The Standard Bearer
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“A bundle of clean sarks wad fit them better – but here comes the minister.”
I turned about somewhat shamefacedly, and there, bowing to the Laird of Earlstoun, was young Gilchrist of Dunscore, whom the Presbytery of Dumfries had lately deposed. He was about to begin a speech of congratulation, but the Bull broke through.
“Marry these two!” he commanded.
And with his finger he pointed at Mary and myself, as if he had been ordering us for immediate execution.
“But – ” began the minister.
Instantly an astonishing volume of sound filled the house.
“But me no buts! Tie them up this moment! Or, by the Lord, I will eviscerate you with my sword!”
And with that he snatched his great basket-hilted blade from the scabbard, where it swung on a pin by the side of the door.
So, with a quaking minister, my own head dazed and uncertain with the whirl of events, and Mary Gordon giving her father back defiant glance for glance, we were married decently and in order.
“Now,” said Alexander Gordon, so soon as the “Amen” was out, “go to your chamber with your mother, Mistress Mary! Take whatever ye can carry, but no more, and get you gone out of this house with the man you have chosen. I will teach you to be fond of dykebacks and of throwing yourself away upon beggarly, broken men!”
And he frowned down upon her, as with head erect and scornful carriage she swept past him – her mother trotting behind like a frightened child.
I think Alexander Gordon greatly desired to say something to me while he and I stood waiting for her return. For he kept shifting his weight from one foot to the other, now turning to the window, anon humming half a tune and breaking off short in the midst. But ever as he came towards me with obvious intent to speak, he checked himself, shaking his head sagely, and so resumed again his restless marching to and fro.
Presently my lass came down with a proud high look on her face, her mother following after, all beblubbered with tears and wringing her hands silently.
“I bid you farewell, father!” Mary said; “till now you have ever been a kind father to me. And some day you will forgive this seeming disobedience!”
Then it was that her father made a strange speech.
“Quintin MacClellan has muckle to thank me for. For had it not been for the roaring of the Bull, he had not so easily gotten away the dainty quey!”
So side by side, and presently when we got to the wood’s edge hand in hand, Mary Gordon and I went out into the world together.
Final Addition and Conclusion by Hob MacClellan.
Thus my brother left the writing which has fallen into my hand. In a word I must finish what I cannot alter or amend.
His marriage with Mary Gordon was most happy and gracious, though I have ever heard that she retained throughout her life her high proud nature and hasty speech.
Her father relented his anger after the great renovation of the Covenants at Auchensaugh.Indeed, I question whether in driving them forth from Earlstoun, as hath been told, Alexander Gordon was not acting a part. For when he came to see my wife, Alexander-Jonita, after our little Quintin was born, he said, “Heard ye aught of your brother and his wife?”
I told him that they were well and hearty, full of honour, work, and the happiness of children.
“Aye,” said he, after a pause of reflection, “Quintin has indeed muckle to thank me for. I took the only way with our Mary, to make her ten times fonder o’ him than she was.”
And he chuckled a little deep laugh in his throat.
“But,” he said, “I wad gie a year’s rent to ken how she liked the dykeback the night she left the Earlstoun.”
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