‘D’ye imagine Christina—oh, dinna be silly, man!’
‘But, Maggie—I mean Lizzie——’
‘Oh, for ony favour gang to sleep an’ rest yer brains.’
* * * * *
When Macgregor, alone save for the slumbering Jimsie, had opened the parcel he muttered savagely: ‘Oh, dash it! I wish she had kep’ her rotten socks to hersel’!’—and stuffed the gift behind the chest of drawers. The message he tore into a hundred fragments. Then he went to bed and slept better, perhaps, than he deserved. He expected there would be a letter in the morning, for Christina had left no message with his mother.
But there was no letter, so, after breakfast, he made a trip to the camp on the chance, and in the hope, that one might be lying there. Another blow! Managing to dodge Willie, he hurried home to meet the second morning delivery. Nothing again! . . . His mother’s anxious questions as to his health irritated him, and he so far lost his temper as to ask his sister why she was wearing a face like a fiddle. Poor Jeannie! For half the night she had been weeping for her hero and wishing the most awful things for the unknown Maggie.
‘Ye’ll be back for yer denner, laddie?’ his mother called after him as he left the house.
‘I dinna ken,’ he replied over his shoulder.
Mrs. Robinson felt that her worst forebodings were about to be realized.
‘Never again!’ she muttered in the presence of her daughter, who was helping her with the housework.
‘Never again will I open a paircel that’s no addressed to me.’
‘But it—it might ha’e been a—a fish,’ said Jeannie, who would have sought to comfort the most sinful penitent in the world. ’Some girls,’ she went on, ’dinna mean onything special by “fondest love.” They dinna mean onything mair nor “kind regairds."’
Mrs. Robinson sighed. ’I wud gi’e something if it had been a fish wi’ kind regairds. I wonder what he did wi’ the socks.’
‘I got them at the back o’ the chest o’ drawers. Weel, mither, that proves he doesna care for her.’
‘That’s no the p’int, dearie.’ Mrs. Robinson paused in her work. ‘I’m beginnin’ to think I should ha’e tell’t him aboot the paircel bein’ open when Christina was here. It’s maybe no fair to let him gang to her——’
‘I’ll run efter him,’ said Jeannie promptly. ’I’ll maybe catch him afore he gets to Miss Tod’s shop.’
‘Ay; run, Jeannie; run as quick’s ye can!’
So Jeannie threw off her apron, tidied her hair with a couple of touches, and flew as though a life depended on her speed.
And, panting, she came in sight of Miss Tod’s shop just in time—just in time to see the beloved kilted figure disappear into the doorway.
A SERIOUS REVERSE
The fact that Christina had not written was a paralyzing blow to Macgregor’s self-confidence and left him altogether uncertain of his ground. For the time being his sense of guilt as well as that of injury was almost swamped by the awful dread that she had simply grown tired of him. He entered the shop with foreboding—and received another blow.