is the exact height of what you were thinking about. See, Nanny, he is blushing as if I meant that he had been thinking about me. He cannot answer, Nanny: we have found him out.”

“And kindly of him it is no to answer,” said Nanny, who had been examining the gypsy’s various purchases; “for what could he answer, except that he would need to be sure o’ living a thousand years afore he could spare five minutes on you or me? Of course it would be different if we sat under him.”

“And yet,” said the Egyptian, with great solemnity, “he is to drink tea at that very table. I hope you are sensible of the honour, Nanny.”

“Am I no?” said Nanny, whose education had not included sarcasm. “I’m trying to keep frae thinking o’t till he’s gone, in case I should let the teapot fall.”

“You have nothing to thank me for, Nanny,” said Gavin, “but much for which to thank this – this – ”

“This haggarty-taggarty Egyptian,” suggested the girl. Then, looking at Gavin curiously, she said, “But my name is Babbie.”

“That’s short for Barbara,” said Nanny; “but Babbie what?”

“Yes, Babbie Watt,” replied the gypsy, as if one name were as good as another.

“Weel, then, lift the lid off the kettle, Babbie,” said Nanny, “for it’s boiling ower.”

Gavin looked at Nanny with admiration and envy, for she had said Babbie as coolly as if it was the name of a pepper-box.

Babbie tucked up her sleeves to wash Nanny’s cups and saucers, which even in the most prosperous days of the mud house had only been in use once a week, and Gavin was so eager to help that he bumped his head on the plate-rack.

“Sit there,” said Babbie, authoritatively, pointing, with a cup in her hand, to a stool, “and don’t rise till I give you permission.”

To Nanny’s amazement, he did as he was bid.

“I got the things in the little shop you told me of,” the Egyptian continued, addressing the mistress of the house, “but the horrid man would not give them to me until he had seen my money.”

“Enoch would be suspicious o’ you,” Nanny explained, “you being an Egyptian.”

“Ah,” said Babbie, with a side-glance at the minister, “I am only an Egyptian. Is that why you dislike me, Mr. Dishart?”

Gavin hesitated foolishly over his answer, and the Egyptian, with a towel round her waist, made a pretty gesture of despair.

“He neither likes you nor dislikes you,” Nanny explained; “you forget he’s a minister.”

“That is what I cannot endure,” said Babbie, putting the towel to her eyes, “to be neither liked nor disliked. Please hate me, Mr. Dishart, if you cannot lo – ove me.”

 

Her face was behind the towel, and Gavin could not decide whether it was the face or the towel that shook with agitation. He gave Nanny a look that asked, “Is she really crying?” and Nanny telegraphed back, “I question it.”

“Come, come,” said the minister, gallantly, “I did not say that I disliked you.”

Even this desperate compliment had not the desired effect, for the gypsy continued to sob behind her screen.

“I can honestly say,” went on Gavin, as solemnly as if he were making a statement in a court of justice, “that I like you.”

Then the Egyptian let drop her towel, and replied with equal solemnity:

“Oh, tank oo! Nanny, the minister says me is a dood ’ittle dirl.”

“He didna gang that length,” said Nanny, sharply, to cover Gavin’s confusion. “Set the things, Babbie, and I’ll make the tea.”

The Egyptian obeyed demurely, pretending to wipe her eyes every time Gavin looked at her. He frowned at this, and then she affected to be too overcome to go on with her work.

“Tell me, Nanny,” she asked presently, “what sort of man this Enoch is, from whom I bought the things?”

“He is not very regular, I fear,” answered Gavin, who felt that he had sat silent and self-conscious on his stool too long.

“Do you mean that he drinks?” asked Babbie.

“No, I mean regular in his attendance.”

The Egyptian’s face showed no enlightenment.

“His attendance at church,” Gavin explained.

“He’s far frae it,” said Nanny, “and as a body kens, Joe Cruickshanks, the atheist, has the wite o’ that. The scoundrel telled Enoch that the great ministers in Edinbury and London believed in no hell except sic as your ain conscience made for you, and ever since syne Enoch has been careless about the future state.”

“Ah,” said Babbie, waving the Church aside, “what I want to know is whether he is a single man.”

“He is not,” Gavin replied; “but why do you want to know that?”

“Because single men are such gossips. I am sorry he is not single, as I want him to repeat to everybody what I told him.”

“Trust him to tell Susy,” said Nanny, “and Susy to tell the town.”

“His wife is a gossip?”

“Ay, she’s aye tonguing, especially about her teeth. They’re folk wi’ siller, and she has a set o’ false teeth. It’s fair scumfishing to hear her blawing about thae teeth, she’s so fleid we dinna ken that they’re false.”

Nanny had spoken jealously, but suddenly she trembled with apprehension.

“Babbie,” she cried, “you didna speak about the poorhouse to Enoch?”

The Egyptian shook her head, though of the poorhouse she had been forced to speak, for Enoch, having seen the doctor going home alone, insisted on knowing why.

“But I knew,” the gypsy said, “that the Thrums people would be very unhappy until they discovered where you get the money I am to give you, and as that is a secret, I hinted to Enoch that your benefactor is Mr. Dishart.”

“You should not have said that,” interposed Gavin. “I cannot foster such a deception.”

“They will foster it without your help,” the Egyptian said. “Besides, if you choose, you can say you get the money from a friend.”

“Ay, you can say that,” Nanny entreated with such eagerness that Babbie remarked a little bitterly:

“There is no fear of Nanny’s telling any one that the friend is a gypsy girl.”

“Na, na,” agreed Nanny, again losing Babbie’s sarcasm. “I winna let on. It’s so queer to be befriended by an Egyptian.”

“It is scarcely respectable,” Babbie said.

“It’s no,” answered simple Nanny.

I suppose Nanny’s unintentional cruelty did hurt Babbie as much as Gavin thought. She winced, and her face had two expressions, the one cynical, the other pained. Her mouth curled as if to tell the minister that gratitude was nothing to her, but her eyes had to struggle to keep back a tear. Gavin was touched, and she saw it, and for a moment they were two people who understood each other.

“I, at least,” Gavin said in a low voice, “will know who is the benefactress, and think none the worse of her because she is a gypsy.”

At this Babbie smiled gratefully to him, and then both laughed, for they had heard Nanny remarking to the kettle, “But I wouldna hae been nane angry if she had telled Enoch that the minister was to take his tea here. Susy’ll no believe’t though I tell her, as tell her I will.”

To Nanny the table now presented a rich appearance, for besides the teapot there were butter and loaf-bread and cheesies: a biscuit of which only Thrums knows the secret.

“Draw in your chair, Mr. Dishart,” she said, in suppressed excitement.

“Yes,” said Babbie, “you take this chair, Mr. Dishart, and Nanny will have that one, and I can sit humbly on the stool.”

But Nanny held up her hands in horror.

“Keep us a’!” she exclaimed; “the lassie thinks her and me is to sit down wi’ the minister! We’re no to gang that length, Babbie; we’re just to stand and serve him, and syne we’ll sit down when he has risen.”

“Delightful!” said Babbie, clapping her hands. “Nanny, you kneel on that side of him, and I will kneel on this. You will hold the butter and I the biscuits.”

But Gavin, as this girl was always forgetting, was a lord of creation.

“Sit down both of you at once!” he thundered, “I command you.”

Then the two women fell into their seats; Nanny in terror, Babbie affecting it.

Chapter Fifteen.
THE MINISTER BEWITCHED – SECOND SERMON AGAINST WOMEN

To Nanny it was a dizzying experience to sit at the head of her own table, and, with assumed calmness, invite the minister not to spare the loaf-bread. Babbie’s prattle, and even Gavin’s answers, were but an indistinct noise to her, to be as little regarded, in the excitement of watching whether Mr. Dishart noticed that there was a knife for the butter, as the music of the river by a man who is catching trout. Every time Gavin’s cup went to his lips Nanny calculated (correctly) how much he had drunk, and yet, when the right moment arrived, she asked in the English voice that is fashionable at ceremonies, “if his cup was toom.”

Perhaps it was well that Nanny had these matters to engross her, for though Gavin spoke freely, he was saying nothing of lasting value, and some of his remarks to the Egyptian, if preserved for the calmer contemplation of the morrow, might have seemed frivolous to himself. Usually his observations were scrambled for, like ha’pence at a wedding, but to-day they were only for one person. Infected by the Egyptian’s high spirits, Gavin had laid aside the minister with his hat, and what was left was only a young man. He who had stamped his feet at thought of a soldier’s cloak now wanted to be reminded of it. The little minister, who used to address himself in terms of scorn every time he wasted an hour, was at present dallying with a teaspoon. He even laughed boisterously, flinging back his head, and 136 little knew that behind Nanny’s smiling face was a terrible dread, because his chair had once given way before.

Even though our thoughts are not with our company, the mention of our name is a bell to which we usually answer. Hearing hers Nanny started.

“You can tell me, Nanny,” the Egyptian had said, with an arch look at the minister. “Oh, Nanny, for shame! How can you expect to follow our conversation when you only listen to Mr. Dishart?”

“She is saying, Nanny,” Gavin broke in, almost gaily for a minister, “that she saw me recently wearing a cloak. You know I have no such thing.”

“Na,” Nanny answered artlessly, “you have just the thin brown coat wi’ the braid round it, forby the ane you have on the now.”

“You see,” Gavin said to Babbie, “I could not have a new neckcloth, not to speak of a cloak, without everybody in Thrums knowing about it. I dare say Nanny knows all about the braid, and even what it cost.”

“Three bawbees the yard at Kyowowy’s shop,” replied Nanny, promptly, “and your mother sewed it on. Sam’l Fairweather has the marrows o’t on his top coat. No that it has the same look on him.”

“Nevertheless,” Babbie persisted, “I am sure the minister has a cloak; but perhaps he is ashamed of it. No doubt it is hidden away in the garret.”

“Na, we would hae kent o’t if it was there,” said Nanny.

“But it may be in a chest, and the chest may be locked,” the Egyptian suggested.

“Ay, but the kist in the garret isna locked,” Nanny answered.

“How do you get to know all these things, Nanny?” asked Gavin, sighing.

“Your congregation tells me. Naebody would lay by news about a minister.”

“But how do they know?”

“I dinna ken. They just find out, because they’re so fond o’ you.”

“I hope they will never become so fond of me as that,” said Babbie. “Still, Nanny, the minister’s cloak is hidden somewhere.”

“Losh, what would make him hod it?” demanded the old woman. “Folk that has cloaks doesna bury them in boxes.”

At the word “bury” Gavin’s hand fell on the table, and he returned to Nanny apprehensively.

“That would depend on how the cloak was got,” said the cruel Egyptian. “If it was not his own – ”

“Lassie,” cried Nanny, “behave yoursel’.”

“Or if he found it in his possession against his will?” suggested Gavin, slyly. “He might have got it from some one who picked it up cheap.”

“From his wife, for instance,” said Babbie, whereupon Gavin suddenly became interested in the floor.

“Ay, ay, the minister was hitting at you there, Babbie,” Nanny explained, “for the way you made off wi’ the captain’s cloak. The Thrums folk wondered less at your taking it than at your no keeping it. It’s said to be michty grand.”

“It was rather like the one the minister’s wife gave him,” said Babbie.

“The minister has neither a wife nor a cloak,” retorted Nanny.

“He isn’t married?” asked Babbie, the picture of incredulity.

Nanny gathered from the minister’s face that he deputed to her the task of enlightening this ignorant girl, so she replied with emphasis, “Na, they hinna got him yet, and I’m cheated if it doesna tak them all their time.”

Thus do the best of women sell their sex for nothing.

“I did wonder,” said the Egyptian, gravely, “at any mere woman’s daring to marry such a minister.”

“Ay,” replied Nanny, spiritedly, “but there’s dauring limmers wherever there’s a single man.”

“So I have often suspected,” said Babbie, duly shocked. “But, Nanny, I was told the minister had a wife, by one who said he saw her.”

“He lied, then,” answered Nanny turning to Gavin for further instructions.

“But, see, the minister does not deny the horrid charge himself.”

“No, and for the reason he didna deny the cloak: because it’s no worth his while. I’ll tell you wha your friend had seen. It would be somebody that would like to be Mrs. Dishart. There’s a hantle o’ that kind. Ay, lassie, but wishing winna land a woman in a manse.”

“It was one of the soldiers,” Babbie said, “who told me about her. He said Mr. Dishart introduced her to him.”

“Sojers!” cried Nanny. “I could never thole the name o’ them. Sanders in his young days hankered after joining them, and so he would, if it hadna been for the fechting. Ay, and now they’ve ta’en him awa to the gaol, and sworn lies about him. Dinna put any faith in sojers, lassie.”

“I was told,” Babbie went on, “that the minister’s wife was rather like me.”

“Heaven forbid!” ejaculated Nanny, so fervently that all three suddenly sat back from the table.

“I’m no meaning,” Nanny continued hurriedly, fearing to offend her benefactress, “but what you’re the bonniest tid I ever saw out o’ an almanack. But you would ken Mr. Dishart’s contempt for bonny faces if you had heard his sermon against them. I didna hear it mysel’, for I’m no Auld Licht, but it did the work o’ the town for an aucht days.”

If Nanny had not taken her eyes off Gavin for the moment she would have known that he was now anxious to change the topic. Babbie saw it, and became suspicious.

“When did he preach against the wiles of women, Nanny?”

“It was long ago,” said Gavin, hastily.

“No so very lang syne,” corrected Nanny. “It was the Sabbath after the sojers was in Thrums; the day you changed your text so hurriedly. Some thocht you wasna weel, but Lang Tammas – ”

“Thomas Whamond is too officious,” Gavin said with dignity. “I forbid you, Nanny, to repeat his story.”

“But what made you change your text?” asked Babbie.

“You see he winna tell,” Nanny said, wistfully. “Ay, I dinna deny but what I would like richt to ken. But the session’s as puzzled as yoursel’, Babbie.”

 

“Perhaps more puzzled,” answered the Egyptian, with a smile that challenged Gavin’s frowns to combat and overthrow them. “What surprises me, Mr. Dishart, is that such a great man can stoop to see whether women are pretty or not. It was very good of you to remember me to-day. I suppose you recognized me by my frock?”

“By your face,” he replied, boldly; “by your eyes.”

“Nanny,” exclaimed the Egyptian, “did you hear what the minister said?”

“Woe is me,” answered Nanny, “I missed it.”

“He says he would know me anywhere by my eyes.”

“So would I mysel’,” said Nanny.

“Then what colour are they, Mr. Dishart?” demanded Babbie. “Don’t speak, Nanny, for I want to expose him.”

She closed her eyes tightly. Gavin was in a quandary. I suppose he had looked at her eyes too long to know much about them.

“Blue,” he guessed at last.

“Na, they’re black,” said Nanny, who had doubtless known this for an hour. I am always marvelling over the cleverness of women, as every one must see who reads this story.

“No but what they micht be blue in some lichts,” Nanny added, out of respect to the minister.

“Oh, don’t defend him, Nanny,” said Babbie, looking reproachfully at Gavin. “I don’t see that any minister has a right to denounce women when he is so ignorant of his subject. I will say it, Nanny, and you need not kick me beneath the table.”

Was not all this intoxicating to the little minister, who had never till now met a girl on equal terms? At twenty-one a man is a musical instrument given to the other sex, but it is not as instruments learned at school, for when She sits down to it she cannot tell what tune she is about to play. That is because she has no notion of what the instrument is capable. Babbie’s kind-heartedness, her gaiety, her coquetry, her moments of sadness, had been a witch’s fingers, and Gavin was still trembling under their touch. Even in being taken to task by her there was a charm, for every pout of her mouth, every shake of her head, said, “You like me, and therefore you have given me the right to tease you.” Men sign these agreements without reading them. But, indeed, man is a stupid animal at the best, and thinks all his life that he did not propose until he blurted out, “I love you.”

It was later than it should have been when the minister left the mud house, and even then he only put on his hat because Babbie said that she must go.

“But not your way,” she added. “I go into the wood and vanish. You know, Nanny, I live up a tree.”

“Dinna say that,” said Nanny, anxiously, “or I’ll be fleid about the siller.”

“Don’t fear about it. Mr. Dishart will get some of it to-morrow at the Kaims. I would bring it here, but I cannot come so far to-morrow.”

“Then I’ll hae peace to the end o’ my days,” said the old woman, “and, Babbie, I wish the same to you wi’ all my heart.”

“Ah,” Babbie replied, mournfully, “I have read my fortune, Nanny, and there is not much happiness in it.”

“I hope that is not true,” Gavin said, simply.

They were standing at the door, and she was looking toward the hill, perhaps without seeing it. All at once it came to Gavin that this fragile girl might have a history far sadder and more turbulent than his.

“Do you really care?” she asked, without looking at him.

“Yes,” he said stoutly, “I care.”

“Because you do not know me,” she said.

“Because I do know you,” he answered.

Now she did look at him.

“I believe,” she said, making a discovery, “that you misunderstand me less than those who have known me longer.”

This was a perilous confidence, for it at once made Gavin say “Babbie.”

“Ah,” she answered, frankly, “I am glad to hear that. I thought you did not really like me, because you never called me by my name.”

Gavin drew a great breath.

“That was not the reason,” he said.

The reason was now unmistakable.

“I was wrong,” said the Egyptian, a little alarmed; “you do not understand me at all.”

She returned to Nanny, and Gavin set off, holding his head high, his brain in a whirl. Five minutes afterwards, when Nanny was at the fire, the diamond ring on her little finger, he came back, looking like one who had just seen sudden death.

“I had forgotten,” he said, with a fierceness aimed at himself, “that to-morrow is the Sabbath.”

“Need that make any difference?” asked the gypsy.

“At this hour on Monday,” said Gavin, hoarsely, “I will be at the Kaims.”

He went away without another word, and Babbie 142 watched him from the window. Nanny had not looked up from the ring.

“What a pity he is a minister!” the girl said, reflectively. “Nanny, you are not listening.”

The old woman was making the ring flash by the light of the fire.

“Nanny, do you hear me? Did you see Mr. Dishart come back?”

“I heard the door open,” Nanny answered, without taking her greedy eyes off the ring. “Was it him? Whaur did you get this, lassie?”

“Give it me back, Nanny, I am going now.”

But Nanny did not give it back; she put her other hand over it to guard it, and there she crouched, warming herself not at the fire, but at the ring.

“Give it me, Nanny.”

“It winna come off my finger.” She gloated over it, nursed it, kissed it.

“I must have it, Nanny.”

The Egyptian put her hand lightly on the old woman’s shoulder, and Nanny jumped up, pressing the ring to her bosom. Her face had become cunning and ugly; she retreated into a corner.

“Nanny, give me back my ring or I will take it from you.”

The cruel light of the diamond was in Nanny’s eyes for a moment, and then, shuddering, she said, “Tak your ring awa, tak it out o’ my sicht.”

In the meantime Gavin was trudging home gloomily composing his second sermon against women. I have already given the entry in my own diary for that day: this is his: – “Notes on Jonah. Exchanged vol. xliii., ‘European Magazine,’ for Owen’s ‘Justification’ (per flying stationer). Began Second Samuel. Visited Nanny Webster.” There is no mention of the Egyptian.

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