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CHAPTER XXXVIII. — continued. When Robin had finished this magnificent epistle, he was so well satisfied with his performance that he sat humming and whistling to himself in a style usually termed timber tuned, till the heat of the afternoon, added to his fatigue after such an extraordinary mental effort, overpowered him, and set him sound asleep. In this state he had a dream —a dreadful dream. He imagined himself in Whinnyside seat in the parish church. The congregation was assembling, and in the midst of the shuffling of feet, and the noise of shutting and opening of doors, the precentor stood up and made the following proclamation ;— ‘ There is a purpose of marriage between the following parties—John Rumplebane and Jean Brown, both of this parish. This for the fist time.’ .Robin was half awakened. ..Witte, ukira,'but dozed over again, and before long dreamed the same dream, with no difference, except that the proclamation was now ‘ for the second time.’ Robin, determined to put a stop to the proceedings, shouted out ‘I forbid the banns !’ The sound of his own voice awakened him, and he started to his feet in a hearty fright.. He had little superstition in his nature, but the distinctness of the dream, and its repetition, struck him as too remarkable to be accounted for on the score of accident. In spite of all attempts to dismiss the subject from his mind, he continued restless and unhappy. 4 Fegs ! I canna thole this till Monday,’ said Robin to himself; 'lt’s no possible Jean can be playing me fause; but I maun see her afore the morn, reason or no reason, If I can mske ony kind o’ excuse for my errand and get a horse to hire.’

Robin easily invented a story sufficient to satisfy Mr. Bacon that the journey was necessary; and, moreover, without much difficulty or delay, obtained, through Stiffriggs, some trifling message from Mrs. Renshaw, to deliver at Whinnyside, on the understanding that he required to proceed immediately to that neighborhood at any rate. Having accomplished so much he soon procured a horse; and though ashamed to own to himself the silliness of his motive for such haste, he set off at full gallop. Ever and anon, as he cantered forward, the ominous words sounded in his ear— c There is purpose of marriage between the following parties—John Rumplebane ' and J ean Brown ;’ and made him redouble his speed, till the fire flashed from his horse’s feet like sparks from an anvil, and the poor beast was wet all over with sweat, and foaming at the mouth. Robin perspired profusely, and, judging from the redness of his face, his blood seemed at the boiling point. Still he pushed forward, and passed travellers, Pees, cattle, carriages, and houses, stony places and smooth places, heights and hollows, so rapidly, that they all seemed flying away in the opposite direction. Several persons whom he passed, surprised at his reckless speed, accosted him with sueh questions as ‘ What’s your hurry, man?’ ‘ Are ye riding a race ?’ or Ts it for life and death, friend?’ But Robin made no reply, for he heard nothing but reiterated echoes of the dreadful proclamation, ‘There is a purpose of marriage between John Rumplebane and Jean Brown.’ The sun had not long set, when he reached the byepath leading off the turnpike road" towards Whinnyside, where, it will be recollected, Mr. Duncansonand Miss Montgomery met, as described in chapter first. Here he slackened pace, and proceeded at an easy trot, that he might recover breath, and compose himself before arriving at his journey’s end. When within about half a mile of the farm, he met a little girl, who was employed at Whinnyside as the assistant to Jean Brown, sauntering carelessly along the briery and flower-sprinkled sides of the road, and singing to herself as she gathered the primroses and wood violets on her way. Robin accosted her by inquiring where she was going so late in the evening, and little Peggy, who recognised him at once, replied that she was going to the shoemaker’s (who lived a mile off), for Jean Brown’s new shoes. ‘ And wha,’ he asked, ‘ did ye leave at the hoose when ye cam’ awa ?’ •'Jean and John,’ she replied, ‘and the twa callants.’

These two boys were employed on the farm to assist the ploughman, and in all sorts of country labor; and they, along with him, constituted the entire staff of male servants in the establishment, while there were no female servants besides Jean Brown, and little Peggy. As Robin advanced, he saw the boys playing at pitch and toss on the road within a gun-shot of the house. When he got up to them and spoke, they jumped up with joy to see him again. ‘Ay, my lads,’ said Robin, ‘is this the way ye carry oh when the mistress is frae hame ?’

‘ Shurely,’ replied one of the boys; ‘ shurely, when our wark’s a’ dune for the week.’

* There used to be plenty for you to do aboot the hoose on a Saturday night. Had ye naething to do ava ?’ ‘Quay; Jean wanted us to brush our ain shoon for the Kirk the morn ; but > Jean, may snuff. John gied us pennies the piece, and said we might play oursel’s for a while.’ ‘ And whaur is he ‘ He’s in the hoose wi’ Jean.’ This information confirmed Robin’s worst fears ; and, springing off the horse in a moment, he left it in charge of the boys, and proceeded directly to the house. When he was still a fevy steps from the door, he heard a piercing scream, which thrilled through every, fibre of his frame, The door was bolted, but, without waiting to demand admission, he broke it open with the violence of desperation, rushed into the house,: and in a corner of the kitchen saw, to his horror, the ploughman menacing the life of Jean Brown with a murderous-looking knife. . It must be explained that the rivalry of John Rumplebane, though spoken of at first by Jean in joke, was a serious reality, for. he had not been long in the place till he began to persecute her with attentions. . Jean ceased to mention the letters, whenever she saw there was any real ground to speak of him as an admirer; but while she

gave him no encouragement she did not choose to expose him, or give Robin any occasion to suspect her of coquetry. But Rumblebane was of too coarse a nature to take a civil denial, or to suppose any calm repulse could be final. After he had exhausted all his powers of persuasion—and they were not great —he became morose, and gloomy in his bearing towards the object of his attachment, watching all her movements with jealous eyes, and getting into a state bordering on frenzy whenever he heard Robin Afleck’s name mentioned, or knew that Jean had received a letter from him. Jean had borne all this with fortitude and patience, partly out of pity to the man himself, and partly because she thought any complaint against him for his unacceptable attentions might be construed into a vainglorious boasting of her conquest. But her boorish admirer had never resorted to threats, or put her in bodily fear. On this occasion, however, passion had fairly mastered his reason, and he seemed determined to extort a promise from her at all risks and af any cost of violence. As soon as he had got the boys to leave him alone with her, he commenced to plead his cause with more than usual vehemence, and assumed a wildness of look that made the poor girl tremble; and attempt to leave the house. But he stood between her and the door, and, as has been stated, made it fast, so that she could not escape. She struggled to pass him, and it was.then,; that, in a paroxysm of rage and desper-' ation, he seized a knife, and threatened! her with instant death, unless she would, forswear Robin Afleck at once and for ever, and receive him in his place. Her answer to this was the frantic scream which startled Robin’s ear and brought him in a moment to her rescue. With an effort inspired by the intense feeling of the moment, and far beyond his natural strength, Robin felled the outrageous monster to the floor with the butt-end of his riding whip, and then wrenched the knife from his convulsed grasp. As soon as Rumplebane got to his feet again he grappled with his adversary so vigorously that the result might have been fatal, .had not the boys, who had been alarmed by Jean’s screams, opportunely come in. The ruffian wooer, perceiving the danger of being apprehended as a criminal, desisted from further violence, and rushed to the door before he could be prevented, and made his escape.

CHAPTER XXXIX. The carle he cam’ owre the craft Wi' his beard new shaven. —Old Sosg,

After Factor Afleck’s departure for Whinnyside, Mr. Bacon employed himself busily in making preparations for his visit to Stiffrigg Mains up to the very hour appointed for setting off. He had just despatched Neddie for a supply of tobacco and otto of roses, and was standing before a cracked mirror, studying, for the last time, attitudes and fine speeches, intended to captivate ‘ Saft Shusie,’ when he heard a knock at the door. On answering the call himself, the Rev. Mr. Aspen and Mr. M'Quirkie presented themselves, and intimated their desire to have a few words with him. He gave them a very cool reception, supposing their business to be something connected with the Church, for he had made up his mind to have no more to do with the subject. Pie, however, showed them into a room, and promised to attend to them shortly, but in the meantime he left them and returned to his toilette and to complete his rehearsal of love-making. So completely did this occupation engross his attention, that he forgot alike his visitors and his messenger, and only ceased his sentimental exercise .when he was again interrupted by a knocking at the door. The parties who now called on him were a deputation from almost the whole of his tenants and neighbours at Auchterbardie, consisting of John Braiden (now of Fat-hoim) and two others, to consult him on a matter in which they wished to have his concurrence. This was nothing less than concerning the propriety of giving a call to Mr. Duncanson to be their pastor. Though they had long been dissatisfied with Mr. Smuggerly, they had never thought of leaving the Church for the sake of another minister; but the Disruption having given a new impulse to their minds, they had suddenly resolved to follow the movement of the day, and ‘go out.’ Their choice of Mr. Duncanson was suggested by the favorable impression he had made on them during his’visit to Auchterbardie, and though they were aware he had not yet completed his studies or been licensed, they wished to secure him by an early application.

( To be continued—commenced on July 26.)

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Bibliographic details

THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 182, 2 November 1880

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 182, 2 November 1880

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