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failed to bring forth the person. She now boldly invaded the inmost division of what was, in reality, only one apartment, the diminutive bakehouse being behind; and, after peering about in the obscurity, to which her sight gradually became accustomed, discovered the baker sitting upon the settle, with his arms crossed over his breast, and looking straight before him, as if at nothing, still unaware of her presence.
“Donald," she ejaculated in Gaelic, “what is the matter with you for by this time the baker had contrived to learn enough of that language to understand what his customers said, and even to answer them in a fashion. The shrill feminine voice prevailed, as it so often does, when seemingly louder voices are unheard, and Donald, starting to his feet, confronted her, saying
“ The papers are over at the public.”
“You have lost your wits, I think," answered the woman, “I want no papers, I want a penny loaf;" and she preceded him into the shop. Arrived there, he supplied her with the article she desired, but still seemed to be thinking of the newspapers, because, as he asked her for the penny, he added that the herd boy was not found ; and the woman, laying his absence of mind to the account of news in the papers, with which she was nowise concerned, without further parley left the shop.
SINCE the first interview of the baker and Mary beside the boat, their intimacy had so increased that, although six months only had elapsed since they knew of the existence of each other, they had now privately settled that at some no distant day they should be man and wife. The girl, on her part, did not enter into this arrangement, however, without some misgivings; not certainly in respect of her lover, in whom she perfectly believed, but in apprehension of the consent of her father to the proposed union. True, old Hugh appeared to consider the baker a well-doing clever lad, who might in time even compass better things in the world than keep a bakehouse in Cladich. And, while he had in silence observed the growing intimacy, he believed the issue to be in his own hands; if Donald could not be reconciled to his relatives, and get their consent to the marriage as well as his, he fancied Mary to be too dutiful a daughter to oppose his will, as well as possessed of too much pride to enter a family who knew nothing of her or did not want her. Perhaps some of our readers may smile as they peruse this relation of a fact so strange to them as such pride in persons of circum
stances so humble. But it must be recollected that at one period every man in the Highlands was the offshoot, however distant or humble, of a clan ; he claimed relationship with the chieftain ; and though clanship was then, and is now, dying out, the feeling still remains, and along with it the desire of most highlanders to know the lineage of those they may connect themselves with, and to be recognised by them for what they are.
On several occasions Mary had placed this peculiarity, in its broadest light, before the eyes of her sweetheart, as one which must be overcome before she would agree to be his; indeed, she added, before she would permit him to ask the consent of her father.
The baker hesitated much, and then refused, as he said, to go down on his knees to those who had treated him ill. Mary at first was equally obdurate, but her affections, poor girl, being set on the lad, she again and again entreated him, when he renewed his suit, to do what she asked, saying that otherwise she would consider he did not care for her. The answer was that if she insisted on his thus humbling himself, perhaps he had better take the rich lowland lass that his father had picked up for him, he knew she was waiting for him ; that his father's heart was set upon the match, and, as his son now added, “ he was a man who would rather see him dead, than a contradiction to him."
“Oh dear!” exclaimed Mary, weeping at her lover's continued opposition, but scarcely believing the story of a rival, for, without guile herself, she had perfect assurance in the affection of her chosen Donald, "why did you not tell us this before ? Perhaps my father will give his consent, if the minister thinks he should ; Donald, you must seek the minister and see what he will say."
“Mary !” exclaimed the baker, suddenly, as if a brighter idea had struck him than appeal to ecclesiastical mediumship, “I have more money—a little more, that is—than you know of; will that have weight with your father ?"
“I do not think it will," returned the girl, shaking her head, “but when you tell him the rest you can tell him that too." And it was agreed, as a further resource, that the minister should be consulted and influenced, if possible, to sway the old fisherman.
The worthy minister, on being consulted, as such elderly and reverend men usually do, advised the lovers to have patience ; time, as he observed, worked wonders, and they were both young-they could afford to wait. This sage advice, however, as is also common upon such occasions, appeared to please neither party, though Mary only looked her disappointment; but the baker so pertinaciously insisted on asking the consent of her father without delay, and so doggedly protested he should do so, irrespective of the wishes of his own relatives, that the good minister, seeing, at last, how matters stood, was fain to make a compromise. His word was usually law to the simple flock he guided, unless when the fiery impulsive nature of some of these Celts got uppermost for a time, and then, as he was wont to say, they would be led neither by man nor God till they came round again, that is, recovered their senses, when their sorrow for their sins was as vehement as their indulgence in them. But this day, as the stranger Donald stood before him, he remarked to himself that his southern mother must have had a large share in him, for though he was as deaf as a post, alike to his advice and the appeals of Mary, refusing as it were to look at either of them, while he stood rigid as iron, and the scar on his cheek appeared slightly to change its hue, yet there were none of those demonstrative symptoms present to indicate the agitation of his feelings, to which the minister was accustomed, in the outbursts of his pure blood highlanders. Donald neither raised his voice to a yell of defiance, neither did he vociferate one oath after another, nor swing his arms about his head, nor stamp his feet, nor were his features distorted like theirs in their mobility-now to a deadly frown, now to a savage laugh or sarcastic sneer. Yet the minister was somehow aware that the stubborn young man was sensible his suit might be rejected, and he could not help wishing, if matters were not cleared up, that it might be so. Yet hardly had the last idea flashed upon his mind than he found fault with himself for entertaining it; and setting it down to an idle prejudice against a stranger, of whom he really knew no ill, he dismissed it. He, moreover, reflected that it was a matter in which the happiness of his young favourite Mary was at stake. Donald was Mary's first and only lover, and her whole heart was his ; as a stranger, he seemed even to have a double claim on her, especially as the rest of her people had never been altogether cordial with him. He observed that his refusal to communicate with his relatives grieved her sadly, yet how could she give him up? The interview ended by Donald being allowed to seek old Hugh for the purpose in question, with the recommendation in his favour, that if his parents would not consent, after waiting a quarter of a year for it, the minister thought the marriage should go on.
Hugh Frazer, however, on being applied to, though he did not altogether disagree with the minister, asserted that he would say nothing, would give no conditional consent, and would do nothing favourable whatever, until such time as the baker had communicated with his relatives. And the latter hereupon wrote one more letter addressed to Duncan Campbell, 200 Canongate, Edinburgh, which, exposed voluntarily to the inspection of the post-office keeper, or inadvertently so, as might happen from the excited state of the writer's feelings, was left without wafer or wax. One month elapsed, and there was no reply to this epistle, when Mary ventured to tell her father about the lowland bride ; but her father merely answered
“Keep your heart to yourself, as good or better than he is waiting for you."
But Mary only felt that the more her love was opposed, the more it grew upon her. Donald said the silence was what he expected, further waiting was useless, adding his belief in the probability that when the marriage was over and could not be recalled, consent would be given. Mary urged the commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother," against any such step being taken under their circumstances ; but Donald now sullenly declared that, if she did not take him without longer delay, he would leave the country ; and she knew she had one to deal with of a strong will, while she felt the impossibility of parting from him. They had once more, and, as the baker informed her, for the last time, recourse to the minister, who now proposed to write himself to the obstinate parents. But this offer was rejected by the baker as vain-the minister then, rather as an off-hand remark, at a loss how to help the petitioners in any other way, inquired of Donald if he had the certificate of his birth or any other document about him, to which old Hugh could refer as to his character. He had none; the circumstances in which he left the metropolis accounted for the want of such papers or recommendations, and as for the registry of births, few persons carried the like about them. There was truth in the reply, yet the minister maintained that, as matters stood, and in the absence of parental communication, he must advise the baker to obtain at least such testimonials, whatever more, before he would counsel the fisherman to part with his daughter. While the minister spoke, Mary was delighted to learn that these substitutes might influence her father, and, as they left his presence, she said to her sweetheart, with a brighter smile on her face than had been seen there for a long time
“Oh, Donald, how glad I am ! you can easily get a character from your master, and a line from the Kirk Session, to say where you were born and who you are. You will write for them, will you not, this very day? It is not about the marriage I care, for I know you will never marry another; and I can wait for you till—till my father is dead, if he still goes against it-but-"
"But what ?” interrupted her lover, angrily. “ How many more people are there to ask ?-how many more must give their consent, before I can get you ?"
"No one-nobody," answered the girl, quickly, while the smile faded from her face, at her lover's sharp reception of her words; "only you will send for the papers ?”
“My master is a friend of my father's,” replied Donald ; "and as for the register, I cannot tell whether I am in it or not; the folks in the South lay no stress on registers."
Mary, thus silenced, felt keenly that her lover did not seem as anxious as she was to propitiate her much-loved father and the good minister, who stood to her almost in the stead of another parent. But she knew there was little use in urging Donald to do as they wished, which she set down to that quality-perhaps too much valued by highlanders-a proud spirit.
We have said that Donald had secured the custom of several families, resident at considerable distances from Cladich, whose supplies of bread were sometimes sent for, at others, they were delivered in person by the baker, or any messenger he could find. About a month after this last interview with the minister, Donald was thus returning from the mansion of one of the gentry, and was pursuing his way to the village along the high road, one of those straight steep military cuts, constructed by the English Marshal to destroy the communication as well as hiding-places of the rebellious highlanders in the risings in favour of the Stuarts, when—just at that part of the road which had been engineered in the utmost defiance of ease, by being led right across the highest portion of the spur of the mountain which jutted down into a lake some hundred feet below, and, with the greatest contempt of danger, left unguarded, ever since it was thus formed, by any protection whatever between it and the water, where the path cleft through the precipitous rock, presenting an equally formidable barrier to escape above—the steps of Donald were suddenly arrested. A sight met his eye, certainly far from pleasing, but by no means, at that period, rare in the highlands, where, in Eastern fashion, those unfortunates called “naturals ” (or idiots) were not only allowed to roam about at large, but were, by the humbler classes, especially in country places, well treated, and even, when the truth was confessed, received with a sort of reverence. The specimen who now stood between Donald and his further progress on the road was of a thick. set figure, wonderfully well covered with flesh, considering the exposed and mendicant life he led, with a low and narrow forehead surmounted by a shock of red hair, large vacant grey eyes, and a nose nearly as flat and lips about as thick as those of a negro. He had a tattered covering on his head, below which protruded his large red ears, which covering inight have been called a hat at one time, but whose form now could scarcely aspire to the likeness. The rest of his apparel corresponded, rents and rags abounding from shoulder to heel ; and, as it was summer
; time, he, like wiser people, had dispensed with shoes, if he ever had them, and went about on his brown strong bare feet. A wallet of coarse linen, or what is in the highlands called a dorloch,” or breadbag, hung round his body, and he carried a switch in his hand, which he had apparently just wrenched off from some tree or bush in his way, as it was yet green. His years did not seemingly count many more than those of the baker, whose approach he had espied from the top